Best Famous Eugene Field Poems

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Written by Eugene Field | Create an image from this poem

Sisters cake

 I'd not complain of Sister Jane, for she was good and kind,
Combining with rare comeliness distinctive gifts of mind;
Nay, I'll admit it were most fit that, worn by social cares,
She'd crave a change from parlor life to that below the stairs,
And that, eschewing needlework and music, she should take
Herself to the substantial art of manufacturing cake.
At breakfast, then, it would befall that Sister Jane would say: "Mother, if you have got the things, I'll make some cake to-day!" Poor mother'd cast a timid glance at father, like as not-- For father hinted sister's cooking cost a frightful lot-- But neither she nor he presumed to signify dissent, Accepting it for gospel truth that what she wanted went! No matter what the rest of 'em might chance to have in hand, The whole machinery of the house came to a sudden stand; The pots were hustled off the stove, the fire built up anew, With every damper set just so to heat the oven through; The kitchen-table was relieved of everything, to make That ample space which Jane required when she compounded cake.
And, oh! the bustling here and there, the flying to and fro; The click of forks that whipped the eggs to lather white as snow-- And what a wealth of sugar melted swiftly out of sight-- And butter? Mother said such waste would ruin father, quite! But Sister Jane preserved a mien no pleading could confound As she utilized the raisins and the citron by the pound.
Oh, hours of chaos, tumult, heat, vexatious din, and whirl! Of deep humiliation for the sullen hired-girl; Of grief for mother, hating to see things wasted so, And of fortune for that little boy who pined to taste that dough! It looked so sweet and yellow--sure, to taste it were no sin-- But, oh! how sister scolded if he stuck his finger in! The chances were as ten to one, before the job was through, That sister'd think of something else she'd great deal rather do! So, then, she'd softly steal away, as Arabs in the night, Leaving the girl and ma to finish up as best they might; These tactics (artful Sister Jane) enabled her to take Or shift the credit or the blame of that too-treacherous cake! And yet, unhappy is the man who has no Sister Jane-- For he who has no sister seems to me to live in vain.
I never had a sister--may be that is why today I'm wizened and dyspeptic, instead of blithe and gay; A boy who's only forty should be full of romp and mirth, But I (because I'm sisterless) am the oldest man on earth! Had I a little sister--oh, how happy I should be! I'd never let her cast her eyes on any chap but me; I'd love her and I'd cherish her for better and for worse-- I'd buy her gowns and bonnets, and sing her praise in verse; And--yes, what's more and vastly more--I tell you what I'd do: I'd let her make her wondrous cake, and I would eat it, too! I have a high opinion of the sisters, as you see-- Another fellow's sister is so very dear to me! I love to work anear her when she's making over frocks, When she patches little trousers or darns prosaic socks; But I draw the line at one thing--yes, I don my hat and take A three hours' walk when she is moved to try her hand at cake!
Written by Eugene Field | Create an image from this poem

Ballad of women i love

 Prudence Mears hath an old blue plate
Hid away in an oaken chest,
And a Franklin platter of ancient date
Beareth Amandy Baker's crest;
What times soever I've been their guest,
Says I to myself in an undertone:
"Of womenfolk, it must be confessed,
These do I love, and these alone.
" Well, again, in the Nutmeg State, Dorothy Pratt is richly blest With a relic of art and a land effete-- A pitcher of glass that's cut, not pressed.
And a Washington teapot is possessed Down in Pelham by Marthy Stone-- Think ye now that I say in jest "These do I love, and these alone?" Were Hepsy Higgins inclined to mate, Or Dorcas Eastman prone to invest In Cupid's bonds, they could find their fate In the bootless bard of Crockery Quest.
For they've heaps of trumpery--so have the rest Of those spinsters whose ware I'd like to own; You can see why I say with such certain zest, "These do I love, and these alone.
"
Written by Eugene Field | Create an image from this poem

Our biggest fish

 When in the halcyon days of old, I was a little tyke,
I used to fish in pickerel ponds for minnows and the like;
And oh, the bitter sadness with which my soul was fraught
When I rambled home at nightfall with the puny string I'd caught!
And, oh, the indignation and the valor I'd display
When I claimed that all the biggest fish I'd caught had got away!

