by Alfred Edward Housman (1859 - 1936)

The amphisbaena
Language: English 
'In the back back garden, Thomasina
   Did you recently vociferate a squeal?'
'Oh, I trod up an amphisbaena1,
   And it bit me on the toe and on the heel.
      Yes, it bit me (do you know)
      With its tail upon the toe,
While it bit me with its head upon the heel!'

'How excessively distracting and confusing.
   Pray what, Thomasina, did you do?'
'Oh, I took the garden scissors I was using
   And I snipped it irretrievably in two.
      And it split with such a scrunch
      That I shall not want my lunch.
And if you had heard the noise no more would you.'

'And where, Thomasina, are the sections
   Of the foe that you courageously repressed?'
'Oh, they ran away in opposite directions,
   And they vanished in the east and in the west.
      And the way they made me squint,
      It would melt a heart of flint,
And I think that I will go upstairs and rest.'

View original text (without footnotes)
First published in Union Magazine, June 1906
1 Amphisbaena: a (mythical) snake with two heads and no tail. From the Greek for 'goes both ways'.

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Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

This text was added to the website: 2008-06-09
Line count: 21
Word count: 158