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