The Duel (Field)

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For works with similar titles, see The Duel.
The Duel
by Eugene Field
"The Duel," by Eugene Field (1850-95), is almost the most popular humorous poem that has come under my notice. In making such a collection as this it is not easy to find poems at once delicate, witty, and graphic. I have taught "The Duel" hundreds of times, and children invariably love it.

    The gingham dog and the calico cat
    Side by side on the table sat;
   'Twas half-past twelve, and (what do you think!)
    Nor one nor t'other had slept a wink!
    The old Dutch clock and the Chinese plate
    Appeared to know as sure as fate
    There was going to be a terrible spat.
    (I wasn't there; I simply state
    What was told to me by the Chinese plate!)

    The gingham dog went "bow-wow-wow!"
    And the calico cat replied "mee-ow!"
    The air was littered, an hour or so,
    With bits of gingham and calico,
    While the old Dutch clock in the chimney-place
    Up with its hands before its face,
    For it always dreaded a family row!
    (Never mind: I'm only telling you
   What the old Dutch clock declares is true!)

    The Chinese plate looked very blue,
    And wailed, "Oh, dear! what shall we do!"
    But the gingham dog and the calico cat
    Wallowed this way and tumbled that,
    Employing every tooth and claw
    In the awfullest way you ever saw–
    And, oh! how the gingham and calico flew!
    (Don't fancy I exaggerate–
    I got my news from the Chinese plate!)

    Next morning where the two had sat
    They found no trace of dog or cat;
    And some folk think unto this day
    That burglars stole that pair away!
    But the truth about the cat and pup
    Is this: They ate each other up!
    Now what do you really think of that!
    (The old Dutch clock it told me so,
    And that is how I came to know.)