Hunter Trials

April 5, 2013 § Leave a comment

It’s awf’lly bad luck on Diana,
  Her ponies have swallowed their bits;
She fished down their throats with a spanner
  And frightened them all into fits.

So now she’s attempting to borrow.
  Do lend her some bits Mummy, do;
I’ll lend her my own for to-morrow,
  But to-day I‘ll be wanting them too.

Just look at Prunella on Guzzle,
  The wizardest pony on earth;
Why doesn’t she slacken his muzzle
  And tighten the breach in his girth?

I say, Mummy, there’s Mrs. Geyser
  And doesn’t she look pretty sick?
I bet it’s because Mona Lisa
  Was hit on the hock with a brick.

Miss Blewitt says Monica threw it,
  But Monica says it was Joan,
And Joan’s very thick with Miss Blewitt,
  So Monica’s sulking alone.

And Margaret failed in her paces,
  Her withers got tied in a noose,
So her coronets caught in the traces
  And now all her fetlocks are loose.

Oh, it’s me now. I’m terribly nervous.
  I wonder if Smudges will shy.
She’s practically certain to swerve as
  Her Pelham is over one eye.

                    * * * * *

Oh wasn’t it naughty of Smudges?
  Oh, Mummy, I’m sick with disgust.
She threw me in front of the Judges,
  And my silly old collarbone’s bust.

– John Betjeman

Betjeman was a poet of proper nouns. Prunella, Smudges, Guzzle, Diana, Miss Blewitt — all names for posh girls and ponies. The diction is both ridiculously British (“the wizardest pony on earth”!) or equestrian jargon (loose fetlocks and whatnot). Pelham bits being taboo for inexperienced riders, the girls probably come from old families with old money and horses in their heritage.


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