SCROOGE and MARLEY (Deceased)
A POEM by Paul Curtis
BASED ON THE STORY by
Charles Dickens “A CHRISTMAS CAROL”
STAVE 1 - MARLEY’S GHOST
VERSE 1 – THE PREAMBLE
Marley was dead let there be no doubt about that
The register was duly signed and can be looked at
To argue with the evidence proves to be of no avail
Poor Old Jacob Marley was as dead as a doornail
So there was no doubt of Marley's demise as I said
Of course Ebeneezer Scrooge knew he was dead
They were in partnership for years very profitably
And at his death Scrooge was the sole beneficiary
Despite a long association Scrooge was not so sad
Though he wasn’t deeply upset nor was he glad
Doubtless Jacob Marley was dead, as we now know
This must be distinctly understood from the get go
Or nothing wonderful can ever come from this tale
An almost magical story that I wish now to detail
VERSE 2 – SCROOGE AND MARLEY
As Scrooge and Marley the Company was known
And above the warehouse door the sign was shown
Scrooge never painted old Jacob Marley's name out
And years afterwards it was clearly visible without
Scrooge was a tight fisted and covetous old sinner
Hard as flint, self contained, and solitary as an oyster
He had cold frozen old features and a pointed nose
Mean from his shriveled cheeks to his stiffened toes
His thin curled lips emitted chilling grating tones
Enough to send an icy shiver right to your bones
Nobody asked him for directions or the time of day
And old blind men and beggars kept out of his way
No acquaintance ever inquired of him “How are you?”
And certainly no stranger ever asked “How do you do?”
VERSE 3 – IN THE COUNTING HOUSE
Once upon a time on a Christmas Eve Scrooge sat
Busy in his counting house with his open ledgers fat
It was cold, bleak, biting weather with freezing fog
And the streets were enveloped in a thick Grey smog
In the gloom people could be heard out in the street
Stamping hard on the pavements to warm their feet
The city of London clocks had only just gone three
But with the weather it was dark as night already
The door of Scrooge's counting house was left open
That he might keep his eye upon his clerk in his pen
Mr. Scrooge had a very small fire burning in his grate
But the clerk's fire was so small so as to be third rate
It looked like only one small solitary coal in the gloom
Ebeneezer Scrooge kept the coal-box in his own room
When the clerk came in with a shovel for more coal
He was threatened with his dismissal for his console
Thereupon the clerk put on his comforter and his hat
And tried to warm himself at a candle and that was that
VERSE 4 – A NEPHEW COMES A CALLING
“Merry Christmas, uncle” Cried a voice “God save you”
It was the hearty cheerful voice of Scrooge's nephew
Who had quickly entered through his uncle’s open door
"Bah!" said Scrooge "Humbug!" he said to his visitor
He had a ruddy and handsome face and sparkling eyes
And his uncle’s response came, as little or no surprise
"Christmas a humbug, uncle!" said Scrooge's nephew
"You don't mean that, I am sure." Scrooge said, "I do,"
"Merry Christmas! What reason, have you to be merry?
You're poor enough." Scrooge continued harshly
"Come then, what right have you to live so dismally?
You're rich enough uncle" returned the nephew gaily
Scrooge having no better answer to show his disdain
Said "Bah!" and followed it up with "Humbug." again
“Uncle! I did not come here today in order to upset you
Please don’t be cross, sir!" said the cheerful nephew
"What else can I be, when I live in such a world of fools?
Merry Christmas! Greetings festiveness and Yule’s
What is Christmas but a time for buying things
With no money and the unhappiness that brings
And a time for finding yourself another year older
And finding you’re not an hour nor a penny richer
If I could only work my will," said Scrooge indignantly
"Every idiot with a Merry Christmas' on his lips I see
Would be boiled with his own pudding for a start
And buried with a stake of holly through his heart"
"Uncle! Its Christmas" said the nephew pleadingly
"Nephew!" returned uncle Ebeneezer very sternly
"You are welcome to keep Christmas in your own way
Allow me to keep it in mine is all that I need to say"
"Keep it!" replied the nephew. "But you don't keep it."
