Works in the Herald 1935

The recent pleasant summer mornings of mild and genial sunshine or soft, warm rain induce even the sick and sorry to realise that, war and worry notwithstanding, the world is still a pretty good place to be alive in.

"Old Bandy Mick" they called him, and he long since came to die;
But many a time, in old days, I used to pass him by
   On these familiar forest ways; he was a hale man then
   With that God-given optimism granted happy men.
Rare joy was his in bearing, a smile e'er on his lip,
His battered hat o'er one bright eye preserved a rakish tip
   As he called his cheery greeting, e'er in the same old way.
  "Hah!  The tap o' the marnin' to yeh!  An' a jewel 'tis of a day."

His greeting never varied, come rain or sun or snow
And he meant it -- every word of it -- his tone proclaimed it so.
   A poor man, filled with happy thanks for God's abounding gifts,
   Where lesser man saw lowering skies, he sought and found the rifts.
So thro' the years I passed him as we both grew old apace;
And, tho' the spring went from his step, still in his shining face
   The gratitude persisted with that bearing blithely gay:
   "Hah!  The tap o' the marnin' to yeh!  An' a jewel 'tis of a day."

And then the years betrayed him; and with old-age there came
A foul and hopeless malady that seared him like a flame.
   Yet still he hobbled down the track, and still he praised the day.
   "For would I not take shame," said he, "to mulligrub that way?"
And still, beside dull agony writ plainly on his face,
Indomitable gladness shone -- a blessing and grace.
   And still, with hat tip-tilted, he found the heart to say:
   "Hah!  The tap o' the marnin' to yeh!  An' a jewel 'tis of a day."

We grieve and moan o'er little ills; we view the skies askance
And repay a beaming morning with a mean, embittered glance.
   But, haply for my soul's sake, at times there comes to me
   A vision of Old Bandy Mick, just as he used to be
With hat a-tilt and beaming eye, as down the track he came;
Then, if I could remain forlorn, would I, too, not "take shame"
   Lest in the churlish heart of me I found the grace to say,
   "Hah!  The tap o' the marnin' to yeh!  An' a jewel 'tis of a day."

Herald, 13 November 1935, p8

Copyright © Perry Middlemiss 2004