The Corruption of Angeldom [poem by Grant Hervey, 4 January 1903]

[Editor: A poem by Grant Hervey, published in his “Cuts and Carvings” column in The Sunday Times (Perth, WA).]

The Corruption of Angeldom

It was Cup-time up in heaven and the saints went flying round,
Buying new straw crowns and haloes and gay plumage for that same ;
Oh, with trading robes and feathers and their sandals all a-pound
Did they walk the heavenly Hay-street in that sporting fixture’s name !
At celestial Foy and Gibson’s, lo, there pressed an angel horde,
Toying now with fancy vestings and again with trousings gay ;
Sorting o’er the wing-case patterns, lo, the children of the Lord
Chatted gladly with the salesmen as they bought their fine array!

Oh, the sleek shop-walker cherubs strolled all blandly up and down,
Smiling smiles of width alarming as they rubbed their fatted “fins.”
Oh, their accents fell all softly : “Show this gent a ‘bowler’ crown —
One with patent ventilators and a pouch for hiding sins.
Step this way for socks and neckwear ; forward, Jones,” oh, hear them bawl
To the meek and lowly shopmen with the neatly parted hair ;
“Cash,” “Sign, please,” “Good morning,” “Thank you,” hear them alternately call,
In their long frock-robes a-bowing ’mid the piles of angel wear !

Now a civil service angel by the name of Cyril Smith
Proudly stepped from out the hatter’s in a new and gleaming crown,
When a mischief-making zephyr turned the corner and forthwith
Blew young Cyril’s shining head-gear heaven’s golden gutter down !
And a mad, profaning angel sped along the holy pave,
Using langwidge most improper for a saintlet’s moral lips.
Oh, in blankful wrath and frenzy did he chase that crown, a-rave,
When St. Peter crosses over, and the lewd blasphemer grips !

With a mien of shocked importance gazed grim Peter at the youth,
Who was gazing still more sadly at his wrecked and battered “tile ;”
“Tell me, sirrah,” gasped the captor, “for thy soul’s wan sake, forsooth,
Where thou learn’st that awful language and those epithets most vile !”
Now the captive shuddered sickly, for he had been down in hell,
After dark, along with Clancy, on a lurid old “ran-tan ;”
And he sobbed “Forgive me, Peter — don’t tell God — alas, I fell,
And was ruined, sir, thro’ mixing with a low Australian !”

“It was Clancy taught me euchre when he came aloft last year
With that flock of ewes and weaners sent along by shepherd Geil.
It was him that made me wicked — him that learnt me to drink beer —
Please forgive me, dear St. Peter, it was his fault all the while !
It was he that taught us angels how two-up and dice are played ;
We’d have never drank or gambled if he hadn’t come to taint
All us boys with sins and vices” — here young Cyril paused, dismayed.
For the news had “broke-up” Peter — he bad fallen in a faint !

He had fallen, horror-stricken, in the gutter, where the crown
Of the young and ruined angel lay in sorry, shattered shape ;
With his head upon the kerbing did he lie all limply down,
With his eyes like folding saucers and his ancient mouth agape !
Presently upon one elbow leaned the stricken patriarch,
And enquired of quaking Cyril — in a voice all filled with rue —
“Has that Clancy, then, corrupted all my dear young saints of mark ?”
And St. Cyril nodded sadly, for he knew the same was true !

Then arose the ancient Peter, with a face as dark as debt,
And a heart so filled with sorrow that the man-hole cover “gave,”
And a burst-up, boiling Peter surges round in heaven yet
In a state of lamentation and a frame of mind most grave ;
For that drover person Clancy, him who ruined Cyril Smith,
Who was in the civil service — spoilt the other saints as well —
When they’d learned to chew tobacco, Clancy yarded them forthwith,
And then flew them thro’ the slip-rails down the cloud-track into Hell !

The Sunday Times (Perth, WA), 4 January 1903, page 12

[Editor: Corrected smoles to smiles; sirrah.” to sirrah,” (inserted comma).]

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