"Let me leave it alone, then," said Scrooge in a fit
"Much good may it do you! Much good it has ever done!"
He almost spat out the words at his dear sister’s son
"There are many things from which” returned the nephew
“I may have derived good by which I did not profit a sou
Christmas among the rest and I have always believed,
Of this time when it has come round, to be conceived
Apart from the veneration due it’s sacred name and origin
If anything belonging to it can be apart from that to begin
As a good time, kind, forgiving, charitable, and pleasant
A time, merry, joyful and festive and clearly heaven sent
The only time I know of, in the calendar of the year,
When men and women open their hearts without fear
Though it has never put a scrap of gold in my pocket,
It has done me good, and will do me good God bless it!"
The clerk involuntarily applauded at what was said
Then came to his senses and he poked the fire instead
"If I hear another sound from you," said Scrooge in irritation
"You'll keep your Christmas by losing your situation”
“Well Nephew you're quite the powerful speaker"
Said Scrooge "I wonder you don't go into Parliament sir"
"Don't be angry, uncle. Come! Dine with us tomorrow."
Scrooge vehemently declined filling the boy with sorrow
"But why? I don’t understand " Scrooge's nephew queried
Uncle Scrooge asked him "Why did you get married?"
"I married because I fell in love with her uncle Ebeneezer"
"Because you fell in love!" said Scrooge, “what an answer”
“Why can’t we be friends? I want nothing from you”
"Good afternoon," said Scrooge "Good afternoon nephew,"
"I am heartily sorry to find you so resolute against me
We have never had a quarrel to the best of my memory”
So uncle Ebeneezer I wish A Merry Christmas, to you"
"Good afternoon," said Scrooge "Good afternoon nephew,"
"And uncle I wish the very Happiest New Year to you!"
"Good afternoon!" said Scrooge "Good afternoon nephew,"
He left the room without an angry word or remark
Stopping at the door to offer greetings to the clerk
Though chilled to the bone and weakened physically
He was warmer than Scrooge in returning them cordially
"There's a fellow fool," muttered Scrooge “indeed”
"My own clerk with a wife and six children to feed
With fifteen shillings a week to keep a roof over head
Talking about a merry Christmas, Bah Humbug I said”
VERSE 5 – TWO GENTLEMEN COME A CALLING
No sooner had Scrooge's nephew gone out of view
Than entered a party of gentlemen numbering two
They were both pleasant looking portly gentlemen
Who now stood, hats off, in Scrooge's office environ
They had books and papers in their hands, and bowed
One produced a list of which he was obviously proud
"Scrooge and Marley's, I believe," said one of the men
After scanning down a list of names with the point of a pen
"Is it Mr. Scrooge I’m addressing or Mr. Marley instead?"
"Mr. Marley’s been dead these seven years," Scrooge said
"It was in fact that he died seven years ago this very night"
Scrooge said examining their credentials by candlelight
"We have no doubt,” said the larger gentlemen of the pair
“His liberality is well represented by his surviving partner"
At the very ominous word "liberality," Scrooge frowned
And he handed their credentials back without a sound
"At this festive season of the year" said one gentleman,
"It’s desirable that we should make provision if we can
For the Poor and Destitute, who suffer greatly at this time
Many thousands are in want, which is really such a crime
They lack common necessaries and common comforts, sir."
"Are there no prisons?" asked Scrooge sitting in his chair
"Plenty of prisons," said the gentleman without hesitation
"And the Union workhouses? Are they still in operation?"
"They are, I wish they were not" replied one gentleman
"The Treadmill and the Poor Law are in full vigor, then?"
Scrooge asked and was told "They’re both very busy, sir"
Scrooge smiled and seemed to relax back into his chair
"Oh well I'm very glad to hear it" Ebeneezer scrooge said
“I was afraid that something had occurred to stop them dead”
“I’m relieved to hear they continue in their useful course”
Undeterred the gentlemen continued with some remorse
"A few of us are raising a fund to buy the Poor some meat
And drink and means of warmth or a blanket and a sheet
We choose this time when want is keenly felt by the poor
And abundance rejoices. What shall I put you down for?"
