The Anonymous Vicar

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An all time favorite poem.

       How and why do I love The Vicar of Bray?   Let me count the ways.
First, we have that intriguing author. No mythic background, no poetic baggage associated with the name: Anonymous.  The interest and the significance must come purely through the reading and the understanding of it. This brings us to the actual content of the poem, its message. The Vicar only pays out his jackpot to Anglophiles who know something about England’s political and ecclesiastical history. It is not for everyone; I can’t imagine a non-Anglophile getting much out of this poem. But the catalyst for me (ha ha) is the absurd image of the poor feline being basted in an oven. I don’t know if it was a popular idiom of the day, but I found it arresting and absurdly hilarious all at once. And of course there is the rollicking and regular rhythm, complemented by the recurring refrain. Was it a song originally rather than mere verse ? Probably.

There is much to be gleaned in the poetic fields of context, but I loved this poem even before the internet. George Orwell knew the Vicar too !

 

The Vicar of Bray

Anonymous  (1730s ?)

In good King Charles’s golden days,
When Loyalty no harm meant;
A Furious High-Church man I was,
And so I gain’d Preferment.
Unto my Flock I daily Preached,
Kings are by God appointed,
And Damn’d are those who dare resist,
Or touch the Lord’s Anointed.

And this is law, I will maintain
Unto my Dying Day, Sir.
That whatsoever King may reign,
I shall be Vicar of Bray, Sir!

When Royal James possessed the crown,
And popery grew in fashion;
The Penal Law I hooted down,
And read the Declaration:
The Church of Rome I found would fit
Full well my Constitution,
And I had been a Jesuit,
But for the Revolution.

  And this is Law, &c.

When William our Deliverer came,Cat in Pan
To heal the Nation’s Grievance,
I turned the Cat in Pan again,
And swore to him Allegiance:
Old Principles I did revoke,
Set conscience at a distance,
Passive Obedience is a Joke,
A Jest is non-resistance.

  And this is Law, &c.

When Royal Ann became our Queen,
Then Church of England’s Glory,
Another face of things was seen,
And I became a Tory:
Occasional Conformists base
I Damn’d, and Moderation,
And thought the Church in danger was,
From such Prevarication.

  And this is Law, &c.

 When George in Pudding time came o’er,
And Moderate Men looked big, Sir,
My Principles I changed once more,
And so became a Whig, Sir.
And thus Preferment I procured,
From our Faith’s great Defender,
And almost every day abjur’d
The Pope, and the Pretender.

  And this is Law, &c.

 The Illustrious House of Hanover,
And Protestant succession,
To these I lustily will swear,
Whilst they can keep possession:
For in my Faith, and Loyalty,
I never once will falter,
But George, my lawful king shall be,
Except the Times should alter.

  And this is Law, &c.

 

Dryden’s Golden Trump

JUDGEMENT Heard on high2TAROT jdgmnt51St Cecelia

When in mid-air the golden trump shall sound,
To raise the nations under ground;
When, in the Valley of Jehoshaphat,
The judging God shall close the book of Fate,
And there the last assizes keep
For those who wake and those who sleep;
When rattling bones together fly
From the four corners of the sky;
When sinews o’er the skeletons are spread,
Those cloth’d with flesh, and life inspires the dead;
The sacred poets first shall hear the sound,
And foremost from the tomb shall bound,
For they are cover’d with the lightest ground;
And straight, with inborn vigour, on the wing,
Like mounting larks, to the new morning sing.
There thou, sweet Saint, before the quire shalt go,
As harbinger of Heaven, the way to show,
The way which thou so well hast learn’d below
GnosiSofiaNEGATIVE

John Dryden: Ode To the Pious Memory of the accomplished young lady, Mrs. Anne Killigrew
(1685)

Kiss the Pope Goodbye

To a Lady on the Characters of Women by Alexander Pope is a fine screed, and I am the wiser for reading it – however in light of our post-postmodern attention span, I found it a bit LONG and WORDY. Therefore I leave it to you, you lyrical omnivore, to read the whole thing on your own (after you have paid the bills & updated your FeedBook face). Thus, having confessed, I must say goodbye and adieu to Pastora, Fannia, Leda,  Magdalen, Cecilia, Cynthia, Rufa, Sappho, Calista, Papillia, Calypso, Narcissa, and even haughty Philomede. I shall miss you all and I prize more keenly your feminine charms.

The flits who feed on Twitter-seed
and Instagram their meals
are not expected, then, to heed
what poetry reveals.
Alexander’s verses scold
the children of this cyber-age
yet Pope, still witty, waxes bold
to goad the dunces into rage.

.Pope 2