Backblock Ballads and Other Verses
The miser sits beside his hoard,
   The lover tarries by his bride,
And he who neither may afford
   Is free to roam the whole world wide.
Ye prate of cares, of plans amiss;
   With voices grave and faces long;
While I -- I ask of life but this --
   To drink, to kiss, to troll a song --

And rove a-roamin', roamin' free --
   A-ringin' in the changes.
Why linger here to waste a tear
   When joy awaits o'er the ranges?
Why tarry there to nurse a care
   When golden days are over?
For far and wide, where men abide,
   There's welcome for the rover.

Who seeks to earn a life of ease:
   For honor, wealth, and fame exist;
Then growing old and having these,
   To sit and think of what he's miss'd?
I live for love of life alone;
   You live in wait for fortune's smile --
Quote proverbs at a rolling stone,
   And gather moss and trouble while --

I rove a-rollin', rollin' free --
   A-ringin' in the changes.
If there's no moss this side for me
   There's heaps across the ranges.
So have your say and slave away,
   And set a store by small things.
You may be lord of a hard-earned hoard,
   But I'm the lord of all things.

Am I a constant lover?  Nay:
   Love bounded cloys, and bright eyes fade;
And he who loves and rides away
   Rides on to meet a fairer maid.
'Tis sure, I'd find, if wed to Nell
  'Twas Jess or Lil I loved the best.
My faith, I love them all too well
   To choose but one and lose the rest.

And I live a-lovin', lovin' free --
   A-ringin' in the changes.
'Tis kiss me Nell, and now farewell,
   Jess waits across the ranges.
And this, I boast, the rover's toast
   You'll find the whole world over
"From names refrain, and tankards drain
   To the lass that loves a rover."

"C. J. D."
Critic, 14 December 1904, p30

Copyright © Perry Middlemiss 2002-06