James Brunton Stephens
My Other Chinee Cook - Poem by James Brunton Stephens
Yes, I got another Johnny; but he was to Number One
As a Satyr to Hyperion, as a rushlight to the sun;
He was lazy, he was cheeky, he was dirty, he was sly,
But he had a single virtue, and its name was rabbit pie.
Now those who say the bush is dull are not so far astray,
For the neutral tints of station life are anything but gay;
But, with all its uneventfulness, I solemnly deny
That the bush is unendurable along with rabbit pie.
We had fixed one day to sack him, and agreed to moot the point
When my lad should bring our usual regale of cindered joint,
But instead of cindered joint we saw and smelt, my wife and I,
Such a lovely, such a beautiful, oh! such a rabbit pie!
There was quite a new expression on his lemon-coloured face,
And the unexpected odour won him temporary grace,
For we tacitly postponed the sacking-point till by-and bye,
And we tacitly said nothing save the one word, “rabbit pie!”
I had learned that pleasant mystery should simply be endured,
And forebore to ask of Johnny where the rabbits were procured!
I had learned from Number One to stand aloof from how and why,
And I threw myself upon the simple fact of rabbit pie.
And when the pie was opened, what a picture did we see!
They lay in beauty side by side, they filled our home with glee!
How excellent, how succulent, back, neck, and leg, and thigh!
What a noble gift is manhood! What a trust is rabbit pie!
For a week the thing continued, rabbit pie from day to day;
Though where he got the rabbits John would ne'er vouchsafe to say;
But we never seemed to tire of them, and daily could descry
Subtle shades of new delight in each successive rabbit pie.
Sunday came; by rabbit reckoning, the seventh day of the week;
We had dined, we sat in silence, both our hearts (?) too full to speak,
When in walks Cousin George, and, with a sniff, says he, “Oh my!
What a savoury suggestion! what a smell of rabbit pie!”
“Oh, why so late, George?” says my wife, “the rabbit pie is gone;
But you must have one for tea, though. Ring the bell, my dear, for John.”
So I rang the bell for John, to whom my wife did signify,
“Let us have an early tea, John, and another rabbit pie.”
But John seemed taken quite aback, and shook his funny head,
And uttered words I comprehended no more than the dead;
“Go, do as you are bid,” I cried, “we wait for no reply;
Go! let us have tea early, and another rabbit pie!”
Oh, that I had stopped his answer! But it came out with a run:
“Last-a week-a plenty puppy; this-a week-a puppy done!”
Just then my wife, my love, my life, the apple of mine eye,
Was seized with what seemed “mal-de-mer,” — “sick transit” rabbit pie!
And George! By George, he laughed, and then he howled like any bear!
The while my wife contorted like a mad “convulsionnaire;”
And I—I rushed on Johnny, and I smote him hip and thigh,
And I never saw him more, nor tasted more of rabbit pie.
And the childless mothers met me, as I kicked him from the door,
With loud maternal wailings and anathemas galore;
I must part with pretty Tiny, I must part with little Fly,
For I'm sure they know the story of the so-called “rabbit pie.”
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