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Best Famous Ellis Parker Butler Poems

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Written by Ellis Parker Butler | |

The Rich Boy’s Christmas

 And now behold this sulking boy,
His costly presents bring no joy;
Harsh tears of anger fill his eye
Tho’ he has all that wealth can buy.
What profits it that he employs His many gifts to make a noise? His playroom is so placed that he Can cause his folks no agony.
MORAL: Mere worldly wealth does not possess The power of giving happiness.


Written by Ellis Parker Butler | |

Ridden Down

 When I taught Ida how to ride a
 Bicycle that night,
I ran beside her, just to guide her
 Erring wheel aright;
And many times there in the street
She rode upon my weary feet.
But now can Ida mount and ride a Wheel with graceful ease, And I, untiring in admiring, Fall upon my knees To worship her,—and, for her part, She rides upon my proffered heart!


Written by Ellis Parker Butler | |

Why Washington Retreated

 1775

Said Congress to George Washington:
 “To set this country free,
You’ll have to whip the Britishers
 And chase them o’er the sea.
” “Oh, very well,” said Washington, “I’ll do the best I can.
I’ll slam and bang those Britishers And whip them to a man.
” 1777 Said Congress to George Washington: “The people all complain; Why don’t you fight? You but retreat And then retreat again.
” “That can’t be helped,” said Washington, “As you will quite agree When you see how the novelists Have mixed up things for me.
” Said Congress to George Washington: “Pray make your meaning clear.
” Said Washington: “Why, certainly— But pray excuse this tear.
Of course we know,” said Washington, “The object of this war— It is to furnish novelists With patriotic lore.
” Said Congress to George Washington: “Yes! yes! but pray proceed.
” Said Washington: “My part in it Is difficult indeed, For every hero in the books Must sometime meet with me, And every sweet-faced heroine I must kiss gallantly.
” Said Congress to George Washington: “But why must you retreat?” Said Washington: “One moment, please, My story to complete.
These hero-folk are scattered through The whole United States; At every little country town A man or maiden waits.
” To Congress said George Washington: “At Harlem I must be On such a day to chat with one, And then I’ll have to flee With haste to Jersey, there to meet Another.
Here’s a list Of sixty-seven heroes, and There may be some I’ve missed.
” To Congress said George Washington: “Since I must meet them all (And if I don’t you know how flat The novels all will fall), I cannot take much time to fight, I must be on the run, Or some historic novelist Will surely be undone.
” Said Congress to George Washington: “You are a noble man.
Your thoughtfulness is notable, And we approve your plan; A battle won pads very well A novel that is thin, But it is better to retreat Than miss one man and win.
” Said Congress to George Washington: “Kiss every pretty maid, But do it in a courtly way And in a manner staid— And some day when your sword is sheathed And all our banners furled, A crop of novels will spring up That shall appal the world.


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Written by Ellis Parker Butler | |

Womanly Qualms

 When I go rowing on the lake,
 I long to be a man;
I’ll give my Sunday frock to have
 A callous heart like Dan.
I love the ripple of the waves When gliding o’er the deep, But when I see the cruel ours, I close my eyes and weep; For there are cat-fish in our lake, And I am filled with dread, Lest Don should strike a pussy-fish Upon its tender head.
How would you like it if, some day An air-ship passing by, Should flap its cruel, thoughtless oars And knock you in the eye? My life would be one long regret If, for my pleasure vain, I caused a harmless little fish An hour of needless pain.
And if Dan’s heavy oars should cause One little fish to die, I’d never, never dare to look Smoked herring in the eye!


Written by Ellis Parker Butler | |

Would You Believe It?

 One year ago I wished that I
A banker great might be
With a hundred million dollars
And financial majesty;

A mighty Wall Street banker
With a whopping lot of power
And an income of somewhere around
A thousand plunks per hour;

A solid Wall Street banker
With securities in sacks
And with clever men to show me
How to pay no income tax;

A wealthy Wall Street banker
Who raked in cash like hay;
I wished that just a year ago—
And I wish the same today.


