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Recitations Anyone?


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Subject: Lyr Add: YARN OF THE NANCY BELL (W.S. Gilbert)
From: Deckman
Date: 07 Jan 03 - 04:55 PM

I've been thinking about starting this thread for some time. Now that the holidays are over, I'm wondering if anyone enjoys performing recitations. Though recitations are not music, they do require many of the same performance skills.

I will start the thread with a story of one performer I well remember from the late 50's. His name was Dave McCollum (sp?). Occasionally during an intermission at one of the many coffee houses we all sang at in Seattle, Dave would come on stage and cast his spell. He could hold the audience in his hand. (If anyone knows where Dave is today, would you please PM me?) Here is just one recitation I remember that Dave did so well:

(W.S. Gilbert)

Twas on the shores that round our coast,
From Deal to Ramsgate span,
That I found alone, on a piece of stone,
And elderly naval man.

His hair was weedy, his beard was long,
And weedy and long was he,
And I heard this wight on the shore recite,
In a singular minor key.

"Oh, I am a cook and a captain bold,
And the mate of the Nancy brig,
And a bo'sun tight, and a midshipmite,
And the crew of the captains gig."

And he shook his fists and he tore his hair,
Till I really felt afraid,
For I couldn't help thinking the man had been drinking,
And so I simply said:

"Oh, elderly man, it's little I know
Of the duties of men of the sea,
And I'll eat my hand if I understand
How you can possibly be

"At once a cook, and a captain bold,
And the mate of the Nancy brig,
And a bo'sun tight and a midshipmite,
And the crew of the captains gig."

Then he gave a hitch to his trousers, which
Is a trick all seamen larn,
And having got rid of a thumping quid,
He spun his painfull yarn:

"'Twas in the good ship Nancy Bell
That we sailed to the Indian sea,
And there on a reef we came to grief,
Which has often occurred to me.

"And pretty well nigh o' the crew was drowned
(There was seventy seven o' soul),
And only ten of the Nancy's men
Said 'Here!' to the muster roll.

"There was me and the cook and the captain bold,
And the mate of the Nancy brig,
And the bo'sun tight, and a midshipmite,
And the crew of the captain's gig.

"For a month we'd neither wittles nor drink,
Till a-hungry we did feel,
So, we drawed a lot, and accordin' shot,
The captain for our meal.

"The next lot fell to the Nancy's mate,
And a delicate dish he made;
Then our appetite with the midshipmite
We seven surivors stayed.

"And then we murdered the bo'sun tight,
And he much resembled pig,
Then we wittled free, did the cook and me,
On the crew of the captain's gig.

"Then only the cook and me was left,
And the delicate question, 'Which
Of us two goes to the kettle?' arose,
And we argued it out as sich.

"For I loved that cook as a brother, I did,
And the cook he worshipped me;
But we'd both be blowed if we'd either be stowed
In the other chap's hold, you see.

"'I'll be eat if you dines off me,' says Tom,
'Yes, that,' says I, 'you'll be'-
I'm boiled if I die, my friend,'quoth I,
And 'exactly so, quoth he.

"Says he, 'Dear James, to murder me
were a foolish thing to do,
For don't you see that you can't cook me,
Wile I can - and I will - cook you!'

"So, he boils the water, and takes the salt
And the pepper in portions true
(Which he never forgot), and some chopped shalot,
And some sage and parsley too.

"'Come here, says he, with a proper pride,
Which his smiling features tell,
'T'will soothing be if I let you see
How extremely nice you'll smell.'

"And he stirred it round and round and round,
And he sniffed at the foaming froth;
When I ups with his heels, and smothers his squeals
In the scum of the boiling broth.

"And I eat that cook in a week or less,
And - as I eating be
The last of the chops, why I almost drops,
For a wessel in sight I see.

"And I never larf, and I never smile,
And I never lark nor play,
But I sit and croak, and a single joke
I have - which is to say:

"Oh, I am a cook and a captain bold,
And the mate of the Nancy brig,
And a bo'sun tight, and a midshipmite,
And the crew of the captain's gig!"

(note, I have done my best to copy the exact spelling and punctuation that I have in my copy of W.S. Gilbert's "The Bab Ballads." And yes, he is the Gilbert of Gilbert & Sullivan fame.)

How well I remember when Dave would launch into this drama. He would draw out all the ghastly lines like the fine actor he was.

CHEERS, Bob(deckman)Nelson

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Subject: RE: Recitations Anyone?
From: alanabit
Date: 07 Jan 03 - 05:04 PM

"Eskimo Nell" (which is not suitable for nice old ladies and small children) is usually done as a recitation. My mum used to do one which she learned from her mother, called "I couldn't help it could I?" which was about the misadventures of a small girl. It's written down somewhere - I think my brother has it, although doubtless some other Mudcatter will produce it for us. Good idea for a thread. These things are as worth preserving as any other part of the oral tradition.

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Subject: RE: Recitations Anyone?
Date: 07 Jan 03 - 05:37 PM

At our last shanty sing, a lady named Pat recited one of Ruth Moore's poems/stories about a fisherman who had a bit too much to drink. Wonderful images; wonderful humor...and fit for old ladies and children. He crosses swords with Neptune at one point and Kendall chimed in right on key with his newly DEEP voice.

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Subject: RE: Recitations Anyone?
From: Don Firth
Date: 07 Jan 03 - 05:37 PM

Love it!! The church I attend has an annual bash a few weeks before Christmas, giving all those staid Lutherans a chance to go crazy and let it all hang out. Which they DO! In many otherwise quiet folk, there is a singer, poet, stand-up comic, or other bizarre critter trying to claw its way out. Actually, there is a lot of talent around that rarely gets exercised.

For the first several years, I'd sing a few songs, and then one year, just for the heck of it (really, just after taking an acting course from Pat French), I did a dramatic reading of Robert Service's "The Cremation of Sam McGee." Now, I'm kinda stuck with it. Along about September, people start asking me if I'm going to do it again this year. Fortunately, I love doing it, but I would like to branch out a bit. Recitations and readings are a BLAST!

Bob, seems I recall you once doing a magnificent job on Go Down, Death from "God's Trombones." I've tried doing it a couple of times, but I can't get through it without getting choked up.

We ought to do a lot more of this kind of thing. After all, it's well within the purview of minstrels and troubadours.

Don Firth

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Subject: RE: Recitations Anyone?
From: Deckman
Date: 07 Jan 03 - 05:49 PM

Hi Don, I'm pleased that you remember my first attempt at James Weldon Johnson's "Go Down Death." Of course, if you'll remember that that was at the Nightengale, and it was a special evening for Elmar. I still have a very hard time getting through it! Next hoot, I want to hear you tell ... again ... of the "Tawny Tiger"! CHEERS, Bob

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Subject: RE: Recitations Anyone?
From: brid widder
Date: 07 Jan 03 - 06:28 PM

A monologue I remember hearing in the sixties... about someone who has married ...that's good... is miserable...that's bad... she is rich...that's good she dies ... that's bad... etc....goes something like... That's good sez I no not so good sez he ... then later....Thats bad sez I... no not so bad sez he...I would love the words... is this familiar to anyone?

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Subject: RE: Recitations Anyone?
From: GUEST,ClaireBear
Date: 07 Jan 03 - 07:30 PM

Although it was almost 30 years ago, I've never forgotten the English music hall veteran named Norah who used to recite Marriott Edgar's "Albert and the Lion" and "Albert's Return" at San Francisco's Great Dickens Christmas Fair and Pickwick Comic Annual. (BTW these are both in DT in the kids' section).

Another fond memory is a wonderful fellow named Ed Griggs, I think, who used to come to the Hyde Street Pier chantey sings and recite not only the above-posted Bab Ballad but also one called "Etiquette" that I find screamingly funny. But then I'm odd.


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From: kendall
Date: 07 Jan 03 - 07:40 PM

I used to start my Maine humor programs with this piece by Ruth Moore.

(Ruth Moore)

I once see a whale with a gold tooth, he riz right out of the sea,
And opened his mouth in the morning sun, and showed that tooth to me,
And, once, I was fishin' the deep ground with nigh six pounds of lead,
And, I caught a cod as big as a man, and it had a man's head.

Oh, there ain't no end to what I'd tell,
Once I was well begun;
Like seein' the devil rise from the sea
Instead of the risin' sun;
Like sea snakes lashin' the moonlit sea,
With their terrible lollopin's,
And little mermaids with their diamond eyes
And solid silver fins.

For some have eyes to see strange sights,
And such a one I be,
But, I ain't known as an honest man
      And, nobody harks to me.

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Subject: RE: Recitations Anyone?
From: Deckman
Date: 07 Jan 03 - 07:41 PM

I'm NOT surprised that "Albert and Lion" and also "Albert's Return" surfaced so quickly. These, as well as others in the "Albert" sagas are legion! How well I remember the late David Spence, from Ireland, perfoming these in San Francisco, at "The Drinking Gourd", in the early 60's. CHEERS, Bob

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Subject: RE: Recitations Anyone?
From: kendall
Date: 07 Jan 03 - 07:43 PM

I also do the one Sinsull mentioned. I have always loved Ruth Moore's poetry. She also wrote a very good story. Years ago a movie called Deep Waters was based on one of her books.

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Subject: RE: Recitations Anyone?
From: Deckman
Date: 07 Jan 03 - 07:48 PM

Hi Kendall ... would you please honor us by posting it? CHEERS, Bob

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Subject: RE: Recitations Anyone?
Date: 07 Jan 03 - 07:59 PM

For some have eyes to see strange sights,
And such a one I be,
But, I aint known as an honest man
And, nobody harks to me.

Very appropriate, Captain.

Now, what did you recite at the Getaway to introduce the song (of yours) that Ken (?) Schatz sang. I can't keep those two staright! Sorry.

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Subject: RE: Recitations Anyone?
Date: 07 Jan 03 - 08:00 PM

No. Staright is not an obscure nautical phrase. I meant straight.

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Subject: RE: Recitations Anyone?
From: GUEST,vrdpkr
Date: 07 Jan 03 - 08:34 PM

This is exactly what makes cowboy poetry gatherings so much fun. Note that they are never competition, contests or battles. They are GATHERINGS. Like minded people gathering together to enjoy the beauty of the spoken word. There is always a lot of music at the programs, but the centerpiece is always poetry or stories. If you ever get a chance to go to one, do.

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Subject: RE: Recitations Anyone?
From: Amos
Date: 07 Jan 03 - 08:39 PM

I love it, skipper, and I can just hear ya drawling it out!!

My BBW and Barky --when she was a child -- used to recite a lengthy piece called "The Antispetic Bunny and the Prophylactic Pup", which had me in stitches. I can't remember a line of it right now, though!


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Subject: RE: Recitations Anyone?
From: Bert
Date: 07 Jan 03 - 09:03 PM

I used to do a bit of Chaucer years ago.

Whan that Aprille with his shoures sote
the droghte of March hath pierced to the rote...

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Subject: RE: Recitations Anyone?
From: Cluin
Date: 07 Jan 03 - 09:43 PM

I have clinched and closed with the naked north,
I have learned to defy and defend.
Shoulder to shoulder we have fought it out,
Yet the wild must win in the end.

Some words by Robert W. Service that I learned from a whisky ad in Field & Stream when I was a kid and it's always stuck in there.

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Subject: RE: Recitations Anyone?
From: Cluin
Date: 07 Jan 03 - 09:43 PM


There was an old man from Nantucket...

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Subject: RE: Recitations Anyone?
From: GUEST,guest
Date: 07 Jan 03 - 09:48 PM

try    monologues,org

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Subject: RE: Recitations Anyone?
From: katlaughing
Date: 07 Jan 03 - 10:04 PM

We grew up doing this and with our parents and grandparents doing this in our family. Mom used to take long baths and let me drag my chair and book in to practice while she soaked. What a patient woman! Some favourites included Kipling, Service, the Hon. Mrs. Norton who wrote Bingen on the Rhine:

A soldier of the Legion lay dying in Algiers
There was lack of woman's nursing, there was dearth of woman's tears;
But a comrade stood beside him, while his life-blood ebbed away,
And bent, with pitying glance, to hear what he might say...

There's another posted with that one called Napoleon and the British Soldier.

Then, The Cremation of Sam McGee was a big hit with my daughter's classmates in middle school one year. Then there's my granddad's cowboy/rancher story-poems. I used to read them on HearMe sometimes. I've done some of my own stuff, too. I love nothing more than to bring the words to life through voice and drama!:-)

Another one I've done in there quite often was written by Lonesome EJ, in Song Challenge #12! Click for Bullwinkle's Revenge.

Micca does a fabulous job of recitation. We had an all poetry session once on HearMe. We ought to do that sometime on PalTalk. It'd be a lot of fun.


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Subject: RE: Recitations Anyone?
From: GUEST,guest
Date: 07 Jan 03 - 10:48 PM

Sorry should have been

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Subject: RE: Recitations Anyone?
From: GUEST,.gargoyle
Date: 08 Jan 03 - 12:02 AM

I have probably 100 or more....short quips from OgdenNash and long recitations from R.W.Service, LewisCarol, and of course Anonymous...Eskimo Nell - falls in the later.

There are teachers that can change your life. For me, it began in 4th grade and the memorization of "Tom Twist" from a McGuffy's 4th Grade Reader of my grandfathers. This wonderous teacher sent me throughout the school giving the recitation...and having experienced a captive audience...I was hooked to the life of being a performer.


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Subject: RE: Recitations Anyone?
From: Deckman
Date: 08 Jan 03 - 02:18 AM

I clearly remember a magical night the first time I was in the army. I don't even remember where the heck I was. We were a medical unit ... Doctors and enlisted men. I was being supply Sargent,which meant that I had controll of the medicinal alcohol. One morning the Company Commander came to me and said that we all needed a party. We'd been operating a field combat hospital for far too long, and everyone needed a break. He suggested that I inventory the supply of medicinal alcohol and get rid of the "old stock!" (we used grain alcohol in field to sterilize instruments as we often didn't have electricity to run autoclaves). That afternoon I dispensed the old stock, about 35 O.D. colored pint cans as I remember, to a long line of Officers and enlisted men. That evening we all gathered in a tent, and we had a party!

As I sit here, 45 years later, I can still see a performance one Captain gave. I don't remember his name, but I sure do remember his performance. It was GUNGA DIN! His performance was perfect. All the elocution. All the words. All the gestures. OH ... IT WAS SWELL! Of course, the earlier dispensing of the medicinal alcohol didn't hurt matters much! CHEERS, Bob

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Subject: RE: Recitations Anyone?
From: Stephen L. Rich
Date: 08 Jan 03 - 02:43 AM

For years I've had great fun with Robert W. Service's "The Cremation of Sam McGee". I add my own little twist by diong Sam's lines in dialect.

Stephen Lee

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Subject: Lyr Add: ERNIE DUNN
From: mouldy
Date: 08 Jan 03 - 02:44 AM

Rick Scollins used to do Derbyshire dialect recitations. One is in a series of books he wrote on the dialect, and was given to him by a couple he met. I often do it:


When Ernie Dunn wor still alive
folks sed 'e wor no good.
But nah 'e's dead, they changed their tune:
'e's called "misunderstood".

But Ernie Dunn can 'ear 'em not -
'e's climbed the gowden steer.
At last 'e's come to't'gowden geet
and thunders, "Oppen theer!"

"What dost tha want?", St. Peter sez,
"Why dost tha mek that din?"
"Ah'm Ernie Dunn," Owd Dunn replies,
"Tha'd better let mey in!"

St. Peter shook 'is 'oary 'ead,
and tonned as if ter go:
"No Dunn can enter 'ere, me lad.
Thee 'op it - dahn below."

"'ark 'ere, owd chap," sez Ernie Dunn,
"Thi face is nice and kind.
Thee tek a lowk in t' gowden bowk:
ah'm sure tha'll change thi mind."

"Well just to please thee," Peter sez,
"ah'll go and look in t' book.
But goin' be what ah've 'eard o' thee,
ah'm 'fraid tha's aht o' luck."

St. Peter went to look in t' book -
'e thowt owd Dunn'd weet.
When 'e com back, owd Dunn wor gone:
and so were t' gowden geet!

There's another one about a guy with a tattooed nose, but it's much longer.
I have two original monologue books from the Stanley Holloway stable, with the famous Albert and other tales in them. They are in pristine condition, and I treasure them.


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Subject: RE: Recitations Anyone?
From: Deckman
Date: 08 Jan 03 - 02:55 AM

Andrea ... thank you for all the work ... and it does take a lot of work to post recitations. I posted the W.S. Gilbert recitation direct from a copy of the "Bab Book" that I have. Recitations are perhaps a unique form of writing, in that most of the performance tecniques, clues, are there in the puncuation marks. As such, they are very detailed. And it even gets more challenging when dealing with dialects ... and we are a world of dialects. CHEERS and BLESSINGS, Bob

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Subject: RE: Recitations Anyone?
From: Micca
Date: 08 Jan 03 - 03:09 AM

Ah, but for sheer Drama, Try G.K. Chestertons " Lepanto" the most wonderful alliteration and use of English
".. Strong gongs groaning as the guns boom far
Don John of Austria
is going to the war"....

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Subject: RE: Recitations Anyone?
From: Dave Bryant
Date: 08 Jan 03 - 07:02 AM

I think that "Lepanto" would be rather too long and heavy for most of my audiences - even though it is one of my favourite poems.
"White founts falling in the Courts of the sun,
And the Soldan of Byzantium is smiling as they run"

"The Yarn of the Nancy Bell" was my party piece as a child. Many years ago I set it to music and still sing it in folk clubs now and then.

I also perform "Sweeney Todd the Barber" (in the DT HERE) in which the whole centre of the piece is spoken. I find that the mixture of singing and recitation is even more fun than either on their own.

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Subject: Lyr Add: HOW COULD REAVY DIE! and ME AN' ME DA etc
From: Aidan Crossey
Date: 08 Jan 03 - 07:24 AM

Try these three for size:

A Tribute to Reavey
Ed Reavey was a fine fiddler and composer of tunes - some say he wrote as many as 500 tunes over the course of his life - cracking tunes they were too. Pay The Reckoning's attention was drawn recently to the poem which follows, by "Father Michael". We know nothing else about it. However we were arrested by it completely. As tributes go, this is a fine piece of work. And Reavey deserved, if anybody did. If there's an afterlife, let's hope they don't give him one of those silly harps. A good fiddle and a well-rosined bow's what he'd need.

By Father Michael

The plumber of the hornpipes is dead.
The old diviner with the hazel bow,
That found the Shannon's source
And made its magic waters flow across the world.
"No" she said "he's not dead,
How could Reavy die!"
And who are you to say!
"I am the Wind: The Wind
That drove the clouds in herds
Above the Cavan hills and Drexel too
And whispered to the oats in Barnagrove.
I am the breeze that kissed O'Carolan's face
With moisture on my lips
'Til notes danced within his mind
Like flames behind a blind.
I am the breath in Reavy's body
I used to whistle in his mouth
Merely oxygen upon arrival
But virgin music coming out.
He would hold me in the evenings
And we'd play within his soul
He tamed me with his reverence
But I always had to go . . .
So I bore him sounds of sweetness
Some were sad and some were glad
And he composed half a thousand tunes
About the happy time we had."
Hush! I whispered. Did you see his fiddle
On the altar - silent as a stone
And his body on the grave in Drexel Hill?
Clamped on the hole in a final salute
Like an old finger frozen on a flute.
Did you see the people in a circle
Standing sadly in the snow,
When the pipes refused to play in the cold?
"I was there" she said
I am the Breath of the earth.
Every mouth is a wisp of my prayer
Breathing blessings of incense on the bites of the air
Because life has the edge on the ice.
Listen my friend, to the lad with the whistle
With his finger tips timid and cold.
See the life that he brings to the old man's tune
And the leaks that he brings to the eyes.
See Reavy arise from the holes in the tin . .
And announce on his grave "I'm alive!"

Me And Me Da (Livin' In Drumlister)
I remember there was rarely a social event in the Seven Derrys without someone giving the asembled multitudes the benefit of the following "recimitation". I used to cringe when someone trotted out the first few words. But age, time and distance have worked a certain magic and now the charms of the poem have overcome all resistance.

I'm livin' in Drumlister,
An' I'm gettin very oul',
I have to wear an Indian bag
To save me from the coul'.
The de'il a man in this townlan'
Wos claner raired nor me,
But I'm livin' in Drumlister
In clabber to the knee.

Me da lived up in Carmin,
An' kep' a sarvint boy;
His second wife wos very sharp,
He birried her with joy:
Now she wos thin, her name was Flynn,
She come from Cullentra,
An' if me shirt's a clatty shirt
The man to blame's me da.

Consarnin' weemin, sure it wos
A constant word of his,
`Keep far away from them that's thin,
Their temper's aisy riz.'
Well, I knowed two I thought wud do,
But still I had me fears,
So I kiffled back an' forrit
Between the two, for years.

Wee Margit had no fortune
But two rosy cheeks wud plaze;
The farm of lan' wos Bridget's,
But she tuk the pock disayse:
An' Margit she wos very wee,
An' Bridget she wos stout
But her face wos like a gaol dure
With the boults pulled out.

I'll tell no lie on Margit,
She thought the worl' of me;
I'll tell the truth, me heart wud lep
The sight of her to see
But I wos slow, ye surely know,
The raison of it now,
If I left her home from Carmin
Me da wud rise a row.

So I swithered back an' forrit
Till Margit got a man;
A fella come from Mullaslin
An' left me jist the wan.
I mind the day she went away,
I hid wan strucken hour,
An' cursed the wasp from Cullentra
That made me da so sour.

But cryin' cures no trouble,
To Bridget I went back,
An' faced her for it that night week
Beside her own turf-stack.
I axed her there, an' spoke her fair,
The handy wife she'd make me,
I talked about the lan' that joined
- Begob, she wudn't take me!

So I'm livin' in Drumlister
An' I'm get'tin' very oul'
I creep to Carmin wanst a month
To try an' make me sowl:
The de'il a man in this townlan'
Wos claner raired nor me,
An' I'm dyin' in Drumlister
In clabber to the knee.

By "The Bard of Tyrone", The Reverend William Marshall

Bagpipe Music by Louis MacNiece

It's no go the merrygoround, it's no go the rickshaw,
All we want is a limousine and a ticket for the peepshow.
Their knickers are made of crepe-de-chine, their shoes are made of python,
Their halls are lined with tiger rugs and their walls with heads of bison.

John MacDonald found a corpse, put it under the sofa,
Waited till it came to life and hit it with a poker,
Sold its eyes for souvenirs, sold its blood for whisky,
Kept its bones for dumb-bells to use when he was fifty.

It's no go the Yogi-Man, it's no go Blavatsky,
All we want is a bank balance and a bit of skirt in a taxi.

Annie MacDougall went to milk, caught her foot in the heather,
Woke to hear a dance record playing of Old Vienna.
It's no go your maidenheads, it's no go your culture,
All we want is a Dunlop tyre and the devil mend the puncture.

The Laird of Phelps spent Hogmanay declaring he was sober,
Counted his feet to prove the fact and found he had one foot over.
Mrs Carmichael had her fifth, looked at the job with repulsion,
Said to the midwife "Take it away; I'm through with over-production."

It's no got the gossip column, it's no go the ceilidh,
All we want is a mother's help and a sugar-stick for the baby.

Willie Murray cut his thumb, couldn't count the damage,
Took the hide of an Ayrshire cow and used it for a bandage.
His brother caught three hundred cran when the seas were lavish,
Threw the bleeders back in the sea and went upon the parish.

It's no go the Herring Board, it's no go the Bible,
All we want is a packet of fags when our hands are idle.

It's no go the picture palace, it's no go the stadium,
It's no go the country cot with a pot of pink geraniums,
It's no go the Government grants, it's no go the elections,
Sit on your arse for fifty years and hang your hat on a pension.

It's no go my honey love, it's no go my poppet;
Work your hands from day to day, the winds will blow the profit.
The glass is falling hour by hour, the glass will fall for ever,
But if you break the bloody glass you won't hold up the weather.

Louis MacNiece 1966

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Subject: RE: Recitations Anyone?
From: alison
Date: 08 Jan 03 - 07:51 AM

yep as guest said above Monologues UK is a great source of them



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Subject: RE: Recitations Anyone?
From: katlaughing
Date: 08 Jan 03 - 11:12 AM

Here's another which I posted a while back: Irish Astronomy.

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Subject: RE: Recitations Anyone?
From: Declan
Date: 08 Jan 03 - 11:59 AM

This is one I found here a while back with some help from Jim Dixon. I first heard it recited in McGann's pub in Doolin by a well known character called "The Hacksaw".

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Subject: RE: Recitations Anyone?
From: Declan
Date: 08 Jan 03 - 12:12 PM

Messed up the clicky again. This should be OK.

Kerrigan Brothers

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Subject: RE: Recitations Anyone?
From: GUEST,ClaireBear
Date: 08 Jan 03 - 12:41 PM

This morning I recalled the name of the fellow who liked to recite at SF chantey sings: Ed Dobbins, not Ed Griggs. Sorry, both of you!

Recitations are what you make of them. While great writing can make great reading, it's by no means a requirement.

I have had great success reading recipes (or, as I called them, "Stirring Recitations") from the native cuisine section of a flea-market find called "The Northern Cookbook." Wish I still had it.

I can't recall any of the recipes -- though I do recall that one involved dropping a porcupine into the firepit to loosen the quills -- but I do remember that nearly every recipe ended with "This is good to eat with muk-tuk."

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Subject: Lyr Add: LORD CHANCELLOR'S SONG (Gilber & Sullivan
From: Don Firth
Date: 08 Jan 03 - 02:05 PM

Since we're posting some of these critters, here's a real tour de force. In high school, back in the mists of antiquity, I knew a kid named Ted Poole. Ted was tall and skinny, with dark hair, piercing dark eyes, and a totally off-the-wall sense of humor. He performed in most of the high school drama productions. I wouldn't necessarily call him a "folk singer," but he sang a variety of songs and played the guitar a bit, picking up a few bucks here and there by singing for various clubs and organizations. He did a particularly graphic version of Blood on the Saddle. Every time he sang the word "blood," he sounded as if he were about to barf, and he really emphasized and dragged out the word "mashed." He sang it once for a Rotary Club luncheon, and for some strange reason, most of the plates were returned to the kitchen untouched, and they never asked him back.

