Verse > Anthologies > Thomas R. Lounsbury, ed. > Yale Book of American Verse
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Thomas R. Lounsbury, ed. (1838–1915). Yale Book of American Verse.  1912.
 
Thomas William Parsons. 1819–1892
 
146. Saint Peray
 
WHEN to any saint I pray, 
It shall be to Saint Peray. 
He alone, of all the brood, 
Ever did me any good: 
Many I have tried that are         5
Humbugs in the calendar. 
  
On the Atlantic, faint and sick, 
Once I prayed Saint Dominick: 
He was holy, sure, and wise;— 
Was 't not he that did devise  10
Auto da Fès and rosaries?— 
But for one in my condition 
This good saint was no physician. 
  
Next, in pleasant Normandie, 
I made a prayer to Saint Denis,  15
In the great cathedral, where 
  All the ancient kings repose; 
But, how I was swindled there 
  At the "Golden Fleece,"—he knows! 
  
In my wanderings, vague and various,  20
  Reaching Naples—as I lay 
  Watching Vesuvius from the bay, 
I besought Saint Januarius. 
But I was a fool to try him; 
Naught I said could liquefy him;  25
And I swear he did me wrong, 
Keeping me shut up so long 
In that pest-house, with obscene 
Jews and Greeks and things unclean— 
What need had I of quarantine?  30
  
In Sicily at least a score,— 
In Spain about as many more,— 
And in Rome almost as many 
As the loves of Don Giovanni, 
Did I pray to—sans reply;  35
Devil take the tribe!—said I. 
  
Worn with travel, tired and lame, 
To Assisi's walls I came: 
Sad and full of homesick fancies, 
I addressed me to Saint Francis:  40
But the beggar never did 
Anything as he was bid, 
Never gave me aught—but fleas,— 
Plenty had I at Assise. 
  
But in Pròvence, near Vaucluse,  45
  Hard by the Rhone, I found a Saint 
Gifted with a wondrous juice, 
  Potent for the worst complaint. 
  
'T was at Avignon that first— 
In the witching time of thirst—  50
To my brain the knowledge came 
Of this blessed Catholic's name; 
Forty miles of dust that day 
Made me welcome Saint Peray. 
  
Though till then I had not heard  55
Aught about him, ere a third 
Of a litre passed my lips, 
All saints else were in eclipse. 
For his gentle spirit glided 
  With such magic into mine,  60
That methought such bliss as I did 
  Poet never drew from wine. 
  
Rest he gave me and refection,— 
Chastened hopes, calm retrospection,— 
Softened images of sorrow,  65
Bright forebodings for the morrow,— 
Charity for what is past,— 
Faith in something good at last. 
  
Now, why should any almanack 
The name of this good creature lack?  70
Or wherefore should the breviary 
Omit a saint so sage and merry? 
The Pope himself should grant a day 
Especially to Saint Peray. 
But, since no day hath been appointed,  75
On purpose, by the Lord's anointed, 
Let us not wait—we 'll do him right; 
Send round your bottles, Hal—and set your night. 
 
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