The Old Jimmy Woodser

A poem by Henry Lawson

The old Jimmy Woodser comes into the bar
Unwelcomed, unnoticed, unknown,
Too old and too odd to be drunk with, by far;
So he glides to the end where the lunch baskets are
And they say that he tipples alone.

His frockcoat is green and the nap is no more,
And his hat is not quite at its best;
He wears the peaked collar our grandfathers wore,
The black-ribbon tie that was legal of yore,
And the coat buttoned over his breast.

When first he came in, for a moment I thought
That my vision or wits were astray;
For a picture and page out of Dickens he brought,
‘Twas an old file dropped in from the Chancery Court
To the wine-vault just over the way.

But I dreamed, as he tasted his “bitter” to-night
And the lights in the bar-room grew dim,
That the shades of the friends of that other day’s light,
And of girls that were bright in our grandfathers” sight,
Lifted shadowy glasses to him.

Then I opened the door, and the old man passed out,
With his short, shuffling step and bowed head;
And I sighed; for I felt, as I turned me about,
An odd sense of respect, born of whisky no doubt,
For the life that was fifty years dead.

And I thought, there are times when our memory trends
Through the future, as ‘twere on its own,
That I, out-of-date ere my pilgrimage ends,
In a new-fashioned bar to dead loves and dead friends
Might drink, like the old man, alone.

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