Johni Levene, the wonderful Mah Jongg teacher and player in Los Angeles, found this poem written by Edgar Albert Guest. It’s politically incorrect but oh-so-funny and I must admit my love for anyone who once wrote for my hometown newspaper, the Detroit Free Press. Eddie Guest, as he was also known, was born in England, moved to Detroit, and eventually became a U.S. citizen. He was very popular in the first half of the 20th century and was known as the People’s Poet.
Read on for a full transcript of the poem…
Mah Jongg – By Edgar Albert Guest 1861-1959
Published in 1924
Perhaps it’s a game; I don’t say that it’s not;
For friends I like well seem to play it a lot;
And they seem to attach with a heathenish glee
That wall-building game of the heathen Chinee.
But I swear I’ll grow weary and pallid of brow,
Awaiting the tile that permits me to “chow”.
And I don’t see much sport sitting all the night through,
Building my hopes on the seven bamboo.
“A good game! A great game,” its patrons declare;
But I’ve not discovered the thrill that is there.
I’ve played it, I’ve watched it; I’ve studied it o’er-
Paid East Wind his doubles and doubted the score,
Paid West Wind his trifle and South Wind his fee,
And never been sure what was coming to me.
The Chinese may like it, but I’m no Wung Foo-
I can’t sit and wait for the Seven Bamboo.
Pedro and eucre and bridge, whist and rhum,
Cribbage and hearts I will play as they come;
Any old game that you fancy I’ll try,
But love for the Chinaman’s sport I deny.
Perhaps I’m too old, or perhaps I’m too young,
But I can’t sit all night waiting for chances to “pung”,
And I haven’t the patience of Minister Wu,
With that tedious wait for the seven bamboo.