Both men looked expectant Scrooge replied "Nothing!"
"You wish to be anonymous?" asked one man nodding
"I wish to be left alone,” said Scrooge "Since you ask me
What I wish, gentlemen, that is the answer I decree
I don't make merry myself at Christmas on the contrary
And I certainly can’t afford to make idle people merry
I have mentioned the establishments I help to support
And those who are badly off must go there for comfort"
The two gentlemen shook their heads at Scrooge’s reply
"Many cannot go there and many would rather die."
Scrooge’s response was the most savage declaration
"They should do it and decrease the surplus population”
Scrooge returned "The poor are not my business,
It's enough for a man to know his own business
And not to interfere in other people's in anyway
Mine occupies me constantly gentlemen Good day!"
Seeing clearly that it would be useless to pursue
And with spirits depleted the gentlemen withdrew
VERSE 6 – IN THE COUNTING HOUSE AGAIN
Mr. Scrooge returned to his labors with renewed vigor
And an improved opinion of himself as a moral figure
He was left in peace for the remainder of the working day
Save for Carolers who he unceremoniously shooed away
The hour of shutting up the counting house arrived duly
And with an ill-will Scrooge dismounted his stool tacitly
The poor expectant clerk instantly snuffed his candle out
And adjusted his clothing in preparation of going without
"You'll want all day to-morrow?" said Scrooge sharply
"If its quite convenient, sir." The clerk replied meekly
"It's not convenient and it’s unfair. If I was to stop your pay
Scrooge ranted “you'd think yourself ill-used, I'll dare say"
"And yet," said Scrooge pointing at his cowering clerk
"You don't think me ill-used, when I pay wages for no work."
The poor clerk observed that it was only once a year.
This retort merely enraged Scrooge even more I fear
"And that’s a poor excuse for picking a man's pocket
Every twenty-fifth of December!" he said in a blue fit
"But I suppose you must have the whole day” he said
“But you be here all the earlier next morning instead"
The clerk promised faithfully that he would without doubt
And growling disapproval Ebeneezer Scrooge walked out
VERSE 7 – CLERKING ABOUT
The office was closed in the merest twinkling of an eye
And the clerk in the spirit of the season bad the office goodbye
With the ends of his white comforter dangling below his waist
He made his way home to Camden Town with great haste
Stopping only to take turns with a group of boys on a slide
Only about twenty times at the end of the lane near Cheapside
VERSE 8 – A VERY UNEXPECTED VISITOR
Ebeneezer Scrooge took his melancholy dinner alone
In his usual melancholy tavern “The Regents Throne”
And after all the daily newspapers had been duly read
Scrooge buttoned up his coat and went home to bed
He lived in the chambers, which were once the property
Of his deceased friend and partner Mr. Jacob Marley
They were a gloomy suite of rooms in a crumbling pile
Tucked away in a back alley Close to the square mile
It was old, dreary and but for Scrooge nobody lived in it
As all the other rooms all being used as offices to be let
The fog and frost hung about the doorway of the building
So That Scrooge could only find the keyhole by feeling
Now, it is a fact, that there was nothing at all particular
About the knocker on the door neither strange or peculiar
Except that it was large and in the form of a lion’s head
Though in all other respects it was quite usual as I said
It’s a fact, that Scrooge had seen it night and morning
From his first day there to the last and every one during
Bearing in mind that Scrooge had not thought in any way
Of Marley since mention of his dead partner earlier that day
So then how could it happen that Scrooge, key in the door
Saw in the knocker, Marleys face who wasn’t alive anymore
Not an angry face but looked as he did before he was dead
With ghostly spectacles turned up on its ghostly forehead
Moments past As Scrooge looked hard at this phenomenon
And then it was a knocker again and Marleys face was gone
To say that he was not startled or scared would be untrue
He unlocked the door and entered what else was he to do
He did pause for a moment before he shut the door
