A Tragedy of Teeth

Lucretia Sempavee Riddens McWhone 
Was loveliest of the Daughters of the Hills, 
And therefore made an idol of by Those
Who should have been at school, but drew instead
Rupees two hundred, ten, and some odd pice 
For serving an ungrateful Government.
And L.S.R.McW. enjoyed
Herself exceedingly, and made to fly 
The pay of Angus, who was fat and red, 
And, at some early period  of his life,
Had been her husband. Angus didn't care,
And L.S.R.McW. drove on.

    *        *        *        * 
She had a Skeleton. Who hasn't ? Two
In fact. The one she kept beneath her stays
And dressed with clothes from Europe. T'other one 
She generally hid inside her mouth
Because it wasn't hers, except by right 
Of purchase-gold paid  down for pearls and gold. 
Two were the molars of a Communist
Young lady, pistolled on the barricades;
The canines came from some grim Plevna 
And one bicuspid from the Schipka  pass;
The rest from Javanese rhinoceri;
But all were lovely and had cost much gold,
And had a lot of little pegs and plates
And springs and wires. And she loved them much.
And no–one knew of it or only guessed;
And thus our naughty  little world  goes round. 

    *        *        *        *

He was Macacus Rhesus, Sterndale says—
I call him Bandar and at half past six
One summer morning through the open door
He ambled, searching for an early meal,
His Simian chota hazri L.S.R.
I really can't repeat her name again)
Was sleeping. Angus was at Bogglybad,
And Something Else was in a tooth glass.—This
Macacus Rhesus bolted with and chewed
It on a pine tree half way down the khud, 
And spat It out, and put It in his pouch
To please his babes with. Then he let It drop 
At Mrs. Duvvlegh's bedroom door–sill. Thus 
Our naughty, naughty little world goes round. 
Then L.S.R. McW. awoke,
And slapped her ayah, called the Khitmutgar, 
The mehter, bhist, sais, massalchi, cook, 
And from the safe side of her bedroom door 
Addressed those menials in a wobbly voice
That thrilled their dusky marrows. Then she wept,
And then she lifted up that voice again
Da capo, piano, prestissimo, 
Fortissimo, ad lib. till ten o'clock;
Then she darwaza banded up the house, 
And wept in the verandah. Mrs. D.
Woke also; found It at her bedroom door;
And since she wore an article herself
Of plates and springs and pegs and pearls and gold;
And since she was a rival, hating much
Lucretia Sempavee Riddens; and since
She understood that memsahib was bemar.
She guessed, and wrote a pretty little chit 
On pink and perfumed paper; sent her sais 
And went to call on ten dear female friends 
With Something in a satchel on her arm, 
And looked extremely pretty. So did not 
Lucretia when the sais produced the chit,
But mumbled naughty epithets like 'Wretch', 
'Thing', 'Vixen', 'Hussy', 'Beast', et cetera. 
Yet wrote a gushing little answer back
And sat and 'grizzled' in her dressing-gown. 

    *        *        *        *

At half-past four she got It, smashed and spoilt, 
The Communistic molars upside down
And marks of other molars on the plates,
(Macacus Rhesus had a lovely set)
And all the pretty little springs and wires 
Like tempest–tossed umbrella ribs. 'Tis thus
Our naughty, naughty little world goes round. 

    *        *        *        *

They laughed at Mrs. L.S.R. McWhone; 
She sent It to Calcutta for a week,
And then she left the Station for the Plains.
And this is how the Gods afflict our lives
Sometimes, somehow, for nothing ....Which is hard.

Choose another poem