Sunday Poetry – Thomas Hardy

As I’ve just finished listening to the audio book of Cakes and Ale by W Somerset Maugham which features a character based on Thomas Hardy, I felt I needed a typically melancholic Hardy poem today. I also wanted a poem about rain. I don’t find rain melancholy & we had some lovely rain in Melbourne on Friday that filled up my rain water tanks & gave the garden a thorough drink. This is not to be sniffed at in the middle of an Australian summer. This poem, Rain on a Grave, is very Hardy.

Clouds spout upon her
    Their waters amain
    In ruthless disdain, –
Her who but lately
    Had shivered with pain
As at touch of dishonour
If there had lit on her
So coldly, so straightly
    Such arrows of rain:

One who to shelter
    Her delicate head
Would quicken and quicken
    Each tentative tread
If drops chanced to pelt her
    That summertime spills
    In dust-paven rills
When thunder-clouds thicken
    And birds close their bills.

Would that I lay there
    And she were housed here!
Or better, together
Were folded away there
Exposed to one weather
We both, – who would stray there
When sunny the day there,
    Or evening was clear
    At the prime of the year.

Soon will be growing
    Green blades from her mound,
And daisies be showing
    Like stars on the ground,
Till she form part of them –
Ay – the sweet heart of them,
Loved beyond measure
With a child’s pleasure
    All her life’s round.

The Religious Body – Catherine Aird

Sister Anne, of the Convent of St Anselm, has been found dead at the bottom of the cellar steps. The back of her head has been shattered by a heavy blow but there’s a curious absence of blood at the scene. What was meant to look like an accident is soon revealed to be murder. Inspector C D Sloan of Calleshire CID arrives, accompanied by his very raw constable, William Crosby. A convent is foreign territory to Sloan & his investigation isn’t helped by the unhelpfulness of witnesses who practice custody of the eyes & make a virtue of being unobservant. Sister Anne was seen at Vespers on the night of her death but, when forensic surgeon Dr Dabbe determines that she must have been dead at least two hours earlier, who was it who sat in her stall in Chapel? And where were Sister Anne’s glasses when she couldn’t see very far without them?

Before she entered the convent, Sister Anne had been Josephine Cartwright, a member of a wealthy family, who disowned her when she became a nun. That wealth was made in munitions during the Great War & Sister Anne is due to inherit a substantial amount of money which her disapproving family can’t prevent. She wants to use the money to build a cloister for the convent & to further the order’s work in the mission field but this plan would not please her cousin, Harold, the Managing Director of the firm which is just about to be listed as a public company.Why should Harold Cartwright have suddenly decided to visit his cousin after twenty years, on the very day she’s murdered? Could one of Sister Anne’s fellow nuns murdered her for the sake of the inheritance? Sloan must try to penetrate the bland courtesy & unvarying routines of the nuns to discover if any of the Sisters had a secret in their past that could have led to murder.

The investigation takes another turn when the students at the nearby Agricultural Institute dress their Bonfire Night Guy in a nun’s habit. After an anonymous tip off, Sloan arrives just in time to rescue the guy from the flames & discovers that it’s also wearing Sister Anne’s glasses. Three students confess to stealing the old habit from the convent on the night of the murder but deny knowing anything about the glasses. When one of the students is found dead, strangled in the Convent shrubbery, it seems that he must have seen something that was dangerous to the murderer, whether he realised it or not.

The Religious Body was the first of Catherine Aird’s Inspector Sloan mysteries, published in 1966. I must have discovered them in the 1980s & I’ve read them all. I can’t resist a convent mystery (having recently reread Antonia Fraser’s Quiet as a Nun) & it’s been so many years since I read this that it was like reading a new novel. Open Road Media have released many of the Sloan series as eBooks & we’ve bought some for our eBook collection at work so I plan to read a few more of the early books. Reading The Religious Body reminded me of Catherine Aird’s only non-series mystery novel, A Most Contagious Game, which I’ve linked to in my featured post this week. I do like her writing style, her cool, dry humour & she has a real sense of atmosphere. Inspector Sloan is an engaging detective who has much to put up with the very inexperienced Crosby & his tetchy boss, Superintendent Leeyes.

Sunday Poetry – Rudyard Kipling

This poem, Mesopotamia, was written after the publication of a report into the disastrous Allied campaign there during WWI. The Army had learnt nothing from previous mistakes & the mismanagement, especially of the wounded, became a scandal. Kipling’s frustration is evident in the poem.

