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Short poem

Eugene Field (1850-1895)

Little Willie

              1When Willie was a little boy,
              2    No more than five or six,
              3Right constantly he did annoy
              4    His mother with his tricks.
              5Yet not a picayune cared I
              6    For what he did or said,
              7Unless, as happened frequently,
              8    The rascal wet the bed.

              9Closely he cuddled up to me,
            10    And put his hands in mine,
            11Till all at once I seemed to be
            12    Afloat in seas of brine.
            13Sabean odors clogged the air,
            14    And filled my soul with dread,
            15Yet I could only grin and bear
            16    When Willie wet the bed.

            17'Tis many times that rascal has
            18    Soaked all the bedclothes through,
            19Whereat I'd feebly light the gas
            20    And wonder what to do.
            21Yet there he lay, so peaceful like;
            22    God bless his curly head,
            23I quite forgave the little tyke
            24    For wetting of the bed.

            25Ah me, those happy days have flown.
            26    My boy's a father, too,
            27And little Willies of his own
            28    Do what he used to do.
            29And I! Ah, all that's left for me
            30    Is dreams of pleasure fled!
            31Our boys ain't what they used to be
            32    When Willie wet the bed.

            33Had I my choice, no shapely dame
            34    Should share my couch with me,
            35No amorous jade of tarnished fame,
            36    Nor wench of high degree;
            37But I would choose and choose again
            38    The little curly head,
            39Who cuddled close beside me when
            40    He used to wet the bed.


5] picayune: Spanish coin once used in southern US; a trivial thing

13] Sabean: Arabian (cf. Job 1.15).

Online text copyright © 2003, Ian Lancashire for the Department of English, University of Toronto.
Published by the Web Development Group, Information Technology Services, University of Toronto Libraries.

Original text: Robert Conrow, Field Days: The Life, Times, & Reputation of Eugene Field (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1974): 114-16.
First publication date: 1974
Publication date note: in various copies during Field's lifetime; formally, in 1974.
RPO poem editor: Ian Lancashire
RP edition: RPO 1997.
Recent editing: 2:2002/3/27

Composition date: 1895
Composition date note: (Thompson, 159)
Rhyme: ababcdcd

Other poems by Eugene Field