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Jest 'Fore Christmas
by
Eugene Field


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Father calls me William, sister calls me Will,
Mother calls me Willie, but the fellers call me Bill!
Mighty glad I ain't a girl--ruther be a boy,
Without them sashes, curls, an' things that 's worn by Fauntleroy!
Love to chawnk green apples an' go swimmin' in the lake--
Hate to take the castor-ile they give for bellyache!
'Most all the time, the whole year round, there ain't no flies on me,
But jest 'fore Christmas I 'm as good as I kin be! 
Got a yeller dog named Sport, sic him on the cat;
First thing she knows she doesn't know where she is at!
Got a clipper sled, an' when us kids goes out to slide,
'Long comes the grocery cart, an' we all hook a ride!
But sometimes when the grocery man is worrited an' cross,
He reaches at us with his whip, an' larrups up his hoss,
An' then I laff an' holler, "Oh, ye never teched me!"
But jest 'fore Christmas I 'm as good as I kin be!
Gran'ma says she hopes that when I git to be a man,
I 'll be a missionarer like her oldest brother, Dan,
As was et up by the cannibuls that lives in Ceylon's Isle,
Where every prospeck pleases, an' only man is vile!
But gran'ma she has never been to see a Wild West show,
Nor read the Life of Daniel Boone, or else I guess she 'd know
That Buff'lo Bill an' cowboys is good enough for me!
Excep' jest 'fore Christmas, when I 'm good as I kin be!
And then old Sport he hangs around, so solemnlike an' still,
His eyes they seem a-sayin': "What's the matter, little Bill?"
The old cat sneaks down off her perch an' wonders what's become
Of them two enemies of hern that used to make things hum!
But I am so perlite an' tend so earnestly to biz,
That Mother says to Father: "How improved our Willie is!"
But Father, havin' been a boy hisself, suspicions me
When, jest 'fore Christmas, I 'm as good as I kin be! 
For Christmas, with its lots an' lots of candies, cakes, an' toys,
Was made, they say, for proper kids an' not for naughty boys;
So wash yer face an' bresh yer hair, an' mind yer p's and q's,
An' don't bust out yer pantaloons, and don't wear out yer shoes;
Say "Yessum" to the ladies, and "Yessur" to the men,
An' when they 's company, don't pass yer plate for pie again;
But, thinkin' of the things yer 'd like to see upon that tree,
Jest 'fore Christmas be as good as yer kin be!

This poem is in the public domain.
 
Purchase a framed print of this poem.

 

Eugene Field (1850 –1895) was born in St. Louis, Missouri, raised in Amherst, Massachusetts, and spent most of his adult life in Chicago. Best known for his children’s poetry and humorous essays, he explored acting and law before turning to a very successful career in journalism. Eugene lost both parents before he was 20, buried three of his eight children, and died himself when he was only 45. He nonetheless seemed to have a happy and satisfying life, publishing more than a dozen books and forever endearing himself to the world’s children by penning such classic poems as “The Duel” and “Wynken, Blynken, and Nod.” Eugene’s home in St. Louis is preserved and open to the public.

 


Post New Comment:
69Dorcas:
Such a sense of humor way back then.
Posted 12/23/2011 05:35 PM
loisflmom:
An old friend! I memorized this poem in fifth grade-- back when memorizing was part of one's education-- and even now, at seventy, I can still recite the first two stanzas. Thanks for reminding me how much fun the whole poem is!
Posted 12/23/2011 08:59 AM
dotief@comcast.net:
I have always wondered where the bit about the nick names for William came. Great two opening lines. I also like the line "There ain't no flies on me." I've heard that in a song, haven't I? No matter. I love the playfulness of the whole poem!
Posted 12/23/2011 07:49 AM


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