A lonely soul . . . According to her lights
She has lived on, mid all our worldly strife,
Thro' that procession of mad days and nights
That most men lay to waste, and call it life.
And men have smiled a little, too, may be,
At what they deem her eccentricity.
'This have we done, and this,' the proud souls cry;
'In pomp and pageantry vast riches spent,
Builded cathedrals yearning to the sky,
And scattered gold for God's aggrandisement,
That we may be immortalised on earth
In monuments to our undying worth.
'This we have done, and this; for we were just;
Captained great armies for the Lord of Hosts,
Left erring brothers bleeding in the dust,
Our enemies - and His. The worldling boasts;
And, boasting, dies to seek a meek reward
From a remote and half-envisioned Lord.'
A lonely woman in an empty church
Upholding faith with humble prayer and song. . . .
Oh, that we groundlings had the eyes to search
And find - not emptiness, but here a throng
Invisible. Poor prideful minds, 'tis we
Who know earth's bitter loneliness - not she.
Loving But Leaving (A Sob Song For Conscientious Crooners)
When I led you to the altar
Vows were made, you'll call to mind
Darling wife. Now a defaulter
Must I seem if I'd be kind.
For you know how well I love you,
How I've sought work far and near;
But to keep a roof above you
I must now desert you, dear.
Because I love you I must leave you,
Wife o' mine I cherish so;
Yet the parting should not grieve you
When the whole mad tale you know.
Well you know I don't deceive you.
Since the glad day we were wed
I have loved you; I must leave you
If I'd gain our daily bread.
You will pardon the pretending
When I figure in the courts,
Suits for maintenance defending,
While, with fierce, indignant snorts
The worthy Bench a bitter potion
Serves me with vile names that irk.
Yet you alone will know devotion
Moves me. For they'll give me work.
Because I love you I must leave you;
Joining the absconding band,
That, at last I may relieve you
By the labour of my hand.
If to keep you I seem laggard,
Then my country will be kind.
Sweetheart of a brutal blackguard,
Kiss me. I know you'll understand.
I met a lonely Labor man,
Forlorn and pessimistic:
Who'd not yet fallen 'neath the ban
Of leagues antagonistic.
With an expression greatly peeved,
His listless eye beheld me.
'Comrade,' said I. 'Why are you grieved?'
A most prodigious sigh he heaved,
And said: 'They've not expelled me!'
Said he, 'Why should I be passed by
And left alone to suffer.
Ignored, unless it be that I
Am counted as a duffer?
That they should, with especial pains,
Exclude me from expulsion,
When Labor's blowing out its brains,
And worthier men cast off the chains,
I view with marked revulsion.
'Amongst the legion of the left,
Shorn of the last, lorn vestige
Of fame, of all my pals bereft,
What hope have I of prestige?
I watch them going one by one,
The men who Labor's work have done,
While I'm left out of all the fun!
Why am I so ill-fated?'
'Cheer up!' said I. 'For some day hence,
If you work diligently,
You may speak words of common sense,
designed or accident'ly.
Then out you'll go unpon your neck,
Unkless I'm much mistaken.
Else, you'll remain, at ill-luck's beck,
A sailor clinging to a wreck,
By all the crew forsaken.'
The Weary Philosopher
I can conceive no heav'nly bliss
More perfectly complete than this:
To sit and smoke and idly chew
Reflection's cud, with nought to do.
This is, in my pet social plan,
The right of ev'ry honest man.
I can conceive no punishment
For wicked men of evil bent,
Who cheat and lie and drink and rob,
More meet than giving them a job.
This is, to my unruffled mind,
Correction of the sternest kind.
I can conceive a world, in dreams;
A happy, restful world it seems;
A wise, well-ordered globe wherein
Men toil to expiate a sin,
While harmless and right-thinking folk
Have nought to do but sit and smoke.
I ask but to be left alone;
And let the wicked man atone
In graft for having energy
To sin against society.
For, clearly, I commit no crime,
Since I do nothing all the time.
Sins of omssion, you will see,
Don't count in my philosophy
And it is safer far to shirk,
Lest, working, one might find more work.
No man is able to foresee
The far effects of energy.
But in this thoughtless, restless age
What honor is there for the sage?
When Philistines, in manner rude,
Disturb my sleepy solitude,
Where in my peaceful bower I lurk,
And coarsely shout at me: 'Get work!'
Why A Picnic, Jane?
But, why a picnic, Jane? We went last year,
And missed the Cup; and you know how you grieved
Because we lost - Oh! yes, you did, my dear.
I had the tip, but I was not believed.
