Blind-Man's Buff

When silver snow decks Susan's clothes,
And jewel hangs at th' shepherd's nose,
The blushing bank is all my care,
While hearth so red, and walls so fair.
"Heap the sea-coal, come, heap it higher;
The oaken log lay on the fire."
The well-washed stools, a circling row,
With lad and lass, how fair the show!
The merry can of nut-brown ale,
The laughing jest, the love-sick tale,--
Till, tired of chat, the game begins.
The lasses prick the lads with pins.
Roger from Dolly twitched the stool;
She, falling, kissed the ground, poor fool!
She blushed so red, with sidelong glance
At hobnail Dick, who grieved the chance.
But now for Blind-man's Buff they call;
Of each incumbrance clear the hall.

Jenny her silken kerchief folds,
And blear-eyed Will the black lot holds.
Now laughing stops, with "Silence, hush!"
And Peggy Pout gives Sam a push.
The Blind-man's arms, extended wide,
Sam slips between:--"Oh woe betide
Thee, clumsy Will!"--But tittering Kate
Is penned up in the corner strait!
And now Will's eyes beheld the play;
He thought his face was t'other way.
"Now, Kitty, now! what a chance hast thou?
Roger so near thee trips, I vow!"
She catches him--then Roger ties
His own head up--but not his eyes;
For through the slender cloth he sees,
And runs at Sam who slips with ease
His clumsy hold; and, dodging round,
Sukey is tumbled on the ground.--
"See what it is to play unfair!
Where cheating is, there's mischief there."
But Roger still pursues the chase,--
"He sees! he sees!" cries softly Grace;
"O Roger, thou, unskilled in art,
Must, surer bound, go through thy part!"

Now, Kitty, pert, repeats the rhymes,
And Roger turns him around three times,
Then pauses ere he starts. But Dick
Was mischief-bent upon a trick;
Down on his hands and knees he lay
Directly in the Blind-man's way,
Then cries out "Hem!"--Hodge heard, and ran
With hood-winked chance--sure of his man;
But down he came.--Alas, how frail
Our best of hopes, how soon they fail!
With crimson drops he stains the ground;
Confusion startles all around.
Poor piteous Dick supports his head,
And fain would cure the hurt he made.
But Kitty hasted with a key,
And down his back they straight convey
The cold relief: the blood is stayed,
And Hodge again holds up his head.

Such are the fortunes of the game;
And those who play should stop the same
By wholesome laws, such as--All those
Who on the blinded man impose
Stand in his stead; as, long agone
When men were first a nation grown,
Lawless they lived, till wantonness
And liberty began to increase,
And one man lay in another's way,
Then laws are made to keep fair play.
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