Certain Truths About Certain Things

A poem by Madison Julius Cawein

I.

And the boy that lives next door
Said to me one day, There's more
In those rhymes of Mother Goose
And those tales, I don't care whose,
Arabian Nights or Grimm's, or, well,
Any one's, than, I've no doubt,
You or I can ever tell,
Or can ever know about.

II.

Why, there is a land, you know,
Where the world is so-and-so:
Where old Hick-a-Hack-a-more
Kicks the king right out his door
And sits on his throne and kills
Blackbirds as they fly from pies,
Pots them on the windowsills
I ain't telling you no lies.

III.

For I met an old man once
And he was n't any dunce
Who just told me he had been
To that land and he had seen
All those people: even met
Handy Spandy in a shop;
And old Doctor Foster, wet,
Mad enough to make you hop.

IV.

And he said that Miller, he
Who once lived on River Dee,
Told him that he was a wreck,
Mind and body, knee and neck,
Haunted by the memory of
That old flea whose bones he crackt
On the millstones. It was tough!
And it killed him; it's a fact.

V.

And he'd met that fellow, too,
Of St. Ives and all his crew,
Wives and sacks and cats; and he
Said it was a sight to see:
Wives a-scolding and the cats
Fighting in the sacks; the kits
Scratching like so many rats,
Yowling, too, to give you fits.

VI.

And he said that Old King Cole
Was a fraud upon the whole:
Never had a fiddler
That could fiddle anywhere
By the side of him; and joked
While he drank the vilest brew
From a cracked old bowl; and smoked
Worse tobacco; smiling, too.

VII.

And he said he knows of one
Oldtime town, all over-run
With old beggars, that at dark
Loosen dogs that bark and bark
Till the people, gone to bed,
Throw out anything they've got
Just to keep the peace. He said,
"Ought n't they to all be shot?"

VIII.

And he said that that old man
Clothed in leather was a ban
On the whole community:
He was simply miserly,
Filthy, too: economized
Clothes and washing that way: and
This man simply loathed, despised
Him, his grin, and leather-band.

IX.

Cinderella, too: why, she
Was a slomp; just naturally
Would n't work; and had big feet
Could have seen them 'cross the street.
Did n't marry a Prince at all,
But the ashman. Never at Court
Or a ball! She had her gall
To put that in her report!

X.

Blue Beard was a much wronged man.
Think it was a well-laid plan
For his wife, her brothers there,
Just to kill him and to share
All his gold and silver. Then
Great Claus, too, was much abused.
Think that old Hans Andersen
Might have known it. He was used.

XI.

Little Two Eyes ate her goat;
Was a glutton. If you'll note
All she did was eat and eat,
Thought of only bread and meat,
While her sisters, I've heard since,
Scrubbed and labored day and night;
But, it's true, she married a Prince
Fell in love with her appetite.

XII.

Jack the Giant-Killer; well!
He's the worst, the sorriest sell.
This man met him, and he said
He was just a bully; bled
Folks by blackmail. Every one
Was afraid of him. But he,
This old man, once saw him run
From a boy not big as me.

XIII.

Rudest girls he ever saw
Were Bo Peep and Marjory Daw;
Always careless in their dress,
Given over to idleness.
Bobby Shafto and Boy Blue,
Worst boys in the world: the one,
Fishing when he ought not to;
The other sleeping in the sun.

XIV.

Lots of other things he said
That, somehow, got out my head:
Something 'bout that girl contrary
Never had a garden! Mary;
And Miss Muffet that big spider
Never did sit down beside her;
And that Curly Locks the deuce!
Never had a curl.... A few
Things he told of Mother Goose,
And I know they all are true.

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