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The Book of Humorous Verse

THE OWL CRITIC Who stuffed that white owl


_Samuel Lover._

THE OWL-CRITIC

"Who stuffed that white owl?" No one spoke in the shop, The barber was busy, and he couldn't stop; The customers, waiting their turns, were all reading The "Daily," the "Herald," the "Post," little heeding The young man who blurted out such a blunt question; Not one raised a head, or even made a suggestion; And the barber kept on shaving.

"Don't you see, Mr. Brown," Cried the youth, with a frown, "How wrong the whole thing is, How preposterous each wing is How flattened the head is, how jammed down the neck is-- In short, the whole owl, what an ignorant wreck 't is! I make no apology; I've learned owl-eology.

I've passed days and nights in a hundred collections, And cannot be blinded to any deflections Arising from unskilful fingers that fail To stuff a bird right, from his beak to his tail. Mister Brown! Mister Brown! Do take that bird down, Or you'll soon be the laughing-stock all over town!" And the barber kept on shaving.

"I've _studied_ owls, And other night-fowls, And I tell you What I know to be true; An owl cannot roost With his limbs so unloosed; No owl in this world Ever had his claws curled, Ever had his legs slanted, Ever had his bill canted, Ever had his neck

screwed Into that attitude. He can't _do_ it, because 'Tis against all bird-laws.

Anatomy teaches, Ornithology preaches, An owl has a toe That _can't_ turn out so! I've made the white owl my study for years, And to see such a job almost moves me to tears! Mr. Brown, I'm amazed You should be so gone crazed As to put up a bird In that posture absurd! To _look_ at that owl really brings on a dizziness; The man who stuffed _him_ don't half know his business!" And the barber kept on shaving.

"Examine those eyes. I'm filled with surprise Taxidermists should pass Off on you such poor glass; So unnatural they seem They'd make Audubon scream, And John Burroughs laugh To encounter such chaff. Do take that bird down; Have him stuffed again, Brown!" And the barber kept on shaving.

"With some sawdust and bark I could stuff in the dark An owl better than that. I could make an old hat Look more like an owl Than that horrid fowl, Stuck up there so stiff like a side of coarse leather. In fact, about _him_ there's not one natural feather."

Just then, with a wink and a sly normal lurch, The owl, very gravely, got down from his perch, Walked round, and regarded his fault-finding critic (Who thought he was stuffed) with a glance analytic, And then fairly hooted, as if he should say: "Your learning's at fault _this_ time, anyway; Don't waste it again on a live bird, I pray. I'm an owl; you're another. Sir Critic, good day!" And the barber kept on shaving.


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