Eugene Field

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

Plaint Of The Missouri 'Coon In The Berlin Zoological Gardens - Poem by Eugene Field

Friend, by the way you hump yourself you're from the States, I know,
And born in old Mizzourah, where the 'coons in plenty grow;
I, too, am a native of that clime, but harsh, relentless fate
Has doomed me to an exile far from that noble state,
And I, who used to climb around and swing from tree to tree,
Now lead a life of ignominious ease, as you can see.
Have pity, O compatriot mine! and bide a season near
While I unfurl a dismal tale to catch your friendly ear.

My pedigree is noble--they used my grandsire's skin
To piece a coat for Patterson to warm himself within--
Tom Patterson of Denver; no ermine can compare
With the grizzled robe that democratic statesman loves to wear!
Of such a grandsire I have come, and in the County Cole,
All up an ancient cottonwood, our family had its hole--
We envied not the liveried pomp nor proud estate of kings
As we hustled around from day to day in search of bugs and things.

And when the darkness fell around, a mocking bird was nigh,
Inviting pleasant, soothing dreams with his sweet lullaby;
And sometimes came the yellow dog to brag around all night
That nary 'coon could wollop him in a stand-up barrel fight;
We simply smiled and let him howl, for all Mizzourians know
That ary 'coon can beat a dog if the 'coon gets half a show!
But we'd nestle close and shiver when the mellow moon had ris'n
And the hungry nigger sought our lair in hopes to make us his'n!

Raised as I was, it's hardly strange I pine for those old days--
I cannot get acclimated or used to German ways;
The victuals that they give me here may all be very fine
For vulgar, common palates, but they will not do for mine!
The 'coon that's been used to stanch democratic cheer
Will not put up with onion tarts and sausage steeped in beer!
No; let the rest, for meat and drink, accede to slavish terms,
But send _me_ back from whence I came and let me grub for worms!

They come (these gaping Teutons do) on Sunday afternoons
And wonder what I am--alas! there are no German 'coons!
For, if there were, I might still swing at home from tree to tree,
A symbol of democracy that's woolly, blythe and free.
And yet for what my captors are I would not change my lot,
For _I_ have tasted liberty--these others, _they_ have not!
So, even caged, the democratic 'coon more glory feels
Than the conscript German puppets with their swords about their heels!

Well, give my love to Crittenden, to Clardy and O'Neill,
To Jasper Burke and Colonel Jones, and tell 'em how I feel;
My compliments to Cockrill, Munford, Switzler, Hasbrook, Vest,
Bill Nelson, J. West Goodwin, Jedge Broadhead and the rest;
Bid them be steadfast in the faith and pay no heed at all
To Joe McCullagh's badinage or Chauncy Filley's gall;
And urge them to retaliate for what I'm suffering here
By cinching all the alien class that wants its Sunday beer.


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Poem Submitted: Friday, April 9, 2010



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