One of the songs Ted did that brought the house down and, at the same time, left his audiences exhausted, was the Lord Chancellor's song from Act II of Gilbert and Sullivan's Iolanthe. It has a tune, of course, but it doesn't really need to be sung. Just stick to a sort of chant, following the usual Gilbert and Sullivan "buckety-buckety" rhythm.

(Enter Lord Chancellor, very miserable.)

(Plaintively, but not emphasizing the meter)
Love, unrequited, robs me of my rest:
Love, hopeless love, my ardent soul encumbers:
Love, nightmare-like, lies heavy on my chest,
And weaves itself into my midnight slumbers!

(Begin a relentless "buckety-buckety" rhythm)
When you're lying awake with a dismal headache,
        and repose is taboo'd by anxiety,
I conceive you may use any language you choose
        to indulge in, without impropriety;
For your brain is on fire--the bedclothes conspire
        of usual slumber to plunder you:
First your counterpane goes, and uncovers your toes,
        and your sheet slips demurely from under you;
Then the blanketing tickles--you feel like mixed pickles--
        so terribly sharp is the pricking,
And you're hot, and you're cross, and you tumble and toss
        till there's nothing 'twixt you and the ticking.
Then the bedclothes all creep to the ground in a heap,
        and you pick 'em all up in a tangle;
Next your pillow resigns and politely declines
        to remain at its usual angle!
Well, you get some repose in the form of a doze,
        with hot eye-balls and head ever aching.
But your slumbering teems with such horrible dreams
        that you'd very much better be waking;
For you dream you are crossing the Channel, and tossing
        about in a steamer from Harwich--
Which is something between a large bathing machine
        and a very small second-class carriage--
And you're giving a treat (penny ice and cold meat)
        to a party of friends and relations--
They're a ravenous horde--and they all came on board
        at Sloane Square and South Kensington Stations.
And bound on that journey you find your attorney
        (who started that morning from Devon);
He's a bit undersized, and you don't feel surprised
        when he tells you he's only eleven.
Well, you're driving like mad with this singular lad
        (by the by, the ship's now a four-wheeler),
And you're playing round games, and he calls you bad names
        when you tell him that "ties pay the dealer";
But this you can't stand, so you throw up your hand,
        and you find you're as cold as an icicle,
In your shirt and your socks (the black silk with gold clocks),
        crossing Salisbury Plain on a bicycle:
And he and the crew are on bicycles too--
        which they've somehow or other invested in--
And he's telling the tars all the particulars
        of a company that he's interested in--
It's a scheme of devices, to get at low prices
        all goods from cough mixtures to cables
(Which tickled the sailors), by treating retailers
        as though they were all vegetables--
You get a good spadesman to plant a small tradesman
        (first take off his boots with a boot-tree),
And his legs will take root, and his fingers will shoot,
        and they'll blossom and bud like a fruit-tree--
From the greengrocer tree you get grapes and green pea,
        cauliflower, pineapple, and cranberries,
While the pastrycook plant cherry brandy will grant,
        apple puffs, and three corners, and Banburys--
The shares are a penny, and ever so many
        are taken by Rothschild and Baring,
And just as a few are allotted to you,
        you awake with a shudder despairing--

(The next seven lines very quickly, and try to do them all on one breath)
You're a regular wreck, with a crick in your neck,
and no wonder you snore, for your head's on the floor,
and you've needles and pins from your soles to your shins,
and your flesh is a-creep, for your left leg's asleep,
and you've cramp in your toes, and a fly on your nose,
and some fluff in your lung, and a feverish tongue,
and a thirst that's intense, and a general sense
(Pause, then, slowly, with feeling)
that you haven't been sleeping in clover.

But the darkness has passed, and it's daylight at last,
and the night has been long--ditto ditto my song--
and thank goodness they're both of them o-o-o-o-o-over!

(Lord Chancellor falls exhausted on a seat.)

I think everybody has had nights like this, so it goes over pretty well with most crowds. Universality. If you want to sing it, there are MIDIs for it that can be found by googling with "Advanced Search," but fitting the words to the tune can be a bit of a chore. Easier to check the operetta out from the library and listen to the song. And God only knows what chords to use. I've never tried to work it out. I've never been able to memorize this, but reading it off works pretty well if you can get through it without chipping a tooth.

Don Firth

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Subject: Lyr Add: THE MOO COW MOO
From: Deckman
Date: 08 Jan 03 - 03:47 PM

It's funny how these threads and rememberances happen! When I started this thread, I did NOT remember my very first performance, which was a recitation! I was five (5) years old. I was dressed to the nines, and I was placed on a dining room chair and I stood at proper attention, my arms at my sides. The occasion was a large dinner party that my Aunt hosted for some Seattle sailors ... this was in 1942 during WW2. At the signal, I can still remember my fear as I spoke this piece:


My papa held me up to the moo cow moo,
So close I could almost touch,
And I fed him a couple of times or so,
And I wasn't a 'fraidy cat ... much.

But if my papa goes in the house,
And my mamma, she goes in too,
I keep still, like a little mouse,
For the moo cow moo might moo.

The moo cows tail is a piece of rope,
All raveled out where it grows,
And it's just like feeling a piece of soap,
All over the moo cow's nose.

And the moo cow moo has lots of fun,
Just switching his tail about,
But if he opens his mouth, why then I run,
For that's where the moo comes out.

The moo cow moo has deers on his head,
And his eyes stick out of their place,
And the nose of the moo cow is spread,
All over the moo cows face.

And his feet are nothing but fingernails,
And his mama don't keep them cut,
And he gives folks milk in water pails,
When he don't keep his handles shut.

But if you or I pull his handles, why
The moo cow moo says it hurts,
But the hired man sits down close by,
And squirts and squirts ... and squirts.

I plugged "moo cow moo" into google and got several hits. One of them says that this was written by "Evelyn George", I guessing around 1910.

Finally, I think I just realised why I've been a 'performer' since I was five! CHEERS, Bob

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Subject: RE: Recitations Anyone?
From: clueless don
Date: 08 Jan 03 - 03:48 PM

My first exposure to recitations (or at least, the first time that I "realized what I was listening to") was at John and Tony concerts back in the early '70's, when Tony Barrand would occasionally do "Albert and the Lion", "The Battle of Hastings", "Three Ha'pence a Foot", and such like. On a couple of occasions I have repeated "Albert and the Lion", affecting a very bad british accent. Later on I added to my store through the purchase of a couple of Stanley Holloway LP's.

There was a recent CD, by Irish flute player Kevin Henry (the CD is called "One's Own Place" or "My Own Place", or something like that), that featured a very eclectic selection of recitations. Recommended!

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Subject: Lyr Add: REINCARNATION (Wallace McRae)
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 08 Jan 03 - 03:52 PM

My great favorite recitation is the following (given in a "cowboy twang, no surprise):


"What is reincarnation?" the Cowpoke asked his friend.
His pal replied, "It happens when your life has reached its end.
They comb your hair and wash your neck and clean your fingernails
And lay you in a padded box away from life's travails,
And the box then goes in a hole that's been dug in the ground,
And reincarnation starts in when you're planted 'neath the mound.
Then clods melt down, just like the box, and you who is inside
And then you're just beginning on your transformation ride.
Meanwhile the grass will grow upon your rendered mound
And soon upon your lonely grave a single flower is found;
And then a horse will wander by and graze upon the flower
That once was you and now become your vegetative bower.
The posy that the horse done eat along with his other feed
Makes bone and fat and muscle essential to the steed
But some is left that he can't use and so it passes through
And finally lays upon the ground, this thing that once was you.
And say by chance I wanders by, and sees this on the ground,
And I ponders and wonders at this object that I've found;
And I thinks of reincarnation and life and death and such
And I come away concluding ... 'Joe, you ain't changed all that much.'"

Dave Oesterreich

Excess line breaks removed. --JoeClone, 26-Feb-03.

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Subject: RE: Recitations Anyone?
From: GUEST,ClaireBear
Date: 08 Jan 03 - 04:06 PM

Ooh! I just remembered -- the absolute funniest recitation I ever heard was at a Twelfth Night party years ago when Robin Williamson declaimed Burns's "Ode to a Haggis" in his broadest Scots, with an actor friend doing simultaneous translation into BBC English.

Picture 60 or so party guests rolling on the Persian carpet while the dignified and gracious hostess (who was clutching to her bosom a haggis on a platter) tried to maintain her decorum.

Dear me, the tears come e'en now.

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Subject: RE: Recitations Anyone?
From: Deckman
Date: 08 Jan 03 - 04:09 PM

Keep 'em coming folks ... this is getting fun! YIPPEE! Bob

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From: Bill D
Date: 08 Jan 03 - 04:35 PM

well....we had a previous thread on recitations, and I posted pieces of one my father did ,,,,but I had lost the only copy I had...but clever Joe Offer changed the spelling of one word and,,,,

so here is a recitation ABOUT recitations!::

by Carolyn Wells (1869-1942)

There was once a little boy whose name was Robert Reese;
And every Friday afternoon he had to speak a piece.
So many poems thus he learned, that soon he had a store
Of recitations in his head... but he still kept learning more.

And now this is what happened: He was called upon one week
And totally forgot the piece he was about to speak.
He brain he cudgeled. Not a word remained within his head!
And so he spoke at random, and this is what he said:

"My beautiful, my beautiful, who standest proudly by,
It was the schooner Hesperus--the breaking waves dashed high!
Why is this Forum crowded? What means this stir in Rome?
Under a spreading chestnut tree, there is no place like home!

When freedom from her mountain height cried, "Twinkle, little star,"
Shoot if you must this old gray head, King Henry of Navarre!
Roll on, thou deep and dark blue castled crag of Drachenfels,
My name is Norval, on the Grampain Hills, ring out, wild bells!

If you're waking, call me early, to be or not to be,
The curfew must not ring tonight! Oh, woodman, spare that tree!
Charge, Chester, charge! Oh, Stanley, on! and let who will be clever!
The boy stood on the burning deck, but I go on forever!"

His elocution was superb, his voice and gestures fine;
His schoolmates all applauded as he finished the last line.
"I see it doesn't matter," Robert thought, "what words I say,
So long as I declaim with oratorical display."

from The Best Loved Poems of the American People Hazel Felleman, 1936
JRO ^^

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Subject: RE: Recitations Anyone?
Date: 08 Jan 03 - 04:51 PM

This is fun! Thank you all. My only recital that I can recall was in the third grade - Barbara Fritchie and I have done that one to death in another thread.

Catch Kendall on a snowy day and hear him do "Winter Is A Comin' In". By the last "DAMN!" I was very nervous and Seamus disappeared.

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From: GUEST,Kendall
Date: 08 Jan 03 - 04:53 PM

Ok, I'll see if I can remember THE NIGHT CHARLIE TENDED WEIR.

A weir is a huge herring trap which is tended at low tide.
A "bight" is a cove.
A dory is a double ended boat.
A bailing scoop is a dipper to remove water from the boat.
A "painter" is the piece of rope used to tie up a boat.


Charlie had a herring weir down to Baileys Bight,
He got up to tend it in the middle of the night.
Late October, midnight, black as tar,
Nothing out the window but a big cold star.
House like a cemetary, kitchen fire, dead,
I'm damn good mind says Charlie, "To go back to bed."
"A man who runs a herring weir, even on the side,
Is nothing but a slave to the Goddamn tide."
Well, a man feels meager, a man feels old,
In pitch black midnight lonesome and cold,
Chills in his stomach like 40 thousand mice,
The very bottons on his pants, little lumps of ice.

At times he gets to feeling it's no damn use,
So, Charlie had a pitcher full in his orange juice.
Then, he felt better than he had before,
So, he had another pitcherfull to last him to the shore.

Down by the beach rocks under a tree, Charlie saw something
He never thought he'd see;
Sparkling in the lanturn light as he went to pass,
Were three big diamonds in the frosty grass.
"H'mm," he said, "Diamonds, where'd they come from?
I'll pick them up later, I always wanted some."

He hauled in his dory, she felt light as air,
And in the dark midnight rowed off to tend weir.

Out by the weir gate Charlie found an old sea serpent
Swimming round and 'round,
Head like a washtub, whiskers like thatch,
Breath like the flame on a Portland Star match,
Black in the lanturn light, up he rose,
A great big barnacle on the end of his nose;
Looked Charlie over, surly and cross,
"Them fish you got shut up in there belong to my boss"!

Fish? says Charlie "Fish in there?
Why, I aint caught a fish since I built that damned weir"
"Well" says the serpent, "Nevertheless, there's 10 thousand bushels
at a rough guess."
Charlie moved the lanturn, gave the oars a pull,
And, he could see that weir was brim belay full!
Fish risin' out of water a trillion at a time,
And the side of each and every one like a silver dime.

"Well" says the serpent, "What are you gonna do?
They're uncomfortable, and they dont belong to you,
So, open this contraption up and let them go,
COME ON! shake the lead out, the boss says so"!
"He does," says Charlie, "And who the hell is he,
that thinks he can sit back, and send word to me"?
Sea serpent swivelled round, made a water spout,
"Keep it up brother, you'll find out."
"Why" says Charlie, "You're nothing but a lie, so old you are hoary,
So, get your dirty whiskers off the gunnel of my dory"!
Sea serpent twizzled, heaved underneath,
Scun back a set of sharp yellow teeth,
He came at Charlie with a gurgly roar,
And Charlie let him have it with his portside oar.
Right on the noggin, a hell of a knock,
And the old sea serpent sank like a rock.
"So go on back" says Charlie, "Tell the old jerk,
Not to send a boy to do a man's work!"

Then, over by the weir-gate, tinkly and clear,
A pretty little voice said "Yoo-hoo, Charlie dear!"
"Now what," says Charlie, "this aint funny,
And the same sweet voice said, "Yoo-hoo Charlie, honey."
And there on the seine pole right in the weir,
Was a little green mermaid combing her hair.
"All right" says Charlies, "I see you,
And I know who you came from, so, you git too."
He let fly his bailing scoop,
It landed with a CLUNK,
And when the water settled, the mermaid, she had sunk.

Then the ocean moved behind him,
With a mighty heave and hiss,
And a thundery, rumbly voice remarked,
And up come an old man, white from top to toe
Whiter than a daisy field, whiter than the snow,
Carrying a pitchfork with three tines on it,
Muttering in his whiskers, and, madder than a hornet.

"My sea serpent is so lame he can hardly stir,
and, my best mermaid, you raised a lump on her,
And you've been pretty sassy calling me a jerk,
So, now the old man has come to do a man's work!"
"Look" says Charlie, "Why don't you leave me be?,
You may be the hoary old man of the sea,
But, I've got a run of fish here shut up inside,
You keep friggin' around, you'll make me lose the tide!"

The next thing Charlie knew, he was lying on the sand.
The painter of his dory was right beside his hand,
He could see across the bay, calm and still and wide,
It was full daylight, and, it was high tide.
"H'm," he said, "What am I about?"
His oars wern't wet, so, he hadn't been out.
"Oh" he thought, "Diamonds, under a tree,
Seems to me I found some, I'd better go see."
But, he couldn't find any, not one gem,
Only three little owl dungs,
With frost on them.

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Subject: RE: Recitations Anyone?
From: Deckman
Date: 08 Jan 03 - 05:29 PM

I think that one of the reasons that recitations attract me is that they are a very welcome relief. By that I mean, speaking as a performer, I am FREE of the guitar. To do a recitation well, you must be totally involved in it, with great voice and elocution, including facial expressions and hand gestures. In other words ... acting. As a guitarist and singer, I find the occasional recitation to be great change of pace. Up here, in the Seattle area, we have a wonderful poet by the name of Dick Gibbons. He has been a regular at our hoots for many years. He does not play an instrument, but he always brings several poems to every hoot. We are a polite crowd, and when we notice Dick standing and leaning at the wall, kinda clearing his throat, someone always asks, "Hey Dick. Whatcha got for us?" And we are always thrilled. By the way, Dick Gibbons is the writer of "Sully's Pail," as recorded by Tom Paxton. CHEERS, Bob

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Subject: RE: Recitations Anyone?
From: jimmyt
Date: 08 Jan 03 - 10:29 PM

I took my inlaws to A medieval Banqueti at Ruthin Castle in Wales a couple years ago, and although the entertainment was obviously created for the tourists, the local chorus and one fine actor did a rendition of Eli Jenkins'Prayer from Under Milkwood, and as the fellow recited this wonderful work by Dylan Thomas, the Chorus was humming "All through the Night" (I believe it is A Welsh hymn,) quietly behind the reading.....Quite magical

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Subject: Lyr Add: GO DOWN DEATH (James Weldon Johnson)
From: Deckman
Date: 09 Jan 03 - 01:37 AM

So many wonderful recitations have been posted that I will post one again. This is the one that Don Firth mentioned in an earlier post: "Go Down Death", from "God's Trombones." This is a marvelous little book, written by the great playwrite, James Weldon Johnson, in 1927. It was out of print for some years, but was re-issued by Viking press in 1969.

I became aquainted with this work in the 1950's through my late friend, Keve Bray. Keve formed an acting group called "The Contemporary Players." I was invited to join the troupe and I used to tease everyone that I felt I was the token white member.

James Weldon Johnson drew upon his history and memory of Negro preachers he knew from his childhood. "God's Trombones" is a collection a seven classic negro sermons. One of the most powerful is called ...


Weep not, weep not,
She is not dead;
She's resting in the bosom of Jesus.
Heart broken husband - weep no more;
Grief stricken son - weep no more;
She's only just gone home.

Day before yesterday morning,
God was looking down from his great, high heaven,
Looking down on all his children,
And his eye fell on Sister Caroline,
Tossing on her bed of pain.
And God's big heart was touched with pity,
With the everlasting pity.

And God sat back on his throne,
And he commanded that tall, bright angel standing at his right hand:
Call me Death!
Call Death! - Call Death!
And the echo sounded down the streets of heaven
Till it reached away back to that shadowy place,
Where Death waits with his pale, white horses.

And Death heard the summons,
And he lept on his fastest horse,
Pale as a sheet in the moonlight,
Up the golden street Death galloped,
And the hooves of his horse struck fire from the gold,
But they didn't make no sound.
Up Death rode to the Great White Throne,
And waited for God's command.

And God said: Go down, Death, go down,
Go down to Savannah, Georgia,
Down in Yamacraw,
And find Sister Caroline,
She's born the burden and the heat of the day,
She's labored long in my vineyard,
And she's tired-
She's weary -
Go down Death, and bring her to me.

And death didn't say a word,
But he loosed the reigns on his pale, white horse,
And he clamped the spurs to his bloodless sides,
And out and down he rode,
Past suns and moons and stars,
On Death rode,
And the foam from his horse was like a comet in the sky;
On Death rode,
Leaving the lightning's flash behind;
Straight on down he came.

While we were watching round her bed,
She turned her eyes and looked away,
She saw what we couldn't see;
She saw old Death. She saw old Death
Coming like a falling star.
But Death didn't frighten Sister Caroline;
He looked to her like a welcome friend.
And she whispered to us: I'm going home,
And she smiled and closed her eyes.

And Death took her up like a baby,
And she lay in his icy arms,
But she didn't feel no chill.
And Death began to ride again -
Up beyond the evening star,
Out beyond the morning star,
Into the glittering light of glory,
On to the Great White Throne.

And there he laid Sister caroline
On the loving breast of Jesus.

And Jesus took his own hand and wiped away her tears,
And he smoothed the furrows from her face,
And the angels sang a little song,
And Jesus rocked her in his arms,
And kept a-saying: Take your rest,
Take your rest, take your rest.

Weep not - weep not,
She is not dead;
She's just resting in the bosom of Jesus.

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Subject: RE: Recitations Anyone?
From: katlaughing
Date: 09 Jan 03 - 02:58 AM

That is BEAUTIFUL! Thank you so much.

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Subject: RE: Recitations Anyone?
From: alanabit
Date: 09 Jan 03 - 05:11 AM

This is great, isn't it? During the World Cup last year, someone recalled and posted Richard Digance's "The Jungle Cup Final", which I had recalled seeing him perform at The Cap and Gown in Reading some twenty five years ago. He did several smashing recitations - usually animal poems/doggerel, which he had written himself.
The posting about Robin Williamson (he of the Incredible String Band)reminded me of probably the most remarkable recitation which I've ever seen. At a folk festival in Germany, back in 1979, he recited a poem about a bloke who lived to gripe every day. He had all the performing qualities which Deckman mentioned and absolutely captivated his German audience. All this in addition to playing several instruments well. Some people are just annoyingly talented!

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Subject: RE: Recitations Anyone?
From: Mr Happy
Date: 09 Jan 03 - 05:53 AM

Though recitations are not music, they do require a Public Entertainment Licence (PEL)to be held any place in England & Wales.

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Subject: Lyr Add: JABBERWOCKY! (Lewis Carroll)
From: GUEST,ellenpoly
Date: 09 Jan 03 - 05:58 AM

Still one of my favorites..xx..e

Lewis Carroll

'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogroves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

"Beware the Jabberock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!"

He took his vorpal blade in hand;
Long time the manxome foe he sought-
So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
And stood a while in thought

And, as in uffish thought he stood,
The jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
And burbled as it came!

One, two! One, two! And through and through
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
He went galumphing back.

"And hast thou slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh, Callay!"
He chortled in his joy.

'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogroves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

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Subject: RE: Recitations Anyone?
From: Schantieman
Date: 09 Jan 03 - 07:05 AM

Yes - an excellent poem. So too are 'The Walrus and the Carpenter' and 'You are Old, Father William' from the same source.

But for a dramatic recitation you can't beat 'The Green Eye of the Little Yellow God' by J. Milton Hayes (I think) which can also be raised(?) to slapstick hilarity by the comic actions. Who was it popularised (invented?) these?


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Subject: RE: Recitations Anyone?
From: GUEST,Glen
Date: 09 Jan 03 - 08:25 AM

Are the classics such as the ALbert stories and "Battle of Hastings" recorded anywhere?

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Subject: RE: Recitations Anyone?
From: kendall
Date: 09 Jan 03 - 08:46 AM

Does anyone know Carl Sandburg's "The Old Junkman"?

I dont know it by heart, but, I think it starts; I'm glad God saw death...

If this doesn't move you, you are dead.

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Subject: RE: Recitations Anyone?
From: Deckman
Date: 09 Jan 03 - 09:14 AM

I know that Stanley Holloway recorded at least Two of the Little Albert stories. I think they were Little Albert and the Lion, and Little Albert's return. A search might well locate an old vinyl recording. These are superb and well worth the effort. Somewhere on MUDCAT, maybe two years ago, someone posted a website that had the entire Little Albert series. I believe that the poems were composed especially for Harry Lauder. Bob

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Subject: RE: Recitations Anyone?
From: katlaughing
Date: 09 Jan 03 - 10:29 AM

Here's one posting which has links to a lot of the Albert monologues: clickety

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Subject: Lyr Add: FOUR LANE DANCE
From: John Hardly
Date: 09 Jan 03 - 11:00 AM

I always enjoyed David Wilcox' live act. In it he almost always includes some sort of poetry in addition to his music. One of my favorites was...


The driver right in front of me is making a mistake
He's stopping on the entrance ramp, waiting for his break
The more he hits his brake, the bigger break he's going to need
When a little break is plenty if he'd just been up to speed

So I say move and you'll have your place
Don't sit waiting on the human race
Just go, you got your chance
You can't be timid in the four-lane dance

Oh and now he's got it parked there and he's looking back behind
Pleading out the window, hoping someone might be kind enough
To stop and wait and hold the traffic flow
And still he's not quite confident there's room for him to go

So I say move and you'll have your place
Don't sit waiting on the human race
Just go, you got your chance
You can't be timid in the four-lane dance

The freeway's just a lesson in the way you drive your dream
If you think you'll never make it, well than that's the way it seems
But if you thought that it'd be easy, well then easy it would be
Why just a foot between the bumpers has been room enough for me

So I say move and you'll have your place
Don't sit waiting on the human race
Just go, you got your chance
You can't be timid in the four-lane dance

Ellis Paul and Peter Mulvey often recite some of their lyric as poetry as well.

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Subject: Lyr Add: WINTER IS ICUMEN IN (Ezra Pound)
From: kendall
Date: 09 Jan 03 - 09:28 PM

Winter is icumen in,
Lhude sing Goddamn,
Raineth drop and staineth slop
And how the wind doth ram!
Sing Goddamn.
Skiddeth bus and sloppeth us,
An ague hath my ham.
Freezeth river, turneth liver
Damn you, sing: Goddamn.
Goddamn Goddamn, 'tis why I am,
So 'gainst the winter's balm
Sing Goddamn, damn, sing Goddamn
Sing Goddamn, sing Goddamn,

Ezra Pound

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Subject: RE: Recitations Anyone?
From: Deckman
Date: 09 Jan 03 - 09:35 PM

Kendall ... an absolute classic! No one, I repeat NO ONE ... could do this as well as the late, great JOHN DWYER. (Hi Maggie). Bob

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Subject: RE: Recitations Anyone?
From: Cluin
Date: 10 Jan 03 - 01:58 AM

But damn your eyes, man! They outgrabe!

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Subject: RE: Recitations Anyone?
From: alanabit
Date: 10 Jan 03 - 02:45 AM

Why has nobody recalled (and posted) the Mike Harding epic, "Napoleon's Retreat From Wigan"? I'm sure I'm not the only Mudcatter who used to have it on record - and some of you must have seen him perform it.

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Subject: RE: Recitations Anyone?
From: Gurney
Date: 10 Jan 03 - 05:07 AM

Alanabit, if you like Mike Harding, you must love his monologue that starts "North of Oldham, south of Diggle, there's a little town called Mumps, where the tripe-mines stand, just by the wash-house wall.... I do about 30 monologues, mostly 'as performed by Stanley Holloway.' The fairly new site, will find you perhaps 150 and rising every day. And they post to Mudcat too.

