George Johnston

The Turtle's Sermon

An old and crafty terrapin,
Who lately found his speech,
Like many another simple lout,
Concluded he could preach.

And so he waddled to the shore,
And thus address'd his friends--
The bullfrogs and the snappers bold,
About their latter ends.

And told them all how they must be
Made into soup at last;
And how the serpent sharp can see
When last year's hide is cast.

And how the wary pickerel
Enjoys the minnow sweet,
Which he doth never fail to catch,
When it goes out to skate;

And how the beaver builds his house
Within his winter dam;
And how the oyster lays its egg,
And hatches out a clam;

And how the busy bumble bee,
Doth blow his little horn,
Whene'er he goes in quest of food,
Amid the standin' corn:

And how the gentle butterfly
Sings many a merry tune
Because he's glad he has escaped
From out the old cocoon;

And how the rabbit flies his kite,
When he can find a string;
And how the owl sits up all night,
To hear the squirrel sing;

And many other curious things
That did his hearers good,--
Of cats that did a swimmin' go
And eels that chew'd the cud;

And toads that dance upon their ears
When they a courtin' go;
And moles that stand upon their heads,
That they may see the show.

His sermon, as you see, was queer,
And muchly out of joint;--
And 'cause the preacher took no text,
He failed to make his point.

And soon his hearers all grew tired,
And mortified and vex'd,
Because he chose to play the fool,
And preach without a text.

And so they left him there alone--
And this is what befel--
He grew so mad it broke his heart,
And almost burst his shell.


If you successfully would preach,
Be sure a text to take,
And stick unto it like a leech
Until your point you make.

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George Johnston