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The Skeleton

Chattering finch and water-fly
Are not merrier than I;
Here among the flowers I lie
Laughing everlastingly.
No; I may not tell the best;
Surely, friends, I might have guessed
Death was but the good King's jest,
It was hid so carefully.

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G.K. Chesterton

The Skeleton

Chattering finch and water-fly
Are not merrier than I;
Here among the flowers I lie
Laughing everlastingly.
No: I may not tell the best;
Surely, friends, I might have guessed
Death was but the good King's jest,
It was hid so carefully.

poem by from The Wild Knight and Other Poems (1900)Report problemRelated quotes
Added by Veronica Serbanoiu
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The King's Tragedy James I. Of Scots.—20th February 1437

I Catherine am a Douglas born,
A name to all Scots dear;
And Kate Barlass they've called me now
Through many a waning year.
This old arm's withered now. 'Twas once
Most deft 'mong maidens all
To rein the steed, to wing the shaft,
To smite the palm-play ball.
In hall adown the close-linked dance
It has shone most white and fair;
It has been the rest for a true lord's head,
And many a sweet babe's nursing-bed,
And the bar to a King's chambère.
Aye, lasses, draw round Kate Barlass,
And hark with bated breath
How good King James, King Robert's son,
Was foully done to death.
Through all the days of his gallant youth
The princely James was pent,
By his friends at first and then by his foes,
In long imprisonment.
For the elder Prince, the kingdom's heir,
By treason's murderous brood
Was slain; and the father quaked for the child
With the royal mortal blood.
I' the Bass Rock fort, by his father's care,
Was his childhood's life assured;
And Henry the subtle Bolingbroke,
Proud England's King, 'neath the southron yoke
His youth for long years immured.
Yet in all things meet for a kingly man
Himself did he approve;
And the nightingale through his prison-wall
Taught him both lore and love.
For once, when the bird's song drew him close
To the opened window-pane,
In her bower beneath a lady stood,
A light of life to his sorrowful mood,
Like a lily amid the rain.
And for her sake, to the sweet bird's note,
He framed a sweeter Song,
More sweet than ever a poet's heart
Gave yet to the English tongue.
She was a lady of royal blood;
And when, past sorrow and teen,
He stood where still through his crownless years
His Scotish realm had been,
At Scone were the happy lovers crowned,
A heart-wed King and Queen.
But the bird may fall from the bough of youth,
And song be turned to moan,
And Love's storm-cloud be the shadow of Hate,
When the tempest-waves of a troubled State
Are beating against a throne.
Yet well they loved; and the god of Love,
Whom well the King had sung,
Might find on the earth no truer hearts
His lowliest swains among.
From the days when first she rode abroad
With Scotish maids in her train,
I Catherine Douglas won the trust
Of my mistress sweet Queen Jane.
And oft she sighed, “To be born a King!”
And oft along the way
When she saw the homely lovers pass
She has said, “Alack the day!”
Years waned,—the loving and toiling years:
Till England's wrong renewed
Drove James, by outrage cast on his crown,
To the open field of feud.
'Twas when the King and his host were met
At the leaguer of Roxbro' hold,
The Queen o' the sudden sought his camp
With a tale of dread to be told.
And she showed him a secret letter writ
That spoke of treasonous strife,
And how a band of his noblest lords
Were sworn to take his life.
And it may be here or it may be there,
In the camp or the court,” she said:
But for my sake come to your people's arms
And guard your royal head.”
Quoth he, “'Tis the fifteenth day of the siege,
And the castle's nigh to yield.”
“O face your foes on your throne,” she cried,
And show the power you wield;
And under your Scotish people's love
You shall sit as under your shield.”
At the fair Queen's side I stood that day
When he bade them raise the siege,
And back to his Court he sped to know
How the lords would meet their Liege.
But when he summoned his Parliament,
The louring brows hung round,
Like clouds that circle the mountain-head
Ere the first low thunders sound.
For he had tamed the nobles' lust
And curbed their power and pride,
And reached out an arm to right the poor
Through Scotland far and wide;
And many a lordly wrong-doer
By the headsman's axe had died.
'Twas then upspoke Sir Robert Græme,
The bold o'ermastering man:—
“O King, in the name of your Three Estates
I set you under their ban!
“For, as your lords made oath to you
Of service and fealty,
Even in like wise you pledged your oath
Their faithful sire to be:—
“Yet all we here that are nobly sprung
Have mourned dear kith and kin
Since first for the Scotish Barons' curse
Did your bloody rule begin.”
With that he laid his hands on his King:—
“Is this not so, my lords?”
But of all who had sworn to league with him
Not one spake back to his words.
Quoth the King:—“Thou speak'st but for one Estate,
Nor doth it avow thy gage.
Let my liege lords hale this traitor hence!”
The Græme fired dark with rage:—
“Who works for lesser men than himself,
He earns but a witless wage!”
But soon from the dungeon where he lay
He won by privy plots,
And forth he fled with a price on his head
To the country of the Wild Scots.
And word there came from Sir Robert Græme
To the King at Edinbro':—
No Liege of mine thou art; but I see
From this day forth alone in thee
God's creature, my mortal foe.
“Through thee are my wife and children lost,
My heritage and lands;
And when my God shall show me a way,
Thyself my mortal foe will I slay
With these my proper hands.”
Against the coming of Christmastide
That year the King bade call
I' the Black Friars' Charterhouse of Perth
A solemn festival.
And we of his household rode with him
In a close-ranked company;
But not till the sun had sunk from his throne
Did we reach the Scotish Sea.
That eve was clenched for a boding storm,
'Neath a toilsome moon half seen;
The cloud stooped low and the surf rose high;
And where there was a line of the sky,
Wild wings loomed dark between.
And on a rock of the black beach-side,
By the veiled moon dimly lit,
There was something seemed to heave with life
As the King drew nigh to it.
And was it only the tossing furze
Or brake of the waste sea-wold?
Or was it an eagle bent to the blast?
When near we came, we knew it at last
For a woman tattered and old.
But it seemed as though by a fire within
Her writhen limbs were wrung;
And as soon as the King was close to her,
She stood up gaunt and strong.
'Twas then the moon sailed clear of the rack
On high in her hollow dome;
And still as aloft with hoary crest
Each clamorous wave rang home,
Like fire in snow the moonlight blazed
Amid the champing foam.
And the woman held his eyes with her eyes:—
“O King, thou art come at last;
But thy wraith has haunted the Scotish Sea
To my sight for four years past.
“Four years it is since first I met,
'Twixt the Duchray and the Dhu,
A shape whose feet clung close in a shroud,
And that shape for thine I knew.
“A year again, and on Inchkeith Isle
I saw thee pass in the breeze,
With the cerecloth risen above thy feet
And wound about thy knees.
And yet a year, in the Links of Forth,
As a wanderer without rest,
Thou cam'st with both thine arms i' the shroud
That clung high up thy breast.
And in this hour I find thee here,
And well mine eyes may note
That the winding-sheet hath passed thy breast
And risen around thy throat.
And when I meet thee again, O King,
