The Poetical Works of Thomas Hood, by Thomas Hood

An Open Question.

“It is the king’s highway that we are in, and in this way it is that thou hast placed the lions.”— BUNYAN.

What! shut the gardens; lock the latticed gate!

Refuse the shilling and the Fellow’s ticket!

And hang a wooden notice up to state,

“On Sundays no admittance at this wicket!”

The Birds, the Beasts, and all the Reptile race

Denied to friends and visitors till Monday!

Now, really, this appears the common case

Of putting too much Sabbath into Sunday —

But what is your opinion, Mrs. Grundy?

The Gardens — so unlike the ones we dub

Of Tea, wherein the artisan carouses —

Mere shrubberies without one drop of shrub —

Wherefore should they be closed like public-houses?

No ale is vended at the wild Deer’s Head —

Nor rum — nor gin — not even of a Monday —

The Lion is not carved — or gilt — or red,

And does not send out porter of a Sunday —

But what is your opinion, Mrs. Grundy?

The bear denied! the Leopard under locks!

As if his spots would give contagious fevers;

The Beaver close as hat within its box;

So different from other Sunday beavers!

The Birds invisible — the Gnaw-way Rats —

The Seal hermetically seal’d till Monday —

The Monkey tribe — the Family of Cats —

We visit other families on Sunday —

But what is your opinion, Mrs. Grundy?

What is the brute profanity that shocks

The super-sensitively serious feeling?

The Kangaroo — is he not orthodox

To bend his legs, the way he does, in kneeling?

Was strict Sir Andrew, in his sabbath coat,

Struck all a heap to see a Coati Mundi?

Or did the Kentish Plumtree faint to note

The Pelicans presenting bills on Sunday? —

But what is your opinion, Mrs. Grundy?

What feature has repulsed the serious set?

What error in the bestial birth or breeding,

To put their tender fancies on the fret?

One thing is plain — it is not in the feeding!

Some stiffish people think that smoking joints

Are carnal sins ’twixt Saturday and Monday —

But then the beasts are pious on these points,

For they all eat cold dinners on a Sunday —

But what is your opinion, Mrs. Grundy?

What change comes o’er the spirit of the place,

As if transmuted by some spell organic?

Turns fell Hyæna of the Ghoulish race?

The Snake, pro tempore, the true Satanic?

Do Irish minds — (whose theory allows

That now and then Good Friday falls on Monday)—

Do Irish minds suppose that Indian Cows

Are wicked Bulls of Bashan on a Sunday —

But what is your opinion, Mrs. Grundy?

There are some moody fellows, not a few,

Who, turn’d by Nature with a gloomy bias,

Renounce black devils to adopt the blue,

And think when they are dismal they are pious:

Is’t possible that Pug’s untimely fun

Has sent the brutes to Coventry till Monday —

Or p’rhaps some animal, no serious one,

Was overheard in laughter on a Sunday —

But what is your opinion, Mrs. Grundy?

What dire offence have serious Fellows found

To raise their spleen against the Regent’s spinney?

Were charitable boxes handed round,

And would not Guinea Pigs subscribe their guinea?

Perchance the Demoiselle refused to moult

The feathers in her head — at least till Monday;

Or did the Elephant, unseemly, bolt

A tract presented to be read on Sunday —

But what is your opinion, Mrs. Grundy?

At whom did Leo struggle to get loose?

Who mourns through Monkey tricks his damaged clothing?

Who has been hiss’d by the Canadian Goose?

On whom did Llama spit in utter loathing?

Some Smithfield saint did jealous feelings tell

To keep the Puma out of sight till Monday,

Because he prey’d extempore as well

As certain wild Itinerants on Sunday —

But what is your opinion, Mrs. Grundy?

To me it seems that in the oddest way

(Begging the pardon of each rigid Socius)

Our would-be Keepers of the Sabbath-day

Are like the Keepers of the brutes ferocious —

As soon the Tiger might expect to stalk

About the grounds from Saturday till Monday,

As any harmless man to take a walk,

If saints could clap him in a cage on Sunday —

But what is your opinion, Mrs. Grundy?

In spite of all hypocrisy can spin,

As surely as I am a Christian scion,

I cannot think it is a mortal sin —

(Unless he’s loose) to look upon a lion.

I really think that one may go, perchance,

To see a bear, as guiltless as on Monday —

(That is, provided that he did not dance)

Bruin’s no worse than bakin’ on a Sunday —

But what is your opinion, Mrs. Grundy?

In spite of all the fanatic compiles,

I cannot think the day a bit diviner,

Because no children, with forestalling smiles,

Throng, happy, to the gates of Eden Minor —

It is not plain, to my poor faith at least,

That what we christen “Natural” on Monday,

The wondrous History of bird and beast,

Can be Unnatural because it’s Sunday —

But what is your opinion, Mrs. Grundy?

Whereon is sinful fantasy to work?

The Dove, the wing’d Columbus of man’s haven?

The tender Love-Bird — or the filial Stork?

The punctual Crane — the providential Raven?

The Pelican whose bosom feeds her young?

Nay, must we cut from Saturday till Monday

That feather’d marvel with a human tongue,

Because she does not preach upon a Sunday —

But what is your opinion, Mrs. Grundy?

The busy Beaver — that sagacious beast!

The Sheep that own’d an Oriental Shepherd —

That Desert-ship the Camel of the East,

The horn’d Rhinoceros — the spotted Leopard —

The creatures of the Great Creator’s hand

Are surely sights for better days than Monday —

The elephant, although he wears no band,

Has he no sermon in his trunk for Sunday —

But what is your opinion, Mrs. Grundy?

What harm if men who burn the midnight-oil,

Weary of frame, and worn and wan in feature,

Seek once a-week their spirits to assoil,

And snatch a glimpse of “Animated Nature”?

Better it were if, in his best of suits,

The artisan, who goes to work on Monday,

Should spend a leisure hour among the brutes,

Than make a beast of his own self on Sunday —

But what is your opinion, Mrs. Grundy?

Why, zounds! what raised so Protestant a fuss

(Omit the zounds! for which I make apology)

But that the Papists, like some fellows, thus

Had somehow mixed up Dens with their theology?

Is Brahma’s Bull — a Hindoo god at home —

A papal bull to be tied up till Monday —

Or Leo, like his namesake, Pope of Rome,

That there is such a dread of them on Sunday —

But what is your opinion, Mrs. Grundy?

Spirit of Kant! have we not had enough

To make religion sad, and sour, and snubbish,

But Saints Zoological must cant their stuff,

As vessels cant their ballast — rattling rubbish!

Once let the sect, triumphant to their text,

Shut Nero up from Saturday till Monday,

And sure as fate they will deny us next

To see the Dandelions on a Sunday —

But what is your opinion, Mrs. Grundy?

http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/h/hood/thomas/poetical-works/poem165.html

Last updated Friday, March 7, 2014 at 20:51