This section is from the book "Flying Rumors", by Roy Davis.
Parnassus, sacred seat, saw not these stanzas,
Or Fuji-Yama's or Olympus' height; Grasshopper Hill, in Texas, Maine, or Kansas,
Thy sandy slopes impel my glider's flight. My theme, though old as Adam, still commands as
Much attention as a fresh flea bite: Pursuit of Happiness,—no happy theme; A Wilson Peace League or a Trotzky dream.
Pursuit of Happiness! a game of chance,
The bane of writers, Milton, Wells, or Moses.
Saint John reached Heaven on Patmos, in a trance, Old John L found it punching people's noses.
Our Newport finds it in the newest prance, Old Metchnikoff swilled buttermilk in doses.
A Hottentot is happy when he's lazy,
A Bolshevik's chief joy is going crazy.
"Man wants but little here below," was said
By Goldsmith, whose whole life proved it untrue.
A little means the way you have been bred; A million's not enough if you need two.
Man's endless wish for more, some claim instead,
Marks him Earth's best production, (this means you).
Since Standard Oil has given J. D. a billion,
An income tax cuts short the needed trillion.
He has the billion, and it's that much more Which, added to the rest, makes big the sum
Of all this nation's wealth, that goodly store,
From which the average man can scrape the scum.
Just work it out on paper, if you're sore: We average rich, so no one need feel glum.
If your two legs seem scarce enough for you,
Add centipede's to yours, divide by two.
The Socialists are fools, in fact they rail;
They want the earth, they want what they have not. Their argument sounds like their empty pail:
An empty stomach breeds an empty thought. What should we do if Standard Oil should fail?
Chicago U. with kerosene was bought. If you're kept poor, perhaps your poverty May make a thesis for a Ph. D.
The world, in fact, is one great harmony;
Snug in his niche each manikin must sit. If manikin and niche don't quite agree
The trusts help Heaven to squeeze him in a bit. Don't whine, my child, the things that are should be,-
If still he whines just spank the little chit. The towering "Singerhorn" greets swallows flying, But presses on its base on bed-rock lying.
If every man received his average share
There'd be no rich, and, worse, no poor there'd be.
We'd lose the golden glow the millionaire Feels when he gives his dole to charity.
If at no time our buttocks need be bare, What had become of Andrew Carnegie?
The fool and pauper each must play his part:
One feeds your vanity; and one, your heart.
And if there is a moral here, it teaches Mankind, mayhap, is not unlike a house:
The "wop" builds sewers, not from housetop preaches; In other words, there's lion and there's mouse.
Hippocrates did not invent the leeches,—
He made them useful,—you may try the louse.
The Greatest Show on Earth, admission free,
Keeps in one cage the monkey, man, and flea.
And when the Miller on the River Dee
Found all his scratching would not let him rest,
He scrambled out of bed and cracked that flea; Nor would you wait to hear a flea protest.
A hotel waiter strikes and by his plea
Delays a planked steak for a hungry guest.
The point of view makes Luther saint or sinner,
Br'er Rabbit wants his life; Br'er Fox wants dinner.
Real joy in life is found, as Eliot says,
By motor-men who run electric cars. On "three per day" three joyous babes to raise
'Tween man and wife removes all family jars: The sewer-digger for sheer joy should praise
The sewer filth, pick-axes, and crow-bars. Hard manual work's the only thing that's funny,— So sing the bees who gather in the honey.
If Eliot were given a pick to hack
His joyous living from a sewer drain, Are you so sure his apothegms would smack
Of optimism, or could he refrain From wanting of the wine of life a snack?
When hands grow calloused, callous grows the brain: The silver lining of the cloud looks best When contemplated over a white vest.
Perhaps, you say, if Eliot had a shovel
He'd somehow make it into wings and rise;
Or smash his way out of his lowly hovel; Or throw some sand in other climbers' eyes,
And, like the hero found in any novel,
Appear, the Lord knows how, up near the skies.
Admit it so, but has it helped the case
Of the poor, brainless Hodge who took his place?
Hodge is no worse, I grant, and Eliot, too, Glows in the ruddy crimson, Harvard Light:
But what would Harvard dormitories do If there were not the sewers out of sight?
And open sewer simply mars the view Of a green campus like a kind of blight:
Who in his marble bath-tub talks of drains?
So why mix Hodge's fate with Eliot's brains?
And my poor brains by facts get mixed up sadly;
Bob Hunter says there are ten million paupers, Who with starvation's wolves each day fight madly;
While New York's mayor and guests for champagne stoppers
Can spend five thousand civic dollars gladly.
Tom Lawson picks a million out of "Coppers": And eighty thousand babies, Spargo said, Died in New England last year lacking bread.
I must be more exact, that New York bill Includes cigars, and of the babes that died
Some thousands starved in New York State, which will Prove what you please; you may yourself decide.
For some folks think we should more microbes kill, And some folks would eugenics open wide.
Pursuit of Pleasure is a madman's song
With Right's sweet tenor drowned by deep bass Wrong.
To know just what is right and what is true
Has many answers, many disagree. It may be wise to ponder on a few:
That may seem best to you; this, best to me. The officers, the passengers, and crew
Trust in one ship when they put out to sea. We'll ask the officers what course they lay, And how they know they're steering the right way.