“Troubled with the Itch and Rubbing with Sulphur” by George Moses Horton (1797? – 1883?)


Troubled With The Itch, And Rubbing Sulfur

‘Tis bitter, yet ’tis sweet,
Scratching effects but transient ease;
Pleasure and pain together meet,
And vanish as they please.

My nails, the only balm,
To ev’ry bump are oft applied,
And thus the rage will sweetly calm
Which aggravates my hide.

It soon returns again;
A frown succeeds to ev’ry smile;
Grinning I scratch and curse the pain,
But grieve to be so vile.

In fine, I know not which
Can play the most deceitful game,
The devil, sulphur, or the itch;
The three are but the same.

The devil sows the itch,
And sulphur has a loathsome smell,
And with my clothes as black as pitch,
I stink where’er I dwell.

Excoriated deep,
By friction play’d on ev’ry part,
It oft deprives me of my sleep,
And plagues me to my heart.

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