The Cockney Soul

The Cockney Soul

The Cockney Soul

The Cockney Soul

by Henry Lawson

The Cockney Soul


From Woolwich and Brentford and Stamford Hill, from Richmond into the Strand,

Oh, the Cockney soul is a silent soul, as it is in every land!

But out on the sand with a broken band it’s sarcasm spurs them through;

And, with never a laugh, in a gale and a half, ’tis the Cockney cheers the crew.


Oh, send them a tune from the music-halls with a chorus to shake the sky!

Oh, give them a deep-sea chanty now, and a star to steer them by!


Now this is a song of the great untrained, a song of the Unprepared,

Who had never the brains to plead unfit, or think of the things they dared;

Of the grocer-souled and the draper-souled, and the clerks of the four o’clock,

Who stood for London and died for home in the nineteen-fourteen shock.


Oh, this is a pork-shop warrior’s chant, come back from it, maimed and blind,

To a little old counter in Grey’s Inn-road and a tiny parlour behind;

And the bedroom above, where the wife and he go silently mourning yet

For a son-in-law who shall never come back and a dead son’s room “To Let”.


(But they have a boy “in the fried-fish line” in a shop across the “wye”,

Who will take them “aht” and “abaht” to-night and cheer their old eyes dry.)


And this is a song of the draper’s clerk (what have you all to say?),

He’d a tall top-hat and a walking-coat in the city every day,

He wears no flesh on his broken bones that lie in the shell-churned loam;

For he went over the top and struck with his cheating yard-wand, home.


(Oh, touch your hat to the tailor-made before you are aware,

And lilt us a lay of Bank-holiday and the lights of Leicester-square!)


Hats off to the dowager lady at home in her house in Russell-square!

Like the pork-shop back and the Brixton flat, they are silently mourning there;

For one lay out ahead of the rest in the slush ‘neath a darkening sky,

With the blood of a hundred earls congealed and his eye-glass to his eye.


(He gave me a cheque in an envelope on a distant gloomy day;

He gave me his hand at the mansion door and he said: “Good-luck! Good-bai!”)


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