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Michael Bell
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Posted By Michael Bell

Since this poem runs to about 500 lines, I’ve edited it. Below is a mere skeleton of the original, fleshy poem. You can read it in its entirety here.

Delivered at an oyster supper given by Dr. and Mrs. Sanford to the members of the Castleton Medical and Surgical Clinic, on the evening of November 29, 1879.


These studious emetics gathered in,
With knives, and saws, and forceps,
Around dead human frames and bones,
To learn their relations and structure,

Whoever died for miles around,
Was sure to adorn these tables,
A cherished wife was laid in her tomb,
In the wildwoods of Hubbardton,
The sexton, when a few days had passed,
Went to the grave of his friend,
And discovered his mark disturbed;
Resurrection had commenced

As the news went from door to door,
These rustics started for the graveyard,
The sexton raised the coffin lid,
The coffin was empty! the body stolen!

These rustic Hubbardtonians collected
Into rank and file for duty;
Three regiments were formed,
Regiments of one hundred each,
These three mighty, rustic armies
Surrounded Castleton Medical College;
And demanded unconditional surrender

The Dean stood in the door and said:
“Whoever enters this building
Must walk over my dead body.”
Sheriff Dike then informed the Dean
That he had legal papers to make a search
To find the body of the faithful wife,

But where was the key, said the Dean;
The key that unlocks the college door;
While the key was in his pocket,
The busy students inside dissecting,
Cut the head from off the corpse,
The body was secreted behind a board,
A board that was nailed in place,

A student of great composure,
Took the head under his cloak,
Walked through the crowd unsuspected,
And hid away his prize in a hay loft,

The doors were opened, the search began,
Such ghastly sights! such human merchandise!
No learned anatomist in any college
Could tell a youth from an adult;
Could tell a Negro from a Yankee;
Could tell a Squaw from a Scotchman;

So the sheriff told the husband,
To identify his beloved wife,
The students offered these raiders
Bones and flesh enough to make a wife
If they would quietly take them and depart

A suspicious nail-head revealed the secret,
The body of the wife stolen from the graveyard,
They pulled up a board from the floor,
And saw the body of the missing wife,
The headless body of the exhumed woman,

By way of compromise with these raiders.
The students offered to throw in the head
If they would leave this land in peace,

They picked up this human merchandise,
Packed it in a box on some straw,
These three mighty armies fell into line.
They formed one grand procession,
They took up their long line of march
To the wildwoods of Hubbardton,

Next: The connection of the poet, John M. Currier, M.D., to vampires.

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