That of death hast such sore drouth,—
Except thou turn again on this shore,—
The winding-sheet shall have moved once more
And covered thine eyes and mouth.
“O King, whom poor men bless for their King,
Of thy fate be not so fain;
But these my words for God's message take,
And turn thy steed, O King, for her sake
Who rides beside thy rein!”
While the woman spoke, the King's horse reared
As if it would breast the sea,
And the Queen turned pale as she heard on the gale
The voice die dolorously.
When the woman ceased, the steed was still,
But the King gazed on her yet,
And in silence save for the wail of the sea
His eyes and her eyes met.
At last he said:—“God's ways are His own;
Man is but shadow and dust.
Last night I prayed by His altar-stone;
To-night I wend to the Feast of His Son;
And in Him I set my trust.
I have held my people in sacred charge,
And have not feared the sting
Of proud men's hate,—to His will resign'd
Who has but one same death for a hind
And one same death for a King.
And if God in His wisdom have brought close
The day when I must die,
That day by water or fire or air
My feet shall fall in the destined snare
Wherever my road may lie.
“What man can say but the Fiend hath set
Thy sorcery on my path,
My heart with the fear of death to fill,
And turn me against God's very will
To sink in His burning wrath?”
The woman stood as the train rode past,
And moved nor limb nor eye;
And when we were shipped, we saw her there
Still standing against the sky.
As the ship made way, the moon once more
Sank slow in her rising pall;
And I thought of the shrouded wraith of the King,
And I said, “The Heavens know all.”
And now, ye lasses, must ye hear
How my name is Kate Barlass:—
But a little thing, when all the tale
Is told of the weary mass
Of crime and woe which in Scotland's realm
God's will let come to pass.
'Twas in the Charterhouse of Perth
That the King and all his Court
Were met, the Christmas Feast being done,
For solace and disport.
'Twas a wind-wild eve in February,
And against the casement-pane
The branches smote like summoning hands,
And muttered the driving rain.
And when the wind swooped over the lift
And made the whole heaven frown,
It seemed a grip was laid on the walls
To tug the housetop down.
And the Queen was there, more stately fair
Than a lily in garden set;
And the King was loth to stir from her side;
For as on the day when she was his bride,
Even so he loved her yet.
And the Earl of Athole, the King's false friend,
Sat with him at the board;
And Robert Stuart the chamberlain
Who had sold his sovereign Lord.
Yet the traitor Christopher Chaumber there
Would fain have told him all,
And vainly four times that night he strove
To reach the King through the hall.
But the wine is bright at the goblet's brim
Though the poison lurk beneath;
And the apples still are red on the tree
Within whose shade may the adder be
That shall turn thy life to death.
There was a knight of the King's fast friends
Whom he called the King of Love;
And to such bright cheer and courtesy
That name might best behove.
And the King and Queen both loved him well
For his gentle knightliness;
And with him the King, as that eve wore on,
Was playing at the chess.
And the King said, (for he thought to jest
And soothe the Queen thereby —
“In a book 'tis writ that this same year
A King shall in Scotland die.
And I have pondered the matter o'er,
And this have I found, Sir Hugh,—
There are but two Kings on Scotish ground,
And those Kings are I and you.
And I have a wife and a newborn heir,
And you are yourself alone;
So stand you stark at my side with me
To guard our double throne.
“For here sit I and my wife and child,
As well your heart shall approve,
In full surrender and soothfastness,
Beneath your Kingdom of Love.”
And the Knight laughed, and the Queen too smiled;
But I knew her heavy thought,
And I strove to find in the good King's jest
What cheer might thence be wrought.
And I said, “My Liege, for the Queen's dear love
Now sing the song that of old
You made, when a captive Prince you lay,
And the nightingale sang sweet on the spray,
In Windsor's castle-hold.”
Then he smiled the smile I knew so well
When he thought to please the Queen;
The smile which under all bitter frowns
Of fate that rose between
For ever dwelt at the poet's heart
Like the bird of love unseen.
And he kissed her hand and took his harp,
And the music sweetly rang;
And when the song burst forth, it seemed
'Twas the nightingale that sang.
“Worship, ye lovers, on this May:
Of bliss your kalends are begun:
Sing with us, Away, Winter, away!
Come, Summer, the sweet season and sun!
Awake for shame,—your heaven is won,—
And amorously your heads lift all:
Thank Love, that you to his grace doth call!”
But when he bent to the Queen, and sang
The speech whose praise was hers,
It seemed his voice was the voice of the Spring
And the voice of the bygone years.
The fairest and the freshest flower
That ever I saw before that hour,
The which o' the sudden made to start
The blood of my body to my heart.
Ah sweet, are ye a worldly creature
Or heavenly thing in form of nature?”
And the song was long, and richly stored
With wonder and beauteous things;
And the harp was tuned to every change
Of minstrel ministerings;
But when he spoke of the Queen at the last,
Its strings were his own heart-strings.
“Unworthy but only of her grace,
Upon Love's rock that's easy and sure,
In guerdon of all my lovè's space
She took me her humble creäture.
Thus fell my blissful aventure
In youth of love that from day to day
Flowereth aye new, and further I say.
“To reckon all the circumstance
As it happed when lessen gan my sore,
Of my rancour and woful chance,
It were too long,—I have done therefor.
And of this flower I say no more,
But unto my help her heart hath tended
And even from death her man defended.”
“Aye, even from death,” to myself I said;
For I thought of the day when she
Had borne him the news, at Roxbro' siege,
Of the fell confederacy.
But Death even then took aim as he sang
With an arrow deadly bright;
And the grinning skull lurked grimly aloof,
And the wings were spread far over the roof
More dark than the winter night.
Yet truly along the amorous song
Of Love's high pomp and state,
There were words of Fortune's trackless doom
And the dreadful face of Fate.
And oft have I heard again in dreams
The voice of dire appeal
In which the King then sang of the pit
That is under Fortune's wheel.
And under the wheel beheld I there
An ugly Pit as deep as hell,
That to behold I quaked for fear:
And this I heard, that who therein fell
Came no more up, tidings to tell:
Whereat, astound of the fearful sight,
I wist not what to do for fright.”
And oft has my thought called up again
These words of the changeful song:—
“Wist thou thy pain and thy travàil
To come, well might'st thou weep and wail!”
And our wail, O God! is long.
But the song's end was all of his love;
And well his heart was grac'd
With her smiling lips and her tear-bright eyes
As his arm went round her waist.
And on the swell of her long fair throat
Close clung the necklet-chain
As he bent her pearl-tir'd head aside,
And in the warmth of his love and pride
He kissed her lips full fain.
And her true face was a rosy red,
The very red of the rose
That, couched on the happy garden-bed,
In the summer sunlight glows.
And all the wondrous things of love
That sang so sweet through the song
Were in the look that met in their eyes,
And the look was deep and long.
'Twas then a knock came at the outer gate,
And the usher sought the King.
The woman you met by the Scotish Sea,
My Liege, would tell you a thing;
