Sing the song of the reckless, who care not what they do;
Sing the song of a sinner and the song of a writer, too,
Down in a pub in the alleys, in a dark and dirty hole,
With every soul a drunkard and the boss with never a soul.
Uncollared, unkempt, unshaven, sat the writer whose fame was fair,
And the girls of the streets were round him, and the bullies and bludgers there;
He was one of themselves and they told him the things that they had to tell,
He was studying human nature with his brothers and sisters in hell.
He was neither poor nor lonely, for a place in the world he’d won,
And up in the heights of the city he’d a thousand friends or none;
But he knew that his chums could wait awhile, that he’d reckon with foes at last,
For he lived far into a future that he knew because of the past.
They remembered the man he had been, they remembered the songs he wrote,
And some of them came to pity and some of them came to gloat:
Some of them shouted exulting, some whispered with bated breath
That down in a den in the alleys he was drinking himself to death.
Thus said the voice of the hypocrites, and the true hearts sighed with pain,
‘Oh! he never will write as he used to write! He never will write again;’
A poet had written his epitaph in numbers of sad regret,
And the passing-notice was pigeon-holed, and the last review was set.
But the strength was in him to rise again to a greater height, he knew,
For the sake of the friends who were true to him and the work that he had to do;
He was sounding the depths that he had to know, he was gathering truths for his craft,
And he heard the chatter of little men, and he turned to his beer and laughed.