The Things Old Men Collect by Jim Grahame

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My shelf is crammed with broken pipes
   And old tobacco tins;
The lapel of my vest is bright
   With shining rows of pins;
I fear that I am growing old
   By signs that I detect,
For I am hoarding odds and ends ---
   The things old men collect.

I seem to love a shabby coat.
   With elbows frayed and torn:
I have a dozen styles in hats
   That someone else has worn;
And hanging round are shirts and pants
   That all show some defect;
And here and there a walking-stick ----
   The kind old men collect.

I've tins of nails and bolts and screws,
   And little coils of twine;
A score of keys for lock and latch
   That fit no door of mine;
My shaving mirror lacks a frame,
   It's dim, and can't reflect
Those lines and wrinkles on my face
   That all old men collect.

I keep two old and faithful dogs,
   And some domestic pets:
One likes to see these things about
   The older that one gets.
I'd have them all inside with me,
   But someone might object;
They do not know the joy there's in
   The friends old men collect.

Though time is quickly flying on,
   Its haste does not annoy.
There's lots of good things in the world --
   The things old men enjoy.
And life is passing fair to me:
   I still can walk erect,
And have no hankering to rest
   Where old men's bones collect.

First published in The Bulletin, 29 June 1922;
and later in
An Australian Treasury of Popular Verse edited by Jim Haynes, 2002; and
Two Centuries of Australian Poetry edited by Kathrine Bell, 2007.

Author: James William Grahame (1874-1949) was born in Creswick, Victoria, and spent the early part of his working life on the land in a variety of occupations.  He became a station manager on the darling River in new South wales and later worked for the State Government as an inspector of orchards. He published three collections of his work during his lifetime and died in Leeton, New South Wales, in 1949.

Author reference site: Austlit

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on June 29, 2012 8:26 AM.

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