Home  »  library  »  poem  »  Saint Patrick

C.D. Warner, et al., comp. The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes. 1917.

Saint Patrick

By William Maginn (1794–1842)

A FIG for St. Denis of France,

He’s a trumpery fellow to brag on;

A fig for St. George and his lance,

Which spitted a heathenish dragon;

And the saints of the Welshman or Scot

Are a couple of pitiful pipers,

Both of whom may just travel to pot,

Compared with the patron of swipers,

St. Patrick of Ireland, my dear!

He came to the Emerald Isle

On a lump of a paving-stone mounted;

The steamboat he beat to a mile,

Which mighty good sailing was counted:

Says he, “The salt water, I think,

Has made me most bloodily thirsty;

So bring me a flagon of drink,

To keep down the mulligrubs, burst ye,—

Of drink that is fit for a saint.”

He preached then with wonderful force,

The ignorant natives a-teaching;

With a pint he washed down his discourse,

“For,” says he, “I detest your dry preaching.”

The people, with wonderment struck

At a pastor so pious and civil,

Exclaimed, “We’re for you, my old buck,

And we pitch our blind gods to the Devil,

Who dwells in hot water below.”

This ended, our worshipful spoon

Went to visit an elegant fellow,

Whose practice each cool afternoon

Was to get most delightfully mellow.

That day, with a black-jack of beer,

It chanced he was treating a party:

Says the saint, “This good day, do you hear,

I drank nothing to speak of, my hearty,

So give me a pull at the pot.”

The pewter he lifted in sport

(Believe me, I tell you no fable);

A gallon he drank from the quart,

And then planted it full on the table.

“A miracle!” every one said,

And they all took a haul at the stingo:

They were capital hands at the trade,

And drank till they fell; yet, by jingo!

The pot still frothed over the brim.

Next day quoth his host, “’Tis a fast,

But I’ve naught in my larder but mutton;

And on Fridays who’d make such repast,

Except an unchristian-like glutton?”

Says Pat, “Cease your nonsense, I beg;

What you tell me is nothing but gammon:

Take my compliments down to the leg,

And bid it come hither a salmon!”

And the leg most politely complied.

You’ve heard, I suppose, long ago,

How the snakes in a manner most antic

He marched to the County Mayo,

And trundled them into th’ Atlantic.

Hence not to use water for drink

The people of Ireland determine;

With mighty good reason, I think,

Since St. Patrick had filled it with vermin,

And vipers, and other such stuff.

Oh, he was an elegant blade

As you’d meet from Fair Head to Kilcrumper;

And though under the sod he is laid,

Yet here goes his health in a bumper!

I wish he was here, that my glass

He might by art magic replenish;

But as he is not, why, alas!

My ditty must come to a finish—

Because all the liquor is out!