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Best Famous Ellis Parker Butler Poems

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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.


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!


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!


More great poems below...

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.


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.
)


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!


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


by Ellis Parker Butler | |

To Jessica Gone Back To The City

 Sence fair Jessica hez left us
Seems ez ef she hed bereft us,
When she went, o’ half o’ livin’;
Fer we never knowed she’d driven
Into us so much content,
Till fair Jessica hed went.
(Knowed a feller once thet cried When his yaller dog hed died.
) We hain’t near ez bright an’ chirky, An’ the sun shines blue an’ murky, Kind o’ sadly an’ dishearted, Like ets sperret bed departed; Just ez ef ets joy bed ceased Sence fair Jessica ’s gone East.
(Not but what ets always sober Sort o’ weather in October.
) Then the posies, too, seems human, An’ hez all quit o’ their bloomin’; An’ the trees they show a pallor An’ hey turned a heart-sick yaller, Sayin’, “No use livin’ on Ef fair Jessica hez gone.
” (Folks thet knows sez this ez all Very common in the fall.
) Truth ez, I’m a-feelin’ sadly; Things ez goin’ kind o’ badly Round my heart an’ other vitals (Brings on poetry recitals O’ my woes ‘most ev’ry day) Sence fair Jessica’s away.
(Kind o’ think thet I will haf ter Smoke a leetle less hereafter.
) But, with fun aside, you know, We’re blamed sorry she must go; An’ we hope she’ll think, maybe, ‘Z well o’ us ez we o’ she.


by Ellis Parker Butler | |

Why I Went To The Foot

 Was ever a maiden so worried?
I’ll admit I am partial to Jim,
For Jimmie has promised to wed me
When I’m old enough to wed him.
But then I love teacher, too, dearly, She’s always so lovely to me, And she’s pretty and kind and sweet-tempered, And gentle as gentle can be.
I wouldn’t for worlds hurt Jim’s feelings, For he never would like me again— But there was my dearest, sweet teacher, And I’d die if my words gave her pain.
“Two plus two equals what?” was the problem.
And I knew teacher thought it made “four”; But Jimmie said “six,” and maintained it As long as he stood on the floor.
And I saw I must soon choose between them, For I was the next in the line.
Should I side with my teacher or Jimmie? What a sad situation was mine! And just as my heart with that problem Of friendship was so sorely vexed I was called on to answer the other, For teacher had said, sharply, “Next!” It was then that the brilliant thought struck me, That by compromise I could contrive To hurt neither teacher nor Jimmie, And that’s how I came to say “five.


by Ellis Parker Butler | |

Merry Christmas And Happy New Year!

 Little cullud Rastus come a-skippin’ down de street,
A-smilin’ and a-grinnin’ at every one he meet;
My, oh! He was happy! Boy, but was he gay!
Wishin’ “Merry Chris’mus” an’ “Happy New-Year’s Day”!
Wishin’ that his wishes might every one come true—
And—bless your dear heart, honey,—I wish the same to you!


by Ellis Parker Butler | |

Millennium

 The great millennium is at hand.
Redder apples grow on the tree.
A saxophone is in ev’ry band.
Brandy no longer taints our tea.
Dimples smile in the red-rouged knee.
The dowagers are no longer fat.
Radio now makes safe the sea— And the Turk has bought him a derby hat.
Even our sauerkraut now is canned.
Verse is a dangsight more than free.
A “highboy” now is the old dish stand.
Ev’ry flapper has her night key.
Chopin is jazzed into melody.
A child is a “kiddie” and not a “brat.
” Bosses and miners at last agree— And the Turk has bought him a derby hat.
All firewaters are bravely banned.
There is a ballot for every she.
The hairpin now is a contraband.
A New York mayor gets some sympathy.
My dealer brings some coal to me.
The plumber is an aristocrat.
In Miami all millionaires may be— And the Turk has bought him a derby hat.
Son, the millennium is at hand! What though Armenians be mashed flat? The world is getting just perfectly grand, For the Turk has bought him a derby hat.


by Ellis Parker Butler | |

Mouths Of Hippopotami And Some Recent Novels

 (with apologies to Frederic Taber Cooper)