Sometimes it was the rusty hooks, sometimes the fragile lines,
And many times the treacherous reeds would foil my just designs;
But whether hooks or lines or reeds were actually to blame,
I kept right on at losing all the monsters just the same--
I never lost a little fish--yes, I am free to say
It always was the biggest fish I caught that got away.
And so it was, when later on, I felt ambition pass From callow minnow joys to nobler greed for pike and bass; I found it quite convenient, when the beauties wouldn't bite And I returned all bootless from the watery chase at night, To feign a cheery aspect and recount in accents gay How the biggest fish that I had caught had somehow got away.
And really, fish look bigger than they are before they are before they're caught-- When the pole is bent into a bow and the slender line is taut, When a fellow feels his heart rise up like a doughnut in his throat And he lunges in a frenzy up and down the leaky boat! Oh, you who've been a-fishing will indorse me when I say That it always is the biggest fish you catch that gets away! 'T 'is even so in other things--yes, in our greedy eyes The biggest boon is some elusive, never-captured prize; We angle for the honors and the sweets of human life-- Like fishermen we brave the seas that roll in endless strife; And then at last, when all is done and we are spent and gray, We own the biggest fish we've caught are those that got away.
I would not have it otherwise; 't is better there should be Much bigger fish than I have caught a-swimming in the sea; For now some worthier one than I may angle for that game-- May by his arts entice, entrap, and comprehend the same; Which, having done, perchance he'll bless the man who's proud to say That the biggest fish he ever caught were those that got away.
Written by Eugene Field | Create an image from this poem

The dolls wooing

 The little French doll was a dear little doll
Tricked out in the sweetest of dresses;
Her eyes were of hue
A most delicate blue
And dark as the night were her tresses;
Her dear little mouth was fluted and red,
And this little French doll was so very well bred
That whenever accosted her little mouth said
"Mamma! mamma!"

The stockinet doll, with one arm and one leg,
Had once been a handsome young fellow;
But now he appeared
Rather frowzy and bleared
In his torn regimentals of yellow;
Yet his heart gave a curious thump as he lay
In the little toy cart near the window one day
And heard the sweet voice of that French dolly say:
"Mamma! mamma!"

He listened so long and he listened so hard
That anon he grew ever so tender,
For it's everywhere known
That the feminine tone
Gets away with all masculine gender!
He up and he wooed her with soldierly zest
But all she'd reply to the love he professed
Were these plaintive words (which perhaps you have guessed):
"Mamma! mamma!"

Her mother - a sweet little lady of five -
Vouchsafed her parental protection,
And although stockinet
Wasn't blue-blooded, yet
She really could make no objection!
So soldier and dolly were wedded one day,
And a moment ago, as I journeyed that way,
I'm sure that I heard a wee baby voice say:
"Mamma! mamma!"
Written by Eugene Field | Create an image from this poem

