**** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE ****

Find this Story

Print, a form you can hold

Wireless download to your Amazon Kindle

Look for a summary or analysis of this Poem.

Enjoy this? Share it!

The Last Man
by [?]


‘Twas in the year two thousand and one,
A pleasant morning of May,
I sat on the gallows-tree, all alone,
A channting a merry lay,–
To think how the pest had spared my life,
To sing with the larks that day!


When up the heath came a jolly knave,
Like a scarecrow, all in rags:
It made me crow to see his old duds
All abroad in the wind, like flags;–
So up he came to the timber’s foot
And pitch’d down his greasy bags.–


Good Lord! how blythe the old beggar was!
At pulling out his scraps,–
The very sight of his broken orts
Made a work in his wrinkled chaps:
“Come down,” says he, “you Newgate-bird,
And have a taste of my snaps!”–


Then down the rope, like a tar from the mast,
I slided, and by him stood:
But I wish’d myself on the gallows again
When I smelt that beggar’s food,–
A foul beef bone and a mouldy crust;–
“Oh!” quoth he, “the heavens are good!”


Then after this grace he cast him down:
Says I, “You’ll get sweeter air
A pace or two off, on the windward side”–
For the felons’ bones lay there–
But he only laugh’d at the empty skulls,
And offer’d them part of his fare.


“I never harm’d them, and they won’t harm me:
Let the proud and the rich be cravens!”
I did not like that strange beggar man,
He look’d so up at the heavens–
Anon he shook out his empty old poke;–
“There’s the crumbs,” saith he, “for the ravens!”


It made me angry to see his face,
It had such a jesting look;
But while I made up my mind to speak,
A small case-bottle he took:
Quoth he, “Though I gather the green water-cress,
My drink is not of the brook!”


Full manners-like he tender’d the dram;
Oh it came of a dainty cask!
But, whenever it came to his turn to pull,
“Your leave, good sir, I must ask;
But I always wipe the brim with my sleeve,
When a hangman sups at my flask!”


And then he laugh’d so loudly and long,
The churl was quite out of breath;
I thought the very Old One was come
To mock me before my death,
And wish’d I had buried the dead men’s bones
That were lying about the heath!


But the beggar gave me a jolly clap–
“Come, let us pledge each other,
For all the wide world is dead beside,
And we are brother and brother–
I’ve a yearning for thee in my heart,
As if we had come of one mother.”


“I’ve a yearning for thee in my heart
That almost makes me weep,
For as I pass’d from town to town
The folks were all stone-asleep,–
But when I saw thee sitting aloft,
It made me both laugh and leap!”


Now a curse (I thought) be on his love,
And a curse upon his mirth,–
An it were not for that beggar man
I’d be the King of the earth,–
But I promis’d myself, an hour should come
To make him rue his birth!–


So down we sat and bons’d again
Till the sun was in mid-sky,
When, just as the gentle west-wind came,
We hearken’d a dismal cry:
“Up, up, on the tree,” quoth the beggar man,
“Till those horrible dogs go by!”