The Shorter Catechism

I burned my fingers on the stove
And wept with bitterness;
But poor old Auntie Maggie strove
To comfort my distress.
Said she: 'Think, lassie, how you'll burn
Like any wicked besom
In fires of hell if you don't learn
Your Shorter Catechism.'

A man's chief end is it began,
(No mention of a woman's),
To glorify--I think it ran,
The God who made poor humans.
And as I learned, I thought: if this--
(My distaste growing stronger),
The Shorter Catechism is,
Lord save us from the longer.

The years have passed and I begin
(Although I'm far from clever),
To doubt if when we die in sin
Our bodies grill forever.
Now I've more surface space to burn,
Since I am tall and lissom,
I think it's hell enough to learn
The Shorter Catechism.

by Robert William Service

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