Due to poor time management skills on the part of yours truly, the Poem of the Week will appear, well, slightly later in the week. (I should add, however, that this is not for lack of trying.)

In my absence, please enjoy this poem by Coleridge, who falls somewhat outside the purview of the OBVV. I present it with no context (okay, fine, British political fallout from the French Revolution) and little occasion, other than the coincidence of its allegorical figure with the new Lunar Year. Enjoy.

Recantation, Illustrated in the Story of the Mad Ox ( 1798 )

An Ox, long fed with musty hay,

And work’d with yoke and chain,

Was turn’d out on an April day,

When fields are in their best array,

And growing grasses sparkle gay,

At once with sun and rain.

The grass was fine, the sun was bright,

With truth I may aver it;

The Ox was glad, as well he might,

Thought a green meadow no bad sight,

And frisk’d to shew his huge delight,

Much like a beast of spirit.

“Stop, neighbours! stop! why these alarms?

“The Ox is only glad.” —

But still they pour from cots and farms–

Halloo! the Parish is up in arms

(A hoaxing hunt has always charms)

HALLOO! THE OX IS MAD.

The frighted beast scamper’d about,

Plunge! thro’ the hedge he drove—

The mob pursue with hideous rout,

A bull-dog fastens on his snout,

He gores the dog, his tongue hangs out—

He’s mad, he’s mad, by Jove!

“Stop, neighbours, stop!” aloud did call

A sage of sober hue.

But all at once on him they fall,

And women squeak and children squall,

“What! would you have him toss us all!

“And damme! who are you?”

Ah hapless sage! his ears they stun,

And curse him o’er and o’er–

“You bloody-minded dog!” (cries one)

“To slit your windpipe were good fun–

” ‘Od bl– you for an impious son

“Of a presbyterian w—re!”

“You’d have him gore the parish priest,

“And run against the altar–

“You Fiend!”–The sage his warnings ceas’d,

And North, and South, and West, and East,

Halloo! They follow the poor beast,

Mat, Dick, Tom, Bob, and Walter.

Old Lewis, ’twas his evil day,

Stood trembling in his shoes;

The Ox was his–what could he say?

His legs were stiffen’d with dismay,

The Ox ran o’er him mid the fray,

And gave him his death’s bruise.

The frighted beast ran on–but here,

The gospel scarce more true is–

My muse stops short in mid career–

Nay! gentle reader! do not sneer,

I cannot chuse but drop a tear,

A tear for good old Lewis.

The frighted beast ran thro’ the town,

All follow’d, boy and dad,

Bulldog, Parson, Shopman, Clown,

The Publicans rushed from the Crown,

“Halloo! hamstring him! cut him down!”

They drove the poor Ox mad.

Should you a Rat to madness teize,

Why even a Rat might plague you:

There’s no Philosopher but sees,

That Rage and Fear are one disease–

Tho’ that may burn and this may freeze,

They’re both alike the ague.

And so this Ox in frantic mood

Faced round like any Bull–

The mob turn’d tail, and he pursued,

Till they with fright and fear were stew’d,

And not a chick of all this brood,

But had his belly full.

Old Nick’s astride the beast, ’tis clear–

Old Nicholas to a tittle!

But all agree, he’d disappear,

Would but the parson venture near,

And thro’ his teeth right o’er the steer,

Squirt out some fasting spittle.

Achilles was a warrior fleet,

The Trojans he could worry–

Our parson too was swift of feet,

But shew’d it chiefly in retreat!

The victor Ox scour’d down the street,

The mob fled hurry-scurry.

Thro’ gardens, lanes, and fields new-plough’d,

Thro’ his hedge and thro’ her hedge,

He plung’d, and toss’d, and bellowed loud,

Till in his madness he grew proud,

To see his helter skelter crowd,

That had more wrath than courage.

Alas! to mend the breaches wide

He made for these poor ninnies,

They all must work, whate’er betide,

Both days and months and pay beside,

(Sad news for Avarice and for Pride)

A sight of golden guineas.

But here once more to view did pop

The man that kept his senses.

And now he cried–“Stop, neighbours! stop!

“The Ox is mad! I would not swop,

“No, not a schoolboy’s farthing top,

“For all the parish fences.

“The Ox is mad! Ho! Dick, Bob, Mat!

What means this coward fuss?

“Ho! stretch this rope across the plat–

” ‘Twill trip him up–or if not that,

“Why damme! we must lay him flat–

“See, here’s my blunderbuss!”

“A lying dog! Just now he said,

“The Ox was only glad.

“Let’s break his presbyterian head!”–

“Hush! (quoth the sage) you’ve been misled,

“No quarrels now–let’s all make head–

You drove the poor Ox mad!

As thus I sat in careless chat,

With the morning’s wet newspaper,

In eager haste, without his hat,

As blind and blundering as a bat,

In came that fierce aristocrat,

Our pursy Woolen-draper,

And so my Muse perforce drew bit,

And in he rush’d and panted–

“Well, have you heard”–“No, not a whit.”

“What, ha’nt you heard?”–“Come out with it–”

“That Tierney votes for Mister Pitt,

“And Sheridan’s recanted.

I admit that this was somewhat longer than I expected for a throwaway post. Nevertheless, there’s some timeliness to it yet, no?

[Ed. note: can anybody fill me and other thick short-nineteenth centuryists about the political allegory and its timeliness? I found this here:  

The following Fable was written during the Terror of the Invasion, when Sheridan made that celebrated Anti-gallican Oration, & Tierney voted with Mr Pitt for the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act. — At the time all the Ministerial Papers were full of Tierney’s & Sheridan’s Recan recantation — & to expose the falsehood of this phrase & the idea implied in it is the end of the Fable. —

I’m still unenlightened, since all wikipedia’s telling me about Sheridan is that he was practically the only MP of his time challenged to a duel.
Also, here seems to be a good place to give a shoutout to the new Grad Center Romanticism group, which has an impressive-looking blog at cunyromantics.wordpress.com. We’ll link to it at the sidebar once I get around to updating the links.]

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