Sunday, 15 March 2009

The Night Before Larry Was Stretched.

Fair play to Graves for using this as one of the poems he talked about during his residence as Oxford Professor of Poetry. It's a great one. Been a favourite of mine for um.... nigh on twenty years. Interesting nine-line stanza, with the last line always a clanger. See wikipedia for the exegesis and footnotes.

The Night Before Larry Was Stretched.

I

The night before Larry was stretched,
The boys they all paid him a visit
A bit in their sacks too they fetched
They sweated their duds[4] till they riz it
For Larry was always the lad,
When a friend was condemn’d to the squeezer[5],
He’d sweat all the togs[6] that he had
Just to help the poor boy to a sneezer[7]
- And moisten his gob ’fore he died.

[edit] II

The boys they came crowding in fast;
They drew their stools close round about him,
Six glims[8] round his trap-case[9] were placed
For he couldn’t be well waked without ’em,
When ax’d if he was fit to die,
Without having duly repented?
Says Larry, ‘That’s all in my eye,
And all by the clargy invented,
- To make a fat bit for themselves.

[edit] III

‘’I'm sorry dear Larry’, says I,
‘For to see you here in such trouble,
And your life’s cheerful noggin run dry,
And yourself going off like its bubble!’
‘Hauld your tongue in that matter,’ says he;
‘For the neckcloth I don’t care a button,
And by this time tomorrow you’ll see
Your Larry will be dead as mutton:
- And all 'cos his courage was good’

(Alternative third verse)
‘’Oh, I'm sorry dear Larry’, says I,
‘For to see you in this situation
And Blister me limbs if I lie
I'd as lief[10] it had been me own station’
‘Ochone, It's all over,’ says he;
‘For the neckcloth I don’t care a button,
And by this time tomorrow you’ll see
Your Larry will be dead as mutton:
- And all 'cos his courage was good’

[edit] IV

"And then I'll be cut up like a pie,
And me nob[11] from me body be parted."
"You're in the wrong box, then", says I,
"For blast me if they're so hard-hearted.
A chalk on the back of your neck
Is all that Jack Ketch[12] dares to give you;
So mind not such trifles a feck,
Sure why should the likes of them grieve you?
- And now boys, come tip us the deck[13]."

[edit] V

Then the cards being called for, they play’d,
Till Larry found one of them cheated;
A dart[14] at his napper[11] he made
The lad being easily heated,
‘So ye chates me bekase I’m in grief!
O! is that, by the Hokey, the rason?
Soon I’ll give you to know you d—d thief!
That you’re cracking your jokes out of sason,
- And scuttle your nob with my fist’.

(Alternative fifth verse) Then the cards being called for, they play’d,
Till Larry found one of them cheated;
A dart[14] at his napper[11] he made
The lad being easily heated,
Ohoh!, be the hokey ya thief!
I'll scuttle yer knob wit me daddle
You chates me bekase I'm in grief
But soon I'll demolish yer noddle
- And lave ya yer claret[15] to drink’.

[edit] VI

Then the clergy came in with his book
He spoke him so smooth and so civil;
Larry tipp’d him a Kilmainham[16] look,[17]
And pitch’d his big wig to the divil.
Then raising a little his head,
To get a sweet drop of the bottle,
And pitiful sighing he said,
‘O! the hemp will be soon round my throttle[18],
- And choke my poor windpipe to death!’

[edit] VII

So mournful these last words he spoke,
We all vented our tears in a shower;
For my part, I thought my heart broke
To see him cut down like a flower!
On his travels we watch’d him next day,
O, the throttler[19] I thought I could kill him!
But Larry not one word did say,
Nor chang’d till he came to King William[20];
- Then, musha, his colour turned white.

VIII

When he came to the nubbing-cheat,
He was tack’d up so neat and so pretty;
The rambler[21] jugg’d off from his feet,
And he died with his face to the city.
He kick’d too, but that was all pride,
For soon you might see ’twas all over;
And as soon as the noose was untied,
Then at darkey[22] we waked him in clover,
- And sent him to take a ground-sweat[23].

1 comment:

Mandy said...

Hi A

Well there's a happy little story to set me day off. Ha! ha!

Here's a wee ditty from my past.

Alfie met a bear
A bear met Alfie
The bear had a bulge
The bulge was Alfie

Sorry, it had to be done.

Just checked out the Last Psychiatrist's blog. I like it. I like shrinks that actually question what the pharma companies are doing...rather than the majority that seem to presribe by dictate.