Miss Mealy-mouth

Miss Mealy-mouth

In Competition No. 2421 you were given an opening couplet of a poem, ‘I knew a girl who was so pure/ She couldn’t say the word manure’ and invited to continue for a further 16 lines.

The couplet comes from ‘A Perfect Lady’, a poem by Reginald Arkell (who he?) in The Everyman Book of Light Verse. The lady ends happily cured:

She squashes greenfly with her thumb,
And knows how little snowdrops come:
In fact, the garden she has got
Has broadened out her mind a lot.

This was the biggest entry ever. As usual in judging, when skill is equal I incline to the more original. The prizewinners, printed below, take £20 each, and Godfrey Bullard gets the extra fiver.

She spoke of ‘lady doggie’, which
Had safer resonance than ‘bitch’,
And failed to see, throughout her days,
The cruder jokes in Shakespeare’s plays.
From bare suggestion to such facts
As nudity or carnal acts
She’d turn, as from some lurid book,
With crimson cheek and downcast look.
She robed herself, by day or night,
In garments of symbolic white,
A wardrobe kept at great expense,
While laundry bills became immense.
The need to state her full address
Would generate such sore distress
That, though she lived in Maidenhead,
‘Near Slough’ was what she always said.
Godfrey Bullard

Profanity appalled her, so
She never said ‘Hello’: just ‘—o’.
‘P’ was a problem, too: the letter
Had connotations that upset her.
Out by the lake to take the air
One day, she saw a sign: ‘Beware
Of blasting near the dam!’ In shock
She staggered, tripped against a rock,
And fell into the water. Sadly
(Since ‘Help!’ began and ended badly)
She had to call out ‘Aid! Assistance!’
Which did not carry any distance,
And when at last the girl was found
She had, unfortunately, drowned.
Above her grave, if you pass by,
You’ll read, ‘Here lies —–en –otts, R.I.–’
Michael Swan

…So found a substitute, to wit,
A synonym that rhymed with it.

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