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Subject: RE: Recitations Anyone?
From: alanabit
Date: 10 Jan 03 - 06:01 AM

I haven't heard it yet, but I am sure you are right that I would like it. I have been in Cologne for nearly twenty years now, so I am a little out of date with the UK scene!

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Subject: RE: Recitations Anyone?
From: clueless don
Date: 10 Jan 03 - 10:51 AM

This isn't much to go on, but I have a memory of hearing Gordon Bok do a recitation at a concert long, long ago. I really can't remember much of anything coherent about it, except that I'm quite sure it contained the line "Don't send a boy to do a man's work!" It probably had something to do with the sea, and may (or may not!) have involved a sea serpent, or dragon, or suchlike magical creature.

Does that ring a bell with anyone?

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Subject: RE: Recitations Anyone?
From: Naemanson
Date: 10 Jan 03 - 11:38 AM

Yeah Clueless, that was the poem that Kendall posted above, The Night Charlie Tended Weir.

I do a few recitations. I have Ruth Moore's Ballad Of Three Waves and C. Fox Smith's Ships That Pass already in my head. I also learned Banjo Paterson's poem of being forced to drink some home brew but I've forgotten that one.

I like doing them but I usually perform as a member of a group and the other guys tend to dislike listening to the stories they've heard before. Plus the recitations I've been doing are fairly long and I feel self-conscious about it. Three Waves can take up to 6 1/2 minutes.

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Subject: RE: Recitations Anyone?
From: kendall
Date: 10 Jan 03 - 01:00 PM

I have a good friend named Euclid Hanbury. He has a marvelous speaking voice, and, it is hard to imagine anyone reciting that Ezra Poun poem better than he does it.

Naemanson, how about you post the Ballad of the three green waves? It is one of Ruth's best.

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Subject: Lyr Add: DER JAMMERWOCH
From: Micca
Date: 10 Jan 03 - 01:12 PM

for those with a taste for the strange, (as if Jabberwocky isnt strange enough!!!)


Es brillig war. Die schlichte Toven
Wirrten und wimmelten in Waben;
Und aller-mumSige Burggoven
Die mohmen Rath' ausgraben.

Bewahre doch vor Jammerwoch!
Die Zahne knirschen, Krallen kratzen!
Bewahr' vor Jubjub-Vogel, <
Vor Frumiosen Banderschnatzchen!

Er griff sein vorpals Schwertchen zu,
Er suchte lang das manchsam' Ding;
Dann, stehend unten Tumtum Baum,
Er an-zu-denken-fing.

Als stand er tief in Andacht auf,
Des Jammerwochen's Augen-feuer
Durch tulgen Wald mit wiffeln kam
Ein burbelnd Ungeheuer .

Eins, zwei! Eins, zwei ! Und durch und durch
Sein vorpals Schwert zerschnifer-schnuck,
Da blieb es todt! Er, kopf in Hand,
Gelaumfig zog zuruck. .

Und schlugst Du ja den Jammerwoch ?
Umarme mich, mein BOhm'sches Kind!
0 Freuden-Tag! 0 Halloo-Schlag!
Er chortelt froh-gesinnt.

Es brillig war, &c.

Macmillan's Magazine, Feb. I872

(This version of Jabberwocky appears in a letter signed
, Thomas Chatterton', and has been attributed to Dr. Robert
Scott, then Dean of Rochester.)

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Subject: RE: Recitations Anyone?
From: clueless don
Date: 10 Jan 03 - 02:06 PM

Thanks, Naemanson, for calling Kendall's post to my attention! That's the one. And my apologies, Kendall, for not actually reading your post before (it would have saved some embarassment on my part!)

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Subject: Lyr Add: THE BALLAD OF THREE WAVES (Ruth Moore)
From: Naemanson
Date: 10 Jan 03 - 04:06 PM

Here is The Ballad Of Three Waves By Ruth Moore. It probably isn't exact to the way she wrote it. I've typed it out from memory as I perform it. It has probably evolved some differences over the years.

By Ruth Moore

No I ain't got no dorymate, I goes by myself alone,
I can't have nobody gormin' 'round anything that's my own.

And I ain't married and I never will!
Folks and fussin's all very well for those who likes 'em so.

When I sets out to haul my traps in a good rib stavin' sea,
There ain't a soul on the face of the Earth a worryin' after me.

There was my brother, years ago, got him a wife and kid,
Worried and wore himself plumb out, being easy in what he did.

We was haulin' traps outside one time when it come on a howlin' blow,
Cold as a dog and the wind nor'east, thicker'n tar with snow.

Them was the days when we worked with sails, wan't no engines then.
I had a peapod and steered with an oar but that wasn't good enough for Hen.

He had a dory rigged up with a mast, and a mainsail without no jib,
So's he could set in the stern and steer with the tiller hugged into his rib.

Well, the wind was coming and Hen shoots up, one eye on the line of foam,
"Jarp," he yells, "What in hell'll I do? I left my compass home."

"Ya goddam fool," thinks I to myself, "Rigged up like a bloomin' yacht."
So, blasted careful, I hove him mine, "Catch!" says I, and he caught.

Now, Hen wan't no good when it come to fog, or snow squalls thicker'n sin,
But I ain't seen the rampagin' yet I could lose my bearin's in.

Well, down she come and she was a bitch, I squat at the end of my oar,
And headed into her as hard's I could and let her roar.

I wan't worried, what'd I care, I never had no wife,
And as for dyin' they's them that's worried all their lives.

So I sung all the hymn tunes I ever knowed 'cause that's the kind you can roar,
But I never heard a word that I sung though my throat got kind'a sore.

Then I looked behind and I seen three waves, followin' fast as sin,
Each of them reachin' their whiskers out to grab and wrostle me in.

Thinks I to myself, "If them gets me (Glory, Amen, Amen)
They's fish that'll have good feed tonight (Revive us again, again)."

The first wave, he was dark and deep and smooth as a coffee cup.
The next wave, he was a slash of foam like a kettle bilin' up.

But the last one, he was the whole green sea and he had a wicked eye,
And slobbering jaws and "He's the one as is longing for me!" thinks I.

So I spits over the peapod's stern and turns my back on the sea,
And in a minute I feels the rise of the first one under me.

The first one lifted us up and up, soft as a sea of oil,
The next one bit at me going by, I could see his innards boil.

Six fathom deep in the trough he made and I looks though the glass green sea,
Clear as a bell through that last wave as was towerin' over me.

The bare black bottom spread out beneath for miles and miles around,
And school on school of deep sea fish looked up without a sound.

Their eyes was buttons off dead men's coats all shiny, cold, and still,
And the first time in all my life I could feel my innards chill.

For while's I was looking, down come Hen, sunk like a chunk of lead,
As large as life and as natural only I seen he was dead.

And them big sea fish, they swayed aside with a little swirl and swish,
Then I never seen Hen no more, only the backs of fish.

And the snake weed waving up and down, the ends all crimped and curled,
The trough between two big he-waves is the stillest place in the world.

Then foam was in my mouth like hair and a howlin' in my ears,
And I swum in the middle of that there wave for a hundred thousand years,

Till I bumped my head on the Back Shore Beach, spewed up like a goddam pill,
And that old wave went reelin' back laughin' fit to kill.

Now, a dory's made to stand the seas of any kind of gale,
But all we ever found of Hen was the top of his dinner pail.

And I said it before and I'll say it again, Hen would've saved his life,
If his mind had been on steerin' his boat instead of on his wife.

"If anything happened to me what would my poor wife do?"
Well, I never cared a hoot in hell and by gory I come through.

Nope, when I goes, I goes alone, through fire, water, and paint.
I ain't got a soul to worry about me and I don't care if I ain't.

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Subject: RE: Recitations Anyone?
From: Deckman
Date: 10 Jan 03 - 04:12 PM

WHEW!!!! That's some mighty powerful stuff! Thanks for posting it. Bob

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Subject: Lyr Add: SHIPS THAT PASS (C. Fox Smith)
From: Naemanson
Date: 10 Jan 03 - 04:41 PM

And here is C. Fox Smith's poem, Ships That Pass. I'm sure it too has evolved over the years. One thing, there is a verse I left out back when I learned it. The verse talks of the war (WWI). I left it out for a good reason (wish I could remember what it was) but now I would like to put it back in. Unfortunately I cannot find the poem anywhere. If you can would you please provide me with the missing verse?


By C. Fox Smith

There are ships that pass in the night time,
Some poet has told us how,
But a ship that passed in the day time
Is the one I'm thinking of now
Where the seas roll green from the Arctic,
And the wind cuts keen from the pole.
'Tween Rockall Bank and the Shetlands,
Up north on the long patrol.

We sighted her one day early,
The forenoon watch had begun,
There was mist, like wool, on the water,
And a glimpse of a cold pale sun.
And she came through that dim gray weather,
A thing of wonder and gleam,
From the port of the past on a bowline,
Close hauled on a wind of dream.

The rust of years was upon her,
She'd weathered many a gale.
The flag of some Spanish republic,
Went up to her peak at our hail
But I knew her, how could I help but know,
The ship that I passed my time in,
No matter how long ago.

I'd have climbed to royals blindfold,
I'd have known her spars in a crowd.
Aloft and alow, I knew her,
Brace and halyard and shroud.
From the scroll work under her stern ports,
To the paint on her figure head.
And the call "All Hands!" from her main deck,
Would have tumbled me up from the dead.

She was youth and its sorrow that passes,
Its light and laughter and joy,
The south and its small white cities,
And the carefree heart of a boy,
The farewell flash of the Fastnet,
The light you the whole way home,
The hoot of a tug at parting,
And the song of the homeward bound.

She was sun and flying fish weather,
Night and a fiddler's tune,
Palms and the warm maize yellow,
Of a low west Indian moon.
Storm in the high south latitudes,
The boom of a trade filled sail,
The anchor watch at midnight,
And the old south Spainer's tales.

Was it the lap of a wave I heard?
Or maybe the chill wind's cry?
Or a snatch of a deep sea shanty,
I knew in the years gone by.
Was it the whine of the gear in the sheaves?
Or maybe a seagull's call?
Or the ghost of my shipmate's voices,
As they tallied on to the fall.

I went through her papers duly,
And no one, I hope, could see,
A freight of the years departed,
Was the cargo she bore for me.
And I spoke with her Spanish captain,
As we searched her for contraband.
And I longed for one grip of her wheel spokes,
Like the grip of a friend's right hand.

Then I watched as her helm went over,
And her sails were sheeted home,
And under her moving forefoot,
The bubbles broke into foam,
Till she faded from sight in the grayness,
A thing of wonder and gleam,
From the port of the past on a bowline,
Close hauled o a wind of dream

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Subject: RE: Recitations Anyone?
From: GUEST,ClaireBear
Date: 10 Jan 03 - 05:10 PM

What a beautiful poem! Here's your missing verse:

She moved like a queen on the water,
with the grace that was hers of yore,
The sun on her shining canvas--
what had she to do with war,
With a world that is full of trouble
and seas that are stained with crime?
She came like a dream remembered,
dreamt once in a happier time.

I searched for the first line of the poem using Vivisimo. The author's name, according to the page I found, is C(icely) Fox Smith, not Smythe, and she was writing about WWI.


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Subject: RE: Recitations Anyone?
From: GUEST,ClaireBear
Date: 10 Jan 03 - 05:17 PM

Must learn not to post so fast. Although you might understand "Ships That Pass" perfectly without the following explanation (from the same site where I found the missing verse), I found it informative:

"Originally published in Small Craft, by C. Fox Smith, Elkin Mathews, Ltd., 1917.

"I speculate, from references to war and contraband - and the vintage of the poem - that the Cruiser Patrol was a World War I duty intended to restrict shipping of supplies to Germany. By this time, attrition was catching up with the sailing ships; no new ones were being built, and their numbers were dwindling as they were lost or destroyed.

"Meanwhile, those which were still seaworthy but not economical to run in the heavily industrialized English economy were "sold foreign", to less developed economies with labor costs - and absence of safety or loading regulations - which could turn a profit on sail. Such was the fate of this ship."

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Subject: RE: Recitations Anyone?
From: musicmick
Date: 11 Jan 03 - 03:05 AM

What a splendid thread. Perhaps, some of you can help me recover a few of my favorites. There was one sentimental tribute to a rural physician called "Doc Brown Has Moved Upstairs".
It's years since I heard that one. I'd love to learn the words.
I had a copy of The Bab Ballads when I was a kid. I loved called "The Fairy Curate". The last line said that the protagonist "... changed religion like a pidgeon and became a Morman." What a rhyme!.

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Subject: Lyr Add: MEDITATION XVII (John Donne)
From: GUEST,ellenpoly
Date: 11 Jan 03 - 05:16 AM

How about John Donne,guys? This is surely his most famous recitation:

Perchance he for whom this bell tolls may be so ill as that he knows not it tolls for him; and perchance I may think myself so much better than I am, as that they who are about me and see my state may have caused it to toll for me, and I know not that. The church is catholic, universal, so are all her actions; all that she does belongs to all. When she baptizes a child, that action concerns me; for that child is thereby connected to that head which is my head too, and ingrafted into the body whereof I am a member. And when she buries a man, that action concerns me: all mankind is of one author and is one volume; when one man dies, one chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language; and every chapter must be so translated. God employs several translators; some pieces are translated by age, some by sickness, some by war, some by justice; but God's hand is in every translation, and his hand shall bind up all our scattered leaves again for that library where every book shall lie open to one another. As therefore the bell that rings a sermon calls not upon the preacher only, but upon the congregation to come, so this bell calls us all; but how much more me, who am brought so near the door by this sickness. There was a contention as far as a suit (in which piety and dignity, religion and estimation, were mingled) which of the religious orders should ring to prayers first in the morning; and it was determined that they should ring first that rose earliest. If we understand aright the dignity of this bell that tolls for our evening prayer, we would be glad to make it ours by rising early, in that application, that it might be ours as well as his whose indeed it is. The bell doth toll for him that thinks it doth; and though it intermit again, yet from that minute that that occasion wrought upon him, he is united to God. Who casts not up his eye to the sun when it rises? but who takes off his eye from a comet when that breaks out? Who bends not his ear to any bell which upon any occasion rings? but who can remove it from that bell which is passing a piece of himself out of this world? No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend's or of thine own were. Any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee. Neither can we call this a begging of misery or a borrowing of misery, as though we are not miserable enough of ourselves but must fetch in more from the next house, in taking upon us the misery of our neighbors. Truly it were an excusable covetousness if we did; for affliction is a treasure, and scarce any man hath enough of it. No man hath affliction enough that is not matured and ripened by it, and made fit for God by that affliction. If a man carry treasure in bullion, or in a wedge of gold, and have none coined into current moneys, his treasure will not defray him as he travels. Tribulation is treasure in the nature of it, but it is not current money in the use of it, except we get nearer and nearer our home, heaven, by it. Another man may be sick too, and sick to death, and this affliction may lie in his bowels as gold in a mine and be of no use to him; but this bell that tells me of his affliction digs out and applies that gold to me, if by this consideration of another's dangers I take mine own into contemplation and so secure myself by making my recourse to my God, who is our only security.

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Subject: RE: Recitations Anyone?
From: GUEST,winterbright
Date: 11 Jan 03 - 03:35 PM

I am SO glad to see that this sort of thing is alive and well in other places (I assume) besides Maine where we got nothin' else t' do but sit around the wood stove of a winter's evenin' and memorize stuff.
SINSULL - Thanks for remembering my doing "Charlie Tended Weir" at the shanty sing. Kendall sure surprised me when he chimed in with Neptune's voice! Before I die, I'd like to be able to do all of A Child's Christmas in Wales, even though it's a guy piece. I also do Little Orphant Annie (The gobbuluns'll get you if you don't watch out!), more Ruth Moore, and am working on Sam Magee for the future. People 'round here always seem surprised that anyone would take the time and make the effort to MEMORIZE stuff like this. Sad commentary on poetry, people, and time in general.    PS - The next Side Door Coffee House is Friday, Jan.17 at 7:00pm at the UU Church in Brunswick,ME... open mike first set for 90 minutes, featured performer this month is Jerry Blodgett. Coming in March: JEZ LOWE! 207-373-1526 FMI.

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Subject: Lyr Add: THE GOBLIN
From: Kenny B (inactive)
Date: 12 Jan 03 - 10:51 AM

Talking of Goblins......:>)


Twas on the open moorland, the rain was beating fast
and through the dripping heather a goblin hurried past.
his eyes were green and cunning his hair extremely red,
he had a green umbrella which he held above his head.

He chanced to meet a fairy whose clothes were very wet,
as she had no umbrella he wished they'd never met.
"Please will you allow me" the little fairy cried,
"To share your green umbrella whilst walking by your side?"

"Pooh nonsense" said the goblin "Cannot you plainly see,
that under my umbrella there is only room for me!"
he laughed and went on gaily, his clothes completely dry
& left that little fairy to sit alone & cry.

but as he crossed the moorland, the wind with angry din
took hold of his umbrella, and turned it outside in.
hurrah! exclaimed the hedgehog, I am extremely glad,
I saw your rude behaviour - and it fairly made me mad.

he rolled the goblin over, then hurried back
to help the little fairy upon her homeward track.
and left the wicked goblin, to try with might and main,
to mend his green umbrella, which let in all the rain.


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Subject: Lyr Add: THE FAIRY CURATE (W. S. Gilbert)
From: GUEST,.gargoyle
Date: 12 Jan 03 - 12:00 PM


by W. S. Gilbert

ONCE a fairy light and airym arried with a mortal;
Men, however, never, never pass the fairy portal.

Slyly stealing, she to Ealing made a daily journey;
There she found him, clients round him (He was an attorney).

Long they tarried, then they married. when the ceremony
Once was ended, off they wended on their moon of honey.

Twelvemonth, maybe,saw a baby (Friends performed an orgie).
Much they prized him, and baptized him by the name of Georgie.

Georgie grew up;then he flew upto his fairy mother.
Happy meeting pleasant greeting-- kissing one another.

"Choose a calling most enthralling, I sincerely urge ye."
"Mother," said he (Rev'rence made he), "I would join the clergy.

"Give permission in addition--Pa will let me do it:
There's a living in his giving, he'll appoint me to it.

Dreams of coff'ring Easter off'ring, tithe and rent and pew-rate,
So inflame me (Do not blame me), that I'll be a curate."

She, with pleasure, said, "My treasure,'Tis my wish precisely.
Do your duty, there's a beauty; you have chosen wisely.

Tell your father I would rather as a churchman rank you.
You, in clover,I'll watch over."Georgie said, "Oh, thank you!"

Georgie scudded, went and studied, made all preparations,
And with credit (Though he said it) passed examinations.

Do not quarrel with him, moral, scrupulous digestions
But his mother, and no other, answered all the questions.)

Time proceeded; little needed Georgie's admonition:
He, elated, vindicated clergyman's position.

People round him always found him plain and unpretending;
Kindly teaching, plainly preaching--all his money lending.

So the fairy, wise and wary, felt no sorrow rising
No occasion for persuasion, warning, or advising.

He, resuming fairy pluming (That's not English, is it?)
Oft would fly up, to the sky up, pay mamma a visit.

Time progressing,Georgie's blessing grew more ritualistic
Popish scandals, tonsures--sandals-- genuflections mystic;

Gushing meetings-- bosom-beatings-- heavenly ecstatics
Broidered spencers-- copes and censers-- rochets and dalmatics.

This quandary vexed the fairy--flew she down to Ealing.
"Georgie, stop it! Pray you, drop it; hark to my appealing:

To this foolish Papal rule-ish twaddle put an ending;
This a swerve is from our service plain and unpretending."

He, replying, answered, sighing, hawing, hemming, humming,
"It's a pity-- they're so pretty; yet in mode becoming,

Mother tender, I'll surrender-- I'll be unaffected--
"Then his Bishop into his shop entered unexpected:

"Who is this, sir,--ballet miss, sir?" Said the Bishop coldly.
"'Tis my mother, and no other,"Georgie answered boldly.

"Go along, sir! You are wrong, sir,you have years in plenty
While this hussy (Gracious mussy!) Isn't two-and-twenty!"

(Fairies clever Never, never grow in visage older
And the fairy, all unwary, leant upon his shoulder!)

Bishop grieved him, disbelieved him, George the point grew warm on;
Changed religion, like a pigeon, and became a Mormon.


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Subject: RE: Recitations Anyone?
From: GUEST,.gargoyle
Date: 12 Jan 03 - 12:05 PM

Winterbright - I have some wonderful memories of recitations in Maine.

And of course the record collections of "Bert and I"

Sorry to hear that my old employer GNP has folded up opperations. I doubt that Millinokett will survive. (Once had a down close and personal meeting ((order by a judge))with their sherrif named John Doe... the telling of which events can lead into a half hour yarn.


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Subject: RE: Recitations Anyone?
From: kendall
Date: 12 Jan 03 - 12:53 PM

Good job Naemanson. You onlu missed one line,

between I aint married... andFolks and fussin' is the line, "I comes when I likes, and goes"

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Subject: RE: Recitations Anyone?
From: kendall
Date: 12 Jan 03 - 12:55 PM

Musicmic, I used to know Old Doc Brown, and I'll dig into my rusty memory banks and see if I can retrieve it.

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Subject: RE: Recitations Anyone?
From: Deckman
Date: 12 Jan 03 - 02:14 PM

Hmmm? I have a question. I have an old copy of "The Bab Ballads," by W.S. Gilbert. While it does include "The Ryhme of the Nacy Bell," it does not include the "Fairy Curate." However it does include a couple of othe "Curates: tales. Question, were the "Bab Ballads" series of books? Just wondering ... Bob

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Subject: Lyr Add: KATERINA AND SOCKERY (R. L. Borntrager)
From: Ebbie
Date: 12 Jan 03 - 02:56 PM

The Amish love to laugh, especially at themselves and their culture. At almost any gathering there are recitations, either handed down the generations or written for the occasion. My grandfather (1868-1963) wrote many of them and sent them to various friends and relatives. Most of what he wrote was in rhymed verse, whether in English or in dialectical German or in combination.

Here is one that is not in rhyme:

Approx. 1925
R. L. Borntrager

Katerina and Sockery

"I see dot most efery pody rites a story about de shickens now days, and I dink I can do dot myself. So I rite all about vat dook blace mit me last summer.

"You know, or if you don't know, den I dells you, dat Katerina ist mine frow, and one day van I koom in de house Katerina she said, Sockery (dot ist mine name) vy don't you dake some egs to de barn for de old plu hen. I dink she wants to sate. So I said I guess I vill. So I went and bicked oot some of de best egs and dook dem out to de barn for de old plu hen vitch had her nest up on de hay mow, about 5 or 6 feet up, and you see I nefer vas very pig up and down, but prety pig all de vay around de middle so I could not reach up, till I vent and got a parrel to stant on.

"So I climed myself on de parrel and van my head rise up to de nest, de old plu hen gave me such a bick dot my face run all ofer mit bloot and van I cherked back dat plasted old parrel had break and I went kershlam in de parrel. I nefer thot I could fit inside a parrel pefore, but dare I vas and it fit so tide I could not get me out efery way.

"And van I see I could not get out efery way I hollered Katerina Katerina. And van she koom and see me stick in de parrel up to my armholes, my face all ofer mit bloot and egs, by golly she just laid on de hay and lafed and lafed till I got so mad I said vy you lay dere and laf like an old vooly, vy don't you come and pull me out. Den she set up and said, vipe off your chin Sockery and bull your vest down. Den she laid back and split herself more dan ever, as mad as I was I thot to myself, Katerina she spakes pretty good inglish but I said to her with my greatest dignitude, Katerina vill you pul me out dis parrel. So she see dot I looked prety red, so she said of cors I vil den she laid me and de parrel on de side and roled me to de house and I dook hold of de door sil and she dook hold of de parrel and puled. But de first pul she made I yelled Dunner and blitzen stop dot by golly, der is nails in de parrel. You see ven I vent in de nails bent down now van I koom out dey stick in me all de vay around.

"Vel to make a short story along, I told Katerina to go and dell neighbor Hansman to bring a hand saw and saw dis parrel all de vay around me off. Vel he koom and almost split himself mit laf too but he rolled me and de parrel ofer and ofer and sawed de parrel all de way around off. Now I got up mit half a parrel stuck up to my armholes, den Katerina she says, Wait Wait, Sockery, till I get a patern of dot new overskirt you have on. But I didn't say a vort. I just got my nife and vitled off de hoops and sling dot confounded old parrel in de vootpile.

"Presently ven I koom in de house Katerina she said, Sockery vy don't you dake some egs to de barn for de old plue hen. Den I said in my deepest tone of voice, Katerina if efer you say dot vort to me anymore I vill get a pil of diforcement from you. She tell to me jiminy grecious but she did not say dot vort to me any more. Now ven I step on a parrel I don't step on it. I get a poy to stant on."


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Subject: Lyr Add: OLD DOC BROWN (R. E. Winsett)
From: kendall
Date: 12 Jan 03 - 07:20 PM

He was just an old country doctor
In a little Kentucky town;
Fame and fortune had passed him by
But we never saw him frown
As day by day in his kindly way
He served us one and all,
And, many a patient forgot to pay
Although, Doc's fees were small.

