Brogan’s Lane [poem by Louis Esson]

[Editor: This poem by Louis Esson was published in Bells and Bees: Verses (1910).]

Brogan’s Lane

There’s a crack in the city — down that sharp street
In couples, and armed, tramp rossers on beat.
Like a joss, silhouetted across the pane
A Chinese face watches down Brogan’s Lane,
Brogan’s Lane, Brogan’s Lane,
A reeling moon blinks over Brogan’s Lane

Flash Fred, when he dives on a red lot, can choose
To moscow the swag at a Polaky Jew’s.
Tho’ bled by old Isaac, he needn’t complain,
Rats pinch from their brothers down Brogan’s Lane,
Brogan’s Lane, Brogan’s Lane,
The melting pot bubbles in Brogan’s Lane.

And Jenny, fresh down from the country, goes gay
And drives to the races and laughs at the play;
Till one morn, lying out in the cold and the rain,
A body is perished in Brogan’s Lane.
Brogan’s Lane, Brogan’s Lane,
There’s only one turn to this long last lane.

With opium dens, sly cribs, bones and rags,
’Tis the haunt of thieves, wastrels, poor women and vags.
They booze to bring joy, they sin to numb pain,
But there’ll come a stretch at the end of the lane,
Brogan’s Lane, Brogan’s Lane,
The river and morgue shadow Brogan’s Lane.



Source:
Louis Esson, Bells and Bees: Verses, Melbourne: Thomas C. Lothian, 1910, [page 37]

Editor’s notes:
gay = happy, joyous, carefree (may also mean well-decorated, bright, attractive) (in modern times it may especially refer to a homosexual, especially a male homosexual; may also refer to something which is no good, pathetic, useless)

flash = showy, vulgar; fashionable or showy, but often in a way that shows a lack of taste

joss = a Chinese figure of a deity, or god, often housed in a shrine (Chinese buildings of worship became colloquially known as “joss houses”)

morn = morning

moscow = to “moscow” an item is to pawn it (“moscow” may also refer to a pawnshop)

rosser = (also spelt “rozzer”) policeman; police (may also refer to a logger who removes ross, i.e. rough exterior bark, from a tree; or a device or machine which removes bark from logs)

stretch = prison sentence, e.g. a five year stretch in jail (may also refer to a hanging, from the inference that the condemned person’s neck will be stretched)

swag = stolen goods; loot, plunder, booty

vag = a vagrant; a homeless person (may also refer to a charge of vagrancy being made against someone)

wastrel = someone who is wasteful, a good-for-nothing; someone who wastes their resources (e.g. their abilities, opportunities, time, and/or money) in a foolish, lazy, and/or self-indulgent manner; an idle or lazy person

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