Return to Love to Learn Place
Return to General Homeschooling Message Board
Return to Literary Special Effects

Literary Special Effects
(aka Literary Techniques)

Literary Special Effects
Literary Special Effects




Life Journey


Ransom of
Red Chief
Clichés & Idioms
Figure of Speech

Parody Poems
Table of contents

Guy Wetmore Carryl

Parody Worksheet with Flashcard
PDF File Print it off !!


Literary Special Effects


Gift of
the Magi

The Bells 


Guy Wetmore


Fun with Guy Wetmore Carryl

The Embarrassing Episode
of Little Miss Muffet

The Sycophantic Fox
and the Gullible Raven

How Jack Found that Beans
May Go Back On a Chap

The Domineering Eagle
& the Inventive Bratling

How Little Red Riding Hood
Came To Be Eaten

How a Cat Was Annoyed
& a Poet Was Booted

How Fair Cinderella
Disposed of Her Shoe

How the Helpmate of
Blue-Beard Made Free
with a Door

How Rumplestilz Held Out
in Vain for a Bonus

How Jack Made the Giants Uncommonly Sore

How Rudeness and Kindness Were Justly Rewarded

How Beauty Contrived to Get Square With the Beast

How a Beauty was Waked
& Her Suitor was Suited

The Perservering Tortoise &
The Pretentious Hare

When the Great Gray
Ships Come In


The Embarrassing Episode
of Little Miss Muffet

by Guy Wetmore Carryl

Little Miss Muffet discovered a tuffet,
(Which never occurred to the rest of us)
And, as 'twas a June day, and just about noonday,
She wanted to eat like the rest of us:
Her diet was whey, and I hasten to say
It is wholesome and people grow fat on it.
The spot being lonely, the lady not only
Discovered the tuffet, but sat on it.

A rivulet gabbled beside her and babbled,
As rivulets always are thought to do,
And dragon flies sported around and cavorted,
As poets say dragon flies out to do;
When, glancing aside for a moment, she spied
A horrible sight that brought fear to her,
A hideous spider was sitting beside her,
And most unavoidably near to her!

Albeit unsightly, this creature politely
Said:  "Madam, I earnestly vow to you,
I'm penitent that I did not bring my hat.
I should otherwise certainly bow to you."
Though anxious to please, he was so ill at ease
That he lost all his sense of propriety,
And grew so inept that he clumsily stept
In her plate which is barred in Society.

This curious error completed her terror;
She shuddered, and growing much paler, not
Only left tuffet, but dealt him a buffet
Which doubled him up in a sailor knot.
It should be explained that at this he was pain
He cried:  "I have vexed you, no doubt of it!
Your fist's like a truncheon."
"You're still in my luncheon,"
Was all that she answered.  "Get out of it!"

And the Moral is this:  Be it madam or miss
To whom you have something to say,
You are only absurd when you get in the curd
But you're rude when you get in the whey.

Little Miss Muffet

Little Miss Muffet
Sat on a tuffet
Eating her curds and whey

Along came a spider
And sat down beside her
And frightened Miss Muffet away.

Return to Top


The Sycophantic Fox and the Gullible Raven
by Guy Wetmore Carryl

A RAVEN sat upon a tree,
  And not a word he spoke, for
His beak contained a piece of Brie,
  Or, maybe, it was Roquefort:
    We ll make it any kind you please
    At all events, it was a cheese.

Beneath the trees umbrageous limb
  A hungry fox sat smiling;
He saw the raven watching him,
  And spoke in words beguiling:
    J admire, said he, ton beau plumage,
    (The which was simply persiflage).

Two things there are, no doubt you know,
  To which a fox is used,
A rooster that is bound to crow,
  A crow that s bound to roost,
    And whichsoever he espies
    He tells the most unblushing lies.

  Sweet fowl, he said, I understand
  You re more than merely natty:
I hear you sing to beat the band
  And Adelina Patti.
    Pray render with your liquid tongue
    A bit from Götterdämmerung.

This subtle speech was aimed to please
  The crow, and it succeeded:
He thought no bird in all the trees
  Could sing as well as he did.
    In flattery completely doused,
    He gave the Jewel Song from Faust.

But gravitations law, of course,
  As Isaac Newton showed it,
Exerted on the cheese its force,
  And elsewhere soon bestowed it.
    In fact, there is no need to tell
    What happened when to earth it fell.

I blush to add that when the bird
  Took in the situation
He said one brief, emphatic word,
  Unfit for publication.
    The fox was greatly startled, but
    He only sighed and answered Tut!