And she says that her present need for speech
Will bear no gainsaying.”
And the King said: “The hour is late;
To-morrow will serve, I ween.”
Then he charged the usher strictly, and said:
No word of this to the Queen.”
But the usher came again to the King.
“Shall I call her back?” quoth he:
“For as she went on her way, she cried,
‘Woe! Woe! then the thing must be!’”
And the King paused, but he did not speak.
Then he called for the Voidee-cup:
And as we heard the twelfth hour strike,
There by true lips and false lips alike
Was the draught of trust drained up.
So with reverence meet to King and Queen,
To bed went all from the board;
And the last to leave of the courtly train
Was Robert Stuart the chamberlain
Who had sold his sovereign lord.
And all the locks of the chamber-door
Had the traitor riven and brast;
And that Fate might win sure way from afar,
He had drawn out every bolt and bar
That made the entrance fast.
And now at midnight he stole his way
To the moat of the outer wall,
And laid strong hurdles closely across
Where the traitors' tread should fall.
But we that were the Queen's bower-maids
Alone were left behind;
And with heed we drew the curtains close
Against the winter wind.
And now that all was still through the hall,
More clearly we heard the rain
That clamoured ever against the glass
And the boughs that beat on the pane.
But the fire was bright in the ingle-nook,
And through empty space around
The shadows cast on the arras'd wall
'Mid the pictured kings stood sudden and tall
Like spectres sprung from the ground.
And the bed was dight in a deep alcove;
And as he stood by the fire
The King was still in talk with the Queen
While he doffed his goodly attire.
And the song had brought the image back
Of many a bygone year;
And many a loving word they said
With hand in hand and head laid to head;
And none of us went anear.
But Love was weeping outside the house,
A child in the piteous rain;
And as he watched the arrow of Death,
He wailed for his own shafts close in the sheath
That never should fly again.
And now beneath the window arose
A wild voice suddenly:
And the King reared straight, but the Queen fell back
As for bitter dule to dree;
And all of us knew the woman's voice
Who spoke by the Scotish Sea.
“O King,” she cried, “in an evil hour
They drove me from thy gate;
And yet my voice must rise to thine ears;
But alas! it comes too late!
“Last night at mid-watch, by Aberdour,
When the moon was dead in the skies,
O King, in a death-light of thine own
I saw thy shape arise.
And in full season, as erst I said,
The doom had gained its growth;
And the shroud had risen above thy neck
And covered thine eyes and mouth.
And no moon woke, but the pale dawn broke,
And still thy soul stood there;
And I thought its silence cried to my soul
As the first rays crowned its hair.
“Since then have I journeyed fast and fain
In very despite of Fate,
Lest Hope might still be found in God's will:
But they drove me from thy gate.
“For every man on God's ground, O King,
His death grows up from his birth
In a shadow-plant perpetually;
And thine towers high, a black yew-tree,
O'er the Charterhouse of Perth!”
That room was built far out from the house;
And none but we in the room
Might hear the voice that rose beneath,
Nor the tread of the coming doom.
For now there came a torchlight-glare,
And a clang of arms there came;
And not a soul in that space but thought
Of the foe Sir Robert Græme.
Yea, from the country of the Wild Scots,
O'er mountain, valley, and glen,
He had brought with him in murderous league
Three hundred armèd men.
The King knew all in an instant's flash;
And like a King did he stand;
But there was no armour in all the room,
Nor weapon lay to his hand.
And all we women flew to the door
And thought to have made it fast;
But the bolts were gone and the bars were gone
And the locks were riven and brast.
And he caught the pale pale Queen in his arms
As the iron footsteps fell,—
Then loosed her, standing alone, and said,
“Our bliss was our farewell!”
And 'twixt his lips he murmured a prayer,
And he crossed his brow and breast;
And proudly in royal hardihood
Even so with folded arms he stood,—
The prize of the bloody quest.
Then on me leaped the Queen like a deer:—
“O Catherine, help!” she cried.
And low at his feet we clasped his knees
Together side by side.
“Oh! even a King, for his people's sake,
From treasonous death must hide!”
“For her sake most!” I cried, and I marked
The pang that my words could wring.
And the iron tongs from the chimney-nook
I snatched and held to the king:—
“Wrench up the plank! and the vault beneath
Shall yield safe harbouring.”
With brows low-bent, from my eager hand
The heavy heft did he take;
And the plank at his feet he wrenched and tore;
And as he frowned through the open floor,
Again I said, “For her sake!”
Then he cried to the Queen, “God's will be done!”
For her hands were clasped in prayer.
And down he sprang to the inner crypt;
And straight we closed the plank he had ripp'd
And toiled to smooth it fair.
(Alas! in that vault a gap once was
Wherethro' the King might have fled:
But three days since close-walled had it been
By his will; for the ball would roll therein
When without at the palm he play'd.)
Then the Queen cried, “Catherine, keep the door,
And I to this will suffice!”
At her word I rose all dazed to my feet,
And my heart was fire and ice.
And louder ever the voices grew,
And the tramp of men in mail;
Until to my brain it seemed to be
As though I tossed on a ship at sea
In the teeth of a crashing gale.
Then back I flew to the rest; and hard
We strove with sinews knit
To force the table against the door;
But we might not compass it.
Then my wild gaze sped far down the hall
To the place of the hearthstone-sill;
And the Queen bent ever above the floor,
For the plank was rising still.
And now the rush was heard on the stair,
And “God, what help?” was our cry.
And was I frenzied or was I bold?
I looked at each empty stanchion-hold,
And no bar but my arm had I!
Like iron felt my arm, as through
The staple I made it pass:—
Alack! it was flesh and bone—no more!
'Twas Catherine Douglas sprang to the door,
But I fell back Kate Barlass.
With that they all thronged into the hall,
Half dim to my failing ken;
And the space that was but a void before
Was a crowd of wrathful men.
Behind the door I had fall'n and lay,
Yet my sense was wildly aware,
And for all the pain of my shattered arm
I never fainted there.
Even as I fell, my eyes were cast
Where the King leaped down to the pit;
And lo! the plank was smooth in its place,
And the Queen stood far from it.
And under the litters and through the bed
And within the presses all
The traitors sought for the King, and pierced
The arras around the wall.
And through the chamber they ramped and stormed
Like lions loose in the lair,
And scarce could trust to their very eyes,—
For behold! no King was there.
Then one of them seized the Queen, and cried,—
“Now tell us, where is thy lord?”
And he held the sharp point over her heart:
She drooped not her eyes nor did she start,
But she answered never a word.
Then the sword half pierced the true true breast:
But it was the Græme's own son
Cried, “This is a woman,—we seek a man!”
And away from her girdle-zone
He struck the point of the murderous steel;
And that foul deed was not done.
And forth flowed all the throng like a sea
And 'twas empty space once more;
And my eyes sought out the wounded Queen
As I lay behind the door.
And I said: “Dear Lady, leave me here,
For I cannot help you now:
But fly while you may, and none shall reck
Of my place here lying low.”
