Geoffrey Anketell Studdert Kennedy

(1883-1929 / Great Britain)

What's The Use Of A Cross To 'Im? - Poem by Geoffrey Anketell Studdert Kennedy

Parson says I'm to make 'im a cross
To set up over his grave,
'E's buried there by the Moated Grange,
And I 'ad a damn close shave,
But 'e were taken and I were left,
And why it's a job to see,
For 'e 'ad a wife and some bonnie kids,
And me — well there's only me.
And what's the use of a cross to 'im?
'E weren't a religious man,
'E said no prayers and 'e sang no 'ymns —
I'll make this do if I can.
It's all full o' notches — an awkward piece,
But I'll see what a knife'll do.
I allus were one to respec' the dead,
And 'e were a good pal too.
'E weren't a religious man, not 'im,
Far as that goes—nor am I.
I wonder what odds religion makes
When a feller comes to die.
It's a curious thing is death, ye know,
When we was back there at rest,
'E were singin' 'is song—and takin' 'is glass
And 'avin' 'is fun wiv the best.
'E weren't no booser though, mind ye that,
'E were sound of 'is wind and limb,
'E were 'ard as a nail—a fighting lad,
A daisy to scrap were Jim.
But 'e'll fight no more — 'e's gorn aht West
Wiv a great big 'ole in 'is back,
'E's pushin' up daisies by Moated Grange —
Now where did I put that tack?
I minds me arskin' a hatheist,
'E were livin' dahn our street,
'E looked like a stick wiv a turnip on,
But talkin' 'e 'ad me beat.
I minds me arskin' in Railway Inn
What 'e thought 'appened the dead,
'E took a candle and snuffed it aht,
' That's what I think,' he said.
But some'ow I carnt think that aht 'ere,
When a pal gets blowed out West,
I were sure when my poor old Mother died,
She'd gorn to a land o' rest,
I carnt make much o' what parsons say,
Abaht 'eaven and all them things,
'Eavenly cities wiv gates of pearl,
An' angels wiv shining wings.
And I carnt see old pal Jim up there,
Wiv a golden 'arp in 'is 'and,
A playin' of 'ymns in a horchestra
At 'ome in the angels' band.
'E'd feel that awkward and out o' place,
And fair fed up for a drink,
If I was by and just catched 'is eye
I bet 'e'd give me the wink :
For Gawd's sake bring us a bottle o' Bass,
Or a barrel o' that French beer,
It's 'orrible dry sittin' up on 'igh
And singin' these 'ymn toons 'ere.

'E weren't so bad at a ragtime song,
But they don't 'ave ragtime there,
If 'e were to tip 'em aht Dixie Land
'E'd make them angels stare.
But 'e ain't gorn dahn to no 'ell fire,
'E 'ad a good 'eart, 'ad Jim.
'Is wife were as good as a lump o' gold,
And she thought the world of 'im.
There must be a place for the likes o' Jim,
What isn't religious blokes,
But is good to their pals in the trenches,
And dear to their own 'ome folks.
It must be the same great Gawd above
What 'as made this world dahn 'ere,
And it takes all sorts to make this world,
So there ain't no bloomin' fear
But what 'e'll fix up a job for Jim,
A job what'll suit 'is 'and,
Maybe 'e'll polish them golden 'arps
They use in the 'eavenly band.
Maybe there's some flowers and gardens there
What'll want a good 'andy man :
I can just see Jim wiv an angel's spade
And a 'eavenly wat'ring can.
'E were a gard'ner in civil life,
'E loved 'is allotment land,
'E were allus potterin' round 'is bit,
My Gawd — but it did smell grand.
‘E 'ad rhubarb, cabbage and radishes
Fit for a prize at the shows,
Pansies and daisies and mignonette
And that great big summer rose.
Many a Sunday I've sat wiv 'im,
And 'ad a good pull at my pipe—
My Gawd, them days! It's a bloody war —
Where 'ave I put my wipe?
Aye, there we'd sit and we'd chew the rag
And 'ark to the Church bells ring,
'Twere Sunday there — wiv the Spring in the air,
And Peace over, everything.
Blyme, I wants no 'eaven but that
In the land o' the Kingdom come,
A pal and a pipe and a garden there —
Ugh! damn it, I've 'it my thumb.
There I've finished 'is bit of a cross,
It's a rough-looking awkward thing,'
But it's all I can do with this wood, old lad -
Just 'ark 'ow them Church bells ring.
I can 'ear 'em soundin' across the sea
From the land where 'is garden grows,
I can see the green ov them cabbages
And smell the smell ov that rose.
Gawd knows as I ain't no prayin' man,
But I just puts up this prayer:
If ye're stuck for a job what’ll suit old Jim,
Lord, give 'im a garden to go,
And then when it comes my turn to go,
Just put me along of im.
I know as I ain’t fit for ‘eaven
But gimme a job wiv Jim
In a garden just outside the gates,
Where the ‘eavenly roses smells
And blokes what ain’t quite fit for ‘eaven,
Can ‘ark to the ‘eavenly bells


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Poem Submitted: Friday, September 17, 2010



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