So, when the depression hit our town
And drained each meager purse
The scanty income of old Doc Brown
Just went from bad to worse.
He had to sell his office furniture,
He couldn't pay his rent,
So, to a dusty room over a livery stable
Doc Brown and his satchel went.
There he kept on helpng folks get well
And his heart was just pure gold;
But, anyone with eyes could see
That Doc was getting old.
Then one day he didn't answer
When they knocked upon his door
And old Doc Brown was lying down
But his sould was no more
They found him there in that old black suit
On his face a smile of content
But all the money they found on him
Was a quarter and copper cent.
Then they opened up his ledger
And what they saw gave their hearts a pull,
Beside each debtors name, old Doc had writ these words,
"Paid in full."
The funeral procession, it wasn't much
For grace and pomp and style
But those wagon loads of mourners
They stretched out for more than a mile.
For the depression had hit our little town hard,
Each man carried a load,
So some just picked the wild flowers
As they passed along the road.
We wanted to give him a monument,
Kinda figured we owed him one,
For he's made our town a better place for all the good he's done
But monuments cost money, so, we did the best we could
And on his grave we gently placed
A monument of wood.
We pulled up that old hitching post
Where Doc had nailed his sign
We painted it white, and to all of us it certainly did look fine.
..................(missing line.........
Except Jones the undertaker, he did mighty well,
Donating an old iron casket that he'd never been able to sell.
Now, the rains and snows have washed away
Our white trimmins of paint,
And there aint nothing left but Doc's old sign
And that is getting faint,
Still, when summer breezes and twinkling stars
Caress our sleeping town
And the pale moon shines through Kentucky pines
On the grave of old Doc Brown
We can still see that old hitching post
As if in answer to our prayers
Mutely telling the whole wide world,

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Subject: RE: Recitations Anyone?
From: Deckman
Date: 12 Jan 03 - 10:00 PM

As I said when I started this thread, I thought about it for several days over the holidays. I didn't know how interested you would be, and as I have wondered previously: "what if I give a party and no one comes?" But the quality, and the quantity of these contributions are simply wonderful. Thank you all. CHEERS, Bob

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Subject: RE: Recitations Anyone?
From: Beccy
Date: 12 Jan 03 - 10:04 PM

My fav is "A Shropshire Lad" by A.E. Housman

"...And I have been to Ludlow Fair and left my necktie God knows where..."

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Subject: RE: Recitations Anyone?
From: musicmick
Date: 12 Jan 03 - 10:50 PM

Kendall, you have my undying thanks. I've been looking for "Old Doc Brown" for forty years. I'm glad i gave you a good review for your CD.
Boy, wouldn't I feel like a schmuck if I hadn't like it.
Someone asked about the Bab Ballads. Before W.S.Gilbert became rich and famous writing operettas with Sir Arthur Sullivan, he wrote, and illustrated, a collection of comic verses. He signed them "Bab" (I'm not sure why). If you can, you should get ahold of these poems. They represent Gilberts best work as a satirist and as the master of unusual rhyme. He was one fine illustator, too.

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Subject: RE: Recitations Anyone?
From: kendall
Date: 13 Jan 03 - 12:26 AM

Musicmic, I would still have responded with your request for lyrics, because, one has nothing to do with the other. There is another line that won't come to me...

...why, nearly half the folks in my hometown,
Yes, I'm one of them too,
Were ushered in by old Doc Brown
When we made our first debut.

My brother may have that lp. I'll ask, and maybe get those missing lines.

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Subject: RE: Recitations Anyone?
From: Shields Folk
Date: 13 Jan 03 - 04:16 AM

I'm suprised no one has mentioned my favourite:

Sam Sam pick up thy musket!

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Subject: RE: Recitations Anyone?
From: Naemanson
Date: 13 Jan 03 - 10:45 AM

Kendall, that line dropped out in the typing not the recitation. That stanza wouldn't make much sense without it. Thanks for pointing it out.

And, ClaireBear, where in the poem does that verse go? I can see at least two places it would fit. If it weren't a formal poem it wouldn't matter to me but Ms Smith deserves to have her work preserved.

Yes, I knew the author was a woman. Note that the two works I do are by women and are in a genre that used to be the domain of men, at least when those women were writing. I like to point that out when I do them.

I am currently working on The Ballad Of The Mermaid, also by Ruth Moore. And I want to learn The Ballad Of Blasphemous Bill by Robert Service.

This is a great thread. There's some great stuff out there. I'd love to hear some of it performed. I'd never have thought of doing John Donne. And while I've heard The Ryhme Of The Nancy Bell no one around here does any other of Gilbert's early work.

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Subject: RE: Recitations Anyone?
From: clueless don
Date: 13 Jan 03 - 10:54 AM

Yes, there are some of the Sam Small recitations on my two Stanley Holloway LP's, such as "Sam, pick up tha' musket" and "Beat the retreat on your (or was it "thy"?) drum."

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Subject: RE: Recitations Anyone?
From: GUEST,ClaireBear
Date: 13 Jan 03 - 11:54 AM

Naemanson, my apologies; of course you need to know where the verse goes! My error shows me up for the neophyte that I am. Plus, I was too lazy to make a blue clicky for you, but that I can remedy forthwith, herewith: Ships That Pass

Thanks again for posting the poem. Since I'm a chantey/nautical music performer, I'm always eager for new "things of the sea." And since there aren't a lot of women in that scene (at least not around here), it always cheers me to find something in the genre that was written by a fellow distaffer.


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Subject: RE: Recitations Anyone?
From: Naemanson
Date: 13 Jan 03 - 12:10 PM

No need to apologize, Claire. I appreciate the verse. As it happens I did stick it into the wrong place. It's nice to get it into the right place.

Where is "around here"? In Maine there are plenty of women sailing, both for leisure and professionally. There are women as captains, mates, and crew members on the big cruise schooners. I have one friend in Portsmouth, NH, with her captain's license.

And the crew I sing with (Roll & Go) has always included women. There is a need to have women singing this music and keepiung the traditions alive. There are some great woman singers in Portsmouth, NH, singing this stuff including our own Jeri who has a wonderful voice and great delivery.

And there are women working as riggers and crew members at Mystic Seaport in Connecticut as well.

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Subject: RE: Recitations Anyone?
From: GUEST,ClaireBear
Date: 13 Jan 03 - 12:23 PM

San Francisco -- and I was talking specifically about the sea music scene, not sailing in general. I'm not alone by any means, but most of the women sea music performers I know concentrate on forebitters & such, not chanteys per se. I have a fairly gutsy voice and a good low range, so chanteys work well for me.

I'm the short one in the skirt in the Dogwatch Nautical Band (the one with the dulcimers and the really odd* concertina).


*McCann system duet -- not that I can actually *play* duets; I've never gotten truly comfortable with the left hand fingering

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Subject: Lyr Add: FAIR CRACK OF THE WHIP (Murray Hartin)
From: JennyO
Date: 13 Jan 03 - 11:44 PM

There are quite a few versions of "The barrel of bricks" originally by Gerard Hoffnung, some spoken and some in song form. That always goes down well.

In Australia, there is a very active "bush poetry" scene, and many writers, as well as performers, of this. These include Blue the Shearer, Murray Hartin, Mark Gliori, Warren (Arch) Bishop, Rhymin' Simon and Campbell the Swaggie, to name just a few. Campbell's performances have to be seen to be believed! At every folk festival there are "poets' breakfasts" where anyone is invited to perform their favourite piece. There are also competitions which attract a huge interest, not just for poetry, but for storytelling (woolly yarns). I have performed a fair bit at poets' breakfasts, even written a few, but one of my favourites, which always works well, is this:

            "FAIR CRACK OF THE WHIP" - by Murray Hartin.

Mick he was a bushman, he was up there with the best,
He'd been in the saddle nearly all his life,
But lately things had changed, his thoughts had rearranged,
Yes, it was time that Michael found himself a wife.

So he was givin' up the one-night stands and givin' up the booze,
He'd settle down and get himself employed
And with a sad touch of remorse he sold his faithful horse,
No more the saddle life would he enjoy.

Now the object of his fancy was the local schoolgirl miss,
She was pretty, she was delicate and frail.
Mick fell in head-first,
The kind of love? It was the worst
That womenfolk can foster in a male.

He wasn't takin' any chances, he was playin' all his cards
And Elizabeth McGee she was the stake,
He did all he could to win her,
He would take her out to dinner
And on Sundays they'd go walkin' by the lake.

Then finally the night arrived that Mick had waited for
When Elizabeth invited him to tea.
He showered, combed his hair, and he had this speech prepared,
"Elizabeth, will you marry me?"

You see he knew he had to marry this young girl from the south,
She was cute and kind and every mother's dream,
Her hands were soft and gentle, she was sweet and sentimental
And her eyes they sparkled with a magic gleam.

So they shared a lovely dinner and Mick was most polite,
Although thoughts of marriage occupied his head,
So he was very much inspired when she casually enquired
"Would you like to see the etchings by my bed?"

"I'll slip into something comfortable, you go into the room,
Take your drink and why not lie down for awhile."
And while she didn't look satanic, young Mick began to panic
When he saw the wicked nature of her smile.

Then she burst back through the door! Wearing leather head to toe!
She had stilettoes on and pistols at her hip!
Towards Michael she was prowling,
She was grunting! She was growling!
And in her hand she held a nine-foot whip!

For Elizabeth McGee was different you see,
By day she was an angel from above,
But by night she was a witch, an evil, nasty ... person
Who substituted punishment for love.

Well she chased him 'round the house
With her whips and chains and spikes,
She tortured him until his hide was raw
And being realistic, Mick was somewhat masochistic
For all that he could say to her was "More!"

She kept him there for days but Mick had finally had enough,
He busted free and bolted for his life,
He couldn't see for quids how he could think of raisin' kids
With this schizophrenic creature as his wife.

So he sold his city clothes, went and got his horse,
Packed his swag and headed for the scrub,
But his tale of woe got out when he'd had one too many shouts
And he told his mates about it at the pub.

Now the boys all get a laugh when they see their old mate, Mick,
Chasin' cattle through the saltbush and the bracken,
They can see his face for miles, how he flinches - then he smiles
Every time the whips they start a-crackin'!

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Subject: RE: Recitations Anyone?
From: musicmick
Date: 14 Jan 03 - 01:31 AM

Thanks, Kendall. There was a verse in the earlier part of "Old Doc Brown" that mentioned the sign but I dont remember it.

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Subject: RE: Recitations Anyone?
From: Dave Bryant
Date: 14 Jan 03 - 05:56 AM

A TOAST - I got it from John Foreman.

Here's to the breezes
That blow in the treezes
And lift Lady's chemises
Up above their kneezes
And show us what teases
And Pleases and Squeezes
........And gives us diseases

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Subject: RE: Recitations Anyone?
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 14 Jan 03 - 10:12 AM

The version of that that I learned in high school was:

"The breezes, the breezes,
They blow through the treeses
They blow the girls' skirtses
Above the girls' kneeses.
The college man seeses
And does what he pleases
And spreads the diseases
Oh Jeezes, Oh Jeezes!

Slightly different

Dave Oesterreich

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Subject: RE: Recitations Anyone?
From: bradfordian
Date: 14 Jan 03 - 02:24 PM

Ballad of Blasphemous Bill

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Subject: RE: Recitations Anyone?
From: Naemanson
Date: 14 Jan 03 - 04:08 PM

Thanks, maybe that is what I needed to get off my duff and start on Blasphemous Bill.

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From: bradfordian
Date: 14 Jan 03 - 06:56 PM

Here is a traditional British monologue often recited at Fox Hunt suppers in the Yorkshire / Lancashire borders. Like the Stanley Holloway monologues, I'm sure it benefits from the north of England accent. It requires the subtle nuances and attention to pauses and timing. T'Ordance, meaning The Ordinance is pronounced Tordnance likewise wherever you see t'. Enjoy.


I'm ringing up me curtain upon an ancient scene.
As when t'redcoits came to Burton, to measure t' land for t' queen.
They turned up in fine weather, one summer out o' t' blue.
A score altogether, an' one in charge o' t' crew.

A sergeant, such a pusher, an' just as full o' swank,
As t' Emporer o' Russia, or t' boss o' t' Penny Bank.
So every neet in t' local, yon sergeant could be seen,
Impressin' all the locals, with 'is "paper from the queen."

Her majesty had sent 'im for to measure up 'er land.
And to that end she had sent 'im wi' a paper from 'er hand.
Victoria's bit o' velum, a big red seal it bore,
An' evry neet 'e'd tell 'em, as tall as t' neet afore,

How at a palace pageant, 'er majesty 'ad said
"Stand forth that spiended sergeant" and forrad 'e were led.
'Er majesty confided, "Our maps must be all true,
And so I have decided to give the task to you.

This gives you right of entry to every man's estate,
The yeomanry, the gentry, the humble and the great."
So one bright June mornin' yon redcoits in a swarm,
Without a word of warnin' descended on Slant Farm.

Now t' tenant, Billy Pogson, 'e waved a warnin' stick
"Clear off or I'll set t' dogs on" he shouted double quick.
But the sergeant showed 'is permit, an' said "We're 'ere to stay.
This document, old hermit, gives us the right of way."

Its paragraphs Billy fingered, with military zeal,
And lovingly 'e lingered upon its royal seal
"Oh, alreight" said Billy, 'umbled by what 'ad been revealed
"But just tek care" 'e grumbled, "Keep out o' t' bottom field"

Said t' sergeant quite unheedful, "We'll go where we think fit
And if we find it needful, we'll tramp all over it"
Well, twenty minutes later, t' sergeant cock-a~hoop
Observed by one spectator, led in 'is loyal troop.

They marched in fine and dandy, so splendid to be seen,
Wi' chains an' tackle ready for t' measure t' land for t' queen.
Then farmer Pogson viewing from t'other side o' t' wall,
Thowt, "There'll be trouble brewin' when ol' Shylock sees 'em all."

Bad tempered Shylock layed there, dozin' in t' long grass,
Beneath the old elm trees, 'till 'e 'eard yon redcoits pass.
It made old Billy shiver, that first tremendous roar,
For surely no bull 'ad ever seen so much red before.

He raised up on 'is forelegs, and let forth a second cry,
At which two score of legs across the field did fly.
Now, by my simple schoolin', beyond a shadow of a doubt,
There's no gansayin' t' rulin' , t' first un in is last un out.

And wherefore when they started, t' sergeant were at there 'ead,
Now they'd all departed, 'e were at the back instead!
Still buttoned up an' buckled, 'e puffed away at t' rear,
And farmer Pogson chuckled and gave a hearty cheer,

As 'e watched the sergeant caper, and like a rabbit run.
Just one piece of advice Billy offered, 'avin' 'is bit of fun,
And 'e shouts "Thi paper man; show 'im thi paper!!!!"

Regards Brad.

HTML line breaks added. --JoeClone, 26-Feb-03.

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From: Bee-dubya-ell
Date: 15 Jan 03 - 01:08 AM

My all-time favorite. John McEuen of Nitty Gritty Dirt Band has been doing it for years as a recital with banjo accompaniment.

(I copied this transcription from this site. I'm not sure they have all the words exactly right, but I'm not making any changes and I'm too tired to look for any other versions.)

(Or, How Hill-Billy Jim Won the Great Fiddlers' Prize)

By Stephen Vincent Benet

Up in the mountains, it's lonesome all the time,
(Sof' win' slewin' thu' the sweet-potato vine.)
Up in the mountains, it's lonesome for a child,
(Whippoorwills a-callin' when the sap runs wild.)
Up in the mountains, mountains in the fog,
Everythin's as lazy as an old houn' dog.
Born in the mountains, never raised a pet,
Don't want nuthin' an' never got it yet.
Born in the mountains, lonesome-born,
Raised runnin' ragged thu' the cockleburrs and corn.
Never knew my pappy, mebbe never should.
Think he was a fiddle made of mountain laurel-wood.
Never had a mammy to teach me pretty-please.
Think she was a whippoorwill, a-skittin' thu' the trees.
Never had a brother ner a whole pair of pants,
But when I start to fiddle, why, yuh got to start to dance!
Listen to my fiddle -- Kingdom Come -- Kingdom Come!
Hear the frogs a-chunkin' "Jug o' rum, Jug o' rum!"
Hear that mountain whippoorwill be lonesome in the air,
An' I'll tell yuh how I travelled to the Essex County Fair.
Essex County has a mighty pretty fair,
All the smarty fiddlers from the South come there.
Elbows flyin' as they rosin up the bow
For the First Prize Contest in the Georgia Fiddlers' Show.
Old Dan Wheeling, with his whiskers in his ears,
King-pin fiddler for nearly twenty years.
Big Tom Sergeant, with his blue wall-eye,
An' Little Jimmy Weezer that can make a fiddle cry.
All sittin' roun', spittin' high an' struttin' proud,
(Listen, little whippoorwill, yuh better bug yore eyes!)
Tun-a-tun-a-tunin' while the jedges told the crowd
Them that got the mostest claps'd win the bestest prize.
Everybody waitin' for the first tweedle-dee,
When in comes a-stumblin' -- hill-billy me!
Bowed right pretty to the jedges an' the rest,
Took a silver dollar from a hole inside my vest,
Plunked it on the table an' said, "There's my callin' card!
An' anyone that licks me -- well, he's got to fiddle hard!"
Old Dan Wheeling, he was laughin' fit to holler,
Little Jimmy Weezer said, "There's one dead dollar!"
Big Tom Sergeant had a yaller-toothy grin,
But I tucked my little whippoorwill spang underneath my chin,
An' petted it an' tuned it till the jedges said, "Begin!"
Big Tom Sargent was the first in line;
He could fiddle all the bugs off a sweet-potato vine.
He could fiddle down a possum from a mile-high tree,
He could fiddle up a whale from the bottom of the sea.
Yuh could hear hands spankin' till they spanked each other raw,
When he finished variations on "Turkey in the Straw."
Little Jimmy Weezer was the next to play;
He could fiddle all night, he could fiddle all day.
He could fiddle chills, he could fiddle fever,
He could make a fiddle rustle like a lowland river.
He could make a fiddle croon like a lovin' woman.
An' they clapped like thunder when he'd finished strummin'.
Then came the ruck of the bob-tailed fiddlers,
The let's-go-easies, the fair-to-middlers.
They got their claps an' they lost their bicker,
An' they all settled back for some more corn-licker.
An' the crowd was tired of their no-count squealing,
When out in the center steps Old Dan Wheeling.
He fiddled high and he fiddled low,
(Listen, little whippoorwill, yuh got to spread yore wings!)
He fiddled and fiddled with a cherrywood bow,
(Old Dan Wheeling's got bee-honey in his strings).
He fiddled a wind by the lonesome moon,
He fiddled a most almighty tune.
He started fiddling like a ghost.
He ended fiddling like a host.
He fiddled north an' he fiddled south,
He fiddled the heart right out of yore mouth.
He fiddled here an' he fiddled there.
He fiddled salvation everywhere.
When he was finished, the crowd cut loose,
(Whippoorwill, they's rain on yore breast.)
An' I sat there wonderin' "What's the use?"
(Whippoorwill, fly home to yore nest.)
But I stood up pert an' I took my bow,
An' my fiddle went to my shoulder, so.
An' -- they wasn't no crowd to get me fazed --
But I was alone where I was raised.
Up in the mountains, so still it makes yuh skeered.
Where God lies sleepin' in his big white beard.
An' I heard the sound of the squirrel in the pine,
An' I heard the earth a-breathin' thu' the long night-time.
They've fiddled the rose, and they've fiddled the thorn,
But they haven't fiddled the mountain-corn.
They've fiddled sinful an' fiddled moral,
But they haven't fiddled the breshwood-laurel.
They've fiddled loud, and they've fiddled still,
But they haven't fiddled the whippoorwill.
I started off with a dump-diddle-dump,
(Oh, hell's broke loose in Georgia!)
Skunk-cabbage growin' by the bee-gum stump.
(Whippoorwill, yo're singin' now!)
My mother was a whippoorwill pert,
My father, he was lazy,
But I'm hell broke loose in a new store shirt
To fiddle all Georgia crazy.
Swing yore partners -- up an' down the middle!
Sashay now -- oh, listen to that fiddle!
Flapjacks flippin' on a red-hot griddle,
An' hell's broke loose,
Hell's broke loose,
Fire on the mountains -- snakes in the grass.
Satan's here a-bilin' -- oh, Lordy, let him pass!
Go down Moses, set my people free;
Pop goes the weasel thu' the old Red Sea!
Jonah sittin' on a hickory-bough,
Up jumps a whale -- an' where's yore prophet now?
Rabbit in the pea-patch, possum in the pot,
Try an' stop my fiddle, now my fiddle's gettin' hot!
Whippoorwill, singin' thu' the mountain hush,
Whippoorwill, shoutin' from the burnin' bush,
Whippoorwill, cryin' in the stable-door,
Sing tonight as yuh never sang before!
Hell's broke loose like a stompin' mountain-shoat,
Sing till yuh bust the gold in yore throat!
Hell's broke loose for forty miles aroun'
Bound to stop yore music if yuh don['t sing it down.
Sing on the mountains, little whippoorwill,
Sing to the valleys, an' slap 'em with a hill,
For I'm struttin' high as an eagle's quill,
An' hell's broke loose,
Hell's broke loose,
Hell's broke loose in Georgia!
They wasn't a sound when I stopped bowin',
(Whippoorwill, yuh can sing no more.)
But, somewhere or other, the dawn was growin',
(Oh, mountain whippoorwill!)
An' I thought, "I've fiddled all night an' lost,
Yo're a good hill-billy, but yuh've been bossed."
So I went to congratulate old man Dan,
-- But he put his fiddle into my han' --
An' then the noise of the crowd began!

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Subject: RE: Recitations Anyone?
From: Teribus
Date: 15 Jan 03 - 07:01 AM

I am surprised that there has only been the briefest of mentions for Banjo Paterson and no mention at all of Henry Lawson - both are equals of anything written by either Service or Kipling.

Man from Snowy River
Pardon the son of Reprieve
Rio Grande
The Saltbush Bill Stories
Droving Days
The Story of Old Mongrel Grey
Final Parade
The Boss of the Admiral Lynch
Father Murphy's Horse
The Bushman's Tale

All of them absolutely terrific stories

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Subject: RE: Recitations Anyone?
From: JennyO
Date: 15 Jan 03 - 07:46 AM

Teribus, I did mention some of the more contemporary Australian poets a few posts back, but I actually did not mention Lawson or Patterson, which is kinda strange, because in many of the poets' breakfasts and competitions they are very prominent, and we have many fine reciters of their works. There are also a fair few parodies of these around as well, so maybe we have lost some of our appreciation of them.

As it happens, yesterday I mentioned Lawson's story of The Loaded Dog in the thread about unusual pub names, as there is a pub of that name on the way to Braidwood, as well as the Loaded Dog Folk Club at Annandale in Sydney.

As a matter of fact, I can trace my love of bush poetry to my 6th grade teacher, Mr Walker, who used to recite Lawson and Patterson to us all the time. He also told some of the stories. I particularly remember the story of The Loaded Dog because we dramatised it and put it on as a play for the school. There was this boy I had a crush on and he played Dave Regan, owner of the dog. Even when I read it now I can remember how it sounded at the end "'Ello, Da-a-ave.'Ow's the fishin' gettin' on Da-a-ave? Ah, those were the days...........


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Subject: RE: Recitations Anyone?
From: Naemanson
Date: 15 Jan 03 - 08:09 AM

Bee-dubya-ell, haven't I heard The Mountain Whippoorwill as a song? And I'm guessing that Marshall Tucker's Devil Went Down To Georgia is based on this poem as well. I'd never have guessed it was Stephen Vincent Benet! Great post!

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Subject: RE: Recitations Anyone?
From: Bee-dubya-ell
Date: 15 Jan 03 - 09:37 AM

Naemanson - "The Mountain Whipoorwill" is (or at least used to be) done by John McEuen of The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. He doesn't really do it as a song. He accompanies himself on banjo while reciting it, but applies no melody to the words.

Yes, John McEuen claims that "Mountain Whipoorwill" was Charlie Daniels' inspiration for "The Devil Went Down to Georgia". He says that he played "Mountain Whipoorwill" for Charlie, Charlie loved it, and a few months later "Devil" came out. Don't know if Charlie has ever acknowledged the source.

There are at least a couple of old threads about "Mountain Whipoorwill", but something's got the 'Cat's search utilities sort of haywire and I couldn't find them.

Another recitation with banjo accompaniment is "Automobile Trip Through Alabama" as done by the New Lost City Ramblers. Joe Offer very kindly transcribed the words in THIS THREAD just a couple of days ago. BTW the gasoline brand mentioned in the piece is "Woco Pep". Joe was having a bit of a hard time with the name.


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Subject: RE: Recitations Anyone?
From: Naemanson
Date: 15 Jan 03 - 03:36 PM

OOPS! Marshall Tucker does not equal Charlie Daniels. Thanks for being so polite Bee-dubya-ell. And thanks for the info on the song.

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Subject: RE: Recitations Anyone?
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 15 Jan 03 - 04:25 PM

I have an old and very scratchy EP [remember them?]of a guy called Ron Haddrick reciting bush ballads. The ones I remember are, The Ballad of the Drover, The Man from Snowy River,and Said Hanrahan. No date on the disc, but it was issued by EMI Australia, and from the blurb, I think it must have been accompanying a book called The Australian Classics. This was issued by The Discovery Press Pty Ltd.

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Subject: RE: Recitations Anyone?
From: GUEST,winterbright
Date: 16 Jan 03 - 10:17 AM

Jeez... I never realized there were so many of us! (reciters)
Are there enough of us to pull together a mid-winter evening of this sort of thing -either for public or just our own consumption? I'm in the midcoast (Bath-Brunswick, Maine, 25 m. north of Portland) area and can probably get a night at the UU church or one of the libraries near here. Note: I don't always get online here at the mudcat as often as a lot of you guys, so you can email me direct if you're interested: my mudcat handle can be found

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Subject: Lyr Add: TOM TWIST
From: GUEST,.gargoyle
Date: 17 Jan 03 - 07:25 PM

As rapidly as the WWW has developed it is rare to find an opportunity to post VIRGIN material from a previously published source. Google don't have this piece… nor does Grange's Index to Poetry…nor any other immediately available source. Therefore, an incantation has resurrected the spirits of my Uncle and Grandfather and my 4th Grade Teacher… bring you...






Author of the National and the Independent Readers, Spellers and Primers: The
Hand-Book of Gymnastics: The Manual of Calisthenics: Tables, etc.

A. S. B A R N E S & C O M P A N Y

copyright 1868, 1876, 1890

page 243, IV, 96.


