English Literature

Mother Goose for Grown-Ups by Guy Wetmore Carryl

Mother Goose for Grown-Ups by Guy Wetmore Carryl


A noble and a generous mind

Was Jack’s;

Folks knew he would not talk behind

Their backs:

But when some maiden fresh and young,

At Jack a bit of banter flung,

She soon discovered that his tongue

Was sharp as any ax.

A flirt of most engaging wiles

Was Jill;

On Jack she lavished all her smiles,



Her slave (and he was not the first)

Of lovesick swains became the worst,

His glance a strong box might have burst,

His sighs were fit to kill.

One April morning, clear and fair,

When both

Of staying home and idling there

In sloth

Were weary, Jack remarked to Jill:

“Oh, what’s the sense in sitting still?

Let’s mount the slope of yonder hill.”

And she was nothing loth.

But as she answered: “What’s the use?”

The gruff

Young swain replied: “Oh, there’s excuse


Your doting parents water lack;

We’ll fill a pail and bring it back.”

(The reader will perceive that Jack

Was putting up a bluff.)


Thus hand in hand the tempting hill

They scaled,

And Jack proposed a kiss to Jill,

And failed!

One backward start, one step too bold,

And down the hill the couple rolled,

Resembling, if the truth were told,

A luggage train derailed.

With eyes ablaze with anger, she


“Well, who’d have thought! You’d ought to be


You quite forget yourself, it’s plain,

So I’ll forget you, too. Insane

Young man, I’ll say oafweederzane.”

(Her German might be blamed.)

But Jack, whose linguist’s pride was pricked,

To shine,

Asked: “Meine Königin will nicht

Be mine?”


And when she answered: “Nein” in spleen,

He cried: “Then in the soup tureen

You’ll stay. You’re not the only queen

Discarded for a nein!”

The moral’s made for maidens young

And small:

If you would in a foreign tongue


Lead off undaunted in a Swede

Or Spanish speech, and you’ll succeed,

But they who in a German lead

No favor win at all.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s