Remembering Chamberpot-Smythe

Remembering Chamberpot-Smythe

The Late Poet Laureate of New  Guinea

By John Ward


oldman-2013Bulworth Chamberpot-Smythe was born at a very early age in Leamington Spa, England in January 1862. His birth was serendipitous, almost miraculous. His father: Lord Cheltenham Chamberpot-Smythe, peer of the realm in 19th Century England, suffered an unhappy marriage to Bulworth’s mother, Beatrice.

An exciting and promiscuous girl of nineteen when his Lordship married her, Beatrice Glumm had turned to religion after meeting charismatic Episcopalian Bishop Cyril Creeven at her wedding. She subsequently believed, with no small influence from Bishop Creeven, that all forms of sex were evil, with the single possible exception of manual stimulation through the curtain of a confessional.

On the single occasion Lord Cheltenham actually managed to mount his wife it was with considerable help from a date rape drug of the period called GIN. After a celebratory dinner party that evolved into a night of unbridled debauchery, Beatrice Glumm, now Lady Chamberpot-Smythe, drank enough gin to become paralytic. She fell to the floor unconscious – her nether regions raised and exposed. With his Lordship behind her screaming: “Damn the cavalry, I’m using cannon,” the couple conceived of a son, who would later grow up to be the Poet Laureate of New Guinea and an enormous influence on my personal writing life.

Many of his poems survive to this day. Even Hollywood used one of his poems in a film called: The Man with Two Brains. The poem is entitled “Oh Pointy Birds.” Oh pointy birds, oh pointy birds, oh pointy, pointy./You fly above my head so high, anointy-nointy.

At the time Chamberpot-Smythe was writing, England was going through its Industrial Revolution. Coal was the source of energy that made that revolution possible and coal was burned everywhere from factories to Steam Engines, to home hearths with the result that coal dust and soot formed a blanket over everything and everyone. Bulworth wrote the sadly compelling poem: “My Dog” in free verse at this time and managed to get it published by a local gambler who happened to be trying out some new printing equipment he had won from a Dutch trader called Hoof.

My dog does nothing./He lies there all day and night-time too./He never moves, even when it rains./I call and call and call, but he just lies there./Covered in soot, I think he’s dead.

At one point Bulworth was offered the opportunity to recite a poem he had written to her Majesty, Queen Victoria. This opportunity was offered by an Irish Traveler called O’Rourke who explained that he was a good friend of John Brown, the Queen’s closest confidant and therefore had the Queen’s ear. Bulworth merely had to give two thousand pounds sterling (all he had) to O’Rourke, who said it was needed for the Queen’s re-election campaign.

Unfortunately Queen Victoria died on Tuesday, 22nd of January, 1901. Since his passage back to Ireland had not yet been booked when the death occurred, O’Rourke told Bulworth that her death was an unsubstantiated rumor, circulated by jealous French Republicans and that the funeral which was held on Saturday 2nd of February in St. George’s Chapel, was for the Queen’s pet Pomeranian Turri.

On that Sunday after the state funeral, O’Rourke took Bully with his portfolio of poems to Windsor Park, where he read his poem “I Like The Queen – a Lot” out loud to a group of confused royal deer. Much later in his life, Bulworth discovered that Queen Victoria had indeed been buried the day before his reading. Although she was not present, aware or even alive at the time, Bulworth was, nevertheless, proud to have read his poem to her and boasted for the rest of his life that he had written and read a poem to Queen Victoria.

Since England already had a Poet Laureate, Bulworth began writing to various governments that were under the British Yoke, asking if they needed a Poet Laureate. Unfortunately most governments either didn’t know what a Poet Laureate was or had already eaten theirs, but one day in Spring 1903 a letter came inviting Mr. Chamberpot-Smythe to be Poet Laureate of New Guinea in return for a small stipend of one hundred pounds sterling a year, which, they explained, Bulworth could pay in installments.

Unfortunately Bulworth Chamberpot-Smythe died suddenly, all alone, destitute and over a period of seven years. Although sudden, it was a slow agonizing death passed in a straw mattress bed atop a public house in the South End of London which he rented for tuppence ha’penny a month. Although he was dying Bulworth bravely wrote on, leaving the world more poetry. Most of his later poetry is very difficult to interpret; in fact some of the major critics of the time including G.K. Chesterton called it “Unmitigated crap.” Still there is beauty in the following lines:

Now I lie in bits of straw/The fleas they bite; the rats they gnaw./I don’t mind the raucous din/That wafts aloft the pub within,/But when the whores come up to play/I wish they’d let their client’s lay/Over there in another room, or at least/A different bed as this one’s leased./Still and all they are my friends/And I have seen some fine rear ends./Goodbye moon, goodbye sun, Goodbye each and everyone.

Bulworth Chamberpot-Smythe died only six years after writing that poem surprising both himself and his physician.

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