Thursday, December 16, 2021

Sally Simpkin's Lament (Poem For A Thursday)


Sally Simpkin's Lament

"Oh! What is that comes gliding in,
And quite in middling haste?
It is the picture of my Jones,
And painted to the waist.

It is not painted to the life,
For where's the trousers blue?
Oh Jones, my dear! Oh dear! my Jones,
What is become of you?"

"Oh! Sally dear, it is too true,--
The half that you remark,
Is come to say my other half
Is bit off by a shark!

Oh! Sally, sharks do things by halves,
Yet most completely do!
A bite in one places seems enough,
But I've been bit in two.

You know I once was all your own,
But now a shark must share!
But let that pass--for now to you
I'm neither here nor there.

Alas! Death has a strange divorce
Effected in the sea.
It has divided me from you,
And even me from me.

Don't fear my ghost will walk o' nights
To haunt as people say;
My ghost can't walk, for oh! my legs
Are many leagues away!

Lord! Think, when I am swimming round
And looking where the boat is,
A shark just snaps away a half
Without a quarter's notice!

One half is here, the other half
Is near Columbia placed:
Oh, Sally! I have got the whole
Atlantic for my waist.

But now adieu--a long adieu!
I've solved Death's awful riddle.
I would say more, but I am doomed
To break off in the middle!"

-Thomas Hood

I no longer have any clue where I first came across this poem--it doesn't seem to be in any book I have--but nevertheless it sticks in my head...

Thomas Hood lived from 1799 to 1845 and that's his portrait up there from the National Portrait Gallery. Is there just possibly a hint of a smile on his face?


  1. Hood is among my favorites. i've read and posted on "Tylney Hall", his only novel and read his account of touring the Rhine with his family... very funny guy even tho he didn't have a lot of fun while alive...

    1. I've never read a book of his--just the poems I've found in anthologies. I've liked everything I've read. I see Gutenberg has a few--I should grab 'em!

  2. I was not expecting that whole shark thing! Totally made me laugh. What a great poem. :D