George Walter Thornbury ( )

Smith of Maudlin

MY chums will burn their Indian weeds
  The very night I pass away,
And cloud-propelling puff and puff,
  As white the thin smoke melts away;
Then Jones of Wadham, eyes half closed,
  Rubbing the ten hairs on his chin,
Will say, This very pipe I use
  Was poor old Smiths of Maudlin.

That night in High Street there will walk
  The ruffling gownsmen three abreast,
The stiff-necked proctors, wary-eyed,
  The dons, the coaches, and the rest;
Sly Cherub Sims will then purpose
  Billiards, or some sweet ivory sin;
Tom cries, He played a pretty game,
  Did honest Smith of Maudlin.

The boats are out!the arrowy rush,
  The mad bulls jerk, the tigers strength;
The Balliol men have wopped the Queens,
  Hurrah! but only by a length.
Dig on, ye muffs; ye cripples, dig!
  Pull blind, till crimson sweats the skin;
The man who bobs and steers cries, O
  For plucky Smith of Maudlin!

Wine-parties met,a noisy night,
  Red sparks are breaking through the cloud;
The man who won the silver cup
  Is in the chair erect and proud;
Three are asleep,one to himself
  Sings, Yellow jacket s sure to win.
A silence;Men, the memory
  Of poor old Smith of Maudlin!

The boxing-rooms,with solemn air
  A freshman dons the swollen glove;
With slicing strokes the lapping sticks
  Work out a rubber,three and love;
With rasping jar the padded man
  Whips Thompsons foil, so square and thin,
And cries, Why, zur, you ve not the wrist
  Of Muster Smith of Maudlin.

But all this time beneath the sheet
  I shall lie still, and free from pain,
Hearing the bed-makers sluff in
  To gossip round the blinded pane;
Try on my rings, sniff up my scent,
  Feel in my pockets for my tin;
While one hag says, We all must die,
  Just like this Smith of Maudlin.

Ah! then a dreadful hush will come,
  And all I hear will be the fly
Buzzing impatient round the wall,
  And on the sheet where I must lie;
Next day a jostling of feet,
  The men who bring the coffin in:
This is the door,the third-pair back,
  Here s Mr. Smith of Maudlin!

George Walter Thornbury's other poems:
  1. A Dorsetshire Legend
  2. The Wiltshire Cairn
  3. The Ride of Nostradamus
  4. Dr. Johnsons Penance
  5. The Bells of Avignon

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