“I shall meet Sir Philip Sidney and other heroes of that kidney”

A COOKING EGG
~ by T. S. Eliot

Pipit sate upright in her chair
Some distance from where I was sitting.
Views of the Oxford Colleges
Lay on the table, with the knitting.

Daguerrotypes and silhouettes,
Her grandfather and great aunts,
Supported on the mantelpiece
An Invitation to the Dance.

##

I shall not want for Honour in Heaven
For I shall meet Sir Philip Sidney
And have talk with Coriolanus
And other heroes of that kidney.

I shall not want Capital in Heaven
For I shall meet Sir Alfred Mond.
We two shall lie together, lapt
In five percent Exchequer Bond.

I shall not want Society in Heaven,
Lucretia Borgia will be my bride.
Her anecdotes will be more amusing
Than Pipit’s experience could provide.

I shall not want Pipit in Heaven.
Madame Blavatsky will instruct me
In the Seven Sacred Trances.
Piccarda de Donati will conduct me…

##

But where is the penny world I bought
To eat with Pipit behind the screen?
The red eyed scavengers are creeping
From Kentish Town and Golder’s Green,

Where are the eagles and the trumpets?

Buried beneath some snow-deep Alps.
Over buttered scones and crumpets
Weeping, weeping multitudes
Droop in a hundred ABC’s.

##

The “ABC’s” were tea and baked goods shops that were all over London in 1920, and a “penny world” was the term for inexpensive cakes that children like Pipit craved. Eliot, in middle age, liked to tell his young favorite that he would have no need of her in heaven, as he would be hanging about with historic notables, taking his leisure in a chaise under a blanket of Treasury Bonds. A “cooking egg” was one seen as not good enough to be served as a fresh breakfast egg. Rather it might only be used in a mixture of ingredients, such as a batter.

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Author: MDM

Michael Dennis Mooney is a student of humor and witticism in verse. At this site he is compiling a selection of the best works using extended metaphor in poetry, with a special interest in satire, parody, and humor. Suggestions are welcome. Send your citations of favorites, by email, to mike.mooney.home@gmail.com He has a site "New Writings" at http://jcbcast.blogspot.com And a site for essays, 'His Epistles To The Philistines" at http://tothephilistines.wordpress.com

2 thoughts on ““I shall meet Sir Philip Sidney and other heroes of that kidney”

    1. He is bringing her a children’s treat to eat with her behind a screen in the kitchen, where children ate or had tea in that era. He’s teasingly telling her, tho she’s a dear favorite, he’ll have no need of her in heaven. He wrote this about his turning age thirty — she is a youngster, 13 or so, I’d say. Pipit is a child’s pet-name evoking a tiny songbird. Her world is bounded by the sheet-music, Invitation to the Dance, and the portraits in the parlor, by the tea things in the kitchen — while he is a 30 yr. old, a banker, a literary journalist and editor. They are very different worlds only slightly overlapping. Her innocence reminds him of an earlier decade in life, before he went away to Harvard and then London. That’s my take.

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