Apple Pie and Cheese.

My wife is a devotee of the work of American poet Eugene Field (1850-1895). One of the nation’s first newspaper columnists (for the Chicago Daily News), he is often referred to as “The Poet of Children,” because he wrote the hardy perennial “Wynken, Blynken and Nod.” But he deserves to be known for more than that, and in fact, he railed against the sobriquet in his own time.

Back in July of last year, I quoted one of my favorite poems by the humorist Roy Blount, Jr., “Song to Pie.” On this Independence Day 2008, nothing could be more appropriate than to reproduce Eugene Field’s ode to that defiantly American culinary classic, “Apple-Pie and Cheese”:

Full many a sinful notion
Conceived of foreign powers
Has come across the ocean
To harm this land of ours;
And heresies called fashions
Have modesty effaced,
And baleful, morbid passions
Corrupt our native taste.
O tempora! O mores!
What profanations these
That seek to dim the glories
Of apple-pie and cheese!

I’m glad my education
Enables me to stand
Against the vile temptation
Held out on every hand;
Eschewing all the tittles
With vanity replete,
I’m loyal to the victuals
Our grandsires used to eat!
I’m glad I’ve got three willing boys
To hang around and tease
Their mother for the filling joys
Of apple-pie and cheese!

Your flavored creams and ices
And your dainty angel-food
Are mighty fine devices
To regale the dainty dude;
Your terrapin and oysters,
With wine to wash ’em down,
Are just the thing for roisters
When painting of the town;
No flippant, sugared notion
Shall my appetite appease,
Or bate my soul’s devotion
To apple-pie and cheese!

The pie my Julia makes me
(God bless her Yankee ways!)
On memory’s pinions takes me
To dear Green Mountain days;
And seems like I see Mother
Lean on the window-sill,
A-handin’ me and brother
What she knows ‘ll keep us still;
And these feelings are so grateful,
Says I, “Julia, if you please,
I’ll take another plateful
Of that apple-pie and cheese!”

And cheese! No alien it, sir,
That’s brought across the sea,–
No Dutch antique, nor Switzer,
Nor glutinous de Brie;
There’s nothing I abhor so
As mawmets of this ilk–
Give me the harmless morceau
That’s made of true-blue milk!
No matter what conditions
Dyspeptic come to feaze,
The best of all physicians
Is apple-pie and cheese!

Though ribalds may decry ’em,
For these twin boons we stand,
Partaking thrice per diem
Of their fulness out of hand;
No enervating fashion
Shall cheat us of our right
To gratify our passion
With a mouthful at a bite!
We’ll cut it square or bias,
Or any way we please,
And faith shall justify us
When we carve our pie and cheese!

De gustibus, ‘t is stated,
Non disputandum est.
Which meaneth, when translated,
That all is for the best.
So let the foolish choose ’em
The vapid sweets of sin,
I will not disabuse ’em
Of the heresy they’re in;
But I, when I undress me
Each night, upon my knees
Will ask the Lord to bless me
With apple-pie and cheese!

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One Comment on “Apple Pie and Cheese.”

  1. Angie says:

    Thank you for posting this Ted. I hope this inspires folks to remember the brilliance of poet/author/newsman Eugene Field or discover him for the first time. Plenty of his books for sale on eBay! Angie


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