The Bashful Earthquake is the title poem in Herford’s whimsical collection of fables and verses published in 1898.
The Bashful Earthquake title
The Earthquake rumbled
And then he bumped,
And everything tumbled—
Houses and palaces all in a lump!
“Oh, what a crash!
Oh, what a smash!
How could I ever be so rash?”
The Earthquake cried.
“What under the sun
Have I gone and done?
I never before was so mortified!”
Then away he fled,
And groaned as he sped:
“This comes of not looking before I tread.”
The Bashful Earthquake earth
Out of the city along the road
He staggered, as under a heavy load,
Growing more weary with every league,
Till almost ready to faint with fatigue.
He came at last to a country lane
Bordering upon a field of grain;
And just at the spot where he paused to rest,
In a clump of wheat, hung a Dormouse nest.
The sun in the west was sinking red,
And the Dormouse had just turned into bed,
Dreaming as only a Dormouse can,
When all of a sudden his nest began
To quiver and shiver and tremble and shake.
Something was wrong, and no mistake!
In a minute the Dormouse was wide awake,
And, putting his head outside his nest,
Cried: “Who is it dares disturb my rest?”
His voice with rage was a husky squeak.
The Earthquake by now had become so weak
He’d scarcely strength enough to speak.
He even forgot the rules of grammar;
All he could do was to feebly stammer.
“I’m sorry, but I’m afraid it’s me.
Please don’t be angry. I’ll try to be—”
No one will know what he meant to say,
For all at once he melted away.
The Dormouse, grumbling, went back to bed,
“Oh, bother the Bats!” was all he said.