Cum Grano, Verses and Epigrams

Cum Grano, Verses and Epigrams

Cum Grano, Verses and Epigrams. By Henry S. Salt. 140 pp. Berkeley Heights, New Jersey: The Oriole Press

Mr. Salt gives us here a selection from a number of stray verses written during the past twenty years or thirty years, some topical, some personal, some propagandist, if the word may be used of that shrewd battle against unreason and inhumanity which he has waged so resolutely and with so fine a temper for forty years or more. Certainly few are more competent to do, in his words, “timely service by turning a rhyme and overturning a fool.” And here are many piquant examples of this faculty in this volume. The fool in many of his epigrams is that “Homo Rapiens,” who in his view is still so much more characteristic of the human race than “Homo Sapiens,” and whose pretensions to kindliness he pricks in the following quatrain, entitled “A Lover of Animals”:—

Oh, yes! you love them well, I know!
But whisper me—when most?
"In fields, at summer-time." Not so:
At supper-time—in roast.

But much of his wit is not directed against die-hards or meat-eaters, but blends with humour in sanity’s perennial game of correcting eccentricity, salts his appreciation of amiable dreamers or plays pointedly upon trite phrases, as in “The Seasonable”:—

Friend, I can bear it all; the mid-day dark,
Fog, frost, and snow; I’ll suffer aught in reason;
But spare me that last insult—the remark
That this unholy weather is “in season”!

Times Literary Supplement, September 17, 1931, p. 510