The Borough. Letter Xxiii: Prisons Poem Rhyme Scheme and Analysis


'TIS well that Man to all the varying statesA
Of good and ill his mind accommodatesA
He not alone progressive grief sustainsB
But soon submits to unexperienced painsB
Change after change all climes his body bearsC
His mind repeated shocks of changing caresC
Faith and fair Virtue arm the nobler breastD
Hope and mere want of feeling aid the restD
Or who could bear to lose the balmy airE
Of summer's breath from all things fresh and fairE
With all that man admires or loves belowF
All earth and water wood and vale bestowF
Where rosy pleasures smile whence real blessingsG
With sight and sound of every kind that livesH
And crowning all with joy that freedom givesH
Who could from these in some unhappy dayI
Bear to be drawn by ruthless arms awayI
To the vile nuisance of a noisome roomJ
Where only insolence and misery comeK
Save that the curious will by chance appearL
Or some in pity drop a fruitless tearE
To a damp Prison where the very sightM
Of the warm sun is favour and not rightM
Where all we hear or see the feelings shockN
The oath and groan the fetter and the lockN
Who could bear this and live Oh many a yearL
All this is borne and miseries more severeL
And some there are familiar with the sceneO
Who live in mirth though few become sereneO
Far as I might the inward man perceiveP
There was a constant effort not to grieveP
Not to despair for better days would comeK
And the freed debtor smile again at homeQ
Subdued his habits he may peace regainR
And bless the woes that were not sent in vainR
Thus might we class the Debtors here confinedS
The more deceived the more deceitful kindS
Here are the guilty race who mean to liveT
On credit that credulity will giveU
Who purchase conscious they can never payI
Who know their fate and traffic to betrayI
On whom no pity fear remorse prevailV
Their aim a statute their resource a jailV
These are the public spoilers we regardW
No dun so harsh no creditor so hardW
A second kind are they who truly striveT
To keep their sinking credit long aliveT
Success nay prudence they may want but yetX
They would be solvent and deplore a debtX
All means they use to all expedients runY
And are by slow sad steps at last undoneY
Justly perhaps you blame their want of skillZ
But mourn their feelings and absolve their willZ
There is a Debtor who his trifling allA2
Spreads in a shop it would not fill a stallA2
There at one window his temptation laysB2
And in new modes disposes and displaysB2
Above the door you shall his name beholdC2
And what he vends in ample letters toldC2
The words 'Repository ' 'Warehouse ' allA2
He uses to enlarge concerns so smallA2
He to his goods assigns some beauty's nameD2
Then in her reign and hopes they'll share herE2
And talks of credit commerce traffic tradeF2
As one important by their profit madeF2
But who can paint the vacancy the gloomJ
And spare dimensions of one backward roomJ
Wherein he dines if so 'tis fit to speakG2
Of one day's herring and the morrow's steakH2
An anchorite in diet all his careE
Is to display his stock and vend his wareE
Long waiting hopeless then he tries to meetI2
A kinder fortune in a distant streetI2
There he again displays increasing yetX
Corroding sorrow and consuming debtX
Alas he wants the requisites to riseJ2
The true connections the availing tiesJ2
They who proceed on certainties advanceK2
These are not times when men prevail by chanceK2
But still he tries till after years of painR
He finds with anguish he has tried in vainR
Debtors are these on whom 'tis hard to pressL2
'Tis base impolitic and mercilessM2
To these we add a miscellaneous kindS
By pleasure pride and indolence confinedS
Those whom no calls no warnings could divertN2
The unexperienced and the inexpertN2
The builder idler schemer gamester sotN2
The follies different but the same their lotN2
Victims of horses lasses drinking diceO2
Of every passion humour whim and viceO2
See that sad Merchant who but yesterdayN2
Had a vast household in command and payN2
He now entreats permission to employP2
A boy he needs and then entreats the boyP2
And there sits one improvident but kindN2
Bound for a friend whom honour could not bindN2
Sighing he speaks to any who appearL
'A treach'rous friend 'twas that which sent meQ2
I was too kind I thought I could dependN2
On his bare word he was a treach'rous friend '-
A Female too it is to her a homeQ
She came before and she again will comeK
Her friends have pity when their anger dropsS2
They take her home she's tried her schools andN2
Plan after plan but fortune would not mendN2
She to herself was still the treach'rous friendN2
And wheresoe'er began all here was sure to endN2
And there she sits as thoughtless and as gayN2
As if she'd means or not a debt to payN2
Or knew to morrow she'd be call'd awayN2
Or felt a shilling and could dine to dayN2
While thus observing I began to traceT2
The sober'd features of a well known faceT2
Looks once familiar manners form'd to pleaseU2
And all illumined by a heart at easeU2
But fraud and flattery ever claim'd a partN2
Still unresisted of that easy heartN2
But he at length beholds me 'Ah my friendN2
'And have thy pleasures this unlucky end '-
'Too sure ' he said and smiling as he sigh'dN2
'I went astray though Prudence seem'd my guideN2
All she proposed I in my heart approvedN2
And she was honour'd but my pleasure lovedN2
Pleasure the mistress to whose arms I fledN2
From wife like lectures angry Prudence readN2
'Why speak the madness of a life like mineV2
The powers of beauty novelty and wineV2
Why paint the wanton smile the venal vowW2
Or friends whose worth I can appreciate nowW2
Oft I perceived my fate and then could sayN2
I'll think to morrow I must live to dayN2
So am I here I own the laws are justN2
And here where thought is painful think I mustN2
But speech is pleasant this discourse with theeQ2
Brings to my mind the sweets of libertyQ2
Breaks on the sameness of the place and givesH
The doubtful heart conviction that it livesH
'Let me describe my anguish in the hourE2
When law detain'd me and I felt its powerE2
'When in that shipwreck this I found my shoreX2
And join'd the wretched who were wreck'd beforeX2
When I perceived each feature in the faceT2
Pinch'd through neglect or turbid by disgraceT2
When in these wasting forms affliction stoodN2
In my afiiicted view it chill'd my bloodN2
And forth I rush'd a quick retreat to makeH2
Till a loud laugh proclaim'd the dire mistakeH2
But when the groan had settled to a sighY2
When gloom became familiar to the eyeY2
When I perceive how others seem to restN2
With every evil rankling in my breastN2
Led by example I put on the manZ2
Sing off my sighs and trifle as I canZ2
'Homer nay Pope for never will I seekG2
Applause for learning nought have I with GreekG2
Gives us the secrets of his pagan hellA3
Where ghost with ghost in sad communion dwellA3
Where shade meets shade and round the gloomy meadsB3
They glide and speak of old heroic deedsB3
What fields they conquer'd and what foes theyN2
And sent to join the melancholy crewC3
When a new spirit in that world was foundN2
A thousand shadowy forms came flitting roundN2
Those who had known him fond inquiries madeN2
'Of all we left inform us gentle shadeN2
Now as we lead thee in our realms to dwellA3
Our twilight groves and meads of asphodel '-
'What paints the poet is our station hereR2
Where we like ghosts and flitting shades appearL
This is the hell he sings and here we meetN2
And former deeds to new made friends repeatN2
Heroic deeds which here obtain us fameD2
And are in fact the causes why we cameD2
Yes this dim region is old Homer's hellA3
Abate but groves and meads of asphodelA3
Here when a stranger from your world we spyY2
We gather round him and for news applyY2
He hears unheeding nor can speech endureD3
But sL2

George Crabbe


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