(A Tragedy.)

Punch, June 10, 1903


I met him in a crowd;
 As if with care ’twas weighted,
His shapely back was bowed,
 His brow was corrugated.
I asked him, “Why so pale?
 What grief your soul has cankered?”
And gleaned his painful tale
 Over a friendly tankard.

“Once,” the sad wight began,
 “I knew not what the blues meant,
I was a genial man,
 And never shirked amusement.
I shot, I rode, I rinked,
 I trod the mazy measure,
My life, to be succinct,
 Was one long round of pleasure.

“In those delightful days
 I do not mind confessing
That, if I had a craze,
 It was for faultless dressing.
One night—it serves to show
 How labor omnia vincit
I tied a perfect bow;
 I’ve not been happy since it.

“I worked with watchful eye,
 With fingers swift but wary,
It seemed a decent tie,
 But not extraordinary.
But when at length I gazed,
 To put the final clip in,
I staggered back amazed,
 Ejaculating ‘Rippin’!’

“Oh, had I but the pen
 That serves the inspired poet,
I’d try to picture then,
 With proper force and glow, it.
The billowy waves of white,
 The folds, the spick-and-span knot;
Were I a bard, I might—
 But as it is, I cannot.

“Suffice it to observe
 That on minute inspection
It showed in every curve
 The hall-mark of perfection.
The sort of tie which you
 When wrapped in sweetest sleep oc-
-casionally view;
 A tie to mark an epoch.

“That night no peer I owned,
 I carried all before me.
Society”—he moaned—
 “United to adore me.
Whenever I passed by,
 Men stopped their conversation,
Drank in that Perfect Tie
 In silent adoration.

“Since then the striking feat
 (Such dreams the ambitious male lure)
I’ve striven to repeat.
 Result: completest failure.
Though toiling, as I say,
 As much as blood and flesh’ll,
The bows I tie to-day
 Are good, but nothing special.

“So now my fellow-man
 I shun, no matter who ’tis.
As far as mortal can,
 I cut my social duties.
I seldom eat or rest,
 I’m gloomy, haggard, mirthless.
To one who’s known the best,
 All other things are worthless.”




Unsigned verse as printed; credited to P. G. Wodehouse in the Index to Vol. 124 of Punch.





Labor omnia vincit improbus, from Virgil, means essentially ‘hard work conquers all.”


John Dawson