Richard Westcott: Ulterior

My search for the strange word ulterior
led to Kennedy’s Revised Latin Primer
edited by the eminent Mountford,
which made everything seem quite straightforward.

You begin with a predictable positive,
then move to a simple comparative
until the superlative calls it a day.

Here’s an example – I say
ultra, ulterior, ultimus
which means beyond, then more of that state
until we’ve gone all the way –
well, ulterior is somewhere halfway.

Here’s another example, now we are here –
start off with intra, then go interior
to end up with intimus (intra’s within)
so deep inside – where have you been?

Immersed in my Primer
inside its interior
that ugly ulterior
is no longer a stranger

with a smatterin’ of Latin
the battle you’ll win –
By Jove, good old Kennedy
will supply etymology.

So you know what you mean
I mean, he means, or we mean –
ulterior may lie beyond all that I know
but with my Primer, I can put on a good show.