The Old Jimmy Woodser

Henry Lawson, 1899

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

      His frock-coat is green and the nap is no more,
             And the style of his hat is at rest.
      He wears the peaked collar our grandfathers wore,
      The black-ribboned 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 a wine-vault just over the way.

      But I dreamed as he tasted his bitters 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.

      And I opened the door as 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      That I, out of date ere my pilgrimage ends,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:
             While they whisper, 'He boozes alone.'