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Friday, July 13, 2012

The Embarrassing Episode of Little Miss Muffet

Guest Blogger: Guy Wetmore Carryl. Time for a light-hearted trip back to a time when Mother Goose held some moral authority, and tales like this were valuable lessons. Not that such things deterred Mr. Carryl from finding his own way around these tales.


     discovered a tuffet,

(Which never occurred to the rest of us)
And, as 'twas a June day,
    and just about noonday,

She wanted to eat – like the rest of us.
Her diet was whey,
     and I hasten to say

It is wholesome and people grow fat on it.
The spot being lonely,
     the lady not only

Discovered the tuffet, but sat on it.

A rivulet gabbled beside her and babbled,
As rivulets always are thought to do,
And dragon flies sported around and cavorted,
As poets say dragon flies ought to do;
When, glancing aside for a moment, she spied
A horrible sight that brought fear to her,
A hideous spider was sitting beside her,
And most unavoidably near to her!

Albeit unsightly, this creature politely
Said: "Madam, I earnestly vow to you,
I'm penitent that I did not bring my hat.
I should otherwise certainly bow to you."
Thought anxious to please, he was so ill at ease
That he lost all his sense of propriety,
And grew so inept that he clumsily stept
In her plate – which is barred in Society.

This curious error completed her terror;
She shuddered, and growing much paler, not
Only left tuffet, but dealt him a buffet
Which doubled him up in a sailor knot.
It should be explained that at this he was pained:
He cried: "I have vexed you, no doubt of it!
Your fists's like a truncheon." "You're still in my luncheon,"
Was all that she answered. "Get out of it!"

And the Moral is this: Be it madam or miss
To whom you have something to say,
You are only absurd when you get in the curd
But you're rude when you get in the whey.

– Guy Wetmore Carryl,
from Mother Goose for Grown-Ups (1900)

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