And she said, “My Catherine, God help thee!”
Then she looked to the distant floor,
And clasping her hands, “O God help him,”
She sobbed, “for we can no more!”
But God He knows what help may mean,
If it mean to live or to die;
And what sore sorrow and mighty moan
On earth it may cost ere yet a throne
Be filled in His house on high.
And now the ladies fled with the Queen;
And through the open door
The night-wind wailed round the empty room
And the rushes shook on the floor.
And the bed drooped low in the dark recess
Whence the arras was rent away;
And the firelight still shone over the space
Where our hidden secret lay.
And the rain had ceased, and the moonbeams lit
The window high in the wall,—
Bright beams that on the plank that I knew
Through the painted pane did fall,
And gleamed with the splendour of Scotland's crown
And shield armorial.
But then a great wind swept up the skies
And the climbing moon fell back;
And the royal blazon fled from the floor,
And nought remained on its track;
And high in the darkened window-pane
The shield and the crown were black.
And what I say next I partly saw
And partly I heard in sooth,
And partly since from the murderers' lips
The torture wrung the truth.
For now again came the armèd tread,
And fast through the hall it fell;
But the throng was less; and ere I saw,
By the voice without I could tell
That Robert Stuart had come with them
Who knew that chamber well.
And over the space the Græme strode dark
With his mantle round him flung;
And in his eye was a flaming light
But not a word on his tongue.
And Stuart held a torch to the floor,
And he found the thing he sought;
And they slashed the plank away with their swords;
And O God! I fainted not!
And the traitor held his torch in the gap,
All smoking and smouldering;
And through the vapour and fire, beneath
In the dark crypt's narrow ring,
With a shout that pealed to the room's high roof
They saw their naked King.
Half naked he stood, but stood as one
Who yet could do and dare:
With the crown, the King was stript away,—
The Knight was 'reft of his battle-array,—
But still the Man was there.
From the rout then stepped a villain forth,—
Sir John Hall was his name;
With a knife unsheathed he leapt to the vault
Beneath the torchlight-flame.
Of his person and stature was the King
A man right manly strong,
And mightily by the shoulder-blades
His foe to his feet he flung.
Then the traitor's brother, Sir Thomas Hall,
Sprang down to work his worst;
And the King caught the second man by the neck
And flung him above the first.
And he smote and trampled them under him;
And a long month thence they bare
All black their throats with the grip of his hands
When the hangman's hand came there.
And sore he strove to have had their knives,
But the sharp blades gashed his hands.
Oh James! so armed, thou hadst battled there
Till help had come of thy bands;
And oh! once more thou hadst held our throne
And ruled thy Scotish lands!
But while the King o'er his foes still raged
With a heart that nought could tame,
Another man sprang down to the crypt;
And with his sword in his hand hard-gripp'd,
There stood Sir Robert Græme.
(Now shame on the recreant traitor's heart
Who durst not face his King
Till the body unarmed was wearied out
With two-fold combating!
Ah! well might the people sing and say,
As oft ye have heard aright:—
“O Robert Græme, O Robert Græme,
Who slew our King, God give thee shame!”
For he slew him not as a knight.)
And the naked King turned round at bay,
But his strength had passed the goal,
And he could but gasp:—“Mine hour is come;
But oh! to succour thine own soul's doom,
Let a priest now shrive my soul!”
And the traitor looked on the King's spent strength,
And said:—“Have I kept my word?—
Yea, King, the mortal pledge that I gave?
No black friar's shrift thy soul shall have,
But the shrift of this red sword!”
With that he smote his King through the breast;
And all they three in that pen
Fell on him and stabbed and stabbed him there
Like merciless murderous men.
Yet seemed it now that Sir Robert Græme,
Ere the King's last breath was o'er,
Turned sick at heart with the deadly sight
And would have done no more.
But a cry came from the troop above:—
“If him thou do not slay,
The price of his life that thou dost spare
Thy forfeit life shall pay!”
O God! what more did I hear or see,
Or how should I tell the rest?
But there at length our King lay slain
With sixteen wounds in his breast.
O God! and now did a bell boom forth,
And the murderers turned and fled;—
Too late, too late, O God, did it sound!—
And I heard the true men mustering round,
And the cries and the coming tread.
But ere they came, to the black death-gap
Somewise did I creep and steal;
And lo! or ever I swooned away,
Through the dusk I saw where the white face lay
In the Pit of Fortune's Wheel.
And now, ye Scotish maids who have heard
Dread things of the days grown old,—
Even at the last, of true Queen Jane
May somewhat yet be told,
And how she dealt for her dear lord's sake
Dire vengeance manifold.
'Twas in the Charterhouse of Perth,
In the fair-lit Death-chapelle,
That the slain King's corpse on bier was laid
With chaunt and requiem-knell.
And all with royal wealth of balm
Was the body purified;
And none could trace on the brow and lips
The death that he had died.
In his robes of state he lay asleep
With orb and sceptre in hand;
And by the crown he wore on his throne
Was his kingly forehead spann'd.
And, girls, 'twas a sweet sad thing to see
How the curling golden hair,
As in the day of the poet's youth,
From the King's crown clustered there.
And if all had come to pass in the brain
That throbbed beneath those curls,
Then Scots had said in the days to come
That this their soil was a different home
And a different Scotland, girls!
And the Queen sat by him night and day,
And oft she knelt in prayer,
All wan and pale in the widow's veil
That shrouded her shining hair.
And I had got good help of my hurt:
And only to me some sign
She made; and save the priests that were there,
No face would she see but mine.
And the month of March wore on apace;
And now fresh couriers fared
Still from the country of the Wild Scots
With news of the traitors snared.
And still as I told her day by day,
Her pallor changed to sight,
And the frost grew to a furnace-flame
That burnt her visage white.
And evermore as I brought her word,
She bent to her dead King James,
And in the cold ear with fire-drawn breath
She spoke the traitors' names.
But when the name of Sir Robert Græme
Was the one she had to give,
I ran to hold her up from the floor;
For the froth was on her lips, and sore
I feared that she could not live.
And the month of March wore nigh to its end,
And still was the death-pall spread;
For she would not bury her slaughtered lord
Till his slayers all were dead.
And now of their dooms dread tidings came,
And of torments fierce and dire;
And nought she spake,—she had ceased to speak,—
But her eyes were a soul on fire.
But when I told her the bitter end
Of the stern and just award,
She leaned o'er the bier, and thrice three times
She kissed the lips of her lord.
And then she said,—“My King, they are dead!”
And she knelt on the chapel-floor,
And whispered low with a strange proud smile,—
“James, James, they suffered more!”
Last she stood up to her queenly height,
But she shook like an autumn leaf,
As though the fire wherein she burned
Then left her body, and all were turned
To winter of life-long grief.
And “O James!” she said,—“My James!” she said,—
“Alas for the woful thing,
That a poet true and a friend of man,
In desperate days of bale and ban,
Should needs be born a King!”

