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A Good Sport
by [?]

I was a little lad, and the older boys called to me from the pier:
They called to me: ‘Be a sport: be a sport! Leap in and swim!’
I leaped in and swam, though I had never been taught a stroke.
Then I was made a hero, and they all shouted:
‘Well done! Well done,
Brave boy, you are a sport, a good sport!’
And I was very glad.

But now I wish I had learned to swim the right way,
Or had never learned at all.
Now I regret that day,
For it led to my fall.

I was a youth, and I heard the older men talking of the road to wealth;
They talked of bulls and bears, of buying on margins,
And they said, ‘Be a sport, my boy, plunge in and win or lose it all!
It is the only way to fortune.’
So I plunged in and won; and the older men patted me on the back,
And they said, ‘You are a sport, my boy, a good sport!’
And I was very glad.

But now I wish I had lost all I ventured on that day –
Yes, wish I had lost it all.
For it was the wrong way,
And pushed me to my fall.

I was a young man, and the gay world called me to come;
Gay women and gay men called to me, crying:
‘Be a sport; be a good sport!
Fill our glasses and let us fill yours.
We are young but once; let us dance and sing,
And drive the dull hours of night until they stand at bay
Against the shining bayonets of day.’
So I filled my glass, and I filled their glasses, over and over again,
And I sang and danced and drank, and drank and danced and sang,
And I heard them cry, ‘He is a sport, a good sport!’
As they held their glasses out to be filled again.
And I was very glad.

Oh the madness of youth and song and dance and wine,
Of woman’s eyes and lips, when the night dies in the arms of dawn!
And now I wish I had not gone that way.
Now I wish I had not heard them say,
‘He is a sport, a good sport!’
For I am old who should be young.
The splendid vigour of my youth I flung
Under the feet of a mad, unthinking throng.
My strength went out with wine and dance and song;
Unto the winds of earth I tossed like chaff,
With idle jest and laugh,
The pride of splendid manhood, all its wealth
Of unused power and health –
Its dream of looking into some pure girl’s eyes
And finding there its earthly paradise –
Its hope of virile children free from blight –
Its thoughts of climbing to some noble height
Of great achievement–all these gifts divine
I cast away for song and dance and wine.
Oh, I have been a sport, a good sport;
But I am very sad.