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The Embarrassing Episode of Little Miss Muffet -- Guy Wetmore Carryl

(Poem #94) The Embarrassing Episode of Little Miss Muffet
Little Miss Muffet 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
Guy Carryl has written a number of wonderfully funny versifications of
fables and fairytales, collected in 'Fables for the Frivolous' and a few
other books. (Those of you familiar with Roald Dahl's 'Revolting Rhymes'
might find it fun to compare the two.) The one above is typical -
complicated rhymes, a metre reminiscent of Gilbert[1] and a wonderful (or
awful, depending on your point of view) pun at the end.

[1] for the G&S fans among you, this one almost, but not quite, scans to the
Lord Chancellor's song from Iolanthe ("when you're lying awake, with a
dismal headache...")


21 comments: ( or Leave a comment )

D Brian said...

I think the fourth line ought to be:
"She wanted to eat - like the best of us."
- since poets usually try to avoid rhyming a word with itself. Some online versions have "rest", others "best".

John & Cynthia Hutchinson said...

Indeed, Brian.

This transcription sorely suffers.
Must have been done by duffers,
Inept at copying and reading proof.
The fifth line in the third verse
Holds another blunder--much worse--
Enough to send the reader through the roof.

My father introduced me to Carryl. I showed his work to my daughter. None of
us has regrets.

Russell said...

two blatant errors in the text have been kindly pointed out by readers. why haven't the editors corrected them by now?

puer senex

Marc Golden said...

This person did not write this poem in 1999. I had this poem in a 3 or four
set collection of poetry books when I was a child. I bought them at a yard
sale and these books had been written in the 1940's.

Please check it out.

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