Nonfiction > Lionel Strachey, et al., eds. > The World’s Wit and Humor > American
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The World’s Wit and Humor: An Encyclopedia in 15 Volumes.  1906.
Vols. I–V: American
 
Child’s Natural History
By Oliver Herford (1863–1935)
 
GEESE

EV-ER-Y child who has the use
Of his sen-ses knows a goose.
Sees them un-der-neath the tree
Gath-er round the goose-girl’s knee,
While she reads them by the hour        5
From the works of Scho-pen-hau-er.
How pa-tient-ly the geese at-tend!
But do they re-al-ly com-pre-hend
What Scho-pen-hau-er’s driv-ing at?
Oh, not at all; but what of that?        10
Nei-ther do I; nei-ther does she;
And, for that mat-ter, nor does he.
 
A SEAL

See, children, the Fur-bear-ing Seal;
Ob-serve his mis-di-rect-ed zeal;
He dines with most ab-ste-mi-ous care        15
On Fish, Ice Water, and Fresh Air,
A-void-ing con-di-ments or spice
For fear his fur should not be nice
And fine and soft and smooth and meet
For Broad-way or for Re-gent Street;        20
And yet, some-how, I of-ten feel
(Though for the kind Fur-bear-ing Seal
I har-bor a Re-spect Pro-found)
He runs Fur-bear-ance in the ground.
 
THE ANT

My child, ob-serve the use-ful Ant,
        25
  How hard she works each day;
She works as hard as ad-a-mant
  (That’s very hard, they say).
She has no time to gal-li-vant;
She has no time to play.        30
Let Fi-do chase his tail all day;
  Let Kit-ty play at tag;
She has no time to throw away,
  She has no tail to wag;
She scur-ries round from morn till night;        35
  She nev-er, nev-er sleeps;
She seiz-es ev-er-y-thing in sight,
She drags it home with all her might,
  And all she takes she keeps.
 
THE YAK

This is the Yak, so neg-li-gée;
        40
His coif-fure’s like a stack of hay;
He lives so far from Any-where,
I fear the Yak neg-lects his hair,
And thinks, since there is none to see,
What mat-ter how un-kempt he be.        45
How would he feel if he but knew
That in this Pic-ture-book I drew
His Phys-i-og-no-my un-shorn,
For chil-dren to de-ride and scorn?
 
THE HEN

Alas! my Child, where is the Pen
        50
That can do justice to the Hen?
Like Royalty, she goes her way,
Laying foundations every day;
Though not for Public Buildings, yet
For Custard, Cake, and Omelet.        55
Or if too Old for such a use,
They have their Fling at some Abuse,
As when to Censure Plays Unfit
Upon the Stage they make a Hit.
Or at elections Seal the Fate        60
Of an Obnoxious Candidate.
No wonder, Child, we prize the Hen,
Whose Egg is Mightier than the Pen.
 
THE COW

The Cow is too well known, I fear,
To need an introduction here.        65
If She should vanish from earth’s face,
It would be hard to fill her place;
For with the Cow would disappear
So much that every one holds Dear.
Oh, think of all the Boots and Shoes,        70
Milk Punches, Gladstone Bags, and Stews,
And Things too numerous to count,
Of which, my Child, she is the Fount.
Let’s hope, at least, the Fount may last
Until our Generation’s past.        75
 
 
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