Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Not Frankly and in Fellowship

The Song against Grocers
by G. K. Chesterton

God made the wicked Grocer
For a mystery and a sign,
That men might shun the awful shops
And go to inns to dine;
Where the bacon’s on the rafter
And the wine is in the wood,
And God that made good laughter
Has seen that they are good.

The evil-hearted Grocer
Would call his mother “Ma’am,”
And bow at her and bob at her,
Her aged soul to damn,
And rub his horrid hands and ask
What article was next
Should be her proper text.

His props are not his children,
But pert lads underpaid,
Who call out “Cash!” and bang about
To work his wicked trade;
He keeps a lady in a cage
Most cruelly all day,
And makes her count and calls her “Miss”
Until she fades away.

The righteous minds of innkeepers
Induce them now and then
To crack a bottle with a friend
Or treat unmoneyed men,
But who hath seen the Grocer
Treat housemaids to his teas
Or crack a bottle of fish sauce
Or stand a man a cheese?

He sells us sands of Araby
As sugar for cash down;
He sweeps his shop and sells the dust
The purest salt in town,
He crams with cans of poisoned meat
Poor subjects of the King,
And when they die by thousands
Why, he laughs like anything.

The wicked Grocer groces
In spirits and in wine,
Not frankly and in fellowship
As men in inns do dine;
But packed with soap and sardines
And carried off by grooms,
For to be snatched by Duchesses
And drunk in dressing-rooms.

The hell-instructed Grocer
Has a temple made of tin,
And the ruin of good innkeepers
Is loudly urged therein;
But now the sands are running out
From sugar of a sort,
The Grocer trembles; for his time,
Just like his weight, is short.

But so far there seems no bite in the prophecy; grocers you can find easily, but innkeepers, to the extent they exist at all, are more and more like grocers. Someone could write a poem called "The Vaunt of the Grocers" on the subject.


  1. Arsen Darnay9:44 PM

    G.K. must have had one of those days, doing something he didn't do often. Meanwhile Kroger and others have learned to set up stands to feed us bits of cheese, sausage-on-cracker, cookies at the bakery counter, and -- my most recent experience -- a little glass of a new ale. To be sure, it was served in a little plastic glass, but it tasted quite good. From Wisconsin. 

  2. branemrys3:18 PM

    That's an excellent point!

    I suspect, though, that once he learned the portion size, GK would be unrepentant!


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