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Ellis Parker Butler - Why Washington Retreated

1775

Said Congress to George Washington:
  “To set this country free,
You’ll have to whip the Britishers
  And chase them o’er the sea.”
“Oh, very well,” said Washington,
  “I’ll do the best I can.
I’ll slam and bang those Britishers
  And whip them to a man.”

1777

Said Congress to George Washington:
  “The people all complain;
Why don’t you fight? You but retreat
  And then retreat again.”
“That can’t be helped,” said Washington,
  “As you will quite agree
When you see how the novelists
  Have mixed up things for me.”

Said Congress to George Washington:
  “Pray make your meaning clear.”
Said Washington: “Why, certainly—
  But pray excuse this tear.
Of course we know,” said Washington,
  “The object of this war—
It is to furnish novelists
  With patriotic lore.”

Said Congress to George Washington:
  “Yes! yes! but pray proceed.”
Said Washington: “My part in it
  Is difficult indeed,
For every hero in the books
  Must sometime meet with me,
And every sweet-faced heroine
  I must kiss gallantly.”

Said Congress to George Washington:
  “But why must you retreat?”
Said Washington: “One moment, please,
  My story to complete.
These hero-folk are scattered through
  The whole United States;
At every little country town
  A man or maiden waits.”

To Congress said George Washington:
  “At Harlem I must be
On such a day to chat with one,
  And then I’ll have to flee
With haste to Jersey, there to meet
  Another. Here’s a list
Of sixty-seven heroes, and
  There may be some I’ve missed.”

To Congress said George Washington:
  “Since I must meet them all
(And if I don’t you know how flat
  The novels all will fall),
I cannot take much time to fight,
  I must be on the run,
Or some historic novelist
  Will surely be undone.”

Said Congress to George Washington:
  “You are a noble man.
Your thoughtfulness is notable,
  And we approve your plan;
A battle won pads very well
  A novel that is thin,
But it is better to retreat
  Than miss one man and win.”

Said Congress to George Washington:
  “Kiss every pretty maid,
But do it in a courtly way
  And in a manner staid—
And some day when your sword is sheathed
  And all our banners furled,
A crop of novels will spring up
  That shall appal the world.”

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Added: Oct 28 2005 | Viewed: 1661 times | Comments and analysis of Why Washington Retreated by Ellis Parker Butler Comments (0)

Why Washington Retreated - Comments and Information

Poet: Ellis Parker Butler
Poem: Why Washington Retreated
Volume: Century Magazine
Year: Published/Written in 1905
Poem of the Day: Apr 10 2010
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