THE MORAL is:  A fox is bound
  To be a shameless sinner.
And also:  When the cheese comes round
  You know its after dinner.
    But (what is only known to few)
    The fox is after dinner, too.

Return to Top


How Jack Found that Beans
May Go Back On a Chap

Guy Wetmore Carryl

WITHOUT the slightest basis
For hypochondriasis
  A widow had forebodings
      which a cloud around her flung,
And with expression cynical
For half the day a clinical
  Thermometer she held
      beneath her tongue.

Whene'er she read the papers
She suffered from the vapors,
  At every tale of malady
      or accident she'd groan;
In every new and smart disease,
From housemaid's knee to heart disease,
  She recognized the symptoms
      as her own!

She had a yearning chronic
To try each novel tonic,
  Elixir, panacea, lotion,
      opiate, and balm;
And from a homeopathist
Would change to an hydropathist,
  And back again,
      with stupefying calm!

She was nervous, cataleptic,
And anemic, and dyspeptic:
  Though not convinced of apoplexy,
      yet she had her fears.
She dwelt with force fanatical
Upon a twinge rheumatical,
  And said she had a
      buzzing in her ears!

Now all of this bemoaning
And this grumbling and this groaning
  The mind of Jack, her son and heir,
      unconscionably bored.
His heart completely hardening,
He gave his time to gardening,
  For raising beans was
      something he adored.

Each hour in accents morbid
This limp maternal bore bid
  Her callous son affectionate
      and lachrymose good-bys.
She never granted Jack a day
Without some long "Alackaday!"
  Accompanied by
      rolling of the eyes.

But Jack, no panic showing,
Just watched his beanstalk growing,
  And twined with tender fingers
      the tendrils up the pole.
At all her words funereal
He smiled a smile ethereal,
  Or sighed an absent-minded
      "Bless my soul!"

That hollow-hearted creature
Would never change a feature:
  No tear bedimmed his eye, however
      touching was her talk.
She never fussed or flurried him,
The only thing that worried him
  Was when no bean-pods
      grew upon the stalk!

But then he wabbled loosely
His head, and wept profusely,
  And, taking out his handkerchief
      to mop away his tears,
Exclaimed: "It hasn't got any!"
He found this blow to botany
  Was sadder than were all
      his mother's fears.

The Moral is that gardeners pine
Whene'er no pods adorn the vine.
Of all sad words experience gleans
The saddest are: "It might have beans."
  (I did not make this up myself:
  'Twas in a book upon my shelf.
  It's witty, but I don't deny
  It's rather Whittier than I!)


Return to Top


The Domineering Eagle &
the Inventive Bratling

by Guy Wetmore Carryl

Oer a small suburban borough
    Once an eagle used to fly,
Making observations thorough
    From his station in the sky,
And presenting the appearance
    Of an animated V,
Like the gulls that lend coherence
    Unto paintings of the sea.

Looking downward at a church in
    This attractive little shire,
He beheld a smallish urchin
    Shooting arrows at the spire;
In a spirit of derision,
    "Look alive!" the eagle said;
And, with infinite precision,
    Dropped a feather on his head.

Then the boy, annoyed distinctly
    By the freedom of the bird,
Voiced his anger quite succinctly
    In a single scathing word;
And he sat him on a barrow,
    And he fashioned of this same
Eagles feather such an arrow
    As was worthy of the name.

Then he tried his bow, and, stringing
    It with caution and with care,
Sent that arrow singing, winging
    Towards the eagle in the air.
Straight it went, without an error,
    And the target, bathed in blood,
Lurched, and lunged, and fell to terra
    Firma, landing with a thud.

"Bird of freedom," quoth the urchin,
    With an unrelenting frown,
"You shall decorate a perch in
    The menagerie in town;
But of feathers quite a cluster
    I shall first remove for Ma;
Thanks to you, shell have a duster
    For her precious objets dart."

And THE MORAL is that pride is
    The precursor of a fall.
Those beneath you to deride is
    Not expedient at all.
Howsoever meek and humble
    Your inferiors may be,
They perchance may make you tumble,
    So respect them.  QED.

Return to Top

How Little Red Riding Hood Came To Be Eaten
by Guy Wetmore Carryl

Most worthy of praise
Were the virtuous ways
Of Little Red Riding Hood's Ma,
And no one was ever
More cautious and clever
Than Little Red Riding Hood's Pa.
They never mislead,
For they meant what they said,
And would frequently say what they meant:
And the way she should go
They were careful to show,
And the way that they showed her, she went.
For obedience she was effusively thanked,
And for anything else she was carefully spanked.