It's just sheer nonsense to deny it all.
And when he won, you said, if you recall,
You'd never miss a chance like that again.
Well, cut the Cup. But why a picnic, Jane?
You know how I hate picnics - sticky things
The grizzling children and the dusty road,
The flies and all those crawlywigs with stings
My dear, I'm not selfish! But that load
Of baskets - Eh? Back him at starting price?
That's an idea. And then I could remain
To take you and the children? - M'yes. Quite nice.
Jolly, of course. But, why a picnic, Jane?
Wait! Have you thought of burglars? There you are!
The empty house. Remember that last case
Near here? ... Bright thought, my dear! You take the car.
You've solved it. I'll stay at home and mind the place.
Lonely? Not I. You take the car, of course.
I've a good book; I'll be all right alone.
That's settled then ... And now, about the horse.
Wait here, and while I think of it, I'll phone.
'Lo! That you, Sam? All set! I can't talk loud.
'Lo! can you hear me? Listen, lad. It's on.
Tomorrow, yes. Count me in the crowd.
Your car - about eleven. They'll be gone.
Great stunt, that picnic! If we make the pace
We ought to get there for the second race.
Well, Jane, that's all fixed up. I've backed our horse.
Eh? Help cut sandwiches? Why, dear, of course.
The Last Sundowner
He sat upon a fallen log
And heaved a long, deep sigh.
His gnarled hand fondling his old dog
As his gaze went to the sky.
"There goes another pane," said he
"A soarin', roarin' pest!
They robs a man of privacy,
An' motor cars of rest."
"Sundownin' ain't the game ut was
Since men have took to wings;
An' life grows narrer, jist because
Of plans an' cars an' things.
For the planes have pinched me privit skies
An' the cars have grabbed me earth
An' all the news by wireless flies;
So what's sundownin' worth?
"Time was when I could sit me down
Where man had left no sign,
An' earth an' sky for miles aroun'
For that one hour was mine.
And I could sit an' think me thorts
An' watch the sun go west
Without no crazy ingine's snorts
To break into me rest.
"And as the afternoon grew late
I'd seek the haunts of men,
An' at some lonely homestead gate
I'd have sure welcome then;
An' tucker-bags were gladly filled,
And rest found for my back,
In ‘change for bits of news I spilled
And gossip of the track.
"But now that wireless spreads its lies
From this and other lands,
They look on me with hard, cold eyes
An' give with grudgin' hands.
It's them that has to give me news;
And when I seek some wide,
Once silent scene, planes spoil me views,
An' cars honk me aside."
He sat upon a fallen log
And heaved a long, deep sigh:
"We're agein', me an' my ole dog,
An' old things have to die.
Sundownin's dead; men's minds an' ways
Is changin' with a jerk.
Seems like I'll have to end me days,
Travellin'; in search of work."
Bird - Seed
Old Pete Parraday, he isn't very wise
Or so the local gossips say - They love to criticise
His crazy views and values, and the things he counts worth while.
'Better had he saved his money,' say his critics, with a smile;
'And not become a pensioner with all his silly chat
Of finches, wrens and robins, and such trivial thngs as that.
It's livin' lonely all these years has filched his brains away.'
'An' left me kind o' peacefuller,' grins old Pete Parraday.
Old Pete Parraday, he sits beside the road
Resting from the hefting of his week-end load:
Bread and meat and groceries to serve his simple need,
And a tiny paper packet with the tag, 'Bird Seed.'
'I allus gits three-pennyworth - I've never needed more
For them there little Pommy-birds wot hops about me door
Goldfinches, starlings an' stranger-folk like they
Wot ain't brung up to grubs an' things,' says old Pete Parraday.
'The robins likes their meal-worms; the blue-wrens tackles grubs;
Grey thrushes goes for take-alls like the boozers goes for pubs;
But the little vegetarians for food has far to roam;
An' so I buys 'em bird-seed to make 'em feel at 'ome
Goldfinches, sichlike, them little stranger-folk . . .
I know 'ow people counts me soft an' reckons I'm a joke
When I talks about me bird friends. I've seed 'em nudge an' wink.
But I valyers them there mates o' mine. Cos why? They makes me think.
'They makes me think of beauty, of the glory of the earth,
An' they leads me on to dreamin'. An' wot is dreamin' worth?
Some folk might call it crazy; but it's heaven's gift to me.
Aye, vision sich as never is or was by land or sea.
Man cannot live by bread alone, nor dreams be put in words;
An', if I'm mad, I'm happy mad, an' talkin' to me birds.
