Category: Verse

How To Tell Bad News – Anonymous

Mr. H.: Ha! Steward, how are you, old boy? How do things go on at home?

Steward: Bad enough, your honour; the magpie’s dead.

H.: Poor Mag! So he’s gone. How came he to die?

S.: Overeat himself, sir.

H.: Did he? A greedy dog; why, what did he get he liked so well?

S.: Horseflesh, sir; he died of eating horseflesh.

H.: How came he to get so much horseflesh?

S.: All your father’s horses, sir.

H.: What! Are they dead, too?

S.: Aye, sir; they died of overwork.

H.: And why were they overworked, pray?

S.: To carry water, sir.

H.: To carry water! And what were they carrying water for?

S.: Sure, sir, to put out the fire.

H.: Fire! What fire?

S.: Oh, sir, your father’s house is burned to the ground.

H.: My father’s house burned down! And how came it to set on fire?

S.: I think, sir, it must have been the torches.

H.: Torches! What torches?

S.: At your mother’s funeral.

H.: My mother dead!

S.: Ah, poor lady! She never looked up, after it.

H.: After what?

S.: The loss of your father.

H.: My father gone, too?

S.: Yes, poor gentleman! He took to his bed as soon as he heard of it.

H.: Heard of what?

S.: The bad news, sir, and please your honour.

H.: What! More miseries! More bad news!

S.: Yes sir; your bank has failed, and your credit is lost, and you are not worth a shilling in the world. I make bold, sir, to wait on you about it, for I thought you would like to hear the news.

–by Anonymous, from A Treasury of the Familiar (1942), ed. Ralph L. Woods.



Another poem from “A Treasury of The Familiar” edited by Ralph L. Woods. My mother had a copy of this book and I quite often picked it up to find Biblical passages, famous speeches (Gettysburg Address), limericks, epic poems, whimsical verse, and other literary tidbits. I have always thought that whoever wrote this must have hoped that he could have this kind of conversation with someone of the rich and famous, just to cut them down to size.


Custard, The Cowardly Dragon – Ogden Nash

 

My mother introduced me to a series of books called “The Family Treasury of Children’s Stories” edited by Pauline Rush Evans. Like John L. Woods “Treasury of the Familiar” they contained stories, excepts and verse that would write themselves indelibly on my heart. The first bit of verse I’ll share is Ogden Nash’s “Custard, The Cowardly Dragon”:


Belinda lived in a little white house,
With a little black kitten and a little gray mouse,
And a little yellow dog and a little red wagon,
And a realio, trulio, little pet dragon.

Now the name of the little black kitten was Ink,
And the little gray mouse, she called her Blink,
And the little yellow dog was sharp as Mustard,
But the dragon was a coward, and she called him Custard.


Custard the dragon had big sharp teeth,
And spikes on top of him and scales underneath,
Mouth like a fireplace, chimney for a nose,
And realio, trulio, daggers on his toes.


Belinda was as brave as a barrel full of bears,
And Ink and Blink chased lions down the stairs,
Mustard was as brave as a tiger in a rage,
But Custard cried for a nice safe cage.


Belinda tickled him, she tickled him unmerciful,
Ink, Blink and Mustard, they rudely called him Percival,
They all sat laughing in the little red wagon
At the realio, trulio, cowardly dragon.


Belinda giggled till she shook the house,
And Blink said Week!, which is giggling for a mouse,
Ink and Mustard rudely asked his age,
When Custard cried for a nice safe cage.


Suddenly, suddenly they heard a nasty sound,
And Mustard growled, and they all looked around.
Meowch! cried Ink, and Ooh! cried Belinda,
For there was a pirate, climbing in the winda.


Pistol in his left hand, pistol in his right,
And he held in his teeth a cutlass bright,
His beard was black, one leg was wood;
It was clear that the pirate meant no good.


Belinda paled, and she cried, Help! Help!
But Mustard fled with a terrified yelp,
Ink trickled down to the bottom of the household,
And little mouse Blink was strategically mouseholed.


But up jumped Custard, snorting like an engine,
Clashed his tail like irons in a dungeon,
With a clatter and a clank and a jangling squirm
He went at the pirate like a robin at a worm.


The pirate gaped at Belinda’s dragon,
And gulped some grog from his pocket flagon,
He fired two bullets but they didn’t hit,
And Custard gobbled him, every bit.


Belinda embraced him, Mustard licked him,
No one mourned for his pirate victim
Ink and Blink in glee did gyrate
Around the dragon that ate the pyrate.


Belinda still lives in her little white house,
With her little black kitten and her little gray mouse,
And her little yellow dog and her little red wagon,
And her realio, trulio, little pet dragon.


Belinda is as brave as a barrel full of bears,
And Ink and Blink chase lions down the stairs,
Mustard is as brave as a tiger in a rage,
But Custard keeps crying for a nice safe cage.


© Copyright Linell Nash Smith and Isabel Nash Eberstadt