Sonntag, 10. September 2017

Harry Graham (46)

Aus »Strained Relations«:
Harry Graham: In-Laws

It seems to me a crying shame
   That humorists should all disparage
Those worthy persons whom we claim
   As relatives by marriage,
Who have been pilloried so long
In ev'ry so-called »comic« song
   That audiences never pause
   To think, but greet with loud guffaws
   All ribald jokes about »in-laws.«

I always view with deep distress
   The rude and vulgar illustrations
In which the minor comic press
   Makes fun of those relations
Who stimulate the married life
Of many a happy man and wife,
   Whose constant presence should invest
   Existence with an added zest
   And make each union doubly blest.

I recollect, in days gone by,
   When courting my inamorata,
A backward, timid swain was I
   Who needed a self-starter:
And yet her people were so kind
They wouldn't let me change my mind;
   And though they knew I was no »catch«
   'Twas they who kept me to the scratch
   And practically made the match.

The mother of my fiancée
   (Who had six daughters then unmarried)
Would lightly laugh my qualms away,
   And all objections parried.
She pushed us in each other's arms,
And raved about her darling's charms,
   Making a comprehensive list
   (Including sev'ral that I'd missed)
   Till I no longer could resist.

As for my dear one's father, he
   Was just as tactful as her mother;
He'd always leave us, after tea,
   Alone with one another.
Locking the door, with some remark
About how »lovers love the dark,«
   He'd turn the gas off at the main;
   And I would sit for hours with Jane
   Trying to light the stove again.

My loved one's sisters (she had five)
   Behaved in as discreet a fashion,
And did their best to keep alive
   Our oft-times waning passion.
Before they entered any room
In which, amid sepulchral gloom,
   The chilly pair of lovers sat,
   They'd knock their loudest rat-a-tat
   Or cough outside upon the mat.

When first I set up house with Jane
   Her parents were of great assistance;
They'd never viewed me with disdain
   Or kept me at a distance.
Her father came, without a fuss,
Three nights a week, to dine with us;
   Her mother, with maternal zeal,
   Appeared at ev'ry other meal,
   And quite at home they made us feel.

They chose the carpets and the chintz,
   They bought the curtains (with our savings),
Replaced my set of Baxter prints
   With Marcus Stone engravings;
And ev'ry day, when we were out,
They'd move the furniture about
   And rearrange our little nest,
   And though at times we might protest,
   We knew, of course, that they knew best.

And when our tiny firstborn came
   Their loving-kindness quite nonplussed us
We'd chosen »Henry« as his name,
   But they preferred »Augustus«:
And, later, though we'd wished to call
His sister »Mary« – not at all!
   In this we were allowed no voice,
   For they'd already made their choice,
   And she was duly christened »Joyce.«

My wife has brothers, charming men,
   Who never seem to need inviting;
They know they're welcome in my den,
   And when I'm busy writing
They very often condescend
To sit with me for hours on end,
   Explaining how I'd make it pay
   By doing what I do to-day
   In some completely diff'rent way.

Their sisters, whom I love so well,
   Delight me with their girlish chatt'ring
They use my house as an hotel,
   Which is extremely flatt'ring.
It's really very nice to feel,
If one pops in to snatch a meal,
   Another's on the telephone;
   My wife and I are bound to own
   We're never lonely, or alone.

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