Since I’ve been reading Kipling’s stories & poetry, I seem to see his name everywhere. I read this article in the Guardian on the 150th anniversary of Kipling’s birth. I also discovered here that John Kipling’s grave has been found. Last week I mentioned the poignancy of Kipling writing the epitaph for the graves of unidentified soldiers when his own son’s remains were never found. I can also recommend the episode of BBC Radio’s In Our Time on Kipling which is mentioned at the end of that article.

They shall not return to us, the resolute, the young,
The eager and whole-hearted whom we gave:
But the men who left them thriftily to die in their own dung,
Shall they come with years and honour to the grave?

They shall not return to us; the strong men coldly slain
In sight of help denied from day to day:
But the men who edged their agonies and chid them in their pain,
Are they too strong and wise to put away?

Our dead shall not return to us while Day and Night divide–
Never while the bars of sunset hold.
But the idle-minded overlings who quibbled while they died,
Shall they thrust for high employments as of old?

Shall we only threaten and be angry for an hour:
When the storm is ended shall we find
How softly but how swiftly they have sidled back to power
By the favour and contrivance of their kind?

Even while they soothe us, while they promise large amends,
Even while they make a show of fear,
Do they call upon their debtors, and take counsel with their
To conform and re-establish each career?

Their lives cannot repay us–their death could not undo–
The shame that they have laid upon our race.
But the slothfulness that wasted and the arrogance that slew,
Shell we leave it unabated in its place?

Jezebel’s Daughter – Wilkie Collins

It’s been much too long since I read a Wilkie Collins novel so I was very pleased to see that Oxford University Press were publishing a new edition of one of his lesser-known novels, Jezebel’s Daughter. This is a late novel, published in 1880 & a short novel by Victorian standards, only 250pp. However, it is full of all the themes & preoccupations of Collins’ other novels – the position of women in society, the growing influence of science for good & evil, social justice & a good proportion of superstition, sensation & intrigue, including a pivotal scene in a morgue.

David Glenney is looking back on the events of his youth from a distance of 50 years. In the 1820s, he was working in his uncle, Mr Wagner’s, business which has offices in London & Frankfort. Mr Wagner, a good businessman with a social conscience, dies, leaving his very capable widow to continue the business & to carry out his particular plan, the reform of the treatment of the insane in asylums such as Bedlam. To this end, & against the advice of lawyers, Mrs Wagner decides to take one of the inmates of Bedlam, known as Jack Straw, into her home. Jack Straw got his name because of his ability to plait straw which calms his nerves. Although the origin of his illness is unknown, some form of poisoning is suspected. He is soon devoted to Mrs Wagner & she treats him with kindness, giving him responsibilities in the business such as becoming Keeper of the Keys, a title he’s very proud of.

The Frankfort office is run by the other two partners in the business, Mr Keller & Mr Engelman. Mr Keller’s son, Fritz, is sent to the London office to get him out of the way of a young woman he wishes to marry. Minna Fontaine is the Jezebel’s daughter of the title. Madame Fontaine is the widow of an eminent chemist. She has the reputation of a spendthrift & her extravagant debts are said to have ruined her husband’s health. After his death, a medicine cabinet, said to contain dangerous potions, goes missing & investigations lead nowhere although suspicion points to Madame as the thief. Mr Keller is determined that Fritz & Minna will not marry & refuses to meet either lady. Madame Fontaine is just as determined that they will marry & her maternal devotion & her desire for Minna to marry a rich man who will pay her debts for fear of scandal, is the catalyst for the events of the novel.

David goes to Frankfort to implement another of Mr Wagner’s innovations. He wants to introduce female clerks into both the London & Frankfort offices. His conservative German partners are sceptical but treat David cordially & he does all he can to keep the young lovers in contact with each other. David is suspicious of Madame Fontaine whose outward appearance of kindness & solicitude is betrayed by an underlying tension & frustration which David glimpses several times. Eventually, Madame contrives to meet Mr Engelman, whom she fascinates & flatters until he’s hopelessly in love with her. This provides her entrée in the Keller household. She even becomes housekeeper to Mr Keller, after she nurses him through a serious illness. Mr Keller eventually agrees to Fritz & Minna’s wedding & it seems that Madame Fontaine’s problems are over.

