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Perverted Proverbs A Manual of Immorals for the Many   By: (1874-1936)

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Author of "Ruthless Rhymes for Heartless Homes" "Ballads of the Boer War" "The Baby's Baedeker"

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Copyright, 1903, by Robert Howard Russell Published May, 1903.


Perverted Proverbs

Dedicated to Helen Whitney

Do you recall those bygone days, When you received with kindly praise My bantling book of Rhyme? Praise undeserved, alas! and yet How sweet! For, tho' we had not met, (Ah! what a waste of time!) I could the more enjoy such mercies Since I delighted in your verses.

And when a Poet stoops to smile On some one of the rank and file, (Inglorious if not mute,) Some groundling bard who craves to climb, Like me, the dizzy rungs of Rhyme, To reach the Golden Fruit; For one in such a situation The faintest praise is no damnation.

Parnassus heights must surely pall; For simpler diet do you call, Of nectar growing tired? These verses to your feet I bring, Drawn from an unassuming spring, Well meant if not inspired; O charming Poet's charming daughter, Descend and taste my toast and water!

For you alone these lines I write, That, reading them, your brow may light Beneath its crown of bays; Your eyes may sparkle like a star, With friendship, that is dearer far Than any breath of praise; The which a lucky man possessing Can ask no higher human blessing.

And, though the "salt estranging sea" Be widely spread 'twixt you and me, We have what makes amends; And since I am so glad of you, Be glad of me a little, too, Because of being friends. And, if I earn your approbation, Accept my humble dedication.

H. G.


The Press may pass my Verses by With sentiments of indignation, And say, like Greeks of old, that I Corrupt the Youthful Generation; I am unmoved by taunts like these (And so, I think, was Socrates).

Howe'er the Critics may revile, I pick no journalistic quarrels, Quite realizing that my Style Makes up for any lack of Morals; For which I feel no shred of shame (And Byron would have felt the same).

I don't intend a Child to read These lines, which are not for the Young; For, if I did, I should indeed Feel fully worthy to be hung. (Is "hanged" the perfect tense of "hang"? Correct me, Mr. Andrew Lang!)

O Young of Heart, tho' in your prime, By you these Verses may be seen! Accept the Moral with the Rhyme, And try to gather what I mean. But, if you can't, it won't hurt me! (And Browning would, I know, agree.)

Be reassured, I have not got The style of Stephen Phillips' heroes, Nor Henry Jones's pow'r of Plot, Nor wit like Arthur Wing Pinero's! (If so, I should not waste my time In writing you this sort of rhyme.)

I strive to paint things as they Are, Of Realism the true Apostle; All flow'ry metaphors I bar, Nor call the homely thrush a "throstle." Such synonyms would make me smile. (And so they would have made Carlyle.)

My Style may be at times, I own, A trifle cryptic or abstruse; In this I do not stand alone, And need but mention, in excuse, A thousand world familiar names, From Meredith to Henry James.

From these my fruitless fancy roams To seek the Ade of Modern Fable, From Doyle's or Hemans' "Stately Ho(l)mes," To t'other of The Breakfast Table; Like Galahad, I wish (in vain) "My wit were as the wit of Twain!"

Had I but Whitman's rugged skill, (And managed to escape the Censor), The Accuracy of a Mill, The Reason of a Herbert Spencer, The literary talents even Of Sidney Lee or Leslie Stephen.

The pow'r of Patmore's placid pen, Or Watson's gift of execration, The sugar of Le Gallienne, Or Algernon's Alliteration. One post there is I'd not be lost in, Tho' I might find it most ex austin'!

Some day, if I but study hard, The public, vanquished by my pen'll Acclaim me as a Minor Bard, Like Norman Gale or Mrs... Continue reading book >>

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