Poor Tom

I just posted Tom O’Bedlam which I first encountered in the New Oxford Book of English Verse under the title Loving Mad Tom.  I learned a lot as I linked the page to interesting sites. I also recalled a book I read as a child where one character was feigning madness to spy on some people. He kept repeating “Puir Tam, Puir Tam, don’t hurt Puir Tam…”

I realize now that was a reference to the same persona.

If any of you read this story in your childhood, send me the name of it please. There seems to be a lot of Scottish tie-ins to this Poor Tom character. [Click on the link in the Chorus to see]

There is much obscure vocabulary in the poem, very specific to England in the 17th century. I never knew “Bedlam” was derived from the word Bethlehem. Like The Vicar of Bray, another great anonymous English poem, this one conjures up images from Hogarth’s etchings.

2 comments on “Poor Tom

  1. Linda says:

    Wow, you’ve put in hours & hours of poems!
    Very interesting your 1st post with how you came to love poetry!
    You’d probably made a good high school English teacher!!!

    Sorry, I can’t help you more with blogging!

    I know so little that It took me a while to figure out that to see the poem I had to pick a link at the top of the page.

    Cool about bedlam & hasty pudding – I didnt know that!

    Be careful what you say around me about Pink Floyd!! :-)



  2. drew says:

    Thanks for the comments Linda.
    Maybe I need to make it easier to find the poetry that I am commenting on in the posts. Thanks for mentioning this. I don’t want the blog to be frustrating to navigate.
    Regarding Pink Floyd – do you mean you like them or the opposite?
    And remember to never eat Hasty Pudding in Bedlam…


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