Eastbourne Gazette, Wed Aug 16, 1905, p. 6
The poem, part of the “Pith and Point” humour column, was preceded by this explanation:
I am severely taken to task by several fair readers for an innocent Boreasidrop which I let fall last week to the effect “one of the pleasures of the domesticated woman is to be the mistress of servants. She has always a topic for conversation.” The acidity of this bong mo is so unpleasant to one good mistress of domestics that she writes to say that she hopes Mrs. B. has boxed my ears; and imagines me writing of the sex in something of this fashion:
Once upon an evening dreary, while I pondered, wan and weary,
How to write a gripping leader full of long-forgotten lore, —
Suddenly I heard a tapping, and someone was gently rapping,
Someone, I say, was gently rapping, rapping at my library door,
“’Tis my wife!” I muttered, fiercely, “Goodness gracious, what a bore!”
Only that and nothing more.
And the certain silken bustling of her under-garments rustling
Thrilled me — filled me — with such irritation seldom felt before,
So that now I kept repeating, though my heart was angry — beating,
“I am busy! Go, I bid you! — here I stamped upon the floor —
“’Tis no use entreating entrance at my chamber door!”
This I said, and nothing more.
Presently the knocks grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,
“Wife,” said I, or “Madam, you truly are an awful bore,
For a subject I am mapping, and you distract me with your tapping,
Your confounded, blessed tapping on the chamber door.
I pray you go away.” Here I opened wide the door.
“Go away, and nothing more.”
Then with many a flirt and flutter, though swear words I still did mutter,
In then stepped my wife, whom whilom I did adore,
Not the least apology made she — not a minute stopped or stayed she
But she entered, talking, talking, entered talking at the door,
Sat behind my bust of Shakespeare, just inside the library door,
Talked for hours — nothing more!
And I murmured at her vainly, while she discoursed long and plainly
With much fluency and meaning, though but little sense it bore,
Said she “We cannot help agreeing that no living human being
Ever yet was bothered so with servants as your poor wife Lenore,
Ever worried half so much as your maddened, saddened Lenore,
Thus my wife my time beguiling, while my temper she was riling,
Till with stern and grave decorum I rose and answered as before:
“I tell you truly, thing of evil, I wish you at the —— !
Will you go away and leave me to peace and quiet as before!”
But she talked of servants only, just inside the library door.
Yes, my wife though sitting lonely on my easy chair spoke only
Of servants, as if in that one word her blest soul she did outpour:
“The housemaid, dear, she will leave us, and the cook, she will deceive us;
And the rooms are left undusted, and un-sweepéd is the floor.”
Wept my wife, as ’twere a swan-song, and her tears dropped on the floor,
And the precious time in flitting, while my wife still there is sitting,
Sitting by the bust of Shako, just inside my chamber door,
And my article’s not written — No! nor ever shall be written,
Though editors and publishers and pressmen shall implore,
My Muse is fled — I dream of cooks and maids with sins galore,
Return to the Quaint and Curious index for more pastiches and parodies of Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven”.