Invitation to the Tyburn Jig

In the shadow of the gallows,
not far from the hangman’s
noose, the young pick-pocket
drowns in the shallow
murk of a blindman’s
holiday, once the jailer’s
doused the glim.
He was born
under a threepenny planet, dipping
wipers for a tot of lightning,
dodging charlies and soul-drivers.
Holed up in a gospel-shop, pot-valiant,
he forgot that the devil
is a cruel caper-merchant.

Kim M. Russell, 2017

 invitation-to-the-tyburn-jig

Image found on http://www.oldbaileyonline.org/static/JourneyTyburn.jsp

My response to Imaginary Garden with Real Toads Tuesday Platform

Today Marian has welcomed us to the Imaginary Garden, where we share poems long, short, old and new. Over the weekend, I read a review of a novel set in Georgian London’s criminal underworld, which inspired me to write a poem that makes use of Georgian criminal slang.

The Tyburn Jig – dancing on the end of a rope on Tyburn gallows
Tyburn – a site of execution, known as ‘Tyburn Tree’ at Marble Arch in London
Blindman’s holiday – darkness
Douse the glim – put out the light
Born under a threepenny planet – unlucky
Dipping wipers – stealing handkerchiefs
Lightning – gin
Charlies – eighteenth century law enforcers
Soul-drivers – priests
Gospel-shop – a church
Pot-valiant – drunk
Caper-merchant – dancing master

 

 

 

 

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27 thoughts on “Invitation to the Tyburn Jig

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