Mother Goose for Grownups/The Remarkable Regimen of the Sprat Family

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The Remarkable Regimen of the Sprat Family
by Guy Wetmore Carryl
This poem was published in Carryl’s 1900 anthology Mother Goose for Grownups, of poems that are parodies of Mother Goose nursery rhymes.

The Sprats were four in number,
      Including twins in kilts:
All day Jack carted lumber,
      All day his wife made quilts.
Thus heartlessly neglected
      Twelve hours in twenty-four,
As might have been expected,
      The twins sat on the floor:
And all the buttons, I should state,
They chanced to find, they promptly ate.
      This was not meat, but still it’s true
      We did the same when we were two.

The wife (whose name was Julia)
      Maintained an ample board,
But one thing was peculiar,
      Lean meat she quite abhorred.
Here also should be stated
      Another fact: ’tis that
Her spouse abominated
      The very taste of fat.
This contrast curious of taste
Precluded any thought of waste,
      For all they left of any meal
      No self-respecting dog would steal.

No generous table d’hôte meal,
      No dainties packed in tins,
But only bowls of oatmeal
      They gave the wretched twins;
And yet like princes pampered
      Had lived those babes accursed,
Could they have fed unhampered:—
      I have not told the worst!
Since nothing from the dining-room
Was left to feed the cook and groom,
      It seems that these domestics cruel
      Were led to steal the children’s gruel!

The twins, all hopes resigning,
      And wounded to the core,
Confined themselves to dining
      On buttons off the floor.
No passionate resentment
      The docile babes displayed:
Each day in calm contentment
      Three hearty meals they made.
And daily Jack and Mrs. Sprat
Ate all the lean and all the fat,
      And every day the groom and cook
      The children’s meal contrived to hook.

But when the twins grew older,
      As twins are apt to do,
And, shoulder touching shoulder,
      Sat Sundays in their pew.
They saw no Christian glory
      In parting with a dime,
And in the offertory
      Dropped buttons every time.
Said they: “What’s good enough for Sprats
Is good enough for heathen brats.”
      (I most sincerely wish I knew
      What was the heathen’s point of view.)

The moral: Anecdotes abound
Of buttons in collections found.
Thus on the wheels of progress go,
And heathens reap what Christians sew!