“The Incendiary,” by Nina Frances Layard, from Poems (1890)

beerdrinker

The Incendiary

Pull down the stars;
Here let us have a game
Of patent pattern;
You bowl with Mars,
And I will take an aim
With belted Saturn.

Come, lend a hand;
The bright thing there is wasting,
Not serving Hodges;
Well make a stand,
And give the star a basting:
Till it dislodges.

Well sink the scale
And light the rich man’s winders:
I’ve tar and matches.
When we turn tail,
And all the house in cinders,
Hindmost he catches.

How now, you dolts?
Why tremble in your boots.
My sucking Platos,
At thunder-bolts,
Or little star that shoots,
Or — hot potatoes?

We have no fear;
And if you talk of reverence,
And all that twaddle.
We love our beer,
And hope to see no severance
‘Twixt screw and paddle.

Who cares for caste
In these new days of level?
We didn’t make it.
As for the past.
It may go to the devil
An’ he will take it.

Hold!— there is God?
I almost had forgotten
The Book–His letter–
But paths are trod,
And the old ways get rotten
And we want better;

And, as I say,
The old road is too straight,
We’d have it wider.
There’s room to pray,
But to be mad and hate.
Or drunk on cider.

There’s hardly space.
Or so our mother taught us
When she lay dying.
I see her face,
And how her look besought us
For some replying.

My mother! — yes!
All right, my lads. I’11 come;
You needn’t doubt it;
But I confess
Just now I’m flummoxed some;
I’ll—think about it.

from Poems, by Nina Frances Layard
London and New York: Longmans, Green and Company, 1890

Available on the Internet Archive: Link

This is one in a series of neglected poems taken from the Internet Archive.


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