Stops of Various Quills/Heredity

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Heredity by William Dean Howells
illustrations by Howard Pyle

Howells, Stops of Various Quills, 1895 013 large a.jpg


HEREDITY


THAT swollen paunch you are doomed to bear
Your gluttonous grandsire used to wear;
That tongue, at once so light and dull,
Wagged in your grandam's empty skull;
That leering of the sensual eye
Your father, when he came to die,
Left yours alone; and that cheap flirt,
Your mother, gave you from the dirt
The simper which she used upon
So many men ere he was won.

Your vanity and greed and lust
And each your portion from the dust
Of those that died, and from the tomb
Made you what you must needs become.
I do not hold you aught to blame
For sin at second hand, and shame:
Evil could but from evil spring;
And yet, away, you charnel thing!