Mr. Dana of the New York Sun

 Thar showed up out'n Denver in the spring uv '81
A man who'd worked with Dana on the Noo York Sun.
His name wuz Cantell Whoppers, 'nd he wuz a sight ter view Ez he walked inter the orfice 'nd inquired fer work ter do.
Thar warn't no places vacant then,--fer be it understood, That wuz the time when talent flourished at that altitood; But thar the stranger lingered, tellin' Raymond 'nd the rest Uv what perdigious wonders he could do when at his best, Till finally he stated (quite by chance) that he hed done A heap uv work with Dana on the Noo York Sun.
Wall, that wuz quite another thing; we owned that ary cuss Who'd worked f'r Mr.
Dana must be good enough fer us! And so we tuk the stranger's word 'nd nipped him while we could, For if we didn't take him we knew John Arkins would; And Cooper, too, wuz mouzin' round fer enterprise 'nd brains, Whenever them commodities blew in across the plains.
At any rate we nailed him, which made ol' Cooper swear And Arkins tear out handfuls uv his copious curly hair; But we set back and cackled, 'nd bed a power uv fun With our man who'd worked with Dana on the Noo York Sun.
It made our eyes hang on our cheeks 'nd lower jaws ter drop, Ter hear that feller tellin' how ol' Dana run his shop: It seems that Dana wuz the biggest man you ever saw,-- He lived on human bein's, 'nd preferred to eat 'em raw! If he hed Democratic drugs ter take, before he took 'em, As good old allopathic laws prescribe, he allus shook 'em.
The man that could set down 'nd write like Dany never grew, And the sum of human knowledge wuzn't half what Dana knew; The consequence appeared to be that nearly every one Concurred with Mr.
Dana of the Noo York Sun.
This feller, Cantell Whoppers, never brought an item in,-- He spent his time at Perrin's shakin' poker dice f'r gin.
Whatever the assignment, he wuz allus sure to shirk, He wuz very long on likker and all-fired short on work! If any other cuss had played the tricks he dared ter play, The daisies would be bloomin' over his remains to-day; But somehow folks respected him and stood him to the last, Considerin' his superior connections in the past.
So, when he bilked at poker, not a sucker drew a gun On the man who 'd worked with Dana on the Noo York Sun.
Wall, Dana came ter Denver in the fall uv '83.
A very different party from the man we thought ter see,-- A nice 'nd clean old gentleman, so dignerfied 'nd calm, You bet yer life he never did no human bein' harm! A certain hearty manner 'nd a fulness uv the vest Betokened that his sperrits 'nd his victuals wuz the best; His face wuz so benevolent, his smile so sweet 'nd kind, That they seemed to be the reflex uv an honest, healthy mind; And God had set upon his head a crown uv silver hair In promise uv the golden crown He meaneth him to wear.
So, uv us boys that met him out'n Denver, there wuz none But fell in love with Dana uv the Noo York Sun.
But when he came to Denver in that fall uv '83, His old friend Cantell Whoppers disappeared upon a spree; The very thought uv seein' Dana worked upon him so (They hadn't been together fer a year or two, you know), That he borrered all the stuff he could and started on a bat, And, strange as it may seem, we didn't see him after that.
So, when ol' Dana hove in sight, we couldn't understand Why he didn't seem to notice that his crony wa'n't on hand; No casual allusion, not a question, no, not one, For the man who'd "worked with Dana on the Noo York Sun!" We broke it gently to him, but he didn't seem surprised, Thar wuz no big burst uv passion as we fellers had surmised.
He said that Whoppers wuz a man he 'd never heerd about, But he mought have carried papers on a Jarsey City route; And then he recollected hearin' Mr.
Laffan say That he'd fired a man named Whoppers fur bein' drunk one day, Which, with more likker underneath than money in his vest, Had started on a freight-train fur the great 'nd boundin' West, But further information or statistics he had none Uv the man who'd "worked with Dana on the Noo York Sun.
" We dropped the matter quietly 'nd never made no fuss,-- When we get played for suckers, why, that's a horse on us!-- But every now 'nd then we Denver fellers have to laff To hear some other paper boast uv havin' on its staff A man who's "worked with Dana," 'nd then we fellers wink And pull our hats down on our eyes 'nd set around 'nd think.
It seems like Dana couldn't be as smart as people say, If he educates so many folks 'nd lets 'em get away; And, as for us, in future we'll be very apt to shun The man who "worked with Dana on the Noo York Sun.
" But bless ye, Mr.
Dana! may you live a thousan' years, To sort o' keep things lively in this vale of human tears; An' may I live a thousan', too,--a thousan' less a day, For I shouldn't like to be on earth to hear you'd passed away.
And when it comes your time to go you'll need no Latin chaff Nor biographic data put in your epitaph; But one straight line of English and of truth will let folks know The homage 'nd the gratitude 'nd reverence they owe; You'll need no epitaph but this: "Here sleeps the man who run That best 'nd brightest paper, the Noo York Sun.
"
Written by Eugene Field | Create an image from this poem

Winfreda

 (A BALLAD IN THE ANGLO-SAXON TONGUE)

