(Thomas Cooper)

The Gosherd of Croyland

TIS a tale of merry Lincolnshire
    I've heard my grannam tell;
And I'll tell it to you, my masters, here,
    An it likes you all, full well.

A Gosherd of Croyland fen one day
    Awoke, in haste, from slumber;
And on counting his geese, to his sad dismay,
    He found there lacked one of the number.

O the Gosherd looked west, and he looked east,
    And he looked before and behind him;
And his eye from north to south he cast
    For the ganderbut couldn't find him!

So the Gosherd he drave his geese to the cote,
    And began, forthwith, to wander
Over the marish so wild and remote,
    In search for the old stray gander.

O the Gosherd he wandered till twilight gray
    Was throwing its mists around him;
But the gander seemed farther and farther astray
    For the Gosherd had not yet found him.

So the Gosherd, foredeeming his search in vain,
    Resolved no farther to wander;
But to Croyland he turned him, in dudgeon, again
    Sore fretting at heart for the gander.

Thus he footed the fens so dreary and dern,
    While his brain, like the sky, was darkening;
And, with dread, to the scream of the startled hern
    And the bittern's boom, he was hearkening.

But when the Gosherd the churchyard reached,
    Forefearing the dead would be waking,
Like a craven upon the sward he stretched,
    And could travel no farther for quaking!

And there the Gosherd lay through the night,
    Not daring to rise and go further:
For, in sooth, the Gosherd beheld a sight
    That frighted him more than murther!

From the old church clock the midnight hour
    In hollow tones was pealing,
When a slim white ghost to the church porch door
    Seemed up the footpath stealing!

Stark staring upon the sward lay the clown,
    And his heart went "pitter-patter,"
Till the ghost in the clay-cold grave sunk down,
    When he felt in a twitter-twatter!

Soonstretching aloft its long white arms
    From the grave the ghost was peeping!
Cried the Gosherd, "Our Lady defend me from harms,
    "And Saint Guthlacke have me in his keeping!"

The white ghost hissed!the Gosherd swooned!
    In the morn,on the truth 'tis no slander,
Near the church porch door a new grave he found,
    And, therein, the white ghosthis stray gander!

Lincoln, 1835

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