Tuesday, August 07, 2007

A Quartet of Poems by Arthur Guiterman

Arthur Guiterman (1871 -1943) was an editor of the Woman's Home Companion and the Literary Digest, a co-founder the Poetry Society of America, and a delightful poet whose work was published in over a dozen collections including Betel Nuts: What They Say In Hindustan (1907), The Laughing Muse (1915), and Gaily the Troubadour (1936). Here are four of my favorites:

"First Dentistry was Painless"

First dentistry was painless;
Then bicycles were chainless

And carriages were horseless

And many laws, enforceless.

Next, cookery was fireless,

Telegraphy was wireless,

Cigars were nicotineless

And coffee, caffeinless.

Soon oranges were seedless,

The putting green was weedless,

The college boy hatless,

The proper diet, fatless,

Now motor roads are dustless,

The latest steel is rustless,

Our tennis courts are sodless,

Our new religions, godless.

"The Dog's Cold Nose"

When Noah, perceiving 'twas time to embark,
Persuaded the creatures to enter the Ark,
The dog, with a friendliness truly sublime,
Assisted in herding them two at a time.

He drove in the elephants, zebras and gnus
Until they were packed like a box full of screws,
The cat in the cupboard, the mouse on the shelf,
The bug in the crack; then he backed in himself.

But such was the lack of available space
He couldn't tuck all of him into the place;
So after the waters had flooded the plain
And down from the heavens fell blankets of rain
He stood with his muzzle thrust out through the door
The whole forty days of that terrible pour!

Because of which drenching, zoologists hold,
The nose of a healthy dog always is cold!

"What One Approves, Another Scorns"

What one approves,another scorns,

and thus his nature each discloses.

You find the rosebush full of thorns,

I find the thornbush full of roses.

"On the Vanity of Earthly Greatness"

The tusks which clashed in mighty brawls

Of mastodons, are billiard balls.

The sword of Charlemagne the Just

Is Ferric Oxide, known as rust.

The grizzly bear, whose potent hug,

Was feared by all, is now a rug.

Great Caesar's bust is on the shelf,

And I don't feel so well myself.