Waiting for the Dentist by Henry Thomas Mackenzie Bell

Though many dismal years I’ve been
To dull old Care apprenticed,
The worst of the small woes I’ve seen
Is — waiting for the dentist!

How dreary is the cheerless room
In which you bide his pleasure,
The very chairs seemed steeped in gloom,
And sorrow without measure.

As if so wild mute-molar grief,
So uncontrolled its swelling, —
That its fierce tide had sought relief
By deluging the dwelling.

What though of literature a store
Is lying on the table,
You only think the books a bore;
To read you are unable.

What from the window, though, perchance,
You see forms full of graces.
They merely make you look askance,
And think how sore your face is.

On many chairs and sofas, too,
More martyrs round you languish.
You glance at them, they glance at you,
And give a groan of anguish.

You deem it hard, their turn arrives
Before you in rotation.
Or they wax wroth that your’s deprives
Their case of consolation.

You muse upon the ruthless wrench
Which buys a tooth’s departing —
Or how the stopping-pangs to quench,
In which you may be starting;

Or haply on these ivory chips
Harsh Nature may deny you, —
But which the ‘golden key’ equips
Man’s genius to supply you.

No words your mood of mind express,
‘Tis a state devoid of quiet, —
In which pain, pleasure, and distress
Mingle in hopeless riot.

Yes, though much sorrow one must know.
While to old Care apprenticed,
The greatest unheroic woe
Is — waiting for the dentist.

From: Bell, H. T. Mackenzie, Verses of Varied Life, 1882, Elliot Stock: London, pp. 19-21.
(https://archive.org/details/versesofvariedli00bell)

Date: 1882

By: Henry Thomas Mackenzie Bell (1856-1930)

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