You are now in London town, Louis Becke, Keeping up your old renown, Writing yarns of women brown, Getting yellow money down, Or a cheque. That is right enough, maybe -- You are wise; But your Isles of the South Sea, Where the life is bold and free, You may have them all for me -- Dash your eyes! I armful of you, I am, To the neck; And I cannot think with a calm Of your tales "By Reef and Palm" But I have to mutter "D----n Louis Becke!" You have lined, the press records (Not in joke), At the hospitable boards Of a lot of dukes and lords, And beguiled them with you words -- Simple folk! Yet I would not envy you, Be it said, if the tales you told were true As they were unique and new -- But you made them all up, Loo, In your head. Never, as in days of yore, (You will see) On your pages shall I pore, With their yarns of love and gore, Never, Louis, anymore Becke for me. I'd rejoice to have you here (You might grieve!) With your pen behind your ear, In this clammy atmosphere, Where it rains all round the year, I believe. O, you made a fine renown! Mr. B., With your yarns of women brown, And the red hibiscus crown On the black hair hanging down To the knee. I have seen in Santa Cruz, (Bet your life!) Women browner than tan shoes -- And I'd rather die than choose Any on of them as Muse, Or as wife. They had hair limed freely, but Wore no wreath; They (a) mouths of comic cut -- Mounts that hardly ever shut -- Red with chewing betel-nut, And black teeth. And their tank ears hung in loops, And were well Loaded down with rings in groups, Blocks of wood, and things like scoops, and their noses shone with hoops Made of shell. They exhales a perfume rare (Potent yet, Even in this strong sea-air) Of its name I'm not aware -- But it was not, I can swear, Mignonette. Could Romance live there? Alas, It took wings! Louis, you can take the class, You can have the lot -- I pass -- With their petticoats of grass, And nose-rings And your traders -- Grand old Drunks -- Where are they? I have seen some queer quidnuncs Who go sober to their bunks, And are temperate as monks, Sad to say. They were clothed in suits of white, Fresh and neat; And no marks of recent fight Marred their countenances bright, And they spoke in words polite, Clean and sweet. If this Reehabitish crew, This tame lot, Are indeed the models true Of the Traders bold you drew -- Then I really think that you Should be shot. You may say in weak excuse -- Being gnawed By your conscience -- that the loose Stories that you did produce Dealt with other isles. No use! You're a Fraud! Well, my Last Illusion so Come to wreck. 'Tis your fault, as well you know, Yet I would not wish you woe -- But you know where liars go, Louis Becke!
First published in The Bulletin, 17 September 1903, p35