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The Hand of Glory, : The Nurse's Story
Richard Harris Barham 1788 (Canterbury) – 1845 (London)
Malefica quaedam auguriatrix in Anglia fuit, quam demones horribiliter extraxerunt, et imponentes super equum terribilem, per aera rapuerunt; Clamoresque terribiles (ut ferunt) per quatuor ferme miliaria audiebantur.
On the lone bleak moor,
At the midnight hour,
Beneath the Gallows Tree,
Hand in hand
The Murderers stand
By one, by two, by three!
And the Moon that night
With a grey, cold light
Each baleful object tips;
One half of her form
Is seen through the storm,
The other half 's hid in Eclipse!
And the cold Wind howls,
And the Thunder growls,
And the Lightning is broad and bright;
It 's very bad weather,
And an unpleasant sort of a night!
'Now mount who list,
And close by the wrist
Sever me quickly the Dead Man's fist!--
Now climb who dare
Where he swings in air,
And pluck me five locks of the Dead Man's hair!'
There 's an old woman dwells upon Tappington Moor,
She hath years on her back at the least fourscore,
And some people fancy a great many more;
Her nose it is hook'd,
Her back it is crook'd,
Her eyes blear and red:
On the top of her head
Is a mutch, and on that
A shocking bad hat,
Extinguisher-shaped, the brim narrow and flat!
Then,-- My Gracious!-- her beard!-- it would sadly perplex
A spectator at first to distinguish her sex;
Nor, I'll venture to say, without scrutiny could be
Pronounce her, off-handed, a Punch or a Judy.
Did you see her, in short, that mud-hovel within,
With her knees to her nose, and her nose to her chin,
Leering up with that queer, indescribable grin,
You'd lift up your hands in amazement, and cry,
'-- Well!-- I never did see such a regular Guy!'
And now before
That old Woman's door,
Where nought that 's good may be,
Hand in hand
The Murderers stand
By one, by two, by three!
Oh! 'tis a horrible sight to view,
In that horrible hovel, that horrible crew,
By the pale blue glare of that flickering flame,
Doing the deed that hath never a name!
'Tis awful to hear
Those words of fear!
The prayer mutter'd backwards, and said with a sneer!
(Matthew Hopkins himself has assured us that when
A witch says her prayers, she begins with 'Amen.') --
--' Tis awful to see
On that Old Woman's knee
The dead, shrivell'd hand, as she clasps it with glee!--
And now, with care,
The five locks of hair
From the skull of the Gentleman dangling up there,
With the grease and the fat
Of a black Tom Cat
She hastens to mix,
And to twist into wicks,
And one on the thumb, and each finger to fix.--
(For another receipt the same charm to prepare,
Consult Mr Ainsworth and Petit Albert.)
'Now open lock
To the Dead Man's knock!
Fly bolt, and bar, and band!
-- Nor move, nor swerve
Joint, muscle, or nerve,
At the spell of the Dead Man's hand!
Sleep all who sleep!-- Wake all who wake!--
But be as the Dead for the Dead Man's sake!!'
All is silent! all is still,
Save the ceaseless moan of the bubbling rill
As it wells from the bosom of Tappington Hill.
And in Tappington Hall
Great and Small,
Gentle and Simple, Squire and Groom,
Each one hath sought his separate room,
And sleep her dark mantle hath o'er them cast,
For the midnight hour hath long been past!
All is darksome in earth and sky,
Save, from yon casement, narrow and high,
A quivering beam
On the tiny stream
Plays, like some taper's fitful gleam
By one that is watching wearily.
Within that casement, narrow and high,
In his secret lair, where none may spy,
Sits one whose brow is wrinkled with care,
And the thin grey locks of his failing hair
Have left his little bald pate all bare;
For his full-bottom'd wig
Hangs, bushy and big,
On the top of his old-fashion'd, high-back'd chair.
Unbraced are his clothes,
Ungarter'd his hose,
His gown is bedizen'd with tulip and rose,
Flowers of remarkable size and hue,
Flowers such as Eden never knew;
-- And there, by many a sparkling heap
Of the good red gold,
The tale is told
What powerful spell avails to keep
That careworn man from his needful sleep!
Haply, he deems no eye can see
As he gloats on his treasure greedily,--
The shining store
Of glittering ore,
The fair Rose-Noble, the bright Moidore,
And the broad Double-Joe from beyond the sea,--
But there's one that watches as well as he;
For, wakeful and sly
Submitted on May 13, 2011
Modified on March 05, 2023
- 4:01 min read
- 37 Views
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|Closest metre||Iambic tetrameter|
|Stanza Lengths||1, 24, 19, 6, 12, 10, 8, 9, 6, 18, 8|
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"The Hand of Glory, : The Nurse's Story" Poetry.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2023. Web. 8 Jun 2023. <https://www.poetry.com/poem/30100/the-hand-of-glory,-:-the-nurse's-story>.
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