The Battler by C.J. Dennis

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"Could you give me a bite to eat?" said he,
   As he tarried by my back door.
And I thought of the dull, lean days that be
   As I glanced at the clothes he wore:
Patched in places, and worn and old,
Yet cosy enough to fend the cold.
   And I caught the glint of his gay blue eye,
   Sure sign of his slogan: "Never say die".

"Could you spare me a trifle to eat?" said he;
   "For it's tough on a man these days."
Then, somehow or other it seemed to me,
   Some trick of his voice, or ways,
Stirred half lost thought.  But I let it go,
As he said that his tea was "pretty low":
   And his sugar-bag, too, was "well-nigh out".
   "Tho' I'd hate", he added, "to put you about."

"Could you do with a couple of chops?" said I.
   "Some eggs and a ration of bread?"
"Why, mister, that would be comin' it high!
   It's a feed for a king!" he said.
So with this, and a trifle of sugar and tea,
Tucked under his arm: "Thanks, boss", said he.
   "It's hard on the roads when yer out of a job ... 
   D'yeh think yeh'd be missin' a couple o' bob?"

"One minute!" I bade him, as memory stirred.
   "Have I ever seen you before?"
"Seen me?" said he.  "Why, upon my word!
   For the half o' my life or more,
I been comin' round nigh every year.
An' I never yet drawed a blank - not 'ere.
   An' I'll say this for yeh: you ain't too bad
   As a regular customer - best I've 'ad."

First published in The Herald, 29 June 1933;
and later in
More Than a Sentimental Bloke: A Performance, 1990.

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on June 29, 2013 9:27 AM.

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