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Peter Grimes (The Borough, Letter XXII)

by George Crabbe


Old Peter Grimes made fishing his employ,
His wife he cabin'd with him and his boy,
And seem'd that life laborious to enjoy;
To town came quiet Peter with his fish,
And had of all a civil word and wish.
He left his trade upon the sabbath-day,
And took young Peter in his hand to pray:
But soon the stubborn boy from care broke loose,
At first refused, then added his abuse:
His father's love he scorn'd, his power defied,
But being drunk, wept sorely when he died.

Yes! then he wept, and to his mind there came
Much of his conduct, and felt the shame, -
How he had oft the good man reviled,
And never paid the duty of a child;
How, when the father in his BIble read,
He in contempt and anger left the shed:
"It is the word of life," the parent cried;
 - "This is the life itself," the boy replied;
And while old Peter in amazement stood,
Gave the hot spirit to his boiling blood: -
How he, with oath and furious speech, began
To prove his freedom and assert the man;
And when the parent check'd his impious rage,
How he had cursed the tyranny of age, -
Nay, once had dealt the sacrilegious blow
On his bare head, and laid the parent low;
The father groan'd - "If thou art old," said he,
"And hast a son - thou wilt remember me:
Thy mother left me in a happy time,
Thou kill'dst not her - Heav'en spares the double crime."
On an inn-settle, in his maudlin grief,
This he resolved, and drank for his relief.
 
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