TOM TWIST was a wonderful fellow,
No boy was so nimble and strong;
He could turn ten somersets backward,
And stand on his head all day long.

No wrestling, or leaping, or running,
This tough little urchin could tire;
His muscles were all gutta-percha,
And his sinews bundles of wire.

Tom Twist liked the life of a sailor,
So off, with a hop and a skip,
Hew went to a Nantucket captain,
Who took him on board of his ship,
The vessel was crowded with seamen,
Young, old, stout and slim, short and tall,
But in climbing, swinging and jumpin,
Tom Twist was ahead of them all.

He could scamper all through the rigging,
As spry and as still as a cat,
While as for a leap from the maintop
To deck, he thought nothing of that:
He danced at the end of the yard-arm,
Slept sound in the bend of a sail,
And hung by his legs from the bowsprit,
When the wind was blowing a gale.

The vessel went down in a tempest,
A thousand fathoms or more;
But Tom Twist dive under the breakers,
And, swimming five mile, got ashore.
The shore was a cannibal island,
The natives were hungry enough ;
But they felt of Tommy all over,
And found him entirely too tough.

So they put him into a boy-coop-
Just to fatten him up, you see –
But Tommy crept out, very slyly,
And climbed to the top of a tree.

The tree was the nest of a condor,
A bird with prodigious big wing,
Which live up boa-constrictors
And other digestible things.

The condor flew home in the evening,
And there lay friend Tommy so snug,
She thought she had pounced on a very
Remarkable species of bug;
She soon woke him up with her pecking,
But Tommy gave one of his springs,
And leaped on the back of the condor,
]Between her long neck and her wings.

The condor tried plunging and pitching,
But Tommy held on with firm hand,
Then off, with a scream, flew the condor,
O'er forest and ocean and land.
By and by, she got tired of her burden,
And flying quite close to the ground
Tom untwisted his legs from the creature,
And quickly slipped off with bound.

He landed all right, and feet foremost,
A little confused by his fall,
And then ascertained he had alight
On top of the great Chinese Wall.
He walked to city of Pekin,
Where he made the Chinamen grin:
He turned ten somersets backward,
And they made him a Mandarin.

The Tom had to play the Celestial
And dangle a long pigtail;
And he dined on puppies and kittens,
Till his spirits began to fail.
He sighed for his native country,
And he longed for its ham and eggs;
And in turning somersets backward
His pigtail would catch in his legs.

He sailed for his dear home and harbor.
The house of his mother he knew;
He climbed up the lightning-rod quickly,
And came down the chimney-flue.
His mother in slumber lay dreaming
That she never would see him more,
When she opened her eyes, and Tommy
Stood there in the bedroom floor!

Her nightcap flew off in amazement,
Her hair stood on end with surprise.
"What kind of ghost or a spirit
Is this that I see with my eyes?" –
"I am your most dutiful Tommy."
"I will not believe it," she said,
"Till you turn ten somersets backward,
And stand half on hour on your head."

"That thing I will do, dearest mother."
At once with a skip and a hop,
He turned the ten somersets backward,
But then was unable to stop!
The tenth took him out of the window,
His mother jumped from her bed,
To see his twentieth somerset
Take him over the kitchen shed;

Thence, across the patch of potatoes
And beyond the church on the hill'
She saw him tumbling turning
Turn and tumbling still –
Till Tommy's body diminished
In size to the head of a pin,
Spinning away in the distance
Where it still continues to spin!


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Subject: RE: Recitations Anyone?
From: Deckman
Date: 17 Jan 03 - 07:46 PM

Thank you Gargoyle ... quite wonderful! Bob

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Subject: RE: Recitations Anyone?
From: Deckman
Date: 18 Jan 03 - 07:54 PM

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Subject: RE: Recitations Anyone?
From: Deckman
Date: 18 Jan 03 - 08:03 PM

I refreshed this thread, just as it was about to drop off into oblivian, as I just found something in my archives that amazes me. I've been going through a 50 some year collection of stuff, and I came across something I never knew I had. It is in tatters. It's printed on very old, and failing newsprint. It's a newspaper sized publication titled: " Two Hundred Populiar Recitations ... Stories and Songs." It cost 25 cents. I only have half of the cover sheet, so I can't find a date or city of origan. Looking at the material published, and the ads, I'm guessing it would be Chicago or New York, 1890 -1910. Over the next several days, I will be able to carefully unfold it and list the collection of recitations it holds. I will post this, and if someone wants one, I will post it for you. This is a fragile treasure. CHEERS, Bob

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Subject: RE: Recitations Anyone?
From: Deckman
Date: 18 Jan 03 - 08:10 PM

To help anyone trying to date this piece, I just found an ad in this publication for "The Hoboe News" cost 10 cents, with a New York address.

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Subject: RE: Recitations Anyone?
From: Cluin
Date: 19 Jan 03 - 11:49 AM

She offered her honour
So he honored her offer
And all evening long
He was on her and off her.

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Subject: RE: Recitations Anyone?
Date: 19 Jan 03 - 01:02 PM

Have a look at this one and try your best north east (UK) accent.

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Subject: RE: Recitations Anyone?
From: Deckman
Date: 19 Jan 03 - 07:49 PM

This will be a long post. I've studied my copy of this "200 recitations." I'm going to post some of the more obscure and interesting titles, with the occasional author as listed. There are many well known poets listed, such as Robert Service, Rudyard Kipling,Longfellow, Poe. I will not list these poems as I know they are very available.

Reading it complety, I suspect that this was published in new York City, during the depression years. There are some amazing ads, including one for "Sex Secrets." SHEEUH, I thought that was a modern invention!

Here's the list of some of the more obscure poems, etc.: (note, I have tried to copy the spelling accuratly)

Grifters Under The Skin;
Heaven Will Pertect he Workin' Girl;
I Have A Rendezvous With Death, by Allen Seeger;
The Suicide;
Piper of Folly;
Women and Matches;
Two Sinners, by Ella Wheeler Wilcox;
The Hoboes Convention, by George Liebst;
How Did You Die, by Edmund Vance Cooke;
The Philosophy Of A Hoboe, by Dan O'Brien;
The Child Prayer, by Dan O'Brien;
Asleep At The switch;
The Panhandle, by Berton Braley;
Beautiful Snow, by James William Watson;
The Ace In The Hole, by Al Wilson;
The Phantom Dray, by Charles Blue;
A Hop Fiends Dream;
The Kid's Last Fight Fight, by Aaron Hoffman;
Empties Comming Back;
Ridin' On The Rods, by A. Leslie;
Life Is But A Game OF Cards;
Sister Of The Cross Of Shame;
Railroad Jack;
Lonesome Joe, by Casey Davis;
The Bo From Zanziba;
The Tramp, by C.B. Clark;
Song Of The Shirt, by Thomas Hood;
The Gila Monster Route, by Post and Norton;
Somebody's Mother;
Arizons, by Charles Brown;
The Road, by Ben (hobo) Benson;
The Hermit Of Shark Tooth Shoal;
The Hell Bound Train;
Whisperin' Bill;
Hobo Bill's Last Ride.

If any of you died in the wool reciters would like one of these poems, just PM me.

CHEERS, Bob(deckman)Nelson

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Subject: RE: Recitations Anyone?
From: GUEST,.gargoyle
Date: 19 Jan 03 - 10:01 PM

That is a wonderful list Deckman - I think a couple are in the DT -i.e. Hobo Bill's Last Ride

One not mentioned in this immediate thread but one of my favorites is "Face on the Bar-room Floor" it was posted by Joe Offer -


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Subject: RE: Recitations Anyone?
From: Ebbie
Date: 20 Jan 03 - 01:38 AM

A friend of mine, Gargoyle, does The Face, etc, and very well too, which is interesting because he is a shy, diffident man. Somehow he takes on a different persona when he does the piece.

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Subject: RE: Recitations Anyone?
From: bradfordian
Date: 20 Jan 03 - 03:57 PM

Here's a web site for Bernard Wrigley, a UK performer of monologues. Some great stuff on CD from the "Bolton Bullfrog"

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Subject: Lyr Add: HOW GILBERT DIED (A. B. "Banjo" Paterson)
From: GUEST,Arkie
Date: 20 Jan 03 - 05:18 PM

Have certainly enjoyed this thread. Glad to see some attention to this wonderful but somewhat obscure art. As was pointed out much earlier in the thread recitations are a prominent part of the cowboy poetry gatherings and something one can enjoy for the entertainment factor even is western lore is of little interest. I think I posted this on Mudcat once before but it is appropriate here.

by A. B. "Banjo" Paterson

There's never a stone at the sleeper's head,
There's never a fence beside,
And the wandering stock on the grave may tread
Unnoticed and undenied;
But the smallest child on the Watershed
Can tell you how Gilbert died.
For he rode at dusk with his comrade Dunn
To the hut at the Stockman's Ford;
In the waning light of the sinking sun
They peered with a fierce accord.
They were outlaws both -- and on each man's head
Was a thousand pounds reward.
They had taken toll of the country round,
And the troopers came behind
With a black who tracked like a human hound
In the scrub and the ranges blind:
He could run the trail where a white man's eye
No sign of track could find.
He had hunted them out of the One Tree Hill
And over the Old Man Plain,
But they wheeled their tracks with a wild beast's skill,
And they made for the range again;
Then away to the hut where their grandsire dwelt
They rode with a loosened rein.
And their grandsire gave them a greeting bold:
"Come in and rest in peace,
No safer place does the country hold --
With the night pursuit must cease,
And we'll drink success to the roving boys,
And to hell with the black police."
But they went to death when they entered there
In the hut at the Stockman's Ford,
For their grandsire's words were as false as fair --
They were doomed to the hangman's cord.
He had sold them both to the black police
For the sake of the big reward.
In the depth of night there are forms that glide
As stealthily as serpents creep,
And around the hut where the outlaws hide
They plant in the shadows deep,
And they wait till the first faint flush of dawn
Shall waken their prey from sleep.
But Gilbert wakes while the night is dark --
A restless sleeper aye.
He has heard the sound of a sheep-dog's bark,
And his horse's warning neigh,
And he says to his mate, "There are hawks abroad,
And it's time that we went away."
Their rifles stood at the stretcher head,
Their bridles lay to hand;
They wakened the old man out of his bed,
When they heard the sharp command:
"In the name of the Queen lay down your arms,
Now, Dun and Gilbert, stand!"
Then Gilbert reached for his rifle true
That close at hand he kept;
He pointed straight at the voice, and drew,
But never a flash outleapt,
For the water ran from the rifle breech --
It was drenched while the outlaws slept.
Then he dropped the piece with a bitter oath,
And he turned to his comrade Dunn:
"We are sold," he said, "we are dead men both! --
Still, there may be a chance for one;
I'll stop and I'll fight with the pistol here,
You take to your heels and run."
So Dunn crept out on his hands and knees
In the dim, half-dawning light,
And he made his way to a patch of trees,
And was lost in the black of night;
And the trackers hunted his tracks all day,
But they never could trace his flight.
But Gilbert walked from the open door
In a confident style and rash;
He heard at his side the rifles roar,
And he heard the bullets crash.
But he laughed as he lifted his pistol-hand,
And he fired at the rifle-flash.
Then out of the shadows the troopers aimed
At his voice and the pistol sound.
With rifle flashes the darkness flamed --
He staggered and spun around,
And they riddled his body with rifle balls
As it lay on the blood-soaked ground.
There's never a stone at the sleeper's head,
There's never a fence beside,
And the wandering stock on the grave may tread
Unnoticed and undenied;
But the smallest child on the Watershed
Can tell you how Gilbert died.

Excess line breaks removed. --JoeClone, 26-Feb-03.

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Subject: RE: Recitations Anyone?
From: Deckman
Date: 20 Jan 03 - 05:30 PM

Oh M'GAWD! COWBOY POETRY! Sheeuh! Here goes another 200 posts. (Nelson, you idiot. What have you started?) says Bob, hanging his head!). Actually, Baxtor Black alone is worth 200 posts. CHEERS, Bob

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Subject: RE: Recitations Anyone?
From: JennyO
Date: 20 Jan 03 - 10:39 PM

Australian poetry of this type, such as the poetry of Patterson and Lawson, is not cowboy poetry, it is called Bush Poetry.

We have stockmen, farmers, shearers, squatters, swaggies etc - but no cowboys!


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Subject: RE: Recitations Anyone?
From: Deckman
Date: 20 Jan 03 - 10:53 PM

Hi JennieO ... I knew that I'm a big lover of Banjo Patterson and Henry Lawson. Bob

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Subject: RE: Recitations Anyone?
Date: 20 Jan 03 - 11:53 PM

JennyO - You plunk "Australian Cowboy" into Google and you will find 61,000 versions from poetry, to rodeo riders, from Stetsons to stock-shows.

Me thinks the lady protesteth too much.

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Subject: RE: Recitations Anyone?
From: Arkie
Date: 21 Jan 03 - 12:08 AM

I had no intention of implying that How Gilbert Died was considered cowboy poetry, just happened to mention both. But that aside, there is an interest in Australian poetry and song among many of the folk and performers who are found at western poetry gatherings and one is likely to hear a bit of bush poetry and songs.

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Subject: RE: Recitations Anyone?
From: Deckman
Date: 21 Jan 03 - 01:17 AM

It's a BIG wide wonderful world! And the more I learn, I learn just how much I don't know, and the more things seem to change, the more they repeat themselves. Why I say this is because I was just remembering something a friend told me 15 years ago. He's a wrangler from Idaho (USA) that moved to Australia some 20 years ago. He said that he felt instantly at home there, what with the songs and the story telling (to say nothing of the beer and the girls). Another friend, a lady, told me of the cowboys she encountered on the Patagonia, in Argentina. Very similiar life styles, adventures, romances, songs and tales. As I said, it's a BIG wide wonderful world! CHEERS, Bob

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Subject: RE: Recitations Anyone?
From: JennyO
Date: 21 Jan 03 - 02:25 AM

I just had a look at some of those websites, and I don't think the people who call it cowboy poetry are Australian.

Maybe some of the rodeo riders call themselves cowboys, because they associate themselves with the American rodeo scene, but as far as I know, they don't write poetry. Correct me if I'm wrong.

I know a lot of bush poets and they aren't cowboys. more likely these days that they live in the city or at least a country town, and just love that style of poetry, and are trying to keep the genre alive. In fact many of them write about urban subjects in the bush poetry style.

One who calls himself 'Blue the Shearer' is a good example. His real name is Col Wilson and he is an ex public servant. He writes about such things as the problems of using a chainsaw, or backing a trailer, or negotiating roundabouts, as well as the more usual bush-type subjects, and always in a humorous vein.

As for the more traditional ones, many were written about life in the bush and the outback, and there certainly are parallels between that and the American experience. However the men who rode horses and rounded up the cattle called themselves stockmen, not cowboys.

It's only a difference in terminology that I am talking about. Not all that important really.

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Subject: Lyr Add: BRONCO TWISTER'S PRAYER (Bruce Kiskaddon)
From: GUEST,Arkie
Date: 21 Jan 03 - 01:31 PM

There are many authentic cowboys doing poetry as well as part time cowboys and others from different walks of life who have an affinity for the cowboy subject matter which is about as varied as other forms of poetry. One poem that has wide circulation was written, I think by Waddie Mitchell, but is done by scads of reciters is "The Bra" which describes a cowboy's shopping trip into town with instructions from his wife to purchase this particular undergarment. I have it on a tape which has escaped from its place on the shelf and has eluded capture for close to six months. The poem I am posting is from one of the authentic cowboys who, I was told by someone, did not begin to write until he was no longer a working wrangler.

Bruce Kiskaddon

It was a little grave yard
   on the rolling foot hill plains:
That was bleached by the sun in summer,
   swept by winter's snows and rains;
There a little bunch of settlers
   gathered on an autumn day
'Round a home made lumber coffin,
   with their last respects to pay.
Weary men that wrung their living
   from that hard and arid land,
And beside them stood their women;
   faded wives with toil worn hands.
But among us stood one figure
   that was wiry, straight and trim.
Every one among us know him.
   'Twas the broncho twister, Jim.
Just a bunch of hardened muscle
   tempered with a savage grit,
And he had the reputation
   of a man that never quit.
He had helped to build the coffin,
   he had helped to dig the grave;
And his instinct seemed to teach him
   how he really should behave.
Well, we didn't have a preacher,
   and the crowd was mighty slim.
Just two women with weak voices
   sang an old time funeral hymn.
That was all we had for service.
   The old wife was sobbing there.
For her husband of a life time,
   laid away without prayer.
She looked at the broncho twister,
   then she walked right up to him.
Put one trembling arm around him and said,
   "Pray. Please won't you Jim?"
You could see his figure straighten,
   and a look of quick surprise
Flashed across his swarthy features,
   and his hard dare devil eyes.
He could handle any broncho,
   and he never dodged a fight.
'Twas the first time any body ever saw
   his face turn white.
But he took his big sombrero
   off his rough and shaggy head,
How I wish I could remember what
   that broncho peeler said.
No, he wasn't educated.
   On the range his youth was spent.
But the maker of creation
   know exactly what he meant.
He looked over toward the mountains
   where the driftin' shadows played.
Silence must have reined in heaven
   when they heard the way Jim prayed.
Years have passed since that small funeral
   in that lonely grave yard lot.
But it gave us all a memory, and a lot
   of food for thought.
As we stood beside the coffin,
   and the freshly broken sod,
With that reckless broncho breaker
   talkin' heart to heart with God.
When the prayer at last was over,
   and the grave had all been filled,
On his rough, half broken pony,
   he rode off toward the hills.
Yes, we stood there in amazement
   as we watched him ride away,
For no words could ever thank him.
   There was nothing we could say.
Since we gathered in that grave yard,
   it's been nearly fifty years.
With their joys and with their sorrows,
   with their hopes and with their fears.
But I hope when I have finished,
   and they lay me with the dead,
Some one says a prayer above me,
   like that broncho twister said.

Excess line breaks removed. --JoeClone, 26-Feb-03.

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Subject: RE: Recitations Anyone?
From: Ebbie
Date: 21 Jan 03 - 05:43 PM

Arkie, I would like to hear more of that bronco twister! Reminds me of the many mythical figures in our literature.

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Subject: RE: Recitations Anyone?
From: GUEST,Damsel
Date: 22 Jan 03 - 06:13 PM

The Queen she came to Dublin, to help her to revive.
She asked the Lord ????. to take her for a drive.

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Subject: RE: Recitations Anyone?
From: clueless don
Date: 23 Jan 03 - 11:43 AM

WARNING: this is REALLY obscure!

I am remembering a recitation I saw on television, in the days leading up to the Super Bowl (this is a championship game of American football - some of you may have heard of it :) ) back in the 70's. I think it must have been just before Super Bowl IX, because the recitation, by Grandpa Jones, described the events of Super Bowl VIII, involving the Miami Dolphins and Minnesota Vikings. Mr. Jones described the events from the point of view of a wide-eyed visitor not familiar with the game - for example, he referred to the Dolphins as "fish", and MAY have referred to the Vikings as "cows", or something like that. He noted that one of the "fish" had "Ca-Zonk" written on his uniform (that would have been running back Larry Csonka), and said that it was appropriate because he ca-zonked the other team (Mr. Csonka had a very good game that day, and was named most valuable player of the day.) And so forth. It was possibly inspired by the famous Andy Griffith recitation "What it was, was football."

I don't know who wrote it (I suppose it might have been Grandpa Jones himself, though that is not certain), but I really loved it and would love to hear it again!

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Subject: RE: Recitations Anyone?
From: GUEST,Cailin
Date: 23 Jan 03 - 08:19 PM

Can any one assist me in a recitation called THE OLD SCHOOL CLOCK please. It starts, Fond memories rush over my mind just now of faces and friends of the past.

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Subject: Lyr Add: BALLAD OF THE HARP-WEAVER (Edna Millay)
From: GUEST,.gargoyle
Date: 26 Jan 03 - 01:10 AM

Another grand soul harking from Maine and the first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for poetry. Not familiar with it...but...I heard this one recited tonight....and it is good...but a little mushy.


by Edna St. Vincent Millay

Son, said my mother,
When I was knee-high,
You've need of clothes to cover you,
And not a rag have I.
There's nothing in the house
To make a boy breeches,
Nor shears to cut a cloth with,
Nor thread to take stitches.

There's nothing in the house
But a loaf-end of rye,
And a harp with a woman's head
Nobody will buy,
And she began to cry.

That was in the early fall.
When came the late fall,
Son, she said, the sight of you
Makes your mother's blood crawl,

Little skinny shoulder blades
Sticking through your clothes!
And where you'll get a jacket from
God above knows.

It's lucky for me, lad,
Your daddy's in the ground,
And can't see the way I let
His son go around!
And she made a queer sound.

That was in the late fall.
When the winter came,
I'd not a pair of breeches
Nor a shirt to my name.

I couldn't go to school,
Or out of doors to play.
And all the other little boys
Passed our way.

Son,"said my mother,
Come, climb into my lap,
And I'll chafe your little bones
While you take a nap.

And, oh, but we were silly
For half an hour or more,
Me with my long legs
Dragging on the floor,

To a Mother Goose rhyme!
Oh, but we were happy
For half an hour's time!

But there was I, a great boy,
And what would folks say
To hear my mother singing me
To sleep all day,
In such a daft way?

Men say the winter
Was bad that year;
Fuel was scarce,
And food was dear.

A wind with a wolf's head
Howled about our door,
And we burned up the chairs
And sat upon the floor.

All that was left us
Was a chair we couldn't break,
And the harp with a woman's head
Nobody would take,
For song or pity's sake.

The night before Christmas
I cried with the cold,
I cried myself to sleep
Like a two-year-old.

And in the deep night
I felt my mother rise,
And stare down upon me
With love in her eyes.

I saw my mother sitting
On the one good chair,
A light falling on her
From I couldn't tell where,

Looking nineteen,
And not a day older,
And the harp with a woman's head
Leaned against her shoulder.

Her thin fingers, moving
In the thin, tall strings,
Were weav-weav-weaving
Wonderful things.

Many bright threads,
From where I couldn't see,
Were running through the harp strings

And gold threads whistling
Through my mother's hand.
I saw the web grow,
And the pattern expand.

She wove a child's jacket,
And when it was done
She laid it on the floor
And wove another one.

She wove a red cloak
So regal to see,
She's made it for a king's son,
I said, and not for me.
But I knew it was for me.

She wove a pair of breeches
Quicker than that!
She wove a pair of boots
And a little cocked hat.

She wove a pair of mittens,
She wove a little blouse,
She wove all night
In the still, cold house.

She sang as she worked,
And the harp strings spoke;
Her voice never faltered,
And the thread never broke.
And when I awoke,

There sat my mother
With the harp against her shoulder,
Looking nineteen,
And not a day older,

A smile about her lips,
And a light about her head,
And her hands in the harp strings
Frozen dead.

And piled up beside her
And toppling to the skies,
Were the clothes of a king's son,
Just my size.


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Subject: RE: Recitations Anyone?
From: Deckman
Date: 26 Jan 03 - 04:07 AM

WHEW! Thanks

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Subject: RE: Recitations Anyone?
From: Arkie
Date: 27 Jan 03 - 12:56 AM

Johnny Cash has recorded the Harp Weaver. A moving piece.

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Subject: Lyr Add: DEACON'S MASTERPIECE (Oliver W Holmes)
From: GUEST,.gargoyle
Date: 27 Jan 03 - 07:43 PM

I mentioned the subject to a fellow elocutionist and he brought forth this dandy.



The Wonderful One-Hoss Shay

(A Logical Story)

Copyright 1858, 1877, 1886, and 1890, by OLIVER WENDELL HOLMES.
Copyright, 1891,


. . . ."The Wonderful One-Hoss Shay" is a perfectly intelligible conception, whatever material difficulties it presents. It is conceivable that a being of an order superior to humanity should so understand the conditions of matter that he could construct a machine which should go to pieces, if not into its constituent atoms, at a given moment of the future. The mind may take a certain pleasure in this picture of the impossible. The event follows as a logical consequence of the presupposed condition of things.

There is a practical lesson to be got out of the story. Observation shows us in what point any particular mechanism is most likely to give way. In a wagon, for instance, the weak point is where the axle enters the hub or nave. When the wagon breaks down, three times out of four, I think, it is at this point that the accident occurs. The workman should see to it that this part should never give way; then find the next vulnerable place, and so on, until he arrives logically at the perfect result attained by the deacon.

The localities referred to are those with which I am familiar in my drives about Essex County.

O. W. H.

July, 1891

The Deacon's Masterpiece


The Wonderful One-hoss Shay

(A Logical Story)

HAVE you heard of the wonderful one-hoss-shay,
That was built in such a logical way
It ran a hundred years to a day,
And then, of a sudden, it--ah, but stay
I 'll tell you what happened without delay,
Scaring the parson into fits,
Frightening people out of their wits,--
Have you ever heard of that, I say?

Seventeen hundred and fifty-five,
Georgius Secundus was then alive,--
Snuffy old drone from the German hive;
That was the year when Lisbon-town
Saw the earth open and gulp her down,
And Braddock's army was done so brown,
Left without a scalp to its crown.
It was on the terrible earthquake-day
That the Deacon finished the one-hoss-shay.

Now in building of chaises, I tell you what,
There is always somewhere a weakest spot,--
In hub, tire, felloe, in spring or thill,
In panel, or crossbar, or floor, or sill,
In screw, bolt, thoroughbrace,--lurking still,
Find it somewhere you must and will,--
Above or below, or within or without,--
And that's the reason, beyond a doubt,
A chaise breaks down, but doesn't wear out.

But the Deacon swore (as Deacons do)
With an "I dew vum," or an "I tell you,"
He would build one shay to beat the town
'n' the keounty 'n' all the kentry roun';
It should be so built that it couldn' break down!
--"Fur," said the Deacon, "t 's mighty plain
Thut the weakes' place mus' stan' the strain;
'n' the way t' fix it, uz I maintain,
Is only jest
T' make that place uz strong uz the rest."

