Poem of the Day.
THE DEVIL'S WALK. A BALLAD. [Published as a broadside by Shelley, 1812.] 1. Once, early in the morning, Beelzebub arose, With care his sweet person adorning, He put on his Sunday clothes. 2. He drew on a boot to hide his hoof, _5 He drew on a glove to hide his claw, His horns were concealed by a Bras Chapeau, And the Devil went forth as natty a Beau As Bond-street ever saw. 3. He sate him down, in London town, _10 Before earth's morning ray; With a favourite imp he began to chat, On religion, and scandal, this and that, Until the dawn of day. 4. And then to St. James's Court he went, _15 And St. Paul's Church he took on his way; He was mighty thick with every Saint, Though they were formal and he was gay. 5. The Devil was an agriculturist, And as bad weeds quickly grow, _20 In looking over his farm, I wist, He wouldn't find cause for woe. 6. He peeped in each hole, to each chamber stole, His promising live-stock to view; Grinning applause, he just showed them his claws, _25 And they shrunk with affright from his ugly sight, Whose work they delighted to do. 7. Satan poked his red nose into crannies so small One would think that the innocents fair, Poor lambkins! were just doing nothing at all _30 But settling some dress or arranging some ball, But the Devil saw deeper there. 8. A Priest, at whose elbow the Devil during prayer Sate familiarly, side by side, Declared that, if the Tempter were there, _35 His presence he would not abide. Ah! ah! thought Old Nick, that's a very stale trick, For without the Devil, O favourite of Evil, In your carriage you would not ride. 9. Satan next saw a brainless King, _40 Whose house was as hot as his own; Many Imps in attendance were there on the wing, They flapped the pennon and twisted the sting, Close by the very Throne. 10. Ah! ah! thought Satan, the pasture is good, _45 My Cattle will here thrive better than others; They dine on news of human blood, They sup on the groans of the dying and dead, And supperless never will go to bed; Which will make them fat as their brothers. _50 11. Fat as the Fiends that feed on blood, Fresh and warm from the fields of Spain, Where Ruin ploughs her gory way, Where the shoots of earth are nipped in the bud, Where Hell is the Victor's prey, _55 Its glory the meed of the slain. 12. Fat--as the Death-birds on Erin's shore, That glutted themselves in her dearest gore, And flitted round Castlereagh, When they snatched the Patriot's heart, that HIS grasp _60 Had torn from its widow's maniac clasp, --And fled at the dawn of day. 13. Fat--as the Reptiles of the tomb, That riot in corruption's spoil, That fret their little hour in gloom, _65 And creep, and live the while. 14. Fat as that Prince's maudlin brain, Which, addled by some gilded toy, Tired, gives his sweetmeat, and again Cries for it, like a humoured boy. _70 15. For he is fat,--his waistcoat gay, When strained upon a levee day, Scarce meets across his princely paunch; And pantaloons are like half-moons Upon each brawny haunch. _75 16. How vast his stock of calf! when plenty Had filled his empty head and heart, Enough to satiate foplings twenty, Could make his pantaloon seams start. 17. The Devil (who sometimes is called Nature), _80 For men of power provides thus well, Whilst every change and every feature, Their great original can tell. 18. Satan saw a lawyer a viper slay, That crawled up the leg of his table, _85 It reminded him most marvellously Of the story of Cain and Abel. 19. The wealthy yeoman, as he wanders His fertile fields among, And on his thriving cattle ponders, _90 Counts his sure gains, and hums a song; Thus did the Devil, through earth walking, Hum low a hellish song. 20. For they thrive well whose garb of gore Is Satan's choicest livery, _95 And they thrive well who from the poor Have snatched the bread of penury, And heap the houseless wanderer's store On the rank pile of luxury. 21. The Bishops thrive, though they are big; _100 The Lawyers thrive, though they are thin; For every gown, and every wig, Hides the safe thrift of Hell within. 22. Thus pigs were never counted clean, Although they dine on finest corn; _105 And cormorants are sin-like lean, Although they eat from night to morn. 23. Oh! why is the Father of Hell in such glee, As he grins from ear to ear? Why does he doff his clothes joyfully, _110 As he skips, and prances, and flaps his wing, As he sidles, leers, and twirls his sting, And dares, as he is, to appear? 24. A statesman passed--alone to him, The Devil dare his whole shape uncover, _115 To show each feature, every limb, Secure of an unchanging lover. 25. At this known sign, a welcome sight, The watchful demons sought their King, And every Fiend of the Stygian night, _120 Was in an instant on the wing. 26. Pale Loyalty, his guilt-steeled brow, With wreaths of gory laurel crowned: The hell-hounds, Murder, Want and Woe, Forever hungering, flocked around; _125 From Spain had Satan sought their food, 'Twas human woe and human blood! 27. Hark! the earthquake's crash I hear,-- Kings turn pale, and Conquerors start, Ruffians tremble in their fear, _130 For their Satan doth depart. 28. This day Fiends give to revelry To celebrate their King's return, And with delight its Sire to see Hell's adamantine limits burn. _135 29. But were the Devil's sight as keen As Reason's penetrating eye, His sulphurous Majesty I ween, Would find but little cause for joy. 30. For the sons of Reason see _140 That, ere fate consume the Pole, The false Tyrant's cheek shall be Bloodless as his coward soul. NOTE: _55 Where cj. Rossetti; When 1812.
(Thursday, 19 July, 2018.)