I’ve Got Bad News [poem by E. J. Brady]

[Editor: This poem by E. J. Brady was published in The Ways of Many Waters (1899).]


I’ve Got Bad News.

They stitched him up in his canvas shirt
As stiff as a frozen board;
They sewed pig lead at his feet an’ head
And they sloshed him overboard.
The Old Man hadn’t a conscience,
Exceptin’ his wheel and chart,
He pulled on sight, and his aim was right.
For he shot him through the heart!

His girl she waits in Grosvenor Street,
That’s hard by Sydney Quay,
His girl she waits in Grosvenor Street
This two long year waits she,
And ’er heart may weep, but he’s sleepin’ deep
In the North Atlantic Sea.

He shipped with a Nova-Scotia man
Last time that ever he signed;
His cash was spent and ’er sails was bent,
And he was drunk and blind, —
A man must take what he can get,
There’s plenty of men to spare,
With Danes and Swedes and the Dago breeds,
And ships go everywhere.

He laid his hand to a marlin’spike —
Oh, he was a man to know!
And the deck ran red where he fell and bled,
But he shouldn’t ’ave acted so.
His blood was up and the threat came free;
But the high seas have their ways,
And that was the end of a lover and friend,
And these are “the better days.”

’T is round and round, as the world goes round,
With a civil tongue in your ’ead;
’T is “do as you’re told,” though you’re starved and cold
An’ bitterly driven an’ led,
’T is to and fro as you sign and go
Till Death he crosses your hawse;
You’re stinted and worn, you’re tattered and torn,
But the Owners make the laws.

A girl she lives in Grosvenor Street —
Oh, Lord! that I ’ad n’t to go.
A girl she lives in Grosvenor Street
And ’t will break ’er ’eart to know
How he fell and bled, and I wish I was dead,
But he shouldn’t ’ave acted so.

E. J. Brady, The Ways of Many Waters, Melbourne: Thomas C. Lothian, 1909 [first published 1899], pages 18-19

Editor’s notes:
Grosvenor Street = a street in Sydney, New South Wales

hawse = the part of the bow of a ship where the hawseholes are located (a hawsehole is hole used for an anchor cable)

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