Some carol of the banjo, to its measure keeping time;
Of viol or of lute some make a song.
My battered old accordion, you're worthy of a rhyme,
You've been my friend and comforter so long.
Round half the world I've trotted you, a dozen years or more;
You've given heaps of people lots of fun;
You've set a host of happy feet a-tapping on the floor . . .
Alas! your dancing days are nearly done.
I've played you from the palm-belt to the suburbs of the Pole;
From the silver-tipped sierras to the sea.
The gay and gilded cabin and the grimy glory-hole
Have echoed to your impish melody.
I've hushed you in the dug-out when the trench was stiff with dead;
I've lulled you by the coral-laced lagoon;
I've packed you on a camel from the dung-fire on the bled,
To the hell-for-breakfast Mountains of the Moon.
I've ground you to the shanty men, a-whooping heel and toe,
And the hula-hula graces in the glade.
I've swung you in the igloo to the lousy Esquimau,
And the Haussa at a hundred in the shade.
The Nigger on the levee, and the Dinka by the Nile
have shuffled to your insolent appeal.
I've rocked with glee the chimpanzee, and mocked the crocodile,
And shocked the pompous penquin and the seal.
I've set the yokels singing in a little Surrey pub,
Apaches swinging in a Belville bar.
I've played an obligato to the tom-tom's rub-a-dub,
And the throb of Andalusian guitar.
From the Horn to Honolulu, from the Cape to Kalamazoo,
From Wick to Wicklow, Samarkand to Spain,
You've roughed it with my kilt-bag like a comrade tried and true. . . .
Old pal! We'll never hit the trail again.
Oh I know you're cheap and vulgar, you're an instrumental crime.
In drawing-rooms you haven't got a show.
You're a musical abortion, you're the voice of grit and grime,
You're the spokesman of the lowly and the low.
You're a democratic devil, you're the darling of the mob;
You're a wheezy, breezy blasted bit of glee.
You're the headache of the high-bow, you're the horror of the snob,
but you're worth your weight in ruddy gold to me.
For you've chided me in weakness and you've cheered me in defeat;
You've been an anodyne in hours of pain;
And when the slugging jolts of life have jarred me off my feet,
You've ragged me back into the ring again.
I'll never go to Heaven, for I know I am not fit,
The golden harps of harmony to swell;
But with asbestos bellows, if the devil will permit,
I'll swing you to the fork-tailed imps of Hell.
Yes, I'll hank you, and I'll spank you,
And I'll everlasting yank you
To the cinder-swinging satellites of Hell.
Robert William Service