The Old Jimmy Woodser
Henry Lawson, 1899
The old Jimmy Woodser comes into the bar,
Unwelcomed, unnoticed, unknown,
Too old and too odd to be drunk with, by far;
And he glides to the end where the lunch baskets are
And they say that he tipples alone.
His frock-coat is green and the nap is no more,
And the style of his hat is at rest.
He wears the peaked collar our grandfathers wore,
The black-ribboned tie that was legal of yore,
And the coat buttoned over his breast.
When first he came in, for a moment I thought
That my vision or wits were astray;
For a picture and page out of Dickens he brought,
'Twas an old file dropped in from the Chancery Court
To a wine-vault just over the way.
But I dreamed as he tasted his bitters to-night,
And the lights in the bar-room grew dim,
That the shades of the friends of that other day's light,
And of girls that were bright in our grandfathers' sight,
Lifted shadowy glasses to him.
And I opened the door as the old man passed out,
With his short, shuffling step and bowed head;
And I sighed, for I felt as I turned me about,
An odd sense of respect born of whisky no doubt
For the life that was fifty years dead.
And I thought there are times when our memory trends
Through the future, as 'twere, on its own
That I, out of date ere my pilgrimage ends,
In a new fashioned bar to dead loves and dead friends
Might drink like the old man alone:
While they whisper, 'He boozes alone.'