I well recall (and who does not)
The circus bill-board hippopotamus,
whose wide distended jaws
For fear and terror were good cause.
That month, that vasty carmine cave, Could munch with ease a Nubian slave; In fact, the bill-board hippopot- amus could bolt a house and lot! Wide opened, that tremendous mouth Obscured three-quarters of the south Side of Schmidt’s barn, and promised me Thrills, shocks, delights and ecstasy.
And then, alas! what sad non plus The living hippopotamus! ’Twas but a stupid, sodden lump As thrilling as an old elm stump.
Its mouth—unreasonably small— The hippo opened not at all, Or, if it did, it was about As thrilling as a teapot spout.
* * * * * The Crimson Junk, by Doris Watt, I’ve read it.
Who, I pray, has not? Bill Wastel, by C.
Marrow.
The Plaid Cowslip.
And The Hocking Lee.
The Fallow Field, by Sally Loo; The Rose in Chains.
I’ve read that too; I’ve read them all for promised treat Of thrills, emotions, tremblings sweet.
* * * * * The bill-board hippopotamus It was a wild, uprageous cuss— The real one? Well—Can you recall That it had any mouth at all?


by Ellis Parker Butler | |

New England Magazine

 Upon Bottle Miche the autre day
While yet the nuit was early,
Je met a homme whose barbe was grey,
Whose cheveaux long and curly.
“Je am a poete, sir,” dit he, “Je live where tres grande want teems— I’m faim, sir.
Sil vous plait give me Un franc or cinquatite centimes.
” I donne him vingt big copper sous But dit, “You moderne rhymers The sacre poet name abuse— Les poets were old timers.
” “Je know! I know!” he wept, contrite; “The bards no more suis mighty: Ils rise no more in eleve flight, Though some are beaucoup flighty.
“Vous wonder why Je weep this way, Pour quoi these tears and blubbers? It is mon fault les bards today Helas! suis mere earth-grubbers.
“There was a time when tout might see My grande flights dans the saddle; Crowned rois, indeed, applauded me Le Pegasus astraddle.
“Le winged horse avec acclaim Was voted mon possession; Je rode him tous les jours to fame; Je led the whole procession.
“Then arrivee the Prussian war— The siege—the sacre famine— Then some had but a crust encore, We mange the last least ham-an’ “Helas! Mon noble winged steed Went oft avec no dinner; On epics il refusee feed And maigre grew, and thinner! “Tout food was gone, and dans the street Each homme sought crusts to sate him— Joyeux were those with horse’s meat, And Pegasus! Je ate him!” My anger then Je could not hide— To parler scarcely able “Oh! curses dans you, sir!” Je cried; “Vous human livery stable!” He fled! But vous who read this know Why mon pauvre verse is beaten By that of cinquante years ago ‘Vant Pegasus fut eaten!


by Ellis Parker Butler | |

Night In The City

 The sluggish clouds hang low upon the town,
 And from yon lamp in chilled and sodden rays
The feeble light gropes through the heavy mist
 And dies, extinguished in the stagnant maze.
From moisty eaves the drops fall slowly down To strike with leaden sound the walk below, And in dark, murky pools upon the street The water stands, as lacking life to flow.
With hopeless brain, oppressed and sad at heart, Toil’s careworn slave turns out his flickering light And treads in dreams his dulling round again, Where weary day succeeds to dismal night.


by Ellis Parker Butler | |

No Beer No Work

 The shades of night was fallin’ slow
As through New York a guy did go
 And nail on ev’ry barroom door
 A card that this here motter bore:
 “No beer, no work.
” His brow was sad, his mouth was dry; It was the first day of July, And where, all parched and scorched it hung, These words was stenciled on his tongue: “No beer, no work.
” “Oh, stay,” the maiden said, “and sup This malted milk from this here cup.
” A shudder passed through that there guy, But with a moan he made reply: “No beer, no work.
” At break of day, as through the town The milkman put milk bottles down, Onto one stoop a sort of snore Was heard, and then was heard no more— “No beer, no work.
” The poor old guy plumb dead was found And planted in the buryin’ ground, Still graspin’ in his hand of ice Them placards with this sad device: “No beer, no work.


by Ellis Parker Butler | |

October

 The forest holds high carnival to-day,
And every hill-side glows with gold and fire;
Ivy and sumac dress in colors gay,
And oak and maple mask in bright attire.
The hoarded wealth of sober autumn days In lavish mood for motley garb is spent, And nature for the while at folly plays, Knowing the morrow brings a snowy Lent.


