The Duel

by EUGENE FIELD (1850-1895)

featuring Voice Artist Tracey Kummrow

The gingham dog and the calico cat
Side by side on the table sat;
‘Twas half-past twelve and (what do you think!)
Nor one nor t’other had slept a wink!
The old Dutch clock and the Chinese plate
Appeared to know as sure as fate
There was going to be a terrible spat.
(I wasn’t there; I simply state
What was told to me by the Chinese plate!)

The Gingham Dog and the Calico Cat

The gingham dog went “bow-wow-wow!”
And the calico cat replied “mee-ow!”
The air was littered, an hour or so,
With bits of gingham and calico,
While the old Dutch clock in the chimney-place
Up with its hands before its face
For it always dreaded a family row!
(Now mind: I’m only telling you
What the old Dutch clock declares is true!)

The Chinese plate looked very blue,
And wailed, “Oh, dear! What shall we do!”
But the gingham dog and the calico cat
Wallowed this way and tumbled that,
Employing every tooth and claw
In the awfullest way you ever saw–
And, oh! How the gingham and calico flew!
(Don’t fancy I exaggerate–
I got my news from the Chinese plate!)

Next morning, where the two had sat
They found no trace of dog or cat;
And some folks think unto this day
That burglars stole that pair away!
But the truth about the cat and pup
Is this: They ate each other up!
Now what do you really think of that!
(The old Dutch clock it told me so,
that is how I came to know.)

Gingham Dog and Calico Cat image courtesy of Judi Assony

Eugene Field

Eugene Field, also known as the Children’s Poet, was born on September 2, 1850, at 634 S. Broadway in St. Louis, Mo. He had a younger brother, Roswell, and a sister who died in infancy. When the boys were 6 and 5, their mother died. The boys were raised in Amherst, MA. by a cousin, Mary Field French. Emily Dickinson, later to become Amherst’s most famous citizen, was about 26 years old at the time.

Field’s father, attorney Roswell Martin Field, became famous for his representation of the slave, Dred Scott. Field filed the complaint, suing for Dred Scott’s freedom in federal court in St. Louis, Mo. It is often call the lawsuit that started the Civil War.

Eugene Field Contemporaries
James Whitcomb Riley
Laura E. Richards
Charles E. Carryl
Robert Louis Stevenson

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1 Response

  1. Marilyn W says:

    I remember this poem from my childhood. My G’mother would read it to me from a children’s poetry book compiled by John Whitcomb Riley. In fact I thought the poem was by him. I quoted the first two lines to my G’son recently and just wanted to send him the whole poem. Sorry I didn’t have the cute pictures! Thanks for posting it!

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