It thus isn't strange
That Red Riding Hood's range
Of virtues so steadily grew,
That soon she was prizes
Of different sizes,
And golden encomiums, too!
As a general rule
She was head of her school,
And at six was so notably smart
That they gave her a cheque
For reciting, "The Wreck
of the Hesperus," wholly by heart!
And you all will applaud her the more, I am sure,
When I add that this money she gave to the poor.

At eleven this lass
Had a Sunday-school class,
At twelve wrote a volume of verse,
At thirteen was yearning
For glory, and learning
To be a professional nurse.
To a glorious height
The young paragon might
Have grown, if not nipped in the bud,
But the following year
Struck her smiling career
With a dull and a sickening thud!
(I have shed a great tear at the thought of her pain,
And must copy my manuscript over again!)

Not dreaming of harm
One day on her arm
A basket she hung. It was filled
With jellies, and ices,
And gruel, and spices,
And chicken-legs, carefully grilled,
And a savory stew,
And a novel or two
She'd persuaded a neighbor to loan,
And a hot-water can,
And a Japanese fan,
And a bottle of eau-de-cologne,
And the rest of the things that your family fill
Your room with, whenever you chance to be ill!

She expected to find
Her decrepit but kind
Old Grandmother waiting her call,
But the visage that met her
Completely upset her:
It wasn't familiar at all!
With a whitening cheek
She started to speak,
But her peril she instantly saw:
Her Grandma had fled,
And she'd tackled instead
Four merciless Paws and a Maw!
When the neighbors came running, the wolf to subdue,
He was licking his chops, (and Red Riding Hood's, too!)

At this terrible tale
Some readers will pale,
And others with horror grow dumb,
And yet it was better,
I fear, he should get her:
Just think what she might have become!
For an infant so keen
Might in future have been
A woman of awful renown,
Who carried on fights
For her feminine rights
As the Mare of an Arkansas town.
She might have continued the crime of her 'teens,
And come to write verse for the Big Magazines!

The Moral:  There's nothing much glummer
Than children whose talents appall:
One much prefers those who are dumber,
But as for the paragons small,
If a swallow cannot make a summer
It can bring on a summary fall!


Return to Top

How a Cat Was Annoyed and a Poet Was Booted
by Guy Wetmore Carryl

A poet had a cat.
There is nothing odd in that
(I might make a little pun about the Mews!)
But what is really more
Remarkable, she wore
A pair of pointed patent-leather shoes.
And I doubt me greatly whether
E'er you heard the like of that:
Pointed shoes of patent-leather
On a cat!

His time he used to pass
Writing sonnets, on the grass
(I might say something good on pen and sward!)
While the cat sat near at hand,
Trying hard to understand
The poems he occasionally roared.
(I myself possess a feline,
But when poetry I roar
He is sure to make a bee-line
For the door.)

The poet, cent by cent,
All his patrimony spent
(I might tell how he went from verse to werse!)
Till the cat was sure she could,
By advising, do him good.
So addressed him in a manner that was terse:
"We are bound toward the scuppers,
And the time has come to act,
Or we'll both be on our uppers
For a fact!"

On her boot she fixed her eye,
But the boot made no reply
(I might say:  "Couldn't speak to save its sole!")
And the foolish bard, instead
Of responding, only read
A verse that wasn't bad upon the whole.
And it pleased the cat so greatly,
Though she knew not what it meant,
That I'll quote approximately
How it went:

"If I should live to be
The last leaf upon the tree"
(I might put in:  "I think I'd just as leaf!")
"Let them smile, as I do now,
At the old forsaken bough"
Well, he'd plagiarized it bodily, in brief!
But that cat of simple breeding
Couldn't read the lines between,
So she took it to a leading

She was jarred and very sore
When they showed her to the door.
(I might hit off the door that was a jar!)
To the spot she swift returned
Where the poet sighed and yearned,
And she told him that he'd gone a little far.
"Your performance with this rhyme has
Made me absolutely sick,"
She remarked. "I think the time has
Come to kick!"

I could fill up half the page
With descriptions of her rage
(I might say that she went a bit too fur!)
When he smiled and murmured:  "Shoo!"
"There is one thing I can do!"
She answered with a wrathful kind of purr.
"You may shoo me, and it suit you,
But I feel my conscience bid
Me, as tit for tat, to boot you!"
(Which she did.)

