Verse > Anthologies > William McCarty, ed. > The American National Song Book
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William McCarty, comp.  The American National Song Book.  1842.
 
Sir Peter Petrified
By Philip Freneau (1752–1832)
 
On the modern Sir Peter Parker’s expedition to Kent Island, in Chesapeake Bay—1814

SIR PETER came, with bold intent,
To persecute the men of Kent,
  His flag aloft display’d:
He came to see their pleasant farms,
But ventured not without his arms        5
  To talk with man or maid.
 
And then the gallant Colonel Reed
Said, “We must see the man, indeed;
  He comes, perhaps, in want—
Who knows but that his stores are out:        10
’Tis hard to dine on mere sour-krout,
  His water may be scant.”
 
He spoke—but soon the men of Kent
Discover’d what the errand meant,
  And some discouraged, said,        15
“Sir Peter comes to petrify,
He points his guns, his colours fly,
  His men for war array’d!”
 
Secure as if they own’d the land,
Advanced this daring naval band,        20
  As if in days of peace;
Along the shore they prowling went,
And often ask’d some friends in Kent
  Where dwelt the fattest geese?
 
The farmers’ geese were doom’d to bleed;        25
But some there were with Colonel Reed,
  Who would not yield assent;
And said, before the geese they take,
Sir Peter must a bargain make
  With us, the boys of Kent.        30
 
The Britons march’d along the shore,
Two hundred men, or somewhat more;
  Next, through the woods they stray’d:
The geese, still watchful, as they went,
To save the capitol of Kent        35
  Their every step betray’d.
 
The British march’d with loaded gun,
To seize the geese that gabbling run
  About the isle of Kent;
But, what could hardly be believed,        40
Sir Peter was of life bereaved
  Before he pitch’d his tent.
 
Some Kentish lad, to save the geese,
And make their noisy gabbling cease
  Had took a deadly aim:        45
By Kentish hands Sir Peter fell,
His men retreated with a yell,
  And lost both geese and game!
 
Now, what I say, I say with grief,
That such a knight, or such a chief,        50
  On such an errand died!
When men of worth their lives expose
For little things, where little grows,
They make the very geese their foes;
  The geese his fall deride:        55
 
And, sure, they laugh, if laugh they can,
To see a star and garter’d man
For life of goose expose his own,
And bite the dust with many a groan;
  “Alas!” a gander cried,        60
“Behold, (said he,) a man of fame
Who all the way from England came
No more than just to get the name
  Of PETER PETRIFIED.”
 
 
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