Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE COLLIER'S WEDDING, SELECTION, by EDWARD CHICKEN



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THE COLLIER'S WEDDING, SELECTION, by            
First Line: At last the beef appears in sight
Last Line: So, curtseying, mumbled up his kiss.
Subject(s): Brides; Dancing & Dancers; Food & Eating; Marriage; Parties; Weddings; Husbands; Wives


AT last the beef appears in sight,
The groom moves slow the pond'rous weight;
Then haste is made, the table clad,
No patience till the grace is said.
Swift to the smoking beef they fly;
Some cut their passage through a pie:
Out streams the gravy on the cloth;
Some burn their tongue with scalding broth.
But rolling spices make them fain,
They shake their heads, and sup again.
'Cut up that goose,' cries one below,
'Hand down a leg, or wing, or so.'
An honest neighbour tries the point,
Works hard but cannot hit a joint:
The bride sat nigh, she rose in prim,
And cut and tore her limb from limb.
Now geese, cocks, hens their fury feel,
Extended jaws devour the veal:
Each rives and eats what he can get,
And all is fish that comes to net.
No qualmish appetites here sit,
None curious for a dainty bit.
The bridegroom waits with active force,
And brings them drink 'twixt ev'ry course,
With napkin round his body girt,
To keep his clothes from grease and dirt;
With busy face he runs about
To fill the pots which are drunk out.
Old Bessy, dressed in all her airs,
Gives her attendance in the stairs;
There she receives the broken meat,
Just when it is not fit to eat.
Plates, knives and spoons about are tossed,
The old wife's care's that naught be lost:
By her the borrowed things are known,
She wishes folks may get their own.
Now all are full, the meat away,
The table drawn, the pipers play.
The bridegroom first gets on the floor,
And dances all the maidens o'er;
Then rubs his face, and makes a bow,
So marches off, what can he do?
He must not tire himself outright,
The bride expects a dance at night.
In ev'ry room, both high and low,
The fiddlers play, the bagpipes blow;
Some shout the bride, and some the groom,
They roar the very music dumb.
Hand over head, and one through other,
They dance with sister and with brother:
Their common tune is Get her Bo,
The weary lass cries, 'Music so';
Till tired in circling round, they wheel,
And beat the ground with toe and heel.
A collier lad of taller size,
With rings of dust about his eyes,
Laid down his pipe, rose from the table,
And swore he'd dance while he was able.
He catched a partner by the hand,
And kissed her first to make her stand;
And then he bade the music play,
And said, 'Now lass, come dance away.'
He led her off; just when begun,
She stopped, cried 'Houts—some other tune';
Then whispered in the piper's ear,
So loud that ev'ryone might hear,
'I wish you'd play me Jumping John.'
He tried his reed, and tuned his drone,
The pipes scream out her fav'rite jig;
She knacked her thumbs and stood her trig,
Then cocked her belly up a little,
And wet her fingers with her spittle.
So off she goes; the collier lad
Sprung from the floor and danced like mad:
They sweep each corner of the room,
And all stand clear where'er they come.
They dance and tire the piper out,
And all's concluded with a shout.
Old Bessy next was taken in,
She curled her nose, and cocked her chin;
Then held her coats on either side,
And kneeled, and cried, 'Up with the bride!
Come, piper,' says the good old woman,
'Play me The Joyful Days are coming;I'll dance for joy, upon my life,
For now my daughter's made a wife.'
The old wife did what limbs could do;
'Well danced, old Bessy,' cried the crew.
The goody laughed and showed her teeth,
And said, 'Ah! sirs, I have no breath;
I once was thought right good at this';
So, curtseying, mumbled up his kiss.





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