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
 
The Touching Tenderness of King Karl the First
By Guy Wetmore Carryl (1873–1904)
 
FOR hunger and thirst King Karl the First
  Had a stoical, stern disdain;
The food that he ordered consistently bordered
  On what is described as plain.
Much trouble his cook ambitiously took        5
  To tickle his frugal taste,
But all of his savory science and slavery
  Ended in naught but waste.
 
Said the steward: “The thing to tempt the king
  And charm his indifferent eye        10
No doubt is a tasty, delectable pasty—
  Make him a blackbird pie!”
The cook at these words baked twenty-four birds,
  And set them before the king,
And the two dozen odious, bold, and melodious        15
  Singers began to sing!
 
The king in surprise said: “Dozens of pies
  In the course of our life we’ve tried,
But never before us was served up a chorus
  Like this that we hear inside!”        20
With a thunderous look he ordered the cook
  And the steward before him brought,
And with a beatified smile, “He is satisfied!”
  Both of these innocents thought.
 
“Of sinners the worst,” said Karl the First,        25
  “Is the barbarous ruffian that
A song-bird would slaughter, unless for his daughter
  Or wife he is trimming a hat.
We’ll punish you so for the future you’ll know
  That from mercy you can’t depart.        30
Observe that your lenient, kind, intervenient
  King has a tender heart!”
 
He saw that the cook in a neighboring brook
  Was drowned (as he quite deserved),
And he ordered the steward at once to be skewered.        35
  (The steward was much unnerved.)
“It’s a curious thing,” said the merciful king,
  “That monarchs so tender are,
So oft we’re affected that we have suspected that
  We are too kind by far.”
*        *        *        *        *
        40
THE MORAL: The mercy of men and of kings
Are apt to be wholly dissimilar things.
In spite of “The Merchant of Venice,” we’re pained
To note that the quality’s sometimes strained.
 
 
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