Poem of the Week
Founded August 1996
<   PotW #243   >
This Week's Poem

Past Poems...
...by Poet
...by Title and First Line
...by Occasion

Contact about...
...Free Subscription
...Submitting a Poem
...other Questions

The Fine Print...
...Copyright Information
...Page Mission
...Privacy Policy

Links to...
...other Poetry Sites



Christopher Morley (1890-1957)


    (Dedicated to Don Marquis)


    SCUTTLE, scuttle, little roach—
    How you run when I approach:
    Up above the pantry shelf,
    Hastening to secrete yourself.

    Most adventurous of vermin,
    How I wish I could determine
    How you spend your hours of ease,
    Perhaps reclining on the cheese.

    Cook has gone, and all is dark—
    Then the kitchen is your park:
    In the garbage heap that she leaves
    Do you browse among the tea leaves?

    How delightful to suspect
    All the places you have trekked:
    Does your long antenna whisk its
    Gentle tip across the biscuits?

    Do you linger, little soul,
    Drowsing in our sugar bowl?
    Or, abandonment most utter,
    Shake a shimmy on the butter?

    Do you chant your simple tunes
    Swimming in the baby's prunes?
    Then, when dawn comes, do you slink
    Homeward to the kitchen sink?

    Timid roach, why be so shy?
    We are brothers, thou and I.
    In the midnight, like yourself,
    I explore the pantry shelf!


The above is the first of four poems about insects found under the title Nursery Rhymes for the Tender-Hearted. It can be found in:
  • Morley, Christopher. Hide and Seek. New York: George H. Doran Company, 1921.
  • Malone, Ted (i.e. F.A. Russell). Yankee Doodles: A Book of American Verse. Great Neck, NY: Granger Book Co., Inc., 1978

    Don Marquis (1878-1937) was a friend of Morley and a poet, author, and playwright, and columnist for the New York Sun. Several of his books of poetry feature the cockroach Archy and the cat Mehitabel.