Written by Ellis Parker Butler | |

The Romance Of Patrolman Casey

 There was a young patrolman who
 Had large but tender feet;
They always hurt him badly when
 He walked upon his beat.
(He always took them with him when He walked upon his beat.
) His name was Patrick Casey and A sweetheart fair had he; Her face was full of freckles—but Her name was Kate McGee.
(It was in spite of freckles that Her name was Kate McGee.
) “Oh, Pat!” she said, “I’ll wed you when Promotion comes to you!” “I’m much-obliged,” he answered, and “I’ll see what I can do.
” (I may remark he said it thus— “Oi’ll say phwat Oi kin do.
”) So then he bought some new shoes which Allowed his feet more ease— They may have been large twelves.
Perhaps Eighteens, or twenty-threes.
(That’s rather large for shoes, I think— Eighteens or twenty-threes!) What last they were I don’t know, but Somehow it seems to me I’ve heard somewhere they either were A, B, C, D, or E.
(More likely they were five lasts wide— A, B plus C, D, E.
) They were the stoutest cowhide that Could be peeled off a cow.
But he was not promoted So Kate wed him anyhow.
(This world is crowded full of Kates That wed them anyhow.
)


Written by Ellis Parker Butler | |

To Kate. (In Lieu Of A Valentine)

 Sweet Love and I had oft communed;
 We were, indeed, great friends,
And oft I sought his office, near
 Where Courtship Alley ends.
I used to sit with him, and smoke, And talk of your blue eyes, And argue how I best might act To make your heart my prize.
He always seemed to have much time To hear me tell my joy, So that I came to deem him but An idle, lazy boy.
But on St.
Valentine his day, I found him hard at work, As if he had a mighty task And did not dare to shirk; And o’er his head there hung a card That made me haste away; It bore these words— Please make it short.
This is my busy day! And so, Sweet maiden; if I send No valentine, you see The reason here; Love could not waste His precious time on me!


Written by Ellis Parker Butler | |

To Lovers

 Ho, ye lovers, list to me;
 Warning words have I for thee:
 Give ye heed, hefore ye wed,
 To this thing Sir Chaucer said:

“Love wol not be constrained by maistrie,
When maistrie cometh, the god of love anon
Beteth his winges, and farewel, he is gon.
” Other poets knew as well, And the same sad story tell, Hark ye, heed ye, while ye may, What the worldly Pope doth say: “Love, free as air, at sight of human ties Spreads his light wings and in a moment flies.
” This, Sir Hudibras, brave knight, Faithful lover, constant wight, From his lady’s lips did hear; Mark ye, eke, the warning clear: “Love is too generous t’abide To be against its nature ty’d, For where ’tis of itself inclin’d, It breaks loose when it is confin’d.
” Ho, ye lovers, shall I tell How through life with Love to dwell, Spite of all the poets say? Harken to the easy way:— Strive to bind him not, but see That the little god binds thee.


Written by Ellis Parker Butler | |

To Marguerite

 So great my debt to thee, I know my life
 Is all too short to pay the least I owe,
And though I live it all in that sweet strife,
 Still shall I be insolvent when I go.
Bid, then, thy Bailiff Cupid come to me And bind and lead me wheresoe’er thou art, And let me live in sweet captivity Within the debtor’s prison of thy heart.


Written by Ellis Parker Butler | |

To May

 I have no heart to write verses to May;
 I have no heart—yet I’m cheerful today;
I have no heart—she has won mine away
 So—I have no heart to write verses to May.


Written by Ellis Parker Butler | |

When Ida Puts Her Armor On

 When Ida puts her armor on
 And draws her trusty blade
The turnips in the bin turn pale,
 The apples are afraid.
The quiet kitchen city wakes And consternation feels, And quick the tocsin pealeth forth In long potato peels.
When Ida puts her armor on The pots and pans succumb, A wooden spoon her drum-stick is, A mixing pan her drum; She charges on the kitchen folk With silver, tin and steel She beat the eggs, she whips the cream, The victory is a meal.
When Ida puts her apron on Her breast-plate is of blue.
(Checked gingham ruffled top and sides) Her gauntlets gingham, too; And thus protected from assault Of batter, stain and flour She wars with vegetable foes And conquers in an hour.
When Ida puts her armor on She is so fair to see Her battle with the kitchen folk Is reproduced in me; So sweet she is, armed cap-a-pie, So good her kitchen art I hardly know which loves her best My palate or my heart.