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For The Good Times

Dont look so sad, I know its over
But life goes on and this old world will keep on turning
Lets just be glad we had some time to spend together
Theres no need to watch the bridges that were burning
Chorus:
Lay your head upon my pillow
Hold your warm and tender body close to mine
Hear the whisper of the rain drops
Blowing soft against the window
And make believe you love me one more time
For the good times
Ill get along and youll find another
And Ill be here if you should find you ever need
Dont say a word about tomorrow or forever
Theyll be time enough for sadness when you leave me
Repeat chorus
For the good times
For the good times

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For The Good Times

Words and music by kris kristofferson
Dont look so sad;
I know its over;
But life goes on and this old world will keep on turning.
Lets just be glad we had some time to spend together
Theres no need to watch the bridges that were bur.....ning.
Chorus:
Lay your head upon my pillow,
Hold your warm and tender body close to mine.
Hear the whisper of the raindrops
Blowing soft against the window
And make believe you love me one more time
For the good times.
Ill get along; youll find another;
And Ill be here if you should find you ever need me.
Dont say a word about tomorrow or forever.
Therell be time enough for sadness when you leave me.
Chorus:
Lay your head ...

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The Truth About The Good News

I AM thinking

i agree with what the wind is telling
that from afar
some good news are waiting

and i bloat myself with hope
feeling like cotton
soft and useful

the wind left

and i waited for days for the coming of good news
like a cure for instance
for loneliness

or a miracle for the healing of a friend
who is dying
beside me

hands clasped towards heaven
for the skies to listen

I am thinking that the wind may have simply pitied our situation
and lied

and will not come back and stop
for we will always
remind about him about the good news

I am thinking

there are times when out of pity the ones that come here
say words
that they do not mean

and then
i sit again holding the hands of the dying friend
giving him
the good news from the warmth of my hand

it does not speak of healing
i does not want to remember anything

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For The Good Times

(words & music by kris kristofferson)
Dont look so sad, I know its over
But life goes on and this old world will keep on turning
Lets just be glad we had some time to spend together
Theres no need o watch the bridges that were burning
Lay your head upon my pillow
Hold your warm and tender body close to mine
Hear the whisper of the raindrops fallin soft against the window
And make believe you love me one more time
For the good times
Ill get along, youll find another
And Ill be here if you should find you ever need me
Dont say a word about tomorrow or forever
Therell be time enough for sadness when you leave me
Lay your head upon my pillow
Hold your warm and tender body close to mine
Hear the whisper of the raindrops fallin soft against the window
And make believe you love me one more time
For the good times
For the good times

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For The Good Times

(Kris Kristofferson)
Don't look so sad;
I know it's over;
But life goes on and this old world will keep on turning.
Let's just be glad we had some time to spend together
There's no need to watch the bridges that we're bur.....ning.
Lay your head upon my pillow,
Hold your warm and tender body close to mine.
Hear the whisper of the raindrops
blowing soft against the window
And make believe you love me one more time
For the good times.
I'll get along; you'll find another;
And I'll be here if you should find you ever need me.
Don't say a word about tomorrow or forever.
There'll be time enough for sadness when you leave me.
Lay your head upon my pillow,
Hold your warm and tender body close to mine.
Hear the whisper of the raindrops
blowing soft against the window
And make believe you love me one more time
For the good times.
Andr Velloso - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
alv@domain.com.br

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Happy To Ignore Those Who Do Not Have A Clue

Some years ago,
I was told by someone...
Lacking 'self' consciousness,
That my adding an 'S' to my name...
Did nothing for my own identity!
As if 'they' had annointed me with awareness.
And they had a backyard that was weed free!

