by Marnanel Thurman
When I was a toddler, my grandfather R.S. Hall was my usual babysitter. He had a talent for reciting poetry, and then naturally so did I: there was nobody to tell me people usually find it difficult. Somewhere there is a cassette tape of him telling me poems; I'd like to put it on YouTube some day, so you can all hear it. This is one of the poems he was fond of; I've found copies in only a few other places, and I haven't discovered who the poet is. Do any of you know?
("Famille verte" and the rest are kinds of antique porcelain; he pronounced it "FAMai", not "famEE" as the French do.)
I went to dine with a friend of mine
who dined off porcelain plate,
of a kind so rare it turned one's hair
to think of their possible fate:
for some were Ming and some were Ching,
whatever those names may be,
and the food was divine, and— ah!— the wine
There were ices, those on famille rose,
and coffee on famille noire,
and a choice dessert on famille verte
preceded a fine cigar.
But alas for the end of the dinner, my friend!
for he happened his eyes to raise
as I started to rub the burning stub
on a bit of his finest glaze!
He was awfully nice, but as cold as ice,
as he rang for my coat and hat,
for Ming is a thing— and so is Ching!—
which mustn't be used for that!