Mrs Wagner decides to visit Frankfort, bringing Jack Straw with her. The two widows dislike each other on sight & Jack is also known to Madame Fontaine as he was once an assistant in her husband’s laboratory. Jack has knowledge of Madame’s past & she fears that this knowledge will ruin all her plans. The contents of Monsieur Fontaine’s medicine cabinet give her great power & she is not afraid to use it, to devastating effect.

Jezebel’s Daughter began life as a play, The Red Vial, which Collins wrote in 1858. The play was a flop; reviewers acknowledged the sensational elements but felt that the play needed some comic sub-plot to avoid the audience sinking into despair & even some inappropriate laughter at the end of two hours of melodrama. Twenty years later, Collins reused the story in this novel. Collins excels at depicting strong women & Mrs Wagner & Madame Fontaine are wonderfully complex characters. The story doesn’t have many elements of mystery to it as we’re never really in doubt as to Madame’s duplicity. The first half of the story is told by David as an eyewitness & he is suspicious of her from the first. The second half, after an interlude consisting of three letters, is narrated by David from the testimony of others along with letters addressed to him (he’s in London through most of this part of the story) & a diary.

There may not be much mystery but there’s a lot of sensation in the plot. From the visit to Bedlam when Mrs Wagner meets Jack Straw, to the mysterious disappearance of Monsieur Fontaine’s medicine cabinet, illnesses & miraculous recoveries & the final scenes in the Deadhouse where superstitious Germans paid a Watchman to stay with their dead loved ones before their funerals in case they revived, there are enough shocks to satisfy any fan of sensation fiction. Minna is a bland heroine, sweet, dutiful & rather dim & her Fritz is boisterous & conventional. The real interest is in Madame Fontaine’s almost obsessive love for her daughter & the mixed motivations inherent in her desire for Minna’s marriage. She certainly wants her daughter to be happy & to marry the man she loves but she needs Minna to marry a rich man who will pay a promissory note that’s about to fall due. Madame Fontaine will do anything to bring about the marriage & it’s frightening to see the lengths that she will go to when it seems her plans are about to come unstuck.

Jezebel’s Daughter isn’t one of Collins’s best novels, coming near the end of his career & twenty years after the high points of The Moonstone, The Woman in White & Armadale. However, there’s a lot to enjoy in the portraits of the two widows, kindly Mr Engelman & rigidly correct Mr Keller & Jack, who often plays the role of fool or jester, presuming to speak the truth to his social superiors whether they want to hear it or not.

Oxford University Press kindly sent me a copy of Jezebel’s Daughter for review.

Sunday Poetry – Rudyard Kipling

After reading Kipling’s story, The Gardener, I was curious about the verses that he used as the epigraph at the beginning. It was the last verse of this poem, The Burden. The story is about a woman who brings up her nephew & sees him go off to war. He’s killed &, after the war is over, she goes to Belgium to see his grave. It’s a beautiful story, the prose is very spare & simple. It’s even more poignant when you realise that Kipling was involved in the work of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission & composed the epitaph engraved on the graves of unidentified soldiers, A Soldier of the Great War, known unto God. Kipling’s own son, John, was listed as missing after the battle of Loos in 1915 & his body was never found.

The relevance of the verse Kipling used for his story, with its reference to the Gospel story of Mary Magdalene’s visit to Christ’s tomb on Easter Sunday & her conversation with the gardener she meets there, only becomes clear at the end of the story.

You can read The Gardener here.

One grief on me is laid
   Each day of every year,
Wherein no soul can aid,
   Whereof no soul can hear:
Whereto no end is seen
   Except to grieve again–
Ah, Mary Magdalene,
   Where is there greater pain?

To dream on dear disgrace
   Each hour of every day–
To bring no honest face
   To aught I do or say:
To lie from morn till e’en–
   To know my lies are vain–
Ah, Mary Magdalene,
   Where can be greater pain?

To watch my steadfast fear
   Attend mine every way
Each day of every year–
   Each hour of every day:
To burn, and chill between–
   To quake and rage again–
Ah, Mary Magdalene,
   Where shall be greater pain:

One grave to me was given–
   To guard till Judgment Day–
But God looked down from Heaven
   And rolled the Stone away!
One day of all my years–
   One hour of that one day–
His Angel saw my tears
   And rolled the Stone away

Cats, cake, Pym, Kipling & bookish decisions

My Barbara Pym mug has arrived & much tea has already been sipped from it. In honour of the occasion, naturally I have to reread Excellent Women (the Folio Society edition even has a silver teapot on the cover).

