Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, SURNAMES, by ANNA LETITIA BARBAULD

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

SURNAMES, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Men once were surnamed from their shape or estate
Last Line: Surnames ever go by contraries.
Alternate Author Name(s): Aikin, Anna Letitia

Men once were surnamed from their shape or estate
(You all may from history worm it):
There was Lewis the Bulky, and Harry the Great,
John Lackland, and Peter the Hermit.
But now when the doorplates of Misters and Dames
Are read, each so constantly varies
From the owner's trade, figure, and calling, Surnames
Seem given by the rule of contraries.
Mr Boss though provoked, never doubles his fist,
Mr Burns in his grate has no fuel,
Mr Playfair won't catch me at hazard or whist,
Mr Coward was winged in a duel.
Mr Wise is a dunce, Mr King is a Whig,
Mr Coffin's uncommonly sprightly,
And huge Mr Little broke down in a gig
While driving fat Mrs Golightly.
Mrs Drinkwater's apt to indulge in a dram,
Mrs Angel's an absolute fury,
And meek Mr Lyon lets fierce Mr Lamb
Tweak his nose in the lobby of Drury.
At Bath where the feeble go more than the stout
(A conduct well worthy of Nero)
Over poor Mr Lightfoot confined with the gout
Mr Heaviside danced a Bolero.
Miss Joy, wretched maid, when she chose Mr Love
Found nothing but sorrow await her:
She now holds in wedlock, as true as a dove
That fondest of mates, Mr Hayter.
Mr Oldcastle dwells in a modern built hut,
Miss Sage is of madcaps the archest;
Of all the queer bachelors Cupid ere cut
Old Mr Younghusband's the starchest.
Mr Child in a passion, knocked down Mr Rock,
Mr Stone like an aspen leaf shivers,
Miss Poole used to dance, but she stands like a stock
Ever since she became Mrs Rivers.
Mr Swift hobbles onward, no mortal knows how,
He moves as though cords had entwined him,
Mr Metcalf ran off, upon meeting a cow,
With pale Mr Turnbull behind him.
Mr Barker's as mute as a fish in the sea,
Mr Miles never moves on a journey,
Mr Gotobed sits up till half after three,
Mr Makepiece was bred an attorney.
Mr Gardener can't tell a flower from a root,
Mr Wilde with timidity draws back,
Mr Ryder performs all his journeys on foot,
Mr Foote all his journeys on horseback.
Mr Penny, whose father was rolling in wealth,
Kicked down all the fortune his dad won;
Large Mr LeFefer's the picture of health,
Mr Goodenough is but a bad one.
Mr Cruickshank stept into three thousand a year
By showing his leg to an heiress: --
Now I hope you'll acknowledge I've made it quite clear
Surnames ever go by contraries.

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