Poems » john kendall » ballad of a homeless bat

The man was going in to bat;
The bowler, flushed with joy,
Stood waiting to complete his hat; [1]
There came a village boy

"Put off your gloves of rubber proof,
Unguard each careful shin.
The curse has fallen on your roof;
Your house has tumbled in."

White as his boots the batsman grew;
He cast his pads away;
His gauntlets to the winds he threw.
The Captain cried, "I say,

Go in, poor homeless one, and bat,
Stem as the nether rock;
E'en though that house of yours be flat,
You'd better have your knock."

"My little home," the batsman wept,
"So trim it was and tight;
I always had it nicely swept;
It had electric light.

And is there left no tiny shred
Of the whole bag of tricks?"
The boy with urchin relish said
Laconically, "Nix."

"Let me go hence; nay, hold me not."
Then loud the Captain cried,
"You, you alone can stay the rot;
Think, batsman, of the side.

Your kindling eye, your stubborn heart
Alone can make things good;
You would not land us in the cart";
The victim said, "I would."

Then spake a man of subtler mould:
"A year ago, no more,
Yon bowler, haughty man and cold,
Had you out leg-before. [2]

Did you not seal a solemn oath
To clump him for that crime
O'er yon tall tree, or tent, or both?
You did. Then now's the time."

Up sprang the batsman with a frown,
And like a man he spoke:
"Let every house come crashing down,
The pub dissolve in smoke;

I will not guard each careful shin;
Give me my bat, no more;
With knuckles bared will I go in
And larn him leg-before."

He seized his trusty bat and went
A broken soul was he,
But he lammed the blighter o'er the tent,
The bounder o'er the tree.