Wednesday, March 24, 2010

March 24, 1885: A Newspaper Puff

Howard Pyle's "A Newspaper Puff" appeared in Harper's Young People for March 24, 1885, and in Pepper and Salt later that year. For some reason, the verse was typeset in the magazine, but hand-lettered (by Pyle, of course) in the book version, shown here. Pyle had a little trouble with the orientation of his apostrophes, but who doesn't these days?

The original pen and ink drawing is at the Delaware Art Museum. For your convenience, here's the verse:
Twelve geese
In a row
(So these
Always go).
They meander,
Tail to bill;
First the gander.
So they stalked,
Bold as brass
As they walked
To the grass.

Stopped the throng;
Plain to see
Something's wrong
Yes; there is
Something white!
No quiz;
Clear to sight.
('Twill amuse
When you're told
'Twas a news-
Paper old.)

Gander spoke.
Braver bird
Never broke
Egg, I've heard:
"Stand here
Never fear,
Wait for me."

Forth he went,
Cautious, slow,
Body bent,
Head low.
All the rest
Stood fast,
Waiting for
What passed.

Wind came
With a caper,
Caught same
Daily paper.
Up it sailed
In the air;
Courage failed
Then and there.
Scared well
Out of wits;
Nearly fell
Into fits.
Off they sped,
'Till they'd fled
Under shelter.

Poor geese!
Never mind;
Other geese
One can find,
Cut the same
Foolish caper
At empty wind
In a paper.


kev ferrara said...

Thanks for this.

Pyle was really a master of tone. From light, silly verse like this, to haunted pirates, to scenes of bereavement, drinking, business, courtship, warfare... he could do it all with absolute authenticity and a full and true heart.

One of the greatest artists ever!

Ian Schoenherr said...

Okay, Kev, you've convinced me!