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Stiperstones Poems


On the top of Mytton Dingle
Lady Godda hunts her hounds
There she rides over heath and shingle
With the pack, on midnight rounds.

The winds moan softly in the heather,
Dark it is in the gorges below.
Hush, here they come altogether
Listen to that cry of woe.

It's the doom of a wilful word
Said many more times than seven.
For the reckless lady swore she preferred
To hunt, than to dwell in heaven.

Do you see they are spirit horses
Which race on the Stiperstones?
Behold they are livid corpses,
Can you hear their creaking bones?

So for ever she at midnight
Hunts the Dingle all around
Beware of her ghost and the black sprite
For the place in haunted ground.

One night on that Stiperstones track
I saw by the light of the moon
Right before me a spirit black
Fallen down flat in a swoon
He'd heard me bawling and was taken aback
Hearing an old Shropshire tune.

Peggy Moses' Well

High on the Stiperstones is Peggy Moses' Well.
The memories it brings to me are more than I can tell
For round it clings the times we spent in Pennerley
Such happy times alas, can never come again to me.

We went to Pennerley in youthful days sublime
And drank the limpid water many a time.
We learned to know the people, what they were
And since have learned their characters are rare.

But what about the well of Peggy Moses?
High up among the heather it reposes,
Amid the cranberries red; where the world is always clean,
Above the foggy valley, in healthful air serene.

Above the jealousies and bickerings of human spite
It was a new existence, our hearts were always light.
It is not wealth we want, something far better is
A life in higher regions; that bringeth Heaven's bliss.

When other wells were dry; this will be going strong.
Keeps flowing just the same, all though the summer long.
In hottest weather it will be as cold as ice
And if you have drunk once, you'll want to drink there twice.

The water is as soft, I'll say, as soft as milk
And clear as if it had been strained through finest silk.
When feeling thirsty, of that cool limpid stream
Away in London city, I often used to dream.

Some boast of wines, of brandies and champagne,
And if you mentioned water, you'd hear their high disdain.
But all these costly liquors just ruin their inside
Yet none were ruined by the water which this well supplied

For I assert that all the health men
That lived at Pennerley, and I'll say it o'er again
They owe their healthy life to Peggy Moses' well
And if you don't believe it; then let the Doctor tell.

And I can well believe that it was once a shrine
The ancient folk sincerely thought the well divine
And after all that Pennerley means to me, if I speak true,
I verily accept their creed for I could worship, too.

Slashrags The Tailor and the Devil,

He was a tailor by profession
But that was not his chief obsession.
By trade he was a swindler born
And worked hard at it, night and morn.
He did no sewing, using no thread
Together gummed his suits instead
Which saved his labour and his time
But what the wearer said don't rhyme.
No one had dealings with him twice
Once badly burnt will oft suffice
And Law is a rapacious beast
The Honest man is often fleeced.

Alas, it fills my heart with woe
To think how vile the wicked grow
To know how much they are believed
How much th'electorate is deceived
Even members of Parliament
Are not above so much per cent.
They live for ever on the make
And honest principles forsake
Becoming rich, and what care they
For God, or man, or Judgment Day.
Such bribery and corruption
No prophet dares its interruption.

Slashrags looked innocent and suave
Although he knew himself a knave
But in the end he was found out
And I tell how it came about.

There was a place not far away
Called the Bog Reckoning, in his day
Amongst the mountains wild, it lay.
Well to this place the rascal went
What time the miners freely spent
Their wages ordering suits of clothes.
That no one knew him we'll suppose.
He knew the way to capture trade
And all the tricks that business made.
It's not the goods that always matter
Sometimes it is the talk, and chatter.

He mixed their drinks till they were fuddled
Then sold his clothes while they were muddled
He took some money on account
But added it to the amount
And used the law to make them pay
For the bad bargain made that day

Now comes the hour when he must hence
And ride along dark Flenny's fence
Cross Ritton's swamps; and Grithill's dykes
And not disturb Shelve's bulls and tykes,
And what is worse the Red Barn ghost
Which frightens travellers the most
- Along the ground Dick saw it creep
Then o'er the gate beheld it leap
Which bounded at him like a dog
My word, it gave his heart a jog
So it would yours or any one
In such a case, it's wise to run.
And if you can, swift as a gun.

At midnight down in those dark lanes
Is heard the clang of iron chains.
Wild shrieks and screams of souls in woe
Driven by demons down below,
There is a place most woeful drear
Which now the wretched man draws near.
A haunted spot it is, I know:
Haunted by a big Boogebo,
Here to his horror he espied
A tall dark man the hedge beside.
He dared not run, he could not hide
With fear he stood still, petrified
And now was feeling very blue
When out the dark man came in view
And said 'Slashrags. How do you do?'
He wondered why his name was known
But every devil knows his own.

A strong sulphurious smell about
Made the poor tailor want to shout
For it seems strange when bad men meet
Their Lord, you'd think they'd friendly greet.
Instead of which they're scared to death
Dithering and trembling, short of breath.
Slashrags was in an awful mess
Beyond description you can guess.
For he beheld Nick's switching tail
That sight did Slashrags quite upkail.
At last he knew his end had come
The Devil meant to fetch him home.

Old Nick could see that he was queer
But to abate somewhat his fear
And calm him down so I suppose
He ordered quick a suit of clothes
At this the pony cocked his ears
And Slashrags quickly lost his fears
No swifter cure I know 'tis funny
Than the mere chance of making money.
For money is a potent drug
It changes many a scoundrel thug
Into a bloated agitator
And makes him a blackguard orator
It makes physicians use the knife.
For fees more precious are than life
It makes some parsons crawl and creep
About a Patron cunning deep.
It makes a jackass of the Law
Much gold, yet more, to fill its maw.

It worked wonders on Slashrags
He quickly tethered his old nag,
And measured Satan for the clothes
Until he came down to his toes
To his horror there he found
With cloven hoofs he stood on ground.
To see such feet and swishing tail
Made him set up a dismal wail.
Meanwhile Old Nick was badly blinking
And trying much to do some thinking,
How best to end the tailor's woe
In his dominions down below.

Satan is never in a hurry
Only good Christians hurry scurry
To fix upon his destination
He gave a week's consideration
The end of Slashrags sure he knows
Meanwhile he could be making clothes
For Nick is not a wily fellow
Any lawyer MP could turn him yellow
One foolish thing he did, I trow
He let the scoundrel tailor go.

That night his wife advised him much
How to escape the devil's clutch.
Urged him his wicked ways to mend
And make the Church his guide and friend,
Go in the morn to Middleton
Confess his failings every one.
To Middleton, the tailor went
And there a tearful morning spent
Returned, resolved his ways to mend
The parson was henceforth his friend,
And would be with him to the end.
The two went out as they agreed,
The good old parson took the lead.

When they saw Nick was there indeed
The tailor he became knock-kneed
But Brewster kept him on his way
Then jumped the hedge beside, to pray.
The Devil grinned and paid his bill
Then set the Tailor for the kill,
But saw will horror in his look
That parson reading his Prayer Book
He dropped the clothes with an awful yell
And in a jiffy took his hook
And hid himself in the lowest hell.

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