Behold! I'm old; my hair is white;
My eighty years are in the offing,
And sitting by the fire to-night
I sip a grog to ease my coughing.
It's true I'm raucous as a rook,
But feeling bibulously "bardy,"
These lines I'm scribbling in a book:
The verse complete of Thomas Hardy.
Although to-day he's read by few,
Him have I loved beyond all measure;
So here to-night I riffle through
His pages with the oldtime pleasure;
And with this book upon my knee,
(To-day so woefully neglected)
I muse and think how soon I'll be
Myself among the Great Rejected.
Yet as these lines with zest I write,
Although the hour for me is tardy,
I think: "Of all the world to-night
'Tis I alone am reading Hardy";
And now to me he seems so nigh
I feel I commune with his spirit,
And as none love him more than I,
Thereby I gain a modest merit.
Oh Brother Thomas, glad I'll be,
Though all the world may pass unheeding,
If some greybeard con over me,
As I to-night your rhymes are reading;
Saying: "Old Bastard, you and I
By sin are knit in mind and body. . . ."
So ere to hit the hay I hie
Your ghost I'll toast in midnight toddy.
Robert William Service