Julia A. Moore

The Sweet Singer of Michigan



WILLIE'S AND NELLIE'S WISH

Willie and Nellie, one evening sat
      By their own little cottage door;
They saw a man go staggering by --
      Says Willie, "that's Mr. Lanore;
He is just going home from town, where
      He has been in a saloon.
When Maggie and I came from school,
      Said Maggie, 'please papa, come home.'

"She asked him again, again, to come home.
      At last he got angry, and said:
'Maggie, go home -- don't bother me so;
      Go home now, and shut up your head.'
Poor girl, she came weeping all the way,
      As though her poor heart would break.
She could not play, not a word would say;
      With playmates no pleasure could take."

"'Tis the same child," Willie replied;
      "I'm sorry for Maggie Lanore.
I wish her papa would sign the pledge,
      And try to be a man once more.
He drinks up all the money he earns,
      In whiskey, rum, gin and beer;
His home is a home of poverty,
      Made so by his own career."

Says Nellie, "I wish Mr. Lanore
      Would go to the meeting to-night,
And hear the temperance lecture;
      Then perhaps he would try to do right.
One more little home of happiness,
      Would be in our midst, I am sure;
Then Maggie Lanore could say with joy.
      'My papa don't drink any more.'"

Said Nellie, "I told her never mind,
      We would be her friends evermore;
I hoped her papa would sign the pledge,
      Then he would not drink any more.
Then smiling through her tears, she said,
      'The temperance pledge, you mean;
If papa would sign it, then mamma
      And I will take comfort, I ween.'"

"I wonder," says Nellie, "can it be,
      The same child I saw go to school?
She wore ragged clothes. I saw her toes
      Were peeping out of her old shoes.
She has curly hair, and mild blue eyes;
      Can this child be Maggie Lanore?
If it is her, I sincerely wish
      Her papa won't drink any more."


Reprinted from The Sweet Singer of Michigan: Poems by Mrs. Julia A. Moore ,
ed. Walter Blair (Chicago: Pascal Covici, 1928).
Note: Close study suggests that the initial speaker -- Maggie's friend -- is Nellie, not Willie. But the last stanza gives rises to a true aporia: is this a pioneering instance of the Verfremdungseffekt ?
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