So the Deacon inquired of the village folk
Where he could find the strongest oak,
That could n't be split nor bent nor broke,--
That was for spokes and floor and sills;
He sent for lancewood to make the thills;
The crossbars were ash, from the straightest trees,
The panels of whitewood, that cuts like cheese,
But lasts like iron for things like these;
The hubs of logs from the "Settler's ellum,"
Last of its timber,--they could n't sell 'em,

Never an axe had seen their chips,
And the wedges flew from between their lips
Their blunt ends frizzled like celery-tips;
Step and prop-iron, bolt and screw,
Spring, tire, axle, and linchpin too,
Steel of the finest, bright and blue;
Thoroughbrace bison-skin, thick and wide;
Boot, top, dasher, from tough old hide
Found in the pit when the tanner died.
That was the way he "put her through."
"There!" said the Deacon, "naow she 'll dew."
Do! I tell you, I rather guess
She was a wonder, and nothing less!

Colts grew horses, beards turned gray,
Deacon and deaconess dropped away,
Children and grandchildren--where were they?
But there stood the stout old one-hoss-shay
As fresh as on Lisbon-earthquake-day!

EIGHTEEN HUNDRED;--it came and found
The Deacon's Masterpiece strong and sound.
Eighteen hundred increased by ten;--
"Hahnsum kerridge" they called it then.
Eighteen hundred and twenty came;--
Running as usual; much the same.
Thirty and forty at last arrive,
And then come fifty, and FIFTY-FIVE.

Little of all we value here
Wakes on the morn of its hundredth year
Without both feeling and looking queer.

In fact, there's nothing that keeps its youth
So far as I know, but a tree and truth.
(This is a moral that runs at large;
Take it.--You 're welcome.--No extra charge.)

FIRST OF NOVEMBER,--the Earthquake-day.--
There are traces of age in the one-hoss-shay--
A general flavor of mild decay,
But nothing local, as one may say.
There could n't be,--for the Deacon's art
Had made it so like in every part
That there was n't a chance for one to start.
For the wheels were just as strong as the thills,
And the floor was just as strong as the sills,
And the panels just as strong as the floor,
And the whippletree neither less nor more,
And the back-crossbar as strong as the fore,
And spring and axle and hub encore,
And yet, as a whole, it is past a doubt
In another hour it will be worn out!

First of November, 'Fifty-five!
This morning the parson takes a drive.
Now, small boys, get out of the way!
Here comes the wonderful one-hoss-shay,
Drawn by a rat-tailed, ewe-necked bay.
"Huddup!" said the parson. --Off went they.

The parson was working his Sunday's text,--
Had got to fifthly, and stopped perplexed
At what the--Moses--was coming next.
All at once the horse stood still,
Close by the meet'n'-house on the hill
--First a shiver, and then a thrill,
Then something decidedly like a spill,--
And the parson was sitting upon a rock,
At half-past nine by the meet'n'-house clock,--
Just the hour of the Earthquake shock!

--What do you think the parson found,
When he got up and stared around?
The poor old chaise in a heap or mound,
As if it had been to the mill and ground!
You see, of course, if you 're not a dunce,
How it went to pieces all at once,--
All at once, and nothing first,--
Just as bubbles do when they burst.

End of the wonderful one-hoss-shay.
Logic is logic. That's all I say.


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Subject: RE: Recitations Anyone?
From: Deckman
Date: 27 Jan 03 - 09:03 PM

AHHHHHH! There's a phrase from the past ... elocutionist! Did you know that "elocution" was a subject taught in grammer school in earlier days in America. I am fortunate enough to have my Grand Father's, AND my Mother's elocution notebooks from their school days. What is it? ... you might ask? I'm sure there will be much better definitions posted soon, but for me, "elocution" is the art of the spoken word" envolving diction, emoting, acting, and above all, passion! CHEERS, Bob(deckman)Nelson

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Subject: RE: Recitations Anyone?
From: bradfordian
Date: 02 Feb 03 - 06:55 PM

Saw Will Noble & John Cocking tonight (Sun) & Will recited some material from the pen of KEVIN COLLIER.
It is excellent humorous stuff. Here's Kevins web site
You can see some samples if you click on the list at the left hand side of the screen.

Regards Brad.

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Subject: RE: Recitations Anyone?
From: Compton
Date: 03 Feb 03 - 10:56 AM

A very quick one,once performed by Max Miller (remember him?)
There was a cow from Huddersfield,
But no milk would she yield.
The reason that she wouldn't yield,
She didn't like her 'Udders feeled !

...there'll never be another, lady !

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Subject: RE: Recitations Anyone?
From: Schantieman
Date: 03 Feb 03 - 12:02 PM

I used to have elocution lessons when I was about 10. No idea why now, but as it involved girly things like acting I wasn't very keen. AND we did an exerpt from Tom Sawyer in American accents which is, I'm sure, not what my parents were hoping for!


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Subject: RE: Recitations Anyone?
From: fogie
Date: 03 Feb 03 - 01:03 PM

Don't let this thread go down till I've had chance to read the rest tomorrow

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Subject: RE: Recitations Anyone?
From: Deckman
Date: 03 Feb 03 - 06:56 PM

Hey fogie ... neat song title "Don't Let This Thread Go Down" What key is it in? CHEERS, Bob

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From: Art Thieme
Date: 03 Feb 03 - 10:38 PM

I don't know where I got this---but it's in my file along with stuff I brought back from trying to drive to Alaska over thirty years ago. We lost 2 of our 4 cylinders near Whitehorse and had to turn around.------------Art Thieme

The Madam stood in her parlor when a knock was heard at her door,
The girls all gathered 'round her to display their stock and store,
She peered through the panel grill like a panther stalks a deer,
And with a quick respond to the cute little blonde she whispered in her ear,

"He is fresh from the hobo jungles, dear, with a great big roll of hay,
So stick right close beside him and make the sucker pay,
I sent my spotter down last night to watch the boats arrive,
And my taxi driver picked him up in an east-end bootleg dive.

He'll be my guest while you get dressed in your finest evening frock,
His tonsils anoint in a cocktail joint but bank his roll in your sock,
Offer your charms to lure him---make sure of your feminine wit,
But get his jack and then come back. It's a 50-50 split."

"Hello, dis place!" said Micky O'Shea, as the Madam ushered him in,
"I'll down me sum of the good ol' rum 'cause I know you're drinkin' gin,
Here's to the ladies--bless 'em--and here's to the rum---drink her down,
Skol! Fill 'em up! Bottoms up you Wobs. There's plenty more liquor in town.

Now trot out the girls for my choosin' for my flesh is seared with the flame,
That has burned in man since the world began. (O, need I mention it's name?)"
Now dearie," the Madam intruded, I know you're rarin' to go,
That roll you pack of the hard-earned jack is a mighty big wad o' dough.

Just be advised by one who is wise to the ways of the huntress clan,
Steer clear of the harlot, the woman in scarlet, she is out to fleece you, man.
So let me make you acquainted with the right kind of gal to squire,
She's honest and true---she'll see ya through. Shake hands with Molly McGuire."

"What a woman! My God! What a woman."--thought the man from the log-jammed streams,
I'd follow her track to hell and back, she's the girl of my fanciful dreams.
I've lain all alone in the forest with boughs for a bed,
With the towering pines up above me and the murmuring winds overhead.

And I've heard her voice in that stillness, and she has come like a nymph before dawn,
To soothe my soul with her fondness. With the stars and the night she'd be gone.
And often I fancied I'd seen her in those big deep pools of blue,
Where the cataract leaps in the river, I've heard her laughter there too,
And now, just to think she's beside me, God it's hard to believe,
"Come honey, let's head for a nightclub," said the blond little daughter of eve.

Ten thousand drums and a big brass band, strange animals purple and red,
Were climbing the walls with ten-pound mauls and a-thumping 'em down on his head,
A circus of serpents performing in a bathtub full of champagne,
They were long---they were lean, they were purple and green and writhing around in his brain.

A woman---a marvel of beauty--a form like a sculptor's dream,
With rippling laughter in her eyes like the moon on a mountain stream,
Was calling him close to her bosom, was enticing him to her embrace,
But always her image would vanish and the floor would wallop his face.

Now, was it a horrible nightmare, or the jims from the liquid fire,
Had the Madam not made him acquainted with a girl named Molly McGuire?
He seemed to remember a roadhouse where the twinkling bright lights shone,
Then, sudden, he ran through his pockets---his roll---my God--! It was gone.

How cold were the streets of the city, how barren and friendless, how bare,
How lightly the now it fluttered, pure white, on that turbulent air,
How soon were the flakes soiled in the gutter, their emblem of purity stained,
Like the maiden whose visage he'd conjured in the forest where solitude reigned.

He was heading right back to his little log shack on the north-bound boat that night,
How he's spent that day it was hard to say, but he seemed to remember a fight,
Battered and bruised and badly used and nursing a big blackened eye,
While many a dame of skidroad fame was waving her love good bye.

When the steward tapped him on the shoulder and beckoned him on with a sigh,
"If you're Micky O'Shea, then follow me. You're wanted in stateroom nine."
It was Molly McGwire, his heart's desire, that opened the stateroom door,
She said with a grin, "Come on right in, you're blocking the corridor.

You'll think I'm tricky, but listen, Micky," said the blond as she opened her purse,
"Last night on a spree we saw a J. P. and you took me for better or worse.
And here's the whole of your hard earned roll that you gave me to hold for you,
And now I'm your wife you can bet your life I'll always be honest and true."

There's a house in the city that's built on the sins of the Devil ordained,
Where the snowflakes drift in the gutter, their emblem of purity stained,
There's a little log shack in the forest where these two kindled a light,
And snowdrifts gleam in the valley, untrodden, untarnished and white.

Some obvious typos corrected. --JoeClone, 26-Feb-03.

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Subject: RE: Recitations Anyone?
From: Art Thieme
Date: 03 Feb 03 - 10:44 PM

sorry for not proofreading before I sent it off.


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Subject: RE: Recitations Anyone?
From: Deckman
Date: 04 Feb 03 - 05:00 AM

Hi Art! My GOSH, that's an amazing piece. I don't think I've ever seen anything it's equal. Thanks for posting it! CHEERS, Bob

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Subject: RE: Recitations Anyone?
From: Dave Bryant
Date: 04 Feb 03 - 06:07 AM

I've been looking for a poem called the "Oily Rigs" by the late Bob Roberts who was the skipper of "Cambria", which was about the last sailing barge to continue trading. I started a thread and it's in the unanswered requests. It's a humourous poem about how an offshore drilling rig goes so far down that it floods Hell. I can remember the following fragments from the end of it.

....and the last of the sea goin' glug, glug, glug,
Down this bloody great hole we'd made.

......and there was the face of the devil himself,
Saying, "What's the bloody game ?".

"You've put out all my furnaces
- you'd make an angel sob,
- I'll never get Hell hot again
- I've lost my bleedin' job !"

So we done some good with our Oily Rig
'Coz we doused Hell in a flurry
So now when you die there's only Heaven
So there ain't no need to worry.

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Subject: RE: Recitations Anyone?
From: Naemanson
Date: 04 Feb 03 - 02:54 PM

Dave, I've seen that somewhere. I wonder where. I'll have to go check my cassettes. I might have it.

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Subject: RE: Recitations Anyone?
From: Art Thieme
Date: 04 Feb 03 - 09:29 PM

Friends Of Fiddlers Green had that on an LP. Might've been from Front Hall Records (Andy Spence)

Art Thieme

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Subject: RE: Recitations Anyone?
From: Art Thieme
Date: 06 Feb 03 - 09:48 PM

It's Art--back again. I just found this notation in the next file from where I'd put the above posted poem. Seems it's from a book called BUNKHOSE BALLADS and it was written by Robert E. Swanson.
Another notation I made was

"THEY HAD NO POET --- AND THEY DIED"-----not sure why I wrote that down.

Also---"As a youth of Vancouver Island's East Wellington, Bob Swanson went into the woods pulling whistle for John Coburn in 1919. He became a turn sawmill engineer, chief engineer, civil engineer and mechanical superintendant at Victoria Lumber Company in Chamainus. Since 1940 he has been inspector of railways for British Columbia---borrowed for rhe war years by the Crown in the airplane spruce program. His personal friendship with Robert W. Service may or may not have helped develop his attitude for writing verse---the fact remaining that Robert F. Swanson is noted as Canada's rhymster of the woods."

Seems I picked this up somewhere called ROCKY MOUNTAIN HOUSE in B.C. As I said, it was 30 years back. Might've been near Dome Glacier----but maybe not.

Art Thieme

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Subject: RE: Recitations Anyone?
From: Deckman
Date: 06 Feb 03 - 11:42 PM

Hi Art! I've been going though a lot of old volumes also. Have you noticed, as I have, that even the dust smells good! CHEERS, Bob

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Subject: Lyr Add: THE BURIAL OF TIM DUPUIS (Henry Stelfox)
From: Art Thieme
Date: 07 Feb 03 - 02:59 PM

Bob, Yes, you are correct. I can't get away from the old books and files---although this compu-machine keeps trying to lure me astray. The dust is the smell of time passing----it's proof we were there and are now here---survived---alone---like Ishamael--"to tell thee" !!

Here's another one to "tell ya". But my notations on this song/poem/recitation indicate that ROCKY MOUNTAIN HOUSE, whatever it was, was not in B.C.---it was in Alberta. Anyhow, I found thiis in 1969 while in Western Canada. There was a grand & delightful quite primitive snowstorm we camped in on the Alaska/Al-Can highway (before it was paved) after which our son Chris was born nine months later.---- I can hear BILL SABLES or DAVE de HUGUARD in Australia putting a tune to this one or the "Soiled Snowflake". Thanks to Mudcatter BOB BOLTON, Dave de Hugard's latest CD is my current favorite. (Thanks Robert.)

Art Thieme

by Henry Stelfox of Rocky Mountain House

Tim Dupuis was a quarter Cree and he trapped with me in the bush,
Through the winter long he whistled his song and never seemed to rush,
His traps he'd set and the furs he'd get which he would stretch all at night time,
In the cabin good we were warm and snug through all the long winter clime.

Tim's past life had been bitter strife but what drove him north to come,
I never knew for he was one of the few whose lips were sealed and mum,
He'd trap all day and sing all the way, his step was light when returning,
With his catch in the pack all strapped to his back and the wind through the wild was murmuring.

It seemed to say, "Tim, it's another day---the leaves of your life book are burning,
All too fast have you thought of your past while your hair has been snow white turning,
You're 79 and the Arctic clime may cause your life to falter,
Your bones have told you are growing old and your step begins to falter."

Tim left the cabin one morn 'fore break o' the dawn---his step was none too steady,
I said, "Tim, take care or this cold winter air will get you before you are ready"
I worried all day while Tim was away; I'd noticed his health was failing,
He had lots of grit and just wouldn't quit or admit that he was ailing.

It was late that night when I caught sight of Tim as he returned to the cabin,
His face was drawn and he looked forlorn--I coulkd see that he was all in,
After he fed and retired to be, said, "Partner turn the light a bit lower
For I have learnt that my candle is burnt and I've none left to burn any more."

I awoke next morn with the crack o' the dawn and I could see that Tim was dead,
He lay on his side his eyes open wide and one arm stretched over his head,
I felt forlorn--there are things to perform; I knew I must bury Tim.
There was no casket grand in that whole swampy land in which to bury him.

I knew I had to get him out of his cot and store him where he'd keep,
Until the ground thawed out somewhere close to plant him for his long sleep,
He was already dressed for when he'd retired to rest he'd left his clothes on,
He always said when he went to bed he'd be cold without 'em on.

I got a good hitch with a thong of babiche around him and below his shoulder,
Heaved and sweat before I could get this body where it'd be colder,
I'd looked around and already found a spot where the moss was deepest,
With ice underneath and moss for a wreath was for Tim the place that was safest.

I packed away that human clay and bid him goodbye 'til summer,
When muskegs thawed out that were here near about and I'd bury him in right manner,
I felt rather sad for coyotes were bad for unearthing men near the surface,
I hadn't a spade so I couldn't've made a grave deep enough for the purpose.

Summer came with plenty of rain and bull frogs woke from their slumber,
In knew it was time in that Acctic clime to decently bury my partner,
I pushed a long pole in a deep hole where moss was scanty and slim,
The footing was bad but no choice I had of a better grave for Tim.

I hied me back to my winter shack to prepare my winter partner,
For his long sad sleep in the muskeg deep and away from the wolves in the winter,
'Neath those glorious sights and the northern lights in the land of awe and wonder,
He'd keep that way 'til judgment day in that land of ice and tundra.

But the heat was bad and the flies were thick and I knew he wouldn't keep,
He was the grimiest cuss I'd ever seen,---in a bath he'd never been,
I figured he'd sink a lot better if I pulled the clothes off of him,
So I whetted my nife (and lit my pipe) before undressing Tim.

I spreadeagled Tim on the flat of his back and put him to the acid test,
I poured it neat from head to feet and then took a little rest,
I filled my pipe for I hated the sight and the smell of partner Tim,
While from the back of his neck right down to his feet I let the acid sink in.

I heaved a prayer as I hit the next layer and started his undies to undo,
Wasn't so tough for the buttons dropped off---the thread had rotted in two,
My eyes opened wide and I cussed his old hide for there were my pants strange to tell,
As I cut off the last I was ready to gasp for Tim hated bath water like hell.

My pipe had gone out and I nearly passed out when I got a whiff from his lily white skin,
No time to lose and I had no booze to keep my breakfast within,
The job had to get done; he'd been a good bum. I was anxious to be gone from there,
I pulld him out quick near the creek and swilled him with lots of Eau D'claire.

I was buckin' the wind and I often sinned when makin' remars 'bout old Tim,
For he dragged like lead now that he was dead and I cussed him for not being slim,
When I got across from beyond the moss I was finished with dragging old Tim,
So I looked 'round and soon found the spot perfect to drop him in.

I tugged and towed and sometimes blowed as I was travelin' on my skis,
For that miry mass was a rotten morass that I was sometimes in to my knees,
But I'd brought a chunk of lead which I tied to his head and I started to chant a requium,
Thn I pushed him in with a, "Good-bye Tim," --- and the muskeg sucked him in.

(Art Thieme)

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Subject: RE: Recitations Anyone?
From: bradfordian
Date: 11 Feb 03 - 08:43 AM

Not urgent, just a casual enquiry.
Anyone got the words for the following?:

Ballad of Bethnal Green

Daniel and the Lions Den

Angel of the Dangle

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Subject: RE: Recitations Anyone?
From: Mad Tom
Date: 11 Feb 03 - 10:44 PM

The album "Boys of the Lough - Live At Passim" has one of them doing "The Darling Baby", unaccompanied.
I can't remember (or find) the words, but it's about this guy who has to watch the baby when his wife is called to her mother's sickbed. The baby screams it's head off until she shows up again - "He was quiet as a mouse, the wretch!"
After each verse, he sings "Oh my darlin' [something-something] chum / Wait until your mummy comes / Wouldn't you like to suck your thumb / As ever a man so born."
The rest is all spoken. It's a hoot.

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Subject: RE: Recitations Anyone?
Date: 12 Feb 03 - 12:42 AM

Bradfordian - "Daniel and the Lions Den" - "Angel of the Dangle" are refenced in the DT and the forum.

A recitation "new" to most those under thirty is "Moose Turd Pie" by Utah Phillips.


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Subject: RE: Recitations Anyone?
From: GUEST,.gargoyle
Date: 12 Feb 03 - 12:43 AM


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Subject: RE: Recitations Anyone?
From: bradfordian
Date: 14 Feb 03 - 03:22 PM

I'm looking for a monologue on behalf of a third party.
The scenario is that it's a Vicar (Minister/Pastor etc.) reading a sermon to a couple in the process of getting married, but it is full of unintentional sexual innuendo. Anyone come across anything like this?

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Subject: ADD: The Ballad Of Yukon Jake
From: Joe Offer
Date: 10 Oct 04 - 03:12 AM

Looks like we haven't found Brad's poem. In this thread (click), about "Face on the Barroom Floor," somebody mentioned "Hermit of Shark Tooth Shoal" (officially "The Ballad Of Yukon Jake") Turns out it hasn't been posted, so here it is from, even though it isn't a Service poem.
-Joe Offer-

The following poem was written by Edward H. Paramore, Jr in 1921 and not Robert W. Service as many seem to think. However the writing style is very similar and has caused some confusion regarding the true author. The poem is published here as a worthy tribute to Robert W. Service's influence, style, talent, wordcraft, and of course to remind those who may be unaware that it is by Edward H.Paramore, Jr.

The Ballad Of Yukon Jake

Begging Robert W. Service's Pardon

Oh the north countree is a hard countree
That mothers a bloody brood;
And its icy arms hold hidden charms
For the greedy, the sinful and lewd.
And strong men rust, from the gold and the lust
That sears the Northland soul,
But the wickedest horn, from the Pole to the Horn,
Is the Hermit of Shark-Tooth Shoal.

Now Jacob Kaime was the Hermit's name
In the days of his pious youth,
Ere he cast a smirch on the Baptist Church
By betraying a girl named Ruth.
But now men quake at "Yukon Jake,"
The Hermit of Shark-Tooth Shoal,
For that is the name that Jacob Kaime
Is known by from Nome to the Pole.

He was just a boy and the parson's joy
(Ere he fell for the gold and the muck),
And had learned to pray, with the hogs and the hay
On a farm near Keokuk.
But a Service tale of illicit kale,
And whisky and women wild,
Drained the morals clean as a soup tureen
From this poor but honest child.

He longed for the bite of a Yukon night
And the Northern Light's weird flicker,
Or a game of stud in the frozen mud,
And the taste of raw red licker.
He wanted to mush along in the slush,
With a team of husky hounds,
And to fire his gat at a beaver hat
And knock it out of bounds.

So he left his home for the hell-town Nome,
On Alaska's ice-ribbed shores,
And he learned to curse and to drink, and worse,
Till the rum dripped from his pores,
When the boys on a spree were drinking it free
In a Malamute saloon
And Dan Megrew and his dangerous crew
Shot craps with the piebald coon;
When the Kid on his stool banged away like a fool
At a jag.time melody,
And the barkeep vowed, to the hard-boiled crowd,
That he'd cree-mate Sam McGee —

Then Jacob Kaime, who had taken the name
Of Yukon Jake, the Killer,
Would rake the dive with his forty-five
Till the atmosphere grew chiller.
With a sharp command he'd make 'em stand
And deliver their hard-earned dust,
Then drink the bar dry of rum and rye,
As a Klondike bully must.
Without coming to blows he would tweak the nose
Of Dangerous Dan Megrew,
And, becoming bolder, throw over his shoulder
The lady that's known as Lou.

Oh, tough as a steak was Yukon Jake —
Hard-boiled as a picnic egg.
He washed his shirt in the KIondike dirt,
And drank his rum by the keg.
In fear of their lives (or because of their wives)
He was shunned by the best of his pals,
An outcast he, from the comradery
Of all but wild animals.
So he bought him the whole of Shark-Tooth Shoal,
A reef in the Bering Sea,
And he lived by himself on a sea lion's shelf
In lonely iniquity.

But, miles away, in Keokuk, Ia.,
Did a ruined maiden fight
To remove the smirch from the Baptist Church
By bringing the heathen Light;
And the Elders declared that all would be spared
If she carried the holy words
From her Keokuk home to the hell-town Nome
To save those sinful birds.

So, two weeks later, she took a freighter,
For the gold-cursed land near the Pole,
But Heaven ain't made for a lass that's betrayed-
She was wrecked on Shark-Tooth Shoal!
All hands were tossed in the Sea, and lost —
All but the maiden Ruth,
Who swam to the edge of the sea lion's ledge
Where abode the love of her youth.

He was hunting a seal for his evening meal
(He handled a mean harpoon)
When he saw at his feet, not something to eat,
But a girl in a frozen swoon,
Whom he dragged to his lair by her dripping hair,
And he rubbed her knees with gin.
To his great surprise, she opened her eyes
And revealed-his Original Sin!

His eight-months beard grew stiff and weird,
And it felt like a chestnut burr,
And he swore by his gizzard, and the Arctic blizzard
That he'd do right by her.
But the cold sweat froze on the end of her nose
Till it gleamed like a Tecla pearl,
While her bright hair fell, like a flame from hell,
Down the back of the grateful girl.

But a hopeless rake was Yukon Jake,
The hermit of Shark-Tooth Shoal!
And the dizzy maid he rebetrayed
And wrecked her immortal soul! .
Then he rowed her ashore, with a broken oar,
And he sold her to Dan Megrew
For a husky dog and some hot eggnog,
As rascals are wont to do.

Now ruthless Ruth is a maid uncouth
With scarlet cheeks and lips,
And she sings rough songs to the drunken throngs
That come from the sealing ships.
For a rouge-stained kiss from this infamous miss
They will give a seal's sleek fur,
Or perhaps a sable, if they are able;
It's much the same to her.

Oh, the North Countree is a rough countree,
That mothers a bloody brood;
And its icy arms hold hidden charms
For the greedy, the sinful and lewd.
And strong men rust, from the gold and the lust
That sears the Northland soul,
But the wickedest born from the Pole to the Horn
Was the Hermit of Shark-Tooth Shoal!

Edward H. Paramore, JR.

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Subject: RE: Recitations Anyone?
From: GUEST,Art
Date: 07 Dec 04 - 09:53 PM


too good to bury

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Subject: RE: Recitations Anyone?
From: GUEST,Art Thieme
Date: 17 Sep 05 - 12:52 AM

refresh again


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Subject: RE: Yarn of the "Nancy Bell"
From: Abby Sale
Date: 25 Oct 06 - 10:23 AM

Just learned of this. Great song.

Been seeking a tune - is there any knowledge if Gilbert had any particular one in mind?

Dave or Deckman, have you any way to let me know the tune you may have? Or anyone other?

On search I seemed to find a Canadian record but I'm not sure.

FYI, seems Gilbert fiddled wit the text a bit anyway, over time - this was reprinted many times. Here's a link to an 1898 version with his illustrations.

