Here you will find the Long Poem Thirty Bob a Week of poet John Davidson
I couldn't touch a stop and turn a screw, And set the blooming world a-work for me, Like such as cut their teeth -- I hope, like you -- On the handle of a skeleton gold key; I cut mine on a leek, which I eat it every week: I'm a clerk at thirty bob as you can see. But I don't allow it's luck and all a toss; There's no such thing as being starred and crossed; It's just the power of some to be a boss, And the bally power of others to be bossed: I face the music, sir; you bet I ain't a cur; Strike me lucky if I don't believe I'm lost! For like a mole I journey in the dark, A-travelling along the underground From my Pillar'd Halls and broad Suburbean Park, To come the daily dull official round; And home again at night with my pipe all alight, A-scheming how to count ten bob a pound. And it's often very cold and very wet, And my missus stitches towels for a hunks; And the Pillar'd Halls is half of it to let-- Three rooms about the size of travelling trunks. And we cough, my wife and I, to dislocate a sigh, When the noisy little kids are in their bunks. But you never hear her do a growl or whine, For she's made of flint and roses, very odd; And I've got to cut my meaning rather fine, Or I'd blubber, for I'm made of greens and sod: So p'r'haps we are in Hell for all that I can tell, And lost and damn'd and served up hot to God. I ain't blaspheming, Mr. Silver-tongue; I'm saying things a bit beyond your art: Of all the rummy starts you ever sprung, Thirty bob a week's the rummiest start! With your science and your books and your the'ries about spooks, Did you ever hear of looking in your heart? I didn't mean your pocket, Mr., no: I mean that having children and a wife, With thirty bob on which to come and go, Isn't dancing to the tabor and the fife: When it doesn't make you drink, by Heaven! it makes you think, And notice curious items about life. I step into my heart and there I meet A god-almighty devil singing small, Who would like to shout and whistle in the street, And squelch the passers flat against the wall; If the whole world was a cake he had the power to take, He would take it, ask for more, and eat them all. And I meet a sort of simpleton beside, The kind that life is always giving beans; With thirty bob a week to keep a bride He fell in love and married in his teens: At thirty bob he stuck; but he knows it isn't luck: He knows the seas are deeper than tureens. And the god-almighty devil and the fool That meet me in the High Street on the strike, When I walk about my heart a-gathering wool, Are my good and evil angels if you like. And both of them together in every kind of weather Ride me like a double-seated bike. That's rough a bit and needs its meaning curled. But I have a high old hot un in my mind -- A most engrugious notion of the world, That leaves your lightning 'rithmetic behind: I give it at a glance when I say 'There ain't no chance, Nor nothing of the lucky-lottery kind.' And it's this way that I make it out to be: No fathers, mothers, countres, climates -- none; Not Adam was responsible for me, Nor society, nor systems, nary one: A little sleeping seed, I woke -- I did, indeed -- A million years before the blooming sun. I woke because I thought the time had come; Beyond my will there was no other cause; And everywhere I found myself at home, Because I chose to be the thing I was; And in whatever shape of mollusc or of ape I always went according to the laws. I was the love that chose my mother out; I joined two lives and from the union burst; My weakness and my strength without a doubt Are mine alone for ever from the first: It's just the very same with a difference in the name As 'Thy will be done.' You say it if you durst! They say it daily up and down the land As easy as you take a drink, it's true; But the difficultest go to understand, And the difficultest job a man can do, Is to come it brave and meek with thirty bob a week, And feel that that's the proper thing for you. It's a naked child against a hungry wolf; It's playing bowls upon a splitting wreck; It's walking on a string across a gulf With millstones fore-and-aft about your neck; But the thing is daily done by many and many a one; And we fall, face forward, fighting, on the deck.