Thick-headed Thoughts

A poem by Adam Lindsay Gordon

No. I

I’ve something of the bull-dog in my breed,
The spaniel is developed somewhat less;
While life is in me I can fight and bleed,
But never the chastising hand caress.
You say the stroke was well intended. “True.”
You mention “It was meant to do me good.”
“That may be.” “You deserve it.” “Granted, too.”
“Then take it kindly.” “No, I never could.”

- - - - - -

How many a resolution to amend
Is made, and broken, as the years run round!
And how can others on your word depend,
When faithless to ourselves we’re often found?
I’ve often swore, “Henceforward I’ll reform,
And bid my vices, follies, all take wing.”
To keep my promise, ’mid temptation’s storm,
I’ve always found was quite another thing.

- - - - - -

I saw a donkey going down the road
The other day; a boy was on his back,
Who on the long-eared quadruped bestowed,
With a stout cudgel, many a hearty thwack;
But lazier and lazier grew the beast,
Until he dwindled to a step so slow
That I felt sure ’twould take him, at the least,
Full half-an-hour one blessed mile to go.

Soliloquising on this state of things,
“That moke’s like me,” I muttered, with a sigh;
“He might go faster if he’d got some wings,
But Nature’s made him better off than I;
For though I’ve all his obstinacy, aye! all,
His sullen spirit, and his dogged ways,
I’ve not one particle, however small,
Of that praiseworthy patience he displays.”



No. II

A man is independent of the world,
And little recks of strife or angry brawl,
If ’gainst a host his banner be unfurled,
Be his heart stout, it matters not at all.
With woman ’tis not so; for she seems hurled
From hand to hand, as is a tennis ball.
How queer that such a difference should be
Between a human he and human she.



No. III

’Tis a wicked world we live in;
Wrong in reason, wrong in rhyme;
But no matter: we’ll not give in
While we still can come to time.

Strength’s a shadow; Hope is madness,
Love, delusion; Friendship, sham;
Pleasure fades away to sadness,
None of these are worth a d--n.

There is naught on earth to please us;
All things at the crisis fail.
Friends desert us, bailiffs tease us,
(To such foes we give leg-bail).

But a stout heart still maintaining,
Quells the ills we all must meet,
And a spirit fear disdaining
Lays our troubles at our feet.

So we’ll ne’er surrender tamely
To the ills that throng us fast.
If we must die, let’s die gamely;
Luck may take a turn at last.

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