Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, NEWS FROM NEWCASTLE; UPON THE COAL-PITS ABOUT NEWCASTLE-UPON-TYNE, by JOHN CLEVELAND



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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

NEWS FROM NEWCASTLE; UPON THE COAL-PITS ABOUT NEWCASTLE-UPON-TYNE, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: England's a perfect world, has indies too
Last Line: And gives her a black bag for a green gown.
Subject(s): Coal Mines & Miners; Newcastle-upon-tyne, England


ENGLAND'S a perfect world, has Indies too;
Correct your maps, Newcastle is Peru!
Let th' haughty Spaniard triumph till 'tis told
Our sooty min'rals purify his gold.
This will sublime and hatch the abortive ore,
When the sun tires and stars can do no more.
No! mines are current, unrefined, and gross;
Coals make the sterling, Nature but the dross.
For metals, Bacchus-like, two births approve;
Heaven's heat's the Semele, and ours the Jove.
Thus Art doth polish Nature; 'tis her trade:
So every madam has her chambermaid.
Who'd dote on gold? A thing so strange and odd,
'Tis most contemptible when made a god!
All sins and mischiefs thence have rise and swell;
One Indies more would make another Hell.
Our mines are innocent, nor will the North
Tempt poor mortality with too much worth.
Th' are not so precious; rich enough to fire
A lover, yet make none idolater.
The moderate value of our guiltless ore
Makes no man atheist, nor no woman whore.
Yet why should hallowed Vesta's glowing shrine
Deserve more honour than a flaming mine?
These pregnant wombs of heat would fitter be,
Than a few embers, for a deity.
Had he our pits, the Persian would admire
No sun, but warm's devotion at our fire.
He'd leave the trotting Whipster, and prefer
This profound Vulcan 'bove that Wagoner.
For wants he heat, or light? would he have store
Of both? 'Tis here. And what can suns give more?
Nay, what's that sun but, in a different name,
A coal-pit rampant, or a mine on flame?
Then let this truth reciprocally run,
The sun's Heaven's coalery, and coals our sun;
A sun that scorches not, locked up i' th' deep;
The bandog's chained, the lion is asleep.
That tyrant fire, which uncontrolled doth rage,
Here's calm and hushed, like Bajazet i' th' cage.
For in each coal-pit there doth couchant dwell
A muzzled Etna, or an innocent Hell.
Kindle the cloud, you'll lightning then descry;
Then will a day break from the gloomy sky;
Then you'll unbutton though December blow,
And sweat i' th' midst of icicles and snow;
The dog-days then at Christmas. Thus is all
The year made June and equinoctial.
If heat offend, our pits afford us shade,
Thus summer's winter, winter's summer made.
What need we baths, what need we bower or grove?
A coal-pit's both a ventiduct and stove.
Such pits and caves were palaces of old;
Poor inns, God wot, yet in an age of gold;
And what would now be thought a strange design,
To build a house was then to undermine.
People lived under ground, and happy dwellers
Whose jovial habitations were all cellars!
These primitive times were innocent, for then
Man, who turned after fox, but made his den.
But see a fleet of rivals trim and fine,
To court the rich infanta of our mine;
Hundreds of grim Leanders dare confront,
For this loved Hero, the loud Hellespont.
'Tis an armado royal doth engage
For some new Helen with this equipage;
Prepared too, should we their addresses bar,
To force their mistress with a ten years' war,
But that our mine's a common good, a joy
Made not to ruin but enrich our Troy.
Thus went those gallant heroes of old Greece,
The Argonauts, in quest o' th' Golden Fleece.
But oh! these bring it with 'em and conspire
To pawn that idol for our smoke and fire.
Silver's but ballast; this they bring ashore
That they may treasure up our better ore.
For this they venter rocks and storms, defy
All the extremities of sea and sky.
For the glad purchase of this precious mould,
Cowards dare pirates, misers part with gold.
Hence 'tis that when the doubtful ship sets forth
The knowing needle still directs it north,
And Nature's secret wonder, to attest
Our Indies' worth, discards both east and west.
For 'tis not only fire commends this spring,
A coal-pit is a mine of everything.
We sink a jack-of-all-trades shop, and sound
An inversed Burse, an Exchange under ground.
This Proteus earth converts to what you'd ha' 't;
Now you may weave't to silk, then coin't to plate,
And, what's a metamorphosis more dear,
Dissolve it and 'twill melt to London beer.
For whatsoe'er that gaudy city boasts,
Each month derives to these attractive coasts.
We shall exhaust their chamber and devour
Their treasures of Guildhall, the Mint, the Tower.
Our staiths their mortgaged streets will soon divide,
Blathon owe Cornhill, Stella share Cheapside.
Thus will our coal-pits' charity and pity
At distance undermine and fire the City.
Should we exact, they'd pawn their wives and treat
To swap those coolers for our sovereign heat.
'Bove kisses and embraces fire controls;
No Venus heightens like a peck of coals.
Medea was the drudge of some old sire
And Aeson's bath a lusty sea-coal fire.
Chimneys are old men's mistresses, their inns,
A modern dalliance with their measled shins.
To all defects the coal-heap brings a cure,
Gives life to age and raiment to the poor.
Pride first wore clothes; Nature disdains attire;
She made us naked 'cause she gave us fire.
Full wharfs are wardrobes, and the tailor's charm
Belongs to th' collier; he must keep us warm.
The quilted alderman with all's array
Finds but cold comfort on a frosty day;
Girt, wrapped, and muffled, yet with all that stir
Scarce warm when smoth'red in his drowsy fur;
Not proof against keen Winter's batteries
Should he himself wear all's own liveries,
But chilblains under silver spurs bewails
And in embroid'red buckskins blows his nails.
Rich meadows and full crops are elsewhere found:
We can reap harvest from our barren ground.
The bald parched hills that circumscribe our Tyne
Are no less fruitful in their hungry mine.
Their unfledged tops so well content our palates,
We envy none their nosegays and their sallets.
A gay rank soil like a young gallant grows
And spends itself that it may wear fine clothes,
Whilst all its worth is to its back confined.
Our wear's plain outside, but is richly lined;
Winter's above, 'tis summer underneath,
A trusty morglay in a rusty sheath.
As precious sables sometimes interlace
A wretched serge or grogram cassock case.
Rocks own no spring, are pregnant with no showers,
Crystals and gems grow there instead of flowers;
Instead of roses, beds of rubies sweat
And emeralds recompense the violet.
Dame Nature not, like other madams, wears,
Where she is bare, pearls on her breasts or ears.
What though our fields present a naked sight?
A paradise should be an adamite.
The northern lad his bonny lass throws down
And gives her a black bag for a green gown.





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