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The Churchwarden and The Apparition: A Fable

Thomas Chatterton 1752 (Bristol) – 1770 (Holborn)

The night was cold, the wind was high,
And stars bespangled all the sky;
Churchwarden Joe had laid him down,
And slept secure on bed of down;
But still the pleasing hope of gain,
That never left his active brain,
Exposed the churchyard to his view,
That seat of treasure wholly new.
“Pull down that cross,” he quickly cried,
The mason instantly complied:
When lo! behold, the golden prize
Appears—joy sparkles in his eyes.
The door now creaks, the window shakes,
With sudden fear he starts and wakes;
Quaking and pale, in eager haste
His haggard eyes around he cast;
A ghastly phantom, lean and wan,
That instant rose, and thus began:
“Weak wretch—to think to blind my eyes!
Hypocrisy's a thin disguise;
Your humble mien and fawning tongue
Have oft deceived the old and young.
On this side now, and now on that,
The very emblem of the bat:
Whatever part you take, we know
'Tis only interest makes it so,
And though with sacred zeal you burn,
Religion's only for your turn;
I'm Conscience called!” Joe greatly feared;
The lightning flashed—it disappeared.

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

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Thomas Chatterton

Thomas Chatterton was an English poet and forger of pseudo-medieval poetry. He committed suicide, dying of arsenic poisoning. His works and death were much discussed posthumously and had an influence on the Romantic movement. more…

All Thomas Chatterton poems | Thomas Chatterton Books

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