Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE DELINQUENT TRAVELLERS, by SAMUEL TAYLOR COLERIDGE



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THE DELINQUENT TRAVELLERS, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Some are home-sick - some two or three
Last Line: Are your delinquent travellers!
Subject(s): Travel; Journeys; Trips


Some are home-sick -- some two or three;
Their third year on the Arctic Sea --
Brave Captain Lyon tells us so --
Spite of those charming Esquimaux.
But O, what scores are sick of Home,
Agog for Paris or for Rome!
Nay! tho' contented to abide,
You should prefer your own fireside;
Yet since grim War has ceased its madding,
And Peace has set John Bull agadding,
'Twould such a vulgar taste betray,
For very shame you must away!
"What? not yet seen the coast of France!
The folks will swear, for lack of bail,
You've spent your last five years in jail!'
Keep moving! Steam, or Gas, or Stage,
Hold, cabin, steerage, hencoop's cage --
Tour, Journey, Voyage, Lounge, Ride, Walk,
Skim, Sketch, Excursion, Travel-talk --
For move you must! 'Tis now the rage,
The law and fashion of the Age.
If you but perch, where Dover tallies,
So strangely with the coast of Calais,
With a good glass and knowing look,
You'll soon get matter for a book!
Or else, in Gas-car, take your chance
Like that adventurous king of France,
Who, once, with twenty thousand men
Went up -- and then came down again;
At least, he moved if nothing more:
And if there's nought left to explore,
Yet while your well-greased wheels keep spinning,
The traveller's honoured name you're winning,
And, snug as Jonas in the Whale,
You may loll back and dream a tale.
Move, or be moved -- there's no protection,
Our Mother Earth has ta'en the infection --
(That rogue Copernicus, 'tis said
First put the whirring in her head),
A planet She, and can't endure
T'exist without her annual Tour:
The name were else a mere misnomer,
Since Planet is but Greek for Roamer.
The atmosphere, too, can do no less
Than ventilate her emptiness,
Bilks turn-pike gates, for no one cares,
And gives herself a thousand airs --
While streams and shopkeepers, we see,
Will have their run toward the sea --
And if, meantime, like old King Log,
Or ass with tether and a clog,
Must graze at home! to yawn and bray
"I guess we shall have rain to-day!'
Nor clog nor tether can be worse
Than the dead palsy of the purse.
Money, I've heard a wise man say,
Makes herself wings and flies away:
Ah! would She take it in her head
To make a pair for me instead!
At all events, the Fancy's free,
No traveller so bold as she.
From Fear and Poverty released
I'll saddle Pegasus, at least,
And when she's seated to her mind,
I within I can mount behind:
And since this outward I, you know,
Must stay because he cannot go,
My fellow-travellers shall be they
Who go because they cannot stay --
Rogues, rascals, sharpers, blanks and prizes,
Delinquents of all sorts and sizes,
Fraudulent bankrupts, Knights burglarious,
And demireps of means precarious --
All whom Law thwarted, Arms or Arts,
Compel to visit foreign parts,
All hail! No compliments, I pray,
I'll follow where you lead the way!
But ere we cross the main once more,
Methinks, along my native shore,
Dismounting from my steed I'll stray
Beneath the cliffs of Dumpton Bay,
Where, Ramsgate and Broadstairs between,
Rude caves and grated doors are seen:
And here I'll watch till break of day,
(For Fancy in her magic might
Can turn broad noon to starless night!)
When lo! methinks a sudden band
Of smock-clad smugglers round me stand.
Denials, oaths, in vain I try,
At once they gag me for a spy,
And stow me in the boat hard by.
Suppose us fairly now afloat,
Till Boulogne mouth receives our Boat.
But, bless us! what a numerous band
Of cockneys anglicize the strand!
Delinquent bankrupts, leg-bailed debtors,
Some for the news, and some for letters --
With hungry look and tarnished dress,
French shrugs and British surliness.
Sick of the country for their sake
Of them and France French leave I take --
And lo! a transport comes in view
I hear the merry motley crew,
Well skilled in pocket to make entry,
Of Dieman's Land the elected Gentry,
And founders of Australian Races. --
The Rogues! I see it in their faces!
Receive me, Lads! I'll go with you,
Hunt the black swan and kangaroo,
And that New Holland we'll presume
Old England with some elbow-room.
Across the mountains we will roam,
And each man make himself a home:
Or, if old habits ne'er forsaking,
Like clock-work of the Devil's making,
Ourselves inveterate rogues should be,
We'll have a virtuous progeny;
And on the dunghill of our vices
Raise human pine-apples and spices.
Of all the children of John Bull
With empty heads and bellies full,
Who ramble East, West, North and South,
With leaky purse and open mouth,
In search of varieties exotic
The usefullest and most patriotic,
And merriest, too, believe me, Sirs!
Are your Delinquent Travellers!






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