When to the dreary greenwood gloam
Winfreda's husband strode that day,
The fair Winfreda bode at home
To toil the weary time away;
"While thou art gone to hunt," said she,
"I'll brew a goodly sop for thee.
" Lo, from a further, gloomy wood, A hungry wolf all bristling hied And on the cottage threshold stood And saw the dame at work inside; And, as he saw the pleasing sight, He licked his fangs so sharp and white.
Now when Winfreda saw the beast, Straight at the grinning wolf she ran, And, not affrighted in the least, She hit him with her cooking pan, And as she thwacked him on the head-- "Scat! scat!" the fair Winfreda said.
The hills gave answer to their din-- The brook in fear beheld the sight.
And all that bloody field within Wore token of Winfreda's might.
The wolf was very loath to stay-- But, oh! he could not get away.
Winfreda swept him o'er the wold And choked him till his gums were blue, And till, beneath her iron hold, His tongue hung out a yard or two, And with his hair the riven ground Was strewn for many leagues around.
They fought a weary time that day, And seas of purple blood were shed, Till by Winfreda's cunning lay That awful wolf all limp and dead; Winfreda saw him reel and drop-- Then back she went to brewing sop.
So when the husband came at night From bootless chase, cold, gaunt, and grim, Great was that Saxon lord's delight To find the sop dished up for him; And as he ate, Winfreda told How she had laid the wolf out cold.
The good Winfreda of those days Is only "pretty Birdie" now-- Sickly her soul and weak her ways-- And she, to whom we Saxons bow, Leaps on a bench and screams with fright If but a mouse creeps into sight.
Written by Eugene Field | Create an image from this poem

The Sugar-Plum Tree

 Have you ever heard of the Sugar-Plum Tree?
'T is a marvel of great renown!
It blooms on the shore of the Lollipop sea
In the garden of Shut-Eye Town;
The fruit that it bears is so wondrously sweet
(As those who have tasted it say)
That good little children have only to eat
Of that fruit to be happy next day.
When you 've got to the tree, you would have a hard time To capture the fruit which I sing; The tree is so tall that no person could climb To the boughs where the sugar-plums swing! But up in that tree sits a chocolate cat, And a gingerbread dog prowls below--- And this is the way you contrive to get at Those sugar-plums tempting you so: You say but the word to that gingerbread dog And he barks with such terrible zest That the chocolate cat is at once all agog, As her swelling proportions attest.
And the chocolate cat goes cavorting around From this leafy limb unto that, And the sugar-plums tumble, of course, to the ground--- Hurrah for that chocolate cat! There are marshmallows, gumdrops, and peppermint canes, With stripings of scarlet or gold, And you carry away of the treasure that rains As much as your apron can hold! So come, little child, cuddle closer to me In your dainty white nightcap and gown, And I 'll rock you away to that Sugar-Plum Tree In the garden of Shut-Eye Town.
Written by Eugene Field | Create an image from this poem

Apple-Pie and Cheese

 Full many a sinful notion
Conceived of foreign powers
Has come across the ocean
To harm this land of ours;
And heresies called fashions
Have modesty effaced,
And baleful, morbid passions
Corrupt our native taste.
O tempora! O mores! What profanations these That seek to dim the glories Of apple-pie and cheese! I'm glad my education Enables me to stand Against the vile temptation Held out on every hand; Eschewing all the tittles With vanity replete, I'm loyal to the victuals Our grandsires used to eat! I'm glad I've got three willing boys To hang around and tease Their mother for the filling joys Of apple-pie and cheese! Your flavored creams and ices And your dainty angel-food Are mighty fine devices To regale the dainty dude; Your terrapin and oysters, With wine to wash 'em down, Are just the thing for roisters When painting of the town; No flippant, sugared notion Shall my appetite appease, Or bate my soul's devotion To apple-pie and cheese! The pie my Julia makes me (God bless her Yankee ways!) On memory's pinions takes me To dear Green Mountain days; And seems like I see Mother Lean on the window-sill, A-handin' me and brother What she knows 'll keep us still; And these feelings are so grateful, Says I, "Julia, if you please, I'll take another plateful Of that apple-pie and cheese!" And cheese! No alien it, sir, That's brought across the sea,-- No Dutch antique, nor Switzer, Nor glutinous de Brie; There's nothing I abhor so As mawmets of this ilk-- Give me the harmless morceau That's made of true-blue milk! No matter what conditions Dyspeptic come to feaze, The best of all physicians Is apple-pie and cheese! Though ribalds may decry 'em, For these twin boons we stand, Partaking thrice per diem Of their fulness out of hand; No enervating fashion Shall cheat us of our right To gratify our passion With a mouthful at a bite! We'll cut it square or bias, Or any way we please, And faith shall justify us When we carve our pie and cheese! De gustibus, 't is stated, Non disputandum est.
Which meaneth, when translated, That all is for the best.
So let the foolish choose 'em The vapid sweets of sin, I will not disabuse 'em Of the heresy they're in; But I, when I undress me Each night, upon my knees Will ask the Lord to bless me With apple-pie and cheese!
Written by Eugene Field | Create an image from this poem