Three-pennyworth o' bird-seed counts more to me that way
Then all the wealth of Sheba's queen,' says old Pete Parraday.
A Matter Of Privacy
Ben Bowyang spluttered with rage suppressed, 'Hi, there!' And his brow was black,
As two by two and three by three the tourists left the track,
Climbing the fence to his 'tater' patch, and down thro' his orchard land,
Flannelled or fashioned in strides and shorts - a saucy suburban band -
Giggling gambolling into his yard calling inane 'Cooees'
While Bowyang frothed at the mouth and fumed. But his voice was a futile wheeze,
And, heading the horde, in a blazer bright, monarch of all he surveyed,
Strode little Fitzmickle, the martinet, a Don in the drapery trade.
'You've trampled me taters,' Bowyang roared. 'Pinched bloom from me orchard bough!
You've pelted me poddies an' dished me fence! Look at that nettin' now!
Ain't you no respeck for a privit home, you towerist coots from town?'
But Mr Fitzmickle, he turned on his heel with a very superior frown.
'Come, ladies,' he said, 'come, gentlemen. Unmannerly rustic brute!
My card, with name and address, my man, if you wish to prosecute.'
Then back they trampled thro' the 'tater' patch, back o'er the orchard land,
While Bowyang gaped like a stranded fish, with the pasteboard cluthed in his hand.
Mr Fitzmickle, the martinet, sat in his smug retreat -
A very respectable villa set in a very respectable street.
For Mr Fitzmickle found harbor here when the contry boors came down
To dawdle about for their Show-week spree and clutter the streets in town.
Then in to him rushed his terrified wife, eyes wide, and breathing hard.
'Come quick!' she gasped. 'There's a mob of roughs gone crazy in our back yard!
They've trampled herbaceous borders down, they've kicked the canary's cage -'
'Enough!' cried Fitzmickle, all pink with wrath; and his rage was a ratepayer's rage.
Poker in hand, he rushed without; but paused by the scullery door
For there, on his seedlings, trodden and tossed, stood one whom he'd seen before.
And, gathered about in the burgeoning beds, were strangely silent men;
Till one with a beard spoke up and said, 'Explain to the gentleman, Ben.'
Ben Bowyang smiled, and his voice was bland as he said, 'Aw, well; we're 'ere
Jist sorta returnin' yer social call as you made on us last year.
My card!' And he bounced a clod from the face of the proud Fitzmicklian cat
But Mr Fitzmickle oblivious lay. He was having a fit on the mat.
A Bush Christmas
The sun burns hotly thro' the gums
As down the road old Rogan comes
The hatter from the lonely hut
Beside the track to Woollybutt.
He likes to spend his Christmas with us here.
He says a man gets sort of strange
Living alone without a change,
Gets sort of settled in his way;
And so he comes each Christmas day
To share a bite of tucker and a beer.
Dad and the boys have nought to do,
Except a stray odd job or two.
Along the fence or in the yard,
'It ain't a day for workin' hard.'
Says Dad. 'One day a year don't matter much.'
And then dishevelled, hot and red,
Mum, thro' the doorway puts her head
And says, 'This Christmas cooking, My!
The sun's near fit for cooking by.'
Upon her word she never did see such.
Your fault,' says Dad, 'you know it is.
Plum puddin'! on a day like this,
And roasted turkeys! Spare me days,
I can't get over women's ways.
In climates such as this the thing's all wrong.
A bit of cold corned beef an' bread
Would do us very well instead.'
Then Rogan said, 'You're right; it's hot.
It makes a feller drink a lot.'
And Dad gets up and says, 'Well, come along.'
The dinner's served - full bite and sup.
'Come on,' says Mum, 'Now all sit up.'
The meal takes on a festive air;
And even father eats his share
And passes up his plate to have some more.
He laughs and says it's Christmas time,
'That's cookin', Mum. The stuffin's prime.'
But Rogan pauses once to praise,
Then eats as tho' he'd starved for days.
And pitches turkey bones outside the door.
The sun burns hotly thro' the gums,
The chirping of the locusts comes
Across the paddocks, parched and grey.
'Whew!' wheezes Father. 'What a day!'
And sheds his vest. For coats no man had need.
Then Rogan shoves his plate aside
And sighs, as sated men have sighed,
At many boards in many climes
On many other Christmas times.
'By gum!' he says, 'That was a slap-up feed!'
Then, with his black pipe well alight,
Old Rogan brings the kids delight
By telling o'er again his yarns
Of Christmas tide 'mid English barns
When he was, long ago, a farmer's boy.
