When Your Hat Blows Off [poem by Grant Hervey, 11 January 1903]

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

When Your Hat Blows Off.

(Memo.— This poem is written in the lining of a valuable “tile” which has just been blown off and gutter-stained beyond repair ; so any violent or blasphemous statements found herein may well be condoned and excused. — G.H.)

Lo, I bid you softly tread, hide your bluchers neath the bed,
For an angry man is writing with a heart all filled with rage,
With a dark and scowling brow sits the man of metre now
Scrawling scarlet observations all across the paper page !
O, I pray you make no noise ; make no caper nor rejoice,
Lest he stab you with a meat-axe and beside your body scoff.
For there’s reason for his wrath, let him pour his curses forth —
O, forgive the crimson langwidge of the man whose hat’s blown off !

In the gutter lies his tile (I entreat you do not smile),
Where he kicked it in his frenzy as it rolled the streetway down ;—
Lord, forgive the blasphemies of the person whom your breeze
Sends careering down the footpath with a bare and hatless crown !
Lo, it is no jest or joke, when at one fell, swooping stroke
Doth one’s upper blanky garment do a swift and reckless doff.
“Damn and blast the thing to hell !” hear him agonisedly yell —
Good St. Peter, “pass” the language of the man whose hat’s blown off !

Prithee, sympathise with him ; stand not, by unmoved and grim.
If you know some special curses, go and tell him of the same ;
If you know a blinding blast, help him turn the world aghast
With a roaring flood of curses and a cataract of flame !
P’r’aps some day your “roof” will “go” and a fitful breeze will blow
With your hat a-roll before it through the gutters and the slime.
When your soul will madly yearn for one roaring oath to churn
All creation into chaos in an earthquake act sublime !
So I bid you softly tread, plant your bluchers ’neath the bed,
For an angry man is writing, with his heart and soul a-scoff
Give him leagues of elbow-room — do not rush upon your doom —
For the man who squirts this spasm has just had his hat blown off !

The Sunday Times (Perth, WA), 11 January 1903, page 12

Editor’s notes:
blanky = substitution for a swear word (such as “bloody”)

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

tile = slang term for hat (often, but not necessarily, referring to a high silk hat); presumably arising from tiles on a roof being like a hat on a head

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