Tom Was Goin' for a Poet

by Will McKendree Carleton

Will Carleton

The Farmer Discourses of his Son.

Tom was goin' for a poet, an' said he'd a poet be;
One of these long-haired fellers a feller hates to see;
One of these chaps forever fixin' things cute and clever;
Makin' the world in gen'ral step 'long to tune an' time,
An' cuttin' the earth into slices an' saltin' it down into rhyme.

Poets are good for somethin', so long as they stand at the head:
But poetry's worth whatever it fetches in butter an' bread.
An' many a time I've said it: it don't do a fellow credit,
To starve with a hole in his elbow, an' be considered a fool,
So after he's dead, the young ones 'll speak his pieces in school.

An' Tom, he had an opinion that Shakspeare an' all the rest,
With all their winter clothin', couldn't make him a decent vest;
But that didn't ease my labors, or help him among the neighbors,
Who watched him from a distance, an' held his mind in doubt,
An' wondered if Tom wasn't shaky, or knew what he was about.

Tom he went a-sowin', to sow a field of grain;
But half of that 'ere sowin' was altogether in vain.
For he was al'ays a-stoppin', and gems of poetry droppin';
And metaphors, they be pleasant, but much too thin to eat;
And germs of thought be handy, but never grow up to wheat.

Tom he went a-mowin', one broilin' summer's day,
An' spoke quite sweet concernin' the smell of the new-mowed hay.
But all o' his useless chatter didn't go to help the matter,
Or make the grief less searchin' or the pain less hard to feel,
When he made a clip too suddent, an' sliced his brother's heel.

Tom he went a-drivin' the hills an' dales across;
But, scannin' the lines of his poetry, he dropped the lines of his hoss.
The nag ran fleet and fleeter, in quite irregular metre;
An' when we got Tom's leg set, an' had fixed him so he could speak,
He muttered that that adventur' would keep him a-writin' a week.

Tom he went a-ploughin', and couldn't have done it worse;
He sat down on the handles, an' went to spinnin' verse.
He wrote it nice and pretty--an agricultural ditty;
But all o' his pesky measures didn't measure an acre more,
Nor his p'ints didn't turn a furrow that wasn't turned before.

Tom he went a-courtin';--she liked him, I suppose;
But certain parts of courtin' a feller must do in prose.
He rhymed her each day a letter, but that didn't serve to get her;
He waited so long, she married another man from spite,
An' sent him word she'd done it, an' not to forget to write.

Tom at last got married; his wife was smart and stout,
An' she shoved up the window and slung his poetry out.
An' at each new poem's creation she gave it circulation;
An' fast as he would write 'em, she seen to their puttin' forth,
An' sent 'em east an westward, an' also south an' north.

Till Tom he struck the opinion that poetry didn't pay,
An' turned the guns of his genius, an' fired 'em another way.
He settled himself down steady, an' is quite well off already;
An' all of his life is verses, with his wife the first an' best,
An' ten or a dozen childr'n to constitute the rest.

Last updated November 04, 2022