Picnic-time

 It's June ag'in, an' in my soul I feel the fillin' joy
That's sure to come this time o' year to every little boy;
For, every June, the Sunday-schools at picnics may be seen,
Where "fields beyont the swellin' floods stand dressed in livin' green";
Where little girls are skeered to death with spiders, bugs, and ants,
An' little boys get grass-stains on their go-to meetin' pants.
It's June ag'in, an' with it all what happiness is mine - There's goin' to be a picnic, an' I'm goin' to jine! One year I jined the Baptists, an' goodness! how it rained! (But grampa says that that's the way "baptizo" is explained.
) And once I jined the 'Piscopils an' had a heap o' fun - But the boss of all the picnics was the Presbyteriun! They had so many puddin's, sallids, sandwidges, an' pies, That a feller wisht his stummick was as hungry as his eyes! Oh, yes, the eatin' Presbyteriuns give yer is so fine That when they have a picnic, you bet I'm goin' to jine! But at this time the Methodists have special claims on me, For they're goin' to give a picnic on the 21st, D.
V.
; Why should a liberal universalist like me object To share the joys of fellowship with every friendly sect? However het'rodox their articles of faith elsewise may be, Their doctrine of fried chick'n is a savin' grace to me! So on the 21st of June, the weather bein' fine, They're goin' to give a picnic, and I'm goin' to jine!
Written by Eugene Field | Create an image from this poem

Dr. sam

 TO MISS GRACE KING

Down in the old French quarter,
Just out of Rampart street,
I wend my way
At close of day
Unto the quaint retreat
Where lives the Voodoo Doctor
By some esteemed a sham,
Yet I'll declare there's none elsewhere
So skilled as Doctor Sam
With the claws of a deviled crawfish,
The juice of the prickly prune,
And the quivering dew
From a yarb that grew
In the light of a midnight moon!

I never should have known him
But for the colored folk
That here obtain
And ne'er in vain
That wizard's art invoke;
For when the Eye that's Evil
Would him and his'n damn,
The negro's grief gets quick relief
Of Hoodoo-Doctor Sam.
With the caul of an alligator, The plume of an unborn loon, And the poison wrung From a serpent's tongue By the light of a midnight moon! In all neurotic ailments I hear that he excels, And he insures Immediate cures Of weird, uncanny spells; The most unruly patient Gets docile as a lamb And is freed from ill by the potent skill Of Hoodoo-Doctor Sam; Feathers of strangled chickens, Moss from the dank lagoon, And plasters wet With spider sweat In the light of a midnight moon! They say when nights are grewsome And hours are, oh! so late, Old Sam steals out And hunts about For charms that hoodoos hate! That from the moaning river And from the haunted glen He silently brings what eerie things Give peace to hoodooed men:-- The tongue of a piebald 'possum, The tooth of a senile 'coon, The buzzard's breath that smells of death, And the film that lies On a lizard's eyes In the light of a midnight moon!
Written by Eugene Field | Create an image from this poem

The duel

 The gingham dog and the calico cat
Side by side on the table sat;
'T was half-past twelve, and (what do you think!)
Nor one nor t' other had slept a wink!
The old Dutch clock and the Chinese plate
Appeared to know as sure as fate
There was going to be a terrible spat.
(I wasn't there; I simply state What was told to me by the Chinese plate!) The gingham dog went "bow-wow-wow!" And the calico cat replied "mee-ow!" The air was littered, an hour or so, With bits of gingham and calico, While the old Dutch clock in the chimney place Up with its hands before its face, For it always dreaded a family row! (Now mind: I'm only telling you What the old Dutch clock declares is true!) The Chinese plate looked very blue, And wailed, "Oh, dear! what shall we do!" But the gingham dog and the calico cat Wallowed this way and tumbled that, Employing every tooth and claw In the awfullest way you ever saw - And, oh! how the gingham and calico flew! (Don't fancy I exaggerate - I got my news from the Chinese plate!) Next morning, where the two had sat They found no trace of dog or cat; And some folks think unto this day That burglars stole that pair away! But the truth about the cat and pup Is this: they ate each other up! Now what do you really think of that! (The old Dutch clock it told me so, And that is how I came to know.
)
Written by Eugene Field | Create an image from this poem

