Thomas E. Spencer
Why Doherty Died - Poem by Thomas E. Spencer
It was out on the Bogan near Billabong Creek
Where the sky shines like brass seven days in the week,
Where the buzzin' mosquitoes annoy you all night
And the blowflies come wakin' you up at daylight;
Where the people get weary and sad and forlorn
Till they wish they had died long before they were born;
There's a flat near the river, I knew the place well,
For ‘twas there Dinny Doherty kept the hotel.
Dinny Doherty died. 'Twasn't aisy to say
Just the cause of the trouble that tuk him away;
If 'twas measles or whoopin' cough, croup or catarrh,
Or the things docthers pickle and put in a jar.
Not a dochter was nigh when he come to his death
So we reckoned he died just through shortage of breath —-
We didn't know how these fine points to decide;
What we did know for certain was: Doherty died.
The coroner came up from Bottle-nose Flat,
And twelve of us wid him on Doherty sat.
The hate was intense; there was whisky galore —-
When we'd finished we weren't as wise as before.
We were roastin'; yet there, wid a shmile on his face,
Lay poor Dinny, the only cool man in the place.
Yet divil a one in the crowd could decide
Or even imagine why Doherty died.
The old pub it seemed lonesome whin Dinny was gone,
Lavin' poor Kitty Doherty grievin' alone.
Every time that I called she cried: "Phwat will I do?
Darlin' Dinny, come back to me, Cushla! Wirroo!
Faith it's lonely I am today, Dinny, asthore!
Don't be sayin' you're dead, that I'll see you no more."
Whin I tried to console her, she bitterly cried,
"I have no one to love me since Doherty died."
"I kape pinin'," says she, "till I'm mere shkin and bone."
(Poor Kitty! She only weighed siventeen shtone.)
"Sure, life widhout love is like bread widhout yaste."
Poor Kitty! Her heart was as big as a her waist.
And what is the pain? — 'tisn't iveryone knows
Whin a big heart like Kitty's wid love overflows.
Kitty's love was as broad as the ocean is wide,
But she'd no one to share it since Doherty died.
'Twas a hot sumnmer's day when a visit I paid,
For the hate was hundhred and tin in the shade;
Poor Kitty looked sad as I inthered the gate,
And her cheeks were quite moist wid her tears (and the hate):
But 'twas cosy she looked as she sat in the bar,
And I whispered, "Poor girl, is it lonely ye are?"
"Bedad! Lonely's no name for it," Kitty replied.
"I'm just frettin' me heart out since Doherty died.
Then, says I, "Faith, this isn't the weather to fret!"
And I wiped her plump cheeks, that were clammy and wet;
"Sure, Kitty," says I, "you must hould up your head,
For the world isn't impty if one man is dead.
To be livin' and pinin' alone's a disgrace;
Can you find no good man to take Doherty's place?"
Then she shmiled through her tears, and she said as she sighed:
"Ah! the good men are scarce since poor Doherty died."
"Och," says I, "to talk that way is fiddle-de-dee;
There are good men left yet, Kitty — what about me?"
Then, before you'd say "Jack", o'er the bar she had leapt,
And she flung herself on me bosom and wept.
'Twas in vain that I thried to get out to get cool,
She was harder to shift than a big bale of wool.
And I thought, as she lay on me bosom and cried:
"Faith! 'Tis now that I know why poor Doherty died."
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