The Praise of Jersey


Poetry in Jersey


I've travelled East, I've travelled West,
North and South; and by God's mercy
I live to say, I never found,
Within the wide terrestrial bound,
Such a sweet­bosomed human nest,
As this dear little, green little Isle of Jersey.
Look around; and nicely scan it,
Fenced about with prickly granite,
Like a hedgehog's back, that never a foe
On Jersey ground can plant his toe,
Without a bleeding in his nail:
And if ever the Frenchman crossed the wave,
To pounce on this loyal Isle of Jersey,
He didn't wait long to turn his tail,
When Peirson drew the patriot glaive,
And made him pray to Heaven for mercy.
In Jersey Isle the palmy kail
Grows ten feet high, with such a stock,
As hard as oak, and strong to knock
The devil down, and all his folk,
If he should dare to shew his face
Within St. Helier's cirque of grace.
And who is he of mortal men,
That hath not known with wondering ken,
How Jersey grows, to recreate us
At dinner, such superb potatoes;
And how all London in the season,
And Queen Victoria, with good reason,
Can't dine without our prime potatoes.
And then such cows - the Jersey cows,
Which every farming wit allows
To stand, in public estimation,
The ladies of the cow creation;
So smooth and sleek, so neat and trim,
With such a slender, shapely limb,
And such fine head, and large full eye,
When on soft grass you see her lie
So placid, motherly, and mild,
She courts the touch of any child.
'Tis quite well known, I can avow,
For such a model Jersey cow,
An American came across the Atlantic,
And, when the sea with storm was frantic,
Carried it home to his Western bounds,
Leaving behind him a thousand pounds.
And for our potatoe-growth sublime,
I should have told you at the time,
For our potatoes we pocket nearly
Half a million of sovereigns yearly.
Kings in court and monks in cloister
For good living had a sharp eye;
But there's nothing on earth like a Jersey oyster,
When the stomach is flat and the throat is dry.
And if you want a sugared sweet,
Honey from Hybla will not beat
A Jersey Parsnip:- What big wig,
Mayor or master, provost, warden,
Would wish to nibble a nicer fig
Than that which grows in a Jersey garden?
Nor strange ; for with soft sloping grace
Our land looks in the Sun's bright face;
And, though rich loamy meads we lack,
We fatten our roods with strong sea, wrack.
And who has not heard of Jersey Toads?
Which in the field, and by the roads
Creep forth from leafy green abodes,
And by an instinct all divine,
Which well instructs them how to dine,
They keep the soil of Jersey clean
From greedy grub, and slug obscene.
As in the land of sacred Nile,
With reverence deep and holy awe,
And rites of sacerdotal law,
Dark men that stirred the teeming soil,
Gave honour to the crocodile,
For that he lay on slimy flats,
And cleared the sacred flood from rats;
And built for him a dainty shrine,
With pool of water pure and fine,
And cushion soft, where he might lay
His scaly frame at hot mid-day:
So Jerseymen in field and road
Pay grateful honour to the toad;
And every Jersey heart cloth know
Fine-tingling joy, when he may hear
The friendly greeting in his ear,
Comment crapaud! - C'est bon crapaud!
And, if a Jersey man doth know
Strange twitches in his thumb or too,
Or in his body feel a schism
From dyspepsy or rheumatism,
He straightway to the toad doth go,
And makes its old grey poll to flow
With chrism of holy oil, and, lo!
Dislodged the baleful pain doth go
From twitching thumb and twinging toe.
And now I've told you in good style
The praises of this blissful isle ;
And if there be a sore-vexed wight
By Dee or Don, Medway or Mersey,
Who shuts no eye the long drear night,
With poisoned blood from air mephitic,
Fretful nerve, or cough bronchitic,
Lot him pack up, and find God's mercy
In this green paradise of Jersey.
In this fair land, where frost and snow
Just touch the smiling roods, and go;
Where Winter, shorn of surly gloom,
Wreathes his grey hair with purple bloom;
Where no unequal law hath skill
To starve the many, and fatten the few;
Nor dares a dead man's monstered will
To cheat the living of their due ;
But where the arm that tills the soil,
Reaps the fair profit of his toil ;
Nor frets to find his labour spent
To feed a fool, or swell a rent.
'Tis but one step, I tell you true,
To Southampton from Waterloo;
Another step to Guernsey; and,
With a third tiny step, you land
On Jersey pier: Here take your stand,
And learn to breathe unpoisoned air,
And look up to unclouded skies,
And feed on dainties rich and rare,
On lobster pâtés and crab pies,
Guernsey crabs of Titan size;
And creamy soup, distilled superb
From Conger Eel and dainty herb:
And you will grow both fat and fair,
With ruddy cheeks and shining hair,
Serene, and sweet, and debonnair
In this dear little, green little Isle of Jersey,
Where I am now by sovran mercy,
To sing its praises free from pain,
And full of happy thoughts. Amen!

John Stuart Blackie
Emeritus Professor of Greek
in the University of Edinburgh

20th June 1883.




Poetry in Jersey





La Société Jersiaise

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