The Ballad Of Morbid Mothers

A poem by John Kendall

Why do you sit in the churchyard weeping?
Why do you cling to the dear old graves,
When the dim, drear mists of the dusk are creeping
Out of the marshes in wan, white waves?
Darling, I know you're a slave to sorrow;
Dearie, I know that the world is cruel;
But you'll be in bed with a cold to-morrow,
I shall be running upstairs with gruel.

Why do you weep on a tombstone, Mammy,
Sobbing alone in the drizzling sleet,
When the chill mists rise, and the wind strikes clammy?
Think of your bones, and your poor old feet!
Darling, I know that you feel lugubrious;
Dearie, I know you must work this off;
But graveyards are not, as a rule, salubrious,
Whence the expression, a 'churchyard cough.'

[The Old Lady explains her eccentric behaviour.]

Why do I ululate, dear my dearie,
Coiled on a nastily mildewed tomb,
When the horned owl hoots, and the world is weary,
Weary of sorrow, and swamped in gloom?
Childie my child, 'tis a cogent question;
Dearie my dear, if you wish to know,
Tis not that I suffer from indigestion,
But that the Public ordains it so.

Babies, and Aunties, and dying brothers,
Boom for a season, as 'loves' may part;
But the old shop-ballad of Morbid Mothers
Dives to the depths of the Public's heart.
Dearie, with booms, at the best, precarious,
All but the permanent needs must fail;
And Childie, if Mammy became hilarious,
Mammy would never command a sale.

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