Ole Mother Moon 'oo yanks 'er beamin' dile
   Acrost the sky when we've grown sick o' day,
She's like some fat ole Jane 'oo loves to smile
   On all concerned, an' smooth our faults away;
An', like a woman, tries to 'ide again
The sores an' scars crool day 'as made too plain.

To all the earth she gives the soft glad-eye; She picks no fav'rits in this world o' men; She peeps in nooks, where 'appy lovers sigh, To make their job more bonzer still; an' then, O'er Spadger's Lane she waves a podgy 'and, An' turns the scowlin' slums to Fairyland.
Aw, strike! I'm gettin' soft in my ole age! I'm growin' mushy wiv the passin' years. Me! that 'as called it weakness to ingage In sloppy thorts that coax the pearly tears. But say, me state o' mind I can't ixplain When I seen Rose lars' night in Spadger's Lane.
'Twas Spadger's Lane where Ginger Mick 'ung out Before 'e took to follerin' the Flag; The Lane that echoed to 'is drunken shout When 'e lobbed 'omeward on a gaudy jag. Now Spadger's Lane knows Ginger Mick no more, Fer 'e's become an 'ero at the War.
A flamin' 'ero at the War, that's Mick. An' Rose - 'is Rose, is waitin' in the Lane, Nursin' 'er achin' 'eart, an' lookin' sick As she crawls out to work an' 'ome again, Givin' the bird to blokes 'oo'd be 'er "friend," An' prayin', wiv the rest, fer wars to end.
Quite right; I'm growin' sloppy fer a cert; But I must git it orf me chest or bust. So 'ere's a song about a grievin' skirt, An' love, an' Ginger Mick, an' maiden trust! The choky sort o' song that fetches tears When blokes is full o' sentiment-or beers.
Lars' night, when I sneaks down to taste again The sights an' sounds I used to know so well, The moon wus shinin' over Spadger's Lane, Sof'nin' the sorrer where 'er kind light fell: Sof'nin' an' soothin', like it wus 'er plan To make ixcuses fer the sins uv man.
Frum shadder inter shadder, up the street, A prowlin' moll sneaks by, wiv eyes all 'ate, Dodgin' some unseen John, 'oo's sure, slow feet Comes tappin' after, certin as 'er fate; In some back crib, a shicker's loud 'owled verse Stops sudden, wiv a crash, an' then a curse.
Low down, a splotch o' red, where 'angs a blind Before the winder uv a Chow caboose, Shines in the dead black wall, an' frum be'ind, Like all the cats o' Chinertown broke loose, A mad Chow fiddle wails a two-note toon ... An' then I seen 'er, underneath the moon.
Rosie the Rip they calls 'er int he Lane; Fer she wus alwus willin' wiv 'er 'an's, An' uses 'em to make 'er meanin' plain In ways theat Spadger's beauties understan's. But when ole Ginger played to snare 'er 'eart, Rosie the Rip wus jist the soft, weak tart.
'Igh in 'er winder she wus leanin' out, Swappin' remarks wiv fat ole Mother Moon. The things around I clean Fergot about - Fergot the fiddle an' its crook Chow toon; I only seen one woman in the light Achin' to learn 'er forchin frum the night.
Ole Ginger's Rose! To see 'er sittin' there, The moonlight shinin' fair into 'er face, An' sort o' touchin' gentle on 'er 'air, It made me fair fergit the time an' place. I feels I'm peepin' where I never ought, An' tries 'arf not to 'ear the words I caught.
One soljer's sweetheart, that wus wot I seen: One out o' thousands grievin' thro' the land. A tart frum Spadger's or a weepin' queen - Wot's there between 'em, when yeh understand She 'olds fer Mick, wiv all 'is ugly chiv, The best a lovin' woman 'as to give.
The best a woman 'as to give - Aw, 'Struth! When war, an' grief, an' trouble's on the land Sometimes a bloke gits glimpses uv the truth An' sweats 'is soul to try an' understand . . . An' then the World, like some offishus John, Shoves out a beefy 'and, an' moves 'im on.
So I seen Rose; an' so, on that same night I seen a million women grievin' there. Ole Mother Moon she showed to me a sight She sees around the World, most everyw'ere - Sneakin' beneath the shadder uv the wall I seen, an' learned, an' understood it all.
An' as I looks at Rosie, dreamin' there, 'Er 'ead drops on 'er arms . . . I seems to wake; I sees the moonlight streamin' on 'er 'air; I 'ears 'er sobbin' like 'er 'eart ud break. An' me there, pryin' on 'er misery. "Gawstruth!" I sez, "This ain't no place fer me!"
On my tip-toes I sneaks the way I came - (The crook Chow fiddle ain't done yowlin' yet) - An' tho' I tells it to me bitter shame - I'm gittin' soft as 'ell - me eyes wus wet. An' that stern John, as I go moochin' by Serloots me wiv a cold, unfeelin' eye.
The fat ole Mother Moon she's got a 'eart. An' so I like to think, when she looks down Wiv 'er soft gaze upon some weepin tart In bonzer gardens or the slums o' town; She soothes 'em, mother-like, wiv podgy 'ands, An' makes 'em dream agen uv peaceful lands.

This poem was originally published in The Bulletin, 11 December 1915, p40, with only minor changes (a word here and there, spelling and punctuation) from this version.

Copyright © Perry Middlemiss 2002