poetry friday

The Emperor’s Rhyme
by A.A. Milne

The King of Peru
(Who was Emperor too)
Had a sort of a rhyme
Which was useful to know,
If he felt very shy
When a stranger came by,
Or they asked him the time
When his watch didn’t go;
Or supposing he fell
(By mistake) down a well,
Or he tumbled when skating
And sat on his hat,
Or perhaps wasn’t told,
Till his porridge was cold —
That his breakfast was waiting —
Or something like that;

Oh, whenever the Emperor
Got into a temper, or
Felt himself sulky or sad,
He would murmur and  murmur,
Until he felt firmer,
This curious rhyme which he had:

Eight eights are sixty four,
Multiply by seven.
When it’s done,
Carry one
And take away eleven.
Nine nines are eighty-one
Multiply by three.
If it’s more,
Carry four,
And then it’s time for tea.

So whenever the Queen
Took his armor to clean,
And she didn’t remember
To use any starch;
Or his birthday (in May)
Was a horrible day,
Being wet as November
And windy as March;
Or, if sitting in state
With the Wise and the Great,
He just happened to hiccup
While signing his name,
Or the Queen gave a cough,
When his crown tumbled off
As he bent down to pick up
A pen for the same;

Oh, whenever the Emperor
Got into a temper, or
Felt himself awkward and shy,
He would whisper and whisper,
Until he felt crisper,
This odd little rhyme to the sky:

Eight eights are eighty-one;
Multiply by seven.
If it’s more,
Carry four,
And take away eleven.
Nine nines are sixty four;
Multiply by three.
When it’s done,
Carry one,
And then it’s time for tea.

(from Now We Are Six)