Which well nigh filled Joe's bar, out on the far edge of the square;
And as songs and well worn tales poured through the lit frame of the door
A poor man with no home crept in and stood there on the floor.
"Where did it come from?" one wit said. " The wind has blown it in."
"What does it want?" his mate chimed in. "Some red eye, rum or gin?"
"Here, boy, go sic 'em, if your gut don't get sick from the work --
I'd not dare touch him with a fork, his stench is like a Turk."
These words of wit the poor wretch stood and bore with no ill grace;
In fact, he smiled as tho' he thought at last he'd struck the place.
"Come, boys, I know there's warm hearts to be found in this fine crowd --
To be in such a group of men would make a monk feel proud.
"Give me a drink -- that's what I want -- I'm out of funds, you know,
When I had cash to treat the gang these hands of mine weren't slow.
What? You laugh as if you thought these pants ne'er saw a sou;
I once was fixed as well, my boys, as any one of you.
"There, thanks, that's braced me real good; God bless you one and all;
Next time I pass your door way I won't fail to make a call.
Give you a song? No, I can't do that; my days for song are past;
My voice is cracked, my throat's worn out, and I know my lungs won't last.
"I'll tell you all a tale to make you last, I swear it's true.
Say! Give me just one more glass full, and I'll tell you what I'll do --
That I was once a man of means not one of you would think;
But I was, some four or five years back. Say, give me just one more drink.
"Fill her up, Joe, I want to put some life in this old frame --
Such small drinks to a bum like me are far too weak and tame;
Pour right up -- there, that's the scheme -- and from your best stock, too.
Well, here's luck, boys, and thanks, Joe, here's the best from me to you.
"You've all been more than kind to me; I'd like to tell you how
I came to be the sort of sot who begs booze from you now.
As I told you, once I was a man, with strong arms, frame, and health,
And but for one wrong step ought to have made a world of wealth.
"I worked in paint -- I don't mean that I daubed on bricks and wood,
But I made art, and for my age, the word was I was good.
I worked hard for my muse, and I was all set fair to rise,
For bit by bit I saw the star of fame rise 'fore my eyes.
"I made one great work you may have seen, 'tis called the 'Chase of Fame.'
It brought me scores of scores of pounds and taught the world my name,
And then I met my one great love -- you'll all laugh at this part --
With eyes that turned my brain to stone and sunk right in my heart.
"Why don't you laugh? Is it not ripe that this foul sot you see
Could love a lass and think that she might give love back to me?
But 'twas so, and for a month or two, her smiles to me were giv'n,
And when her lips in love touched mine, it took me straight to Heav'n.
"Boys, have you set eyes on a girl for whom your soul you'd give,
A form the Greeks would carve in stone, too fair by far to live
With eyes that would put the sun to shame, and a wealth of nut-brown hair?
If so, 'twas she, for in the world, there's none been half so fair.
"I'd set to work to paint a face, one fine day, late in May,
Of a friend of mine with fair hair who lived just down my way
And my love said she liked it, and would so much like to prize
The chance to get to know the man with such a pair of eyes.
"It took no time to know him, and scarce that month had flown
Than my friend stole my love from me, and left me on my own;
And ere a year of grief had passed since all my joy had fled,
The gem I loved had ceased to shine and my true love was dead.
"That's why I took to drink, boys. Why, I thought I'd see you smile.
I thought you'd see the joke in it, and you would laugh the while.
What's wrong with you, my friend? There's a tear drop in your eye.
Come, laugh like me. 'Tis babes and dames and simps that ought to cry.
"Say, boys, if you give me just one more full glass I'll be glad,
And I'll draw right here for you the same face that drove me mad.
Give me that piece of chalk with which you mark the ball game score --
You shall see the face of my love, drawn right on your bar room floor."
One more drink, and with chalk in hand, the foul tramp set his hand
To sketch a face to buy the souls of all men in the land.
Then, as he placed one more lock on that sweet and well-formed head,
With a fear-filled shriek, he leaped and fell down on his last work -- dead.
Hugh A D'ar, see?