Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE UPAS IN MAYBORNE LANE, by JAMES SMITH (1775-1839)



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THE UPAS IN MAYBORNE LANE, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: A tree grew in java, whose pestilent rind
Last Line: And hew down the upas in marybone-lane.
Subject(s): Crime & Criminals; London; Upas Trees


A TREE grew in Java, whose pestilent rind
A venom distilled of the deadliest kind;
The Dutch sent their felons its juices to draw,
And who returned safe, pleaded pardon by law.

Face-muffled the culprits crept into the vale,
Advancing from windward to 'scape the death-gale;
How few the reward of their victory earned!
For ninety-nine perished for one who returned.

Britannia this Upas-tree bought of Mynheer,
Removed it through Holland and planted it here;
'Tis now a stock plant, of the genus Wolf's bane,
And one of them blossoms in Marybone lane.

The house that surrounds it stands first in a row,
The doors, at right angles, swing open below;
And the children of misery daily steal in,
And the poison they draw we denominate Gin.

There enter the prude, and the reprobate boy,
The mother of grief, and the daughter of joy,
The serving-maid slim, and the serving-man stout,
They quickly steal in, and they slowly reel out.

Surcharged with the venom, some walk forth erect,
Apparently baffling its deadly effect;
But, sooner or later, the reckoning arrives,
And ninety-nine perish for one who survives.

They cautious advance, with slouched bonnet and hat,
They enter at this door, they go out at that;
Some bear off their burden with riotous glee,
But most sink, in sleep, at the foot of the tree.

Tax, Chancellor Van, the Batavian to thwart,
This compound of crime, at a sovereign a quart;
Let gin fetch, per bottle, the price of Champagne,
And hew down the Upas in Marybone-lane.





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