Carryl, Guy Wetmore

United States, (1873–1904)

The Inexcusable Improbity of Tom, the Piper’s Son

  1. A Paris butcher kept a shop
  2. Upon the river’s bank
  3. Where you could buy a mutton chop
  4. Or two for half a franc.
  5. The little shop was spruce and neat,
  6. In view of all who trod the street
  7. The decorated joints of meat
  8. Were hung up in a rank.
  9.  
  10. This Gallic butcher led a life
  11. Of highly moral tone;
  12. He never raised his voice in strife,
  13. He never drank alone:
  14. He simply sat outside his door
  15. And slept from eight o’clock till four;
  16. The more he slept, so much the more
  17. To slumber he was prone.
  18.  
  19. One day outside his shop he put
  20. A pig he meant to stuff,
  21. And carefully around each foot
  22. He pinned a paper ruff,
  23. But, while a watch he should have kept,
  24. His habit conquered, and he slept,
  25. And for a thief who was adept
  26. That surely was enough.
  27.  
  28. A Scottish piper dwelt near by,
  29. Whose one ungracious son
  30. Beheld that pig and murmured: “Why,
  31. No sooner said than done!
  32. It seems to me that this I need.”
  33. And grasping it, with all his speed
  34. Across the Pont des Invalides
  35. He started on a run.
  36.  
  37. Then, turning sharply to the right,
  38. Without a thought of risk,
  39. He fled. ‘Tis fair to call his flight
  40. Inordinately brisk.
  41. But now the town was all astir,
  42. In vain his feet he strove to spur,
  43. They caught him, shouting: “Au voleur!
  44. Beside the Obelisk.
  45.  
  46. The breathless butcher cried: “A mort!
  47. The crowd said: “Conspuez!
  48. And some: “A bas!” and half a score
  49. Responded: “Vive l’armée!
  50. While grim gendarmes with piercing eye,
  51. And stern remarks about: “Canaille!
  52. The pig abstracted on the sly.
  53. Such is the Gallic way!
  54.  
  55. The piper’s offspring, his defeat
  56. Deep-rooted in his heart,
  57. A revolutionary sheet
  58. Proceeded then to start.
  59. Thenceforward every evening he
  60. In leaders scathed the Ministry,
  61. And wished he could accomplish the
  62. Return of Bonaparte.
  63.  
  64. THE MORAL is that when the press
  65. Begins to rave and shout
  66. It’s often difficult to guess
  67. What it is all about.
  68. The editor we strive to pin,
  69. But we can never find him in.
  70. What startling knowledge we should win
  71. If we could find him out!

Guy Wetmore Carryl. Mother Goose for Grownups. New York and London: Harper & Brothers (1900).

About the Poet:

Guy Wetmore Carryl (1873-1904) was a U.S. humorist, novelist, and poet. He is best known for his own poems that are parodies of Aesop’s Fables, Grimm’s Fairy Tales and Mother Goose nursery rhymes.

After graduation from Columbia University, Carryl became a staff writer for Munsey’s Magazine and was later promoted to managing editor. Later he went to work for Harper’s Magazine and was sent to Paris. While in Paris he wrote for Life, Outing, Munsey’s, and Collier’s, as well as his own independent writings. [DES-07/12]

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