The Pauper's Drive Quotes

"He's Only A Pauper, Whom Nobody Owns"

Context: Though Thomas Noel, the English poet, published a volume of poetry, Rhymes and Roundelays, in 1841, only one of its contents survives today, "Rocked in the Cradle of the Deep," set to music for the delight of a basso profundo. He also included in the volume a melancholic picture of a pauper driven unaccompanied to a churchyard for burial. Only at his death, says the poet, did the poor man make a noise in the world, as the rickety hearse clattered over the cobbles. At only this moment, writes Noel ironically, did he approach gentility, for at last he rode through London streets in a coach. The poet adds a satirical reminder to other bums that they, too, will have their chance to be a "gemman" (gentleman). It is a poem of six stanzas, each of which has as refrain, the quoted line.

There's a grim one-horse hearse in a jolly round trot,–
To the churchyard a pauper is going, I wot;
The road it is rough, and the hearse has no springs,
And hark to the dirge which the mad driver sings:
Rattle his bones over the stones!
He's only a pauper whom nobody owns!
O, where are the mourners? Alas! there are none;
He has left not a gap in the world, now he's gone,–
Not a tear in the eye of child, woman, or man,
To the grave with his carcass as fast as you can:
Rattle his bones over the stones!
He's only a pauper whom nobody owns!
. . .
You bumpkins! who stare at your brother conveyed,
Behold what respect to a cloddy is paid!
And be joyful to think, when by death you're laid low,
You've a chance to the grave like a gemman to go.
Rattle his bones over the stones!
He's only a pauper whom nobody owns!