Did you hear of the curate who mounted his mare
And merrily trotted along to the fair?
Of creature more tractable none ever heard;
In the height of her speed she would stop at a word.
But again with a word, when the curate said "Hey !"
She put forth her mettle and galloped away.
As near to the gates of the city he rode,
While the sun of September all brilliantly glowed,
The good priest discovered, with eyes of desire,
A mulberry tree in the hedge of wild brier;
On boughs long and lofty, in many a green shoot,
Hung large, black, and glossy, the beautiful fruit.
The curate was hungry and thirsty to boot;
He shrunk from the thorns, though he longed for the fruit;
With a word he arrested his courser's keen speed,
And he stood up erect on the back of the steed;
On the saddle he stood while the creature stood still,
And he gathered the fruit till he took his good fill.
"Sure, never," he thought, "was a creature so rare,
So docile, so true, as my excellent mare;
Lo, here now I stand," and he gazed all around,
" As safe and as steady as if on the ground;
Yet how had it been if some traveller this way,
Had, dreaming no mischief, but chanced to say, 'Hey'?"
He stood with his head in the mulberry tree,
And he spoke out aloud in his fond revery;
At the sound of the word the good mare made a push,
And down went the priest in the wild-brier bush.
He remembered too late, on his thorny green bed,
Much that well may be thought cannot wisely be said.
- Thomas Love Peacock.
Curate, a minister; tractable, easily managed; docile, easily taught; revery, dreamy thought.
What were the good qualities of the mare? How were they shown? What was the cause of the accident?
Read the poem through, and notice where it begins to seem funny. Was the funny part a surprise to you?
1. Find in the poem the words in the first of these columns. Then look in the second column for a word that means nearly the same thing.
2. Find all the words in the poem that name the horse. Find another word that names the curate.
3. Explain, in writing, what each of these lines means:
She put forth her mettle and galloped away. The curate was hungry, and thirsty to boot. He gathered the fruit till he took his good fill.
4. Tell this story and tell also why it is funny.
Write a story to show how the last line of the poem may be true. Make your story funny if you wish.