old and too odd to be drunk with, by far;
he glides to the end where the lunch baskets are
they say that he tipples alone.
frockcoat is green and the nap is no more,
his hat is not quite at its best;
wears the peaked collar our grandfathers wore,
black-ribbon tie that was legal of yore,
the coat buttoned over his breast.
When first he came in, for a moment I thought
my vision or wits were astray;
a picture and page out of Dickens he brought---
an old file dropped in from the Chancery Court
the wine-vault just over the way.
I dreamed, as he tasted his “bitter” to-night
the lights in the bar-room grew dim,
the shades of the friends of that other day’s light,
of girls that were bright in our grandfathers” sight,
shadowy glasses to him.
I opened the door, and the old man passed out,
his short, shuffling step and bowed head;
I sighed; for I felt, as I turned me about,
odd sense of respect---born of whisky no doubt---
the life that was fifty years dead.
And I thought---there are times when our memory trends
the future, as ‘twere on its own---
I, out-of-date ere my pilgrimage ends,
a new-fashioned bar to dead loves and dead friends
drink, like the old man, alone.
Henry Lawson, 1867 - 1922Back to Paterson & Lawson index