Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, MOTHERS-IN-LAW, by JOHN GODFREY SAXE

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

MOTHERS-IN-LAW, by                     Poet's Biography
First Line: If you ever should marry, said major mcgarth
Last Line: She will never appear as your mother-in-law!
Subject(s): Mothers-in-law

IF you ever should marry, said Major McGarth,
While smoking a pipe by my bachelor-hearth,
If you ever should wed, -- and I would n't employ
A word to prevent it, my broth of a boy, --
Remember that wedlock's a company where
The parties, quite often, are more than a pair;
'T is a lott'ry in which you are certain to draw
A wife, and, most likely, a mother-in-law!

What the latter may be all conjecture defies:
She is never a blank; she is seldom a prize;
Sometimes she is silly; sometimes she is bold;
Sometimes -- rather worse! -- she's a virulent scold.
You dreamed of an angel to gladden your home,
And with her -- God help you! -- a harpy has come;
You fished for a wife without failing or flaw,
And find you have netted -- a mother-in-law!

"Dear Anna," she says, "as you clearly may see,
Has always been used to depending on me;
Poor child! though the gentlest that ever was known,
She could never be trusted a moment alone;
Such sensitive nerves, and such delicate lungs!"
Cries the stoutest of dames with the longest of tongues.
"Like mother like child; you remember the saw;
I'm weakly myself," says your mother-in-law!

But your mother-in-law, you discover erelong,
Though feeble in body, in temper is strong;
And so you surrender, -- what else can you do?
She governs your wife, and your servants, and you;
And calls you a savage, the coarsest of brutes,
For trampling the carpet with mud on your boots;
And vows she committed a stupid "fox-paw"
In rashly becoming your mother-in-law!

And so, said the Major, pray, let me advise
The carefullest use of your ears and your eyes;
And ceteris paribus, take you a maid
(Of widows, my boy, I am something afraid!)
Who gives you -- the darling! -- her hand and her love,
With a sigh for her "dear sainted mother above!"
From which the conclusion you safely may draw,
She will never appear as your mother-in-law!

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