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Poem by Ellis Parker Butler

To G. M. W. and G. F. W.


Whenas—(I love that “whenas” word—
  It shows I am a poet, too,)
Q. Horace Flaccus gaily stirred
  The welkin with his tra-la-loo,
He little thought one donkey’s back
  Would carry thus a double load—
Father and son upon one jack,
  Galumphing down the Tibur Road.


Old is the tale—Aesop’s, I think—
  Of that famed miller and his son
Whose fortunes were so “on the blink”
  They had one donk, and only one;
You know the tale—the critic’s squawk
  (As pater that poor ass bestrode)—
“Selfish! To make thy fine son walk!”
  Perhaps that was on Tibur Road?


You will recall how dad got down
  And made the son the ass bestride:—
The critics shouted with a frown:
  “Shame, boy! pray let thy father ride!”
Up got the dad beside the son;
  The donkey staggered with the load
“Poor donk! For shame!” cried every one
  That walked the (was it?) Tibur Road.


You know the end! Upon their backs
  Daddy and son with much ado
Boosted that most surprised of jacks,—
  He kicked, and off the bridge he flew;
“He! haw!” A splash! A gurgling sound—
  A long, last watery abode—
In Anio’s stream the donk was drowned—
  (If this occurred on Tibur Road.)


Let Donkey represent the Odes;
  The Miller represent G. M.;
The Son stand for G. F.; the loads
  Of Critics—I will do for them.
Now, then, this proposition made,
  (And my bum verses “Ah’d” and “Oh’d!”).
What Q. E. D. can be displayed
  Anent this “On the Tibur Road”?


First, Horry’s dead and he don’t care,
  So cancel him, and let him snore;
His Donkey has been raised in air
  So oft he’s tough and calloused o’er;
Our Miller—dusty-headed man—
  Follows the best donk-boosting code:
Our Son—dispute it no one can—
  Sings gaily down the Tibur Road.


This, then, must be this Critic’s scream:—
  The donk was boosted well and high,
And, ergo! falling in the stream,
  Isn’t and ain’t and can’t be dry;
Nor is your book. Which is to say
  It is no gloomy episode—
You’ve made a dead donk sweetly bray,
  And joyful is the Tibur Road.

Ellis Parker Butler

Ellis Parker Butler's other poems:
  1. New England Magazine
  2. The Rich Boy’s Christmas
  3. Why I Went to the Foot
  4. The Final Tax
  5. To Jessica, Gone Back to the City

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