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The Rude Rat And The Unostentatious Oyster
Guy Wetmore Carryl


Upon the shore, a mile or more
From traffic and confusion,
An oyster dwelt, because he felt
A longing for seclusion;
Said he: "I love the stillness of
This spot. It's like a cloister."
(These words I quote because, you note,
They rhyme so well with oyster.)

A prying rat, believing that
She needed change of diet,
In search of such disturbed this much-
To-be-desired quiet.
To say the least, this tactless beast
Was apt to rudely roister:
She tapped his shell, and called him--well,
A name that hurt the oyster.

"I see," she cried, "you're open wide,
And, searching for a reason,
September's here, and so it's clear
That oysters are in season."
She smiled a smile that showed this style
Of badinage rejoiced her,
Advanced a pace with easy grace,
And sniffed the silent oyster.

The latter's pride was sorely tried,
He thought of what he could say,
Reflected what the common lot
Of vulgar mollusks would say;
Then caught his breath, grew pale as death,
And, as his brow turned moister,
Began to close, and nipped her nose!
Superb, dramatic oyster!

We note with joy that oi polloi,
Whom maidens bite the thumb at,
Are apt to try some weak reply
To things they should be dumb at.
THE MORAL, then, for crafty men
Is: When a maid has voiced her
Contemptuous heart, don't think you're smart,
But shut up--like the oyster.

This poem is in the public domain.



Guy Wetmore Carryl (1873 – 1904) was an American poet and novelist. Born in New York City, he was published in the New York Times at the age of twenty, and by the time he was twenty-five, was writing for many of the major publications of that era. Handsome, witty and sauve, Guy's promising literary career was cut short by an illness that left him dead at the age of thirty-one. Though he wrote several novels, he is best known for his light verse and parodies of classic fairy tales.


Post New Comment:
Wilda Morris:
Thank you for the laugh today!
Posted 09/22/2019 10:35 PM
I don't know if others think Such verse is worse for rhyming; But reading it is so much fun, It's worth a second-timing.
Posted 09/22/2019 06:05 PM
Janet Leahy:
Quite a message in this fun poem.
Posted 09/22/2019 09:55 AM
Gilbert Allen:
This clever poem is a lot of fun.
Posted 09/22/2019 09:25 AM
Love it, Jayne!
Posted 09/22/2019 08:17 AM

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