The peter-bird

 Out of the woods by the creek cometh a calling for Peter,
And from the orchard a voice echoes and echoes it over;
Down in the pasture the sheep hear that strange crying for Peter,
Over the meadows that call is aye and forever repeated.
So let me tell you the tale, when, where, and how it all happened, And, when the story is told, let us pay heed to the lesson.
Once on a time, long ago, lived in the State of Kentucky One that was reckoned a witch--full of strange spells and devices; Nightly she wandered the woods, searching for charms voodooistic-- Scorpions, lizards, and herbs, dormice, chameleons, and plantains! Serpents and caw-caws and bats, screech-owls and crickets and adders-- These were the guides of that witch through the dank deeps of the forest.
Then, with her roots and her herbs, back to her cave in the morning Ambled that hussy to brew spells of unspeakable evil; And, when the people awoke, seeing that hillside and valley Sweltered in swathes as of mist--"Look!" they would whisper in terror-- "Look! the old witch is at work brewing her spells of great evil!" Then would they pray till the sun, darting his rays through the vapor, Lifted the smoke from the earth and baffled the witch's intentions.
One of the boys at that time was a certain young person named Peter, Given too little to work, given too largely to dreaming; Fonder of books than of chores, you can imagine that Peter Led a sad life on the farm, causing his parents much trouble.
"Peter!" his mother would call, "the cream is a'ready for churning!" "Peter!" his father would cry, "go grub at the weeds in the garden!" So it was "Peter!" all day--calling, reminding, and chiding-- Peter neglected his work; therefore that nagging at Peter! Peter got hold of some books--how, I'm unable to tell you; Some have suspected the witch--this is no place for suspicions! It is sufficient to stick close to the thread of the legend.
Nor is it stated or guessed what was the trend of those volumes; What thing soever it was--done with a pen and a pencil, Wrought with a brain, not a hoe--surely 't was hostile to farming! "Fudge on all readin'!" they quoth; or "that's what's the ruin of Peter!" So, when the mornings were hot, under the beech or the maple, Cushioned in grass that was blue, breathing the breath of the blossoms, Lulled by the hum of the bees, the coo of the ring-doves a-mating, Peter would frivol his time at reading, or lazing, or dreaming.
"Peter!" his mother would call, "the cream is a'ready for churning!" "Peter!" his father would cry, "go grub at the weeds in the garden!" "Peter!" and "Peter!" all day--calling, reminding, and chiding-- Peter neglected his chores; therefore that outcry for Peter; Therefore the neighbors allowed evil would surely befall him-- Yes, on account of these things, ruin would come upon Peter! Surely enough, on a time, reading and lazing and dreaming Wrought the calamitous ill all had predicted for Peter; For, of a morning in spring when lay the mist in the valleys-- "See," quoth the folk, "how the witch breweth her evil decoctions! See how the smoke from her fire broodeth on woodland and meadow! Grant that the sun cometh out to smother the smudge of her caldron! She hath been forth in the night, full of her spells and devices, Roaming the marshes and dells for heathenish magical nostrums; Digging in leaves and at stumps for centipedes, pismires, and spiders, Grubbing in poisonous pools for hot salamanders and toadstools; Charming the bats from the flues, snaring the lizards by twilight, Sucking the scorpion's egg and milking the breast of the adder!" Peter derided these things held in such faith by the farmer, Scouted at magic and charms, hooted at Jonahs and hoodoos-- Thinking and reading of books must have unsettled his reason! "There ain't no witches," he cried; "it isn't smoky, but foggy! I will go out in the wet--you all can't hender me, nuther!" Surely enough he went out into the damp of the morning, Into the smudge that the witch spread over woodland and meadow, Into the fleecy gray pall brooding on hillside and valley.
Laughing and scoffing, he strode into that hideous vapor; Just as he said he would do, just as he bantered and threatened, Ere they could fasten the door, Peter had done gone and done it! Wasting his time over books, you see, had unsettled his reason-- Soddened his callow young brain with semi-pubescent paresis, And his neglect of his chores hastened this evil condition.
Out of the woods by the creek cometh a calling for Peter And from the orchard a voice echoes and echoes it over; Down in the pasture the sheep hear that shrill crying for Peter, Up from the spring house the wail stealeth anon like a whisper, Over the meadows that call is aye and forever repeated.
