Poem: The Old Bohemian by Victor J. Daley

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The  world was in my debt,
   I was the Friend of Man,
When, years ago, I met
   The Old Bohemian.

His hat was shocking bad,
   He wore a faded tie,
And yet, withal, he had
   A moist and shining eye.

And though his purse was lean,
   And though his coat was dyed,
He had a lordly mien
   And air of ancient pride.

We sat in a hotel,
   And drank the amber ale;
And as I touched the bell
   I listened to his tale.

He told me that some day
   In his place I would be;
But all the world was gay ---
   No use in warning me.

He spoke of high Desire
   And aspirations true;
And flamed again the fire
   In eyes of faded blue.

"By God!" the old man said,
   "The days of old were grand;
I painted cities red,
   I owned the blessed land.

"I loved, when I was young,
   The girls in all the bars;
And, coming home, I hung
   My hat upon the stars.

"And O, the times were glad!
   Such times you never knew;
And O, the nights we had!
   And O, the jolly crew!

"Where are the songs --- the talk ---
   The friends that used to be;
I with my shadow walk
   At last for company.

And though we missed the bays,
   That Poets we would be;
And though we missed the bays
   We lived our Poetry!

"We talked and talked and talked,
   And slowly, one by one,
My old companions walked
   Into the setting sun."

The old Bohemian said,
   "The world owes nought to me,
I lie upon the bed
   Which I made --- carefully.

There is one way to play
   The mad Bohemian game,
I found and took the way ---
   And you will do the same."

Ah, that was years ago,
   When skies were bright and blue,
And now, alas, I know
   His prophecy was true.

Yet fill the glass once more,
   Bohemians, and sing ---
Upon another shore
   There waits another Spring!

First published in The Bulletin, 28 September 1901

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