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The Song Against Grocers

God made the wicked Grocer
  For a mystery and a sign,
  That men might shun the awful shops
  And go to inns to dine;
  Where the bacon's on the rafter
  And the wine is in the wood,
  And God that made good laughter
  Has seen that they are good.

  The evil-hearted Grocer
  Would call his mother "Ma'am,"
  And bow at her and bob at her,
  Her aged soul to damn,
  And rub his horrid hands and ask
  What article was next,
  Though =mortis in articulo=
  Should be her proper text.

  His props are not his children,
  But pert lads underpaid,
  Who call out "Cash!" and bang about
  To work his wicked trade;
  He keeps a lady in a cage
  Most cruelly all day,
  And makes her count and calls her "Miss"
  Until she fades away.

  The righteous minds of innkeepers
  Induce them now and then
  To crack a bottle with a friend
  Or treat unmoneyed men,
  But who hath seen the Grocer
  Treat housemaids to his teas
  Or crack a bottle of fish-sauce
  Or stand a man a cheese?

  He sells us sands of Araby
  As sugar for cash down;
  He sweeps his shop and sells the dust
  The purest salt in town,
  He crams with cans of poisoned meat
  Poor subjects of the King,
  And when they die by thousands
  Why, he laughs like anything.

  The wicked Grocer groces
  In spirits and in wine,
  Not frankly and in fellowship
  As men in inns do dine;
  But packed with soap and sardines
  And carried off by grooms,
  For to be snatched by Duchesses
  And drunk in dressing-rooms.

  The hell-instructed Grocer
  Has a temple made of tin,
  And the ruin of good innkeepers
  Is loudly urged therein;
  But now the sands are running out
  From sugar of a sort,
  The Grocer trembles; for his time,
  Just like his weight, is short.


 

Gilbert Keith Chesterton


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