Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, CAPTAIN CARPENTER, by JOHN CROWE RANSOM

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

CAPTAIN CARPENTER, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Captain carpenter rose up in his prime
Last Line: And made the kites to whet their beaks clack clack.
Subject(s): Despair

Captain Carpenter rose up in his prime
Put on his pistols and went riding out
But had got well-nigh nowhere at that time
Till he fell in with ladies in a rout.

It was a pretty lady and all her train
That played with him so sweetly but before
An hour she'd taken a sword with all her main
And twined him of his nose forevermore.

Captain Carpenter mounted another day
And straightway rode into a surly rogue
That looked unchristian but be that as may
The captain did not wait upon prologue.

But drew him out of his great heart
The other swung against him with a club
And cracked his two legs at the shinny part
And let him roll and stick like any tub.

Captain Corpenter rode many a time
From male and female took he sundry harms
And met the wife of Satan crying "I'm
The she-wolf bids you shall bear no more arms."

Their strokes and counters whistled in the wind
I would he had delivered half his blows
But where she should have made off like a hind
The bitch bit off his arms at the elbows.

Captain Carpenter parted with his ears
To a surly rogue that used him in this wise
O Jesus ere his threescore and ten years
Another had pinched out his sweet blue eyes.

Captain Carpenter got up on his roan
And sallied from the gate for hells despite
I heard him asking in the grimmest tone
If any enemies yet there ware to fight?

"Is there an adversary drunk with fame
Who will risk to be wounded by my tongue
Or burnt in two beneath my red heart's flame
These are the perils he is cast among.

"But if he can he has a pretty choice
From an anatomy with little to lose
Whether he cut my tongue and take my voice
Or whether it be my round red heart he choose."

It was the neatest knave that ever was seen
Stepping in perfume from his lady's bower
Who on his word put in his merry mien
And fell on Captain Carpenter like a tower.

I would not knock old fellows in the dust
But there lay Captain Carpenter on his back
His weapons were the stout heart in his bust
And a blade shook between rotten teeth alack.

The rogue in scarlet and grey soon knew his mind
He wished to get his trophy and depart
With gentle apology and touch refined
He pierced him and produced the captain's heart.

God's mercy rest on Captain Carpenter now
I thought him sirs an honest gentleman
Citizen husband soldier and scholar enow
Let a jingling kites eat of him if they can.

But God's deep curses follow after those
That shore him of his goodly nose and ears
His legs and strong arms at the two elbows
And eyes that had not watered seventy years.

The curse of hell upon the sleek upstart
That got the captain finally on his back
And took the red red vitals of his heart
And made the kites to whet their beaks clack clack.

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