Henry Lawson

The Old Jimmy Woodser

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 And I thought there are times when our memory trends Through the future, as ‘twere on its own That I, out-of-date ere my pilgrimage ends, In a new-fashioned bar to dead loves and dead friends Might drink, like the old man, alone.

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