How they Brought the News to a Gent

Original Text: 
W. J. Linton, Heliconundrums (Hamden, Conn.: Appledore, 1892): 13-15.
2Had to take him the news: I was boss of the three,
4As we left her front gate, for good luck her old shoe;
5Then we heard the door slam, and we started abreast.
6Peggy's ass it was lame, and they ran at their best.
7Not a word to each other, we just went the pace,--
9I turn'd in my saddle and made the girths tight,
10Then shorten'd the stirrups and saw each was right,
11And the rein-buckle fix'd, though I knew not a whit
12Would that hard-mouth'd old jackass attend to the bit.
13'Twas dinner-time leaving: so when we drew near
15There was blackberries there, quite a plenty to see;
16But Tim said he would not be waiting for me,
17Though I tried to persuade him the berries was prime;
18Till Bob bursted out with--We sha'nt have no time.
19In the mid o' the common out came the hot sun,
20And I thought that my donkey look'd most overdone,
21And the thought made me wild as the others ran past;
22But I wallop'd him well till he gallop'd at last,
23With ram-headed shoulders a-butting away
24At Bob, which upset him. And I let him lay.
25Cross the common Tim weaken'd, but choked out--You Sir!
26You wait or I'll lick you. I thought that that were
27A thing to remember; I saw his weak knees
28As he stagger'd and leant against one of the trees,
29Out of wind, and then down on his marrowbones sank
30And Me and Bob went on, we two in one rank.
31We kept a round trot: Bob did, so did I,
32Down the hill, up the next one. But Bob he was dry
33With the dust. So at that I began for to laugh
34('Twas the donkey that work'd, I had leisure to chaff),
35Till at top o' the next hill Bob's gills they turn'd white,
36And he dropp'd there, quite blown, with the Gent's house in sight
37There I left Robert fetching his breath on a stone,
38And Me and my donkey we rode on alone.
39I was jolly, I'd time enough even to wait,
40If I look'd out behind, between that and the gate;
41But donkey, it hadn't been all play to him,
42And I saw, as his head turn'd, his eyeballs were dim.
43So I slid from my jacket, my cap I let fall,
44Then stripp'd off my pants, my suspenders, and all
45But my shirt and my tie, so of weight made him clear,
46And patted his lean ribs and call'd him a dear,
47And shouted and holler'd and gave him the wood
49And next I remember was folk standing round,
50As I sate with my knees in my shirt on the ground,
51And all of them praising this donkey of mine,
52As they fed him with thistles and ask'd me to dine.
54But nary a nickel I got from the Gent.


1] Bob Browning: Robert Browning, the English poet of whose "How They Brought the Good News from Ghent to Aix" (1842) this poem is a parody. Timothy Titcombe: pseudonym of Josiah Gilbert Holland, author of Titcomb's Letters to Young People Single and Married, whose complete poems were published in 1881. Back to Line
3] stump'd: walked, trudged. Back to Line
8] Jack: the donkey. Back to Line
14] the common: commons, community land. Back to Line
48] crupper: harness to keep a horse's saddle in place. Back to Line
53] brick: loaf of bread. Back to Line
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: