Troubled with the Itch and Rubbing with Sulphur
’Tis bitter, yet ’tis sweet; Scratching effects but transient ease; Pleasure and pain together meet And vanish as they please. My nails, the only balm, To every bump are oft applied, And thus the rage will sweetly calm Which aggravates my hide. It soon returns again: A frown succeeds to every smile; Grinning I scratch and curse the pain But grieve to be so vile. In fine, I know not which Can play the most deceitful game: The devil, sulphur, or the itch. The three are but the same. The devil sows the itch, And sulphur has a loathsome smell, And with my clothes as black as pitch I stink where’er I dwell. Excoriated deep, By friction played on every part, It oft deprives me of my sleep And plagues me to my heart.
This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on October 28, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.