The Mole Catcher

Soon as the elderns pethey branches buds
That hides in glooming shade the workhouse door
An ancient man is seen about the woods
& on the plashy paths along the moor.

Pottering wi mellancholy paces oer
His propping stick he gogs when days are dry
Glad to escape his neighbours troubles sore
In that sad house—for peace beneath the sky
From pain that in deaths arms on straw beds groaning lye.

& sighs of girls heart broken oer despair
That feed false vows wi memorys ceasless tears
& crys of childern born to wither there
Like buds which tempests in the april seres
Wi piteous plaining stirring helpless ears
To shun all these when southern skys grow warm
Ere scarce a daisey on the green appears
He potters round each green grain sprouting farm
To catch the moles wi traps that does the fences harm.

Een he from fames proud lottery owns a prize
A sort of walking almanack he seems
The rustic swains who deem him weather wise
Shepherd & woodman his discourse esteems
& ploughmen often stop their reeking teams.

On cloudy morns his knowledge to obtain
To know if it betokens what it seems
& chattering women weeding in the grain
Will stop to shout & know if he has thoughts of rain

Of eldern noggins which he yearly begs
From hedging woodmen—he at night will make
For hard earned penny cobblers soleing pegs
Who buys the purchase out of pitys sake
& he will seek where broad trees shadows lie
By wood land walks the honey comb morrell
& oer the rushy moor when winters bye
Where wizzing pewets all the season dwell
He hunts their nests their spotted eggs to sell

& in the meadows when the grass is mown
He haunts the holes torn up by many a flood
With swordy flag & reed & rush oer grown
Progging the bladed gleave about the mud
Scareing full oft the morehens summer brood
Trying to catch the slippery eels in vain
While watching by the hedges crowding wood
Of reeds—starts up the solitary crane
Like hermit pilgrim on some lonely plain

The shepherd waiting oer his hook will stand
& milkmaid rest her bucket by a stile
The hedger too will pull from off his hand
His mitten—waiting his approach the while
To beg a pinch of snuff amid his toil
The old man mends his pace to see them stay
& opes his box if full with many a smile
While from the grass the woodman does display
His cag & bids him drink to help him on his way.

Spring yearly meets him with his shouldered rake
To drag the crowding cresses from the brook
& soon as springs first mornings are awake
He threads the pasture pewets eggs to look
& when these fail the more ponds flaggy nook
To beat for leeches—then the mushrooms start
In black green fairey rings—thus natures book
Is turned till he each lesson knows by heart
In lifes rude patchwork play to act the alotted part.

He leans on natures offerings for supply
Like a weak child upon a mothers breast
He feebly marks her unconscerning eye
& takes her givings with no vain request
To urge them better he with aught is blest
For the to morrow he neer feels a fear
His hopes upon to day have all their rest
When labours fail the workhouse fare is near
& thus on miserys edge he potters round the year.

He wakes in summer with the sleepless cock
In his rude lonely labours to sojourn
His lessening shadow is his dinner clock
& when towards the east it gets a turn
Growing again he readily can learn
That noon is come—& by a cool banks side
He eats his bread the all his toil can earn
& thanks his God that he is so supplied
& to his toil again he potters satisfied.

When melted snow leaves bare the black green rings
& grass begins in freshening hues to shoot
When thawing dirt to shoes of ploughmen cling[s]
& silk haired moles get liberty to root
An ancient man goes plodding round the fields
Which solitude seems claiming as her own
Wrapt in great coat that from a tempest shields
Patched thick with every colour but its own.

With spud & traps & horsehair strings supplied
& potter out to seek each fresh made hill
Pricking the greensward where they love to hide
He sets his treacherous snares resolved to kill
& on the willow sticks bent to the grass
That such as touched jerks up in bouncing springs
Soon as the little hermit tries to pass
His little carcass on the gibbet hings.

& as a triumph to his matchless skill
On some grey willow where a road runs bye
That passers may behold his powers to kill
On the boughs twigs he'll many a felon tye
On every common dozens may be met
Dangling on bent twigs bleaching to the sun
Whose melancholly fates meets no regret
Though dreamless of the snare they could not shun
They died unconsious of all injury done.

On moors & commons & the pasture green
He leaves them undisturbed to root & run
Enlarging hills that have for ages been
Basking in mossy swellings to the sun
The pismires too their tiptops yearly climb
To lay their eggs & hunt the shepherds crumbs
Never disturbed save when for summer thyme
The trampling sheep upon their dwellings come

Soon as the shepherd marks the hedge row snail
Come creeping out to tell of summer nigh
& schooling oer the oak plank rail
Beholds the bobbing struttles hurry bye
They look about them with expecting gaze
To meet the old man with the peeping grain
As an old visitor with lengthening days
That like the pewet comes with spring again.

& while his snuffbox offers its supply
Complaint can never oer his heart prevail
Pulled out & pinched by every passer bye
It always doth his weary walks regale
& adds a tiresome length to every tale
But in its need he mopes oer field & town
His strength sinks in him & his spirits fail
In silent pace he potters up & down
& scarcely says good morn to passing maid or clown.

Want often makes him on the folded land
Stoop down a turnip from the sheep to steal
Borrowing the shepherds knife with palsied hand
To clean & peel it for a morning meal
Prides unconsern that hath no heart to feel
Full often in his pottering pace appears
From whom his turnip thefts he will consceal
Who as a tyrant wakes his humble fears
Whose proud & threatening taunts will fill his eyes with tears.

He once could thrash & mow & hold a plough
Ere he was forced to seek the parish bread
Broke down by age he feels a beggar now
When to the overseers his wants are led
—On sabbath days agen the sunny walls
Or on the cross he lingers life away
Where village childern toss their bouncing balls
& hear his storys when theyre tired of play.

Forever in his creeping path appears
A waffling cur in colour sandy grey
With curling tail & sharp fox pointed ears
Who shows his teeth & threatens sore dismay
But if a stranger sets his rage at bay
Or stoops adown a threatening stone to throw
Will drop his tail & whine & sneak away
& lingers for a while in motion slow
Behind the old mans heels till past the dreaded foes.

Then quickly he resumes his cheering pace
& gins in jealous threats his ears to prick
& barks & looks his master in the face
Who in his leisure learns him many a trick
To carry in his mouth his walking stick
Or watch & run to fetch a pelted stone
Or from the pond whatevers thrown to pick
& on his legs to rear himself alone
To beg at dinners hour for proffered crust & bone.
Rate this poem: 


No reviews yet.