Eugene Field

2 September 1850 - 4 November 1895 / St Louis / Missouri / United States

Ben Apfelgarten

There was a certain gentleman, Ben Apfelgarten called,
Who lived way off in Germany a many years ago,
And he was very fortunate in being very bald
And so was very happy he was so.
He warbled all the day
Such songs as only they
Who are very, very circumspect and very happy may;
The people wondered why,
As the years went gliding by,
They never heard him once complain or even heave a sigh!

The women of the province fell in love with genial Ben,
Till (may be you can fancy it) the dickens was to pay
Among the callow students and the sober-minded men--
With the women-folk a-cuttin' up that way!
Why, they gave him turbans red
To adorn his hairless head,
And knitted jaunty nightcaps to protect him when abed!
In vain the rest demurred--
Not a single chiding word
Those ladies deigned to tolerate--remonstrance was absurd!

Things finally got into such a very dreadful way
That the others (oh, how artful) formed the politic design
To send him to the reichstag; so, one dull November day,
They elected him a member from the Rhine!
Then the other members said:
"Gott im Himmel! what a head!"
But they marvelled when his speeches they listened to or read;
And presently they cried:
"There must be heaps inside
Of the smooth and shiny cranium his constituents deride!"

Well, when at last he up 'nd died--long past his ninetieth year--
The strangest and the most lugubrious funeral he had,
For women came in multitudes to weep upon his bier--
The men all wond'ring why on earth the women had gone mad!
And this wonderment increased
Till the sympathetic priest
Inquired of those same ladies: "Why this fuss about deceased?"
Whereupon were they appalled,
For, as one, those women squalled:
"We doted on deceased for being bald--bald--bald!"

He was bald because his genius burnt that shock of hair away
Which, elsewise, clogs one's keenness and activity of mind;
And (barring present company, of course) I'm free to say
That, after all, it's intellect that captures womankind.
At any rate, since then
(With a precedent in Ben),
The women-folk have been in love with us bald-headed men!
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