"THE BALLAD OF SEVEN YEARS AFTER"

The newsmen travelled westward, just to have another look;
To talk to gentle country folk, the farmer and the cook;
The baker and the banker, and the miller by his brook;
And all the pious Puritans who would not read the book.

They went to see the cleric just to ask him what he thought;
"Me? Get myself involved in this? I've never heard such rot!
"I've plenty I can preach on, like Thou shalt and Thou shalt not!"
God bless all pious Puritans with pardons easily bought.

They called upon his teacher, a learned man and kind,
Who at first defended him then, later, changed his mind;
"I surely was distressed to learn he was the killer kind!"
God bless all pious Puritans, especially the blind.

They saw the village doctor who first diagnosed the case;
A look of pure, self-righteousness suffused his wrinkled face;
"It's good to know our courts can put such monsters in their place!"
God bless all pious Puritans, already saved by grace.

They interviewed a woman of the town who told them flat:
"Our people found him guilty, and that's the end of that!
"No punishment is good enough; the fiendish little brat!"
God bless all pious Puritans that wouldn't harm a cat.

They talked with sturdy jurymen who judged him at his trial;
Who cheered when he was ordered hanged, the ghoulish juvenile;
"We all knew that he's done it, and we knew it all the while!"
God bless all pious Puritans with pure and saintly smile.

They only found some faithful friends among those folk so cool;
While speaking with the youngsters who had known him in school;
"You get that stuff from children; we're more difficult to fool!"
God bless all pious Puritans who teach the golden rule.

They left the kindly townsfolk to their chess games and their bowls;
To their burning sense of duty and their lofty Christian goals,
And their guiltlessness of conscience for their legalistic roles.
God bless all pious Puritans with mercy on our souls.

Beware the men of saintly mien who never hunt for hares;
Who thunder out the wrath of God on those who maltreat bears;
But who aren't above a lynching if they catch you unawares,
God bless all pious Puritans who labour o'er their prayers.

No doubt that's why the Crucified loves sin-sick souls so well;
They have no grand pretentions and they have no lies to tell;
And they have far less need for priest; for candle, book and bell;
Than nice, God-fearing Puritans who damn us all to Hell!

S.G. May - 2 May, 1966