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


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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






27 thoughts on “Invitation to the Tyburn Jig

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