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Selections from

Dedication for a Fireplace
Taking Title
The Secret
Six Weeks Old
Reading Aloud
Only a Matter of Time
At the Mermaid Caffeteria
Our House
On Naming a House
The Miklman
The Old Swimmer
Washing the Dishes
The Church of Unbent Knees
Elegy Written in a Country Coal-Bin
Lines for an Eccentric's Book Plate
The Poet
To a Child
To an Old-Fashioned Poet
Burning Leaves in Spring
Burning Leaves, November
Two O'Clock
The Commercial Traveler
The Wedded Lover
To You, Remembering the Past
Caught in the Undertow
Tit for Tat
Song for a Little House
The Music Box
To a Discarded Mirror (original)
To a Discarded Mirror (reversed)
To a Telephone Operator Who Has a Bad Cold
Nursery Rhymes for the Tender-Hearted
The Last Sonnet
The Telephone Directory
At a Movie Theatre
Do You Ever Feel Like God?
Rapid Transit
The Intruder

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. To a Discarded Mirror (original)

    (scroll down to view reversed image)

    To a Discarded Mirror (original)

    Christopher Morley

. To a Discarded Mirror (reversed)

    To a Discarded Mirror (reversed)

    Christopher Morley

. To a Telephone Operator Who Has a Bad Cold

    H'OW hoarse and husky in my ear
    Your usually cheerful chirrup:
    You have an awful cold, my dear--
    Try aspirin or bronchial syrup.

    When I put in a call to-day
    Compassion stirred my humane blood red
    To hear you faintly, sadly say
    The number: Burray Hill dide hudred!

    I felt (I say) quick sympathy
    To hear you croak in the receiver--
    Will you be sorry too for me
    A month hence, when I have hay fever?

    Christopher Morley

. Nursery Rhymes for the Tender-Hearted

    (Dedicated to Don Marquis)

    SCUTTLE, scuttle, little roach--
    How you run when I approach:
    Up above the pantry shelf.
    Hastening to secrete yourself.

    Most adventurous of vermin,
    How I wish I could determine
    How you spend your hours of ease,
    Perhaps reclining on the cheese.

    Cook gas gone, and all is dark--
    Then the kitchen is your park:
    In the garbage heap that she leaves
    Do you browse among the tea leaves?

    How delightful to suspect
    All the places you have trekked:
    Does your long antenna whisk its
    Gentle tip across the biscuits?

    Do you linger, little soul,
    Drowsing in out sugar bowl?
    Or, abandonment most utter,
    Shake a shimmy on the butter?

    Do you chant your simple tunes
    Swimming in the baby's prunes?
    Then, when dawn comes, do you slink
    Homeward to the kitchen sink?

    Timid roach, why be so shy?
    We are brothers, you and I.
    In the midnight, like yourself,
    I explore the pantry shelf!

    Christopher Morley

. The Last Sonnet

    SUPPOSE one knew that never more might one
    Put pen to sonnet, well loved task; that now
    These fourteen lines were all that he could allow
    To say his message, be forever done;
    How he would scan the word, the line, the rhyme,
    Intent to sum in dearly chosen phrase
    The windy trees, the beauty of his days,
    Life's pride and pathos in one verse sublime.
    How bitter then would be regret and pang
    For former rhymes he dallied to refine,
    For every verse that was not crystalline. . . .
    And if belike this last one feebly rang,
    Honor and pride would cast it to the floor
    Facing the judge with what was done before.

    Christopher Morley

. The Telephone Directory

    NO Malory of old romance,
    No Crusoe tale, it seems to me,
    Can equal in rich circumstance
    The telephone directory.

    No ballad of fair ladies' eyes,
    No legend of proud knights and dames,
    Can fill me with such bright surmise
    As this great book of numbered names!

    How many hearts and lives unknown,
    Rare damsels pining for a squire,
    Are waiting for the telephone
    To ring, and call them to the wire.

