"Enigma"

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Frankenstein, Edited by Stuart Curran
STUDY AIDS : IN POPULAR CULTURE

"Enigma"

Thomas Moore (from Satirical and Humorous Poems, in Poetical Works [1840-1841])

 

Moore's riddle likens the national debt to Frankenstein's Monster.


Monstrum nulla virtute redemptum.

      Come, riddle-me-ree, come, riddle-me-ree,
      And tell me what my name may be.
I am nearly one hundred and thirty years old,
   And therefore no chicken, as you may suppose;—
Though a dwarf in my youth (as my nurses have told),
   I have, ev'ry year since, been outgrowing my clothes;
Till, at last, such a corpulent giant I stand,
   That, if folks were to furnish me now with a suit,
It would take ev'ry morsel of scrip in the land
   But to measure my bulk from the head to the foot.
Hence, they who maintain me, grown sick of my stature,
   To cover me nothing but rags will supply;
And the doctors declare that, in due course of nature,
   About the year 30 in rags I shall die.
Meanwhile, I stalk hungry and bloated around,
   An object of int'rest, most painful, to all;
In the warehouse, the cottage, the palace I'm found,
   Holding citizen, peasant, and king in my thrall.
      Then riddle-me-ree, oh riddle-me-ree,
      Come, tell me what my name may be.

When the lord of the counting-house bends o'er his book,
   Bright pictures of profit delighting to draw,
O'er his shoulders with large cipher eyeballs I look,
   And down drops the pen from his paralyz'd paw!
When the Premier lies dreaming of dear Waterloo,
   And expects through another to caper and prank it,
You'd laugh did you see, when I bellow out "Boo!"
   How he hides his brave Waterloo head in the blanket.
When mighty Belshazzar brims high in the hall
   His cup, full of gout, to the Gaul's overthrow,
Lo, "Eight Hundred Millions" I write on the wall,
   And the cup falls to earth and—the gout to his toe!
But the joy of my heart is when largely I cram
   My maw with the fruits of the Squirearchy's acres,
And, knowing who made me the thing that I am,
   Like the monster of Frankenstein, worry my makers.

      Then riddle-me-ree, come, riddle-me-ree,
      And tell, if thou know'st, who I may be.

Original publication date

1818-01-01T00:00:00
1831-01-01T00:00:00

Published @ RC

May 2009