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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

DINNER, by                     Poet's Biography
First Line: Now this is very serious, and should be understood
Last Line: "file off, to that inspiring tune -- ""we've got no work to do."
Alternate Author Name(s): Leigh, Arbor; Guggenberger, Mrs. Ignatz; Bevington, L. S.
Subject(s): Freedom; Liberty

Now this is very serious, and should be understood --
Here is a moral being that is influenced by food!
For everything I like the taste of helps me to be good.

Now, mind you, 'tis of me I speak; I am but a beginner;
I won't profess to dictate to your old and hoary sinner;
For all I know or care his soul may be the worse for dinner.

But mine is not, and -- Ribbon Blue! -- 'tis not the worse for wine;
I help my soul with alcohol, yes, every time I dine;
Again I must affirm, the soul I speak of, it is mine.

I lost some worlds to save it, and the toughest world to lose
Was just that worldly-holy one that instituted "blues;"
"Ribbons," or "devils," all the same, its precepts I refuse.

Perhaps mine is a tenth-rate soul, not worth the while to save;
Perhaps a quite incorrigible soul that can't behave;
But it is mine, and I shall have to wear it to my grave.

I do not mind its company; though rough, 'tis not untrue;
'Twill bear its pack of care, and then another pack for you;
And if you give it dinner, yet a further pack or two.

Dame Nature said when I was born -- "That child shall be my own;
I'll whip and punish, scold and frighten her till she is grown;
And then I'll share my jokes with her, and watch her run alone."

But at the christening were present sponsors very prim;
Miss S. P. G., demure and pious, John Bull looking grim,
And Mrs. Grundy -- can't you see her? -- bland, and sly, and trim.

Dame Nature just looked on, and didn't mind their whispering;
She knew whom I belonged to, poor mis-christened little thing!
She meant despite them all, you see, that I should have my fling.

She got into the nursemaid's wrist, and cuffed me black and blue;
And called me "Satan's ugly child," and why I never knew;
That was her way of driving out the bounce from what I do.

She got into some pastors next, and made them small and spiteful;
She got into the Sunday tales, and rules of what is rightful,
And made them seem all "cook'd" and queer, and not a bit delightful.

And when I came of age she dressed me up to play a part,
And off we went to call on Mrs. Grundy, spruce and smart;
And when we left, she looked at me; and chuckled from her heart.

And many things came after that -- amazement, wonder, hope;
And fear and courage, hate and love, and manacles and scope;
And all the world passed in and through, from demagogue to pope.

And each thing had its tug, to see if it could break the spell
That good Dame Nature laid upon my heart, and brain as well;
They wrung their wounded fingers as they went, and muttered "Hell!"

A dunce in all things worldly and in all things "proper" too,
I joyed and sorrowed, on and on, with more or less ado;
Until at last the Sun lit up a certainty or two.

And one of them was this: Your soul won't be the worse for dinner
If meanwhile you remember you're a tentative beginner
On Nature's new-mown play-ground, with survival to the winner.

No physic for the glee of these -- who feel with social nerves;
No fences, right or left, for those -- whose purpose never swerves;
Your famished volunteer for Right and dine as he deserves.

Fair play on that fair play-ground, then, for all brave souls and true,
Hoist living Life's red flag for goal, while coats and ribbons blue
File off, to that inspiring tune -- "We've got no work to do."

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