THINGS THAT MATTER
Father’s lost all the money he made.
I think it’s the best bit of fun;
He says I must go into trade
And make bricks, like my gran’papa done.
We’re living out here in a wood,
We don’t have no pie and no cake;
But, lordy! The fishes are good
I help him to catch in the lake!
We are going abroad for a spell,
A tutor had me in his clutch;
And Sis was to learn how to yell
In French and Italian and Dutch.
An’ Mother says, “Isn’t it sad?
No knowledge we e’er can implant.”
But I’m a lot gladder than glad,
For I’m learning the things that I want!
Ther’s no grand piano down here –
How Sis and I hated the thing –
But Sam plays banjo by ear
And we’re learning to vamp and to sing.
At Christmas Pa hadn’t the cash
For a single mechanical toy –
But as there is nothing to smash
I’m not called “a mischievous boy!”
Ma thinks that I miss the small gals
That looks down on us now with such airs
But squirrels are awful good pals
And Sam has a parrot that swears.
We’ve not seen a doctor for weeks;
Pa looks like a Bowery Tough;
And Ma has got red in her cheeks
That isn’t put on with a puff.
. . . .
There’s just one small cloud in our sky –
I suppose it is wrong to complain –
But Pa says he is going to try
And make a big fortune again.
We’ll live in some horrible town
Where no one knows how to have fun;
And he will be Millionaire Brown
And I’ll be his prig of a son!
But meanwhile our money is spent;
We’ve nothing to get or to give;
On schools we don’t spend a red cent,
But we’re learning – we’re learning to live.
(by kind permission of the Editors of the Irish Cyclist and Motor News.)
French, Percy. (1980) ‘Prose, Poems & Parodies.’ Dublin, Helicon Limited