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The World’s Wit and Humor: An Encyclopedia in 15 Volumes. 1906.

Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809–1892)

The Goose

I KNEW an old wife, lean and poor,

Her rags scarce held together;

There strode a stranger to the door,

And it was windy weather.

He held a goose upon his arm;

He uttered rhyme and reason:

“Here, take the goose, and keep you warm;

It is a stormy season.”

She caught the white goose by the leg;

A goose—’twas no great matter.

The goose let fall a golden egg

With cackle and with clatter.

She dropped the goose, and caught the pelf,

And ran to tell her neighbours;

And blessed herself, and cursed herself,

And rested from her labours.

And feeding high, and living soft,

Grew plump and able-bodied,

Until the grave church-warden doffed,

The parson smirked and nodded.

So sitting, served by man and maid,

She felt her heart grow prouder.

But, ah! the more the white goose laid,

It clacked and cackled louder.

It cluttered here, it chuckled there,

It stirred the old wife’s mettle;

She shifted in her elbow-chair,

And hurled the pan and kettle.

“A quinsy choke thy cursèd note!”

Then waxed her anger stronger:

“Go, take the goose, and wring her throat;

I will not bear it longer!”

Then yelped the cur, and yawed the cat,

Ran Gaffer, stumbled Gammer.

The goose flew this way, and flew that,

And filled the house with clamour.

As head and heels upon the floor

They floundered all together,

There strode a stranger to the door,

And it was windy weather.

He took the goose upon his arm,

He uttered words of scorning:

“So keep you warm, or keep you cold,

It is a stormy morning.”

The wild wind rang from park and plain,

And round the attics rumbled,

Till all the tables danced again,

And half the chimneys tumbled.

The glass blew in, the fire blew out,

The blast was hard and harder.

Her cap blew off, her gown blew up,

And a whirlwind cleared the larder.

And while on all sides breaking loose,

Her household fled the danger,

Quoth she, “The devil take the goose,

And God forget the stranger!”