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Brassie texted me: What’s all this poetic activity you are indulging in?

She doesn’t understand texting, so she always writes formally and at length.

Oh, I just had all these ballads hanging around, not being published, so thought

that I’d give them an airing.

I actually condensed the latter quite a bit.

She sent me an emoticon!

Anyway, here is the last ballad you will be getting for a while!


John Overs was a waterman.

Lucrative trade plied he:

before a bridge the Thames did span,

he controlled the ferry.

A goodly living he then made,

so bought a large estate,

but, miserly, he felt betrayed

by what his servants ate.

To feign his death seemed a good plot:

his household then would fast,

but nothing happened as he’d thought-

they gorged what he’d amassed.

Enraged he leapt out of his bed.

A servant at the wake

thrashed an oar about his head

until his skull did break.

Thinking that Satan had appeared

to take his master’s soul,

he split John from the nave to beard:

the ferryman paid his toll.

He paid his toll for his folly.

His daughter, deep-distressed,

in bereavement’s melancholy

beat at her brains and breast.

“Send for my lover.  He must come

in this my hour of need.

We two have gained a princely sum.

Tell him to come.  God speed.”

Her lover hastened in his greed,

beside himself with glee.

But, riding he did not pay heed;

was injured fatally.

Her whole inheritance she gave

to found a convent there.

Two lives were lost, so she would save

others through her prayer.

St. Mary Overie became

Southwark’s Priory and

St. Saviour’s Church was its new name

when Cromwell stormed the land.

Oliver Cromwell by Samuel Cooper.jpg

Now a cathedral, it stands proud,

though founded on men’s sins.

London was thereby endowed,

which proves Grace always wins.