The Splendid Shilling

-- -- Sing, Heavenly Muse,
Things unattempted yet in Prose or Rhime,
A Shilling, Breeches, and Chimera's Dire.

    Happy the Man, who void of Cares and Strife,
    In Silken, or in Leathern Purse retains
    A Splendid Shilling: He nor hears with Pain
    New Oysters cry'd, nor sighs for chearful Ale;
    But with his Friends, when nightly Mists arise,
    To Juniper's, Magpye, or Town-Hall repairs:
    Where, mindful of the Nymph, whose wanton Eye
    Transfix'd his Soul, and kindled Amorous Flames,
    Chloe, or Phillis; he each Circling Glass
  Wisheth her Health, and Joy, and equal Love.
  Mean while he smoaks, and laughs at merry Tale,
  Or Pun ambiguous, or Conundrum quaint.
  But I, whom griping Penury surrounds,
  And Hunger, sure Attendant upon Want,
  With scanty Offals, and small acid Tiff
  (Wretched Repast!) my meagre Corps sustain:
  Then Solitary walk, or doze at home
  In Garret vile, and with a warming puff
  Regale chill'd Fingers; or from Tube as black
  As Winter-Chimney, or well-polish'd Jet,
  Exhale Mundungus, ill-perfuming Scent:
  Not blacker Tube, nor of a shorter Size
  Smoaks Cambro-Britain (vers'd in Pedigree,
  Sprung from Cadwalader and Arthur, Kings
  Full famous in Romantic tale) when he
  O'er many a craggy Hill, and barren Cliff,
  Upon a Cargo of fam'd Cestrian Cheese,
  High over-shadowing rides, with a design
  To vend his Wares, or at th' Arvonian Mart,
  Or Maridunum, or the ancient Town
  Eclip'd Brechinia, or where Vaga's Stream
  Encircles Ariconium, fruitful Soil,
  Whence flow Nectareous Wines, that well may vye
  With Massic, Setin, or renown'd Falern.

  Thus while my joyless Minutes tedious flow
  With Looks demure, and silent Pace, a Dunn,
  Horrible Monster! hated by Gods and Men,
  To my aerial Citadel ascends;
  With Vocal Heel thrice thund'ring at my Gates,
  With hideous Accent thrice he calls; I know
  The Voice ill-boding, and the solemn Sound.
  What shou'd I do? or whither turn? amaz'd,
  Confounded, to the dark Recess I fly
  Of Woodhole; strait my bristling Hairs erect
  Thrô sudden Fear; a chilly Sweat bedews
  My shud'ring Limbs, and (wonderful to tell!)
  My Tongue forgets her Faculty of Speech;
  So horrible he seems! his faded Brow
  Entrench'd with many a Frown, and Conic Beard,
  And spreading Band, admir'd by Modern Saints,
  Disastrous Acts forebode; in his Right Hand
  Long Scrolls of Paper solemnly he waves,
  With Characters, and Figures dire inscrib'd
  Grievous to mortal Eyes; (ye Gods avert
  Such Plagues from righteous Men!) behind him stalks
  Another Monster, not unlike himself,
  Sullen of Aspect, by the Vulgar call'd
  A Catchpole, whose polluted Hands the Gods
  With Force incredible, and Magick Charms
  Erst have indu'd, if he his ample Palm
  Should haply on ill-fated Shoulder lay
  Of Debtor, strait his Body, to the Touch
  Obsequious, (as whilom Knights were wont)
  To some enchanted Castle is convey'd,
  Where Gates impregnable, and coercive Chains
  In Durance strict detain him, 'till in form
  Of Mony, Pallas sets the Captive free.

  Beware, ye Debtors, when ye walk beware,
  Be circumspect; oft with insidious Ken
  This Caitif eyes your Steps aloof, and oft
  Lies perdue in a Nook or gloomy Cave,
  Prompt to enchant some inadvertent wretch
  With his unhallow'd Touch. So (Poets sing)
  Grimalkin to Domestick Vermin sworn
  An everlasting Foe, with watchful Eye,
  Lyes nightly brooding o'er a chinky gap,
  Protending her fell Claws, to thoughtless Mice
  Sure Ruin. So her disembowell'd Web
  Arachne in a Hall, or Kitchin spreads,
  Obvious to vagrant Flies: She secret stands
  Within her woven Cell; the Humming Prey,
  Regardless of their Fate, rush on the toils
  Inextricable, nor will aught avail
  Their Arts, nor Arms, nor Shapes of lovely Hue;
  The Wasp insidious, and the buzzing Drone,
  And Butterfly proud of expanded wings
  Distinct with Gold, entangled in her Snares,
  Useless Resistance make: With eager strides,
  She tow'ring flies to her expected Spoils;
  Then with envenom'd Jaws the vital Blood
  Drinks of reluctant Foes, and to her Cave
  Their bulky Carcasses triumphant drags.

  So pass my Days. But when Nocturnal Shades
  This World invelop, and th' inclement Air
  Persuades Men to repel benumming Frosts,
  With pleasant Wines, and crackling blaze of Wood;
  Me Lonely sitting, nor the glimmeri
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Submitted on May 13, 2011

Modified on April 02, 2023

3:35 min read

Quick analysis:

Closest metre Iambic pentameter
Characters 4,377
Words 689
Stanzas 5
Stanza Lengths 3, 34, 33, 25, 5

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