In Honor of "the Drummer"

     By Ella Wheeler Wilcox

First in the crowded car is he to offer--
  This traveling man unhonored and unsung--
  The seat he paid for to some woman young
Or old and wrinkled; first is he to proffer
Something, a trifle from his samples maybe,
To please the fancy of a crying baby.

He lifts the window or he drops the curtain
  For unaccustomed hands.  He lends his case
To bolster up a sleeping child, not certain
  But its mamma will frown him in the face,
So anxiously some women seek for danger
In every courteous act of every stranger.

Well versed is he in all those ways conducive
  To comfort, where least comfort can be found;
He turns the seat unasked, yet unobtrusive
  His little deeds of thoughtfulness abound.
Is glad to please you, or to have you please him,
Yet takes it very calmly if you freeze him.

He smoothes the Jove-like frown of some official
  By paying fare for one who cannot pay.
True modesty he knows from artificial;
  Will "flirt," of course, if you're inclined that way,
And if you are, be sure that he detects you,
And if you're not, be sure that he respects you.

The sorrows of the moving world distress him;
  He never fails to lend what aid he can,
A thousand hearts to-day have cause to bless him--
  This much-abused, misused commercial man.
I do not strive to cast a halo 'round him,
But speak of him precisely as I found him.

From Views of Niagara Falls, New York 1890. Courtesy of Ed Ingram who sent me the poem and wrote that it was entitled "In Honor of 'The Drummer'", by Ella Wheeler Wilcox, pasted inside the front cover (apparently added by some previous owner, as it doesn't seem to have anything to do with Niagara Falls)." Courtesy of Ed Ingram.

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