Monday, December 31, 2012

The Churchmouse

When I referred to someone as a Churchmouse, they wanted to know where the term came from. This prompted me to "translate" the traditional Scottish poem of The Churchmouse, here seen for the first time in the poem's history in "received English":


A poor little churchmouse all forlorn
   Its furry coat severely worn
Sank down upon its bony knees
   and prayed -- for just a little cheese.

The tears ran down its little cheeks
   But none could hear the saddest squeaks
That echoed off the cold church door
   Until the mouse could pray no more

Soon daylight came, the church bells rang
   The door swung open with a bang
Communion day had come on by
   With wine and plates of bread held high.

The little mouse lay still as death
   And watched it all with bated breath
Then thought -- if only I will quietly wait
   A bit might just fall off a plate.

And so it gazed as round they went
   Then just as though 'twas heaven-sent
What landed right upon its head?
   But two small lumps of communion bread.

The bread of life lay on the floor --
   Then as answer to its prayer and more
Just as it thought, "It looks so dry"
   Somebody spilled some wine nearby.

The little mouse staggered up the aisle
   Wearing on its face a boozy smile
The folk stopped singing, quite aghast
   To see a drunken mouse walk past.

The organist fell off her wobbly chair,
   The minister was able only to stare
To see this drunken, sinful mouse
   Cavorting in his sacred house.

At last our mouse staggered up the nave
   Then turned and gave a happy wave
"I know now when it's time to pray
   I'll do it on communion day!"

           Translation / Adaptation by Thomas Scarborough.

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