To have it out or not? that is the question --
Whether 'tis better for the jaws to suffer
The pangs and torments of an aching tooth,
Or to take steel against a host of troubles,
And, by extracting, end them? To pull, to tug!
No more: and by a tug to say we end
The tooth-ache, and a thousand natural ills
The jaw is heir to.
For me it was not to have it out but to save the tooth with root canal therapy and braving the anxious spasms of fear and surprise as this or that makes a noise. In the dentists surgery even the smallest noise becomes the snap of the twig that the soldier, all alone in the woods, hears magnified, and fears more than anything.
Ralph Dayman is a superb dentist with an unusual ability to instill calm in the over imaginative artist. It is a pleasure in some perverse way to, at such a vulnerable moment, be in the hands of a patron of the arts. In that spirit here are a few poems about dentists and teeth.
When nerves are dead
When the nerve is alive, and the dentist cuts and grinds,
There are fully fifty pains he invariably finds.
There are pains that are hot, there are pains that are cold,
There are big and swelling pains that the mouth can hardly hold,
There are pains like a needle, there are pains like a saw,
There are pains that explode and other pains that gnaw --
When the nerve of the tooth is alive.
- Amos R. Wells
A Poets Farewell To His Teeth
Cigar-stained and tired of cavities, you leave.
It is time to go back to the pure world of teeth
And rest, and compose yourselves for the last eruption. ...
I hope you relax by the shadowy root canals,
And thinking of me with kindness, but not regret,
Toast me just once in the local anaesthetic.
- William Dickey
The Root Canal
This tooth is hollowed out to a cave
Big enough for tourists
To go through in parties with guides
In flat-bottomed boats.
... I am nothing,
nothing at all, but a reluctant
pyramid standing here, a grandiose
talking headstone for my tooth.
- Marge Piercy