Verse > Anthologies > The World’s Best Poetry > Vol. IX. Tragedy: Humor
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Bliss Carman, et al., eds.  The World’s Best Poetry.
Volume IX. Tragedy: Humor.  1904.
 
Humorous Poems: II. Miscellaneous
The Nose and the Eyes
William Cowper (1731–1800)
 
BETWEEN Nose and Eyes a strange contest arose;
The spectacles set them, unhappily, wrong;
The point in dispute was, as all the world knows,
  To whom the said spectacles ought to belong.
 
So Tongue was the lawyer, and argued the cause,        5
  With a great deal of skill, and a wig full of learning,
While chief baron Ear sat to balance the laws,—
  So famed for his talent in nicely discerning.
 
“In behalf of the Nose, it will quickly appear
  (And your lordship,” he said, “will undoubtedly find)        10
That the Nose has the spectacles always to wear,
  Which amounts to possession, time out of mind.”
 
Then, holding the spectacles up to the court,
  “Your lordship observes, they are made with a straddle,
As wide as the ridge of the Nose is; in short,        15
  Designed to sit close to it, just like a saddle.
 
“Again, would your lordship a moment suppose
  (’T is a case that has happened, and may happen again)
That the visage or countenance had not a Nose,
  Pray, who would, or who could, wear spectacles then?        20
 
“On the whole, it appears, and my argument shows,
  With a reasoning the court will never condemn,
That the spectacles, plainly, were made for the Nose,
  And the Nose was, as plainly, intended for them.”
 
Then shifting his side (as a lawyer knows how),        25
  He pleaded again in behalf of the Eyes:
But what were his arguments, few people know,
  For the court did not think them equally wise.
 
So his lordship decreed, with a grave, solemn tone,
  Decisive and clear, without one if or but,        30
That whenever the Nose put his spectacles on,
  By daylight or candlelight,—Eyes should be shut.
 
 
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