Samuel Bamford

(1788-1872 / England)

The Bard's Petition, To The Rev. J. T. Horton, J.P., Rochdale. - Poem by Samuel Bamford

Most reverend sir, I pray permit,
To approach where you in judgment sit,
A humble, lowly, country bard,
Whose birth, I fear, was evil star'd;
For since bright reason first began
To stamp upon my mind the man,
Heart-aching care, with wrinkled front,
Hath given me many a weary grunt,
And caused me self reproaching sigh
For momentary stolen joy,
That like the summer's beam is fled,
Now bitterly remembered.

Your reverence will please to know
I made a fault some years ago,
A bonny blooming servant maid
Complaint before your worship laid
That I her virtue had beguil'd
And she, by me, was then with child;
And truly in process of time
Came forth a bumping lad so prime,
And I'm in justice bound to own,
The child was of my flesh and bone;
Till late I've duly paid the brass
To th' overseer for the lass,
And never have I been unwilling
To stump my nine and twenty shilling;
But when one has not brass to pay
And overseer comes every day,
With threats of prison or of law,
Or such like terrifying jaw,
It wounds me to the very quick,
My hair upon its end doth stick,
I stare as if I'd seen Old Nick;
And then again I rue the day
When I so foolish went astray.

Imagination needs will come
And tear me from my happy home;
Led like a thief to prison dark,
The scoff, the pointing stock, the mark
Of every puppy that can bark.
I see my wife with tearful eye,
I hear my little darling cry;
Farewell my lowly cell, my book,
My cosy chair, my quiet nook,
Where oft the muse doth sit with me
Rehearsing rustic poetry;
Till fancy growing wild and warm,
Partakes the soul inspiring charm,
And sudden bursts the raptured lay
In all the glow of minstrelsy.

The iron door, with rusty creak,
Maketh my inmost soul to quake,
And tells unto my anxious heart,
That I with liberty must part;
The stony chamber, and the bed
With clothes but thinly covered,
The harden'd turnkey's steely eye,
Expressive but of misery;
There cheerful look is never seen,
Nor waving woods in summer green;
Nor limped rills meand'ring flow,
But all is wretchedness and woe.
High walls, that mock, the powers of flight,
Dungeons, where reign eternal night,
Where felons unrepentant howl
In body pain, and rack of soul;
O 'tis impossible to tell
The horrors that I know too well.
Dire though the place, unless some friend
A little timely aid extend,
Ere many days have by me pass'd,
I in its walls am prisoner fast;
Then would your worship condescend
To be for once the poet's friend,
And shield him from the coming blast,
His gratitude would ever last.
In vain I see the day draw near,
I cannot pay the overseer,
For I, last week, was ta'en so ill,
I could not down 'my cut o' twill,'
I really should have died I thought,
Till doctor Balm of Gilead brought;
And now I dread the anger dire
Of disappointed Lancashire,
For well I know he will demand
A warrant from your worship's hand,
As on the twenty-seventh day,
Two quarters I shall have to pay,
If you would deign excuse to find,
To soothe his anger-breathing mind,
And put him off a little longer,
Till I'm in circumstances stronger,
I promise you I'll not delay
To muster on an early day,
And ever after firm and steady,
I'll mind and have the money ready.

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Poem Submitted: Monday, September 20, 2010

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