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Other Essays by Dan Sullivan
Other Essays


By Edmund Vance Cooke, and
revised by Dan Sullivan

There was an ape in recent times
Who liked to eat, but not to climb.
He picked the jungle's finest tree
And said, "This tree belongs to me!"

These monkeys haven't brains nor guts
And I can make them gather nuts
And bring the bulk of them to me
By claiming title to this tree.

He found a broad leaf and a reed
And wrote himself a title deed.
Next morning, when the monkeys came
To gather nuts, he made his claim.

"All monkeys climbing on this tree
Must bring their gathered nuts to me,
Cracking them on equal shares;
The meats are mine, the shells are theirs."

"But by what right?" they cried, amazed,
Thinking he was surely crazed.
"By this!" he answered. "If you'll read,
You'll see it is a title deed."

"Made in precise and formal shape,
And sworn before a fellow ape,
Exactly on the legal plan
Used by Man to own the land."
Unless my deed is recognized,
It proves you most uncivilized."

"But," said one monkey, "you'll agree,
It wasn't you who made this tree."
"Nor," said the ape, with deed in hand,
Does any owner make his land.
It doesn't have to make much sense,
It is the law. I want my rents!

The monkeys tried to sort it out,
But it was clear, without a doubt.
The ape's procedure showed no flaw.
He really knew his human law.
And yet, no matter what he said,
The stomach still denied the head.

Up jumped one spunky monkey then.
"We are monkeys; we're not men!
This ape should try his legal capers
On men, who might respect his papers."

"We don't know deeds, we do know nuts.
There are no 'if's' or 'ands' or 'buts.'
Whoever gathers and unmeats them
By monkey practice also eats them."
"Let's show this ape and all his flunkies
No man-tricks can be played on monkeys!"

So, apes still climb to get their food,
And gripe that monkeys are so crude,
And monkeys, all so ill-advised,
Still eat their nuts, uncivilized.