David Lewis Paget

Gold Star - 9,373 Points (22.11.1944 / Nottingham, England/live in Australia)

The Coffin Bell - Poem by David Lewis Paget

He lived in a fine old country house
Befitting a man of means,
With everything a Victorian Squire
Could aspire to, in his dreams.
He owned four-fifths of a colliery
In the days when coal was gold,
And topped that up with a Brewery,
But the mean old man was cold.

For Benjamin John Fortescue ruled
His house like a would-be Earl,
His son had never felt welcome there
Since he’d married a country girl,
The mother had gone some years before
Who protected, in his youth,
But now, the butt of his father’s whims
The lad found out the truth.

He treated them like the servant class
Expected to fetch and bring,
But paid a pittance to keep them there,
His purse on a miser’s string,
‘I keep a fine roof over your heads
And you eat each day for free, ’
He’d say, whenever they asked for gilt,
‘What more do you want from me? ’

Their toddler Tim wore cast-off clothes
And was made to play outside,
‘I don’t want a ragamuffin’s mess, ’
He’d say, till the mother cried.
‘You don’t seem to love your grandson, ’ said
His son, his head in a whirl,
‘I would if he had some parentage,
But not from some country girl.’

As time went on there was something wrong
For the father suffered fits,
At first it would start with a seizure,
He would seem to lose his wits.
He’d lie for days in a sort of haze
And would scarcely draw a breath,
And Caroline would look hard it him,
‘It’s as if he’s caught in death! ’

It happened enough to make him plan
Should the doctor be deceived,
‘I don’t want the fools to bury me
Alive, so I’m not retrieved.’
He bought a coffin with space inside
And a tube, out to the air,
With a little bell he could ring as well
If he found himself in there.

‘Be sure to follow instructions if
You think that I am dead,
Affix the bell to the tube as well
With a cord down to my head,
Then check the grave for a week or more
To see if the bell should ring,
Then hurry to dig me up, and I
Will give you anything.’

The day came that on the seventh fit
They could swear that he was dead,
‘There isn’t even a breath of air
And his eyes are up in his head.’
Three doctors came, and they all concurred
That his life was now extinct,
‘It had to happen, ’ the couple heard,
‘He’s been living on the brink.’

They laid him out in his coffin, and
They fitted the tube to breathe,
Attached the bell, and the cord as well
Before they rose to leave,
But Timothy stayed to play that day
As he did, down in the Dell,
And a week went by till his mother cried:
‘Where did he get that bell? ’

5 April 2015

Topic(s) of this poem: horror

Form: Ballad

Comments about The Coffin Bell by David Lewis Paget

  • (4/6/2015 11:10:00 PM)

    David, could you have a look at Ezra Pound's The Seafarer and summarise it for me in an 8 line poem? (Report) Reply

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  • Lyn Paul (4/5/2015 7:51:00 AM)

    An excellent write. Thank you. Would have loved some Poet Notes added. (Report) Reply

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Poem Submitted: Sunday, April 5, 2015

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