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  • Writer's pictureCaleb Parkin

NaPoWriMo 2: Lies, All Lies

Eliot – who never had twin daughters…Or did he? (No, he didn’t).

Onward with NaPoWriMo catch-up – now at 66.66% catch-up. We’re entering warp-drive composition speed, here: I’ve got to go and perform some work at Wicked Words (a spoken word night in Leeds) tonight, so best be off soon!

In a quick web-sweep, I found this story about a woman who claimed to be BOTH of T S Eliot’s twin daughters in order to commit various forms of financial and tax-related fraud. It’s a pretty bombastic fib: Eliot didn’t have any children, as any quick bit of research will tell you. Inevitably, they- sorry, she (there was only one woman, pretending to be twins by using make-up and costume) – got caught.

So here’s a poem by, or on behalf of, that fraudster – almost an ode, I suppose, as it’s a pretty amazing lie to maintain…

And it has a liberal sprinkling of some of the most-obvious Eliot quotes that a speed-re-reading provided. (Don’t get your knickers in a twist, academics: this is not meant to be a critique of Eliot as man or as poet – it’s a bit of fun!)

The Hollow Children

or, Eliot’s Twins

She had it right, you know, that Plath:

we’re through, too. You have no idea

what having a Daddy poet was like. And yeah,

especially one so lofty, so lauded. So

full of it. Full of everything

but love for us.

So we started to get our own back

for all that time he spent in

The Wasteland. You can call it genius

if you like, we called it abuse. HURRY UP DAD


he’d just look the other way.

Hollow children, that’s what we were,

invisible at the study door. Daring not

to meet his eyes, not even

in our dreams. But we decided: Not

with a whimper, with a


So we decided, she and I: use the name

we could have – should have – had.

Play him at his own game. Get

some notoriety: get practical

swindling, McAvity bad.

(I’ve no idea where all that stuff

about cats came from, though:

he hated our poor old Tabby Gumbie

and made sure he let her know.)

But we were hardly Napoleonettes of Crime

and in time, as the costume and stories

got more and more…Hippo –

we knew it was only a matter of time.

So here we go, then, she and I –

just I, in fact, she was part of the lie –

pinned and wriggling

in the courtroom’s eye.

Because I’m not his twins

and he never had none.

But if he had of had ‘em,

this is what they should have done.

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