Peter Bell

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A satire upon the Poet Laureate's celebrated production.

Come, listen, my friend, Stephen Otter,Pope and Dryden I mean to surpassWith a tale of a wonderful potterAnd a very remarkable Ass.

For the potter his name it was Peter,Sure some of you know Peter Bell,But as for the Donkey poor creaturWhat they called it I never could tell.

Some poets begin in the middleAnd some by invoking a muse,But that's only like tuning the fiddleAnd in fact not of half so much use.

But you like to hear the beginning,Of a Life all the ins and the outs,And to go as far back as the pinningOf the hero in swaddling clouts.

Of ancestry lineage and such likeTheir lengthy narration to swellIs a thing that Welch bards very much like --Of what family came Peter Bell?

If his linaege was Saxon or NormanOr Danish no annals record,His father might perhaps be a CarmanHe possibly might be a Lord.

A MOTHER most certainly had he,An itinerant dealer in delf,But she ne'er told him who was his daddie,For she wasn't quite certain herself.

Howso'er his existence began nearA Hayrick, for there he was whelp'd;His cradle was nought but a pannier --'Tis low but it cannot be help'd.

You have heard of those wonderful MinorsThat were nursed by a Wolf, I dare say;So had Peter an ass for his drynurse,And she lull'd him to sleep with her bray.

Dame Nature will sometimes exhibitProphetical marks in the skin,So Peter was mark'd with a gibbet,The sign of original sin.

For Peter no mortal was sponsor,For he never was christened, poor lamb;So God-mother sure he had none, Sir,Yet the first word he lisp'd was god dam,

Than Peter no lad cut be 'cuterYet he often had wanted a meal,If the Tinker his travelling TutorHad not trained his young genius to steal.

© Hartley Coleridge