Such were the voices that whooped wildly and vainly for Peter Decades and decades ago down in the State of Kentucky-- Such are the voices that cry now from the woodland and meadow, "Peter--O Peter!" all day, calling, reminding, and chiding-- Taking us back to the time when Peter he done gone and done it! These are the voices of those left by the boy in the farmhouse When, with his laughter and scorn, hatless and bootless and sockless, Clothed in his jeans and his pride, Peter sailed out in the weather, Broke from the warmth of his home into that fog of the devil, Into the smoke of that witch brewing her damnable porridge! Lo, when he vanished from sight, knowing the evil that threatened, Forth with importunate cries hastened his father and mother.
"Peter!" they shrieked in alarm, "Peter!" and evermore "Peter!"-- Ran from the house to the barn, ran from the barn to the garden, Ran to the corn-crib anon, then to the smoke-house proceeded; Henhouse and woodpile they passed, calling and wailing and weeping, Through the front gate to the road, braving the hideous vapor-- Sought him in lane and on pike, called him in orchard and meadow, Clamoring "Peter!" in vain, vainly outcrying for Peter.
Joining the search came the rest, brothers and sisters and cousins, Venting unspeakable fears in pitiful wailing for Peter! And from the neighboring farms gathered the men and the women, Who, upon hearing the news, swelled the loud chorus for Peter.
Farmers and hussifs and maids, bosses and field-hands and niggers, Colonels and jedges galore from cornfields and mint-beds and thickets, All that had voices to voice, all to those parts appertaining, Came to engage in the search, gathered and bellowed for Peter.
The Taylors, the Dorseys, the Browns, the Wallers, the Mitchells, the Logans, The Yenowines, Crittendens, Dukes, the Hickmans, the Hobbses, the Morgans; The Ormsbys, the Thompsons, the Hikes, the Williamsons, Murrays, and Hardins, The Beynroths, the Sherleys, the Hokes, the Haldermans, Harneys, and Slaughters-- All, famed in Kentucky of old for prowess prodigious at farming, Now surged from their prosperous homes to join in that hunt for the truant, To ascertain where he was at, to help out the chorus for Peter.
Still on those prosperous farms where heirs and assigns of the people Specified hereinabove and proved by the records of probate-- Still on those farms shall you hear (and still on the turnpikes adjacent) That pitiful, petulant call, that pleading, expostulant wailing, That hopeless, monotonous moan, that crooning and droning for Peter.
Some say the witch in her wrath transmogrified all those good people; That, wakened from slumber that day by the calling and bawling for Peter, She out of her cave in a thrice, and, waving the foot of a rabbit (Crossed with the caul of a coon and smeared with the blood of a chicken), She changed all those folk into birds and shrieked with demoniac venom: "Fly away over the land, moaning your Peter forever, Croaking of Peter, the boy who didn't believe there were hoodoos, Crooning of Peter, the fool who scouted at stories of witches, Crying of Peter for aye, forever outcalling for Peter!" This is the story they tell; so in good sooth saith the legend; As I have told it to you, so tell the folk and the legend.
That it is true I believe, for on the breezes this morning Come the shrill voices of birds calling and calling for Peter; Out of the maple and beech glitter the eyes of the wailers, Peeping and peering for him who formerly lived in these places-- Peter, the heretic lad, lazy and careless and dreaming, Sorely afflicted with books and with pubescent paresis, Hating the things of the farm, care of the barn and the garden, Always neglecting his chores--given to books and to reading, Which, as all people allow, turn the young person to mischief, Harden his heart against toil, wean his affections from tillage.
This is the legend of yore told in the state of Kentucky When in the springtime the birds call from the beeches and maples, Call from the petulant thorn, call from the acrid persimmon; When from the woods by the creek and from the pastures and meadows, When from the spring house and lane and from the mint-bed and orchard, When from the redbud and gum and from the redolent lilac, When from the dirt roads and pikes cometh that calling for Peter; Cometh the dolorous cry, cometh that weird iteration Of "Peter" and "Peter" for aye, of "Peter" and "Peter" forever! This is the legend of old, told in the tum-titty meter Which the great poets prefer, being less labor than rhyming (My first attempt at the same, my last attempt, too, I reckon!); Nor have I further to say, for the sad story is ended.
Written by Eugene Field | Create an image from this poem

