Ella Wheeler Wilcox

(5 November 1850 - 30 October 1919 / Johnstown Center / Rock County / Wisconsin)

Ph. Best & Co.'s Lager-Beer - Poem by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

In every part of the thrifty town,
Whether my course be up or down,
In lane, and alley, and avenue,
Painted in yellow, and red, and blue,
This side and that, east and west,
Was this flaunting sign-board of 'Ph. Best.'


'Twas hung high up, and swung in the air
With a swaggering, bold-faced, 'devil-may-care-
It-is-none-of-your-business' sort of way;
Or, as if dreading the light o' the day,
It hung low, over a basement-stair,
And seemed ashamed when you saw it there.


Or it shone like a wicked and evil eye
From a 'restaurant' door on passers-by,
And seemed with a twinkling wink to say:
'Are you bound for hell? Then step this way;
This is the ticket-office of sin;
If you think of purchasing, pray, walk in.'


Or it glared from a window where the light
Of the lamps within shone full and bright,
And seemed to be saying, 'Come out of the storm!
Come into my haven snug and warm;
I will give you warmth from the flowing bowl,
And all I ask is your purse and soul.'


But whether on window, door, or stair,
Wherever I went, it was always there;
Painted in yellow, and red, and blue,
It stared from alley and avenue:
It was north, and south, and east, and west,
The lager-beer of this Philip Best.


And who was Philip Best, you ask?
Oh! he was a man, whose noble task
Was the brewing of beer-good beer, first-class-
That should sparkle, and bubble, and boil in the glass:
Should sparkle and flow till drank, and then
Feast like a vampire on brains of men.


Ah! Philip Best, you have passed from view,
But your name and your works live after you.
Come, brothers, raise him a monument,
Inscribed, 'Here lies the man who sent
A million of souls to the depths of hell;
Turned genius and worth to the prison-cell;


Stole bread from the mouth of the hungry child:
Made the father a brute, and the mother wild;
Filled happy homes with dread unrest:
Oh! a very great man was Philip Best.
O Ph. Best! you have passed from view,
But your nameand your deeds live after you.'


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Poem Submitted: Friday, April 2, 2010



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