Text & illustrations

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Subject: RE: Recitations Anyone?
From: Abby Sale
Date: 25 Oct 06 - 10:58 AM

The record (tape) I found a reference to is THE PRAIRIE HIGGLERS "OVER TWENTY YEARS" from, I guess, The Canadian Society for Traditional Music.

Anyone know if it's sung on that?

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Subject: ADD: The Lifeboat (Sims) - recitation
From: Joe Offer
Date: 26 Oct 06 - 03:13 AM

I came across this the other night, and really liked it. It's in a Dover book called Victorian Parlour Poetry (Edited by Michael R. Turner, 1967). The poem is by George R. Sims, who also wrote the better-known Christmas in the Workhouse.

The Lifeboat

(George R. Sims)

    Been out in the lifeboat often? Ay, ay, sir, oft enough.
    When it's rougher than this? Lor' bless you! this ain't what we calls rough!
    It's when there's a gale a-blowin', and the waves run in and break
    On the shore with a roar like thunder and the white cliffs seem to shake;
    When the sea is a hell of waters, and the bravest holds his breath
    As he hears the cry for the lifeboat -- his summons maybe to death --
    That's when we call it rough, sir; but, if we can get her afloat,
    There's always enough brave fellows ready to man the boat.

    You've heard of the Royal Helen, the ship as was wrecked last year?
    Yon be the rock she struck on -- the boat as went out be here;
    The night as she struck was reckoned the worst as ever we had,
    And this is a coast in winter where the weather be awful bad.
    The beach here was strewed with wreckage, and to tell you the truth, sir, then
    Was the only time as ever we'd a bother to get the men.
    The single chaps was willin', and six on 'em volunteered,
    But most on us here is married, and the wives that night was skeered.

    Our women ain't chicken-hearted when it comes to savin' lives,
    But death that night looked certain -- and our wives be only wives:
    Their lot ain't bright at the best,sir; but here, when the man lies dead,
    'Taint only a husband missin', it's the children's daily bread;
    So our women began to whimper and beg o' the chaps to stay --
    I only heard on it after, for that night I was kept away.
    I was up at my cottage, yonder, where the wife lay nigh her end,
    She'd been ailin' all the winter, and nothing 'ud make her mend.

    The doctor had given her up, sir, and I knelt by her side and prayed,
    With my eyes as red as a babby's, that Death's hand might yet be stayed.
    I heerd the wild wind howlin', and I looked on the wasted form,
    And though of the awful shipwreck as had come in the ragin' storm;
    The wreck of my little homestead -- the wreck of my dear old wife,
    Who'd sailed with me forty years, sir, o'er the troublous waves of life,
    And I looked at the eyes so sunken, as had been my harbour lights,
    To tell of the sweet home haven in the wildest, darkest nights.

    She knew she was sinkin' quickly -- she knew as her end was nigh,
    But she never spoke o' the troubles as I knew on her heart must lie,
    For we'd had one great big sorrow with Jack, our only son --
    He'd got into trouble in London as lots o' lads ha' done;
    Then he'd bolted his masters told us -- he was allus what folks call wild.
    From the day as I told his mother, her dear face never smiled.
    We heerd no more about him, we never knew where he went,
    And his mother pined and sickened for the message he never sent.

    I had my work to think of; but she had her grief to nurse,
    So it eat away at her heartstrings, and her health grew worse and worse.
    And the night as the Royal Helen went down on yonder sands,
    I sat and watched her dyin', holdin' her wasted hands.
    She moved in her doze a little, then her eyes were opened wide,
    And she seemed to be seekin' somethin', as she looked from side to side;
    Then half to herself she whispered, "Where's Jack, to say good-bye?
    It's hard not to see my darlin', and kiss him afore I die."

    I was stoopin' to kiss and soothe her, while the tears ran down my cheek,
    And my lips were shaped to whisper the words I couldn't speak,
    When the door of the room burst open, and my mates were there outside
    With the news that the boat was launchin'. "You're wanted!" their leader cried.
    "You've never refused to go, John; you'll put these cowards right.
    There's a dozen of lives maybe, John, as lie in our hands tonight!"
    'Twas old Ben Brown, the captain; he'd laughed at the women's doubt.
    We'd always been first on the beach, sir, when the boat was goin' out.

    I didn't move, but I pointed to the white face on the bed --
    "I can't go, mate," I murmured; "in an hour she may be dead.
    I cannot go and leave her to die in the night alone."
    As I spoke Ben raised his lantern, and the light on my wife was thrown;
    And I saw her eyes fixed strangely with a pleading look on me,
    While a tremblin' finger pointed through the door to the ragin' sea.
    Then she beckoned me near, and whispered, "Go, and God's will be done!
    For every lad on that ship, John, is some poor mother's son."

    Her head was full of the boy, sir -- she was thinking, maybe, some day
    For lack of a hand to help him his life might be cast away.
    "Go, John, and the Lord watch o'er you! and spare me to see the light,
    And bring you safe," she whispered, "out of the storm tonight."
    Then I turned and kissed her softly, and tried to hide my tears,
    And my mates outside,when the saw me, set up three hearty cheers;
    But I rubbed my eyes wi' my knuckles, and turned to old Ben and said,
    "I'll see her again, maybe, lad, when the sea give up its dead.":

    We launched the boat in the tempest, though death was the goal in view
    And never a one but doubted if the craft could live it through;
    But our boat she stood in bravely, and, weary and wet and weak,
    We drew in hail of the vessel we had dared so much to seek.
    But just as we come upon her she gave a fearful roll,
    And went down in the seethin' whirlpool with every livin' soul!
    We rowed for the spot, and shouted, for all around was dark --
    But only the wild wind answered the cries from our plungin' bark.

    I was strainin' my eyes and watchin', when I thought I heard a cry,
    And I saw past our bows a somethin' on the crest of a wave dashed by;
    I stretched out my hand to seize it. I dragged it aboard, and then
    I stumbled, and struck my forrud, and fell like a log on Ben.
    I remember a hum of voices, and then I knowed no more
    Till I came to my senses here, sir -- here, in my home ashore.
    My forrud was tightly bandaged, and I lay on my little bed --
    I'd slipped, so they told me arter, and a rulluck had struck my head.

    Then my mates came in and whispered; they'd heard I was comin' round.
    At first I could scarcely hear 'em. it seemed like a buzzin' sound;
    But as my head got clearer, and accustomed to hear 'em speak,
    I knew as I'd lain like that, sir, for many a long, long, week.
    I guessed what the lads was hidin', for their poor old shipmate's sake.
    So I lifts my head from the pillow, and I says to old Ben, "Look here!
    I'm able to bear it now, lad -- tell me, and never fear."

    Not one on 'em ever answered, but presently Ben goes out,
    And the others slinks away like, and I say, "What's this about?
    Why can't they tell me plainly as the poor old wife is dead?"
    Then I fell again on the pillows, and I hid my achin' head;
    I lay like that for a minute, till I heard a voice cry "John!"
    And I thought it must be a vision as my weak eyes gazed upon;
    For there by the bedside, standin' up and well was my wife.
    And who do ye think was with her? Why Jack, as large as life.

    It was him as I'd saved from drownin' the night as the lifeboat went
    To the wreck of the Royal Helen; 'twas that as the vision meant.
    They'd brought us ashore together, he'd knelt by his mother's bed,
    And the sudden joy had raised her like a miracle from the dead;
    And mother and son together had nursed me back to life,
    And my old eyes woke from darkness to look on my son and wife.
    Jack? He's our right hand now, sir; 'twas Providence pulled him through --
    He's allus the first aboard her when the lifeboat wants a crew.

    George R. Sims

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From: Rowan
Date: 26 Oct 06 - 04:12 AM

One of my favourites comes from the days when I was one of the tigers in the Mountaineering Club at Melbourne Uni. It was always recited with music hall flourish. I'm sure you'll cope with the jargon.

by Showell Styles

I'll tell you the tale of a climber, a drama of love on the crags;
a story to pluck at your heart strings, and tear your emotions to rags.
He was tall, he was fair, he was handsome; John Christopher Brown was his name.
The Very Severes merely him bored him to tears and he felt about girls much the same.

'Til one day, while climbing at Ogwen, he fell (just a figure of speech)
for the president's beautiful daughter, named Mary Jane Smith. What a peach!
Her waist was as slim as Napes Needle, her lips were as red as Red Wall;
a regular tiger, she'd been up the Eiger North Wall, with no pitons at all!

Now Mary had several suitors, but never a one would she take,
though it seemed that she favoured one fellow, a villain named Reginald Hake.
This Hake was a cad who used pitons and wore a long silken moustache,
which he used, so they say, as an extra belay - but perhaps we're being too harsh.

John took Mary climbing on Lliwedd, and proposed while on Mallory's Slab;
it took him three pitches to do it, for he hadn't much gift of the gab.
He said: "Just belay for a moment - there's a little spike close by your knee -
and tell me, fair maid, when you're properly belayed, would you care to hitch up with me?"

Said Mary, "It's only a toss-up between you and Reginald Hake,
and the man I am going to marry must perform some great deed for my sake.
I will marry whichever bold climber shall excel at the following feat;
climb headfirst down Hope, without rubbers or rope, at our very next climbing club meet!"

Now when Mary told the committee, she had little occasion to plead;
she was as fair to behold as a jug-handle hold at the top of a hundred foot lead.
The club ratified her proposal; the President had to agree.
He was fond of his daughter, but felt that she oughter get married, between you and me.

Quite a big crowd turned up for the contest, lined up at the foot of the slabs;
the mobs came from Bangor in buses, and the nobs came from Capel in cabs.
There were Fell and Rock climbers by dozens, the Rucksackand Pinnacle Club (in new hats)
And a sight to remember!... an Alpine Club member in very large crampons and spats.

The weather was fine for a wonder; the rocks were as dry as a bone.
Hake arrived with a crowd of his backers, while John Brown strode up quite alone.
A rousing cheer greeted the rivals; a coin was produced, and they tossed.
"Have I won?" cried John Brown as the penny came down. "No!" hissed his rival, "You've lost!"

So Hake had first go at the contest; he went up by the Ordinary Route
and only the closest observer would have noticed a bulge in each boot.
Head first he came down the top pitches, applying his moustache as a brake;
he didn't relax till he'd passed the twin cracks, and the crowd shouted "Attaboy Hake!"

At the foot of the Slabs Hake stood sneering, and draining a bottle of Scotch.
" Your time was ten seconds," the President said, consulting the Treasurer's watch.
Now Brown. if you'd win, you have to beat that." Our hero's sang-froid was sublime;
he took one look at Mary and, light as a fairy, ran up to the top of the climb.

Now though Hake had made such good going, John wasn't discouraged a bit;
that he was the speedier climber even Hake would have had to admit.
So, smiling as though for a snapshot, not a hair of his head out of place,
our hero John Brown started wriggling down. But Look! What a change on his face!

Prepare for a shock, gentle ladies; gentlemen, check the blasphemous word.
For the villainy I am to speak of is such as you never have heard!
Reg Hake had cut holes in the toes of his boots and filled up each boot with soft soap!
As he slid down the climb he had covered with slime every handhold and foothold on Hope!

Conceive (if you can) the tense horror that gripped the vast concourse below,
when they saw Mary's lover slip downwards, like an arrow that's shot from a bow!
"He's done for!" gasped twenty score voices. "Stand from under!" roared John from above.
As he shot down the slope, he was steering down Hope, still fighting for life and for love!

Like lightning he flew past the traverse... in a flash he had reached the Twin Cracks.
The friction was something terrific---there was smoke coming out of his Daks.
He bounced off the shelf at the top of pitch two, and bounded clean over its edge!
A shout of "He's gone!" came from all except one and that one, of course, was our Reg.

But it's not the expected that happens, in this sort of story at least,
'cause just as John thought he was finished, he found that his motion had ceased!
His braces (pre-war and elastic) had caught on a small rocky knob,
and so, safe and sound, he came gently to ground, 'mid the deafening cheers of the mob!

"Your time was five seconds!" the President cried. "She's yours, my boy; take her, you win!"
" My hero!" breathed Mary, and kissed him; while Hake gulped a bottle of gin.
He tugged at his moustache and he whispered, "Aha! My advances you spurn!
"Curse a chap who wins races by using his braces!" And slunk away ne'er to return.

They were wed at the Church of St. Gabbro, where the Vicar, quite carried away,
did a hand-traverse into the pulpit, and cried out "Let us belay!"
John put the ring on Mary's finger (a snap-link it was, made of steel)
and they marched to their taxis 'neath an arch of ice axes, while all the bells started to peal.

The morals we draw from this story, are several, I'm happy to say:
It's virtue that wins in the long run; long silken moustaches don't pay.
Keep your head uppermost when you're climbing (if you must slither, be on a rope)
And steer clear of the places that sell you cheap braces, and the fellow that uses soft soap!

Cheers, Rowan

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Subject: Lyr Add: THE HOYLY RIG
From: Flash Company
Date: 26 Oct 06 - 10:51 AM

WSG had the dubious honour of having The Yarn of the Nacy Bell turned down by Punch Magazine as 'Being in doubtful taste'.
Way back in this thread I saw someone mention 'The Hoyly Rig'. I used to doit like this, may not be exactly Bob Robert's words, but near as I could remember:-

The fishin' were bad, and me boat laid up,
Though me and the lad aren't shirkers,
When this bloke came into our local pub,
An' he said 'I'm looking for workers!'

Well, he sounded to me like some sort of a Yank,
But he stood us a couple or three,
And he said 'We'm buildin' a Hoyly rig,
To fetch hoyl up out of the sea.

Well I'd heerd these fanciful tales afore,
So I asked him 'How much does it pay'
'Oh, twenty or thirty quid' sez he,
'A week' sez I 'Nay a day'

Well I went on home an' I'd thought nothing more,
But the missus she fusses an'frets,
And she sez 'You'll mek more in a month wi' yon,
Than tha will in a year wi' your nets!

So, the next Monday morning, it's down to the docks,
And we signed on , the young un an' mee,
And went off wi' this Yank on a tug to find out
If there were any hoyl in the sea.

We worked on a great big platform thing,
Wi' a drill going Wheeee, Wheeee, Wheeeeeee,
And all the time drilling a bloody big hole,
In't bottom of th' old North Sea.

Well, we drilled an' we drilled for three weeks or a month,
An'no sign of hoyl had we found,
'Til one day our lad looked o'er the side,
An' said 'Hey Dad, the tugs gone aground!'

Well I looked o'er side an'what did I see
But the sea going Glug, glug, glug,
And swirling away down that hole as we'd drilled,
Like the bath water goin' down th' plug.

Then a hiss, and a roar, and a great cloud of steam,
Up out of the hole it came,
And up popped the head of the Devil himself,
An' said 'Hey up what's your bloody game?'

'You've put out me fire, me coals all wet,
You've cooled down each oven an' hob,
And Hell isn't hot, it's all soggy an' wet,
You've ruined me whole bloody job!'

Well, I on'y laughed an' said 'Ruined thee job?
Aye, I reckon we've done that alright,
And you'll never get Hell hot again if tha tries,
'Cos no bugger will give you a light!'

So we done some good with our Hoyly Rig,
We cooled down Hell in a hurry,
So now, when you die, there's nowt else but heaven,
So you lot have no need to worry!

Needless to say, written before the discovery of North Sea oil!


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Subject: RE: Recitations Anyone?
From: The Sandman
Date: 26 Oct 06 - 07:21 PM

Fc...   Not Bad. BUT The original was better.

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Subject: RE: Recitations Anyone?
From: Bonecruncher
Date: 26 Oct 06 - 08:57 PM

Thanks for that one, ROWAN.
I remember it from the old "Scouting" magazine many years back, in which Showell Styles used to write.

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Subject: RE: Recitations Anyone?
From: Rowan
Date: 26 Oct 06 - 09:02 PM

And I remember Peter Auty doing a marvellous recitation in Melbourne before he moved to Brisbane. It was not a poem but a short story; "The champion bullock driver" by Lance Skuthorpe. Auty's dry intonation was very evocative.

Cheers, Rowan

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Subject: RE: Recitations Anyone?
From: dulcimer42
Date: 26 Oct 06 - 10:00 PM

please refresh

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Subject: Lyr Add: TO MORROW
From: Rowan
Date: 30 Oct 06 - 07:37 PM

Since Keith McKenry is about to go on tour I thought I'd post one he's well known for.

To Morrow

(Adapted by Keith McKenry from a song by Bob Gibson)

I started on a journey, last year it was sometime,
To a little town called Morrow, on a Queensland country line.
Now I've never been much of a traveller, and I really didn't know
That Morrow is the hardest place a bloke can try to go.

I went down to the station, to get my ticket there
For the next train to Morrow - I didn't have a care.
Said I, "My friend, I'd like to go to Morrow and return
Not later than tomorrow, for I haven't time to burn".

Said he to me, "Now let me see if I have heard you right.
You'd like to go to Morrow and return tomorrow night.
You should have gone to Morrow yesterday, and back today,
For the train that goes to Morrow is a mile upon its way.

"If you had gone to Morrow yesterday - now don't you see -
You could have gone to Morrow and got back today at Three,
For the train today to Morrow (if the schedule is right)
Today it goes to Morrow and returns tomorrow night."

Said I, "Now, hang on - hold it there - can we wind that back?
There is a town called Morrow on the line, now tell me that."
"There is", said he, "But take from me a quiet little tip,
To go from here to Morrow is a fourteen hour trip.

"The train today to Morrow leaves today at Eight Thirty-five,
And half past Ten tomorrow is the time it should arrive.
Now travellers yesterday to Morrow - who get to Morrow today
They come back again tomorrow (that is, if they don't stay)".

"OK, mate", I said, "You know it all. But kindly tell me, pray,
How can I get to Morrow if I leave this town today'?."
Said he, "You cannot go to Morrow any more today
For the train that goes to Morrow is a mile upon its way!"

I was getting rather aggro. I commenced to curse and swear.
The train had gone to Morrow and had left me standing there.
I decided then that - bother it! - I loathed the Queensland scrub,
And I would not go to Morrow. I went back to the pub.

And, while we were researching for the Trains of Teaure celebration/conference/etc, Brian Dunnett came up with the precursor to the the song/recitation above.

The train that ran to Morrow
By "Sou' Western"
from AFULE Locomotive Journal 13 Feb 1941
Courtesy of Brian Dunnett

I want a train to Morrow
I must get there today
for I wed tomorrow
my sweetheart Elsie May.
The S.M. said in 'sorrer'
"You'll have to go tomorrow;
you can't get there today.
The train that goes to Morrow
is half way on its way."

Now here's a bloomin' fiver
if you can find a driver
to take a train to Morrow.
I must be there today
or all will end in sorrer
if I jilt my Elsie May.

The S.M. he did ponder,
thought in that loco yonder
they still have Puffing Fanny
we can get Young Danny.
"You'll run a train to Morrow
We'll land him there today
to wed them both tomorrow;
himself and Elsie May."

He rang up Pat O'Gorman
the genial loco foreman
"You'll run a train to Morrow
with myself and Danny Fay,
for a bloke the name of Morrow
we must land at 12 today.

Out dashed the busy foreman
to hasten up the storeman
to put the oil in Fanny,
to call the stoker Danny.
The train was duly started
with guests and groom light-hearted.
Paddy opened up the throttle
as he sped her through the wattle
She was priming like a fountain
as she headed for the mountain
He had her blowing at the cocks
as he urged her through the "Rocks"
No word was spoke by either
the stoker or the driver
but Paddy thought in horror
if we fail to get to Morrow
on this blessed wedding day
all this will end in sorrer
for he and Elsie May.

Just around the deviation
there lay old Morrow Station.
They were certain of ovation
Paddy thought in desperation.
To run a train to Morrow
to reach there on the day
but not in time for Morrer
to wed his Elsie May.

The train arrived at noon
not a moment there too soon.
Had the train arrived tomorrow
it would spoil the honeymoon.

Now Paddy did the toastin'
to mate who'd done a roastin'.
The toast he gave was new
Such stokers there were few
should run a train to Morrow
and on a wedding day.
And if it's on to Morrow
my mate is Danny Fay.

"S.M" is Station Master
Cheers, Rowan

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Subject: RE: Recitations Anyone?
From: GUEST,Diyabrown
Date: 04 Nov 06 - 08:59 AM

I am looking for lyrics for recitation or song I heard several years ago on PRM called "Uncle Harry's Thanksgiving Grace.

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From: Rowan
Date: 21 May 07 - 07:20 PM

Here's another that went well with Mark Noak reciting for Flying Pieman.

"Why there are no more bushrangers"
Stephen Axelson; Commended, 1979 Book of the year

One hundred years ago or more,
a bloke named Bad Brown Bill
ranged the bush from Binnaway
and Bourke to Castle Hill.

Gruff and tough, rude and shrewd,
a scoundrel to the core,
he plundered, stole, he robbed and thieved
and still went out for more.

A mare named Mudpie was his mount;
an old but nimble nag
as hard as nails, as bold as brass,
but something of a wag.

They bailed up every bank and pub
from Broome to Cooper's Creek
and bundled up the Mudgee mail;
not once, but every week.

They boldly stole the Queensland Mint;
just took it, right or wrong.
Then down the eastern coast they sailed
and stuck up Wollongong.

One day they caught the Governor;
they took his splendid hat
and made him dance a jig on it
until he squashed it flat.

When now and then the mounted troops
rode out to track them down,
Brown Bill would yell and whoop and cheer
and chase them back to town.

Our hero was quite sure he was
the bravest of the brave;
he bragged so much he nearly drove
poor Mudpie to her grave.

In desperation, Mudpie found
the power of speech and said,
"You brag, but are you bold enough
to rob the ghostly dead?"

This struck and stunned and sorely stung
Brown Bill's enormous pride;
he flew into a crimson rage.
"My oath I am!" he cried.

He knelt upon the stony ground
And bound his fat brown head.
He slowly swore an awful Oath
and solemnly he said....

The Oath

"Pure and simple, straight and neat,
I vow I'll rob the folks I meet.
Be they live, or dead and dry,
I swear I'll rob the folks I spy.
And, if I ever break this Oath,
I'll eat my boots; I'll eat them both!"

Right then and there he galloped off
to find himself a ghost
and that same night he saw a sight
that turned his teeth to toast.

He'd come across a hideous ghoul
astride a rotten log;
it grinned a slimy, slippery grin
and breathed a damp green fog.

Brown Bill stood fast beside his Oath;
fair dinkum and true blue,
He'd bound himself to rob this fiend,
this dread, pale, jackaroo.

He bit his tongue and grit his teeth
and yelled courageously,
"You'll stand and you'll deliver, sir;
your wealth belongs to me!"

Then with a whine and hiss it spoke,
"Brown Bill, you've caught me fair,
so come up to my camp with me;
my treasure's hidden there."

And, like a flash, the ghost was off
away into the night.
Brown Bill stood still, upon his horse,
three quarters dead from fright.

He hummed a hymn and shook himself
and rode in hot pursuit
until he reached the billabong,
malodorous and mute.

Gross and gruesome monster ghosts,
loathesome and befouled,
begrimed, beslimed and horrible,
they howled and scowled and growled.

They lumbered out and heaved about,
a moaning, groaning throng;
with dead and tuneless tongues they sang
a monster welcome song.

"G'day and welcome, Bad Brown Bill!
Where's your smile? You're looking ill.
We've got a nice surprise for you;
we thought we'd make Bushranger Stew!

"We'll chop and break, we'll bend and squeeze,
we'll mince your nose and grind your knees.
We'll boil your bones in Merry Hell.
We'll eat you up! Your horse as well!"

Brown Bill and Mudpie stood like stone,
their faces long and grey.
Their arteries were full of lead;
their bones were turned to clay.

Then something like a rusty spring
gave way in Brown Bill's head.
He ate his boots and kicked his horse
and like a gale they fled.

They wandered in the wilderness
for forty days or so;
Brown Bill just shook his head and moaned
and wallowed in his woe.

So Mudpie said her second line,
the last she ever spoke,
"You've had your day as 'Bad Brown Bill';
you're now a better bloke."

They bought a schoolhouse, by and by,
where bushrangers were told
the story of the Oath he made
and every heart turned cold.

Yes, everyone who heard the tale
went grey and shook with dread;
they swore they'd change their wicked ways
and settle down instead.

So that's the reason why they say,
from Perth to Kimberley,
there's not a single bushranger
that's left alive to see.

But, sometimes, in the dead of night
perhaps you'll see them still;
the ghostly shapes of Mudpie
and a bloke named Bad Brown Bill.

Cheers, Rowan

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Subject: Lyr Add: THE BALLAD OF WILLIAM BLOAT (R Calvert)
From: GUEST,CrazyEddie
Date: 22 May 07 - 08:25 AM

Raymond Calvert

In a mean abode on the Skankill Road
Lived a man named William Bloat;
He had a wife, the curse of his life,
Who continually got his goat.
So one day at dawn, with her nightdress on
He slit her bloody throat.

2. With a razor gash he settled her hash
Never was crime so slick
But the drip drip drip on the pillowslip
Of her lifeblood made him sick.
And the knee-deep gore on the bedroom floor
Grew clotted and cold and thick.

3. And yet he was glad he had done what he had
When she lay there stiff and still
But a sudden awe of the angry law
Struck his heart with an icy chill.
So to finish the fun so well begun
He resolved himself to kill.

4. He took the sheet from the wife's coul' 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 solemnly cursed the Pope.

5. But the strangest turn to the whole concern
Is only just beginning.
He went to Hell but his wife got well
And she's still alive and sinnin',
For the razor blade was German made
But the sheet was Belfast linen.

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Subject: RE: Recitations Anyone?
From: GUEST,mark
Date: 21 Jun 07 - 08:51 PM

there is a verse missing from the text for "the oath of bad brown bill", it occurs after the verse which ends 'malodorous and mute' .. and is:

"Then slowly sliding from the trees
And creeping from the deep
The shapes of things long dead and gone
Emerged to blink and peep"

i used to recite this one when i played with an australian "bush band" back in the 80's, audiences loved it .. i remember quietening a packed pub with it one night, much to the annoyance of the publican.

