Thursday, July 18, 2013


Adam and Eve Brush Their Teeth

John Julius Norwich, A Christmas Cracker, being a commonplace selection (Huntingdon: Satellite Press, 1987), [p. 12] (discussing Book IV of Milton's Paradise Lost):
The same Book also contains a description of our first parents retiring for the night — in which, however, it regrettably omits to mention whether or not they brushed their teeth. The Weekend Review accordingly announced, in September 1931, a competition to make good this omission. As was perhaps to be expected, the first prize was won by Sir Edward Marsh:
                        [... and eas'd the putting off
These troublesome disguises that wee wear,]
Yet pretermitted not the strait Command,
Eternal, indispensable, to off-cleanse
From their white elephantin Teeth the stains
Left by those tastie Pulps that late they chewd
At supper. First from a salubrious Fount
Our general Mother, stooping, the pure lymph
Insorb'd, which, mingled with tart juices prest
From pungent Herbs, on sprigs of Myrtle smeard,
(Then were not Brushes) scrub'd gumms more impearl'd
Than when young Telephus with Lydia strove
In mutual bite of Shoulder and ruddy Lip.
This done (by Adam too no less) the pair
[Straight side by side were laid...]
The mordacious Telephus and Lydia will be found in Horace, Odes, I, xiii.

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