Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, AN IDYLL OF PHATTE AND LEENE, by ANONYMOUS

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

AN IDYLL OF PHATTE AND LEENE, by                    
First Line: The hale john sprat - oft called for shortness jack
Last Line: And thus the dinner-platter was all cleared
Subject(s): Burlesque; Striptease

THE hale John Sprat -- oft called for shortness, Jack --
Had married -- had, in fact, a wife -- and she
Did worship him with wifely reverence.
He, who had loved her when she was a girl,
Compass'd her too, with sweet observances;
E'en at the dinner table did it shine.
For he -- liking no fat himself -- he never did,
With jealous care piled up her plate with lean,
Not knowing that all lean was hateful to her.
And day by day she thought to tell him o 't,
And watched the fat go out with envious eye,
But could not speak for bashful delicacy.

At last it chanced that on a winter day,
The beef -- a prize joint! -- little was but fat;
So fat, that John had all his work cut out,
To snip out lean fragments for his wife,
Leaving, in very sooth, none for himself;
Which seeing, she spoke courage to her soul,
Took up her fork, and, pointing to the joint
Where 'twas the fattest, piteously she said;
"Oh, husband! full of love and tenderness!
What is the cause that you so jealously
Pick out the lean for me. I like it not!
Nay, loathe it -- 'tis on the fat that I would feast;
O me, I fear you do not like my taste!"

Then he, dropping his horny-handled carving knife,
Sprinkling therewith the gravy o'er her gown,
Answer'd, amazed: "What! you like fat, my wife!
And never told me. Oh, this is not kind!
Think what your reticence has wrought for us;
How all the fat sent down unto the maid --
Who likes not fat -- for such maids never do --
Has been put in the waste-tub, sold for grease,
And pocketed as servant's perquisite!
Oh, wife! this news is good; for since, perforce,
A joint must be not fat nor lean, but both;
Our different tastes will serve our purpose well;
For, while you eat the fat -- the lean to me
Falls as my cherished portion. Lo! 'tis good!"
So henceforth -- he that tells the tale relates --
In John Sprat's household waste was quite unknown;
For he the lean did eat, and she the fat,
And thus the dinner-platter was all cleared.

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