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Thursday, July 20, 2017

The Gastronomic Guile of Simple Simon

Guest Blogger Dept.: We welcome back Guy Wetmore Carryl, light versifier extraordinaire, with a selection from Mother Goose for Grown-Ups.

"Now Simon’s taste was most profuse"
Drawing by Peter Newell
Conveniently near to where
    Young Simple Simon dwelt
There was to be a county fair,
    And Simple Simon felt
That to the fair he ought to go
In all his Sunday clothes, and so,
Determined to behold the show,
    He put them on and went.
(One-half his clothes was borrowed and the other half was lent.)

He heard afar the cheerful sound
    Of horns that people blew,
Saw wooden horses swing around
    A circle, two and two,
Beheld balloons arise, and if
He scented with a gentle sniff
The smells of pies, what is the dif-
    Ference to me or you?
(You cannot say my verse is false, because I know it's true.)

As Simple Simon nearer came
    To these attractive smells,
Avoiding every little game
    Men played with walnut shells,
He felt a sudden longing rise.
The sparkle in his eager eyes
Betrayed the fact he yearned for pies:
    The eye the secret tells.
(‘Tis known the pie of county fairs all other pies excels.)

So when he saw upon the road,
    Some fifty feet away,
A pieman, Simple Simon strode
    Toward him, shouting: “Hey!
What kinds?” as lordly as a prince.
The pieman said: “I’ve pumpkin, quince,
Blueberry, lemon, peach, and mince:”
    And, showing his array,
He added: “Won’t you try one, sir? They’re very nice to-day.”

Now Simon’s taste was most profuse,
    And so, by way of start,
He ate two cakes, a Charlotte Russe,
    Six buns, the better part
Of one big gingerbread, a pair
Of lady-fingers, an eclair,
And ten assorted pies, and there,
    His hand upon his heart,
He paused to choose between an apple dumpling and a tart.

Observing that upon his tray
    His goods were growing few,
The pieman cried: “I beg to say
    That patrons such as you
One does not meet in many a moon.
Pray, won’t you try this macaroon?”
But soon suspicious, changed his tune,
    Continuing: “What is due
I beg respectfully to add’s a dollar twenty-two.”

Then Simple Simon put a curb
    Upon his appetite,
And turning with an air superb
    He suddenly took flight,
While o’er his shoulder this absurd
And really most offensive word
The trusting pieman shortly heard
    To soothe his bitter plight:
“Perhaps I should have said before your wares are out of sight.”

THE MORAL is a simple one,
    But still of consequence.
We’ve seen that Simon’s sense of fun
    Was almost too intense:
Though blaming his deceitful guise,
We with the pieman sympathize,
The latter we must criticize
    Because he was so dense:
He might have known from what he ate that Simon had no cents.

– Guy Wetmore Carryl, Mother Goose for Grown-Ups, Harper & Brothers, 1900.

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