The Moral of the plot
(Though I say it, as should not!)
Is:  An editor is difficult to suit.
But again there're other times
When the man who fashions rhymes
Is a rascal, and a bully one to boot!


Return to Top


How Fair Cinderella Disposed of Her Shoe
by Guy Wetmore Carryl

The vainest girls in forty states
Were Gwendolyn and Gladys Gates;
They warbled slightly off the air,
Romantic German songs,
And each of them upon her hair
Employed the curling tongs,
And each with ardor most intense
Her buxom figure laced,
Until her wilful want of sense
Procured a woeful waist:
For bound to marry titled mates
Were Gwendolyn and Gladys Gates.

Yet, truth to tell, the swains were few
Of Gwendolyn (and Gladys, too).
So morning, afternoon, and night
Upon their sister they
Were wont to vent their selfish spite,
And in the rudest way:
For though her name was Leonore,
That's neither there nor here,
They called her Cinderella, for
The kitchen was her sphere,
Save when the hair she had to do
Of Gwendolyn (and Gladys, too).

Each night to dances and to fetes
Went Gwendolyn and Gladys Gates,
And Cinderella watched them go
In silks and satins clad:
A prince invited them, and so
They put on all they had!
But one fine night, as all alone
She watched the flames leap higher,
A small and stooping fairy crone
Stept nimbly from the fire.
Said she:  "The pride upon me grates
Of Gwendolyn and Gladys Gates."

"I'll now," she added, with a frown,
"Call Gwendolyn and Gladys down!"
And, ere your fingers you could snap,
There stood before the door
No paltry hired horse and trap,
Oh, no! a coach and four!
And Cinderella, fitted out
Regardless of expense,
Made both her sisters look about
Like thirty-seven cents!
The prince, with one look at her gown,
Turned Gwendolyn and Gladys down!

Wall-flowers, when thus compared with her,
Both Gwendolyn and Gladys were.
The prince but gave them glances hard,
No gracious word he said;
He scratched their names from off his card,
And wrote hers down instead:
And where he would bestow his hand
He showed them in a trice
By handing her the kisses, and
To each of them an ice!
In sudden need of fire and fur
Both Gwendolyn and Gladys were.

At ten o'clock, in discontent,
Both Gwendolyn and Gladys went.
Their sister stayed till after two,
And, with a joy sincere,
The prince obtained her crystal shoe
By way of souvenir.
"Upon the bridal path," he cried,
"We'll reign together!  Since
I love you, you must be my bride!"
(He was no slouch, that prince!)
And into sudden languishment
Both Gwendolyn and Gladys went.

The Moral:  All the girls on earth
Exaggerate their proper worth.
They think the very shoes they wear
Are worth the average millionaire;
Whereas few pairs in any town
Can be half-sold for half a crown!

Return to Top


How the Helpmate of Blue-Beard
Made Free with a Door

by Guy Wetmore Carryl

A maiden from the Bosphorus,
With eyes as bright as phosphorus,
Once wed the wealthy bailiff
Of the caliph
Of Kelat.
Though diligent and zealous, he
Became a slave to jealousy.

(Considering her beauty,
'T was his duty
To be that!)

When business would necessitate
A journey, he would hesitate,
But, fearing to disgust her,
He would trust her
With his keys,
Remarking to her prayerfully:
"I beg you'll use them carefully.
Don't look what I deposit
In that closet,
If you please."

It may be mentioned, casually,
That blue as lapis lazuli
He dyed his hair, his lashes,
His mustaches,
And his beard.
And, just because he did it, he
Aroused his wife 's timidity:
Her terror she dissembled,
But she trembled
When he neared.

This feeling insalubrious
Soon made her most lugubrious,
And bitterly she missed her
Elder sister
Marie Anne:
She asked if she might write her to
Come down and spend a night or two,
Her husband answered rightly
And politely:
"Yes, you can!"

Blue-Beard, the Monday following,
His jealous feeling swallowing,
Packed all his clothes together
In a leather
Bound valise,
And, feigning reprehensibly,
He started out, ostensibly
By traveling to learn a
Bit of Smyrna
And of Greece.

His wife made but a cursory
Inspection of the nursery;
The kitchen and the airy
Little dairy
Were a bore,
As well as big or scanty rooms,
And billiard, bath, and ante-rooms,
But not that interdicted
And restricted
Little door!

