Our Miscellany, Which Ought to Have Come Out, But Didn’t edited by E H Yates & R B Brough, p. 63-68
Once, as through the streets I wandered, and o’er many a fancy pondered,
Many a fancy quaint and curious, which had filled my mind of yore,—
Suddenly my footsteps stumbled, and against a man I tumbled,
Who, beneath a sailor’s jacket, something large and heavy bore,
“Beg your pardon, sir!” I muttered, as I rose up, hurt and sore;
But the sailor only swore.
Vexed at this, my soul grew stronger: hesitating then no longer,
“Sir,” said I, “now really, truly, your forgiveness I implore!
But, in fact, my sense was napping,” then the sailor answered, rapping
Out his dreadful oaths and awful imprecations by the score,—
Answered he, “Come, hold your jaw!
“May my timbers now be shivered—” oh, at this my poor heart quivered,—
“If you don’t beat any parson that I ever met before!
You’ve not hurt me; stow your prosing” — then his huge peacoat unclosing,
Straight he showed the heavy parcel, which beneath his arm he bore,—
Showed a cage which held a parrot, such as Crusoe had of yore,
Which at once drew corks and swore.
Much I marvelled at this parrot, green as grass and red as carrot,
Which, with fluency and ease, was uttering sentences a score;
And it pleased me so immensely, and I liked it so intensely,
That I bid for it at once; and when I showed of gold my store,
Instantly the sailor sold it; mine it was, and his no more;
Mine it was for evermore.
Prouder was I of this bargain, e’en than patriotic Dargan,
When his Sovereign, Queen Victoria, crossed the threshold of his door;—
Surely I had gone demented — surely I had sore repented,
Had I known the dreadful misery which for me Fate had in store,—
Known the fearful, awful misery which for me Fate had in store,
Then, and now, and evermore!
Scarcely to my friends I’d shown it, when (my mother’s dreadful groan! — it
Haunts me even now!) the parrot from his perch began to pour
Forth the most tremendous speeches, such as Mr. Ainsworth teaches
Us were uttered by highway men and rapparees of yore!—
By the wicked, furious, tearing, riding rapparees of yore;
But which now are heard no more.
And my father, straight uprising, spake his mind — It was surprising,
That this favourite son, who’d never, never so transgressed before,
Should have brought a horrid, screaming — nay, e’en worse than that — blaspheming
Bird within that pure home circle — bird well learned in wicked lore!
While he spake, the parrot, doubtless thinking it a horrid bore,
Cried out “Cuckoo!” barked, and swore.
And since then what it has cost me, — all the wealth and friends it’s lost me,
All the trouble, care, and sorrow, cankering my bosom’s core,
Can’t be mentioned in these verses; till, at length, my heartfelt curses
Gave I to this cruel parrot, who quite coolly scanned me o’er—
Wicked, wretched, cruel parrot, who quite coolly scanned me o’er,
Laughed, drew several corks, and swore.
“Parrot!” said I, “bird of evil! parrot still, or bird or devil!
By the piper who the Israelitish leader played before,
I will stand this chaff no longer! We will see now which is stronger.
Come, now, — off! Thy cage is open — free thou art, and there’s the door!
Off at once, and I’ll forgive thee; — take the hint, and leave my door.”
But the parrot only swore.
And the parrot never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the very self-same perch where first he sat in days of yore;
And his only occupations seem acquiring imprecations
Of the last and freshest fashion, which he picks up by the score;
Picks them up, and, with the greatest gusto, bawls them by the score,
And will swear for evermore.
Return to the Quaint and Curious index for more pastiches and parodies of Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven”.