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Aunt Tabitha
by Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

Whatever I do, whatever I say,
Aunt Tabitha tells me that isn't the way;
When she was a girl (forty summers ago)
Aunt Tabitha tells me they never did so.

Dear aunt! If I only would take her advice!
But I like my own way, and find it so nice!
And besides, I forget half the things I am told;
But they all will come back to me - when I am old.

If a youth passes by, it may happen, no doubt,
He may chance to look in as a chance to look out;
She would never endure an impertinent stare, -
It is horrid, she says, and I mustn't sit there.

A walk in the moonlight has pleasures, I own,
But it isn't quite safe to be walking alone;
So I take a lad's arm, - just for safety, you know, -
But Aunt Tabitha tells me they didn't do so.

How wicked we are, and how good they were then!
They kept at arm's length those detestable men;
What an era of virtue she lived in! - But stay -
Were the men all such rogues in Aunt Tabitha's day?

If the men were so wicked, I'll ask my pap
How he dared to propose to my darling mamma;
Was he like the rest of them? Goodness! Who knows?
And what shall I say, if a wretch should propose?

I am thinking if Aunt knew so little of sin,
What a wonder Aunt Tabitha's aunt must have been!
And her grand-aunt - it scares me - how shockingly sad
That we girls of today are so frightfully bad!

A martyr will save us, and nothing else can;
Let me perish - to rescue some wretched young man!
Though when to the altar a victim I go,
Aunt Tabitha'll tell me she never did so!

I'm a big fan of Holmes.

He has funny poems, he has serious poems, contemplative poems, and the occasional poem that makes no earthly sense. I have the complete works, and it'll probably take me through college to chew through them all.

1 comment:

  1. My favorite is the Wonderful One-Hoss Shay, but I admit that this is largely because I have never read any of his other poems. I should read more of him.


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