For, all her curiosity
Awakened by the closet he
So carefully had hidden,
And forbidden
Her to see,
This damsel disobedient
Did something inexpedient,
And in the keyhole tiny
Turned the shiny
Little key:

Then started hack impulsively,
And shrieked aloud convulsively
Three heads of girls he'd wedded
And beheaded
Met her eye!
And turning round, much terrified,
Her darkest fears were verified,
For Blue stood behind her,
Come to find her
On the sly!

Perceiving she was fated to
Be soon decapitated, too,
She telegraphed her brothers
And some others
What she feared.
And Sister Anne looked out for them,
In readiness to shout for them
Whenever in the distance
With assistance
They appeared.

But only from her battlement
She saw some dust that cattle meant.
The ordinary story
Isn't gory,
But a jest.
But here 's the truth unqualified.
The husband wasn't mollified
Her head is in his bloody
Little study
With the rest!

The Moral: Wives, we must allow,
Who to their husbands will not bow,
A stern and dreadful lesson learn
When, as you've read, they're cut in turn.

Return to Top

How Rumplestilz Held Out in Vain for a Bonus
by Guy Wetmore Carryl

In Germany there lived an earl
Who had a charming niece:
And never gave the timid girl
A single moment's peace!
Whatever low and menial task
His fancy flitted through,
He did not hesitate to ask
That shrinking child to do.
(I see with truly honest shame you
Are blushing, and I do not blame you.
A tale like this the feelings softens,
And brings the tears, as does "Two Orphans.")

She had to wash the windows, and
She had to scrub the floors,
She had to lend a willing hand
To fifty other chores:
She gave the dog his exercise,
She read the earl the news,
She ironed all his evening ties,
And polished all his shoes,
She cleaned the tins that filled the dairy,
She cut the claws of the canary,
And then, at night, with manner winsome,
When coal was wanted, carried in some!

But though these tasks were quite enough,
He thought them all too few,
And so her uncle, rude and rough,
Invented something new.
He took her to a little room,
Her willingness to tax,
And pointed out a broken loom
And half a ton of flax,
Observing:  "Spin six pairs of trousers!"
His haughty manner seemed to rouse hers.
She met his scornful glances proudly
And for an answer whistled loudly!

But when the earl went down the stair
She yielded to her fears.
Gave way at last to grim despair,
And melted into tears:
When suddenly, from out the wall,
As if he felt at home,
There pounced a singularly small
And much distorted gnome.
He smiled a smile extremely vapid,
And set to work in fashion rapid;
No time for resting he deducted,
And soon the trousers were constructed.

The girl observed:  "How very nice
To help me out this way!"
The gnome replied:  "A certain price
Of course you'll have to pay.
I'll call tomorrow afternoon,
My due reward to claim,
And then you'll sing another tune
Unless you guess my name!"
He indicated with a gesture
The pile of newly fashioned vesture:
His eyes on hers a moment centered,
And then he went, as he had entered.

As by this tale you have been grieved
And heartily distressed,
Kind sir, you will be much relieved
To know his name she guessed:
But if I do not tell the same,
Pray count it not a crime
I've tried my best, and for that name
I can't find any rhyme!
Yet spare me from remarks injurious:
I will not leave you foiled and furious.
If something must proclaim the answer,
And I cannot, the title can, sir!

The Moral is:  All said and done,
There's nothing new beneath the sun,
And many times before, a title
Was incapacity's requital!

Return to Top



How Jack Made the Giants Uncommonly Sore
by Guy Wetmore Carryl

Of all the ill-fated
Boys ever created
Young Jack was the wretchedest lad:
An emphatic, erratic,
Dogmatic fanatic
Was foisted upon him as dad!
From the time he could walk,
And before he could talk,
His wearisome training began,
On a highly barbarian,
Disciplinarian, Nearly Tartarean

He taught him some Raleigh,
And some of Macaulay,
Till all of "Horatius" he knew,
And the drastic, sarcastic,
Fantastic, scholastic
Philippics of "Junius," too.
He made him learn lots
Of the poems of Watts,
And frequently said he ignored,
On principle, any son's
Title to benisons
Till he'd learned Tennyson's

"For these are the giants
Of thought and of science,"
He said in his positive way:
"So weigh them, obey them,
Display them, and lay them
To heart in your infancy's day!"
Jack made no reply,
But he said on the sly
An eloquent word, that had come
From a quite indefensible,
Most reprehensible,
But indispensable

