Poem – The Old Cruiser 

HERE ‘s the old cruiser, ‘Twenty-nine,

Forty times she ‘s crossed the line;

Same old masts and sails and crew,

Tight and tough and as good as new.
Into the harbor she bravely steers

Just as she ‘s done for these forty years,

Over her anchor goes, splash and clang!

Down her sails drop, rattle and bang!
Comes a vessel out of the dock

Fresh and spry as a fighting-cock,

Feathered with sails and spurred with steam,

Heading out of the classic stream.
Crew of a hundred all aboard,

Every man as fine as a lord.

Gay they look and proud they feel,

Bowling along on even keel.
On they float with wind and tide,–

Gain at last the old ship’s side;

Every man looks down in turn,–

Reads the name that’s on her stern.
‘Twenty-nine!–Diable you say!

That was in Skipper Kirkland’s day!

What was the Flying Dutchman’s name?

This old rover must be the same.
‘Ho! you Boatswain that walks the deck,

How does it happen you’re not a wreck?

One and another have come to grief,

How have you dodged by rock and reef?’
Boatswain, lifting one knowing lid,

Hitches his breeches and shifts his quid

‘Hey? What is it? Who ‘s come to grief

Louder, young swab, I ‘m a little deaf.’
‘I say, old fellow, what keeps your boat

With all you jolly old boys afloat,

When scores of vessels as good as she

Have swallowed the salt of the bitter sea?
‘Many a crew from many a craft

Goes drifting by on a broken raft

Pieced from a vessel that clove the brine

Taller and prouder than ‘Twenty-nine.
‘Some capsized in an angry breeze,

Some were lost in the narrow seas,

Some on snags and some on sands

Struck and perished and lost their hands.
‘Tell us young ones, you gray old man,

What is your secret, if you can.

We have a ship as good as you,

Show us how to keep our crew.’
So in his ear the youngster cries;

Then the gray Boatswain straight replies:–

‘All your crew be sure you know,–

Never let one of your shipmates go.
‘If he leaves you, change your tack,

Follow him close and fetch him back;

When you’ve hauled him in at last,

Grapple his flipper and hold him fast.
‘If you’ve wronged him, speak him fair,

Say you’re sorry and make it square;

If he’s wronged you, wink so tight

None of you see what ‘s plain in sight.
‘When the world goes hard and wrong,

Lend a hand to help him along;

When his stockings have holes to darn,

Don’t you grudge him your ball of yarn.
‘Once in a twelvemonth, come what may,

Anchor your ship in a quiet bay,

Call all hands and read the log,

And give ’em a taste of grub and grog.
‘Stick to each other through thick and thin;

All the closer as age leaks in;

Squalls will blow and clouds will frown,

But stay by your ship till you all go down!’ 

Poem – The Morning Visit 

A sick man’s chamber, though it often boast

The  grateful presence of a literal toast,

Can hardly claim, amidst its various wealth,

The right unchallenged to propose a health;

Yet though its tenant is denied the feast,

Friendship must launch his sentiment at least,

As prisoned damsels, locked from lovers’ lips,

Toss them a kiss from off their fingers’ tips.
The morning visit,–not till sickness falls

In the charmed circles of your own safe walls;

Till fever’s throb and pain’s relentless rack

Stretch you all helpless on your aching back;

Not till you play the patient in your turn,

The morning visit’s mystery shall you learn.
‘T is a small matter in your neighbor’s case,

To charge your fee for showing him your face;

You skip up-stairs, inquire, inspect, and touch,

Prescribe, take leave, and off to twenty such.
But when at length, by fate’s transferred decree,

The visitor becomes the visitee,

Oh, then, indeed, it pulls another string;

Your ox is gored, and that’s a different thing!

Your friend is sick: phlegmatic as a Turk,

You write your recipe and let it work;

Not yours to stand the shiver and the frown,

And sometimes worse, with which your draught goes down.

Calm as a clock your knowing hand directs,

Rhei, jalapae ana grana sex,

Or traces on some tender missive’s back,

Scrupulos duos pulveris ipecac;

And leaves your patient to his qualms and gripes,

Cool as a sportsman banging at his snipes.

But change the time, the person, and the place,

And be yourself ‘the interesting case,’

You’ll gain some knowledge which it’s well to learn;

In future practice it may serve your turn.

Leeches, for instance,–pleasing creatures quite;

Try them,–and bless you,–don’t you find they bite?

