The Oviparous Tailor

   Wee, wee tailor,
   Nobody was paler
   Than wee, wee tailor;
And nobody was thinner.
Hast thou mutton-chops for dinner,
My small-beer sinner,
   My starveling rat,—but haler,—
   Wee, wee tailor?

Below his starving garret
Lived an old witch and a parrot,—
   Wee, wee tailor,—
Cross, horrid and uncivil,
For her grandsire was the Devil,
Or a chimney-sweeper evil;
She was sooty, too, but paler,—
   Wee, wee tailor.

Her sooty hen laid stale eggs,
And then came with his splay legs,—
   Wee, wee tailor,
And stole those eggs for dinner;
Then would old witch begin her
Damnations on the sinner,—
   “May the thief lay eggs,—but staler;”
      Wee, wee tailor.

Wee, wee tailor,
Witch watched him like a jailor.
   Wee, wee tailor
Did all his little luck spill.
Tho’ he swallowed many a muck’s pill,
Yet his mouth grew like a duck’s bill,
   Crowed like a hen,—but maler,—
      Wee, wee tailor.

Near him did cursèd doom stick,
As he perched upon a broomstick,—
   Wee, wee tailor.
It lightened, rained, and thundered,
And all the doctors wondered
When he laid about a hundred
   Gallinaceous eggs,—but staler,—
      Wee, wee tailor.
A hundred eggs laid daily;
No marvel he looked palely,—
   Wee, wee tailor.

Witch let folks in to see some
Poach’d tailor’s eggs; to please ’em
He must cackle on his besom,
   Till Fowl-death did prevail o’er
      Wee, wee tailor.

[Gosse, 1890]