By the time he was twenty
Jack had such a plenty
Of books and paternal advice,
Though seedy and needy,
Indeed he was greedy
For vengeance, whatever the price!
In the editor's seat
Of a critical sheet
He found the revenge that he sought;
And, with sterling appliance of
Mind, wrote defiance of
All of the giants of

He'd thunder and grumble
At high and at humble
Until he became, in a while,
Mordacious, pugnacious,
Rapacious.  Good gracious!
They called him the Yankee Carlyle!
But he never took rest
On his quarrelsome quest
Of the giants, both mighty and small.
He slated, distorted them,
Hanged them and quartered them,
Till he had slaughtered them

And this is The Moral that lies in the verse:
If you have a go farther, you're apt to fare
(When you turn it around it is different rather:
You're not apt to go worse if you have a fair

Return to Top

How Rudeness and Kindness
Were Justly Rewarded

by Guy Wetmore Carryl

Once on a time, long years ago
(Just when I quite forget),
Two maidens lived beside the Po,
One blonde and one brunette.
The blonde one's character was mild,
From morning until night she smiled,
Whereas the one whose hair was brown
Did little else than pine and frown.
(I think one ought to draw the line
At girls who always frown and pine!)

The blonde one learned to play the harp,
Like all accomplished dames,
And trained her voice to take C sharp
As well as Emma Eames;
Made baskets out of scented grass,
And paper-weights of hammered brass,
And lots of other odds and ends
For gentleman and lady friends.
(I think it takes a deal of sense
To manufacture gifts for gents!)

The dark one wore an air of gloom,
Proclaimed the world a bore,
And took her breakfast in her room
Three mornings out of four.
With crankiness she seemed imbued,
And everything she said was rude:
She sniffed, and sneered, and, what is more,
When very much provoked, she swore!
(I think that I could never care
For any girl who'd learned to swear!)

One day the blonde was striding past
A forest, all alone,
When all at once her eyes she cast
Upon a wrinkled crone,
Who tottered near with shaking knees,
And said:  "A penny, if you please!"
And you will learn with some surprise
This was a fairy in disguise!
(I think it must be hard to know
A fairy who's incognito!)

The maiden filled her trembling palms
With coinage of the realm.
The fairy said:  "Take back your alms!
My heart they overwhelm.
Henceforth at every word shall slip
A pearl or ruby from your lip!"
And, when the girl got home that night,
She found the fairy's words were right!
(I think there are not many girls
Whose words are worth their weight in pearls!)

It happened that the cross brunette,
Ten minutes later, came
Along the self-same road, and met
That bent and wrinkled dame,
Who asked her humbly for a sou.
The girl replied:  "Get out with you!"
The fairy cried:  "Each word you drop,
A toad from out your mouth shall hop!"
(I think that nothing incommodes
One's speech like uninvited toads!)

And so it was, the cheerful blonde
Lived on in joy and bliss,
And grew pecunious, beyond
The dreams of avarice
And to a nice young man was wed,
And I have often heard it said
No other man who ever walked
Most loved his wife when most she talked!
(I think this very fact, forsooth,
Goes far to prove I tell the truth!)

The cross brunette the fairy's joke
By hook or crook survived,
Put still at every word she spoke
An ugly toad arrived,
Until at last she had to come
To feigning she was wholly dumb,
Whereat the suitors swarmed around,
And soon a wealthy mate she found.
(I think nobody ever knew
The happier husband of the two!)

The Moral of the tale is:  Bah!
Nous avons change tout cela.
No clear idea I hope to strike
Of what our nicest girl is like,
But she whose best young man I am
Is not an oyster, nor a clam!

Return to Top


How Beauty Contrived to Get
Square With the Beast

by Guy Wetmore Carryl

Miss Guinevere Platt
Was so beautiful that
She couldn't remember the day
When one of her swains
Hadn't taken the pains
To send her a mammoth bouquet.
And the postman had found,
On the whole of his round,
That no one received such a lot
Of bulky epistles
As, waiting his whistles,
The beautiful Guinevere got!

A significant sign
That her charm was divine
Was seen in society, when
The chaperons sniffed
With their eyebrows alift:
"Whatever's got into the men?"
There was always a man
Who was holding her fan,
And twenty that danced in details,
And a couple of mourners,
Who brooded in corners,
And gnawed their mustaches and nails.

John Jeremy Platt
Wouldn't stay in the flat,
For his beautiful daughter he missed:
When he'd taken his tub,
He would hie to his club,
And dally with poker or whist.
At the end of a year
It was perfectly clear
That he'd never computed the cost,
For he hadn't a penny
To settle the many
Ten thousands of dollars he'd lost!

