Parliamentary poem: 'The alarm'

Hear selected verses from the poem 'The alarm' about the condition of Parliament's buildings in the 1870s.

Wood in the first Parliament Buildings in Wellington soon rotted, and at one point, a Member of the Legislative Council drew attention to the state of things by waving some rotten and honeycombed wood in the chamber. This verse was written by Silver Pen, the pen-name of Mrs Corlett who published Parliamentary skits and sketches in the 1870s.


They say, and it is quite believed by everyone in town,
The Lords are shaking in their shoes,
The House is tumbling down!

A Farmer, with a frighten'd face, amid the council stood,
And from his pocket forth he drew a piece of rotten wood,
'My Lords and gentlemen,' he said, 'I'll bet you half-a-crown,
Before the session's well begun,
The House will tumble down!'

'Behold I have within my hand a small piece of the roof,
'Tis like a bit of honeycomb, and far from waterproof;
Soft are our heads, as well you know, soft as the Speaker's gown
And what think ye will be our fates,
An the House tumble down!'

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