Kok Robyn's Funeral

Original Text: 
Hattie Brown, Catoninetales: A Domestic Epic, ed. W. J. Linton (London: Lawrence and Bullen, 1891): 3-5. Internet Archive
His gite was golden gay with streakis blak. Chaucer.
4It was I kill'd Kok Robyn.
5Who heard his groans?
7    And growl'd in communion
8While picking my bones.
9Who saw him die?
10    I did, said Jack,
11    As I lay on my back
12Wide awake in one eye.
13Who's Funeral Boss?
14    I am, said Nelly,
15    Though my heart's all a jelly,
16A-quake at his loss.
17Who'll dig his grave?
18    I will, said Father,
19    Unless you would rather
20Have some stranger knave.
21Who'll bear the pall?
23    I'll mind a limb o' thee:
24So the chickens said all.
25Who'll be chief mourner?
27    And no mother's son o' you'
28'll do it forlorner.
29Who'll sing the psalm?
30    We will, said the Mice;
31    It will be real nice,
32We're so blessedly calm.
33And who'll set the tune?
34    We will, chirp'd the Birds:
35    Don't ask us for words,
36But we'll manage a tune.
37Who'll preach the sermon?
38    I will, prosed a Rat;
39    I have it quite pat
40From the text Cats are vermin.
41Here ends our first story,
42    One taile of Kok Robyn:
43    Let us all stop our sobbin'!
44We hope he's in glory.
45Sir Kok's epitaph
48Let no one laugh!


1] Kok Robyn: "our chief he-cat" (poet's note). Usually "Cock Robin," a pet name from the old nursery rhyme, "Who killed Cock Robin?" (Tommy Thumb's Pretty Song Book [1744]). For a modern edition, see H. L. Stephens, Death and Burial of Poor Cock Robin (New York: Hurd & Houghton, 1865). Back to Line
2] Fanny: "a she-setter, a tan" (poet's note). Back to Line
3] Danny: "our chore-boy" (poet's note). Back to Line
6] "Union and Jack, ... tabby, ... black, were our kittens, both born on a midsummer morn of one mother, loved well by ... Sister Nell" (poet's note). Back to Line
22] Timothy: "a name that was flung at our rooster most young" (poet's note). Back to Line
26] O'Donoghue: "our great Rooster Dean, of Irish descent" (poet's note). Back to Line
46] Leo: "denoting a neighbour as payment for labour in help of our plot" (poet's note). Back to Line
47] Laus Deo! "Praise be to God!" (Latin). Back to Line
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: