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Poetry Magnum Opus

As I Roved Out


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As I Roved Out



The way things are,

And the way things are supposed to be,

Remains a thorny mystery

For people like the likes of me.


I mean to say, I was walking

Along our road the other day

When this woman, she comes up to me,

Says, “You look like a decent bloke,

Would you like to marry me?”


Not having been married before,

I duly gave my consent. I went

And rented a suit, a bouttoniere,

She changed, did something to her hair,

Quick as a blink. I gave her a wink


Said, “Hullo, love, hope you’ve not

Tied your drawers into a knot,

Since the fumbling furtive finger

Never likes to linger, what?"

You misunderstand me, Sir, she said.


Tremours of doubt and misgiving

In rolling waves rolled over me:

“Don’t plan to do the business, then?”

She gave me a look and said, “You men!”

And I said, yes, that’s what we are.


I want a conjunction, she said, of souls,

And a hefty amount of your bank account.

My fulsome heart was fast congealing

In coils and slender ropes unreeling.

I gazed at this … young person with a beady eye.


“Hullo, hullo, oy oy oy, says I,

Destroy such thoughts, tear down such walls,

Have delicate, have oblique consideration,

Apply featherlight feminine commiseration,

Concentrate, please, on my aching balls!”


She gave a moue, as I think the Froggies say,

Said, “Have done, but I must say not for very long,

How you people get through the day I couldn’t say,

All those dangly bits just flopping about.”

My passion was dissolving in serious doubt.


“Look here, I am not about to sign my life away …”

“Oh, do shut up, Charles (may I call you Charles?)

Isn’t that what they all say, and do it anyway?”

“My name,” I said stiffly, “is not Charles, it is … “

“Oh, never mind that for now, dear, any name will do,

Would you be awfully kind, and sign this billet-doux?”


“What? Naturally. Yes. Wouldn’t have a pen on you?”

“I wrote it to myself, of course, but it shows you love me.”

“I do?” – “Well, you bloody well signed it, didn’t you?

Broke my heart, you did, now the piper’s got to pay,

What with this little bun in me oven. Girl, I think.”


“Girl? – Bun? I say, is this what this is all about?”

“Yes, dear Charles, I’m up the spout.”

“But I thought you didn’t like the dangly bits …?”

“Gin, Charley Boy, it were gin, gin, gin …

The smiling conspiring companion of sin.”


Right. Look smart. We’re next.


(This is a take on a traditional ballad: go to these links for the words and a live performance (1976) by Andy Irvine of PLANXTY)



Drown your sorrows in drink, by all means, but the real sorrows can swim

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