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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
England: Vols. I–IV. 1876–79.


The Ungracious Return

By Henry Sewell Stokes (1808–1895)

I HAVE a startling tale to tell

Of what in Bodmin town befell

In the distant time long, long ago,

When every man was his neighbor’s foe,

And lords like tigers prowled the land,

Each with his own well-chosen band,

To do his work of savagery;

When princes fought for sovereignty;

Who loyal was to-day to-morrow

Might be called traitor, to his sorrow.

In Edward’s time, at Bodmin town

When sturdy Boyer wore the gown,

The Royal provost wrote a line

He on a day with him would dine,

And begged he would meanwhile prepare

A gibbet for some stout rebels there.

The mayor obeyed him to the letter,

Thinking the strongest side the better;

And, to meet the great man, at the gate

His worship stood in all his state.

And then into the common hall

Mayor, provost, aldermen, burghers all

Went with a rush and made good cheer,

With beef and venison, wine and beer;

And many a loyal toast was given,

And fear and doubt away were driven

With bumpers full and foaming high:

Yet wicked looked the provost’s eye,

But he laughed, and did not spare the sherry,

While the mayor and aldermen were merry.

But while they feast within, without

Hammers were heard, and then a shout

Told that the gibbet was finished then.

Forth came the mayor and aldermen,

And burghers all, and the provost stern,

Who had set his mind to make return

To the mayor for his hospitality;

And how ’t was done you soon will see,

For on the gibbet, at his own door,

His worship swung in a moment more!