Today is the birthday of Christopher Morley (1890-1957). I first read his novels Parnassus on Wheels
and The Haunted Bookshop
when I was in high school, and I still re-read them every year or two, with undiminished enjoyment. Here is one of Morley's poems, "The Savage," from his Hide and Seek
(New York: George H. Doran Company, 1920), pp. 19-20:
Civilization causes me
Alternate fits: disgust and glee.
Buried in piles of glass and stone
My private spirit moves alone,
Where every day from eight to six
I keep alive by hasty tricks.
But I am simple in my soul;
My mind is sullen to control.
At dusk I smell the scent of earth,
And I am dumb—too glad for mirth.
I know the savors night can give,
And then, and then, I live, I live!
No man is wholly pure and free,
For that is not his destiny,
But though I bend, I will not break:
And still be savage, for Truth's sake.
God damns the easily convinced
(Like Pilate, when his hands he rinsed).