Verse > Anthologies > Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. > Poems of Places > England
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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed.  Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
England: Vols. I–IV.  1876–79.
 
Bodmin
The Ungracious Return
Henry Sewell Stokes (1808–1895)
 
I HAVE a startling tale to tell
Of what in Bodmin town befell
In the distant time long, long ago,
When every man was his neighbor’s foe,
And lords like tigers prowled the land,        5
Each with his own well-chosen band,
To do his work of savagery;
When princes fought for sovereignty;
Who loyal was to-day to-morrow
Might be called traitor, to his sorrow.        10
 
In Edward’s time, at Bodmin town
When sturdy Boyer wore the gown,
The Royal provost wrote a line
He on a day with him would dine,
And begged he would meanwhile prepare        15
A gibbet for some stout rebels there.
The mayor obeyed him to the letter,
Thinking the strongest side the better;
And, to meet the great man, at the gate
His worship stood in all his state.        20
 
And then into the common hall
Mayor, provost, aldermen, burghers all
Went with a rush and made good cheer,
With beef and venison, wine and beer;
And many a loyal toast was given,        25
And fear and doubt away were driven
With bumpers full and foaming high:
Yet wicked looked the provost’s eye,
But he laughed, and did not spare the sherry,
While the mayor and aldermen were merry.        30
 
But while they feast within, without
Hammers were heard, and then a shout
Told that the gibbet was finished then.
Forth came the mayor and aldermen,
And burghers all, and the provost stern,        35
Who had set his mind to make return
To the mayor for his hospitality;
And how ’t was done you soon will see,
For on the gibbet, at his own door,
His worship swung in a moment more!        40
 
 
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