Feet! [poem by “Dryblower” Murphy, 1926]

[Editor: This poem by “Dryblower” Murphy was published in Dryblower’s Verses (1926).]

Feet!

Feet! Feet! Feet!
You can hear them in the street;
Feet that trudge the footpaths early
Cased in bluchers blunt and burly,
Plodding on toward the stable,
In the dawn,
Long before, around the table,
Laggards yawn.
Feet that may not sprawl abed
While there’s kiddies to be fed;
Feet that know the pick and plough,
Where the cocky worships Cow;
Feet that tramp the sleepered line,
Feet that know the murder mine,
Where the mangled slaves are hurled
Deep below,
But feet that walk the world
And all its woe!
Fighting feet!

Feet! Feet! Feet!
Hear the merry schoolboys meet;
Hear their shoe-heels’ clitter-clatter,
As to school they skip and chatter;
Hear them step in rhythm marchy,
Two by two,
When the teacher, stiff and starchy,
Comes in view.
Then the girlies, ah! the girls!
Hair of gold and mouths of pearls,
What will they in time become?
Will they drift toward the slum?
Or will they as mothers blest
Clasp a baby to a breast,
With thankfulness o’erflowing
At their fate,
As they hear his footsteps slowing
At the gate —
Daddy’s feet?

Feet! Feet! Feet!
There’s a shuffle in the street;
Leaky soles and shabby uppers,
Comes their owners, seeking suppers
Where the deadbeats slink and gather
After hours,
Wolfing scraps with jaws no lather
Ever scours.
He is dirty, damned and lost,
Hither, thither, ever tost,
And he shuffles to the end
Till the river proves a friend,
And from out its muddy roll
Bubbles up a sorry soul;
None there are who’ll miss his shuffle
In the street,
While in hell the satyrs scuffle
Round his feet —
Weary feet!

Feet! Feet! Feet!
Where will be their last retreat?
Will they lie in abbeys grey,
Or will warders guide their way
Where the body-breaking gallows
Swings its noose?
Or will they rot in shallows
By the ooze?
Will they lead where bullets hum,
Where the trumpet and the drum
Play the homely patriot’s dirge
As the swift invaders surge?
Or will cautious, coward toes,
Quaking, turn them from their foes?
These are riddles that are rapping
In the street,
If you listen to the tapping
Of the feet —
Passing feet.



Source:
Edwin Greenslade Murphy, Dryblower’s Verses, Perth, W.A.: E. G. Murphy, 1926, pages 36-37

Previously published (with some differences) in:
The Sunday Times (Perth, WA), 11 September 1910, p. 10

Editor’s notes:
bluchers = dress shoes for men, distinguished by open lacing; or a high shoe or half boot; named after the Prussian military leader Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher, who fought against Napoleon at Waterloo

satyr = in Greek mythology, a class of forest deity who appeared as part-man and part-animal, often depicted with heads and bodies like men, and with legs and tails like horses (or like goats, in Roman mythology), known for their drunkenness, lasciviousness, and robust partying behavior; may also refer to a man who is lascivious, a lecher, or who has strong sexual desires

tost = an alternative spelling of “tossed”

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