But, I also want to reread Cold Comfort Farm after reading an article or a link that I now can’t find. I can find this article in the Guardian about the joys of reading Gaudy Night by Dorothy L Sayers. Interestingly, the author of the article read Gaudy Night first & wasn’t a fan of detective novels, although she went on to read the other Wimsey novels. I can see why someone who didn’t like detective novels but did enjoy novels about academic life, writers & Oxford would enjoy Gaudy Night. Luckily I reread Gaudy Night just last week so I don’t need to reread it again just yet. I would like to find some time to watch the TV adaptation again though.

Then, thanks to a link on Facebook, I discovered this terrific radio program, part of the celebration of the 125th anniversary of Agatha Christie’s birth. Jessica Mann talks to Janet Morgan, Julian Symons & others about Christie. It was first broadcast in 1982 as part of the Queens of Crime series. I wish I could hear the other episodes but I do have Mann’s book, Deadlier than the Male, about the Queens of Crime, which was rereleased as an eBook last year. If only I can squeeze it in somewhere.

I was reading an article in History Today (last March’s issue, there’s no way I’m up to date with History Today) on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (they’d won a History Today award) & came across a mention of Kipling’s short story The Gardener. I have the story in this collection so pulled it off the tbr shelves. It’s now sitting with two Tolstoy stories that were recommended somewhere & The Executor by Margaret Oliphant, which is the story that begins her Carlingford Chronicles. As the first sentence of The Executor is “The woman was certainly mad” said John Brown – I need to read on as soon as possible.

These are the books I’ve pulled off the tbr shelves in just the last month or so that were definitely going to be next. Nearly all these books were chosen in response to an article, a review, a movie (Suffragette), a longing to read a Scottish book (Return to the West), reading another book (Gaskell’s life of Charlotte Brontë by reading Claire Harman’s life of Charlotte Brontë). Angela Thirkell is there because I keep preordering the Virago reprints of her books but not actually reading any of them. The book on Evelyn Dunbar is there because I read the Persephone posts about her late last year when they had an exhibition of her work in the shop. I love Alison Weir’s biographies & always drop everything to read them but at the rate I’m going, the paperback of The Last Tudor Princess will be out before I get around to it.

Then, this arrived, the latest British Library Crime Classic, Murder of a Lady, by Anthony Wynne. It was a preorder so I didn’t break my book buying ban. And it’s set in Scotland and I love the cover. The castle looks like Glenbogle from Monarch of the Glen, doesn’t it?

Then, I read a post on Sue Hepworth’s blog about enjoying life & going with the flow, not worrying about achievements but doing what you want to do. So, I decided to just let the next book decision take care of itself. Maybe I’ll even get back to that March issue of History Today… 
Here’s a picture of a cake I made on Monday with more of the zucchinis that are going mad in the garden at the moment. I also used some of the yoghurt I bought by mistake at the weekend. I finally found a brand of Greek yoghurt without cream (why put cream in yoghurt in the first place?) But, instead of buying the Natural, I bought the Classic which has sucrose in it. Much too sweet for me. So, I searched online for a zucchini & yoghurt cake & found this one at Chelsea’s Messy Apron.

No rambling post would be complete without a cat photo. So, here’s Phoebe looking angelic & fast asleep on my bed last weekend.

Let Him Lie – Ianthe Jerrold

Jeanie Halliday has bought Yew Tree Cottage on impulse. A young artist, she bought the cottage because it was close to Agnes Drake, a former school teacher whom she admired. Jeanie thought that she & Agnes were friends but since Agnes’ marriage to Robert Molyneux, owner of Cleedons, an Elizabethan manor house & estate (including Jeanie’s cottage), their friendship has changed. Agnes is aloof, brittle, standoffish & Jeanie is also discovering that the delights of home ownership are more elusive than she hoped. When Robert Molyneux is shot dead in his orchard, the crime seems inexplicable. Soon, however, Jeanie finds herself at the centre of a group of people with secrets & motives galore.

Robert’s sister, Myfanwy Peel, arrives just before the murder to speak to Robert about her daughter, Susan, who lives at Cleedons. Myfanwy is a self-centred woman who didn’t want to be bothered with Susan but has suddenly decided to take her back. She arrives in a bit of a state, waving a pistol around in the driveway, accompanied by her man of the moment, Eustace Agatos. Robert has angered his neighbour, William Fone, a poet & antiquary, who is obsessed with archaeology, especially a Neolithic burial mound, known as Grim’s Grave. Robert wants to dig up the mound & Fone is bitterly opposed. Fone is disabled & his assistant, Barchard, agrees with Fone that the mound should be undisturbed. Barchard also owes money to Robert Molyneux & was unable to repay the loan.

