Quaint and Curious - Parodies and Pastiches of Poe's The Raven

Cowgate Philanthropy

The Modern Athenian (Edinburgh), Mar 11 1876

Once, while in the Cowgate[1] dirty, on an evening damp and murky,
Mournfully I gazed at objects swarming there from door to door,
From a whisky palace, swearing, a poor woman issued, bearing
A child upon her bosom bare, and that bosom stained with gore,
And she uttered dreadful threats against the man that kept the store—
Idle threats, and nothing more.
To myself I said, interior, “Surely here there is some error;
This woman seems in deep distress — distress which pierces to the core;”
So I stepped into the palace, with the view of getting solace,
For that creature whose deep sorrow my soft heart with anguish tore,
That shadow of an angel bright, for her countenance yet bore
Trace of beauty, now no more.
But the jingling of the glasses, and the glare of many gases,
Made me feel so very squeamish that I was almost forced to roar,
When my tongue its wonted action ceased, as if by some attraction,
So I stood a perfect dummy at this dreadful gin-house door,
Pointing to that weeping woman, whom no one would now adore;
This I did, and nothing more.
To my speech at last succeeding, I asked gravely why the bleeding,
Helpless, ill-clad, ill-fed woman had been out-cast from the store?
And the answer from the monster who had been this woman’s wrongster
Was, she had not filthy lucre to pay off her whisky score;
He’d be blowed, or something stronger, if he’d give her any more;
And he thought her quite a bore.
Then I felt my fingers itching, and my muscles all a twitching,
To seize the rascal by the throat, and stretch him straight upon the floor;
But he gave a loud hoarse chuckle, let me see his mighty knuckle,
And advised me for my safety that I’d better seek the door—
If I didn’t vanish quickly I might go upon all four:
So I vanished— nothing more.


  1. Cowgate — A street in Edinburgh’s Old Town, half a kilometre southeast of the castle. (back to text)

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