You raise a blister for the smallest cause,

But be yourself the sitter whom it draws,

And trust my statement, you will not deny

The worst of draughtsmen is your Spanish fly!

It’s mighty easy ordering when you please,

Infusi sennae capiat uncias tres;

It’s mighty different when you quackle down

Your own three ounces of the liquid brown.

Pilula, pulvis,–pleasant words enough,

When other throats receive the shocking stuff;

But oh, what flattery can disguise the groan

That meets the gulp which sends it through your own!

Be gentle, then, though Art’s unsparing rules

Give you the handling of her sharpest tools;

Use them not rashly,–sickness is enough;

Be always ‘ready,’ but be never ‘rough.’
Of all the ills that suffering man endures,

The largest fraction liberal Nature cures;

Of those remaining, ‘t is the smallest part

Yields to the efforts of judicious Art;

But simple Kindness, kneeling by the bed

To shift the pillow for the sick man’s head,

Give the fresh draught to cool the lips that burn,

Fan the hot brow, the weary frame to turn,–

Kindness, untutored by our grave M. D.’s,

But Nature’s graduate, when she schools to please,

Wins back more sufferers with her voice and smile

Than all the trumpery in the druggist’s pile.
Once more, be quiet: coming up the stair,

Don’t be a plantigrade, a human bear,

But, stealing softly on the silent toe,

Reach the sick chamber ere you’re heard below.

Whatever changes there may greet your eyes,

Let not your looks proclaim the least surprise;

It’s not your business by your face to show

All that your patient does not want to know;

Nay, use your optics with considerate care,

And don’t abuse your privilege to stare.

But if your eyes may probe him overmuch,

Beware still further how you rudely touch;

Don’t clutch his carpus in your icy fist,

But warm your fingers ere you take the wrist.

If the poor victim needs must be percussed,

Don’t make an anvil of his aching bust;

(Doctors exist within a hundred miles

Who thump a thorax as they’d hammer piles

If you must listen to his doubtful chest,

Catch the essentials, and ignore the rest.

Spare him; the sufferer wants of you and art

A track to steer by, not a finished chart.

So of your questions: don’t in mercy try

To pump your patient absolutely dry;

He’s not a mollusk squirming in a dish,

You’re not Agassiz; and he’s not a fish.
And last, not least, in each perplexing case,

Learn the sweet magic of a cheerful face;

Not always smiling, but at least serene,

When grief and anguish cloud the anxious scene.

Each look, each movement, every word and tone,

Should tell your patient you are all his own;

Not the mere artist, purchased to attend,

But the warm, ready, self-forgetting friend,

Whose genial visit in itself combines

The best of cordials, tonics, anodynes.
Such is the visit that from day to day

Sheds o’er my chamber its benignant ray.

I give his health, who never cared to claim

Her babbling homage from the tongue of Fame;

Unmoved by praise, he stands by all confest,

The truest, noblest, wisest, kindest, best. 

Poem – Oh To be Odd


Spend  the winter at the bottom of Florida and the summer on top of

the Adirondriacs.

You go to Paris and live on champagne wine and cognac

If you’re dipsomognac.

If you’re a manic-depressive

You don’t go anywhere where you won’t be cheered up, and people say

“There, there!” if your bills are excessive.

But you stick around and work day and night and night and day with

your nose to the sawmill.

If you’re nawmill.
Note: Dipsomaniac — alcoholic 

Poem – No You be a Lone Eagle

I find it very hard to be fair-minded

About people who go around being air-minded.

I just can’t see any fun

In soaring up up up into the sun

When the chances are still a fresh cool orchid to a paper geranium

That you’ll unsoar down down down onto your (to you) invaluable


I know the constant refrain

About how safer up in God’s trafficless heaven than in an automobile

or a train

But …

My God, have you ever taken a good look at a strut?

Then that one about how you’re in Boston before you can say antidis-


So that preferring to take five hours by rail is a pernicious example of


At least when I get on the Boston train I have a good chance of landing

in the South Station

And not in that part of the daily press which is reserved for victims of


Then, despite the assurance that aeroplanes are terribly comfortable I

notice that when you are railroading or automobiling

You don’t have to take a paper bag along just in case of a funny feeling.

It seems to me that no kind of depravity

Brings such speedy retribution as ignoring the law of gravity.

Therefore nobody could possibly indict me for perjury

When I swear that I wish the Wright brothers had gone in for silver

fox farming or tree surgery.