From The Wit and Humor of America, edited by Marshall P. Wilder, Volume III, New York and London: Funk and Wagnalls and Company, 1911; pp. 546-547.
THE AUTO RUBAIYAT*
BY REGINALD WRIGHT KAUFFMAN
Move! — Or the Devil Red who puts to flight
Whate’er ’s before him, to the Left or Right,
Will toss you high as Heaven when he strikes
Your poor clay carcass with his master-might!
As the Cock crows the “Fiends” who stand before
The Starting-Point, amid the Stream’s wild roar,
Shake hands, make wills, and duly are confess’d,
Lest, once departed, they return no more.
For whether towards Madrid or Washington,
Whether by steam or gasoline they run,
Pedestrians keep getting in their way,
Chauffeurs are being slaughtered one by one.
A new Fool’s every minute born, you say;
Yes, but where speeds the Fool of Yesterday?
Beneath the Road he sleeps, the Autos roar
Close o’er his head, but can not thrill his clay.
Well, let him sleep! For what have we to do
With him, who this or Anything pursue
So it takes swiftness? — Let the Children scream,
Or Constables shout after — heed not you.547
Oh ye who anti-auto laws would make
And still insist upon the silly brake,
Get in, and try a spin, and then you’ll see
How many fines you will impose — and take!
Ah, my Beloved, fill the Tank that cheers,
Nor heed the Law’s rebuke, the Rabble’s tears,
Quick! For To-morrow you and I may be
Ourselves with Yesterday’s Sev’n Thousand Years.
A pair of Goggles and a Cap, I trow,
A Stench, a Roar, and my Machine and Thou
Beside me, going ninety miles an hour —
Oh, Turnpike-road were Paradise enow!
Ah, Love, could we successfully conspire
Against this sorry World for our desire,
Would we not shatter it to bits without
So much of damage as a busted tire?
With Gasoline my fading Life provide,
And wash my Body in it when I’ve died,
And lay me, shrouded in my Cap and Cape,
By some not Autoless new Speedway’s side.
Yon “Devil” that goes pricking o’er the Plain,
How oft hereafter will she go again!
How oft hereafter will she seek her prey?
But seek, alas, for one of us in vain!
And when, like her, O Love, you come to take
Your morning spin for Appetite’s sweet sake,
And pass the spot where I lay buried, then,
In memory of me, fling wide the Brake!
* Lippincott’s Magazine.