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" Pale spectres send music from dark vaults above,
Withered legs, 'stead of drum-sticks, they brandish on high; Grinning ghosts, sheeted spirits, skipping skeletons, move,
While hoarse whispers and rattling of bones shake the sky. “ With their pliable joints the Scotch steps they do well,
Nancy's hand with their cold clammy fingers they squeeze ; Now sudden, appalled, the maid hears a death-bell,
And straight dark and dismal the supper she sees ! “ A tomb was the table : now each took his seat,
Every sprite next his partner so pale and so wan. Soon as ceased was the rattling of skeleton feet,
The clattering of jaw-bones directly began. « Of dead aldermen's fat the mould candles were made,
Stuck in sockets of bone they gleamed dimly and blue ; Their dishes were scutcheons, and corses decayed
Were the viands that glutted this ravenous crew! Through the nostrils of skulls their blood-liquor they pour, The black draught in the heads of young infants they quaff. The vice-president rose, with his jaws dripping gore,
And addressed the pale damsel with horrible laugh. " Feast, Queen of the Ghosts ! the repast do not scorn;
Feast, Queen of the Ghosts ! I perceive thou hast food ; To-morrow again shall we feast, for at noon
Shall we feast on thy flesh, shall we drink of thy blood.'
" Then cold as a cucumber Nancy she grew;
Her proud stomach came down, and she blared, and she cried, *Oh tell me, dear Grim, does that spectre speak true,
And will you not save from his clutches your bride ?'
“Vain your grief, silly maid ; when the matin-bells ring,
The bond becomes due which long since did I sign; For she who at night weds the grizzly Ghost King
Next morn must be dressed for his subjects to dine.'—
-" ' In silks and in satins for you I'll be dressed ;
My soft tender limbs let their fangs never crunch.'". • Fair Nancy, yon ghosts, should I grant your request,
Instead of al dinner would eat you at lunch!'
" " But vain, ghostly King, is your cunning and guile;
That bond must be void which you never can pay ; Lo! I ne'er will be yours, till, to purchase my smile,
My two first commands (as you swore) you obey.'
66 Well say'st thou, fair Nancy; thy wishes impart;
But think not to puzzle Grim, King of the Ghosts.' “Straight she turns o'er each difficult task in her heart,
And I've found out a poser,' exultingly boasts. 6 'You vowed that no butcher should call me his bride.
That this vow you fulfil my first asking shall be ; And, since so many maids in your clutches have died,
Than yourself show a bloodier butcher,'-said she. “ Then shrill scream the spectres ; the charnel-house gloom
Swift lightnings disperse, and the palace destroy; Again Nancy stood in the little back-room,
And again at her knee knelt the young butcher's boy! " "I'll have done with dead husbands,' she Brisket bespeaks ;
' I'll now take a live one, so fetch me a ring ! And when pressed to her lips were his red beefin cheeks,
She loved him much more than the shrivelled Ghost King. "No longer his steaks and his cutlets she spurns,
No longer he fears his grim rival's pale band ; Yet still when the famed first of April returns,
The sprites rise in squadrons, and Nancy demand. “ This informs you, Tom Tap, why to-night I remove,
For I dread the approach of the shroud-covered hosts, Who tell, with loud shriek, that resentment and love
Still nip the cold heart of Grim, King of the Ghosts !"
[Born in Bristol, the son of a linen-draper, 4 October 1774 ; died, 21 March 1843. In the opening years of the French Revolution, Southey was a freethinker in both politics and religion ; but this phase of feeling soon passed, and he became as doggedly conservative in his own person as he was pertinaciously virulent against thinkers of a different school. To name Byron and Shelley is, at the present day, to reduce Southey almost to a condition of ignominy. This is a fitting retribution. Nevertheless the literary enquirer will discover Southey to have been a man of marked ability, with much ambition and variety of aim as a poet, and some vocation too, if aptitude could be regarded as faculty in poetic matters : and, along with these merits as a man of letters, the uniform testimony of those who knew him establishes Southey's sterling personal qualis ties. He settled at Greta, near Keswick, Cumberland, towards 1804; and suce ceeded Pye as Poet Laureate in 1813..
TO A GOOSE.
Or love-sick poet's sonnet, sad and sweet,
THE POET RELATES HOW HE STOLE A LOCK OF DELIA'S
HAIR, AND HER ANGER.
Oh! be the day accurst that gave me birth !
Ye seas, to swallow me, in kindness rise !
Open, and hide me from my Delia's eyes !
Now let the central fires their prison burst,
For Delia frowns-she frowns, and I am curst !
Where hostile millions sought my single life ;
And grapple with grim death in glorious strife.
When ceaseless lightnings fire the midnight skies ;
What is his lightning to my Delia's eyes ?'
Ye serpent curls, ye poison-tendrils, go!
Accursed lock,—thou cause of all my woe !
Demons of darkness, guard the infernal roll,
May knit the knots of torture for my soul.
The book of fate before thy suppliant lay,
Only the single page of yesterday.
And I will stop him on his restless way :
I'll force him back the road of yesterday.
Last night, as o'er the page of love's despair
My Delia bent deliciously to grieve,
And drew the fatal scissors from my sleeve ;
The shears of Atropos had opened then, And, when I reft the lock from Delia's head,
Had cut me sudden from the sons of men ! She heard the scissors that fair lock divide ;
And, whilst my heart with transport panted big, She cast a fury frown on me, and cried,
“You stupid Puppy,—you have spoiled my wig !”
EPISTLE TO ALLAN CUNNINGHAM. WELL, Heaven be thanked ! friend Allan, here I am, Once more to that dear dwelling-place returned Where I have passed the whole mid stage of life, Not idly, certes ; not unworthily,– So let me hope : where Time upon my head Hath laid his frore and monitory hand ; And when this poor frail earthly tabernacle Shall be dissolved,-it matters not how soon Or late, in God's good time,–where I would fain Be gathered to my children, earth to earth.
Needless it were to say how willingly I bade the huge metropolis farewell, Its din, and dust, and dirt, and smoke, and smut, Thames water, paviour's ground, and London sky; Weary of hurried days and restless nights, Watchmen, whose office is to murder sleep When sleep might else have weighed one's eyelids down, Rattle of carriages, and roll of carts, And tramp of iron hoofs; and worse than all (Confusion being worse confounded then With coachmen's quarrels and with footmen's shouts) My next-door neighbours, in a street not yet Macadamized, (me miserable !) at home; For then had we from midnight until morn House-quakes, street-thunders, and door-batteries. O Government! in thy wisdom and thy want, Tax knockers;—in compassion to the sick, And those whose sober habits are not yet Inverted, topsy-turvying night and day, Tax them more heavily than thou hast charged Armorial bearings and bepowdered pates.
And thou, O Michael, ever to be praised,
Donnel did not hate
1 This poet begins his second Satire thus:
"Sir, though (I thank God for it) I do hate