David Lewis Paget
The Ark - Poem by David Lewis Paget
‘You sinners all will be damned to hell, '
He roared in the empty church,
His hair was wild, he never smiled
The vicar of Bromley Birch,
The congregation the church had had
Were laid out under their stones,
Whatever sins were unshriven, still
Were left in a pile of bones.
He'd lost parishioners one by one
As they all grew old and died,
He'd sent them off with a final view
Of what hell was like, inside,
He'd stirred the sulphur and brimstone there
Like a witch with a cooking pot,
And sent them off with a sermon, cursed,
Whether they'd go, or not.
The youngsters wandered from Bromley Birch
To pay their dues by the sea,
Down at the church by Donnington
Where they'd not see Vicar Tree,
The Synod muttered and mumbled then,
Put Bromley up for sale,
‘The only thing that will draw them there
Is a bar where they sell brown ale! '
So Tree delved into his savings and
He bought the ancient church,
And thought to set up a cult where he
Could rant and rave and lurch,
He'd never favoured the gospels, he
Preferred the ancient book,
The sins of the older testament
Where the Devil would be the hook.
But no-one came, to his mortal shame
And the roof began to leak,
The doors came away from their hinges, and
The rates were due in a week,
He cast about for a purpose
And he read the old book twice,
He read the story of Noah's Ark
And he thought: ‘That would be nice! '
He sought the views of a carpenter
And they gathered up the pews,
Old Jack Molloy said the wood was good,
There was plenty they could use.
They built the ark on a minor scale
To suit the building's size,
With the tiller back in the vestry and
The gunnels along the aisles.
‘You won't get too many elephants
On this, ' said Jack Molloy,
‘Giraffes will hit on the crossbeams…'
(He just said it to annoy) .
‘We won't be taking no elephants,
Just ducks and pigs and sheep,
A couple of geese and a goat or two,
And anything we can eat! '
For Tree thought Noah had gone too far,
‘Why take things to be bred,
Like cats and rats and dogs and mice
That just need to be fed?
The spiders we could do well without,
The same for snakes and snails,
I've never fancied their escargot
Nor frogs, nor cow's entrails.
His wife was sent to collect the stock
As the ark grew long and tall,
She even smuggled some rabbits on
Though Tree said, ‘none at all! '
He went outside and he scanned the skies
And looked for the God of old,
Who'd flood and blast their blasphemies
Who wouldn't do as they're told.
‘Just send her down, ' said the Vicar Tree,
‘You've done it once before,
This world is full of a sinning breed,
So now you can even the score.
The rain began on the seventh day
As a gentle April shower,
But then was born a thunderous storm
That flooded down by the hour.
The little old church of Bromley Birch
Lies hidden, down in a dip,
And water poured from the higher ground
Flooded the old church crypt,
Tree climbed aboard with his dutiful wife
Said, ‘Let the heavens flow! '
And watched as the waters flooding in
Floated them, down below.
The waters rose at a deadly pace
And he thought the world was drowned,
The carpenter went the other way,
And climbed to higher ground,
It took just over an hour to fill
The church, from roof to floor,
But Tree was drowned by the time he found
He'd forgotten to widen the door.
27 January 2013
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