Tuesday, October 18, 2011

A.P. Herbert Poem

Yes, yes, the dentist talks a lot.
For he's content and you are not.
He is the tiger in the house
And you are, as it were, the mouse.
No wonder, then, as you come in
He greets you with a happy grin
And drops hilarious remarks
About the flowers in the parks,
About the holidays he's had,
About the weather, good or bad,
Though at the moment, as he knows,
You don't care if it rains or snows.

For ever since the date was made
You've been dejected and afraid.
You dreamed of drills, in vain you chewed
Your favorite forbidden food,
Since every bite reminded you
Of this repugnant interview.
And now that you are in the chair,
You cannot think what brought you there,
In fact you hardly like to name
The tusk you fancied was to blame.
At least it is quiescent now
Why stir it up and cause a row?

And he who has the notion too
That there is nothing wrong with you
With cruel steel goes picking round
A tooth that's absolutely sound
Deliberately tries to bore
A hole where there was none before!

You sputter "That is not the one!"
He answers "Plenty to be done"
And makes a systematic mess
Of all the teeth that you possess.
Then still with gossip bright and gay
He moves the horrid wheel your way
And from a crowd delights to draw
The largest drill you ever saw.

The rest's too painful to be read.
I think that Aristotle said
That children of a certain age
Should not be eaten on a stage
And there are things too dark and solemn
To be recorded in this column,
Whose purpose after all is just
To show the bread beneath the crust
And how the darkest cloud is lined
With silver of the brightest kind.

Well then, I will not dwell on all
The horrors that may now befall
The things with which he stuffs your mouth,
The cotton wadding, north and south,
The pumps which suck with such a will
But seem to make you wetter still.
And when the fun begins to flag,
The grisly gutta-percha rag.

But I implore you all the time
To concentrate on the Sublime.
Remember in the woods of June
The nightingale salutes the moon,
The Thames keeps rolling up and down,
In Autumn all the leaves are brown,
The bluebells still will flood the copse
However many teeth he stops.
And if you still remain distressed
Hug this reflection to your breast
That some poor fellows, after all,
Have not got any teeth at all.