Lines for Cuscuscaraway and Mirza Murad Ali Beg

September 27, 2012 § Leave a comment

How unpleasant to meet Mr. Eliot!
With his features of clerical cut,
And his brow so grim
And his mouth so prim
And his conversation, so nicely
Restricted to What Precisely
And If and Perhaps and But.
How unpleasant to meet Mr. Eliot!
With bobtail cur
In a coat of fur
And a porpentine cat
And a wopsicle hat:
How unpleasant to meet Mr. Eliot!
              (Whether is mouth be open or shut).

– T. S. Eliot

Eliot’s birthday was yesterday (happy birthday). Here is his self-portrait in the style of Lear. Eliot was never as serious as his critics claimed (Virginia Woolf writes of his “marmoreal” face and “four-piece suit”). I love porpentine and wopsicle and their nods to Lear’s own runcible. Cuscuscaraway and Mirza Murad Ali Beg were the names of Eliot’s two cats. The latter is also the name of a little-known 19th-century author who wrote Lalun the Beragun, or, The Battle of Paniput: A Legend of Hindoostan — an obscure entry from Eliot’s reading list, perhaps.

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