Sunday, July 15, 2012

Sordid Scene (Edward Robert Bulwer Lytton, a.k.a. as the Earl of Lytton, 1831-1891)

Thro' the thick vagueness of the vaprous night,
From the dark alley, with a clouded light,
Two rheumy, melancholy lampions flare.
They are the eyes of the Police.
In there,
Down the dark archway, thro' the greasy door,
Passionately pushing past the three or four
Complacent constables that cluster'd round
A costermonger*, in gutter found
Incapably, but combatively, drunk,
The woman hurried. Thro' the doorway slunk
A peaky pinch'd-up child with frighten'd face,
Important witness in some murder case
About to come before the magistrate

*Costermonger = seller of fruit on the street

Note: Is it any wonder that a contest involving purple prose is named in the good Earl's honor?

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The Chimney Sweeper (William Blake, 1757-1827)

When my mother died I was very young,
And my father sold me while yet my tongue
Could scarcely cry "'weep! 'weep! 'weep! 'weep!"
So your chimneys I sweep and in soot I sleep.

There's little Tom Dacre, who cried when his head
That curled like a lamb's back, was shaved, so I said,
"Hush, Tom! never mind it, for when your head's bare,
You know that the soot cannot spoil your white hair."

And so he was quiet, and that very night,
As Tom was a-sleeping he had such a sight!
That thousands of sweepers, Dick, Joe, Ned, and Jack,
Were all of them locked up in coffins of black;

And by came an Angel who had a bright key,
And he opened the coffins and set them all free;
Then down a green plain, leaping, laughing they run,
And wash in a river and shine in the Sun.

Then naked and white, all their bags left behind,
They rise upon clouds, and sport in the wind.
And the Angel told Tom, if he'd be a good boy,
He'd have God for his father & never want joy.

And so Tom awoke; and we rose in the dark
And got with our bags and our brushes to work.
Though the morning was cold, Tom was happy and warm;
So if all do their duty, they need not fear harm.

From Songs of Innocence, 1789

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