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James Brunton Stephens

(17 June 1835 – 29 June 1902 / Borrowstounness, on the Firth of Forth, Scotland;)

“Big Ben”


De mortuis nil ni-
Si bonum: R.I.P.:—
No more upbraid him:—
Nay, rather plead his cause,
For Ben exactly was
What Nature made him.

Not radically bad,
He naturally had
No leaning sinwards;
But Nature saw it good
One life-long crave for food
Should rack his inwards.

According to his lights,
And to the appetites
In him implanted,
He did his level best
To feed—and all the rest
He took for granted.

Ere birth he was laid low,
And yet no man I know
For high birth matched him:
Apollo was his sire,
Who with life-giving fire
Ab ovo hatched him.

Just over Capricorn
This same Big Ben was born,
A feeble lizard;
But with the years came strength,
And twenty feet of length—
The most part gizzard.

By Fitzroy's rugged crags,
Its “sawyers” and its snags,
He roamed piscivorous;
Or watching for his prey,
By Yaamba creek he lay,
In mood carnivorous.

Unthinking little hogs,
And careless puppy-dogs
Fitzroy-ward straying,
Were grist unto his mill. . . .
His grinders now are still,
Himself past preying.

Whether in self-defence,
Or out of hate prepense,
Or just for fun shot,
Are things beyond my ken—
I only know Big Ben
Died of a gunshot.

It was a sorry case;
For Ben loved all our race,
Both saint and sinner;
If he had had his way,
He would have brought each day
One home to dinner:—

Loved with that longing love,
Such as is felt above
The Southern Tropic:—
Small chance was ever his,
But his proclivities
Were philanthropic.

There are who would insist
He was misogynist—
'Tis slander horrid;
For every nymph he saw,
He would have liked her— raw,
From toe to forehead.

Then let his memory be;
No misanthrope was he;
No woman-hater;
But just what you may call,
Take him for all in all,
An alligator.

Submitted: Wednesday, March 03, 2010

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