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I came because your horse would come;

And, if I well forbode,
My hat and wig will soon be here:

They are upon the road."


The calender, right glad to find

His friend in merry pin,
Returned him not a single word,

But to the house went in;


Whence straight he came with hat and wig;

A wig that flowed behind,
A hat not much the worse for wear,

Each comely in its kind.

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Biographical: William Cowper, 1731-1800, was a famous English poet. His poems range from religious to humorous subjects.

Notes and Questions What was the occasion of the ride? Why did people think John Gilpin What tells you that the linen. rode for a wager

draper lived over his shop? Edmonton—a suburb of London. Which stanza is most amusing? The Bell—the Inn.

Words and Phrases for Discussion


"for that wine is dear", "eke' strainband

"turnpike' schaise and pair”. "repair"

"basted' "frugal' "he carries weight?

"bootless boast"the postboy's horse right glad to miss the lumbering of the wheels"




I SPRANG to the stirrup, and Joris, and he;
I galloped, Dirck galloped, we galloped all three;
“Good speed !” cried the watch, as the gate-bolts undrew;

“Speed !” echoed the wall to us galloping through; 5 Behind shut the postern, the lights sank to rest,

And into the midnight we galloped abreast.

Not a word to each other, we kept the great pace
Neck by neck, stride by stride, never changing our place;

I turned in my saddle and made its girths tight,
10 Then shortened each stirrup, and set the pique right,

Rebuckled the cheek-strap, chained slacker the bit,
Nor galloped less steadily Roland a whit.

'Twas moonset at starting; but while we drew near

Lokeren, the cocks crew and twilight dawned clear; 15 At Boom, a great yellow star came out to see;

At Düffeld, 'twas morning as plain as could be;
And from Mecheln church-steeple we heard the half-chime,
So Joris broke silence with, “Yet there is time !"

At Aershot, up leaped of a sudden the sun,
20 And against him the cattle stood black every one,

To stare through the mist at us galloping past,
And I saw my stout galloper Roland at last,
With resolute shoulders, each butting away
The haze, as some bluff river headland its spray:

25 And his low head and crest, just one sharp ear bent back

For my voice, and the other pricked out on his track;
And one eye's black intelligence,-ever that glance
O'er its white edge at me, his own master, askance!

How They Brought the Good News from Ghent to Aix


And the thick heavy spume-flakes which aye and anon 30 His fierce lips shook upwards in galloping on.

By Hasselt, Dirck groaned; and cried Joris, "Stay spur!
Your Roos galloped bravely, the fault's not ir her,
We'll remember at Aix”—for one heard the quick wheeze

Of her chest, saw the stretched neck and staggering knees, 35 And sunk tail, and horrible heave of the flank,

As down on her haunches she shuddered and sank.

So, we were left galloping, Joris and I,
Past Looz and past Tongres, no cloud in the sky;

The broad sun above laughed a pitiless laugh,
40 'Neath our feet broke the brittle bright stubble like chaff;

Till over by Dalhem, a dome-spire sprang white,
And “Gallop,” gasped Joris, "for Aix is in sight!”

"How they'll greet us !”—and all in a moment his roan

Rolled neck and croup over, lay dead as a stone;
45 And there was my Roland to bear the whole weight

Of the news which alone could save Aix from her fate,
With his nostrils like pits full of blood to the brim,
And with circles of red for his eye-sockets' rim.

Then I cast loose my buffcoat, each holster let fall, 50 Shook off both my jack-boots, let go belt and all,

Stood up in the stirrup, leaned, patted his ear,
Called my Roland his pet-name, my horse without peer;
Clapped my hands, laughed and sang, any noise, bad or good,
Till at length into Aix Roland galloped and stood.

55 And all I remember is—friends flocking round

As I sat with his head 'twixt my knees on the ground;
And no voice but was praising this Roland of mine,
As I poured down his throat our last measure of wine,

Which (the burgesses voted by common consent) 60 Was no more than his due who brought good news from Ghent

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