Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, MAD TOM TATTERMAN, by JOHN DRINKWATER



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MAD TOM TATTERMAN, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Old man, grey man, good man scavenger,
Last Line: "flocks are whiter than the flocks that all your shepherds keep."
Subject(s): Babylon; Insanity; Sleep; Madness; Mental Illness


"OLD man, grey man, good man scavenger,
Bearing is it eighty years upon your crumpled back?
What is it you gather in the frosty weather,
Is there any treasure here to carry in your sack?"

. . . . . . . . . . .

"I've a million acres and a thousand head of cattle,
And a foaming river where the silver salmon leap;
But I've left fat valleys to dig in sullen alleys
Just because a twisted star rode by me in my sleep.

"I've a brain is dancing to an old forgotten music
Heard when all the world was just a crazy flight of dreams,
And don't you know I scatter in the dirt along the gutter
Seeds that little ladies nursed by Babylonian streams?

"Mad Tom Tatterman, that is how they call me.
Oh, they know so much, so much, all so neatly dressed;
I've a tale to tell you -- come and listen, will you? --
One as ragged as the twigs that make a magpie's nest.

"Ragged, oh, but very wise. You and this and that man,
All of you are making things that none of you would lack,
And so your eyes grow dusty, and so your limbs grow rusty --
But mad Tom Tatterman puts nothing in his sack.

"Nothing in my sack, sirs, but the Sea of Galilee
Was walked for mad Tom Tatterman, and when I go to sleep
They'll know that I have driven through the acres of broad heaven
Flocks are whiter than the flocks that all your shepherds keep."





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