Not only did I have 'identity'...
I knew every aspect of 'who' I was.
Still do!
And 'who' I was meant on Earth to be.
Unconfused and clear...
I did not express my best by seeking approval.
If it came...
That was fine.
But I was also fine without it!

I seek life to live it.
Not to become confined in restrictions and limits.

Why is it that some people believe,
They can live someone's life...
Better than the one,
Who has proven they have no problem...
Doing that on their own?
And happy to ignore those,
Who do not have a clue...
What it is they should do while in the midst,
Of pretending every movement they do fits.
And excusing their own embarrassments.

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In The Good Old Days (When Times Where Bad)

Wed get up before sun-up to get the work done up
Wed work in the fields till the sun had gone down
Weve stood and weve cried as we have bristly watched
A hailstorm a beatin our crops to the ground
Weve gone to bed hungry many nights in the past
In the good old days when times were bad
Chorus:
No amount of money could buy from me
The memories that I have of then
No amount of money could pay me
To go back and live through it again
Ive seen daddys hands break open and bleed
And Ive seen him work till hes stiff as a board
An Ive seen momma layin in suffer and sickness
In need of a doctor we couldnt afford
Anything at all was more than we had
In the good old days when times were bad
Weve got up before and found ice on the floor
Where the wind would blow snow through the cracks in the wall
And I couldnt enjoy then, havin a boyfriend
I had nothing decent to wear at all
So I long for a love that I never had
In the good old days when times were bad
Repeat chorus
Tag:
In the good old days when times were bad
In the good old days when times were bad

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In The Good Old Days

We'd get up before sun-up to get the work done up
We'd work in the fields till the sun had gone down
We've stood and we've cried as we have bristly watched
A hailstorm a' beatin' our crops to the ground
We've gone to bed hungry many nights in the past
In the good old days when times were bad
Chorus:
No amount of money could buy from me
The memories that i have of then
No amount of money could pay me
To go back and live through it again
I've seen daddy's hands break open and bleed
And i've seen him work till he's stiff as a board
An' i've seen momma layin' in suffer and sickness
In need of a doctor we couldn't afford
Anything at all was more than we had
In the good old days when times were bad
We've got up before and found ice on the floor
Where the wind would blow snow through the cracks in the wall
And i couldn't enjoy then, havin' a boyfriend
I had nothing decent to wear at all
So i long for a love that i never had
In the good old days when times were bad
Repeat chorus
Tag:
In the good old days when times were bad
In the good old days when times were bad

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The Widow Gordon's Petition

To the Right Hon. the Lady Carteret.

Weary'd with long Attendance on the Court,
You, Madam, are the Wretch's last Resort.
Eternal King! if here in vain I cry,
Where shall the Fatherless and Widow fly?

How blest are they, who sleep among the Dead,
Nor hear their Childrens piercing Cries for Bread!

When your lov'd Off--spring gives your Soul Delight,
Reflect how mine are irksome to my Sight:
O think, how must a wretched Mother grieve,
Who hears the Want she never can relieve!

An Evil preys upon my helpless Son,
(How many Ways the Wretched are undone!)
Cruel Distemper! to assault his Sight,
And rob him of his only Joy, the Light!
His Anguish makes my weary'd Eyes o'erflow,
And loads me with unutterable Woe.

No friendly Voice my lonely Mansion cheers;
All fly th' Infection of the Widow's Tears:
Ev'n those, whose Pity eas'd my Wants with Bread,
Are now, O sad Reverse! my greatest Dread.
My mournful Story will no more prevail,
And ev'ry Hour I dread a dismal Jail:
I start at each imaginary Sound,
And Horrors have encompass'd me around.

Tremble, ye Daughters, who at Ease recline,
Lest you should know a Misery like mine.
Ye now, unmov'd, can hear the Wretched moan;
And feel no Wants, yourselves oppress'd by none;
Fly from the Sight of Woes ye will not share,
And leave the helpless Orphan to despair.
But know, that dreadful Hour is drawing near,
When you'll be treated, as you've acted here:
To you no more the Wretched shall complain;
'Twill be your Turn to weep, and sue in vain.

Not so the Fair, with godlike Mercy blest,
Who feels another's Anguish in her Breast;
Who never hears the Wretched sigh in vain,
Herself distress'd till she relieves their Pain.

This Fame reports, fair Carteret, of you;
This blest Report encourag'd me to sue.
O Angel--Goodness, hear, and ease my Moan,
Nor let your Mercy fail in me alone!
So at the last Tribunal will I stand,
With my poor Orphans, plac'd on either Hand;
There, with my Cries, my Saviour I'll assail;
(For at His Bar the Widow's Tears prevail)
That she, who made the Fatherless her Care,
The Fulness of celestial Joys may share;
That she a Crown of Glory may receive,
Who snatch'd me from Destruction, and the Grave.

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The Good Girl

She hides the darkness in vague poise
Black silk dreams next to her hymnal
Look in the mirror what do you see?
All the illusions that pain will waste

Lonely years of being the proper you
Acting from lines well rehearsed
Molded and formed into righteousness
She aches for the touch of a sinner

The full moon rises like a lioness
Wolves howl in sweet wildness
Myths dance with ancient vampires
Children of the night sing in revelry

She writes poetry like a dictionary
No soul, no fall, no dark shadows
Her flowers are hollow and plastic
She kisses a man she doesn't know

The Good Girl cries in the moonlight

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Please Do Not Tell Me You Love Me

Please do not tell me you love me
Or worst should you shed tears for me
The lying tongue of love pricks hard like a thorn
Clearing away it bushy path
To the deadly place near the grave of cupid.
Long gone are the shattered railways
Were love used to walk hand in hand between us.

Please do not tell me you love me
What is more painful than the sorest heart?
Or the painful torture of love
Pitiful indeed, the unimaginable emotions
Up and down it grow old, fades and dry

Please do not tell me you love me
Fast unfold the episodes of love
The long lasting scenes and act
Which was played and acted by mum and dad
Should I draw and hold the mighty devil called kiss
With his dreaded accomplice love
Who once my companion left me horribly.

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Carl Sandburg

Among the Red Guns

Among the red guns,
In the hearts of soldiers
Running free blood
In the long, long campaign:
Dreams go on.