Written by Ellis Parker Butler | |

The Twenty Hoss-Power Shay

 You have heard of the wonderful one-hoss shay
That was built in such a logical way
It ran a hundred years to a day.
And then, of a sudden, it up and bust, And all that was left was a mound of dust? Holmes—O.
W.
—told it well In a rhyme of his—what there was to tell— But the one-hoss shay wasn’t “one, two, three” With a vehicle once belonged to me.
One hoss? No, sir! Not six nor nine— Twenty there were in this rig of mine! Twenty hosses as tough as rocks, All caged up in a sort of box That stood jist back of the forward wheels! Right! She was one of those automobiles With twenty hosses bottled inside— Hosses that not only pull but ride! Wonder what Holmes would have had to say If the mare had rode in his one-hoss shay! I reckon the shay would have logicked out Before the century rolled about.
Well, this big touring car, I say, Was built just like the one-hoss shay— Some dependable, logical way— Flipflaps, dujabs, wheels and things, Levers, thing-gum-bobs and springs, Hub, and felloe, and hoss-power chest— One part just as strong as the rest; So “logic is logic,” as Holmes would say, And no one part could first give way.
Wonderful vehicle, you’ll admit, With not one flaw in the whole of it; As long as I had it, I declare I hadn’t one cent to pay for repair, It couldn’t break down because, you see, It was such a logical symphony.
Now for my tale.
We’re not so slow These days as a hundred years ago, And it’s like enough that the one-hoss shay, Ambling along in its sleepy way, Should creep a century ‘thout a break, But nowadays we aim to make A pace that is something like a pace, And if that old shay got in our race It would stand the pressure twenty days And go to the home of played-out shays.
“Logic is logic.
” Just figure this out— For I know just what I’m talking about:— If a one-hoss vehicle, genus shays, Will stand our pressure twenty days, Then, vice versa, a twenty-hoss shay Should stand the pressure just one day;— Well, mine is a logical automobile, From rubber tire to steering wheel.
I bought it one morning at just 10.
42, And the very next morning what did it do, Right on the second, but up and bust! Talk of the old shay’s pile of dust— That’s not logical; my mobile Vanished completely! Brass and steel, Iron and wood and rubber tire Went right up in a gush of fire, And in half a minute a gassy smell Was all I had left by which to tell I ever owned a touring car,— And then that vanished, and there you are! End of my twenty hoss-power shay.
Logic is logic.
That’s all I say.


Written by Ellis Parker Butler | |

The Water Nymphs

 They hide in the brook when I seek to draw nearer,
 Laughing amain when I feign to depart;
Often I hear them, now faint and now clearer—
 Innocent bold or so sweetly discreet.
Are they Nymphs of the Stream at their playing Or but the brook I mistook for a voice? Little care I; for, despite harsh Time’s flaying, Brook voice or Nymph voice still makes me rejoice.


Written by Ellis Parker Butler | |

The Wood Nymph

 A glint of her hair or a flash of her shoulder —
 That is the most I can boast to have seen,
Then all is lost as the shadows enfold her,
 Forest glades making a screen of their green,
Could I cast off all the cares of tomorrow— Could I forget all the fret of today
Then, my heart free from the burdens I borrow,
 Nature’s chaste spirit her face would display.


Written by Ellis Parker Butler | |

To G. M. W. And G. F. W.

 Whenas—(I love that “whenas” word—
 It shows I am a poet, too,)
Q.
Horace Flaccus gaily stirred The welkin with his tra-la-loo, He little thought one donkey’s back Would carry thus a double load— Father and son upon one jack, Galumphing down the Tibur Road.
II Old is the tale—Aesop’s, I think— Of that famed miller and his son Whose fortunes were so “on the blink” They had one donk, and only one; You know the tale—the critic’s squawk (As pater that poor ass bestrode)— “Selfish! To make thy fine son walk!” Perhaps that was on Tibur Road? III You will recall how dad got down And made the son the ass bestride:— The critics shouted with a frown: “Shame, boy! pray let thy father ride!” Up got the dad beside the son; The donkey staggered with the load “Poor donk! For shame!” cried every one That walked the (was it?) Tibur Road.
IV You know the end! Upon their backs Daddy and son with much ado Boosted that most surprised of jacks,— He kicked, and off the bridge he flew; “He! haw!” A splash! A gurgling sound— A long, last watery abode— In Anio’s stream the donk was drowned— (If this occurred on Tibur Road.
) V Let Donkey represent the Odes; The Miller represent G.
M.
; The Son stand for G.
F.
; the loads Of Critics—I will do for them.
Now, then, this proposition made, (And my bum verses “Ah’d” and “Oh’d!”).
What Q.
E.
D.
can be displayed Anent this “On the Tibur Road”? VI First, Horry’s dead and he don’t care, So cancel him, and let him snore; His Donkey has been raised in air So oft he’s tough and calloused o’er; Our Miller—dusty-headed man— Follows the best donk-boosting code: Our Son—dispute it no one can— Sings gaily down the Tibur Road.
VII This, then, must be this Critic’s scream:— The donk was boosted well and high, And, ergo! falling in the stream, Isn’t and ain’t and can’t be dry; Nor is your book.
Which is to say It is no gloomy episode— You’ve made a dead donk sweetly bray, And joyful is the Tibur Road.