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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

FATHER JOHN, by                    
First Line: He preached but little; argued less
Last Line: More human in its dens of sin
Subject(s): Clergy; Priests;rabbis;ministers;bishops


HE preached but little; argued less;
But if a girl was in distress,
Or if a kinchen came to grief,
Or trouble tackled rogue or thief,
There Father John was sure to be,
To blunt the edge of misery;
And somehow managed every time
To ease despair or lessen crime.

That corner house was allus known
Around these parts as Podger's Own,
Till two pals in a drunken fight
Set the whole thing afire one night;
And where it stood they hypered round,
And blasted rocks and shovelled ground
To build the factory over there --
The one you see; and that is where
Poor Father John -- God give him rest! --
Preached his last sermon and his best.

One summer's day the thing was done;
The workmen set a blast and run;
They ain't so keerful here, I guess,
Where lives ain't worth a cent apiece,
As in the wards where things are dear,
And nothink ain't so cheap as here;
Leastwise, the first they seed or knowed,
A little chick had crossed the road;

He seemed to be just out of bed --
Bare-legged, with nothink on his head;
Chubby and cunnin', with his hair
Blown criss-cross by the mornin' air;
Draggin' a tin horse by a string,
Without much care for anything;
A talkin' to hisself for joy, --
A toddlin', keerless, baby boy.

Right for the crawlin' fuse he went,
As though to find out what it meant;
Trudgin' toward the fatal spot
Till less 'n three feet off he got
From where the murderin' thing lay still,
Just waitin' for to spring and kill --
Marching along toward his grave,
And not a soul dared go to save!

They hollered -- all they durst to do;
He turned and laughed, and then bent low
To set the horsey on his feet,
And went right on a crowin' sweet!
And then a death-like silence grew
On all the tremblin', coward crew,
As each swift second seemed the last
Before the roaring of the blast.

Just then some chance or purpose brought
The priest. He saw, and quick as thought
He ran and caught the child and turned
Just as the slumberin' powder burned,
And shot the shattered rocks around,
And with its thunder shook the ground.

The child was sheltered! Father John
Was hurt to death. Without a groan,
He set the baby down, then went
A step or two; but life was spent.
He tottered, looked up to the skies
With ashen face, but strange, glad eyes.
"My love, I come!" was all he said,
Sank slowly down, and so was dead!

Stranger, he left a memory here
That will be felt for many a year:
And since that day this ward has been
More human in its dens of sin.





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