Among the leather saddles,
In the heads of soldiers
Heavy in the wracks and kills
Of all straight fighting:
Dreams go on.

Among the hot muzzles,
In the hands of soldiers
Brought from flesh-folds of women--
Soft amid the blood and crying--
In all your hearts and heads
Among the guns and saddles and muzzles:

Dreams,
Dreams go on,
Out of the dead on their backs,
Broken and no use any more:
Dreams of the way and the end go on.

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The Good That I Would I Do Not

I would, but cannot sing,
Guilt has untuned my voice;
The serpent sin's envenomed sting
Has poisoned all my joys.

I know the Lord is nigh,
And would, but cannot, pray;
For Satan meets me when I try,
And frights my soul away.

I would but can't repent
Though I endeavor oft;
This stony heart can ne'er relent
Till Jesus make it soft.

I would but cannot love,
Though wooed by love divine;
No arguments have pow'r to move
A soul so base as mine.

I would, but cannot rest
In God's most holy will;
I know what he appoints is best,
Yet murmur at it still!

Oh could I but believe!
Then all would easy be;
I would, but cannot, Lord relieve,
My help must come from thee!

But if indeed I would,
Though I can nothing do,
Yet the desire is something good,
For which my praise is due.

By nature prone to ill,
Till thine appointed hour
I was as destitute of will,
As now I am of pow'r.

Wilt thou not crown, at length,
The work thou hast begun?
And with a will, afford me strength
In all thy ways to run.

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The Good Memories Of What Was

I was not any use at Gaelic Football or Soccer though I played in Millstreet Townpark in the rain
And I played Soccer in Neily Duggan's Inch Field but these things I will never do again
With my young friends for us it was enjoyment but few things in life stay the same
The fire of youth in us was burning but it now is a flickering flame
We never thought about growing older the gift of youth is a great thing
Though of the past we have our memories and till death to them we will cling
The thought that we age with the Seasons does seldom enter the young mind
But the years leave us frailer and older eternal youth not for air breathing kind
But for as long as we have the gift of memory of our prime years good memories we retain
And often in our flights of fancy the past we do visit again
I still recall the joy and laughter as we chased the football up and down
On Summer evenings often wet and windy in the Townpark of old Millstreet Town
The years leave us all looking older and the clock on our lives ticking on
But the good memories of what was bring us comfort of the past to the forever gone.

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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

By The Fireside : King Witlaf's Drinking-horn

Witlaf, a king of the Saxons,
Ere yet his last he breathed,
To the merry monks of Croyland
His drinking-horn bequeathed,--

That, whenever they sat at their revels,
And drank from the golden bowl,
They might remember the donor,
And breathe a prayer for his soul.

So sat they once at Christmas,
And bade the goblet pass;
In their beards the red wine glistened
Like dew-drops in the grass.

They drank to the soul of Witlaf,
They drank to Christ the Lord,
And to each of the Twelve Apostles,
Who had preached his holy word.

They drank to the Saints and Martyrs
Of the dismal days of yore,
And as soon as the horn was empty
They remembered one Saint more.

And the reader droned from the pulpit
Like the murmur of many bees,
The legend of good Saint Guthlac,
And Saint Basil's homilies;

Till the great bells of the convent,
From their prison in the tower,
Guthlac and Bartholomaeus,
Proclaimed the midnight hour.

And the Yule-log cracked in the chimney,
And the Abbot bowed his head,
And the flamelets flapped and flickered,
But the Abbot was stark and dead.

Yet still in his pallid fingers
He clutched the golden bowl,
In which, like a pearl dissolving,
Had sunk and dissolved his soul.

But not for this their revels
The jovial monks forbore,
For they cried, 'Fill high the goblet!
We must drink to one Saint more!'

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A Spider and A Fly

One day a spider said to a fly
'Though you pass this way daily

My hut has never been honored by you
By making a chance visit inside by you

Though depriving strangers of a visit does not matter
Evading the near and dear ones does not look good

My house will be honored by a visit by you
A ladder is before you if you decide to step in

Hearing this the fly said to the spider,
'Sire, you should entice some simpleton thus

This fly would never be pulled into your net
Whoever climbed your net could never step down'

The spider said, 'How strange, you consider me a cheat
I have never seen a simpleton like you in the world

I only wanted to entertain you
I had no personal gain in view

You have come flying from some unknown distant place
Resting for a while in my house would not harm you

Many things in this house are worth your seeing
Though apparently a humble hut you are seeing

Dainty drapes are hanging from the doors
And I have decorated the walls with mirrors

Beddings are available for guests' comforts
Not to everyone's lot do fall these comforts'.

The fly said, 'All this may very well be
But do not expect me to enter your house

'May God protect me from these soft beds
Once asleep in them getting up again is impossible'


The spider spoke to itself on hearing this talk
'How to trap it? This wretched fellow is clever

Many desires are fulfilled with flattery in the world
All in the world are enslaved with flattery'

Thinking this the spider spoke to the fly thus!
'Madam, God has bestowed great honors on you!

Everyone loves your beautiful face
Even if someone sees you for the first time

Your eyes look like clusters of glittering diamonds
God has adorned your beautiful head with a plume

This beauty, this dress, this elegance, this neatness!
And all this is very much enhanced by singing in flight'.

The fly was touched by this flattery
And spoke, 'I do not fear you any more

I hate the habit of declining requests
Disappointing somebody is bad indeed'

Saying this it flew from its place
When it got close the spider snapped it

The spider had been starving for many days
The fly provided a good leisurely meal

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Charles Kingsley

The Red King

The King was drinking in Malwood Hall,
There came in a monk before them all:
He thrust by squire, he thrust by knight,
Stood over against the dais aright;
And, 'The word of the Lord, thou cruel Red King,
The word of the Lord to thee I bring.
A grimly sweven I dreamt yestreen;
I saw thee lie under the hollins green,
And through thine heart an arrow keen;
And out of thy body a smoke did rise,
Which smirched the sunshine out of the skies:
So if thou God's anointed be
I rede thee unto thy soul thou see.
For mitre and pall thou hast y-sold,
False knight to Christ, for gain and gold;
And for this thy forest were digged down all,
Steading and hamlet and churches tall;
And Christes poor were ousten forth,
To beg their bread from south to north.
So tarry at home, and fast and pray,
Lest fiends hunt thee in the judgment-day.'

