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.