The Cockney Soul

Henry Lawson, 1918

      From Woolwich and Brentford and Stamford Hill, from Richmond into the Strand,
      Oh, the Cockney soul is a silent soul — as it is in every land!
      But out on the sand with a broken band it's sarcasm spurs them through;
      And, with never a laugh, in a gale and a half, 'tis the Cockney cheers the crew.

      Oh, send them a tune from the music-halls with a chorus to shake the sky!
      Oh, give them a deep-sea chanty now — and a star to steer them by!

      Now this is a song of the great untrained, a song of the Unprepared,
      Who had never the brains to plead unfit, or think of the things they dared;
      Of the grocer-souled and the draper-souled, and the clerks of the four o'clock,
      Who stood for London and died for home in the nineteen-fourteen shock.

      Oh, this is a pork-shop warrior's chant — come back from it, maimed and blind,
      To a little old counter in Grey's Inn-road and a tiny parlour behind;
      And the bedroom above, where the wife and he go silently mourning yet
      For a son-in-law who shall never come back and a dead son's room "To Let".

      (But they have a boy "in the fried-fish line" in a shop across the "wye",
      Who will take them "aht" and "abaht" to-night and cheer their old eyes dry.)

      And this is a song of the draper's clerk (what have you all to say?) —
      He'd a tall top-hat and a walking-coat in the city every day —
      He wears no flesh on his broken bones that lie in the shell-churned loam;
      For he went over the top and struck with his cheating yard-wand — home.

      (Oh, touch your hat to the tailor-made before you are aware,
      And lilt us a lay of Bank-holiday and the lights of Leicester-square!)

      Hats off to the dowager lady at home in her house in Russell-square!
      Like the pork-shop back and the Brixton flat, they are silently mourning there;
      For one lay out ahead of the rest in the slush 'neath a darkening sky,
      With the blood of a hundred earls congealed and his eye-glass to his eye.

      (He gave me a cheque in an envelope on a distant gloomy day;
      He gave me his hand at the mansion door and he said: "Good-luck! Good-bai!")