The Cummerbund


The Cummerbund is from Edward Lear's collection of poems, The Jumblies, and Other Nonsense Verses (1910?). Lear's poems continue to delight and build confidence in early readers.

illustration for The Cummerbund illustration for The Cummerbund AN INDIAN POEM. I. SHE Sat Upon her Dobie[1], To watch the Evening Star, And all the Punkahs[2] as they passed Cried, “My! how fair you are!” Around her bower, with quivering leaves, The tall Kamsamahs[3] grew, And Kitmutgars[4] in wild festoons Hung down from Tchokis[5] blue. II. Below her home the river rolled With soft meloobious sound, Where golden-finned Chuprassies[6] swam, In myriads circling round. Above, on tallest trees remote, Green Ayahs perched alone, And all night long the Mussak[7] moaned Its melancholy tone. III. And where the purple Nullahs[8] threw Their branches far and wide, And silvery Goreewallahs[9] flew In silence, side by side, The little Bheesties’[10] twittering cry Rose on the fragrant air, And oft the angry Jampan[11] howled Deep in his hateful lair. IV. She sat upon her Dobie,— She heard the Nimmak[12] hum,— When all at once a cry arose: “The Cummerbund[13] is come!” In vain she fled;—with open jaws The angry monster followed, And so (before assistance came), That Lady Fair was swallowed. V. They sought in vain for even a bone Respectfully to bury; They said, “Hers was a dreadful fate!” (And Echo answered, “Very.”) They nailed her Dobie to the wall, Where last her form was seen, And underneath they wrote these words, In yellow, blue, and green:— “Beware, ye Fair! Ye Fair, beware! Nor sit out late at night, Lest horrid Cummerbunds should come, And swallow you outright.”

Note.—First published in the Times of India, Bombay, July, 1874.

[1] Washerman.
[2] Fan.
[3] Butler.
[4] Waiter at table.
[5] Police or post station.
[6] Office messenger.
[7] Water skin.
[8] Watercourse.
[9] Groom.
[10] Water-carrier.
[11] Sedan Chair.
[12] Salt.
[13] Waist Sash.


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