Don Juan lay dying, as Don Juans do,
At the end of their tickle-toe tether;
In life he’d indulged in all species of woo
In all sorts of seasons and weather.
He had frolicked and flirted from Paris to Perth,
He’d mashed ’em from Melbourne to Gympie,
He’d philandered with females of generous girth,
The scrumptious, the stout and the skimpy;
But ere his poor soul Peter’s portico stormed,
Lying back on his dying-bed pillows,
Unto the wife of his bosom reformed
He confessed all his pink piccadilloes!
He told as his optics grew glassy in death
Of how he’d gone mashing with Mary,
And wheezed in a palpitant, penitent breath
Of many a feminine fairy.
Stern-visaged his wife listened unto his list
Of jinks and joy-ridings with Jessie,
Of dances with Daphne, or Katie he’d kissed,
And beanoes he’d been to with Bessie.
He shuddered his spouse with his tales of deceit
Which the average wife merely guesses,
While she with a pencil and copy-pad sheet
Wrote the various names and addresses!
He told her how Trixie had led him astray,
And how Dorothy ducked on his dollars;
Of Lily the larky and Gertie the gay
And the fun that a flirtation follows.
Her soul grew as sour as the grapes that are green,
Her fingers were itching to scratch ‘em
As he spoke of the benders on which he had been
With clyners wherever he’d catch ’em.
She counted the minutes he’d hang on to life
And fumed at the Flossies and Fuzzies,
For a wild cat at bay isn’t worse than a wife
Supplanted by impudent hussies!
She wrote them all down with a forcible fist
(Trust a woman for rapping her rival),
And checked and corrected his love-making list
With marginal marks adjectival.
In capital letters he printed each name,
Ditto streets where the hussies resided,
And when he attested his record of shame
His hand by her fingers was guided.
The coffin and crepe then she ordered ahead
Befitting his place and profession,
And as soon as they’d shovelled him into his bed
She would publish the Corpse’s Confession!
Next day when the doctor on Don Juan called
He noticed decided improvement —
No longer his pulse his physician appalled
And his heart had a healthier movement.
His temp’rature fell with a five degree thud,
His cough was no longer distressing,
And though not quite out of the medical mud
He was soon what you’d call convalescing.
But at last when he found he’d a new lease of life,
As they bath-chaired him out in his own yard.
He recalled with a shudder his words to his wife
When he thought he was bound for the boneyard!
“You’ve not played the game,” said the doctor when he
Had told him of what he’d confessed to
“There’ll be tragedies here, and, take it from me,
You’ll stand a good chance to go West, too.
Your secrets you should have kept deep in your soul —
See the barneys you’ve bought from their brothers.
I class any person as clean up the pole
Who yaps to his wife about others.”
“Ah,” said the patient, “tact’s one of my games,
A man should be cute who confesses,
So I took the precaution to give her wrong names,
And I didn’t give dinkum addresses!”
Edwin Greenslade Murphy, Dryblower’s Verses, Perth, W.A.: E. G. Murphy, 1926, pages 48-49
Previously published (with some differences) in:
The Sunday Times (Perth, WA), 26 June 1921, p. 4
barney = argument, fight
bath-chair = a wheeled chair, often equipped with a hood, and particularly utilized by invalids (derived from Bath, a city in England, where the natural hot springs were alleged to have healing powers and were thus frequented by invalids)
beano = party, celebration (plural, “beanos”); from “beanfeast”, a tradition in Britain of an annual dinner given for staff by their employers, which customarily included a dish of beans and bacon as an integral part of the occasion
bender = a drinking spree
boneyard = cemetery
clean up the pole = crazy, mad (“up the pole” can also refer to being drunk, intoxicated)
clyner = (also spelt “cliner”) a young woman
crepe = in the context of a death or funeral, black crepe was traditionally used as a mark of mourning
cute = clever, cunning, shrewd, especially in a self-serving or underhanded manner (derived from “acute”)
dinkum = genuine, authentic, on the level
go West = die; can also refer to being killed, lost, or to meet with disaster (in past tense, often used as “went west”)
mash = kiss, canoodle; to flirt with, to court (also may refer to a lover or sweetheart)
yap = talk, especially to talk for a lengthy duration in a constant and annoying manner
[Editor: Corrected “Daphne,,” to “Daphne,”; “he printed” to “she printed” (in line with the poem as published in The Sunday Times, 26 June 1921; and with regard to the context in the poem, e.g. “She wrote them all down”).]