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Poem by William Somerville


The Oyster


Two comrades, as grave authors say,
(But in what chapter, page, or line,
Ye critics, if ye please, define)
Had found an Oyster in their way.

Contest and foul debate arose;
Both view'd at once with greedy eyes,
Both challeng'd the delicious prize,
And high words soon improv'd to blows.

Actions on actions hence succeed,
Each hero's obstinately stout,
Green bags and parchments fly about,
Pleadings are drawn and counsel fee'd.

The parson of the place, good man!
Whose kind and charitable heart
In human ills still bore a part,
Thrice shook his head, and thus began:

" Neighbours and friends! refer to me
This doughty matter in dispute,
I'll soon decide the' important suit,
And finish all without a fee.

Give me the Oyster, then Ч 'Tis well Ч "
(He opens it, and at one sup
Gulps the contested trifle up,
And, smiling, gives to each a shell:)

" Henceforth let foolish discord cease,
Your Oyster's good as e'er was ate;
I thank you for my dainty treat;
God bless you both, and live in peace."

MORAL .

Ye men of Norfolk and of Wales!
From this learn common sense;
Nor thrust your neighbours into gaols
For every slight offence.

Banish those vermin of debate
That on your substance feed;
The knaves who now are serv'd in plate,
Would starve, if fools agreed.



William Somerville


William Somerville's other poems:
  1. A Padlock for the Mouth
  2. The Two Springs
  3. For the Lute
  4. The Dog and the Bear
  5. Hunting Song


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