The Shivering Beggar by Robert Graves
NEAR Clapham village, where fields began,
Saint Edward met a beggar man.
It was Christmas morning, the church bells tolled,
The old man trembled for the fierce cold.
Saint Edward cried, â€œIt is monstrous sin
A beggar to lie in rags so thin!
An old gray-beard and the frost so keen:
I shall give him my fur-lined gaberdine.â€
He stripped off his gaberdine of scarlet
And wrapped it round the aged varlet,
Who clutched at the folds with a muttered curse,
Quaking and chattering seven times worse.
Said Edward, â€œSir, it would seem you freeze
Most bitter at your extremities.
Here are gloves and shoes and stockings also,
That warm upon your way you may go.â€
The man took stocking and shoe and glove,
Blaspheming Christ our Saviourâ€™s love,
Yet seemed to find but little relief,
Shaking and shivering like a leaf.
Said the saint again, â€œI have no great riches,
Yet take this tunic, take these breeches,
My shirt and my vest, take everything,
And give due thanks to Jesus the King.â€
The saint stood naked upon the snow
Long miles from where he was lodged at Bowe,
Praying, â€œO God! my faith, it grows faint!
This would try the temper of any saint.
â€œMake clean my heart, Almighty, I pray,
And drive these sinful thoughts away.
Make clean my heart if it be Thy will,
This damned old rascalâ€™s shivering still!â€
He stooped, he touched the beggar manâ€™s shoulder;
He asked him did the frost nip colder?
â€œFrost!â€ said the beggar, â€œno, stupid lad!
â€™Tis the palsy makes me shiver so bad.â€