DEAR BOB, you tell me I must write to you,
And write in verse a pleasant recreation;
But, O, the pen that once serenely flew,
Now splutters over schedules of Taxation.
You must forgive me if I do not write
Of tennis tournaments or river race:
Or of the marriage bond soon to unite
The wit and beauty of this favour'd place.
My heart is all aglow in sympathy
With those who have to count their roods and acres,
And state their income, as it ought to be,
Not as it is, on oath, though they be Quakers.
And verily I quake, as I'm a sinner.
Lest some mysterious dodge they next contrive
To make me state the items of my dinner,
On March the fifteenth, eighteen ninety-five.
The Ides of March which scaled great Cæsar's doom
Have on this country laid a burning brand:
Bringing dismay to many a peaceful home,
Spreading perplexity throughout the land.
I like a good conundrum well enough,
And so do you, but now, you will agree,
This patriotic puzzle's rather rough
On simple-minded folk like you and me.
Talk of the Inquisition? bless my soul,
They sometimes made a martyr's bones to crack,
But this abstruse and complicated toll
Has set a nation's brains upon the rack.
They say the Sphinx, when some old Greek had check'd her,
By reading her enigma, gasp'd and died;
So may this modern soul-devouring Spectre
Rush likewise to its fate by suicide.
There is a fiend that tempts the souls of men:
He has been called “the father of all lies:
Think of it, O, ye legislators, when
You do his work, in very thin disguise.
Now let me close this useless peroration,
And, wishing you well out of it, old man,
In spite of heat, mosquitoes and taxation,
Remain your faithful, though bewilder'd Dan.