Collected Poems of John Holmes
Holmes, John A., Jr.
The man who always has too much to say
Is ever a troublesome thing,
But just how words can undo a man,
That is the tale I sing:
Christopher Page was born with a gift
For endless argument,
Which put that loquacious personage
In trouble wherever he went.
Given a subject on which he could differ
He'd talk the clock around
And beat his opponent in any debate
In smothering waves of sound.
It was not what he said, but the number of times
He could say the identical thing
With a different expression, inflection, or turn,
Or special rhetorical fling.
He boasted himself of the number of times
He'd said every word in the tongue,
Till the good souls who heard this Christopher Page
Wished devoutly that he could be hung.
But the people who said that- how little they knew!
What a sad death the talker would die.
You may tell of a grocer who died from his food,
Or a baker from blueberry pie,
Of a writer gone crazy from too many books,
Or a barkeeper ruined by drink,
But to tell of an orator killed by a word
Is to add to the chain a new link.
Now when Christopher Page was half through his life
He began to develop a craze-
A sort of a sideline on just simply talk,
That brought on a change in his ways.
He kept for his tirades and outbursts of spleen
An address entirely satirical;
For thoughts on religion, words noble and grave,
And for poetry, daintily lyrical.
A misapplied word gave him actual pain,
So far he developed his passion,
And from being a fountain of plenteous talk
He chose all his words for their fashion.
He discoursed in pure Latin or Saxon or Greek
Whenever occasion required it.
He'd always an elegant speech in his head
And with half a suggestion, he fired it.
He'd only have round him perfection in speech;
Couldn't stand a grammatical error.
His directions to servants were always the same:
To reflect in himself as a mirror.
But his end came in this way: a flippant assistant
Altogether too cheerful and gay,
When questioned concerning the stake of the weather
Said, "I'll see how the land lays"--and then
Poor Christopher Page grew purple with rage,
Apoplectically flushing so red
At this serious sin, that he gurgled and died
From a rush of the blood to the head.
and now he reclines on that billowy cloud
Where grammarians go when they die,
Where only the silver-tongued orators speak
And do not say lay when they lie.