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: II. Miscellaneous
The Razor-Seller
John Wolcot (Peter Pindar) (1738–1819)
A FELLOW in a market-town,
Most musical, cried razors up and down,
  And offered twelve for eighteen pence;
Which certainly seemed wondrous cheap,
And, for the money, quite a heap,        5
  As every man would buy, with cash and sense.
A country bumpkin the great offer heard,—
Poor Hodge, who suffered by a broad black beard,
That seemed a shoe-brush stuck beneath his nose:
With cheerfulness the eighteen pence he paid,        10
And proudly to himself in whispers said,
  “This rascal stole the razors, I suppose.
“No matter if the fellow be a knave,
Provided that the razors shave;
  It certainly will be a monstrous prize.”        15
So home the clown, with his good fortune, went,
Smiling in heart and soul content,
  And quickly soaped himself to ears and eyes.
Being well lathered from a dish or tub,
Hodge now began with grinning pain to grub,        20
  Just like a hedger cutting furze;
’T was a vile razor!—then the rest he tried,—
All were impostors. “Ah!” Hodge sighed,
  “I wish my eighteen pence within my purse.”
In vain to chase his beard, and bring the graces,        25
  He cut, and dug, and winced, and stamped, and swore;
Brought blood, and danced, blasphemed, and made wry faces,
  And cursed each razor’s body o’er and o’er:
His muzzle formed of opposition stuff,
Firm as a Foxite, would not lose its ruff;        30
  So kept it,—laughing at the steel and suds.
Hodge, in a passion, stretched his angry jaws,
Vowing the direst vengeance with clenched claws,
  On the vile cheat that sold the goods.
“Razors! a mean, confounded dog,        35
  Not fit to scrape a hog!”
Hodge sought the fellow,—found him,—and begun:
“P’rhaps, Master Razor-rogue, to you ’t is fun,
  That people flay themselves out of their lives.
You rascal; for an hour have I been grubbing,        40
Giving my crying whiskers here a scrubbing,
  With razors just like oyster-knives.
Sirrah! I tell you you ’re a knave,
To cry up razors that can’t shave!”
“Friend,” quoth the razor-man, “I ’m not a knave;        45
    As for the razors you have bought,
    Upon my soul, I never thought!
That they would shave.”
“Not think they ’d shave!” quoth Hodge, with wondering eyes,
  And voice not much unlike an Indian yell;        50
“What were they made for, then, you dog?” he cries.
  “Made,” quoth the fellow with a smile,—“to sell.”

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