The Rats and the Trap poem

Band of Hope Review, . (1903) The Rats and the Trap poem. [Image]

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The concept of moderate drinking as a trap, which entices the victim in a pleasant manner, was a common one in temperance propaganda. This page from the 1903 Band of Hope Review shows a typical menu presented to the young readers: a recitation, some word-play, a brief verse, and an informative ‘teaching’ illustration.

A New Recitation.
One night when it was dark and still,
And all the house was fast asleep,
Down in the cellar, damp and cold,
The household rats began to creep.

Rats big and little, brown and grey,
Were gathered there in mortal dread :
For lo ! within the grip of steel
A brother rat – poor Sleek – lay dead.

And round his corse with woeful mien
The gathered clans in council sat,
Where, from the Presidential Chair
Up spake an old gray-headed rat.

“My friends,” said he, “this deadly trap
Has snatched our brothers from our side ;
Say, how can we escape its grip,
And yet for hungry moths provide?”

Up sprang a young wise-acre: “Sir,
I have a clever plan, and good:
With one pay let us hold the spring
And with the other snatch the food.”

To this the council squealed assent ;
All switched their tails in wild applause.
“What wisdom !” – “See what we can do
If we but use our brains and paws!”

Then, homeward, down their holes they sped ;
Light-hearted, for their fears were o’er ;
And safe, beside their families,
They slept beneath the cellar floor.

But, woe is me ! Ere many days
More friends were missed and brothers lost ;
And many a heart of mother Rat
With bitter doubt and grief was crossed.

AT last things came to such a pass,
The rats took counsel once again,
How they might snatch the tempting food,
Without their being caught and slain.

“Dear friends,” began the President –
But suddenly a voice was heard,
A faint and doleful cry of woe.
And all were silent – no one stirred.

Then came an old rat, limping up ;
One leg was one ; his head hung low ;
With only jus a stump of tail
He made a sad and piteous show.

“I lost this leg and tail,” said he,
“And come before you in this plight –
Poor, broken-down, and in despair,
Through giving way to appetite.

“I tried the plan so much approved
By all ; with the result you see.
My brothers, if you would be safe
Don’t touch the trap at all,” said he.

And this is what we say to all:
“With deadly drink have nought to do ;
But keep quite clear of alcohol,
And then it cannot injure you.”

For true it is of rats and men :
If they’d escape the traps that bite,
And happy live through all their days,
They ne’er must yield to appetite.


Have you ever seen?
Food for reflection?
A button for a coat of paint?
A medicine to keep the ink well?
A sheet for the bed of a river?
A poultice for the pane of glass?
A lock for the trunk of an elephant?

It’s a work of prevention and cure ;
A work for the rich and the poor ;
A work that is slow, and yet sure ;
A work whose effects shall endure.

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