F. Ferdinand Fife
Was a student of life:
He was coarse, and excessively fat,
With a beard like a goat's,
But he held all the notes
Of ruined John Jeremy Platt!
With an adamant smile
That was brimming with guile,
He said:  "I am took with the face
Of your beautiful daughter,
And wed me she ought ter,
To save you from utter disgrace!"

Miss Guinevere Platt
Didn't hesitate at
Her duty's imperative call.
When they looked at the bride
All the chaperons cried:
"She isn't so bad, after all!"
Of the desolate men
There were something like ten
Who took up political lives,
And the flower of the flock
Went and fell off a dock,
And the rest married hideous wives!

But the beautiful wife
Of F. Ferdinand Fife
Was the wildest that ever was known:
She'd grumble and glare,
Till the man didn't dare
To say that his soul was his own.
She sneered at his ills,
And quadrupled his bills,
And spent nearly twice what he earned;
Her husband deserted,
And frivoled, and flirted,
Till Ferdinand's reason was turned.

He repented too late,
And his terrible fate
Upon him so heavily sat,
That he swore at the day
When he sat down to play
At cards with John Jeremy Platt.
He was dead in a year,
And the fair Guinevere
In society sparkled again,
While the chaperons fluttered
Their fans, as they muttered:
"She's getting exceedingly plain!"

The Moral:  Predicaments often are found
That beautiful duty is apt to get round:
But greedy extortioners better beware
For dutiful beauty is apt to get square!


Return to Top


How a Beauty was Waked and
Her Suitor was Suited

by Guy Wetmore Carryl

Albeit wholly penniless,
Prince Charming wasn't any less
Conceited than a Croesus
Or a modern millionaire:
Though often in necessity,
No one would ever guess it.  He
Was candidly insolvent,
And he frankly didn't care!
Of the many debts he made
Not a one was ever paid,
But no one ever pressed him
To refund the borrowed gold:
While he recklessly kept spending,
People gladly kept on lending,
For the fact they knew a title
Was requital
(He lived in sixteen sixty-three,
This smooth unblushing article,
Since when, as far as I can see,
Men haven't changed a particle!)

In Charming's principality
There was a wild locality,
Composed of sombre forest,
And of steep and frowning crags,
Of pheasant and of rabbit, too;
And here it was his habit to
Go hunting with his courtiers
In the keen pursuit of stags.
But the charger that he rode
So mercurially strode
That the prince on one occasion
Left the others in the lurch,
And the falling darkness found him,
With no vassals left around him,
Near a building like an abbey,
Or a shabby
Ruined church.
His Highness said:  "I'll ring the bell
And stay till morning in it!" (He
Took Hobson's choice, for no hotel
There was in the vicinity.)

His ringing was so vehement
That any one could see he meant
To suffer no refusal, but,
In spite of all the din,
There was no answer audible,
And so, with courage laudable,
His Royal Highness turned the knob,
And stoutly entered in.
Then he strode across the court,
But he suddenly stopped short
When he passed within the castle
By a massive oaken door:
There were courtiers without number,
But they all were plunged in slumber,
The prince's ear delighting
By uniting
In a snore.
The prince remarked:  "This must be Phil-
adelphia, Pennsylvania!"
(And so was born the jest that's still
The comic journal's mania!)

With torpor reprehensible,
Numb, comatose, insensible,
The flunkeys and the chamberlains
All slumbered like the dead,
And snored so loud and mournfully,
That Charming passed them scornfully
And came to where a princess
Lay asleep upon a bed.
She was so extremely fair
That His Highness didn't care
For the risk, and so he kissed her
Ere a single word he spoke:
In a jiffy maids and pages,
Ushers, lackeys, squires, and sages,
As fresh as if they'd been at least
A week awake,
And hastened, bustled, dashed and ran
Up stairways and through galleries:
In brief, they one and all began
Again to earn their salaries!

Aroused from her paralysis,
As if in deep analysis
Of him who had awakened her,
The princess met his eye:
Her glance at first was critical,
And sternly analytical.
And then she dropped her lashes
And she gave a little sigh.
As he watched her, wholly dumb,
She observed:  "You doubtless come
For one of two good reasons,
And I'm going to ask you which.
Do you mean my house to harry,
Or do you propose to marry?"
He answered:   "I may rue it,
But I'll do it,
If you're rich!
The princess murmured with a smile:
"I've millions, at the least, to come!"
The prince cried:  "Please excuse me, while
I go and get the priest to come!"

