Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE SEAMY SIDE OF MOTLEY, by FRANKLIN PIERCE ADAMS



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THE SEAMY SIDE OF MOTLEY, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Lady, when we sat together
Last Line: Funny every day.
Alternate Author Name(s): F. P. A.
Subject(s): Books; Editors; Humor; Writing & Writers; Reading


LADY, when we sat together,
And your flow of talk that turned
On the Park, the Play, the Weather,
Left me frankly unconcerned,
I could see how hard you labour'd
Till your brain was stiff and sore,
Never having yet been neighbour'd
By so dull a bore.

Later on, from information
Gathered elsewhere after lunch,
You had got at my vocation,
Learned that I belonged to Punch.
And in tones of milk and honey
You invited me to speak
On the art of being funny,
Funny once a week.

'Tis a task that haunts me waking,
Like a vampire on the chest,
Spoils my peace, prevents my taking
Joyance in another's jest;
Makes me move abroad distracted,
Trailing speculative feet;
Makes me wear at home a racked head
In a dripping sheet.

Women hint that I am blinded
To their chaste, but obvious, charms;
Sportsmen deem me absent-minded
When addressed to feats of arms;
If the sudden partridge rises
I but rend the neighbouring air,
And the rabbit's rude surprises
Take me unaware.

Life for me's no game of skittles
As at first you might opine;
I have lost my love of victuals
And a pretty taste in wine;
When at lunch your talk was wasted,
Did you notice what occurred—
How I left the hock untasted,
How I passed the bird?

So, if you would grant a favour,
In your orisons recall
One whose smile could scarce be graver
If his mouth were full of gall;
Let your lips (that shame the ruby)
Pray for mine all wan and bleak
With the strain of trying to be
Funny every week.
—Owen Seaman, in "Salvage."

Lady, you have heard Sir Owen
Seaman, editor of Punch.
You have read how he has no en-
Thusiastic love of lunch;
Gone his disposition sunny,
Vanishing his fair physique,
With the strain of being funny,
Funny once a week.

Lady, if Sir Owen's ditty,
Done in Seaman's able style,
Earns the bard your gracious pity,
Gains your sympathetic smile;
If the load he labours under
Urges you to tears; if he
Calls your cardiac nerve, I wonder
How you'd feel for me.

"Once a week!" With what emotion,
How jejunely I should jig
To my job—mine utter notion
Of an otium cum dig!
Half a dozen days to wake up
Unafraid of coming night!
Heedless of the woes of makeup,
And the need to write!

Lady, I was once as other,
I was once the Party's Life;
Mingled freely with my brothers,
Went to places with my wife;
Life was radiant, life was rosy;
Now the world is dull and drab.
Gentle persons say: "He's prosy,"
Others: "He's a crab."

Woes too terrible to mention
Are an omnipresent curse;
Some one speaks—and my attention
Wanders to to-morrow's verse;
When I play at mixéd doubles—
It has happened countless times—
All my thoughts are on the troubles
Of to-morrow's rhymes.

So, my lady, wheresoever,
Whosoever you may be,
Don't you think you might endeavour
To devote a prayer to me?
Let your eyes (that brown or blue be)
Dim for me, already gray
With the strain of trying to be
Funny every day.





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