And he did look cautiously behind it but did no more
There were only screws and nuts to hold the knocker
So he said "Pooh, pooh!" and slammed it like thunder
He fastened the door, and walked slowly across the hall
And up the stairs lit by his candle careful not to fall
The staircase was so wide and gloomy, as the light was dim
He notioned he saw a hearse and six white horses ahead of him
Scrooge dismissed it a trick of the light or lack of it
And continued slowly up the huge stair case to the summit
It would have been easy to have had the entrance lit
But the Darkness is cheap, and Mr. Scrooge liked it
Nonetheless before he shut and bolted his heavy door
He walked through his suite of rooms just to make sure
Nobody was under the bed or behind the door there
Nobody was under the table or indeed under the sofa
Quite satisfied, he closed his door, and locked himself in
Thus secured against surprise he began his undressing
Putting on his slippers, nightcap and his dressing-gown
He prepared to take supper by the fire where he sat down
On a bitter night it was a very low fire with little fuel
Scrooge sat very close to the fire while he took his gruel
The fireplace was paved with tiles adorned with pictures
They were many and varied and illustrated the Scriptures
Out of one of these pictures Marleys head was seen to zoom
"Humbug!" said Scrooge and got up to pace the room
After several turns, he sat down again and his gaze fell
In the direction of a dusty corner and an old disused bell
It was with great astonishment, and with a strange dread
He saw this bell start swinging as he sat gazing ahead
It swung so softly in the outset that it scarcely made a sound
But soon every bell in the house rang loud and echoed around
This might have lasted a minute, but it seemed like an hour
Then the bells ceased just as they had begun, together
They were succeeded by a clanking noise, deep down below
Scrooge thought maybe chains dragging but he didn’t know
Then he heard the noise coming up the stairs much louder
Then coming straight towards his door louder and louder
"It's humbug still!" shouted Scrooge. "I won't believe it."
His color changed though and he was scared more than a bit
When, without a pause, it came on through the heavy door
Passing into the room before his eyes then moving no more
Scrooge thought its Marley in his usual waistcoat not dead
From his tights and boots even to the hair upon his head
The chain he drew was clasped and about his middle it went
It was long, and wound about him like tail of a serpent
It was made of cash-boxes, keys, and had padlocks on
And ledgers, deeds, and heavy purses wrought in iron
His body was transparent, so that Scrooge, observing him
And looking through him could see the wall though dim
Scrooge thought this is Marley but he is decidedly dead
From his tights and boots even to the hair upon his head
He looked at the phantom but no matter what his mind says
He was still incredulous, and fought against his senses
Said Scrooge caustically "What do you want with me?"
“Much!" said the unmistakable voice of Jacob Marley
"Who are you?" Ebeneezer Scrooge asked hesitantly
"Why not ask me who I was." Replied the entity
"Who were you then?" said Scrooge with irritation
"You're very particular indeed spirit, for an apparition
"In life I was your partner,” said the spirit “Jacob Marley"
At this scrooge turned paler and his legs turned to jelly
"Can you -- can you sit down?" he asked his old partner
Doubtful of the ghosts ability to actually use a chair
"I can,” said Marley surprised at the question
"Do it then." Scrooge instructed with apprehension
"You don't believe in me," observed the ghost Marley
"I do not,” said Scrooge spitting out the words defiantly
"What evidence would you want to have of my reality
Beyond that of your senses?" asked the strange entity
"I don't know," said Scrooge replying to the question
"Why do you doubt your own senses?" asked the apparition
"Because” said Scrooge “The slightest thing affects them
A slight disorder of the stomach makes cheats of them
You may be an undigested bit of beef quite possibly
Or a blob of mustard, a crumb of cheese, or piccalilli
A fragment of an underdone potato should I continue?