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Subject: RE: Recitations Anyone?
From: Rowan
Date: 21 Jun 07 - 09:24 PM

Guest mark, thanks for addendum.
Which band was it you played with?

Cheers, Rowan

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Subject: RE: Recitations Anyone?
From: katlaughing
Date: 21 Jun 07 - 10:11 PM

That's a great one! Thanks, Rowan and Mark.

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Subject: RE: Recitations Anyone?
From: Art Thieme
Date: 07 Dec 08 - 05:02 PM

Any more?

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Subject: RE: Recitations Anyone?
From: Rowan
Date: 07 Dec 08 - 06:21 PM

Have you tried these yet, Art?

Cheers, Rowan

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Subject: RE: Recitations Anyone?
From: Aeola
Date: 08 Dec 08 - 06:10 PM

What a great thread!! Thanks Rowan, Idwal slabs, I used to climb in that area as a lad! Memories. About the same time I recorded a monologue off the radio, missed the intro so don't know who did it but it started, ' Out of Barking Creek bell ringer's bell it was rung, when the fog,lay thick on the water,But 'tis not of the bell ringer's bell my song's sung but of the bell ringer's daughter.' Plenty of words to invoke a little audience participation. Also about the same time my mate's father used to recite ' Mary was a servant girl of great renown..... she lived in London town,,,'unfortunately I never got the words off him. If anyone can help????

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Subject: RE: Recitations Anyone?
From: clueless don
Date: 20 Jan 10 - 12:26 PM

I recently recalled hearing a slightly naughty recitation a while back. It was, as I recall, about a scotsman who washes his kilt, but does it in such a way that it shrinks. As a result of the shrinkage, a certain feature of the scotsman's anatomy becomes visable below the kilt, so he decides to camouflage the "offending member" by dyeing it to match the kilt. The recitation ends with a statement that he is the only scotsman "wi' a tartan what-not".

Anyone know it?


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Subject: RE: Recitations Anyone?
From: kendall
Date: 20 Jan 10 - 01:15 PM

Is anyone still interested in this thread?

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From: RTim
Date: 20 Jan 10 - 02:57 PM

George Blake's Alphabet - Recitation.

                A covetous man is never satisfied
                Be wise and beware and of blotting take care
                Command you may your mind from play
                Duty, fear and love we owe to God above
                Every plant & flower sets forth God's power
                Fair words are often followed by foul deeds
                Get what you get honestly & use with frugality
                He is always poor who is never contented
                It's an ill dog that don't deserve a crust
                Judge not of things by their outward appearance
                Kings are seldom happy
                Learn to live as you would wish to die
                Many thinks not of living till they're near dying
                Never study to please others to ruin yourself
                Opportunity lost can never be recalled
                Provide against the worst and hope for the best
                Quiet minded men have always peace within
                Repentance comes too late when all is spent
                Some go fine and brave only to play the knave
               Those who do nothing will soon learn to do ill
                Unite in doing good
                Vice is always attended with sorrow
                Wise men are scarce
                Xenophon counted the wise men happy
                Your delight and care should be to write fair
                Zeal in a good cause have great applause.

Collected June 1967 by Dr. George B. Gardiner from George Blake (1829 to 1916) of St. Denys, Southampton, Hampshire and recreated on my CD - George Blake's Legacy, Forest Tracks Records.

Tim Radford

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Subject: RE: Recitations Anyone?
From: RTim
Date: 20 Jan 10 - 02:59 PM

Of course that should say - Collected June 1906!


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Subject: RE: Recitations Anyone?
From: Rowan
Date: 20 Jan 10 - 04:48 PM

Is anyone still interested in this thread?

kendall, if your voice doesn't get back to singing there are lots of recitations, both in this thread as well as this other one

All the best with the op.

Cheers, Rowan

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Subject: RE: Recitations Anyone?
From: gnu
Date: 21 Jan 10 - 02:29 PM

Don't know if this one was posted yet. Tommy Makem...

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Subject: ADD: The Virgin of Waikiki (Don Blanding, 1928)
From: Joe Offer
Date: 31 Jul 10 - 03:52 AM

Somebody send me a wonderfully-illustrated copy of this one today, and I enjoyed it. Here 'tis:

(Don Blanding, 1928)

Out at Waikiki by the sobbing sea,
In a district rather sporty,
In a banyan's shade lived a virgin maid
Who was just this side of forty.

She did not go to a movie show,
For she had no one to take her;
And she did not stray from the narrow way,
Because nobody tried to make her.

But I wish to state that a just that date
She was Waikiki's one virgin,
Though some were sure that the girl was pure
Because she'd had no urgin'.

But a dirty cat in a nearby flat,
Whose morals were quite elastic,
Laid a low-lived plan to ruin Anne,
With methods sly but drastic.

She stopped one day in a casual way
To ask about Anne's Persian;
Then said, "Oh, look at this lovely book;
It's a new, uncensored version,

Of Vermilion Sin by Helliner Grynn;
I'm sure you'll find it stirring."
With a knowing look she left the book,
Despite Anne's chaste demurring.

In a wicker chair, all unaware
Of her neighbor's wicked scheming,
Anne took a look through the borrowed book,
And it set her wildly dreaming.

Each gilded sin that Helliner Grynn
Described with skill uncanny,
Stirred a strange unrest in the withered breast
Of simple virgin Annie.

With a vision clear, she saw how drear
Was the virtue she'd been shielding,
And she longed for the charms of a lover's arms,
And the joys of weakly yielding.

In wild despair she tore her hair,
Then cried to the stars above her:
"I'll end my state of a celibate,
I'll get me a hard-boiled lover."

With frantic wail, she cleared the rail
Of the porch with a leap gazellish,
And headed straight for her neighbor's gate
And the light in her eyes was hellish.

"I'll steal her rouge and her high-heel shoes—
The ones she wears on Mondays;
And I think I'll get her pink georgette
And silk embroidered undies."

Before her glass, this aged lass
Sat down—it was really tragic—
And you would have cried as the virgin tried
To work a vampire's magic.

It was half-past ten when she left her den,
Feeling wild and very nighty,
As she boldly strode down Kalia Road
In her filmy chiffon nightie.

Underneath a tree at Waikiki
Was a sailor drinking madly,
It was rotten gin and it scorched his chin,
But he needed cheering badly.

For he was blue, and gin he knew
Would cheer his disposition.
Then he raised his eyes and to his surprise
Saw a lovely apparition.

"My gob, my gob!" he heard her sob,
"My hero, my adorer."
It was Annie there, and her frenzied stare
Quite startled the man before her.

He jumped to his feet for a quick retreat,
But Anne, with a gesture quicker
Than a bullet's hum, seized the bottle of rum
And drank the remaining liquor.

"Well, strike me pink," said the gob, "I think
This jane is drunk or dippy;
But she looks all there, and I don't care
If her figure is too hippy."

So he caught the maid as she dizzily swayed
To his arms, and he quickly kissed her;
And he heard her moan like a saxaphone
As the first kiss raised a blister.

Oh, I can't write of that hectic night,
My description would be pallid;
And, anyway, the things I'd say
Don't belong to a proper ballad.

But the papers say that next morning late
On a beach by the broad Pacific,
They found Anne dead, but the papers said
That her smile was beatific.

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Subject: RE: Recitations Anyone?
From: kendall
Date: 31 Jul 10 - 07:35 AM

What it was was football was recorded by Andy Griffith back in the 60's. On the flip side was Romeo and Juliet.

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Subject: Lyr Add: BATTLE OF BILLINGSGATE (recitation)
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 31 Jul 10 - 08:26 AM

Not sure whether the term 'recitation is the same elsewhere as it is in Ireland.
Most of the examples here are poems - recitations in Ireland don't necessarily rhyme - most of them don't.
This is typical of what we have here - included on the double CD of songs from West Clare, 'Around The Hills of Clare.
The reciter, Patrick Lynch has a large repertoire of them.
Jim Carroll

23-1 BATTLE OF BILLINGSGATE (recitation)
Patrick Lynch; Mount Scott, Mullagh. Rec. 22 July 2003.

In O'Connell's time in Dublin, there lived a woman by the name of Biddy Moriarty who owned a huckster's stall in one of the quays almost opposite the Four Courts.
She was a virago of the worst order; very able with her fists but even more formidable with her tongue. From one end of Dublin to the other, she was notorious for her powers of abuse, and indeed, even in the provinces, some of Mrs Moriarty's language had passed into currency. The Dictionary of Dublin slang had been considerably enlarged by her, and her voluble impudence had almost become proverbial.
Now some of O'Connell's friends decided that O'ConncIl could beat her at the use of her own weapons. Of this, however, O'Connell was not too sure, as lie had listened once or twice to a few minor specimens of her Billingsgate. It was mooted once where the young Kerry barrister could encounter her, and some of the company rather too freely ridiculed the idea of O'ConncIl being able for the famous Madam Moriarty.
Now O'ConncIl never liked to be made little of, so then and there he professed himself ready for the encounter and he even backed himself in the match. Bets were offered and taken, and it was decided that the contest should take place at once. So the party immediately adjourned to the huckster's stall, and there was the woman herself superintending the sale of some small ware, a parly of loungers and ragged idlers from about, because by now Biddy, in her own way, was one of the sights of Dublin.
O'Connell began the attack.
"Mow much do you want for the walking stick Mrs erm - erm - erm - erm - what's your name?"
"Moriarty is the name sir, and a fine one it is; have you anything to say agin it? It's one and sixpence for th'ould walking stick and, throth sure, 'tis as cheap as dirt."
"One and sixpence for an old walking stick; whew - why you're nothing short of an impostor to go charging eighteen pence for an ould stick that cost you tuppence."
"Tuppence, tuppence your grandmother; are you saying 'tis cheating the people I am? Impostor yourself."
"Oh, I object", says O'Connell, "as I am a gentleman."
"Gentleman; hee-hee, gentleman, gentleman", says Biddy, "the likes of you a gentleman? Why you potato-faced pippin-sneezer, when did a Madagascar monkey like you ever pick up enough common, Christian decency to lose your old Kerry brogue?"
"Easy now, easy now-", says O'Connell, in imperturbable good humour, "don't go choking yourself on such fine words, you whiskey-drinking old parallelogram."
"What's that you called me, you murdering villain?" roared Biddy.
"1 called you", says O'Connell, "a parallelogram, and a Dublin judge and jury will swear 'tis no libel."
"Oh hanam 'on Diabhal*! Oh holy St Bridget! That an honest woman like me should stand here and be called one of them parally - parally - par-ally bellygrums to her face; I'm none of your parally bellygrums, you rascally gallows-bird; you cowardly, sneaking, plate-licking blaggard."
"Oh no", says O'Connell, "and I suppose you'll deny you keep a hypotenuse in your house."
'"Tis a lie for you", says Biddy, "I never heard such a thing."
"But sure", says O'Connell, "all your neighbours know, not only do you keep a hypotenuse, but you have two diameters locked up in your garret and you take them out for a walk every Sunday."
"Oh, by all the saints, you hear that for talk, from one who claims to be a gentleman. Why, the divil fly away with you, you mitcher** from Munster, and make celery sauce of your rotten limbs, you mealy-mouthed tub-o-guts."
"Arrah; you can't deny the charge", says O'Connell, "you heartless old heptagon."
"Why, you nasty little tinker's apprentice", says Biddy, "If you don't mind your mouth I'll - I'll - I'll - I'll ..."
But here, here boys she gasped for breath, unable to hawk up any more words. But O'Connell carried on the attack.
"While I have a tongue in my head I'll abuse you, you most inimitable poritory; look at her boys; there she stands; a convicted perpendicular in petticoats, and there's contamination in her circumference and she trembles with guilt right down to the extremities of her corollaries. Ah, you're found out, you rectilineal antecedent of an equiangular old hag; you porter-swiping similitude of a bisection of a vortex."
Poor old Biddy was dumbfounded, and she only reached behind her on the shelf and took hold of a skillet and took aim at O'Connell's head.
So O'Connell beat a hasty retreat. But it was agreed by one and all that O'Connell had won
the battle of Billingsgate.

* Hanam 'on Diabhal - Your soul to the Devil.
** Mitcher - truant.

Daniel O'Connell, (1775-1847), political leader and leading opponent of The Act of Union, was renowned for his quick wit and his debating abilities and is said to have featured in the Irish oral tradition more than any other historical figure. An excellent and extremely entertaining account of the folklore surrounding O'Connell is to be found in folklorist Rionach Ui Ogain's exhaustive work on him.
Patrick learned this from a Miltown Malbay man, Marty Malley.

Ref: Immortal Dan, Rionach Ui Ógain, Geography Publications, n.d.

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Subject: RE: Recitations Anyone?
From: Joe_F
Date: 31 Jul 10 - 06:10 PM

For a rare recent writer of recitations, look up Mike Agranoff. Some of them are on his records, and five are in a booklet _Jake, the Captain and Other Heroes_ (1988; seems to be out of print).

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Subject: RE: Recitations Anyone?
From: Joe_F
Date: 31 Jul 10 - 06:22 PM

Another bawdy imitation Service poem is "The Castration of Sam McGee". The one by C. Wayne Lammers is apparently independent of the one (evidently written by an engineer) that I learned much earlier at Caltech in 1956. I may get around to typing it up.


An oddity: The bawdy song "The Harlot of Jerusalem" ("Kafoozalem") was current as a recitation in my high school (Putney, VT, ca. 1952). In it, Kafoozalem had become Methuselah!

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From: kendall
Date: 01 Aug 10 - 04:18 PM


I walked into a honkey tonk the other night down in New Orleans.
Up above the bar hung a big guitar, like none I'd ever seen.
The neck was set with diamonds, and although the strings were old,
Like kings of sound, they wound around six keys of solid gold.

A man stepped up beside me; his breath was strong of wine.
He said, "That guitar once belonged to a real close pal of mine.
He used to play it right here; it was '45, I think.
I could tell you quite a story if you'd care to buy me a drink."

Well, possessed by every weakness that makes a man a fool,
I bought a round and he drank it down, then he sat back on his stool.
"I remember now," he said. "It was '45, alright.
he'd just returned from the great war, that's where he lost his sight.

"His buddies gave him that guitar; at the time it was simple and plain.
He added the gold and jewels as he played his way to fame.
He was playing a job in Shreveport on the night he received the call:
'Come on up to the Grand Ol' Opry, the greatest show of all.'

"I was driving him to Nashville; it was misty and freezing rain.
The whistle blew and the signals flashed, but I swear, Mister, I never saw that train.
I heard the Doctor say just after he's used his knife,
'You're lucky, son; it was only your arm; it could have been your life.'

"But he died that night; life just demanded more than he could give.
I think he could have made it but he just lost his will to live.
But, this earth's loss is Heaven's gain, 'cause tonight he's still a star.
he plays with a band of angels; that's my son's golden guitar."

Sure it's kinda hokey in places, but that line, just demanded more than he could give.. always gets to me. Been there, done it.

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Subject: RE: Recitations Anyone?
From: olddude
Date: 01 Aug 10 - 04:38 PM

that is an awesome lyric ... OH YEA ....
Here is Bill Anderson

The Golden Guitar

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Subject: Edgar Guest The Three Bares?
From: GUEST,Edgar Guest
Date: 31 Jan 11 - 01:53 PM

I am trying to find the poem which has within some of the following:
"..she got 'em clean alright then wondered what she'd do with all that bucket full of explosive residue..."

I thought it was from a poem by Edgar Guest entitled "The Three Bares". I performed it once at a speech meet but can't find it anywhere....Thanks

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Subject: RE: Recitations Anyone?
From: GUEST,Vecchio
Date: 23 Oct 11 - 12:46 AM

I recall some WW2 army people reciting a saga about "Doth go but forty years since we set sail from Plymouth" the followed a tale of landing on "the goddam isle, meeting the King bloody sot, the queen voluptuous bitch etc" rather bawdy. Antone know it?

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Subject: Lyr Add: THE JUNK MAN (Carl Sandburg)
From: keberoxu
Date: 08 Dec 15 - 07:45 PM

Love the James Weldon Johnson dramatic reading.

A poster asked after, "I am glad God saw Death..." and I don't see that you got an answer. Here is what I could find.

Author: Carl Sandburg
collection: Chicago Poems: dated 1916
poem title: THE JUNK MAN

I am glad God saw Death
and gave Death a job taking care of all who are tired of living:

When all the wheels of a clock are worn and slow and the connections loose
And the clock goes on ticking and telling the wrong time from hour to hour
And people around the house joke about what a bum clock it is,
How glad the clock is when the big Junk Man drives his wagon
Up to the house and puts his arms around the clock and says:
"You don't belong here,
You gotta come
Along with me,"
How glad the clock is then, when it feels the arms of the Junk Man close around it and carry it away.

New York: Henry Holt and Company

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Subject: RE: Recitations Anyone?
From: kendall
Date: 08 Dec 15 - 09:59 PM

I have a book titled the Collected verse of A.B. Paterson (Banjo Patterson. Thanks again, Roger.

Another book called Old Bush songs, Australian classics

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Subject: Lyr Add: THE OWL-CRITIC (James Thomas Fields)
From: GUEST,.gargoyle
Date: 09 Dec 15 - 01:37 AM

From the Fifth Reader 1899.

By James Thomas Fields (1817–1881)

A Lesson to Fault-finders

"WHO stuffed that white owl?" No one spoke in the shop:
The barber was busy, and he couldn't stop;
The customers, waiting their turns, were all reading
The Daily, the Herald, the Post, little heeding
The young man who blurted out such a blunt question;                5
Not one raised a head or even made a suggestion;
And the barber kept on shaving.

"Don't you see, Mister Brown,"
Cried the youth, with a frown,
"How wrong the whole thing is,                10
How preposterous each wing is,
How flattened the head is, how jammed down the neck is—
In short, the whole owl, what an ignorant wreck 'tis!
I make no apology;
I've learned owl-eology.                15
I've passed days and nights in a hundred collections,
And cannot be blinded to any deflections
Arising from unskillful fingers that fail
To stuff a bird right, from his beak to his tail.
Mister Brown! Mister Brown!                20
Do take that bird down,
Or you'll soon be the laughing-stock all over town!"
And the barber kept on shaving.

"I've studied owls,
And other night fowls,                25
And I tell you
What I know to be true:
An owl cannot roost
With his limbs so unloosed;
No owl in this world                30
Ever had his claws curled,
Ever had his legs slanted,
Ever had his bill canted,
Ever had his neck screwed
Into that attitude.                35
He can't do it, because
'Tis against all bird-laws
Anatomy teaches,
Ornithology preaches
An owl has a toe                40
That can't turn out so!
I've made the white owl my study for years,
And to see such a job almost moves me to tears!
Mister Brown, I'm amazed
You should be so gone crazed                45
As to put up a bird
In that posture absurd!
To look at that owl really brings on a dizziness;
The man who stuffed him don't half know his business!"
And the barber kept on shaving.                50

"Examine those eyes.
I'm filled with surprise
Taxidermists should pass
Off on you such poor glass;
So unnatural they seem                55
They'd make Audubon scream,
And John Burroughs laugh
To encounter such chaff.
Do take that bird down;
Have him stuffed again, Brown!"                60
And the barber kept on shaving.

"With some sawdust and bark
I would stuff in the dark
An owl better than that;
I could make an old hat                65
Look more like an owl
Than that horrid fowl,
Stuck up there so stiff like a side of coarse leather.
In fact, about him there's not one natural feather."

Just then, with a wink and a sly normal lurch,                70
The owl, very gravely, got down from his perch,
Walked round, and regarded his fault-finding critic
(Who thought he was stuffed) with a glance analytic,
And then fairly hooted, as if he should say:
"Your learning's at fault this time, anyway;                75
Don't waste it again on a live bird, I pray.
I'm an owl; you're another. Sir Critic, good-day!"
And the barber kept on shaving.


One of our childhood favorites....memorized on Chesunkook Lake Maine.

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From: GUEST,Bradfordian
Date: 10 Aug 19 - 12:48 PM


There are strange things done in the midnight sun
By the men who mole for gold
There are stories there
That will curl your hair
And make your blood run cold
But the strangest sight
In the arctic night
I ever chanced to see
Was that night on the varge of Lake LaBarge
When We castrated Sam McGee

It was well into fall as I recall
And the weather was starting to blow
The chill in the air
Would freeze in our hair
And turn it white as snow
And the pecker-poll trees
With icicles for leaves
Had bent their backs with the strain
And the search for gold had left us as cold
As the freezing, drizzling rain

It was late one night by an oil lamp's light
With only the stars on guard
In a leaky old tent
With the center pole bent
We all were playing cards
There was Tommy Glen, from Oregon
And, as best I can recall,
A man named Kent,
Who did relent
He had no home at all

There was Tom Cartee from Tennessee
But the man I remember best
Was Injin Joe, who, wouldn't you know
Was worst than all the rest

Some said his home
Was way up in Nome
Where he took him an Eskimo wife
And then one day
Or, so they say,
He killed her with an Ulu knife

As I started to say, on that fateful day
Sam's luck was running bad
Which he proclaimed
With heartfelt pain
"The worst he'd ever had"
He bet his Soul
And all his gold
On the last hand he could play
And Injin Joe smiled, oh so slow
And said, "I think I'll raise"

Old Sam turned pale and started to wail
"I've nothing left to bet!"
And Injin Joe, with his eyes aglow
Said, "You ain't finished yet"
He picked up his pile
And, all the while
He slowly let it fall
And my blood ran cold
When he said, "All my gold,
I'll bet against your Balls"

Sam started to sweat and with deep regret
Took a sneak-peak at his hand
As Injin Joe let his thumb run slow
On the Ulu knife, and then
Sam McGee
Sitting next to me
Said, "By God, I'll Call"
Then giving a nod
And caressing his cods
Said, "Let them pasteboards fall"

"Take it slow," cried Injin Joe
"It's a serious game we play
You called my bet
But I do regret
I haven't seen your stakes!"
"For goodness sakes, It's not his stakes,"
Cartee said to us all
"He won't relent
I do lament
He wants to see Sam's Balls!"

Breathes there a man with steady hand
Who has wagered both his Cods
Who won't complain the petty pain
Of peeks and pokes and nods
In spite of his fright
He was quite a sight,
But the gold shone in his eyes
Sam swallowed hard
And dropped his cards
As he began to rise

He slipped the rope with fervent hope,
That held his baggy jeans
We started to stare
As he trembled there,
His pants around his knees
The lump in his throat was tight as a rope
As he let his underwear fall
And Injin Joe
Leaned forward, slow,
To inspect Sam's dangling Balls

"It's a marvelous pair that you’ve got there"
Injin Joe exclaimed
Then he started to cry
With a tear in his eye
As he told us of his pain
"I was drunk one night and started a fight
With my wife, as I recall,
And I paid the price
From her Ulu knife
When she cut off both my Balls!"

"With this same knife I killed my wife"
Said Injin Joe to Sam
"And I’ll confess
I can not rest
Without a pair of them.
So I’ll bet my Soul and all my gold
And if you lose this time,
I want you to know
I'll still have my gold
And your Balls will then be mine!"

What a gruesome sight in the Arctic night
Sam's Balls were hanging low
Then he swallowed hard
And picked up his cards
And spread 'em out—reeeal slooooow
The Injin grinned and spread his—then,
As quick as a deer in the fall
He made a slice
With the Ulu knife
And cut off both Sam’s Balls

Sam screamed and cried, I thought he'd died
The way he carried on
And all that night
By the oil lamp's light
He cursed and kicked and moaned
But Injin Joe
Was all aglow
As he stroked Sam's grizzly Cods
With a far-away stare that would chill the air
Said, "I've got a pair, By God!"

The weeks went by and the Arctic sky
Began to lighten slow
Our band turned west to Sam's protest
With thoughts of Spring and gold
Sam's Balls were dried
And securely tied
Round the neck of Injin Joe
And they dangled there,
That gruesome pair,
Wherever he would go

Old Sam would stare at the severed pair
A teardrop in his eye
And he swore to God
He'd get some Cods, someday, by and by
Now, the trail was rough
And the men were tough
But the mountains reached the sky
And as we climbed
Sam fell behind
And then we heard him cry

On a weathered knoll that was far below
We saw his face turn pale
Then he fell on his knees
By a pecker-poll tree
That grew beside the trail
We ran below in the knee-deep snow
To Sam's persistent call
And we found a cave
On that fateful day
With an entrance exceedingly small

As we peered in the hole, that was dark and cold
We saw an Eskimo's bones
And we wondered there
In the cold, still air
If this had been his home
But Injin Joe, who was in the know
Said this was a burial place
Then he gave out a groan
That was sort of a moan
And a smile came on his face

At the back of the hole was a pile of gold
That was all a man could haul
And Injin Joe
Crawling forward slow
Got stuck and started to squall
He squirmed and tried to get inside
The gold shone in his eyes
But, try as he might
The hole was too tight
To admit his massive thighs

We called on Sam to make the try
Since he was exceptionally small
But we failed to spy
The gleam in his eye
That said he'd have it all
Now some might say
It was just his way
Of getting even and all
And who could blame him, after all,
We'd cut off both his balls

The last we heard of Sam that day
As he slipped through a back hole in the cave
Was his rounding laugh
As he made his dash
And drug the gold away
Twas not a place
To say the least
For a righteous man to be
And we all swore to hunt him down
He'd never more be free

It was early fall, as I recall
Before we chanced to meet
We'd stumbled down
To a Gold Rush town
To Libate our defeat

In the back of the saloon
On a fancy chair
Surrounded by ladies of the night
Sat Sam McGee from Tennessee
What a magnificent sight

We found him in the Golden Spur
Surrounded by wealth untold
The opulence there
Still curls my hair
And makes my blood run cold
We could only stare at his flippant air
With all the wealth we'd dreamed
Then he opened his coat
And around his neck
Two Golden Balls swung free

On that fateful night, we paid the price
For Castrating Sam McGee
And I wonder now
Just who has the pair
The Castrated, or the Cas-tra-tee
Still, all in all
It was quite a haul
But I remember the way he'd squalled
He may have got the best of us
But at least I still have my balls

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