His old eyes glisten as he sees
Half glimpses of old memories,
Of whitened fields and winter snows,
And yuletide logs and mistletoes,
And all that half-forgotten, hallowed joy.
The children listen, mouths agape,
And see a land with no escape
Fro biting cold and snow and frost
A land to all earth's brightness lost,
A strange and freakish Christmas land to them.
But Rogan, with his dim old eyes
Grown far away and strangely wise
Talks on; and pauses but to ask
'Ain't there a dropp more in that cask?'
And father nods; but Mother says 'Ahem!'
The sun slants redly thro' the gums
As quietly the evening comes,
And Rogan gets his old grey mare,
That matches well his own grey hair,
And rides away into the setting sun.
'Ah, well,' says Dad. 'I got to say
I never spent a lazier day.
We ought to get that top fence wired.'
'My!' sighs poor Mum. 'But I am tired!
An' all that washing up still to be done.'
'My sort,' she sez, 'don't meet no fairy prince.'
I can't 'elp 'earin' part uv wot was said
While I am sortin' taters in the shed.
They've 'ad these secret confabs ever since
Rose came. 'Er an' Doreen's been 'eart to 'eart,
'Oldin' pow-wows in which I got no part.
'My sort,' sez Rose, 'don't meet no fairy prince.'
'Er voice seems sort uv lonely like an' sad.
'Ah well,' she sez, 'there's jobs still to be 'ad
Down in the fact'ries. I ain't one to wince
Frum all the knocks I've 'ad - an' will 'ave. Still,
Sometimes I git fed-up against me will.
'Some women 'ave the luck,' she sez; 'like you.
Their lives seem made fer love an' joy an' sport,
But I'm jist one uv the unlucky sort.
I've give up dreamin' dreams: they don't come true.
There ain't no love or joy or sport fer me.
Life's made me 'ard; an' 'ard I got to be.'
'Oh, rubbidge!' sez Doreen. 'You've got the blues,
We all 'ave bad luck some times, but it mends.
An' you're still young, my dear; you 'ave your friends.
Why should you think that you must alwiz lose?
The sun's still shinin'; birds still sing, an' court;
An' men still marry.' Rose sez, 'Not my sort.
An' then - Aw, well, I thort I knoo me wife,
'Ow she can be so gentle an' so kind,
An' all the tenderness that's in 'er mind;
As I've 'ad cause to know through married life.
But never 'ave I 'Eard 'er wisdom speak
Sich words before. It left me wond'rin' - meek.
Yes, meek I felt - an' proud, all in the one:
Proud fer to know 'ow fine my wife can be;
Meek fer to think she cares fer sich as me.
''Ope lasts,' I 'ear 'er say, 'till life is done.
An' life can bring us joy, I know it can.
I know; fer I've been lucky in my man.'
There's a wife for yeh! Green! Think in the 'ead!
To think she'd go an' tork be'ind me back,
Gossip, an' paint me character that black!
I'm glad I can't 'ear more uv wot was said.
They wander off, down by the creek somewhere.
Green! Well, I said that women talk 'ot air.
I thinks uv Danny Dunn, an' wot I've planned.
Doreen don't know wot I got up me sleeve;
An' Rose don't know that she won't 'ave to leave,
Not once I come to light an' take a 'and.
Block'ead won't be the name they'll call me then.
Women can tork; but action needs us men.
Yet, I dunno. Some ways it ain't so fine.
Spite uv 'is money, Danny ain't much catch.
It seems a pity Rose can't make a match
That's reel romantic, like Doreen's an' mine;
But then again, although 'e's old an' plain,
Danny's a kinder fate than Spadgers Lane.
Bit later on I see Rose standin' by
That bridge frum where Mick waved 'is last farewell
When 'e went smilin' to the war, an' fell.
'Ow diffrint if 'e 'ad n't come to die,
I thinks. Life's orful sad, some ways.
Though it's 'ard to be sad on these Spring days.
Doreen 'as left, fer reasons uv 'er own;
An' Rose is gazin' down into the stream,
Lost, like it seems, in some un'appy dream.
She looks perthetic standin' there alone.
Wis'ful she looks. But when I've turned away
I git a shock to 'ear 'er larfin' gay.
It's that coot Wally Free; 'e's with 'er now.
Funny 'ow 'is fool chatter makes 'er smile,
An' shove 'er troubles under fer a while.
(Pity 'e don't pay more 'eed to 'is cow
Instid uv loafin' there. 'E's got no sense.
I'm sick uv tellin' 'im to mend that fence.)
'Er sort don't meet no fairy prince… Ar, well.
