Reading Text (Letter)

The Devil's Walk
Letter Version

by Percy Bysshe Shelley

Clear Reading Text

edited by Donald H. Reiman and Neil Fraistat

This on-line version of Shelley's The Devil's Walk (Letter Version) offers a text that does not contain any mark-up or hyperlinks. See DW Diplomatic Transcription for the fully encoded version.

The Devil's Walk exists in both a broadside and a letter version. See the editors' headnote for a fuller description of its history and significance . You can also browse independently:

  • primary variants from our critically edited text as collated against the copy of the 1812 broadside in the Public Record Office (1812.PRO).
  • broadside variants from our critically edited text as collated against all witnesses (i.e., the primary witness and 1871, 1876, 1892, 1927, 1970, 1972, and 1989).
  • letter variants from our diplomatic text as collated against all witnesses (i.e., Wise, 1927/i, 1927/viii, 1964J, 1972, and 1989).
  • annotations by the editors:
For full citations of these sources and sources in the editors' notes, see the bibliography

Letter Version

N.B. This is a literal transcription of the text in the British Library Add. MS. 37,496, f.80 verso, except that letters partially worn away by damage to, or repair of, the paper have been included as if whole and the line-indentations that Shelley seems to have intended have been accentuated.

            The Devil went out a walking one day
               Being tired of staying in Hell
            He dressed himself in his Sunday array
            And the reason that he was drest so gay
            Was to cunningly pry, whether under the sky 5
               The affairs of earth went well
            He poked his hot nose into corners so small
                One wd. think that the innocents there
            Poor creatures were just doing nothing at all
            But settling some dress or arranging some ball 10
               ­­The Devil saw deeper there
            He peeped in each hole, to each chamber stole
                His promising live-stock to view
            Grinning applause, he just shews his claws
            And Satan laughed in the mirth of his soul 15
            That they started with fright, from his ugly sight
                Whose works they delighted to do
            A Parson with whom in the house of prayer
               The devil sate side by side
            Bawled out that if the devil were 20
               His presence he couldnt abide,   trick     
            Ha ha thought old Nick, thats a very stale
            For without the Devil, ô favorite of evil   ^
               In thy carriage thou wouldst not ride
            He saw the Devil a viper slay 25
                Under his brief-covered table
            It reminded the Devil marvellously
                Of the story of Cain and Abel
            SECOND COLUMN
            Satan next saw a Brainless King
                In a house as hot as his own 30
            Many imps he saw near there on the wi[ng]
            They flapped the black pennon and twiste[d]
                                           the sting
                Close to the very throne
            Ah! Ah cried Satan the pasture is go[od]
                My cattle will here thrive better than oth[ers] 35
            They will have for their food, news of
                                        humans blood
            They will drink the groans of the dying
                                         & dead
            And supperless never will go to bed
                Wch. will make 'em as fat as their
                                         brothers .
            The Devil was walking in the Park 40
                Dressed like a bond Street beau
            For altho his visage was rather dark
            And his mouth was wide his chin came
            And something like Castlereagh was his
                He might be calld so, so . . 45
            Why does the Devil grin so wide
                & shew the hore teeth within
            Nine and ninety on each side
                 By the clearest reckoning _

DW Diplomatic Text of the Letter Version

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