Robert’s former assistant, Peter Johnson, was dismissed for stealing money from the safe. He was dismissed without a reference & is discovered in the vicinity of Cleedons when Robert is murdered. He claims to have come back to ask for a reference but he was also infatuated with Agnes. Susan’s governess, Tamsin Wills, was also obsessed with Agnes, who inspires hero worship but quickly becomes irritated by devotion. If Myfanwy takes Susan away, Tamsin will be out of a job. Then there’s Marjorie Dasent, a local woman who was in love with Robert & was seen by Tamsin in the stables with Robert as he tried to dismiss her.

When Superintendent Finister arrives to investigate, Agnes is unable to account for her time & takes refuge in hysterics. Several people were in a position to take a shot at Robert & there is at least one gun missing from the Cleedons tower gun room. Several of the suspects were seen in the tower or in the grounds at the crucial time & none of them have a satisfactory alibi. Then, there’s the mystery of the white kitten that was shot some days before & the discovery of a half string of pearls in the cupboard of Jeanie’s cottage. Did they belong to the previous tenant, Valentine Frazer, who had been living there with Fone’s assistant, Barchard, before she went off to London to work as an artist’s model? Are they connected to the murder or are they part of one of the many secrets hidden by all the suspects in the murder? Jeanie finds herself investigating the murder & in considerable danger before the murderer is discovered.

Let Him Lie is one of two mysteries written by Ianthe Jerrold under the pseudonym Geraldine Bridgman. It was written some years after her two novels featuring John Christmas, Dead Man’s Quarry & The Studio Crime. I enjoyed it very much. Jeanie is an engaging sleuth & the suspects have some real depth to them. The motives are various & quite tangled & the untangling takes some ingenuity. The final chapters are full of suspense & the feeling of dread was palpable. It was very effectively done. I was made very aware of how creepy a house could be with no electricity & only candles for lighting.

Dean Street Press kindly sent me a copy of Let Him Lie for review.

Sunday Poetry – Alfred, Lord Tennyson

I’m not quite finished with the New Year just yet. I came across this poem by Tennyson, which is actually a section of his much longer work, In Memoriam, in Janet Morley’s anthology, Haphazard by Starlight. The anthology has one poem a day to read from Advent to Epiphany so I finished reading it last week.
This poem encapsulates the sadness & melancholy of the dying year so beautifully, especially in the context of In Memoriam, which was about the death of Tennyson’s great friend, Arthur Hallam, who died at the age of 22 in 1833. It’s also about looking forward to the new year as well, with hope & optimism. My current audio book is Ian Carmichael’s wonderful recording of The Nine Tailors by Dorothy L Sayers. The book, as well as being a detective novel & an evocative picture of the Fens, is about bell-ringing so the image of ringing bells in Tennyson’s poem is appropriate there as well.

Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
The flying cloud, the frosty light;
The year is dying in the night;
Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.

Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.

Ring out the grief that saps the mind,
For those that here we see no more,
Ring out the feud of rich and poor,
Ring in redress to all mankind.

Ring out a slowly dying cause,
And ancient forms of party strife;
Ring in the nobler modes of life,
With sweeter manners, purer laws.

Ring out the want, the care the sin,
The faithless coldness of the times;
Ring out, ring out my mournful rhymes,
But ring the fuller minstrel in.

Ring out false pride in place and blood,
The civic slander and the spite;
Ring in the love of truth and right,
Ring in the common love of good.

Ring out old shapes of foul disease,
Ring out the narrowing lust of gold;
Ring out the thousand wars of old,
Ring in the thousand years of peace.

Ring in the valiant man and free,
The larger heart, the kindlier hand;
Ring out the darkness of the land,
Ring in the Christ that is to be.

SPQR : a history of Ancient Rome – Mary Beard

I know very little about the ancient world. My knowledge of the Roman Empire doesn’t really stretch much further then Roman Britain, apart from a few famous names – Romulus & Remus, Cicero, Julius Caesar, Claudius, Nero. After enjoying Mary Beard’s book on Pompeii, I was eager to read her new book about Rome in the hope of enlightenment.

