Velocipede: a poem, taken from The Yale University Literary Magazine in 1869

…Two or three velocipedes are already owned in college and doubtless the number will be greatly increased next term. They as yet have the right of way on the sidewalks, and if the city officials have any idea of restricting it, we are sure they will at once change their minds, when the ‘prayer’ on page 295 is brought to their notice. This, by the way, is the work of the ‘private sweep’ of our Class Poet…



Oh, city fathers, hear my prayer!

I’m but a student, yet give heed;

And as you hope for mercy, spare;

Don’t, don’t outlaw Velocipede!

Why banish him? He does no harm

To anyone, – indeed, indeed,

I know the timid feel alarm

And hatred for Velocipede;

But yet I say he harms them not,

Their fancy’t is which seems to need

Repression, for it makes them plot

And lie against Velocipede.

They fancy riders cannot steer,

And cannot safely move with speed,

And so they feign a foolish fear,

Whene’er comes up Velocipede.

Don’t believe the stories that they tell

Of accident or foul misdeed;

The Journal’s ‘horse’ long since got well,

Uninjured by Velocipede.

‘Tis envy simply that’s at work:

The one who must on foot proceed

Feels jealous, when with artful quirk

Another rides Velocipede.

Some, too, there are who hate all fun,

Who count all sport of ill the seed;

And such judge that the evil one

Himself devised Velocipede.

But those who believe in life, and joy,

And Jollity, must fain concede

The many virtues of this toy

We fondly call Velocipede.

So let him have the right of way.

The sidewalks he will not impede,

Nor force the footmen to delay

Their steps for him, Velocipede.

Or if from Chapel, State, and Church

You order him, we are agreed,

If, leaving these streets in the lurch,

Elsewhere may roam Velocipede.

Now, city fathers, hear my prayer!

I’m but a student, yet give heed

To my poor words, and spare, oh, spare!

My only love, Velocipede.


 (The Yale Literary Magazine, Volume 34, Yale University, 1869, pp. 295-296 and 309)

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