A Lay of St. Gengulphus

'Non multo post, Gengulphus, in domo sua dormiens, occisus est a quodam clerico qui cum uxore sua adulterare solebat. Cujus corpus dum in fereto in sepulturam portaretur, multi infirmi de tactu sanati sunt.'

'Cum hoc illius uxori referretur ab ancilla sua, scilicet dominum suum quam martyrem sanctum miracula facere, irridens illa, et subsurrans, ait, 'Ita Gengulphus miracula facitat ut pulvinarium meum cantat,' &c. &c.-- Wolfii Memorab.

Gengulphus comes from the Holy Land,
With his scrip, and his bottle, and sandal shoon;
Full many a day has he been away,
Yet his Lady deems him return'd full soon.

Full many a day has he been away,
Yet scarce had he crossed ayont the sea,
Ere a spruce young spark of a Learned Clerk
Had called on his Lady and stopp'd to tea.

This spruce young guest, so trimly drest,
Stay'd with that Lady, her revels to crown;
They laugh'd; and they ate, and they drank of the best,
And they turn'd the old Castle quite upside down.

They would walk in the park, that spruce young Clerk,
With that frolicsome Lady so frank and free,
Trying balls and plays, and all manner of ways,
To get rid of what French people call Ennui.

Now the festive board, with viands is stored,
Savoury dishes be there, I ween,
Rich puddings and big, and a barbecued pig,
And oxtail soup in a China tureen.

There's a flagon of ale as large as a pail --
When, cockle on hat, and staff in hand,
While on nought they are thinking save eating and drinking,
Gengulphus walks in from the Holy Land!

'You must be pretty deep to catch weazels asleep,'
Says the proverb: that is, 'take the Fair unawares;'
A maid, o'er the banisters chancing to peep,
Whispers, 'Ma'am, here's Gengulphus a-coming upstairs.'

Pig, pudding, and soup, the electrified group,
With the flagon, pop under the sofa in haste,
And contrive to deposit the Clerk in the closet,
As the dish least of all to Gengulphus's taste.

Then oh! what rapture, what joy was exprest,
When 'poor dear Gengulphus' at last appear'd!
She kiss'd, and she press'd 'the dear man' to her breast,
In spite of his great, long, frizzly beard.

Such hugging and squeezing! 'twas almost unpleasing,
A smile on her lip, and a tear in her eye;
She was so very glad, that she seem'd half mad,
And did not know whether to laugh or to cry.

Then she calls up the maid, and the table cloth's laid,
And she sends for a pint of the best Brown Stout;
On the fire, too, she pops some nice mutton chops,
And she mixes a stiff glass of 'Cold Without.'

Then again she began at the 'poor dear' man;
She press'd him to drink, and she press'd him to eat,
And she brought a foot-pan with hot water and bran,
To comfort his 'poor dear' travel-worn feet.

'Nor night nor day since he'd been away,
Had she had any rest' she 'vow'd and declared.'
She 'never could eat one morsel of meat,
For thinking how 'poor dear' Gengulphus fared.'

She 'really did think she had not slept a wink
Since he left her, although he'd been absent so long.'
He here shook his head,-- right little he said;
But he thought she was 'coming it rather too strong.'

Now his palate she tickles with the chops and the pickles,
Till, so great the effect of that stiff gin grog,
His weaken'd body, subdued by the toddy,
Falls out of the chair, and he lies like a log.

Then out comes the Clerk from his secret lair;
He lifts up the legs, and she raises the head,
And, between them, this most reprehensible pair
Undress poor Gengulphus, and put him to bed.

Then the bolster they place athwart his face,
And his night-cap into his mouth they cram;
And she pinches his nose underneath the clothes,
Till the 'poor dear soul' went off like a lamb.

And now they try'd the deed to hide;
For a little bird whisper'd, 'Perchance you may swing;
Here's a corpse in the case with a sad swell'd face,
And a 'Crowner's Quest' is a queer sort of thing!'

So the Clerk and the Wife, they each took a knife,
And the nippers that nipp'd the loaf-sugar for tea;
With the edges and points they sever'd the joints
At the clavicle, elbow, hip, ankle, and knee.

Thus, limb from limb, they dismember'd him
So entirely, that e'en when they came to his wrists,
With those great sugar nippers they nipp'd off his 'flippers,'
As the Clerk, very flippantly, term'd his fists.

When they'd cut off his head, entertaining a dread
Lest folks should remember Gengulphus's face,
They determined to t
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Richard Harris Barham

Richard Harris Barham was an English cleric of the Church of England, novelist, and humorous poet. more…

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"A Lay of St. Gengulphus" Poetry.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2019. Web. 7 Dec. 2019. <https://www.poetry.net/poem/30086/a-lay-of-st.-gengulphus>.

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