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Ella Wheeler Wilcox

(5 November 1850 - 30 October 1919 / Johnstown Center / Rock County / Wisconsin)

The Princess's Finger-Nail: A Tale Of Nonsense Land


All through the Castle of High-bred Ease,
Where the chief employment was do-as-you-please,
Spread consternation and wild despair.
The queen was wringing her hands and hair;
The maids of honor were sad and solemn;
The pages looked blank as they stood in column;
The court-jester blubbered, 'Boo-hoo, boo-hoo';
The cook in the kitchen dropped tears in the stew;
And all through the castle went sob and wail,
For the princess had broken her finger-nail:
The beautiful Princess Red-as-a-Rose,
Bride-elect of the Lord High-Nose,
Broken her finger-nail down to the quick-
No wonder the queen and her court were sick.
Never sorrow so dread before
Had dared to enter that castle door.
Oh! what would my Lord His-High-Nose say
When she took off her glove on her wedding-day?
The fairest princess in Nonsense Land,
With a broken finger-nail on her hand!
'Twas a terrible, terrible accident,
And they called a meeting of parliament;
And never before that royal Court
Had come such question of grave import
As 'How could you hurry a nail to grow?'
And the skill of the kingdom was called to show.
They sent for Monsieur File-'em-off;
He smoothed down the corners so ragged and rough.
They sent for Madame la Diamond-Dust,
Who lived on the fingers of upper-crust;
They sent for Professor de Chamois-Skin,
Who took her powder and rubbed it in;
They sent for the pudgy nurse Fat-on-the-bone
To bathe her finger in eau de Cologne;
And they called the Court surgeon, Monsieur Red-Tape,
To hear what he thought of the new nail's shape.
Over the kingdom the telegrams flew
Which told how the finger-nail thrived and grew;
And all through the realm of Nonsense Land
They offered up prayers for the princess's hand.
At length the glad tidings were heard with a shout
That the princess's finger-nail had grown out:
Pointed and polished and pink and clean,
Befitting the hand of a some-day queen.
Salutes were fired all over the land
By the home-guard battery pop-gun band;
And great was the joy of my Lord High-Nose,
Who straightway ordered his wedding clothes,
And paid his tailor, Don Wait-for-aye,
Who died of amazement the self-same day.
My lord by a jury was judged insane;
For they said, and the truth of the saying was plain,
That a lord of such very high pedigree
Would never be paying his bills, you see,
Unless he was out of his head; and so
They locked him up without more ado.
And the beautiful Princess Red-as-a-Rose
Pined for her lover, my Lord High-Nose,
Till she entered a convent and took the veil-
And this is the end of my nonsense tale.

Submitted: Friday, April 02, 2010

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