The Beadle's Annual Address

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The Curfew tolls the knell of parting day, The lowing herd winds slowly o'er the lea,The ploughman homeward plods his weary way And this is Christmas Eve, and here I be!

Now fades the glimmering landscape on the sight, And all the air a solemn stillness holds,Save where the beetle wheels his droning flight, Save Queen Victoria, who the sceptre holds!

Save that from yonder ivy-mantled tower The moping owl does to the moon complain--Save all the ministers that be in power, Save all the Royal Sovereigns that reign!

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Let not ambition mock their useful toil, Their homely joys and destiny obscure;Nor grandeur hear with a disdainful smile, The Parish Beadle calling at the door!

Far from the madding crowd's ignoble strife, Their sober wishes never learn 'd to stray;Along the cool sequester'd vale of life, They kept the apple-woman's stalls away!

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Yet e'en these bones from insult to protect, Some frail memorial still erected nigh;With uncouth rhymes and shapeless sculpture deck'd He never lets the children play thereby.

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Haply some hoary-headed swain may say, Oft have we seen him at the peep of dawn,Brushing with hasty steps the dews away, To meet the Reverend Vicar all in lawn!

One morn I miss'd him on the 'custom'd hill, Along the heath, and near his favourite tree;Another came, nor yet beside the rill, Nor at the Magpie and the Stump was he!

The next with hat and staff, and new array, Along all sorts of streets we saw him borne;Approach and read (for thou canst read) the lay He always brings upon a Christmas morn!

Large was his bounty, and his soul sincere, Heaven did a recompense as largely send:He gave to misery (all he had) a tear, And never failed on Sundays to attend!

No further seek his merits to disclose, Or draw his frailties from their dread abode;Where they alike in trembling hope repose, John Bugsby, Number Thirteen, Tibbald's Road.

© Thomas Hood