The title – SPQR – is the abbreviation for The Senate and People of Rome. This book tells the story of Rome from it’s earliest beginnings until 212 CE. Opening with the dispute between the aristocrat Catiline & the famous orator, Cicero, in 63 BCE, we then go back to Rome’s beginnings to investigate the myths that lie at its heart. The twins, Romulus & Remus, suckled by a wolf, are the traditional founders of Rome. Mary Beard explores the origins of this story & whether there is any archaeological evidence to edge the myth towards history. Rome’s beginnings were agricultural, ruled over by a monarchy, but by the 5th century BCE, Rome had become a Republic, with a class system that encompassed both slaves & free citizens, patricians & plebeians. The decision to appoint official representatives of the people, known as tribunes, was crucial & eventually the second-class status of plebeians was virtually abolished as all major offices were opened to them.

The expansion of Roman power was crucial in turning the Republic into an Empire. The successes of the Army & its Generals led to a period of civil war & political assassinations that ultimately led to autocratic rule being re-established. The triumvirate of Julius Caesar, Pompey & Crassus, instigated to consolidate their power in the Senate, deteriorated as Caesar increasingly tried to shore up his own position at the expense of the other two. Julius Caesar’s attempt to become a dictator ended with his assassination but it was his heir, Octavian, who renamed himself Augustus & became Rome’s first Emperor. The story of the Julio-Claudian Emperors is probably the best known part of the story. Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius & Nero, their wives & families are notorious figures. The stories of excess, cruelty & betrayal are familiar through film, books & television. The empire continued on after them, with another ten emperors after Nero until 212 CE.

As interesting as the stories of the elite were, I was just as fascinated by the stories of ordinary Romans. These stories of ordinary people are difficult to find but Mary Beard has done just that in her previous books & TV series like Meet the Romans. In this book, she shows us what it was like to live in Rome. The diet, the houses (the rich lived on the ground floor with the poor at the top of the house. The bars, shops, baths & workplaces. In ancient Rome it was the poor who went out to eat as they had no way of cooking in their tiny apartments. She discusses marriage, the status of women, family relationships, the treatment of children, the ways of becoming a citizen & the entitlements that came with that status. These chapters give a real depth to the story of Rome & a feeling of what life was like then, in a period so long ago that it’s difficult to grasp. It also reminds us that, no matter what the Emperors or Senators were doing, life went on for the vast majority of Romans. Did it really matter which Emperor was on the throne? The plots & conspiracies, the foreign wars against rebels & enemies, impinged very little on the lives of ordinary people.

SPQR is engaging & absorbing. It’s the perfect introduction to the history of ancient Rome & it’s made me want to read more about the Empire in the works of the ancient authors like Tacitus & Suetonius as well as modern interpretations.

Sunday Poetry – The Old Year Now Away Is Fled

Happy New Year to everyone who visits I Prefer Reading.
This is a lovely New Year song, sung to the tune of Greensleeves. Here’s a version sung by TENET & another by the Chicago Early Music Consort.

Here’s to another year of health, happiness & lots of wonderful reading.

The old yeare now away is fled
The new year it is entered;
Then let us now our sins downe tread
And joyfully all appeare.
Let’s merry be this holy day
And let us now both sport and play
Hang sorrow! Let’s cast care away
God send you a happy new yeare!

For Christ’s circumcision this day we keepe,
Who for our sins did often weepe;
His hands and feet were wounded deepe,
And his blessed side with a speare;
His head they crowned then with thorne,
And at him they did laugh and scorne,
Who for to save our soules was born.
God send us a merry new yeare!

And now, with new-yeare’s gifts each friend
Unto each other they doe send;
God grant we may our lives amend,
And that the truth may appeare.
Now, like the snake, cast off your skin
Of evill thoughts, and wicked sin,
And to amend this new yeare begin
God send us a merry new yeare!

And now let all the company
In friendly manner all agree,
For we are here welcome, all may see
Unto this jolly good cheer;
I thanke my master and my dame,
The which are founders of the same;
To eate and drinke now is no shame:
God send us a merry new year!

Come, lads and lasses, every one –
Jack, Tom, Dick, Besse, Mary and Jone –
Let’s cut the meate up into the bone,
For welcome you need not feare!
And here for good liquor we shall not lack:
It will whet my braines and strengthen my back;
This jolly good cheere it must goe to wrack!
God send us a merry new yeare!

Come, give’s more liquor when I doe call,
Ile drink to each one in this hall!
I hope that so loud I must not baule,
But unto me lend an eare:
Good fortune to my master send
And to my dame which is our friend;
Lord blesse us all! – and so I end;