[Editor: This poem by P. I. O’Leary, printed posthumously, was published in The Advocate (Melbourne, Vic.), 18 July 1945.]
Wise Old Tailor, Death
Saturday next, July 21, is the first anniversary of the death of Patrick Ignatius O’Leary, for many years news editor and literary critic of “The Advocate.” The following verses — an unusual treatment of a sombre theme, with curious undertones of cynical humour — were found among his papers by his son, Rev. Kevin O’Leary, S.C. They bore the title, “Ragged.”
My drapes are deckle-edged and torn
And nibbled by the mouse of Time
And, like dull pools in streets at morn
When Winter trills his sombre rhyme,
The grease spots look up from my coat
And frayed cuffs, like a tapestry
That hot swords in some night fray smote,
Hang from the sorry coat of me.
My hat is going at the band
And streaks of brown denote the dirt;
My songless throat has come to brand
Upon my sole surviving shirt.
My strides that cling about my legs
Are wrinkled, each half wants to hide
Itself for it hath drunk the dregs
of patched shame. No longer pride
Looks from its once straight creased front
which bent the knee to me alone,
Which faced the icy-gazing brunt
Of keen-eyed Fashion’s stare of stone.
My boots have windows wide about
Their tops, and where the twain are soled
My toes look very fully out
Through doors admittant of the cold.
But ah! that wise old tailor, Death,
Has many patrons in each shire;
He’ll make for me, and with my breath
I’ll pay him for a new attire.
The Advocate (Melbourne, Vic.), 18 July 1945, p. 9