In New Orleans

A poem by Eugene Field

'Twas in the Crescent City not long ago befell
The tear-compelling incident I now propose to tell;
So come, my sweet collector friends, and listen while I sing
Unto your delectation this brief, pathetic thing--
No lyric pitched in vaunting key, but just a requiem
Of blowing twenty dollars in by nine o'clock a.m.

Let critic folk the poet's use of vulgar slang upbraid,
But, when I'm speaking by the card, I call a spade a spade;
And I, who have been touched of that same mania, myself,
Am well aware that, when it comes to parting with his pelf,
The curio collector is so blindly lost in sin
That he doesn't spend his money--he simply blows it in!

In Royal street (near Conti) there's a lovely curio-shop,
And there, one balmy, fateful morn, it was my chance to stop;
To stop was hesitation--in a moment I was lost--
That kind of hesitation does not hesitate at cost!
I spied a pewter tankard there, and, my! it was a gem--
And the clock in old St. Louis told the hour of eight a.m.!

Three quaint Bohemian bottles, too, of yellow and of green,
Cut in archaic fashion that I ne'er before had seen;
A lovely, hideous platter wreathed about with pink and rose,
With its curious depression into which the gravy flows;
Two dainty silver salts--oh, there was no resisting them--
And I'd blown in twenty dollars by nine o'clock a.m.

With twenty dollars, one who is a prudent man, indeed,
Can buy the wealth of useful things his wife and children need;
Shoes, stockings, knickerbockers, gloves, bibs, nursing-bottles, caps,
A gown--the gown for which his spouse too long has pined, perhaps!
These and ten thousand other spectres harrow and condemn
The man who's blown in twenty by nine o'clock a.m.

Oh, mean advantage conscience takes (and one that I abhor!)
In asking one this question: "What did you buy it for?"
Why doesn't conscience ply its blessed trade before the act,
Before one's cussedness becomes a bald, accomplished fact--
Before one's fallen victim to the Tempter's stratagem
And blown in twenty dollars by nine o'clock a.m.?

Ah me! now that the deed is done, how penitent I am!
I was a roaring lion--behold a bleating lamb!
I've packed and shipped those precious things to that more precious wife
Who shares with our sweet babes the strange vicissitudes of life,
While he who, in his folly, gave up his store of wealth
Is far away, and means to keep his distance--for his health!

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