The Smoker's Year Book
by Oliver Herford
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The verses written on paper by

Oliver Herford


The pictures drawn on stone by

Sewell Collins

The whole published by


Copyright, 1908, by MOFFAT, YARD & COMPANY


All rights reserved

Published, October, 1908


Now Time the harvester surveys His sorry crops of yesterdays; Of trampled hopes and reaped regrets, And for another harvest whets His ancient scythe, eying the while The budding year with cynic smile. Well, let him smile; in snug retreat I fill my pipe with honeyed sweet, Whose incense wafted from the bowl Shall make warm sunshine in my soul, And conjure mid the fragrant haze Fair memories of other days.


Bend you now before the shrine Of the good Saint Valentine. Show to him your broken heart— Pray the Saint to take your part. Should he intercede in vain And the maid your heart disdain, Call upon Saint Nicotine; He will surely intervene. Bring burnt off'ring to his feet, Incense of Havana, sweet. Then the maiden's shade invoke, It will disappear in smoke!


Here comes bluff March—a cross between A Jester and a Libertine. He loves to make the parson race With wicked words his hat to chase; To dye with compromising rose The pious man's abstemious nose. The ladies hate him, though he shows A pretty taste for silken hose. The smoker views him with distrust, Shielding his last match from his gust. But once alight—his holy joy No blast from Heaven can destroy!


Lady April, it is clear, Is the spoilt child of the Year. See her tears about to start— Thus she melts old Winter's heart. Now the gay deceiving thing Turns and plays the deuce with Spring. Winter lingers at her gate; Spring grows chilly and irate. I'd go home if I were he— It is just such girls as she Make a fellow thank his stars For the solace of cigars.


Like Brunhilda, May is won By the kisses of the Sun. Siegfried like, the maid he takes In his arms and she awakes To the tender piping sound Of the birds—while all around In a magic fire ring Purple flames of Crocus spring. Now I fill my fragrant briar, Lo! it glows with gentle fire, Wafting scented wreaths of love To the little leaves above.


"What so rare as a day in June?" Thus I heard the poet croon, To the month of roses sweet, His song with barometric feet. Perfect days I own are rare— All depends on how you fare. Can a day be perfect to The rose that has not sipped the dew? Can the Bee, do you suppose, Hum, that has not sipped the rose? Can there be for Man, I say, Without a smoke, a perfect day?


Red rockets skyward rush pell-mell And fill the night with noise and smell. The stars of Heaven look down, and say: "So this is Independence Day! Poor earth-born stars, it makes us sad To see your fire work like mad To make a Human Holiday. Where is your independence, pray?"— Whereat I woke—my fire was low, My pipe was out. Said I: "Heigho! I never thought of it that way, I'll give them both a holiday."


Drowsing o'er my sainted briar, Dreaming dreams of Heart's Desire, Dreaming 'neath the August sun, Thus my meditations run— What if that great Ember bright Were a monster Pipe alight, Or the glowing from afar Of some Fire-God's cigar? If the Smoker's Peace abide In that sun fire, multiplied By its vastness, I will be Henceforth a devout Parsee.


As the smoker sometimes sees In Nicotian reveries Features of some Lovely Girl In the tinted wreaths that curl From his pipe; so, as we gaze Through the soft September haze In the years' calm afternoon Red with summer's ashes strewn, Through the tender veil of mist, Woven gold and amethyst, Summer's charming ghost we see Decked in Indian panoply.


Say! October, how in thunder Do you keep so young, I wonder? You're no chicken, and you know it, Yet, old man, for all you show it, You might, on a sunny day, Pass for April or for May. See, your house is falling round you, Yet you're laughing—say! confound you, What's the secret? How'd you do it? Mist and moisture? Ah, I knew it! A pipe! A mug! October brew, Fill up—October—here's to you!


Who's that pedler at the door? What! November, back once more? Why, it seems but yesterday That he took himself away! Say I'm out! Tell him to go! He has nothing new to show. Same old lay-out every trip, Same Pneumonia, same old Grippe, Same old Hard Luck tales to tell, Same Thanksgiving Day—oh, well, Show him in—then stir the log And bring church-warden pipes and grog.


Proudly beams the Christmas Tree In its tinsel finery. Round and round in sprightly pairs Children dance to old-time airs— Though they laugh they make no sound; Dancing, still they tread no ground. Naught but airy phantoms they Of a vanished Christmas Day, Ancient playmates found again In a smoke wreath's purple skein, And they whisper in my ear, "Does Christmas still come once a year?"


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