Some Girls Ago.
Some men mark time by Melbourne Cups,
When someone’s gee was slow or fast;
Some reckon by their downs and ups,
The yester-stones they’ve plodded past.
Some count it by a death or birth,
Eclipses of the moon and sun,
When Deeming said good-bye to earth,
And when Ned Kelly’s race was run.
Some calculate by queens and kings —
Victoria, Edward, George and Co.,
The swish of O tempora’s wings,
The track eternal all must go.
But I’ve a friend who does not fly
To horses past the stewards shoved;
He marks the years important by —
The girls he’s loved!
None of your sentimental spoons;
Your here to-day, to-morrow gone,
Your interrupted honeymoons,
Erratic Jill, inconstant John,
But steady, cautious kind of love,
The sort that holds your hand and heart,
The love that grips you like a glove —
Until you’re both prepared to part.
So my friend Romeo was true,
So were the Juliets he adored.
Till someone sweeter came in view,
And Juliet elsewhere found accord.
So when a certain date seek I
From retrospective Romeo —
“Oh yes, dear boy. That was,” he’ll sigh
“Two girls ago!”
Three girls ago he shot the chute
At Crawley with a bathing belle,
Four girls ago he pressed his suit
On one he knew as Nifty Nell
Too middle-aged to go to war,
He well recalls the stirring start;
That year sweet Sarah first he saw,
That week he hugged her to his heart.
He knew when every troopship sailed
For he on someone’s shape was shook.
He knows the month the Kaiser quailed,
Because ’twas then that Kate went crook.
He knows when Billzac and his mates
Belted the Huns from Bretonneux —
That was, according to his dates —
Five girls ago!
The middle-aged of Carbine know
And by him count the flight of years.
And cricketers to matches go
To days when Blackham’s name appears.
The war that Kruger hoped to win
But did not live to see it lost,
Enables some to surely shin
The mast of memory, tempest-tost.
But Romeo has gladsome girls
To help him mark the days that pass
His calendars are framed in curls,
Each period is a lovely lass.
“When was the Orizaba wrecked?”
You ask this belle-adoring beau —
“As near as I can recollect,
Twelve girls ago!”
From comets spinning round in space,
From circling moons and stars and suns,
On period’s pages dull we trace
And regulate our noontide guns.
But here is one who scorns the rules
Of astra-logic data deep;
Classing as mathematic mules
All they who clocks celestial keep.
True love’s the only pendulum
The mainspring and the box of tricks,
Between the earth and Kingdom Come
The heart-beats are the truest ticks.
If in a breach-of-promise case,
The lawyer cross-examines you
And tries your social sins to trace,
Your calendar will see you through.
But if the lawyer doubts your word,
And if you’re married wants to know,
You plea, “Excuse me, that occurred
Some girls ago!”
Edwin Greenslade Murphy, Dryblower’s Verses, Perth, W.A.: E. G. Murphy, 1926, pages 21-22
Previously published (with some differences) in:
The Sunday Times (Perth, WA), 21 November 1920, p. 4
Billzac = an Australian soldier (World War One slang, a combination of “Billjim” and “Anzac”; “Bill-Jim”, being a combination of the common first names “Bill” and “Jim”, was used in Australia from the late 1800s, and during World War One was commonly used as a slang term for an Australian soldier)
Blackham = John Blackham (1854-1932) was a Test cricketer who played for Victoria and Australia, and was captain of the Australian cricket team
breach-of-promise = breach of contract to marry (a broken engagement); a promise to marry, as evidenced by a formal engagement, was regarded in many jurisdictions as a legally-binding contract, and therefore if one of the participants backed out of the arrangement, it could be considered as a breach of promise and subject to legal action for damages (the majority of breach of promise cases were taken again males, although in rare instances females were the defendants)
Bretonneux = Villers-Bretonneux, a commune (township) in France, which was the site of two major battles in World War One (30 March to 5 April 1918 and 24 to 27 April 1918)
Hun = Germans (“Hun” could be used in a singular sense to refer to an individual German, as well as in a collective sense to refer to the German military or to Germans in general) (similar to the usage of “Fritz”)
Kingdom Come = a remote time or place; the end of the world (such as in the phrase “til kingdom come”); also, heaven, the hereafter, the Kingdom of God; from the phrase “Thy kingdom come” in “The Lord’s Prayer” (from Matthew 6:9-13, also Luke 11:2-4)
Kruger = Paul Kruger (1825-1904), President (1883-1900) of the South African Republic during the Boer War (1899–1902)
Melbourne Cup = a famous horse race conducted every first Tuesday in November, in Melbourne, Victoria
Orizaba = the RMS Orizaba, a mail steamer which ran aground and wrecked off the coast of Rockingham, Western Australia on 17 February 1905 (there have been several other “Orizaba” ships, including the SS Orizaba which ran aground and wrecked off the coast of Troms, Norway, on 26 February 1940); also, there is a city named Orizaba in Mexico, overlooked by an inactive volcano, the Pico de Orizaba
O tempora = (Latin) “oh the times”; especially known for its use in the phrase “O tempora! O mores!” (“oh the times! oh the customs!” (from Cicero’s “In Catilinam”) used as an exclamatory negative comment on the current state of affairs
shin = to climb a mast, tree, or similar, by embracing it and moving upwards by alternately moving the arms then legs
tost = an alternative spelling of “tossed”