Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, WRITTEN FOR MY SON, AND SPOKEN BY HIM AT HIS FIRST PUTTING ON BREECHES, by MARY BARBER



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WRITTEN FOR MY SON, AND SPOKEN BY HIM AT HIS FIRST PUTTING ON BREECHES, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: What is it our mammas bewitches
Last Line: The only monarch all obey.
Subject(s): Children; Mothers; Childhood


WHAT is it our mammas bewitches,
To plague us little boys with breeches?
To tyrant Custom we must yield
Whilst vanquished Reason flies the field.
Our legs must suffer by ligation,
To keep the blood from circulation;
And then our feet, though young and tender,
We to the shoemaker surrender,
Who often makes our shoes so strait
Our growing feet they cramp and fret;
Whilst, with contrivance most profound,
Across our insteps we are bound;
Which is the cause, I make no doubt,
Why thousands suffer in the gout.
Our wiser ancestors wore brogues,
Before the surgeons bribed these rogues,
With narrow toes, and heels like pegs,
To help to make us break our legs.

Then, ere we know to use our fists,
Our mothers closely bind our wrists;
And never think our clothes are neat,
Till they're so tight we cannot cat.
And, to increase our other pains,
The hat-band helps to cramp our brains.
The cravat finishes the work,
Like bowstring sent from the Grand Turk.

Thus dress, that should prolong our date,
Is made to hasten on our fate.
Fair privilege of nobler natures,
To be more plagued than other creatures!
The wild inhabitants of air
Are clothed by heaven with wondrous care:
The beauteous, well-compacted feathers
Are coats of mail against all weathers;
Enamelled, to delight the eye,
Gay as the bow that decks the sky.
The beasts are clothed with beauteous skins;
The fishes armed with scales and fins,
Whose lustre lends the sailor light,
When all the stars are hid in night.

O were our dress contrived like these,
For use, for ornament and ease!
Man only seems to sorrow born,
Naked, defenceless and forlorn.

Yet we have Reason, to supply
What nature did to man deny:
Weak viceroy! Who thy power will own,
When Custom has usurped thy throne?
In vain did I appeal to thee,
Ere I would wear his livery;
Who, in defiance to thy rules,
Delights to make us act like fools.
O'er human race the tyrant reigns,
And binds them in eternal chains.
We yield to his despotic sway,
The only monarch all obey.





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