'Twas General Janus, the first to arrive,

In snow-shoes and gaiters,

Escorted by skaters,

And looking quite blue with the cold of his drive,

See him come in, with his footman Aquarius,

Who presents his Ah-kishes,

That's to say, his best wishes,

A choice of fresh colds, and compliments various.

This is part of the nursery poem from Walter Crane's book.

I have two questions from this.

  1. Does 'looking quite blue with the cold of his drive' mean, 'looking pale because he got a cold from the drive'?
  2. Then does 'Ah-kishes' express the sound of coughing?

1 Answer 1


I'd take the first to mean looking pale because he was cold, as a result of walking in the snow.

I'd guess that Ah-kish is meant to be the sound of a sneeze, but it isn't the usual phrase (we say "Atishoo" for the sound of a sneeze, and don't really have a word for the sound of a cough, except "cough")

  • 1
    In extreme cold, people's lips, fingers, etc, can become blue. Mar 26, 2020 at 7:10
  • James K is correct that an "ah-kish" is a sneeze, not a cough. There are many ways to spell a sneeze in English, but it's usually something like "atishoo". (We usually spell a cough as "ahem".) Note that the poem immediately explains the ah-kish ("that is to say...") which suggests it's a nonce word, an invention to amuse the reader.
    – equin0x80
    Mar 3, 2023 at 16:31

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