by Ellis Parker Butler | |

Outbid

 When Cupid held an auction sale,
 I hastened to his mart,
For I had heard that he would sell
 The blue-eyed Dora’s heart.
I brought a wealth of truest love, The most that I could proffer, Because, forsooth, of stocks or bonds I had not one to offer.
When Cupid offered Dora’s heart, I bid my whole heart’s love, A love that reached from sea to sea And to the sky above; And When Sir Cupid called for more, I bid my hands and life, That should be hers for servitude If she became my wife.
Then “Going! going!” Cupid cried; The silence was intense Until old Goldbags said, “I bid My stocks and four per cents!” Then Cupid cried, “Fair Dora’s heart, That ne’er was sold before! Does anybody raise the bid? Will any offer more?” “If not—,” but Count Decrepit rose, Infirm, decayed and slim; “I hid my title!” and her heart Was there knocked down to him.
Well! titles may be more than love! I shall not rant nor rail; For after all I much prefer Some heart that’s not for sale!


by Ellis Parker Butler | |

Partners

 Love took chambers on our street
 Opposite to mine;
On his door he tacked a neat,
 Clearly lettered sign.
Straightway grew his custom great, For his sign read so: “Hearts united while you wait.
Step in.
Love and Co.
” Much I wondered who was “Co.
” In Love’s partnership; Thought across the street I’d go— Learn from Love’s own lip.
So I went; and since that day Life is hard for me.
I was buncoed! (By the way, “Co.
” is Jealousy.
)


by Ellis Parker Butler | |

Reasonable Interest

 I want to know how Bernard Shaw
Likes beefsteak—fairly done, or raw?
I want to know what kinds of shoes
M.
Maeterlinck and Howells use.
I have great curiosity Regarding George Ade’s new boot tree.
Has Carolyn Wells of late employed Hairpins of wire or celluliod? What kind of soap does London like? Does Robert Chambers ever “hike”? Or did he ever? Or, if not, Does he like cabbage, cheese, or what? I want to know the size of gloves Oppenheim wears, and if he loves Olives, and how his clothes are made.
What does he eat? How is he paid? All sorts of things I want to learn, That are not of the least concern To any one.
For, Oh! and Oh! I want to know! I WANT TO KNOW! I want to know, and know I will— The printing press is never still, For me it prints such facts as these! I am the Public, if you please!


by Ellis Parker Butler | |

Says Mister Doojabs

 Well, eight months ago one clear cold day,
I took a ramble up Broadway,
And with my hands behind my back
I strolled along on the streetcar track—
(I walked on the track, for walking there
Gives one, I think, a distinguished air.
) “Well, all of a sudden I felt a jar And I said, “I’ll bet that’s a trolley car,” And, sure enough, when I looked to see I saw it had run right over me! And my limbs and things were so scattered about That for a moment I felt put out.
Well, the motorman was a nice young chap! And he came right up and tipped his cap And said, “Beg pardon,” and was so kind That his gentle manner soothed my mind: Especially as he took such pains To gather up my spilt remains.
Well, he found my arms and found my head, And then, in a contrite voice, he said, “Say, mister, I guess I’ll have to beg Your pardon, I can’t find your left leg,” And he would have wept, but I said, “No! no! It doesn’t matter, just let it go.
” Well, I went on home and on the way I considered what my wife would say: I knew she would have some sharp reply If I let her know I was one leg shy, So I thought, on the whole, ’twould be just as well For my peace of mind if I didn’t tell.
Well, that was the first thing in my life That I kept a secret from my wife.
And for eight long months I was in distress To think that I didn’t dare confess, And I’d probably still feel just that way If it hadn’t come ’round to Christmas Day.
Well, in good old customs I still believe, So I hung up my stocking Christmas Eve; (A brand-new left one I’d never worn.
) And when I looked in it Christmas morn There was my leg, as large as life, With a ticket on it, “From your wife.
” Well, my wife had had it stored away In cotton, since last Easter Day, When she ran across it, quite by chance, In the left hip-pocket of my pants; And the only reproachful thing she said Was, “Look out or some day you’ll lose your head.