Friday, October 06, 2006

A Little Poetry For You (Robert Southey)

My very very late entry to the Poetry Friday fun is one I promised a few weeks ago, the rather grisly Southey poem, "God's Judgment on a Wicked Bishop."

The summer and autumn had been so wet,
That in winter the corn was growing yet,
'Twas a piteous sight to see all around
The grain lie rotting on the ground.

Every day the starving poor
Crowded around Bishop Hatto's door,
For he had a plentiful last-year's store,
And all the neighbourhood could tell
His granaries were furnish'd well.

At last Bishop Hatto appointed a day
To quiet the poor without delay;
He bade them to his great Barn repair,
And they should have food for the winter there.

Rejoiced such tidings good to hear,
The poor folk flock'd from far and near;
The great barn was full as it could hold
Of women and children, and young and old.

Then when he saw it could hold no more,
Bishop Hatto he made fast the door;
And while for mercy on Christ they call,
He set fire to the Barn and burnt them all.

"I'faith 'tis an excellent bonfire!" quoth he,
"And the country is greatly obliged to me,
For ridding it in these times forlorn
Of Rats that only consume the corn."

Go here for the rest of the poem -- it's worth it, if only for the last 4 lines.


featherbee said...

I went to finish reading it, and all I can say is "whoa!" It's not often my eyebrows climb up to my hairline while I'm reading a poem!

Lady S said...


I thought at first the "woman and children, young and old" really were rats.


Tockla said...

Wow, what a poem. I read it all out loud (I'm thinking this can help me connect more to poems), and couldn't believe how gruesome this got! Powerful stuff, and indeed, the last four lines (sharpened teeth and all) pack quite a whallop!