Literature

Poetry Tuesday!: "The Dormouse and the Doctor" by A.A. Milne

"There once was a Dormouse who lived in a bed / Of delphiniums (blue) and geraniums (red) / And all the day long he'd a wonderful view / Of geraniums (red) and delphiniums (blue)...."

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Here's "The Dormouse and the Doctor" (1924) by A.A. Milne (1882-1956), published in the poetry collection When We Were Very Young. (This is on my YouTube channel, which mostly consists of my Sasha Reads playlist, plus a smattering of law-related songs.) Here's a link to a previous Milne poem I've read, "The Four Friends".

There once was a Dormouse who lived in a bed
Of delphiniums (blue) and geraniums (red)
And all the day long he'd a wonderful view
Of geraniums (red) and delphiniums (blue)

A Doctor came hurrying round, and he said:
"Tut-tut, I am sorry to find you in bed.
Just say 'Ninety-nine', while I look at your chest…
Don't you find that chrysanthemums answer the best?"

The Dormouse looked round at the view and replied
(When he'd said "Ninety-nine") that he'd tried and he'd tried,
And much the most answering things that he knew
Were geraniums (red) and delphiniums (blue).

The Doctor stood frowning and shaking his head,
And he took up his shiny silk hat as he said:
"What the patient requires is a change," and he went
To see some chrysanthemum people in Kent.

The Dormouse lay there, and he gazed at the view
Of geraniums (red) and delphiniums (blue),
And he knew there was nothing he wanted instead
Of delphiniums (blue) and geraniums (red).

The Doctor came back and, to show what he meant,
He had brought some chrysanthemum cuttings from Kent.
"Now these," he remarked, "give a much better view
Than geraniums (red) and delphiniums (blue)."

They took out their spades and they dug up the bed
Of delphiniums (blue) and geraniums (red),
And they planted chrysanthemums (yellow and white).
"And now," said the Doctor, "we'll soon have you right."

The Dormouse looked out, and he said with a sigh:
"I suppose all these people know better than I.
It was silly, perhaps, but I did like the view
Of geraniums (red) and delphiniums (blue)."

The Doctor came round and examined his chest,
And ordered him Nourishment, Tonics, and Rest.
"How very effective," he said, as he shook
The thermometer, "all these chrysanthemums look!"

The Dormouse turned over to shut out the sight
Of the endless chrysanthemums (yellow and white).
"How lovely," he thought, "to be back in a bed
Of delphiniums (blue) and geraniums (red)."

The Doctor said, "Tut! It's another attack!"
And ordered him Milk and Massage-of-the-back,
And Freedom-from-worry and Drives-in-a-car,
And murmured, "How sweet your chrysanthemums are!"

The Dormouse lay there with his paws to his eyes,
And imagined himself such a pleasant surprise:
"I'll pretend the chrysanthemums turn to a bed
Of delphiniums (blue) and geraniums (red)!"

The Doctor next morning was rubbing his hands,
And saying, "There's nobody quite understands
These cases as I do! The cure has begun!
How fresh the chrysanthemums look in the sun!"

The Dormouse lay happy, his eyes were so tight
He could see no chrysanthemums, yellow or white.
And all that he felt at the back of his head
Were delphiniums (blue) and geraniums (red).

And that is the reason (Aunt Emily said)
If a Dormouse gets in a chrysanthemum bed,
You will find (so Aunt Emily says) that he lies
Fast asleep on his front with his paws to his eyes.

For the rest of my "Sasha Reads" playlist, click here. Past poems are:

  1. "Ulysses" by Alfred, Lord Tennyson
  2. "The Pulley" by George Herbert
  3. "Harmonie du soir" ("Evening Harmony") by Charles Baudelaire (French)
  4. "Dirge Without Music" by Edna St. Vincent Millay
  5. "Clancy of the Overflow" by A.B. "Banjo" Paterson
  6. "Лотова жена" ("Lotova zhena", "Lot's wife") by Anna Akhmatova (Russian)
  7. "The Jumblies" by Edward Lear
  8. "The Conqueror Worm" by Edgar Allan Poe
  9. "Les Djinns" ("The Jinns") by Victor Hugo (French)
  10. "I Have a Rendezvous with Death" by Alan Seeger
  11. "When I Was One-and-Twenty" by A.E. Housman
  12. "Узник" ("Uznik", "The Prisoner" or "The Captive") by Aleksandr Pushkin (Russian)
  13. "God's Grandeur" by Gerard Manley Hopkins
  14. "The Song of Wandering Aengus" by William Butler Yeats
  15. "Je crains pas ça tellment" ("I'm not that scard about") by Raymond Queneau (French)
  16. "The Naming of Cats" by T.S. Eliot
  17. "The reticent volcano keeps…" by Emily Dickinson
  18. "Она" ("Ona", "She") by Zinaida Gippius (Russian)
  19. "Would I Be Shrived?" by John D. Swain
  20. "Evolution" by Langdon Smith
  21. "Chanson d'automne" ("Autumn Song") by Oscar Milosz (French)
  22. "love is more thicker than forget" by e.e. cummings
  23. "My Three Loves" by Henry S. Leigh
  24. "Я мечтою ловил уходящие тени" ("Ia mechtoiu lovil ukhodiashchie teni", "With my dreams I caught the departing shadows") by Konstantin Balmont (Russian)
  25. "Dane-geld" by Rudyard Kipling
  26. "Rules and Regulations" by Lewis Carroll
  27. "Vers dorés" ("Golden Lines") by Gérard de Nerval (French)
  28. "So That's Who I Remind Me Of" by Ogden Nash
  29. "The Epic" by Alfred, Lord Tennyson
  30. "La chambre double" ("The Double Room") by Charles Baudelaire (French)
  31. "Медный всадник" ("The Bronze Horseman") by Aleksandr Pushkin (Russian)
  32. "Herbst" ("Autumn") by Rainer Maria Rilke (German)
  33. "Romance de la luna, luna" ("Ballad of the Moon Moon") by Federico García Lorca (Spanish)
  34. "The Four Friends" by A.A. Milne
  35. "anyone lived in a pretty how town" by e.e. cummings
  36. "Листья" ("Leaves") by Fyodor Tyutchev (Russian)
  37. "The Pobble Who Has No Toes" by Edward Lear
  38. "The Persian Version" by Robert Graves
  39. "Les deux voix" ("The Two Voices") by Victor Hugo (French)
  40. "Lines Written in Dejection" by William Butler Yeats
  41. "Loveliest of Trees" by A.E. Housman
  42. "Akh, chto-to mne ne veritsia…" ("Oh, somehow I can't believe…") by Bulat Okudzhava (Russian)
  43. "Alone" by Edgar Allan Poe
  44. "The Man from Snowy River" by A.B. "Banjo" Paterson
  45. "À la mémoire d'une chatte naine que j'avais" ("In memory of a dwarf cat I had") by Jules Laforgue (French)
  46. "When We Two Parted" by George Gordon, Lord Byron
  47. "A-Sitting on a Gate" by Lewis Carroll
  48. "Стихи о Петербурге" ("Verses About Petersburg") by Anna Akhmatova (Russian)
  49. "somewhere i have never travelled,gladly beyond" by e.e. cummings