July 09, 2002
Yet More Housman

As promised on June 16th, here is another one of A. E. Housman's little-known light verses:

'In the back back garden, Thomasina
   Did you recently vociferate a squeal?'
'Oh, I trod up an amphisbaena,
   And it bit me on the toe and on the heel.
      Yes, it bit me (do you know)
      With its tail upon the toe,
While it bit me with its head upon the heel!'

'How excessively distracting and confusing.
   Pray what, Thomasina, did you do?'
'Oh, I took the garden scissors I was using
   And I snipped it irretrievably in two.
      And it split with such a scrunch
      That I shall not want my lunch.
And if you had heard the noise no more would you.'

'And where, Thomasina, are the sections
   Of the foe that you courageously repressed?'
'Oh, they ran away in opposite directions,
   And they vanished in the east and in the west.
      And the way they made me squint,
      It would melt a heart of flint,
And I think that I will go upstairs and rest.'

An amphisbaena is a mythical snake with two heads and no tail. The name is Greek for 'goes both ways'.

Posted by Dr. Weevil at July 09, 2002 10:49 PM

Just wondering if anyone is interested in my occasional Housman quotation. If you're reading this, you obviously cared enough to click on the comment link. Should I post more poems like this one, or not?

Posted by: Dr. Weevil on July 10, 2002 07:57 PM

Fine by me. :)

Posted by: Andrea Harris on July 10, 2002 09:36 PM

Make that two.

Posted by: Old Grouch on July 10, 2002 09:47 PM

Thanks. It will probably be another week, but there are a couple more poems I'd like to post.

Posted by: Dr. Weevil on July 11, 2002 12:50 AM

I rather like the Houseman quote you left in the flame war with the execrable Norm Jenson on my site: "A moment's thought would have been sufficient. But a moment is a long time, and a thought is a painful process." Classic.

Posted by: Pejman Yousefzadeh on July 11, 2002 02:06 AM

I've a friend, daughter of a well-known lyric poet, who would quote the "amphisbena" for fun when she was 12. Delicious.

Posted by: L Hotaling on June 1, 2004 06:52 PM