Plowman/Daniells Poetry: Ode to a Bedpan

August 28, 2009


The following poem, undated and not attributed, was found among the poetry of the Plowmans and Daniells.  It was probably written by one of the five Daniells sisters, granddaughters of Dora Plowman.  Each of the sisters had a wonderful sense of humor — sometimes outrageous — , so the poem could have been written by any of them. 

Ode to a Bedpan

While recovering from an illness, I was very much annoyed,

For the toilet was denied me and a bedpan was employed.

I much preferred a thunder-mug, but nurse just shook her head;

“You’re far too weak,” she sternly said, “to be getting out of bed.”


My experience with the bedpan, to this day doth make me quail,

And I’ve been prevailed upon to write this harrowing tale.

In the wee small hours of morn, before the break of day

Came a yearning I could not ignore, nor very long delay.


The nurse brought me a bedpan, slipped it under my back-side,

While the chills ran up and down my spine as the cold thing touched my hide.

I tipped back my shoulders — soon my legs grew stiff and numb

The odds were all in favor that I’d die before ‘twould come.


In this upside down condition the leverage wasn’t there,

But with a mighty effort I released a little air.

And when at last I got results I grew faint with dread,

I wondered if I’d hit the pan or piled it on the bed.


While my heart was weakly fluttering I felt with cautious care,

With a sigh of satisfaction I discovered nothing there.

But my trouble wasn’t over, as I very soon would find,

For how could I maneuver to wipe the place behind?


All my muscles bulged with tension as I stood upon my head,

And I gave a few wild passes — then fell weakly on the bed.

With patience I continued, regardless of my pain,

For modesty prevents me from leaving any stain.


I had no more than finished this rear Herculean feat,

When I then became aware of something sticky on the sheet.

Cold sweat was beaded on my brow — I slowly raised my gown,

And there upon the lovely sheet a hideous spot of brown.


The law of gravitation once more proved sure as fate

That you cannot stand upon your ear when you evacuate.

‘Twas then I voiced a fervent prayer, as a soul in anguish can,

For something to improve upon this medieval plan.


Sick people often give up hope and here’s the reason why:

The bedpan is the rock upon which they’re tortured till they die.

There’s a fortune for the genius who’ll invent some kind of diaper

Or a back adjusted thunder-mug with an automatic wiper.