Jimmy Wood

There came a lonely Briton to the town,
  A solitary Briton with a mission,
He’d vowed a vow to put all “shouting” down,
  To relegate it to a low position.
Transcendently Britannic in his dress,
  His manners were polite, and slightly formal;
And—this I mention with extreme distress—
  His “put away” for liquid was abnormal.

He viewed this “shouting” mania with disgust,
  As being generosity perverted,
When any of the “boys” went on the bust
  He strove his best that they might be converted.

He wouldn’t take a liquor with a man,
  Not if he was to be hanged, drawn, and quartered,
And yet, he drank—construe it as you can—
  Unsweetened gin, most moderately watered.

And when the atmosphere was in a whirl,
  And language metaphorical ran riot,
He’d calmly tender sixpence to the girl,
  And drink his poison—solus—nice and quiet.

Whenever he was asked to breast the bar
  He’d answer, with a touch of condescension:
“I much regret to disoblige so far
  As to decline your delicate attention.

“That drink’s a curse that hangeth like a leech—
  A sad but most indubitable fact is,
Mankind was meant to drink alone, I preach,
  And what I preach invariably practise.

“I never pay for others, nor do I
  Take drink from them, and never, never would, sir—
One man, one liquor! though I have to die
  A martyr to my faith—that’s Jimmy Wood, sir.

“My friend, ’tis not a bit of use to raise
  A hurricane of bluster and of banter:
I preach my humble gospel in the phrase,
  Similia similibus curantur;

“Which means: by drinking how and when I like,
  And sticking to the one unsweetened sample,
I hope in course of time that it will strike
  All men to follow up my good example.”

In course of time it struck all men that Jim
  Was fast developing into a soaker—
The breath of palsy on his every limb,
  A bleary face touched up with crimson ochre.

Yet firmly stood he by the sinking ship,
  Went down at last with all his colours flying;
No hand but his raised tumbler to his lip,
  What time J. Woods, the Martyr, lay a-dying.

Misunderstood reformer! gallant heart!
  He gave his path to Death—the great collector.
Now . . . in Elysian fields he sits apart
  And sips his modest “Tommy Dodd” of nectar.

His signature is on the scroll of fame,
  You cannot well forget him, though you would, sir,
The man is dead, not so his homely name,
  Who drinks alone—drinks toast to Jimmy Wood, sir.

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"Jimmy Wood" Poetry.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2019. Web. 17 Sep. 2019. <https://www.poetry.net/poem/4189/jimmy-wood>.

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