23 March 2007

Poetry Friday: Love Sonnet of an Office Boy

I rarely remember Poetry Friday until it's well, Friday, so I put this one by last week. It is the first of Samuel Ellsworth Kiser’s Love Sonnets of an Office Boy, published in 1902.

Oh, if you only knowed how much I like
To stand here, when the “old man” ain’t around
And watch your soft, white fingers while you pound
Away at them there keys! Each time you strike
It almost seems to me as though you’d found
Some way, while writin’ letters, how to play
Sweet music on that thing, because the sound
Is something I could listen to all day.

You’re twenty-five or six and I’m fourteen,
And you don’t hardly ever notice me--
But when you do, you call me Willie! Gee,
I wisht I’d bundles of the old long green
And could be twenty-eight or nine or so,
And something happened to your other beau.
For the remaining twenty-seven sonnets in the cycle, visit the dedicated page at Sonnet.org.

The office boy seems to have totally vanished from our culture, not just our everyday lives but also from most historical fiction. We have new novels for kids about blacksmith’s apprentices, mill-girls, farmworkers, and other young laborers, but no office assistants, bell hops, or telegraph boys that I can think of.

Yet once that population young urban workers was large, literate, and lucrative enough to inspire products tailored to them. These satirical sonnets were obviously not meant to entertain young teens, but office boys had their own exciting fiction, comic strip, and even board game.


Martha A Cheves said...

I ran across a copy of Love Sonnets of an Office Boy by S.E. Kiser dating 1904. Do you know where I could find more info on this as well as its value? I've googled but find very little other than ebook versions, etc.
Thank you in advance.
Martha A. Cheves, owner of Book Resque

J. L. Bell said...

No idea about the book's value, but I found this article about the author, S. E. (Samuel Ellsworth) Kiser.