The monk he vanished where he stood;
King William sterte up wroth and wood;
Quod he, 'Fools' wits will jump together;
The Hampshire ale and the thunder weather
Have turned the brains for us both, I think;
And monks are curst when they fall to drink.
A lothly sweven I dreamt last night,
How there hoved anigh me a griesly knight,
Did smite me down to the pit of hell;
I shrieked and woke, so fast I fell.
There's Tyrrel as sour as I, perdie,
So he of you all shall hunt with me;
A grimly brace for a hart to see.'

The Red King down from Malwood came;
His heart with wine was all aflame,
His eyne were shotten, red as blood,
He rated and swore, wherever he rode.
They roused a hart, that grimly brace,
A hart of ten, a hart of grease,
Fled over against the kinges place.
The sun it blinded the kinges ee,
A fathom behind his hocks shot he:
'Shoot thou,' quod he, 'in the fiendes name,
To lose such a quarry were seven years' shame.'
And he hove up his hand to mark the game.
Tyrrel he shot full light, God wot;
For whether the saints they swerved the shot,
'Or whether by treason, men knowen not,
But under the arm, in a secret part,
The iron fled through the kinges heart.
The turf it squelched where the Red King fell;
And the fiends they carried his soul to hell,
Quod 'His master's name it hath sped him well.'

Tyrrel he smiled full grim that day,
Quod 'Shooting of kings is no bairns' play;'
And he smote in the spurs, and fled fast away.
As he pricked along by Fritham plain,
The green tufts flew behind like rain;
The waters were out, and over the sward:
He swam his horse like a stalwart lord:
Men clepen that water Tyrrel's ford.
By Rhinefield and by Osmondsleigh,
Through glade and furze brake fast drove he,
Until he heard the roaring sea;
Quod he, 'Those gay waves they call me.'
By Mary's grace a seely boat
On Christchurch bar did lie afloat;
He gave the shipmen mark and groat,
To ferry him over to Normandie,
And there he fell to sanctuarie;
God send his soul all bliss to see.

And fend our princes every one,
From foul mishap and trahison;
But kings that harrow Christian men
Shall England never bide again.


In the New Forest, 1847.

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Rum And Water

Stifling was the air, and heavy; blowflies buzzed and held a levee,
And the mid-day sun shone hot upon the plains of Bungaroo,
As Tobias Mathew Carey, a devout bush missionary,
Urged his broken-winded horse towards the township of Warhoo.
He was visiting the stations and delivering orations
About everlasting torture and the land of Kingdom Come,
And astounding all his hearers, both the rouseabouts and shearers,
When descanting on the horrors that result from drinking rum.

As Tobias Mathew Carey, lost in visions bright and airy,
Tried to goad his lean Pegasus to a canter from a jog,
All his visions were sent flying as his horse abruptly shying
At a newly wakened-something that was camped beside a log.
It was bearded, bronzed and hairy, and Tobias Mathew Carey
Had a very shrewd suspicion as the object he espied,
And observed its bleary winking, that the object had been drinking,
A suspicion which was strengthened by a bottle at its side.

It was Jacob William Wheeler, better known as "Jake the Spieler,"
Just returning from a sojourn in the township of Warhoo,
Where, by fast-repeated stages, he had swamped his cheque for wages,
And for language made a record for the plains of Bungaroo.
Then the earnest missionary, Mr. Toby Mathew Carey,
Like a busy bee desiring to improve each shining hour,
Gave his horse a spell much needed, and immediately proceeded
To pour down on Jake the Spieler, an admonitory shower.

He commenced his exhortation with a striking illustration
Of the physical and moral degradation that must come
To the unrepentant sinner who takes whisky with his dinner,
And converts his stomach into a receptacle for rum.
"Give attention to my query," said the ardent missionary:
"Do you not perceive that Satan is this moment calling you?
He is shouting! He is calling in a voice that is appalling:
Do you hear him? And the Spieler answered sadly - "Yes! I do."

"I can prove it is impious" said the eloquent Tobias,
"To drink stuff containing alcohol, and liquors that are strong,
And I'll prove to demonstration that your guzzling inclination
Is quite morally, and socially, and physically wrong.
When about to drain a bottle, or pour whisky down your throttle,
You should think about the thousands who have perished for its sake.
Gone! To the Davey Jones's locker, through the wine that is a mocker,
And which biteth like a serpent's tooth and stingeth like a snake."

Toby paused, and Jake replying said, "It ain't no use denying
That your logic is convincing, and your arguments are sound.
I have heard with admiration your remarks and peroration,
And your knowledge of the subject seems extensive and profound.
Yet, in spite of all your spouting, there is just one thing I'm doubting,
But I'm open to conviction, so convince me if you can.
As the iron's hot now strike it, just convince me I don't like it,
And I'll chuck the grog, and sign the pledge, and keep it like a man."

Then Tobias Mathew Carey eyed the Spieler bronzed and hairy,
But his tongue no word could utter, and the silence was intense,
As the Spieler, slowly rising, in a style quite patronising
Blandly smiled upon Tobias, and continued his defence.
"In your arguments I noticed that the scriptures you misquoted,
But you know, Old Nick proved long ago that two could play at that.
Which has caused the greatest slaughter? Was it rum or was it water?
If you say it was the former then I'll contradict it flat.

"When Old Noah in the deluge, in the Ark was taking refuge,
All the other people in the world by water met their fate.
And King Pharaoh's countless army! - Did they drink and all go balmy?
No! You'll find they died by water if you'll just investigate.
All the records of the ages, mentioned in the sacred pages,
Only tell of one example, and the fact you know well,
Where a cove a drink was craving and for water started raving,
And that beggar was located - where he ought to be - in Hell!"

Jake then dropped the tone effusive, and began to be abusive,
Swore he'd "pick the missionary up and dropp him in the dirt,"
Vowed he'd "twist his blooming nose up, make him turn his blinded toes up,
Sing him for a dusty fiver, or else fight him for his shirt."
And the air was hot and heavy, and the blowflies held their levee,
And the evening sun shone red upon the plains of Bungaroo:
As Tobias Mathew Carey, a disgusted missionary,
Spurred his broken-winded steed towards the township of Warhoo.

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