Poetry of Kansas

The Christmas Fiddle

The Christmas season was drawing near
And I wondered what I would get that year.
I wanted a change from ties and socks
And stand-up collars and kerchief box.
So I told my friends they could keep their pelf
And I would buy something to please myself.
 
The winter season was dark and drear
And I longed for music, my soul to cheer,
Some strains harmonic, so light and gay,
To enter and drive dull care away.
 
I remembered hearing, some time, some way,
That one of my ancestors used to play
With a skillful hand on the violin,
Way back in the days that once had been,
And the notion was so with reason fraught
That into my head there came the thought,
Since I was a sprout from the family tree,
His mantle had fallen, perhaps, on me.
 
So I sent a letter to Sawbuck Rear,
In which was an order that read: "Dear Sir___
I send you a dollar and thirteen cents,
For which you will ship me, at my expense,
One soft-pine fiddle and horse-hair bow
That are listed in catalog so-and-so."
 
Well, I got that gourd next year, by freight,
And I sawed it early and sawed it late;
I tackled "Dixie" and "Soldier's Joy"
And the mother's lament for her wandering boy,
And every time I would start to play
Some more of my neighbors would move away
 
When I ran the gamut in sharps and flats
It seemed the spirits of all the cats
That gave up their lives____and other things___
To furnish that fiddle a set of strings,
Would fill the twilight with shrieks and growls
And jar the nerves with their spectral yowls.
 
The price of lots in that part of town
Were finally forced and fiddled down
Till the owners declared when they learned the facts
That they would not keep them and pay the tax.
 
They took the matter up into court
And they dealt me a blow that destroyed my sport;
They made me go on the witness stand
And saw off a measure from "Sandy Land"
That the judge and the jury might hear and know
That all of the charges they made were so.
 
They dished me up an injunction suit
With a lot of damage and costs, to boot,
And the court observed as he looked me through:
"I find these charges are all too true.
Go home and see if you can't be good
And bust that box into kindling wood.
Your playing sounds like the Banshee's wail
And you'll have to cheese it or go to jail."

__Albert Stroud.

 

Verdigris Valley Verse
Albert Stroud
(Coffeyville, Kansas: The Journal Press. 1917)
Pages 68-69

 
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April 30, 2003 / John & Susan Howell / Wichita, Kansas / howell@kotn.org

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