By Brenda Shaughnessy
If only you’d been a better mother.
So you’re saying it’s someone else’s fault?
Who was supposed to give it?
Well, how am I supposed to live?
I cut off my hair, to sell for the money
to buy you what you wanted.
I can’t give you that!
What would Jesus do?
He had a weird mother too . . .
It’s a riddle.
But it’s always winter in this world.
There is no end to ending.
The bears are never cold, Mama,
but I am one cold, cold bear.
“Man wants but little here below”
Little I ask; my wants are few;
I only wish a hut of stone,
(A brown stone will do,)
That I may call my own;—
And close at hand is such a one,
In yonder street that fronts the sun.
Plain food is quite enough for me;
Three courses are as good as ten;—
If Nature can subsist on three,
Thank Heaven for three. Amen!
I always thought cold victual nice;—
My would be vanilla-ice.
I care not much for gold or land;—
Give me a mortgage here and there,—
Some good bank-stock, some note of hand,
Or trifling railroad share,—
I only ask that Fortune send
A more than I shall spend.
Honors are silly toys, I know,
And titles are but empty names;
I would, , be Plenipo,—
But only near St. James;
I’m very sure I should not care
To fill our Gubernator’s chair.
Jewels are baubles; ’t is a sin
To care for such unfruitful things;—
One good-sized diamond in a pin,—
Some, , in rings,—
A ruby, and a pearl, or so,
Will do for me;—I laugh at show.
My dame should dress in cheap attire;
(Good, heavy silks are never dear;)—
I own perhaps I desire
Some shawls of true Cashmere,—
Some marrowy crapes of China silk,
Like wrinkled skins on scalded milk.
I would not have the horse I drive
So fast that folks must stop and stare;
An easy gait—two forty-five—
Suits me; I do not care;—
Perhaps, for just a ,
Some seconds less would do no hurt.
Of pictures, I should like to own
Titians and Raphaels three or four,—
I love so much their style and tone,
One Turner, and no more,
(A landscape,—foreground golden dirt,—
The sunshine painted with a squirt.)
Of books but few,—some fifty score
For daily use, and bound for wear;
The rest upon an upper floor;—
Of red morocco’s gilded gleam
And vellum rich as country cream.
Busts, cameos, gems,—such things as these,
Which others often show for pride,
value for their power to please,
And selfish churls deride;—
Stradivarius, I confess,
Meerschaums, I would fain possess.
Wealth’s wasteful tricks I will not learn,
Nor ape the glittering upstart fool;—
Shall not carved tables serve my turn,
But must be of buhl?
Give grasping pomp its double share,—
I ask but recumbent chair.
Thus humble let me live and die,
Nor long for Midas’ golden touch;
If Heaven more generous gifts deny,
I shall not miss them ,—
Too grateful for the blessing lent
Of simple tastes and mind content!
A Copywriter's Christmas
The Twenty-fifth is imminent
And every known expedient
Designed for making Christmas pay
Is getting swiftly under way.
Observe the people swarming to
And fro, somnambulating through
The stores in search of ties and shirts
And gloves to give until it hurts.
They're eyeing gifts in Saks' and Hearn's
And Macy's, not to mention Stern's,
While earnest copywriters are
Hitching their copy to the star
Of Bethlehem quite shamelessly,
For they are duty bound to see
That Peace On Earth Good Will To Men
Gets adequate results again.
To Mrs K____, On Her Sending Me an English Christmas Plum-Cake at Paris
What crowding thoughts around me wake,
What marvels in a Christmas-cake!
Ah say, what strange enchantment dwells
Enclosed within its odorous cells?
Is there no small magician bound
Encrusted in its snowy round?
For magic surely lurks in this,
A cake that tells of vanished bliss;
A cake that conjures up to view
The early scenes, when life was new;
When memory knew no sorrows past,
And hope believed in joys that last! —
Mysterious cake, whose folds contain
Life’s calendar of bliss and pain;
That speaks of friends for ever fled,
And wakes the tears I love to shed.
Oft shall I breathe her cherished name
From whose fair hand the offering came:
For she recalls the artless smile
Of nymphs that deck my native isle;
Of beauty that we love to trace,
Allied with tender, modest grace;
Of those who, while abroad they roam,
Retain each charm that gladdens home,
And whose dear friendships can impart
A Christmas banquet for the heart!
In the bleak midwinter
In the bleak midwinter, frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow,
In the bleak midwinter, long ago.
Our God, Heaven cannot hold Him, nor earth sustain;
Heaven and earth shall flee away when He comes to reign.
In the bleak midwinter a stable place sufficed
The Lord God Almighty, Jesus Christ.
Enough for Him, whom cherubim, worship night and day,
Breastful of milk, and a mangerful of hay;
Enough for Him, whom angels fall before,
The ox and ass and camel which adore.
Angels and archangels may have gathered there,
Cherubim and seraphim thronged the air;
But His mother only, in her maiden bliss,
Worshipped the beloved with a kiss.
What can I give Him, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb;
If I were a Wise Man, I would do my part;
Yet what I can I give Him: give my heart.