Modern Street Ballads


The cloth was laid in the Vorkhouse hall,
The great-coats hung on the white-wash’d wall;
The paupers all were blithe and gay,
Keeping their Christmas holiday,
When the Master he cried with a roguish leer,
“You’ll all get fat on your Christmas cheer!”
When one by his looks did seem to say,
“I’ll have some more soup on this Christmas-day.”
            Oh the poor Vorkhouse Boy, etc.

At length, all on us to bed vos sent,
The boy vos missing—in search ve vent:
Ve sought him above, ve sought him below,
Ve sought him vith faces of grief and woe;
Ve sought him that hour, ve sought him that night;
Ve sought him in fear, and ve sought him in fright,
Ven a young pauper cried “I knows ve shall
Get jolly vell vopt for losing our pal.”
            Oh the poor Vorkhouse Boy, etc.

Ve sought in each corner, each crevice ve knew;
Ve sought in the yard, ve sought up the flue;
Ve sought in each kettle, each saucepan, each pot,
In the water-butt look’d, but found him not.
And veeks roll’d on;—ve vere all of us told,
That somebody said, he’d been burk’d and sold;
Ven our master goes out, the Parishioners vild,
Cry “There goes the cove that burk’d the poor child.”
            Oh the poor Vorkhouse Boy, etc.

At length the soup copper repairs did need,
The Coppersmith came, and there he seed,
A dollop of bones lay a grizzling there,
In the leg of the breeches the poor boy did vear!
To gain his fill the boy did stoop,
And, dreadful to tell, he was boil’d in the soup!
And ve all of us say, and ve say it sincere,
That he was push’d in there by an overseer.
            Oh the poor Vorkhouse Boy, etc.

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The End As I Know It: A Novel of Millennial Anxiety, by proprietor Kevin Shay, is now available in paperback.

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