Verse > Anthologies > The World’s Best Poetry > Vol. IX. Tragedy: Humor
Bliss Carman, et al., eds.  The World’s Best Poetry.
Volume IX. Tragedy: Humor.  1904.
Humorous Poems: I. Woman
On an Old Muff
Frederick Locker-Lampson (1821–1895)
TIME has a magic wand!
What is this meets my hand,
Moth-eaten, mouldy, and
    Covered with fluff,
Faded and stiff and scant?        5
Can it be? no, it can’t,—
Yes,—I declare ’t is Aunt
    Prudence’s Muff!
Years ago—twenty-three!
Old Uncle Barnaby        10
Gave it to Aunty P.,
    Laughing and teasing,—
“Pru. of the breezy curls,
Whisper these solemn churls,
What holds a pretty girl’s        15
    Hand without squeezing?”
Uncle was then a lad,
Gay, but, I grieve to add,
Gone to what ’s called “the bad,”—
    Smoking,—and worse!        20
Sleek sable then was this
Muff, lined with pinkiness,
Bloom to which beauty is
    Seldom averse.
I see in retrospect        25
Aunt, in her best bedecked,
Gliding, with mien erect,
    Gravely to meeting:
Psalm-book, and kerchief new,
Peeped from the Muff of Pru.,        30
Young men—and pious, too—
    Giving her greeting.
Pure was the life she led
Then: from her Muff, ’t is said,
Tracts she distributed;—        35
    Scapegraces many,
Seeing the grace they lacked,
Followed her; one attacked
Prudence, and got his tract,
    Oftener than any!        40
Love has a potent spell!
Soon this bold ne’er-do-well,
Aunt’s sweet susceptible
    Heart undermining,
Slipped, so the scandal runs,        45
Notes in the pretty nun’s
Muff,—triple-cornered ones,—
    Pink as its lining!
Worse, even, soon the jade
Fled (to oblige her blade!)        50
Whilst her friends thought that they ’d
    Locked her up tightly:
After such shocking games,
Aunt is of wedded dames
Gayest,—and now her name ’s        55
    Mrs. Golightly.
In female conduct flaw
Sadder I never saw,
Still I ’ve faith in the law
    Of compensation.        60
Once uncle went astray,—
Smoked, joked, and swore away;
Sworn by, he ’s now, by a
    Large congregation!
Changed is the child of sin;        65
Now he ’s (he once was thin)
Grave, with a double chin,—
    Blest be his fat form!
Changed is the garb he wore:
Preacher was never more        70
Prized than is uncle for
    Pulpit or platform.
If all ’s as best befits
Mortals of slender wits,
Then beg this Muff, and its        75
    Fair owner pardon;
All ’s for the best,—indeed,
Such is my simple creed;
Still I must go and weed
    Hard in my garden.        80

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