Fairy gawdfathers, p'raps, wot once was knights,
Might take a turn at puttin' things to rights.
Green? Block'ead, am I? You can't alwiz tell.
Wait till I wave me magic mit at Rose,
An' turn 'er into 'Mrs. Stone-the-crows.'
Old Bob Blair
I got so down to it last night,
With longin' for what could not be,
That nothin' in the world seemed right
Or everything was wrong with me.
My house was just a lonely hole,
An' I had blisters on my soul.
Top of my other worries now
The boys are talkin' strike, an' say
If we put up a sudden row
We're sure of forcin' up our pay.
I'm right enough with what I get;
But some wants more, an' then more yet.
Ben Murray's put it up to me:
He says I got some influence
Amongst them, if I agree
'Which I will do if I have sense'
We'll make the boss cough up a bit.
That's how Ben Murray looks at it.
I don't know that the old boss can.
I've heard he's pushed to make ends meet.
To me he's been a fair, straight man
That pays up well an' works a treat.
But if I don't get in this game,
Well, 'blackleg' ain't a pretty name.
This thing has got me thinkin' hard,
But there is worse upon my mind.
What sort of luck has broke my guard
That I should be the man to find
A girl like that? . . . The whole world's wrong!
Why was I born to live and long?
I get so down to it last night
With broodin' over things like this,
I said 'There's not a thing in sight
Worth havin' but I seem to miss.'
So I go out and get some air
An' have a word with old Bob Blair.
Bob's livin' lonely, same as me;
But he don't take to frettin' so
An' gettin' megrims after tea.
He reads a lot at night, I know;
His hut has books half up the wall
That I don't tumble to at all.
Books all about them ancient blokes
That lived a thousand years ago:
Philosophers an' funny folk
What he sees in them I don't know.
There ain't much fun, when all is said,
In chap that is so awful dead.
He put his book down when I came,
He took his specs off, patient-like.
He's been in Rome; an' who can blame
The old man if he gets the spike
To be jerked back so suddenly
By some glum-lookin' coot like me.
At first he looks at me quite dazed,
As tho' 'twas hard to recognize
The silly fool at which he gazed;
An' then a smile come in his eyes:
'Why, Jim,' he says. 'Still feelin' blue?
Kiss her, an' laugh!' . . . But I says, 'Who?'
'Why, who, if not the widow, lad?'
But I says, 'Widows ain't no go.'
'What woman, then, makes you so sad?'
I coughs a bit an' says, 'Dunno.'
He looked at me, then old Bob Blair
He ran his fingers through his hair.
'God help us, but the case is bad!
An' men below, an; saints above
Look with mixed feelin's, sour an' sad,
Upon a fool in love with love.
Go, find her, lad, an' be again,
Fit to associate with men.
'Don't leave yourself upon the shelf:
It's bad for man to live alone.'
'Hold on,' says I. 'What ails yourself?
What are you doin' on your own?'
Quickly he turned away his head.
'That's neither here nor there,' he said.
I saw I'd made a clumsy break;
An' tied to cover it with talk
Of anything, for old Blair's sake.
He don't reply; but when I'd walk
Outside he says, 'What's this I hear
About the mill boys actin' queer?'
So then we yarns about the strike,
An' old Bob Brown frowns an' shakes his head.
'There's something there I hardly like;
The boss has acted fair,' he said.
'Eight years I've toiled here constantly,
An' boss an' friend he's been to me.
'I know he's up against it bad;
Stintin' himself to pay the men.
Don't listen to this tattle, lad,
An' leave that dirty work to Ben.
He tries to play on others need;
It's partly devil, partly greed.
'Ben's not a reel bad lot at heart,
But ignorant an' dull of sight,
An' crazed by these new creeds that start
An' grow like mushrooms, overnight;
An' this strange greed that's spread the more
Since the great sacrifice of war.
'Greed everywhere!' sighed old man Blair.
'Master an' man have caught the craze;
An' those who yesterday would share
Like brothers, now spend all their days
Snatchin' for gain - the great, the small.
And, of, folly of it all!'
He tapped the small book by his hand.
'Two thousand years ago they knew
That those who think an' understand
Can make their wants but very few.
Two thousand years they taught
That happiness can not be bought.'
'Progress?' he shouted. 'Bah! A Fig!
Where are the things that count or last
In buildin' something very big
Or goin' somewhere very fast?
We put the horse behind the cart;
For where's your progress of the heart?
'Great wisdom lived long years ago,
An' yet we say that we progress.
The paint an' tinsel of our show
Are men more generous, or kind?
