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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.


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 |

Why Washington Retreated


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.”


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.”

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!

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

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.