by Marie Marshall
Five years or so ago, the late Vera Rich, poet and translator, let slip some ‘Mongolian’ Limericks just for fun. I replied in kind and tickled her. Here’s an exchange or two between us.
A Mongolian dealer in koumiss
Told his daughter: “I’m angry with you, Miss!
Last night’s supper was spoiled,
For the tea was not boiled,
And the dumplings were sticky as glue, Miss!”
His daughter’s voice came from the yurt:
“To say the least, you’re very curt!
No need to be cocky –
Those dumplings were gnocchi,
Green tea is drunk tepid – I’m hurt!”
Apparently Vera wrote a whole series of these as a divertissement at a Mongolian Studies Conference in the 1980s – a far cry from her serious work translating Ukrainian and Belorussian poetry. Here’s some more.
Said a PR man in Ulan Bataar,
“I really don’t know what’s the mataar!
But that cursed foreign press
Writes of us less and less,
Saying it has too much else on its plataar!”
The cleaner (whilst shoving her Huva)
Said, “No Mongol is the prime muva
Of things international.
It could be worse – this could be Tuva!”
It does you good to let your hair down once in a while. Vera is very much missed by those of us who knew her and worked with her.