    Some wait to hear a loved voice say
    The news they will rejoice to know
    At Rome 2637 J
    Or Marathon 1450!

    And some, perhaps, are stung with fear
    And answer with reluctant tread
    The message they expect to hear
    Means life or death or daily bread.

    A million hearts here wait our call,
    All naked to our distant speech--
    I wish that I could ring them all
    And have some welcome news for each!

    Christopher Morley

. At a Movie Theatre

    HOW well he spoke who coined the phrase
    The Picture Palace! Aye, in sooth
    A palace, where men's weary days
    Are crowned with kingliness of youth.

    Strange palace! Crowded, airless, dim,
    Where toes are trod and strained eyes smart,
    We watch a wand of brightness limn
    The old heroics of the heart.

    Romance again hath us in thrall
    And Love is sweet and always true,
    And in the darkness of the hall
    Hands clasp -- as they were meant to do.

    Remote from peevish joys and ills
    Our souls, pro tem, are purged and free:
    We see the sun on western hills,
    The crumbling tumult of the sea.

    We are the blond that maidens crave,
    Well balanced at a dozen banks;
    By sleight of hand we haste to save
    A brown-eyed life, nor stay for thanks!

    Alas, perhaps our instinct feels
    Life is not all it might have been,
    So we applaud fantastic reels
    Of shadow, cast upon a screen!

    Christopher Morley

. Do You Ever Feel Like God?

    ACROSS the court there rises the back wall
    Of the Magna Carta Apartments.
    The other evening the people in the apartment opposite
    Had forgotten to draw their curtains.
    I could see them dining: the well-blanched cloth,
    The silver and glass, the crystal water jug,
    The meat and vegetables; and their clean pink hands
    Outstretched in busy gesture.

    It was pleasant to watch them, they were so human;
    So gay, innocent, unconscious of scrutiny.
    They were four: an elderly couple,
    A young man, and a girl -- with lovely shoulders
    Mellow in the glow of the lamp.
    They were sitting over coffee, and I could see their hands talking.

    At last the older two left the room.
    The boy and girl looked at each other. . . .
    Like a flash they leaned and kissed.
    Good old human race that keeps on multiplying!
    A little later I went down the street to the movies,
    And there I saw all four, laughing and joking together.
    And as I watched them I felt like God--
    Benevolent, all-knowing, and tender.

    Christopher Morley

. Rapid Transit

    (To Stephen Vincent Benet)

    CLIMBING is easy and swift on Parnassus!
    Knocking my pipe out, I entered a book shop;
    There found a book of verse by a young poet.
    Comrades at once, how I saw his mind glowing!
    Saw in his soul its magnificent rioting--
    Then I ran with him on hills that were windy,
    Basked and laughed with him on sun-dazzled beaches,
    Glutted myself on his green and blue twilights,
    Watched him disposing his planets in patterns,
    Tumbling his colors and toys all before him.
    I questioned life with him, his pulses my pulses;
    Doubted his doubts too, and grieved for his anguishes.
    Salted long kinship and knew him from boyhood--
    Pulled out my own sun and stars from my knapsack,
    Trying my trinkets with those of his finding--
    And as I left the bookshop
    My pipe was still warm in my hand.

    Christopher Morley

. The Intruder

    AS I sat, to sift my dreaming
    To the meet and needed word,
    Came a merry Interruption,
    With insistence to be heard

    Smiling stood a maid beside me,
    Half alluring and half shy;
    Soft the white hint of her bosom--
    Escapade was in her eye.

    "I must not be so invaded,"
    (In anger then I cried)--
    "Can't you see that I am busy?
    Tempting creature, stay outside!

    "Pearly rascal, I am writing:
    I am now composing verse--
    Fie on antic invitation:
    Wanton, vanish--fly--disperse!

    "Baggage, in my godlike moment
    What have I to do with thee?"
    And she laughed as she departed--
    "I am Poetry," said she.

    Christopher Morley

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