from That Barrikins: Pictures From Mayhew II, London 1850

 
John Seed




    XXXIV

    1
    it's not all men
    as has or
    I shouldn't have been
    waiting here on
    you but
    you has your
    choice I
    tell you
    sleep there on that
    shake-down or
    turn out &
    be damned

    2
    The windows
    there sir are
    not to let the
    light in but
    to keep the
    cold out

    3
    Of course
    they don't ask any couple
    to show their marriage lines
    no more than they do
    any lord & lady
    or one that ain't a lady
    if she's with a lord
    at any fash'nable hotel
    at Brighton I've
    done tidy well on
    slums about ladies in a
    Brighton hotel
    just by the Steyne
    werry tidy

    4
    Whatever that's
    bad & wicked
    that any one can
    fancy could be
    done in such places
    among boys & girls
    that's never been taught
    or won't be taught better
    is done
    & night after night

    5
    A rackety place sir
    one of the showfuls

    a dicky one a
    free-and-easy you can
    get a pint of beer
    & a punch of the head
    all for 2d.

    as for sleeping
    on a Saturday night there O

    no we
    never mention it

    6
    Why in course sir
    if you is in a country town
    or village where there's only
    one lodging-house &
    that a bad one an
    old hand can always
    suit his-self in London you
    must get half-drunk or your
    money for your bed is
    wasted there's so much rest
    owing to you
    after a hard day &
    bugs & bad air'll
    prevent its being paid
    if you don't lay in some
    stock of beer or liquor of some sort
    to sleep on it's a duty
    you owes yourself but
    if you haven't the browns why
    then in course you
    can't pay it

    7
    When a man's lost caste he
    may as well
    go the whole hog
    bristles & all

    & a low lodging-house
    is the entire pig

    8
    Brighton is a town where
    there is a great many
    furnished cribs
    let to needys
    that are
    molled up






    XXXV

    Why sir I myself have
    slept in the top room
    of a house not far from
    Drury-lane & you
    could study the stars
    if you were so minded
    through the holes
    a fine summer's night

    & the openings in the roof
    were an advantage they
    admitted air I
    never went there again

    you may judge what thoughts
    went through a man's mind

    a man who had
    seen prosperous days
    as he lay in a place like that

    without being able to sleep

    watching the sky

    
    


-----------------------------
John Seed's first Mayhew volume, Pictures From Mayhew, and his New and Collected Poems, are both published by Shearsman

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