Then where's your progress of the mind?'
(I think Bob Blair's a trifle mad;
They say so, too, around these parts;
An' he can be, when he's reel bad,
A holy terror once he starts.
dare say it's readin' books an' such.
Thank God I never read too much!)
I says I'm sure I don't know
Where all this progress gets to now.
He smiles a bit an' answers low,
'Maybe you'll find out, lad, somehow.
But talkin' makes my old head whirl;
So you be off, an' - find that girl.'
I says Good night, an' out I goes;
But I was hardly at the door
When his old specs is on his nose,
An' his book in his hand once more;
An', as I take the track for home,
Bob Blair goes back to Ancient Rome.
The Stror 'At Coot
Ar, wimmin! Wot a blinded fool I've been!
I arsts meself, wot else could I ixpeck?
I done me block complete on this Doreen,
An' now me 'eart is broke, me life's a wreck!
The dreams I dreamed, the dilly thorts I thunk
Is up the pole, an' joy 'as done a bunk.
Wimmin! O strike! I orter known the game!
Their tricks is crook, their arts is all dead snide.
The 'ole world over tarts is all the same;
All soft an' smilin' wiv no 'eart inside.
But she fair doped me wiv 'er winnin' ways,
Then crooled me pitch fer all me mortal days.
They're all the same! A man 'as got to be
Stric' master if 'e wants to snare 'em sure.
'E 'as to take a stand an' let 'em see
That triflin' is a thing'e won't indure.
'E wants to show 'em that 'e 'olds command,
So they will smooge an' feed out of 'is 'and.
'E needs to make 'em feel 'e is the boss,
An' kid 'e's careless uv the joys they give.
'E 'as to make 'em think 'e'll feel no loss
To part wiv any tart 'e's trackin' wiv.
That all their pretty ways is crook pretence
Is plain to any bloke wiv common-sense.
But when the birds is nestin' in the spring,
An' when the soft green leaves is in the bud,
'E drops 'is bundle to some fluffy thing.
'E pays 'er 'omage—an' 'is name is Mud.
She plays wiv'im an' kids 'im on a treat,
Until she 'as 'im crawlin' at 'er feet.
An' then, when 'e's fair orf 'is top wiv love,
When she 'as got 'im good an' 'ad 'er fun,
She slings 'im over like a carst-orf glove,
To let the other tarts see wot she's done.
All vanity, deceit an' 'eartless kid!
I orter known; an', spare me days, I did!
I knoo. But when I looked into 'er eyes
Them shinin' eyes o' blue all soft wiv love
Wiv MIMIC love—they seemed to 'ipnertize.
I wus content to place 'er 'igh above.
I wus content to make of 'er a queen;
An' so she seemed them days…O, 'struth!…Doreen!
I knoo. But when I stroked 'er glossy 'air
Wiv rev'rint 'ands, 'er cheek pressed close to mine,
Me lonely life seemed robbed of all its care;
I dreams me dreams, an' 'ope begun to shine.
An' when she 'eld 'er lips fer me to kiss…
Ar, wot's the use? I'm done wiv all o' this!
Wimmin!…Oh, I ain't jealous! Spare me days!
Me? Jealous uv a knock-kneed coot like that!
'Im! Wiv 'is cute stror 'at an' pretty ways!
I'd be a mug to squeal or whip the cat.
I'm glad, I am—glad 'cos I know I'm free!
There ain't no call to tork o' jealousy.
I tells meself I'm well out o' the game;
Fer look, I mighter married 'er-an' then….
Ar strike! 'Er voice wus music when my name
Wus on 'er lips on them glad ev'nin's when
We useter meet. An' then to think she'd go…
No, I ain't jealous—but—Ar, I dunno!
I took a derry on this stror 'at coot
First time I seen 'im dodgin' round Doreen.
'Im, wiv 'is giddy tie an' Yankee soot,
Ferever yappin' like a tork-machine
About 'The Hoffis' where 'e 'ad a grip….
The way 'e smiled at 'er give me the pip!
She sez I stoushed 'im, when I promised fair
To chuck it, even to a friendly spar.
Stoushed 'im! I never roughed 'is pretty 'air!
I only spanked 'im gentle, fer 'is mar.
If I'd 'a' jabbed 'im once, there would 'a' been
An inquest; an' I sez so to Doreen.
I mighter took an' cracked 'im in the street,
When she was wiv 'im there lars' Fridee night.
But don't I keep me temper when we met?
An' don't I raise me lid an' act perlite?
I only jerks me elbow in 'is ribs,
To give the gentle office to 'is nibs.
