Amelia Opie

(12 November 1769 – 2 December 1853 / Norwich)

The Mad Wanderer


There came to Grasmere's pleasant vale
A stranger maid in tatters clad,
Whose eyes were wild, whose cheek was pale,
While oft she cried, "Poor Kate is mad!"

Four words were all she'd ever say,
Nor would she shelter in a cot;
And e'en in winter's coldest day
She still would cry, "My brain is hot."

A look she had of better days;
And once, while o'er the hills she ranged,
We saw her on her tatters gaze,
And heard her say, "How Kate is changed!"

Whene'er she heard the death-bell sound,
Her face grew dreadful to behold;
She started, trembled, beat the ground,
And shuddering cried, "Poor Kate is cold!"

And when to church we brought the dead,
She came in ragged mourning drest;
The coffin-plate she trembling read,
Then laughing cried, "Poor Kate is blest!"

But when a wedding peal was rung,
With dark revengeful leer she smiled,
And, curses muttering on her tongue,
She loudly screamed, "Poor Kate is wild!"

To be in Grasmere church interred,
A corpse one day from far was brought;
Poor Kate the death-bell sounding heard,
And reached the aisle as quick as thought:

When on the coffin looking down,
She started, screamed, and back retired,
Then clasped it....breathing such a groan!
And with that dreadful groan expired.

Submitted: Friday, January 03, 2003

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