Saturday, August 4, 2012

The Ballad of Lizzie Borden

Today is the anniversary of the deaths sometimes ascribed to Lizzie Borden and memorialized with this verse:

Lizzie Borden took an axe, and gave her mother forty whacks. And when she saw what she had done, she gave her father forty one.

Close your door, lock and latch it, cause here comes lizzie with her hatchet"

The Ballad of Lizzie Borden
by Annette Baker

Miss Lizzie Borden (so they say)
Chopped up her folks one August day.
The experts gave us all the specs:
She lusted after her own sex;
Beheading kittens (two or three)
She regularly did with glee;
She stole the goods she could have bought;
Her music lessons came to naught;
She was a dropout, though 'tis said
She was uncommonly well-read.
She sailed to Europe - that we know
And overspent her budget, so
The girl wired home for extra cash...
Her father wired back, "Balderdash!"
She had to borrow from a friend,
Which set her thinking how to send
Old Andrew up to Heaven's throne
And get his fortune for her own.
Of course, there was one tiny hitch:
His wife - that sly and scheming witch!
He could leave no widowed missus,
For all the money must be Lizzie's.
(She'd share with Sister Emma, who
Was fond of filthy lucre too.)
The plot was hatched, the hatchet ground;
She waited till the time came 'round -
The perfect moment, when the coast
Was clear, and she could make the most
Of Emma's summer interlude,
For poor, dear Emma was a prude,
Who wouldn't sanction shedding blood,
Though Lizzie fancied Emma would
Be all too glad to help her spend
The proceeds of it in the end.
She chose a perfect summer day;
'Twas hellish hot, the stories say.
A houseguest put her plan in doubt,
But handily, he sauntered out
To visit elsewhere in the town.
But then the maid was duty-bound
To wash the windows in and out,
Assuring she would be about
The place and surely interfere
With Lizzie's plan - but never fear -
Our Lizzie was a fearless sort;
She donned her paint-smeared Bedford cord,
Crept noiselessly up the stair,
And slew that "mean old thing" up there;
Rained blows upon her old gray head,
Till she was well and truly dead.
She waited then till Andrew came
From downstreet and gave him the same.
Her trademark frizzy bangs askew,
She chopped and hacked; he got his due.
And then she washed the blood away
And yelled upstairs, "Come down, I say!
For Father's dead; someone came in
And killed him while I looked for tin
To fix my screen - or was it lead
To make some sinkers?" Then she said,
" Fetch the doctor on the double!
Tell him there has been some trouble."
Soon the neighbors came and then
They all asked Lizzie where she'd been.
Her answers didn't fit the facts,
And in the cellar was an axe
With broken handle, and its head
Was rubbed with ashes, so they said.
Some ten months later, she was tried
With three fine lawyers at her side.
The D. A. failed to prove his case,
And Lizzie, in her best black lace
Was asked to stand and face her peers.
" Not guilty!" rang out loud and clear.
So Hip! Hooray! for Lizbeth B.
The jury loved her; so do we.
She bought a house upon the hill
And lived there all her days, but still-
Who did it, if it wasn't she?
We'll never solve that mystery...

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