Jessie

 When I remark her golden hair
Swoon on her glorious shoulders,
I marvel not that sight so rare
Doth ravish all beholders;
For summon hence all pretty girls
Renowned for beauteous tresses,
And you shall find among their curls
There's none so fair as Jessie's.
And Jessie's eyes are, oh, so blue And full of sweet revealings-- They seem to look you through and through And read your inmost feelings; Nor black emits such ardent fires, Nor brown such truth expresses-- Admit it, all ye gallant squires-- There are no eyes like Jessie's.
Her voice (like liquid beams that roll From moonland to the river) Steals subtly to the raptured soul, Therein to lie and quiver; Or falls upon the grateful ear With chaste and warm caresses-- Ah, all concede the truth (who hear): There's no such voice as Jessie's.
Of other charms she hath such store All rivalry excelling, Though I used adjectives galore, They'd fail me in the telling; But now discretion stays my hand-- Adieu, eyes, voice, and tresses.
Of all the husbands in the land There's none so fierce as Jessie's.
Written by Eugene Field | Create an image from this poem

Lady button-eyes

 When the busy day is done,
And my weary little one
Rocketh gently to and fro;
When the night winds softly blow,
And the crickets in the glen
Chirp and chirp and chirp again;
When upon the haunted green
Fairies dance around their queen -
Then from yonder misty skies
Cometh Lady Button-Eyes.
Through the murk and mist and gloam To our quiet, cozy home, Where to singing, sweet and low, Rocks a cradle to and fro; Where the clock's dull monotone Telleth of the day that's done; Where the moonbeams hover o'er Playthings sleeping on the floor - Where my weary wee one lies Cometh Lady Button-Eyes.
Cometh like a fleeting ghost From some distant eerie coast; Never footfall can you hear As that spirit fareth near - Never whisper, never word From that shadow-queen is heard.
In ethereal raiment dight, From the realm of fay and sprite In the depth of yonder skies Cometh Lady Button-Eyes.
Layeth she her hands upon My dear weary little one, And those white hands overspread Like a veil the curly head, Seem to fondle and caress Every little silken tress; Then she smooths the eyelids down Over those two eyes of brown - In such soothing, tender wise Cometh Lady Button-Eyes.
Dearest, feel upon your brow That caressing magic now; For the crickets in the glen Chirp and chirp and chirp again, While upon the haunted green Fairies dance around their queen, And the moonbeams hover o'er Playthings sleeping on the floor - Hush, my sweet! from yonder skies Cometh Lady Button-Eyes!
Written by Eugene Field | Create an image from this poem

The limitations of youth

 I'd like to be a cowboy an' ride a fiery hoss
Way out into the big an' boundless west;
I'd kill the bears an' catamounts an' wolves I come across,
An' I'd pluck the bal' head eagle from his nest!
With my pistols at my side,
I would roam the prarers wide,
An' to scalp the savage Injun in his wigwam would I ride--
If I darst; but I darsen't!

I'd like to go to Afriky an' hunt the lions there,
An' the biggest ollyfunts you ever saw!
I would track the fierce gorilla to his equatorial lair,
An' beard the cannybull that eats folks raw!
I'd chase the pizen snakes
An' the 'pottimus that makes
His nest down at the bottom of unfathomable lakes--
If I darst; but I darsen't!

I would I were a pirut to sail the ocean blue,
With a big black flag aflyin' overhead;
I would scour the billowy main with my gallant pirut crew
An' dye the sea a gouty, gory red!
With my cutlass in my hand
On the quarterdeck I'd stand
And to deeds of heroism I'd incite my pirut band--
If I darst; but I darsen't!

And, if I darst, I'd lick my pa for the times that he's licked me!
I'd lick my brother an' my teacher, too!
I'd lick the fellers that call round on sister after tea,
An' I'd keep on lickin' folks till I got through!
You bet! I'd run away
From my lessons to my play,
An' I'd shoo the hens, an' tease the cat, an' kiss the girls all day--
If I darst; but I darsen't!