The Music-Grinders

The Music-Grinders

The Music-Grinders

The Music-Grinders

by Oliver Wendell Holmes


The Music-Grinders

There are three ways in which men take

One’s money from his purse,

And very hard it is to tell

Which of the three is worse;

But all of them are bad enough

To make a body curse.


You’re riding out some pleasant day,

And counting up your gains;

A fellow jumps from out a bush,

And takes your horse’s reins,

Another hints some words about

A bullet in your brains.


It’s hard to meet such pressing friends,

In such a lonely spot;

It’s very hard to lose your cash,

But harder to be shot;

And so you take your wallet out,

Though you would rather not.


Perhaps you’re going out to dine,—

Some odious creature begs

You’ll hear about the cannon-ball

That carried off his pegs,

And says it is a dreadful thing

For men to lose their legs.


He tells you of his starving wife,

His children to be fed,

Poor little lovely innocents,

All clamorous for bread,—

And so you kindly help to put

A bachelor to bed.


You’re sitting on your window-seat,

Beneath a cloudless moon;

Your hear a sound that seems to wear

The semblance of a tune,

As if a broken fife should strive

To drown a cracked bassoon.


And nearer, nearer still, the tide

Of music seems to come;

There’s something like a human voice,

And something like a drum;

You sit in speechless agony,

Until your ear is numb.


Poor “Home, sweet home” should seem to be

A very dismal place;

Your “Auld Acquaintance” all at once

Is altered in the face;

Their discords sting through Burns and Moore,

Like hedgehogs dressed in lace.


You think they are crusaders, sent

From some infernal clime,

To pluck the eyes of Sentiment,

And dock the tail of Rhyme,

To crack the voice of Melody,

And break the legs of Time.


But hark! the air again is still,

The music all is ground,

And silence, like a poultice, comes

To heal the blows of sound;

It cannot be,—it is,—it is,—

A hat is going round!


No! pay the dentist when he leaves

A fracture in your jaw,

And pay the owner of the bear

That stunned you with his paw,

And buy the lobster that has had

Your knuckles in his claw;


But, if you are a portly man,

Put on your fiercest frown,

And talk about a constable

To turn them out of town;

Then close your sentence with an oath,

And shut the window down!


And, if you are a slender man,

Not big enough for that,

Or if you cannot make a speech

Because you are a flat,

Go very quietly and drop

A button in the hat!


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1 Comment
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    Posted at 04:52h, 20 May Reply

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