Backblock Ballads and Other Verses
Ah, prithee friend, if thou has ought
   Of love and kind regard for me
Tell not you bore the stories droll
   That yesternight I told to thee.

Nor tell him stories of thine own,
   Nor chestnut of antiquitee;
Nor quip, nor crank, nor anything
   If thou has ought of love for me.

For sense of humour hath he none,
   No gift for telling tales hath he:
Yet thinks himself within his heart
   A wit of wondrous drolleree.

And in the golden summer-time
   With ear a-cock he roameth free,
Collecting quibble, quip, and crank;
   And anecdotes collecteth he.

Then in the dreary winter nights
   He sits him down 'neath my roof tree,
And in a coarse, ungently voice
   He tells those stories back to me.

He hath no wit for telling tales,
   He laughs where ne'er a point there be;
But sits and murders honest yarns,
   And claims them as his propertee.

When he laughs I rock and roar;
   Ay, laugh both loud and merrilee;
And, mark thou, friend, my martyrdom
   He is a creditor to me.

He is a man of mighty power;
   In very fact, a great J.P.;
And I, his debtor, rock and roar,
   And vow he'll be the death o' me.

Ay, prithee, friend, if thou hast love
   For goodly jests or care for me,
Then tell him not the merry tale
   That yesternight I told to thee.

"Terence O'Ruddy"
The Gadfly, 30 May 1906, p3

Copyright © Perry Middlemiss 2003-06