Ellis Parker Butler ( )


The Twenty Hoss-Power Shay


You have heard of the wonderful one-hoss shay
That was built in such a logical way
It ran a hundred years to a day.
And then, of a sudden, it up and bust,
And all that was left was a mound of dust?
HolmesO. W.told it well
In a rhyme of hiswhat there was to tell
But the one-hoss shay wasnt one, two, three
With a vehicle once belonged to me.

One hoss? No, sir! Not six nor nine
Twenty there were in this rig of mine!
Twenty hosses as tough as rocks,
All caged up in a sort of box
That stood jist back of the forward wheels!
Right! She was one of those automobiles
With twenty hosses bottled inside
Hosses that not only pull but ride!
Wonder what Holmes would have had to say
If the mare had rode in his one-hoss shay!
I reckon the shay would have logicked out
Before the century rolled about.

Well, this big touring car, I say,
Was built just like the one-hoss shay
Some dependable, logical way
Flipflaps, dujabs, wheels and things,
Levers, thing-gum-bobs and springs,
Hub, and felloe, and hoss-power chest
One part just as strong as the rest;
So logic is logic, as Holmes would say,
And no one part could first give way.

Wonderful vehicle, youll admit,
With not one flaw in the whole of it;
As long as I had it, I declare
I hadnt one cent to pay for repair,
It couldnt break down because, you see,
It was such a logical symphony.

Now for my tale. Were not so slow
These days as a hundred years ago,
And its like enough that the one-hoss shay,
Ambling along in its sleepy way,
Should creep a century thout a break,
But nowadays we aim to make
A pace that is something like a pace,
And if that old shay got in our race
It would stand the pressure twenty days
And go to the home of played-out shays.

Logic is logic. Just figure this out
For I know just what Im talking about:
If a one-hoss vehicle, genus shays,
Will stand our pressure twenty days,
Then, vice versa, a twenty-hoss shay
Should stand the pressure just one day;
Well, mine is a logical automobile,
From rubber tire to steering wheel.
I bought it one morning at just 10.42,
And the very next morning what did it do,
Right on the second, but up and bust!
Talk of the old shays pile of dust
Thats not logical; my mobile
Vanished completely! Brass and steel,
Iron and wood and rubber tire
Went right up in a gush of fire,
And in half a minute a gassy smell
Was all I had left by which to tell
I ever owned a touring car,
And then that vanished, and there you are!

End of my twenty hoss-power shay.
Logic is logic. Thats all I say.



Ellis Parker Butler's other poems:
  1. Why Washington Retreated
  2. The Ballade of the Automobile
  3. Womanly Qualms
  4. When Ida Puts Her Armor On
  5. An Exception


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