The Moral:  When affairs go ill
The sleeping partner foots the bill.


The Perservering Tortoise &
The Pretentious Hare

by Guy Wetmore Carryl

Once a turtle, finding plenty
In seclusion to bewitch
Lived a dolce far niente
Kind of life within a ditch
Rivers had no charm for him,
As he told his wife and daughter,
"Though my friends are in the swim,
Mud is thicker far than water."

One fine day, as was his habit,
He was dozing in the sun,
When a young and flippant rabbit
Happened by the ditch to run:
"Come and race me," he exclaimed,
"Fat inhabitant of puddles.
Sluggard!  You should be ashamed.
Such a life the brain befuddles."

This, of course, was banter merely,
But it stirred the torpid blood
Of the turtle, and severely
Forth he issued from the mud.
"Done!" he cried.  The race began,
But the hare resumed his banter,
Seeing how his rival ran
In a most unlovely canter.

Shouthing, "Terrapin, you're bested!
You'd be wiser, dear old chap,
If you sat you down and rested
When you reach the second lap."
Quoth the turtle, "I refuse.
As for you, with all your talking.
Sit on any lap you choose.
I shall simply go on walking."

Now this sporting proposition
Was, upon its face, absurd:
Yet the hare, with expedition,
Took the tortoise at his word,
Ran until the final lap,
Then, supposing he'd outclassed him,
Laid him down and took a nap
And the patient turtle passed him!

Plodding on, he shortly made the
Line that marked the victor's goal;
Paused, and found he'd won, and laid the
Flattering unction to his soul.
Then in fashion grandiose,
Like an after-dinner speaker,
Touched his flipper to his nose,
and remarked, "Ahem!  Eureka!"

And the Moral (lest you miss one) is:

There's often time to spare,
And that races are (like this one)
Won not always by a hair.

Return to Top

When the Great Gray Ships Come In
(New York Harbor, August 20, 1898)
By Guy Wetmore Carryl

TO eastward ringing, to westward winging, oer mapless miles of sea,
On winds and tides the gospel rides that the furthermost isles are free,
And the furthermost isles make answer, harbor, and height, and hill,
Breaker and beach cry each to each, T is the Mother who calls! Be still!
Mother! new-found, beloved, and strong to hold from harm,
Stretching to these across the seas the shield of her sovereign arm,
Who summoned the guns of her sailor sons, who bade her navies roam,
Who calls again to the leagues of main, and who calls them this time home!

And the great gray ships are silent, and the weary watchers rest,
The black cloud dies in the August skies, and deep in the golden west
Invisible hands are limning a glory of crimson bars,
And far above is the wonder of a myriad wakened stars!
Peace! As the tidings silence the strenuous cannonade,
Peace at last! is the bugle blast the length of the long blockade,
And eyes of vigil weary are lit with the glad release,
From ship to ship and from lip to lip it is Peace! Thank God for peace.

Ah, in the sweet hereafter Columbia still shall show
The sons of these who swept the seas how she bade them rise and go,
How, when the stirring summons smote on her childrens ear,
South and North at the call stood forth, and the whole land answered, Here!
For the soul of the soldiers story and the heart of the sailors song
Are all of those who meet their foes as right should meet with wrong,
Who fight their guns till the foeman runs, and then, on the decks they trod,
Brave faces raise, and give the praise to the grace of their countrys God!

Yes, it is good to battle, and good to be strong and free,
To carry the hearts of a people to the uttermost ends of sea,
To see the day steal up the bay where the enemy lies in wait,
To run your ship to the harbors lip and sink her across the strait:
But better the golden evening when the ships round heads for home,
And the long gray miles slip swiftly past in a swirl of seething foam,
And the people wait at the havens gate to greet the men who win!
Thank God for peace! Thank God for peace, when the great gray ships come in!


How imposing it would be
if pumpkins grew upon a tree.
Guy Wetmore Carryl

Guy Wetmore Carryl (18731904) was an American humorist and poet

Return to Top


Request:  Do you have recommendations for Guy Wetmore Carryl?
If so, e-mail us your ideas by

© Beverly Schmitt 1997-2004, all rights reserved
Questions/Comments? E-mail

Most people know PrestonSpeed Publications brought the classic writings of G.A. Henty back into print.  Entire families are once again enjoying Mr. Henty's work in books, audiobooks, and in The Captain.  Demand the best by demanding PrestonSpeed Publications.  Accept no substitutes!!