Stoushed 'im! I owns I met 'im on the quiet,
An' worded 'im about a small affair;
An' when 'e won't put up 'is 'ands to fight
('E sez, 'Fer public brawls 'e didn't care')
I lays 'im 'cross me knee, the mother's joy,
An' smacks 'im 'earty, like a naughty boy.
An' now Doreen she sez I've broke me vow,
An' mags about this coot's pore, 'wounded pride.'
An' then, o' course, we 'as a ding-dong row,
Wiv 'ot an' stormy words on either side.
She sez I done it outer jealousy,
An' so, we parts fer ever—'er an' me.
Me jealous? Jealous of that cross-eyed cow!
I set 'im 'cos I couldn't sight 'is face.
'Is yappin' fair got on me nerves, some'ow.
I couldn't stand 'im 'angin' round 'er place.
A coot like that!…But it don't matter much,
She's welkim to 'im if she fancies such.
I swear I'll never track wiv 'er no more;
I'll never look on 'er side o' the street
Unless she comes an' begs me pardin for
Them things she said to me in angry 'eat.
She can't ixpeck fer me to smooge an' crawl.
I ain't at ANY woman's beck an' call.
Wimmin! I've took a tumble to their game.
I've got the 'ole bang tribe o' cliners set!
The 'ole world over they are all the same:
Crook to the core the bunch of 'em—an' yet
We could 'a' been that 'appy, 'er an' me…
But, wot's it matter? Ain't I glad I'm free?
A bloke wiv commin-sense 'as got to own
There's little 'appiness in married life.
The smoogin' game is better left alone,
Fer tarts is few that makes the ideel wife.
An' them's the sort that loves wivout disguise,
An' thinks the sun shines in their 'usban's' eyes.
But when the birds is matin' in the spring,
An' when the tender leaves begin to bud,
A feelin' comes—a dilly sorter thing
That seems to sorter swamp 'im like a flood.
An' when the fever 'ere inside 'im burns,
Then freedom ain't the thing fer wot 'e yearns.
But I 'ave chucked it all. An' yet—I own
I dreams me dreams when soft Spring breezes stirs;
An' often, when I'm moonin' 'ere alone,
A lispin' maid, wiv 'air an' eyes like 'ers,
'Oo calls me 'dad,' she climbs upon me knee,
An' yaps 'er pretty baby tork to me.
I sorter see a little 'ouse, it seems,
Wiv someone waitin' for me at the gate…
Ar, where's the sense in dreamin' barmy dreams,
I've dreamed before, and nearly woke too late.
Sich 'appiness could never last fer long,
We're strangers—'less she owns that she was wrong.
To call 'er back I'll never lift a 'and;
She'll never 'ear frum me by word or sign.
Per'aps, some day, she'll come to understand
The mess she's made o' this 'ere life o' mine.
Oh, I ain't much to look at, I admit.
But'im! The knock-kneed, swivel-eyed misfit?…
A Lonely Man
When I'm out among the fellows, with the work to hold my mind,
Then there's heaps of joy in livin' an' the world seems awful kind
Awful kind an' awful jolly, with no trace of melancholy,
An' I tell myself the bloke that don't enjoy it must be blind
When I'm out among the fellows; but, when I am sittin' here,
Dreamin' by my lonely fireside, then the world gets kind of queer.
I suppose it's how you take it: what they call the point of view;
An' a man don't look for dreamin' when there's work for him to do.
But he can't be ever toilin', an' at times he gets to spoilin'
All the joy the day has brought him - when he lets the black thoughts through.
It suppose it's livin' lonely, as a fellow never should;
For a lonely man gets broodin', and the broodin' isn't good.
It's never good, the sayin' is, for man to live alone.
But 'tain't because I like it that I'm batchin' on my own,
For a bloke must take what's goin', an' my life ain't all been growin'
Daffodils and hummin' dance tunes just to give my soul a tone.
It's muscle I've had to grow since days when I was small,
An' all the muscle that I've made is with the axe an' maul.
When folks are poor an' toil is hard an' times are harder still
A boy soon learns the use of time if he would eat his fill.
Long before I'd finished schoolin' I had put aside my foolin'.
Till now, at thirty an' a bit, I'm workin' at a mill.
It isn't much; then then my folks knew that my chance was dim,
Or they might have named me Reginald instead of just plain Jim.
Just Jim the Hatter, Lonely Jim, the bloke that don't say much.
I've heard how people talk of me: the gossipers an' such.
An' they say I'm slow at givin'; but I've got my way of livin',
An' I've got my bit of farm-land an' a house that ain't a hutch.
