William Bell Scott
Merry England - Poem by William Bell Scott
England was merry in old times? Indeed!
When the worn ploughman might not leave the ground
Where he was born, and where his children found
His old shoes and nought else for all their need;
When 'Benefit of Clergy' saved the deed
Of blood from punishment, and once a year
Men climbed a greasy pole for Christmas cheer,
And once in twelve months got one plenteous feed.
Merry in sooth! Astronomy was then
Astrology, the chemist's craft again
Was alchemy, and every crone grown old
Died as a witch, and you or I, sad fate!
Had given to fat Mass John our scantiest gold
For his old gown to mask us at heaven's gate!
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