The Orphan Poem

A poet said, “I'll write a song that every one will sing,
A verse with just the human note that carries fast and far—
I shall be known forever as the man who wrote that thing;
The papers will reprint it from here to Zanzibar!”

He wrote the piece, “Those Old Blue Jeans.” It made a ready hit,
And in the mazes of the press the song began to range;
But someone's hasty scissors snipped the author's name from it,
And everywhere he saw it, it was credited “Exchange.”

Anthologies, the rural press and patent almanacs
Reprinted it; and humorists revamped it for their turns;
He found it in his clippings, which were piling up in stacks,
Attributed to Riley, Eugene Field and Robby Burns.

He tried to catch the orphan: he sought in his distress
To salt its tail and make the poem wear the name it ought;
The derelict kept wandering on the ocean of the press—
If he nailed it down in Portland, it popped up in Terre Haute!

He wrote to all the editors of all the magazines
Until they wished the wretched man were laid beneath the ferns;
And when he called they'd lock the door and say “Here's Old Blue Jeans:
The idiot who thinks he wrote that piece by Robby Burns!”
The moral of the ditty is just this, my poet friends—
When you write those homely poems, put your name on at both ends!
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