An' tho it hurts if this man sneers or that misunderstands,
I'm proud to know that all I've got was earned with my two hands.
Suppose I don't go gay at times an' throw around the cash:
It's knowin' want that frightened me from gettin' over rash.
I know I'm keen on savin'; but the pinchin' and the slavin'
An' the starvin' in the old days keeps a man from bein' flash.
I never treated neighbours mean or grudged a man a pound;
But I ain't out to buy loud cheers by throwin' it around.
An' after all - well, I don't know - it sums up much the same;
No matter how a man has lived, no matter what his aim
If it's savin', if it's spendin' - all his life is just a blendin'
Of the gay days an' the grey days: an' he's got to play the game.
So where's the use of grumblin' if the game don't suit your bent?
I tells myself this all night - an' yet I ain't content.
There's days that sometimes come to me when toilin's simple bliss,
An' every little job becomes a joy I wouldn't miss:
When the labour seems like playin', an' I catch myself a-sayin',
'Why, it's grand to think a man gets paid for doin' things like this!'
But, after, came the lonely night, when I've looked back an' said,
'To think I have to slave like that to earn a bit of bread!'
When I'm out among the fellows, oh, the world's a place to prize;
But here, beside my lonely fire, the glamour of it dies.
Sittin' here I take to gettin' gloomy views of things, an' frettin'
Till my dog looks up, and wonders, with a question in his eyes.
He's been my mate for years an' years, an' things that folks don't see
Both good an' bad has been thrashed out by my old dog an' me.
Well he knows he's safe for sharin' while I've got a bite an' sup.
When I'm fit, he's full of frolic, laughin' like a silly pup
Out for fun. But when I'm feelin' sad at night, he just comes stealin'
To the fire an' stretches out there with his brown eyes lookin' up,
Lit with such a queer soft sadness that I feel it isn't fair
My own private little worries spoils the evenin' for the pair.
Here, to-night, I've sat an' told him - while his tail flopped on the floor
Of particular conditions that have got me feelin' sore.
An' my present little worry is the matter of Ben Murray
An' his sudden-like attentions to the widow at the store.
I ain't nothin' to the widow, as Ben Murray ought to see;
But I hear he's taken fight lately, with some reference to me.
I ain't nothin' to the widow - not as yet, at any rate;
Tho' a bloke can't be dead certain what is like to be his fate.
But I own that I've been thinkin', an' there ain't no use in blinkin'
At the fact a man must settle down before it gets too late.
I ain't nothing to the widow - don't know that I ever will.
Seems to me it's awful reckless takin' lifelong chances - still...
Me an' my old dog's been talkin' quite a lot - of love an' things:
Weighin' matters; an' we reckon this here love is full of stings,
Fuller than a stingin' nettle. If a fellow wants to settle
He needs solid care an' comfort, not the stuff the poet sings.
Love an' all that talk, we reckon, is a silly sort of fake -
What's a plain man wantin' further if his wife can wash and bake?
I ain't nothin' to the widow ... Neither is Ben Murray though!
An' he won't find me unwillin' if he wants a little go.
I'm not over-keen on fightin'; but his boastin' and his skitin'
Puts my back up; an' his sneerin' often gets down pretty low.
Course, the widow's never mentioned - that's to say, by name, outright;
But I know what's gnawin' at him when I hear he's talking fight.
Talkin' fight an' acting' ugly: not reel earnest, half an' half -
Shootin' sneers into his smilin', slingin' spite nto his chaff.
Tho' a fight I'm never shirkin', when I'm with the fellows, workin',
I can give him good as he does, an' just take it with a laugh.
But at evenin' when I'm broodin', I chew over all the lot,
Till his jokes swell into insults an' his hintin' makes me hot.
He can have it - if he wants it! He won't be too long denied!
But I've heard he's mentioned fivers - wants to fight five pounds a side.
If I'm licked, of course, I lose it; an' that fool and will go and booze it:
Throw it clean into the gutter with the other cash he's shied.
I been told to-day he's saying' that his fiver saves his skin. . . .
Wonder what he meant, the blighter, that should make the fellows grin. . . .
Jumpin' Moses! . . . He can have it! Anywhere an' anywhen!
Fivers? let him talk of fivers! Holy wars, I'll make it ten!
He'll get fightin', too, in plenty. If he likes I'll make it twenty!
We shall see whose skin is safest an' whose hide is toughest then.
I ain't got no grudge against him - only what the rotter's said.
I ain't nothin' to the widow! ... Here, old dog, we'll get to bed