Cooper, Thomas

England, (1805-1892)

The Swineherd of Stow

  1. I sing of a swineherd, in Lindsey, so bold,
  2. Who tendeth his flock in the wide forest-fold:
  3. He sheareth no wool from his snouted sheep:
  4. He soweth no corn, and none he doth reap;
  5. Yet the swineherd no lack of good living doth know
  6. Come jollily trowl
  7. The brown round bowl,
  8. Like the jovial swineherd of Stow!
  9.  
  10. He hedgeth no meadows to fatten his swine:
  11. He renteth no joist for his snorting kine:
  12. They rove through the forest, and browse on the mast, –
  13. Yet, he lifteth his horn, and bloweth a blast,
  14. And they come at his call, blow he high, blow he low! –
  15. Come, jollily trowl
  16. The brown round bowl,
  17. And drink to the swineherd of Stow!
  18.  
  19. He shunneth the heat ‘mong the fern-stalks green, –
  20. Or dreameth of elves ‘neath the forest treen:
  21. He wrappeth him up when the oak leaves sere
  22. And the acorns fall, at the wane of the year;
  23. And he tippleth at Yule, by the log’s cheery glow. –
  24. Come, jollily trowl
  25. The brown round bowl,
  26. And pledge the bold swineherd of Stow!
  27.  
  28. The bishop he passeth the swineherd in scorn, –
  29. Yet, to mass wends the swineherd at Candlemas morn:
  30. And he offereth his horn, at our Lady’s hymn,
  31. With bright silver pennies filled up to the brim: –
  32. Saith the bishop, “A very good fellow, I trow!” –
  33. Come, jollily trowl
  34. The brown round bowl,
  35. And honour the swineherd of Stow!
  36.  
  37. And now the brave swineherd, in stone, ye may spy,
  38. Holding his horn, on the Minster so high! –
  39. But the swineherd he laugheth, and cracketh his joke,
  40. With his pig-boys that vittle beneath the old oak, –
  41. Saying, “Had I no pennies, they’d make me no show!” –
  42. Come, jollily trowl
  43. The brown round bowl,
  44. And laugh with the swineherd of Stow!

Thomas Cooper. The Baron’s Yule Feast, a Christmas rhyme. London: Jeremiah How (1846).

Editor’s Note:

A sculpture known as the Swineherd of Stow stands, with his horn in his hand, atop the pinnacle of the North buttress that terminates the magnificent façade of the West front of Lincoln Cathedral. On the opposite buttress pinnacle is St. Remigius, the Norman bishop.

The tradition, in the mouth of every Lincolner, is that this effigie honour was conferred on the generous swineherd because he gave his horn filled with silver pennies towards the rebuilding or beautifying of the cathedral.

Lincoln Cathedral (The Cathedral Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Lincoln) is a historic cathedral located in Lincoln, Lincolnshire, England. It is also the seat of the Bishop of Lincoln in the Church of England.

swineherd of stow
Swineherd of Stow, North Pinnacle, West Front, Lincoln Cathedral

About the Poet:

Thomas Cooper (1805-1892) was an English poet and a leader in the Chartists reform movement. He wrote poetry, novels and, in later life, religious texts. A self-taught shoemaker, preacher, schoolmaster and journalist before he became a Chartist in 1840, Cooper was a passionate, determined and fiery man.

After journalistic work in Lincoln and London, Cooper joined the staff of the Leicester Mercury in 1840. The Mercury, under his leadership, became a Chartist stronghold. Cooper became a leader and lecturer among the Chartists, and in 1842 was imprisoned in Stafford gaol for two years after the riots in the potteries.

While imprisoned, Cooper wrote his Purgatory of Suicides, a political epic. Cooper abandoned full-time radicalism on his release. Cooper was then re-converted to Christianity in 1855. He spent the next thirty years as a lecturer in defense of Christianity, refuting the evolutionary theories of Darwin. [DES-07/12]

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