Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, BUCOLIC COMEDY: EN FAMILLE, by EDITH SITWELL

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

BUCOLIC COMEDY: EN FAMILLE, by                 Poet Analysis     Poet's Biography
First Line: In early spring-time, after their tea
Last Line: "as greenwich, or as bath, or joppa!"
Subject(s): Family Life; Relatives

IN early spring-time, after their tea,
Through the young fields of the springing Bohea,
Jemima, Jocasta, Dinah, and Deb
Walked with their father Sir Joshua Jebb --
An admiral red, whose only notion,
(A butterfly poised on a pigtailed ocean)
Is of the peruked sea whose swell
Breaks on the flowerless rocks of Hell.
Under the thin trees, Deb and Dinah,
Jemima, Jocasta, walked, and finer
Their black hair seemed (flat-sleek to see)
Than the young leaves of the springing Bohea;
Their cheeks were like nutmeg-flowers when swells
The rain into foolish silver bells.
They said, "If the door you would only slam,
Or if, Papa, you would once say 'Damn' --
Instead of merely roaring 'Avast'
Or boldly invoking the nautical Blast --
We should now stand in the street of Hell
Watching siesta shutters that fell
With a noise like amber softly sliding;
Our moon-like glances through these gliding
Would see at her table preened and set
Myrrhina sitting at her toilette
With eyelids closed as soft as the breeze
That flows from gold flowers on the incense-trees."

* * * * *

The Admiral said, "You could never call --
I assure you it would not do at all!
She gets down from table without saying 'Please,'
Forgets her prayers and to cross her T's,
In short, her scandalous reputation
Has shocked the whole of the Hellish nation;
And every turbaned Chinoiserie,
With whom we should sip our black Bohea,
Would stretch out her simian fingers thin
To scratch you, my dears, like a mandoline;
For Hell is just as properly proper
As Greenwich, or as Bath, or Joppa!"

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