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Posts tagged as “More Truth Than Poetry”

The Lesson of History

On the sunshiny African isles
Where the ladies were light on their feet,
And under the mangoes did shimmies and tangoes
That were far more risque than discreet,
Reformers would often arise,
Hold up their stern hands and proclaim:
“Profaning the Voodoo by dancing like you do
ls a blot on the Hottentot name.”
But as soon as the tom-tom resumed
Its rythmical, sensuous boom
The same undulations and twists and gyrations
Enlivened the tropical gloom!

In th land of the Bashi Baiouks
Where they dance in the mannerof snakes,
With many a quiver and shudder and shiver,
And a shocking assortment of shakes,
Whenever a prude happens by,
He cries, with a horrified glance:
“No modest young Bulgar would do thlngs so vulgar;
The law should prohibit this dance!”
But when he has gone on his way
And the music starts playing once more,
The shiver of sinews and muscles continues,
Exactly the same as before.

And so, when we listen today .
To the strenuous voice of reform,
The statement advancing that up to date dancing
Is getting a little too warm,
We know that the youth of the land
Will pause with a pitying smile,
And dance more sedately and less intimately,
But when they’ve reformed for a while,
From Zanzibar, Afghanistan,
Or Bankok, Belize or Brazil
Or Greenland or Lapland or China or Japland
They’ll get a more shocking dance still!

The Oklahoma City Times, September 12, 1919. By James J. Montague.

Improved Methods

Where is Bruce the Burglar now, who, in the dead of night
Approached your bed with stealthy tread,
Applied a sand bag to your head,
Removed your watch and cash and fled,
Before the morning light?
He’s selling ham and sugar in a retail grocery store;
It’s safer far than burgling – and it pays a whole lot more!

Where’s Delancey Doane, the Dip, whose fingers lithe and lean,
Unknown to you, would hasten through
Your coat and vest, and as they flew
Took every solitary sou,
And picked you flat and clean?
Delancey runs a butcher shop, and gathers in the kale.
And never worries any more for fear he’ll go to jail!

Where is Percy Price, the Yegg, whose custom was to smash
A passerby upon the eye,
And, if the latter raised a cry,
A five-pound black-jack to apply,
And then collect his cash?
He owns a big hotel uptown – the profits are the same,
But selling beans at ninety cents is much the safer game!

It’s pleasant now of course to know that one may safely roam
About the street and never meet
A gentleman with padded feet
Who will not hesitate to beat
You smartly on your dome.
But though the methods they employ today are not so raw,
You’re paying far more tribute now that crooks respect the law!

From the South Bend News Times, September 11, 1919. By James J. Montague.

Bon Voyage

The United States shipping board is soon to launch a vessel which will be named the Casey, in honor of the fine overseas service of the Knights of Columbus.

Long may her smoke trail wreath over the ocean,
  Long may the good Irish name of her be
A symbol of service, and faith, and devotion,
  Three graces that follow the emblem – K. C.
Liner and merchantman, troopship and tanker,
  In Liverpool, Rio or Brest or Benares
Shall break out their flag as she swings to her anchor,
  In graceful salute to the name that she bears.

The storm may break round her, but never she’ll fear it.
  Though typhoon may smother and tempest assail,
The Greatest of Captains shall guard her in spirit,
  And pilot her out of the teeth of the gale.
And HE who looked down when the caravels drifted
  To seek a new world beneath Heaven’s high dome,
Shall watch till the mists that enclose her are lifted,
  And safe from her journey the Casey comes home.

High be the mission and honored the name of her,
  Whatever her course o’er the waters may be,
Brave the behavior and glowing the fame of her,
  Worthy to carry the emblem – K. C.
Safe be each journey and swift each return of her,
  Smooth be the seas she is destined to plow
With the Red, White and Blue streaming out from the stern of her,
  And her good Irish name on her bluff, honest bow!

From the South Bend News Times, September 9, 1919. By James J. Montague.

No Escape

The day the law went into force
Decreeing prohibition,
I took the wiser, safer course,
And bowed in meek submission.
“I can’t drink soda-fizz,” I said,
“The stuff seems to hydraulic;
I’ll go to buttermilk instead,
For that’s non-alcoholic.”

Each day I drank a gallon can,
It really cheered and warmed me,
But then a scientific man
Who lived next door informed me,
That buttermilk was but a bluff.
“Beware,” he said, “my brother,
You’re drinking alcohol enough
To make one beat his mother!”

I turned to water for a while,
Distracted by his chiding,
And said with a pathetic smile,
“I now am law abiding.”
“You still are full of alcohol
That nature has supplied you,”
Said he, “you haven’t quit at all,
You’re making it inside you!”

“Each hour without a pause or stop
A tiny trickling river
Of alcohol comes, drop by drop
Exuding from your liver!”
He proved that what he said was true
By figures tried and tested,
And now I don’t know what to do
But have myself arrested!

From The Oklahoma City Times, August 5, 1919. By James J. Montague.


From the Sound Bend News Times, July 30, 1919. By James J. Montague.