Quaint and Curious - Parodies and Pastiches of Poe's The Raven

The Tailor

Odd Echoes from Oxford and Other Humorous Poems by A Merion, B.A. (published by John Camden Hotten, London) 1872

A Lay of Oxford

Once upon a morning dismal, as I smoked in blues abysmal,
Gazing at the curious patterns on the dressing gown I wore,
While my cat her milk was lapping, suddenly there came a tapping,
Like a fellow’s knuckles rapping, rapping at my chamber door;
“It’s that nuisance Smith,” I muttered, rapping at my chamber door—
“He may rap his fingers sore.”
Ah! I do remember clearly small was then my income yearly,
And to pay my lodging nearly did my slight finances floor;
And my prospects, never sunny, fishy were as any tunny,
And I sadly wanted money, money to pay Baize and Blore,
Pay the fashionable tailors called in Oxford Baize and Blore,
Who will dun me evermore.
But my cat, prophetic pussy, now got ominously fussy,
Clawed me, pawed me with her talons as she’d never done before;
So that now to stay her terror and convince her of her error,
“Tabby,” said I, “it is Smith entreating entrance at my door;
It’s that feeble Smith demanding entrance at my chamber door,
Only Smith and nothing more!”
Presently my chair removing, and most seriously reproving
My grimalkin, for the dreadful way in which she spat and swore,
From my writing-table’s kneehole stole I softly to the weehole
Which the people call the keyhole— keyhole of my chamber door,
Peeping through it saw another eye the other side the door,
Looking at me — nothing more.
Straight to stop that sly eye’s prying, to the key my lips applying,
Blew I such a puff of smoke as no man ever puffed before;
Then I heard him backward starting, rub his eye as if ’twere smarting,
And he seemed to be departing, so I whispered, “Is it sore?”
This I whispered through the keyhole; echo answered “It is sore.”
Answered thus, and nothing more.
Back I went and felt elated, and my blues had now abated,
When again I heard that rapping rather louder than before;
“Surely,” said I, rising, “surely, if he thinks I’ll sit demurely
While he makes that din securely, his mistake he shall deplore;
If I only catch him at it, his misdeed he shall deplore—
He shall not annoy me more.”
Open here I flung the portal, when there entered in a mortal,
Crooked legged, with clothes too short all — seedy garments that he wore;
Never once “good morning” bade me — not a bow or scrape he made me,
But upon my table laid me down a bill from Baize and Blore,
Took his stand upon the oilcloth just within my chamber door,
Stood and hiccupped — nothing more.
Then this festive creature winning all my sad soul into grinning,
Such a visage idiotic I had never seen of yore;
“Well, you have been drinking brandy,” said I, “and your legs are bandy,
And you hardly look a dandy, though you come from Baize and Blore;
Tell me what on earth your name is in the firm of Baize and Blore?”
Quoth the tailor, “Tick-no-more!”
Scarce I wondered this unsightly dun had answered unpolitely,
And his answer little comfort, little consolation bore;
For you cannot help confessing that it’s surely not a blessing
When you find yourself addressing dun within your chamber door;
Man or dun upon the oilcloth just within your chamber-door,
With a name like Tick-no-more!
But the tailor standing solus gave me like a bitter bolus
That one word, as if his vacant soul in that he did outpour;
Me with no fine words he buttered, this from time to time he stuttered,
Till I very softly muttered, “other duns have been before;
They will give me further credit as my tradesmen have before;”
Then the dun said, “Tick-no-more!”
Startled that he spoke so flatly and replied so very patly,
“Limited,” I said, “it seems is his linguistic stock and store;
If of no more words he’s master, if he duns not harder, faster,
Verily he’ll bring disaster on the house of Baize and Blore,
And I shall remain indebted to the firm of Baize and Blore
For ever, evermore.”
Still his strange demeanour winning all my sad soul into grinning,
Straight I wheeled a cushioned couch in front of oilcloth, dun, and door;
Then upon the cushions sinking I betook myself to drinking
Little sips of sherry, thinking what this plague from Baize and Blore,
What this gloomy, greasy, groggy messenger from Baize and Blore
Meant by stuttering “Tick-no-more.”
But my cat I soothed by stroking, and small bits of bread kept soaking
In the milk, and gave them to her, dropped them for her on the floor:
Long I sat, strange things divining, with my head at ease reclining
Near the sherry I was wining that the dun’s eye gloated o’er;
But the liquor I was wining with his green eyes gloating o’er
He shall taste, oh! nevermore.
Cloud by cloud the air grew denser, perfumed from my meerschaum censer,
I should think I must have smoked of pipes that morning half a score;
“Man,” I said, “I have no treasure, or I’d pay the bill with pleasure,
Only once more take my measure for a suit from Baize and Blore,
Take your tape and take my measure for a suit from Baize and Blore.”
Quoth the tailor, “Tick-no-more!”
“Dun!” I cried, “inhuman creature, human still in form and feature,
Much I’ve hoped you’d take my orders as you’ve always done before;
Tell me — for although you’re fuddled, you’re not utterly bemuddled—
Tell me if this hope I’ve cuddled is well-founded, I implore;
Will they, will they give me credit? tell me clearly, I implore?”
Quoth the tailor, “Tick-no-more!”
“Dun!” I cried, “inhuman creature, human still in form and feature,
By the piper who performed for Moses in the days of yore,
Tell me won’t, oh! brainless brute, your firm supply to me in future
Raiment of unequalled suture — genuine make of Baize and Blore,
Clothes of rare and radiant suture — splendid make of Baize and Blore?”
Quoth the tailor, “Tick-no-more!”
“Then be off, you sour curmudgeon!” cried I, starting up in dudgeon,
“Get you back to goose[1] and scissors, get you back to Baize and Blore;
Leave no long account suggestive of reflections most unfestive,
Such as make me sleepless, restive — quit my chamber, quit my door;
Take your bill from off my table, take yourself from out my door!”
Quoth the tailor, “Tick-no-more!”
Thus the tailor dunned for payment for the raiment, for the raiment
Mentioned in the bill he did not take from out my chamber door;
Thus he left me grimly staring, and that long account up tearing,
Part went up the chimney flaring, part lay scattered on the floor;
But that bill whose shreds went flying, or lay scattered on the floor
Now is settled ever more.


  1. goose — A heavy clothes iron. The name comes from the shape of the curved handle, which was thought to resemble the necks of two geese coming together.. (back to text)

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