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William Tell Post by :imported_n/a Category :Poems Author :Harry Graham Date :November 2011 Read :2111

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William Tell

All persons who, by way of joke,
Point loaded guns at one another,
(A state of things which ends in smoke,
And murder of an aunt or brother,)
Will find that it repays them well
To note the tale of William Tell.

He was a patriotic Swiss,
Whose skill was such with bow and arrow,
He never had been known to miss
A target, howsoever narrow;
His archery could well defy
The needle or the camel's eye.

And when the hated Austrian
Invaded his belovéd country,
This simple man at once began
To treat the foe with calm effront'ry,
And gave a sporting exhibition,
To which he charged ten cents admission.

He set his son against a tree,
Upon his head an apple placing,
Next measured paces thirty-three,
And turned about, his offspring facing,
Then chose an arrow, drew his bow,--
(And all the people murmured "Oh!")

No sound disturbed the morning air,
(You could have heard a tea-tray falling,)
Save in the virgin forest, where
A chipmunk to his mate was calling,
Where sang the giddy martingale,
Or snaffle woo'd the genial quail.

But, drowning cry of beast or bird,
There rose the hush of expectation;
No whispered converse, not a word
From the surrounding population;
A tactful silence, as of death,
While people held each other's breath.

The bow rang out, the arrow sped!
Before a man could turn completely,
All scatheless shone the offspring's head,
The apple lay divided neatly!
The ten-cent public gave a roar,
And appleplectic shrieked "En-core."

They kissed the hero, clasped his hand,
In search of autographs pursued him,
Escorted with the local band,
Cheered, banqueted and interviewed him,
Demanding how he shot so well;
But simple William would not Tell.

The Austrians, without a word,
Retired at once across the border,
And thence on William they conferred
Two medals and a foreign order,
(And tactfully addressed the bill
"Hereditary Arch-Duke Will.")

And, in the piping times of peace,
Such luxury his life was wrapt in,
He got the chief-ship of police,
(And made his son a Precinct Captain),
Wore celluloid white cuffs and collars,
And absolutely rolled in dollars.

Still, to the end, whenever Will
With fiscal problems had to grapple,
He called to mind his offspring's skill
At balancing the homely apple,
And made him use his level head
At balancing accounts instead.


(The end)
Harry Graham's poem: William Tell

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