Eugene Field

(2 September 1850 - 4 November 1895 / St Louis / Missouri / United States)

Doctor Rabelais - Poem by Eugene Field

Once -- it was many years ago.
In early wedded life,
Ere yet my loved one had become
A very knowing wife,
She came to me and said: 'My dear,
I think (and do not you?)
That we should have about the house
A doctor's book or two.

'Our little ones have sundry ills
Which I should understand
And cure myself, if I but had
A doctor's book at hand.
Why not economize, my dear,
In point of doctor's biils
By purchasing the means to treat
Our litt;e household ills?'

Dear, honest, patient little wife!
She did not even guess
She offered me the very prize
I hankered to possess.
'You argus, wisely, wife,' quoth I,
'Proceed without delay
To find and comprehend the works
Of Doctor Rabelais.'

I wrote the title out for her
(She'd never heard the name),
And presently she bought those books,
And home she lugged the same;
I clearly read this taunting boast
On her triumphant brow:
'Aha, ye venal doctors all,
Ye are outwitted now!'

Those volumes stood upon the shelf
A month or two unread,
Save as such times by night I conned
Their precious wit in bed;
But once -- it was a wintry time --
I heard my loved one say:
'This child is croupy; I'll consult
My doctor, Rabelais!'

Soon from her delusive dream
My beauteous bride awoke.
Too soon she grasped the fulness of
My bibliomaniac joke.
There came a sudden, shocking change,
As you may well suppose,
And with her reprehensive voice
The temperature arose.

But that was many years ago,
In early wedded life,
And that dear lady has become
A very knowing wife;
For she hath learned from Rabelais
What elsewhere is agreed:
The plague of bibliomania is
A cureless ill indeed.

And still at night, when all the rest
Are hushed in sweet repose,
O'er those two interdicted tomes
I laugh and nod and doze.
From worldly ills and business cares
My weary mind is lured,
And by that doctor's magic art
My ailments all are cured.

So my dear, knowing little wife
Is glad that it is so,
And with a smile recalls the trick
I played her years ago;
And whensoe'er dyspeptic pangs
Compel me to their sway,
The saucy girl bids me consult
My Doctor Rabelais!


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Poem Submitted: Friday, April 9, 2010



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