Poetry Explorer

Classic and Contemporary Poetry

THE DISASTER, by                    
First Line: By sparrows drawn, there's now no chance
Last Line: And in my husband's chariot come.
Subject(s): Pets; Sparrows


By sparrows drawn, there's now no chance
To see your car-borne friend advance.
A dire disaster -- hang the cat:
Far better had she killed a rat.
Supinely seated in my chair,
And building castles in the air,
Contriving how to form the traces,
And where to fix the springs and braces,
To make my car secure and tight,
And guide the little flutterers right;
A buzzing fly sports round my head,
And straight the airy castle fled.

My son, with arm of mighty force,
Soon stopped the fly's progressive course:
The trembling insect fast he held,
With joy elate his bosom swelled,
And thus he spoke to Dick and Phill,
'I give this victim to your will.'
Then oped the cage, that each might vie
To seize the half-expiring fly;
With wings outspread, to try their chance
The little chirpers soon advance:
With tail erect, and back raised high,
The cat appeared -- her sparkling eye
Was green as is the emerald's dye:
With outstretched paw, and lofty bound,
She gave poor Dick a fatal wound.

Oh, dire mishap! oh, fell despair!
His fleeting breath was lost in air.
Struck with the sight, fixed pale and dumb
(Like coward when he hears a drum),
The youth remained -- but kindled rage
Glows on my cheeks -- and war I wage;
While puss, exulting o'er the prey,
Essays in vain to break away,
With hand of force I gripped her throat
(Her life was then not worth a groat):
'Unfeeling wretch, declare I say,
Deep mischief brooding, where you lay;
Unloose thy hold, release the corse,
Nor tear those limbs with brutal force;
'Twas impious theft that prompts the deed,
But impious theft shall ne'er succeed;
Nor shalt thou bear the prize away;
Grimalkin, hold -- I charge thee, stay.
Life now no longer swells his breast,
Yet safe entombed my bird shall rest.

'But, caitiff vile, live thou disgraced,
Nor ever more of sparrow taste;
Thy share of toast and cream shall fail,
Nor e'er in mirth pursue thy tail.
No tender mouse shall grace thy dish,
Nor shalt thou ever taste of fish;
At dreary eve of winter's day,
Warm by the fire each cat shall lay,
Whilst thou, shut out, shall mew in vain,
Exposed to storms of wind and rain;
Through pools of wet be forced to tramp,
Thy limbs benumbed with painful cramp.

With trembling nerves and glaring eye,
She heard my threats without reply.

First in my hand I held her still,
To show I had the power to kill;
Then raised her high to strike the blow,
And lay the sprawling victim low;
But rage subsides -- to give her pain
Would not bring back poor Dick again.
'Grimalkin, go -- thy life I spare,
But never more my friendship share.'

His mate, poor Phill, in silence mourns,
And pensive to the cage returns.
While I lament the fatal day
That snatched my flattering hopes away.
For never yet in one-horse chair
Did god or goddess mount in air;
And shall a mortal dare to fly,
With single sparrow, through the sky?
No -- rather let me wait my doom,
And in my husband's chariot come.





Discover our Poem Explanations and Poet Analyses!


Other Poems of Interest...



Home: PoetryExplorer.net