Ladies, on whom my attentions have waited

I recently became aware of this poem by TS Eliot, in which he is exceedingly grumpy about not being appreciated sufficiently by the ladies he wishes to impress. It reminds me a little bit of Baudelaire’s poems about the Belgians in its willingness to offend, in a humoristic way of course.

And the title is an excellent precursor of the content of the poem (most probably ahead of its time)

The Triumph of Bullshit

T.S. Eliot

Ladies, on whom my attentions have waited

If you consider my merits are small

Etiolated, alembicated,

Orotund, tasteless, fantastical,

Monotonous, crotchety, constipated,

Impotent galamatias

Affected, possibly imitated,

For Christ’s sake stick it up your ass.

Ladies, who find my intentions ridiculous

Awkward, insipid and horribly gauche

Pompous, pretentious, ineptly meticulous

Dull as the heart of an unbaked brioche

Floundering versicles freely versiculous

Often attenuate, frequently crass

Attempts at emotion that turn isiculous,

For Christ’s sake stick it up your ass.

Ladies who think me unduly vociferous

Amiable cabotin making a noise

That people may cry out “this stuff is too stiff for us”-

Ingenuous child with a box of new toys

Toy lions carnivorous, cannon fumiferous

Engines vaporous- all this will pass;

Quite innocent, -“he only wants to make shiver us.”

For Christ’s sake stick it up your ass.

And when thyself with silver foot shall pass

Among the theories scattered on the grass

Take up my good intentions with the rest

And then for Christ’s sake stick them up your ass.

From <>

A good part of the humour of this poem consists of the contrast between the unusual words which Eliot liberally scatters through the poem (etiolated, alambicated, orotund, galamatias… just in the first stanza), and the final line of each stanza, which could come from any drunken bar-room disagreement. And notice the American spelling of ass, reminding us of Eliot’s original nationality.

Of course, the irony of the poet’s exposing the ladies’ assumed low opinion of him in an extended way is that he is laying out ammunition to be used against himself.

The Poetry Dude


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