"Throw the Bums Out"

Charles Doyle cdoyle at UGA.EDU
Thu May 6 18:46:59 UTC 2010

Speaking of bums and baseball: As an end-of-semester "treat" for my Milton class, I distributed the following pretty poem. Of course, no one in the class, even avowed baseball fans, knew of the Dodgers being called "the Bums" (nor of the Dodgers having resided in Brooklyn)--though they did know about Dickens's Artful Dodger. The poems is by Robert Francis (1901-1987).

Two bums walk out of Eden. Evening approaches
The suave, the decorous trees, the careful grass,
The strict green benches--and the two bums go.

They caught the official nod, the backward-pointing
Thumb, and now they rise and leave a little
Briskly as men heedful to waste no time--

As men bending their steps toward due appointments.
The tall one looms like a skeleton; the runt
Walks with the totter of a tumbleweed.

Down the trimmed ceremonial path they go
Together, silent and separate and eyes
Ahead like soldiers. Down the long path and out.

What desert blanched these faces: What blowing sands
Gullied the eyes and wrecked the hanging hands
While Babylon and Nineveh were falling?

Now a shade darker will be a shade less dark.
Now there is room for evening in the park
Where cool episcopal bells are calling, calling.

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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