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Wednesday, October 4, 2006


Here in Dublin there is a Bram Stoker Museum which I am a member of their society ; in days of yore before the fancy schmancy museum there was a summer school in operation to raise the profile of Stokers irish heritage and get a writers centre together , the programme had very much an impressive array of guest speakers, writers and lecturer's as well as an extensive gothic library. At the end of each annual outing we would wrap up the events with musings in a pub, where we would choose our poems, excerpts etc and would make for a very entertaining evening, the more drink imbibed the more theatrical it got and with the rosey glow of the pub fire (believe me Irish summers are not that notably warm) and the cider and guinness flowing it made for the highlight of each annual outing. Here are two of my favorite musings that was delivered with such fervour one from a chap from Northern Ireland and the other was from an actor which was spoken with raw emotion. .

The Ballad of William Bloat

In a mean abode on the Shankill Road
Lived a man named William Bloat;
And he had a wife, the curse of his life,
Who always got his goat.'
Til one day at dawn, with her nightdress on
He slit her pretty throat.
With a razor gash he settled her hash
Oh never was crime so quick
But the steady drip on the pillowslip
Of her lifeblood made him sick.
And the pool of gore on the bedroom floor
Grew clotted and cold and thick.
Now he was right glad he had done as he had
As his wife lay there so still
But a sudden awe of the mighty law
Filled his heart with an icy chill.
So to finish the fun so well begun
He resolved himself to kill.
He took the sheet from his wife's cold feet
And twisted it into a rope
And he hanged himself from the pantry shelf,'
Twas an easy end, let's hope.
In the face of death with his latest breath
He slilently cursed the pope
Now the strangest turn in this whole concern
Is only just beginning.
He went to Hell, but his wife got well
And is still alive and sinning.
For the razor blade was Dublin made
But the sheet was Belfast linen.

The Face on the Barroom Floor
'TWAS a balmy summer evening, and a goodly crowd was there,
Which well-nigh filled Joe's barroom, on the corner of the square;
And as songs and witty stories came through the open door,
A vagabond crept slowly in and posed upon the floor.
"Where did it come from?" someone said. " The wind has blown it in."
"What does it want?" another cried. "Some whiskey, rum or gin?"
"Here, Toby, sic 'em, if your stomach's equal to the work --
I wouldn't touch him with a fork, he's filthy as a Turk."
This badinage the poor wretch took with stoical good grace;
In face, he smiled as tho' he thought he'd struck the proper place.
"Come, boys, I know there's kindly hearts among so good a crowd --
To be in such good company would make a deacon proud.
"Give me a drink -- that's what I want -- I'm out of funds, you know,
When I had cash to treat the gang this hand was never slow.
What? You laugh as if you thought this pocket never held a soul;
I once was fixed as well, my boys, as any one of you.
"There, thanks, that's braced me nicely; God bless you one and all;
Next time I pass this good saloon I'll make another call.
Give you a song? No, I can't do that; my singing days are past;
My voice is cracked, my throat's worn out, and my lungs are going fast.
"I'll tell you a funny story, and a fact, I promise, too.
Say! Give me another whiskey, and I'll tell what I'll do --
That I was ever a decent man not one of you would think;
But I was, some four or five years back. Say, give me another drink.
"Fill her up, Joe, I want to put some life into my frame --
Such little drinks to a bum like me are miserably tame;
Five fingers -- there, that's the scheme -- and corking whiskey, too.
Well, here's luck, boys, and landlord, my best regards to you.
"You've treated me pretty kindly and I'd like to tell you how
I came to be the dirty sot you see before you now.
As I told you, once I was a man, with muscle, frame, and health,
And but for a blunder ought to have made considerable wealth.
"I was a painter -- not one that daubed on bricks and wood,
But an artist, and for my age, was rated pretty good.
I worked hard at my canvas, and was bidding fair to rise,
For gradually I saw the star of fame before my eyes.
"I made a picture perhaps you've seen, 'tis called the `Chase of Fame.'
It brought me fifteen hundred pounds and added to my name,
And then I met a woman -- now comes the funny part --
With eyes that petrified my brain, and sunk into my heart.
"Why don't you laugh? 'Tis funny that the vagabond you see
Could ever love a woman, and expect her love for me;
But 'twas so, and for a month or two, her smiles were freely given,
And when her loving lips touched mine, it carried me to Heaven.
"Boys, did you ever see a girl for whom your soul you'd give,
With a form like the Milo Venus, too beautiful to live;
With eyes that would beat the Koh-i-noor, and a wealth of chestnut hair?
If so, 'twas she, for there never was another half so fair.
"I was working on a portrait, one afternoon in May,
Of a fair-haired boy, a friend of mine, who lived across the way.
And Madeline admired it, and much to my surprise,
Said she'd like to know the man that had such dreamy eyes.
"It didn't take long to know him, and before the month had flown
My friend had stole my darling, and I was left alone;
And ere a year of misery had passed above my head,
The jewel I had treasured so had tarnished and was dead.
"That's why I took to drink, boys. Why, I never see you smile,
I thought you'd be amused, and laughing all the while.
Why, what's the matter, friend? There's a tear-drop in you eye,
Come, laugh like me. 'Tis only babes and women that should cry.
"Say, boys, if you give me just another whiskey I'll be glad,
And I'll draw right here a picture of the face that drove me mad.
Give me that piece of chalk with which you mark the baseball score --
You shall see the lovely Madeline upon the barroon floor."
Another drink, and with chalk in hand, the vagabond began
To sketch a face that well might buy the soul of any man.
Then, as he placed another lock upon the shapely head,
With a fearful shriek, he leaped and fell across the picture -- dead.


slaghammer said...

The ending to the Ballad of William Bloat is fairly clear even though I'm not as up on my geopolitics as I should be. The Face on the Barroom Floor took me by surprise. I thought for sure he was going to draw a picture of Ireland or his favorite hound dog or some other such thing. Both were a good read.

Anonymous said...

You will not make it.