Little Ballads Of Timely Warning; I: On Dishonesty Arising From Ignorance

A poem by Ellis Parker Butler

King Joris was a kind-eyed king,
A dear old, gentle, smiling thing;
But ‘though by nature meek and mild,
Two things could drive him raving wild,
Dishonesty, its naughty ways; Ingratitude, its sting.

Now, in his court there was a man,
Jones, Royal Court Historian,
Whom Joris, the compassionate,
Had raised from very low estate,
Jones drove for movers, once, a van.

The king supplied all Jones could use:
Pens, ink and paper, clothing, shoes,
Food, money, facts, a desk all fixed,
Five hundred thousand words, well mixed,
And, what I’d like to have, a Muse.

Jones set to work, but, poking ’round,
A package in his desk he found
Marked “Punctuations, Use with Care,”
And, looking in, discovered there
Of marks, best grade and mixed, a pound.

He used them! Not. alas! with care,
But sprinkled handfuls everywhere,
Threw commas into b,ut and th,at,
Poured points in ?Mer,!cy: s*e,e t”he c)at,
And rubbed a handful in his hair.

Alas! an Auditor austere
Took stock for Joris once a year!
Of all that precious, priceless pound
No punctuation could be found;
Excuses Joris would not hear!

The headsman with one skilful blow
Removed Jones’s head and shouted, “So
Perish all traitors who would use
Our punctuation for shampoos,”
Said Jones, and died, ”I did not know!”


Children: Think well of Jones’s fate
And learn, while young, to punctuate.

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