“Ape Owe ‘Em”

When fur stews can this sill leer I’m,
Toot rye tomb ache theme e’en ink Lear,
Youth inked wood butt bee weigh sting thyme;
Use eh, “It’s imp lean on scents shear!”

Gnome attar; Anna lies align!
Nation mice lender verse says knot–
Fork rip tick poet real Ike mine,
How Aaron weal, demesnes allot.

— Deems Taylor

Bitewings of Song

Connecticut dentist Solyman Brown was pretty passionate about his calling — in 1833 he published “Dentologia, a Poem on the Diseases of the Teeth”:

… her lips disclosed to view,
Those ruined arches, veiled in ebon hue,
Where love had thought to feast the ravished sight
On orient gems reflecting snowy light,
Hope, disappointed, silently retired,
Disgust triumphant came, and love expired! …

Whene’er along the ivory disks, are seen,
The filthy footsteps of the dark gangrene;
When caries come, with stealthy pace to throw
Corrosive ink spots on those banks of snow–
Brook no delay, ye trembling, suffering fair,
But fly for refuge to the dentist’s care.

An appendix listed 300 qualified dental practitioners. Portions of the five-canto poem were published in the American Journal of Dental Science, and one reviewer praised “a mind highly cultivated and richly imbued with poetic fancy.” Brown, who co-founded the American Society of Dental Surgeons in 1840, even found time to write a sequel, “Dental Hygeia — A Poem.”

Vide Infra

Edward Edwin Foot was a poet with the mind of an attorney — in his 1865 elegy for Henry Temple, a single verse contains three footnotes:

Altho’ we* mourn for one now gone,
And he — that grey-hair’d Palmerston,†
We will give God the praise,–
For he, beyond the age of man,‡
Eleven years had over-ran
Within two equal days.

*The nation.
†The Right Honourable Henry John Temple, Viscount Palmerston, K.G., G.C.H., &c. (the then Premier of the British Government), died at “Brockett Hall,” Herts, at a quarter to eleven o’clock in the forenoon of Wednesday, 18th October, 1865, aged eighty-one years (all but two days, having been born on the 20th October 1784). The above lines were written on the occasion of his death.
‡Scriptural limitation.

“The Sweet Singer of Michigan”

Julia Moore’s poetry was so bad that it gained a national following even among her contemporaries in the 1870s. One reviewer wrote, “Shakespeare, could he read it, would be glad that he was dead”:

They once did live at Edgerton,
They once did live at Muskegon,
From there they went to Chicago,
Which proved their fatal overthrow.

It was William House’s family,
As fine a family as you see—
His family was eleven in all,
I do not think it was very small.

She stopped writing when she saw that her fans were laughing, not weeping — and, immortally, she closed her career with these lines:

And now kind friends, what I have wrote
I hope you will pass o’er,
And not criticise as some have done
Hitherto herebefore.

“My Poker Girl”

Her eyes are velvet, soft and fine,
That none can antedate;
Her hair’s fine strands seem all divine,
Her form is, oh! so


Her teeth, like driven snow, are white;
And when she wills to blush
There is no tint can equal quite
Her rounded cheek’s fine


Could I but hold a hand like that
Just once, I would not care
If afterwards I stood quite pat
Forever, on a


— Thomas Lansing Masson

“Lides to Bary Jade”


The bood is beabig brighdly, love;
The sdars are shidig too;
While I ab gazing dreabily,
Add thigkig, love, of you.
You caddot, oh! you caddot kdow,
By darlig, how I biss you–
(Oh, whadt a fearful cold I’ve got! —
Ck-tish-u! Ck-ck-tish-u!)

I’b sittig id the arbor, love,
Where you sat by by side,
Whed od that calb, autubdal dight
You said you’d be by bride.
Oh! for wud bobedt to caress
Add tederly to kiss you;
Budt do! we’re beddy biles apart–
(Ho-rash-o! Ck-ck-tish-u!)

This charbig evedig brigs to bide
The tibe whed first we bet:
It seebs budt odly yesterday;
I thigk I see you yet.
Oh! tell be, ab I sdill your owd?
By hopes — oh, do dot dash theb!
(Codfoud by cold, ’tis gettig worse–
Ck-tish-u! Ck-ck-thrash-eb!)

Good-by, by darlig Bary Jade!
The bid-dight hour is dear;
Add it is hardly wise, by love,
For be to ligger here.
The heavy dews are fallig fast:
A fod good-dight I wish you.
(Ho-rash-o! — there it is agaid —
Ck-thrash-ub! Ck-ck-tish-u!)

— Charles Follen Adams

The Two Cultures

Tennyson’s poem “The Vision of Sin” contains this couplet:

Every moment dies a man,
Every moment one is born.

When he published it in 1842, Charles Babbage sent him a note:

I need hardly point out to you that this calculation would tend to keep the sum total of the world’s population in a state of perpetual equipoise, whereas it is a well-known fact that the said sum total is constantly on the increase. I would therefore take the liberty of suggesting that, in the next edition of your excellent poem, the erroneous calculation to which I refer should be corrected as follows:–

Every moment dies a man,
And one and a sixteenth is born.

“I may add that the exact figures are 1.167,” he added, “but something must, of course, be conceded to the laws of metre.”


“To the memory of Miss Ellen Gee, of Kew, who died in consequence of being stung in the eye by a bee.”

Peerless, yet hapless, maid of Q!
Accomplish’d LN G!
Never again shall I and U
Together sip our T.

For, ah! the Fates! I know not Y,
Sent ‘midst the flowers a B,
Which ven’mous stung her in the I,
So that she could not C.

LN exclaim’d, “Vile spiteful B!
If ever I catch U
On jess’mine, rosebud, or sweet P,
I’ll change your stinging Q.”

“I’ll send you, like a lamb or U,
Across th’ Atlantic C,
From our delightful village Q,
To distant OYE.”

A stream runs from my wounded I,
Salt as the briny C,
As rapid as the X or Y,
The OIO, or D.”

Then fare thee ill, insensate B!
Which stung, nor yet knew Y;
Since not for wealthy Durham’s C
Would I have lost my I.”

They bear with tears fair LN G
In funeral RA,
A clay-cold corpse now doom’d to B,
Whilst I mourn her DK.

Ye nymphs of Q, then shun each B,
List to the reason Y!
For should A B C U at T,
He’ll surely sting your I.

Now in a grave L deep in Q,
She’s cold as cold can B;
Whilst robins sing upon A U
Her dirge and LEG.

New Monthly Magazine, reprinted in A Collection of Newspaper Extracts, 1842


I’m in a 10der mood to-day
& feel poetic, 2;
4 fun I’ll just — off a line
& send it off 2 U.

I’m sorry you’ve been 6 O long;
Don’t B disconsol8;
But bear your ills with 42de,
& they won’t seem so gr8.

— Anonymous