There's certainly more of gravy than of grave about you”
Scrooge was very pleased indeed with his little jest
But he still worried about offending his uninvited guest
"You see this toothpick?" Ebeneezer Scrooge then said
"I do," Jacob Marley answered without moving his head
"You are not looking at it" Scrooge pointed out
"But I see it" said the Ghost "without any doubt"
"Well I have but to swallow without hesitation
And I’ll be plagued goblins all of my own creation
Its all a Humbug” said Scrooge “Humbug I tell you!”
At this the spirit raised up causing a terrible to do
Shaking his chains as well as wailing and screaming
Poor Scrooge could only hide behind his chair shaking
"Mercy!" Scrooge pleaded "Why do you trouble me?"
"Do you believe in me or not?" shouted Marley
"I do," said Scrooge. "I must oh yes spirit I do”
“But why do spirits walk the earth tell me I beg you”
"It is required of every man that the spirit within
Should walk forth, far abroad among his fellowmen
But if the spirits do not go forth during their life time
They are condemned to do so after deaths chime”
Again the spirit raised up causing a terrible to do
Shaking his chains screaming as well as wailing too
“Wandering and witnessing what they cannot share
But might have shared on earth bringing happiness there"
"You are fettered," said Scrooge, trembling. "Tell me why?"
"I wear the chain I forged in life," was the ghosts reply
"I forged this chain link by link, and yard by yard
Made of my own free will and toiled on very hard”
“The chain that you wear yourself” he said in monotone
“Was as full and as heavy and as long as my own
Seven Christmas Eves ago you’ve labored on it since
Now it is a truly ponderous chain" he saw Scrooge wince
Scrooge glanced about him and could see nothing
"Jacob speak comfort to me Jacob!" he said imploring
"I have no comfort to give," replied Jacob Marley
"That comes from other regions and ministers than me
My spirit never walked beyond our office so help me
Never roamed beyond our money changing hole you see”
"But Jacob you were always a good man of business”
"Business!" cried the Ghost "Mankind was my business
The common welfare was my business and forbearance
My business should have been charity mercy and benevolence
The poor should have counted in my business dealings”
Scrooge was horrified by his old partners rantings
"Hear me!" cried the Ghost. "My time is nearly gone"
"I will," said Scrooge "Please lets just have it done”
"How I appear before you in the form I cannot say
I have sat invisible beside you many and many a day"
Scrooge found the idea was not at all an agreeable one
And shivered at the very thought of being spied upon
"I am here to-night to warn you” Marley began to dictate
“That you have yet a chance and hope of escaping my fate”
Scrooge replied "You were always a good friend to me"
"You will be haunted," resumed the Ghost, "By spirits Three"
On hearing this news made Scrooges temples throb
"Is that the chance and hope you mentioned, Jacob?"
Ebeneezer demanded, in a faltering voice "It is yes"
"I -- I think I'd rather not," said Scrooge in distress
"Without their visits," Jacob Marley's Ghost said
"You cannot hope to shun the dreadful path I tread
Ebeneezer expect the first of the visitors to come”
Marley continued “Tomorrow, when the bell tolls one"
"Jacob Couldn't I take all three of them together”
Scrooge suggested nervously “And have it all over”
"Expect the second at the same hour on the next night
The third upon the next night on the stroke of midnight”
Jacob Marley wailed “Look to see me no more Ebeneezer”
“And look at what has passed between us and remember”
After these words, the spectre backed slowly away
With each step the window inched up a little way
When Marley reached the window it was wide open
And he beckoned Ebeneezer Scrooge to join him then
When they were within two paces of each other
Marley's Ghost held up its hand to stop him coming closer
Scrooge suddenly became aware of a mournful sound
Marley's went out the window hovering above the ground
Jacobs ghost was joined by a throng of other spectre's
They had chains and scrooge knew some of these others
Marley and the other spirits and the voices faded together
And they then just disappeared into the misty weather
Scrooge then closed the window in against the night
He was shivering with the cold as well as from fright
Then he examined the door by which the Ghost entered
The double-locks and bolts were all undisturbed
He was about to say "Humbug!" but in the end didn’t
Being drained from emotion it was in fact he couldn’t
Then overcome by the fatigues of a long strange day
He went to bed falling asleep almost straight away