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1916 > Sligo Poetry 1916 > Sligo Champion

The Sligo Champion Parliamentary Correspondent, J.F. Cunningham, continued to include poetry and song lyrics in his weekly London Notes column during 1916. He was especially diligent in this matter towards the end of the year in response to the criticism he referred to in the Sligo Champion of 30 September.

He usually gave no author for the pieces, poems and stanzas of poems and songs, he included. Some may be his own compositions. He did have some published over his own name in 1915 and again in 1916 when his poem on P.A. McHugh was included.

The photograph, below left, was published in the Sligo Champion of 19 February 1916.

    Sligo Champion
 30 September 1916


A local reader thinks I am devoting too much space to politics, and begs me to give more of travel and local squibs. I quite agree. Next week I hope to give some notes on a visit to Mecca. Later on, a description of the mighty Danube, where the Rumanians are now in death grips with the Central Powers. As to local squibs, here you are. Only remember it is only a squib:

  The Farmer’s Boy.

One day when I was out of work
I went a job to seek,
To be a farmer’s boy.
At last I found an easy job
At half-a-crown a week,
To be a farmer’s boy.
The farmer sai
d “I think I’ve got
The very job for you,
Your duties will be light, for this,
Is all you’ve got to do:—

Rise at three every morn,
Milk the cow with the twisted horn,
Feed the pigs, clean the sty,
Teach the pigeons the way to fly,
Plough the fields, mow the hay,
Help the ducks and hens to lay,
Sow the wheat, tend the crops,
Chase the flies from the turnip tops,
Clean the knives, black the shoes,
Scrub the kitchen and sweep the flues,
Help the wife, wash the pots,
Grow the cabbages and car-rots,

Make the bed, dust the coals,
Tune the gramophone,
And then if there’s no more work to do,
The rest of the day’s your own.”

I scratched my head and thought it would
Be absolutely prime,
To be a farmer’s boy.
The farmer said “Of course you’ll have
To do some overtime
When you’re a farmer’s boy.”
Said he, “The duties that I’ve given
You’ll be quickly through,
So I’ve been thinking of a few
More things that you can do:-

Skim the milk, make the cheese,
Chop the meat for the sausa-gees,
Bath the kids, mend their clothes,
Use your face to scare the crows,
In the milk, put the chalk,
Shake the nobs off the pickled pork,
Shoe the horse, break the coal,
Take the cat for his midnight stroll,
Cook the food, scrub the stairs,
Teach the parrot to say his prayers
Roast the joint, bake the bread
Shake the feathers up in the bed

When the wife's got the gout
Rub her funny-bone
And if there's no more work to do
The rest of the day's your own.

I thought it was a shame to take the money,
ou can bet
To be a farmer's boy
And so I wrote my duties down
n case I should forget
I was a farmer's boy
It took all night to write 'em down,
I didn't go to bed
But somehow I got all mixed up
And this is how they read: —

Rise at three every morn,
Milk the hen with the twisted horn,
Scrub the wife every day,
Teach the nanny goats how to lay,
Shave the cat, tune the cheese,
Fit the legs on the sausa-gees,
Bath the pigs, break the pots,
Boil the kids with a few car-rots,
Roast the horse, dust the bread,
Put the ducks and hens to bed,
Boots and shoes black with chalk,
Shave the hair on the pickled pork.

All the rest I forgot,
Somehow it had flown,
But I got the sack that morning,
So the rest of my life’s my own.

(The rights of public recitation are reserved.)

The Farmer's Boy  is actually The rest of the Day's your own, which was written and composed by Worten David and P. Long in 1915 and was sung by the English music-hall performer Jack Lane (1879-1953). It was issued as a record by Regal in September 1915. Hear Jack Lane sing it on YouTube.

The Counter-attack was in
cluded in Soldier Poets  - Songs Of The Fighting Men (London, September  1916), but the last stanza is not included there. It may even be an addition by Cunningham. The poem was written by H. D’A. B., Major, 55th Division (B.E.F., France) who has a number of poem in that anthology. There is a poem on the war by Siegfried Sassoon with a similar name, Counter-Attack.

The Music Hall extracts were included without any reference to author or composer. I have added these in square brackets after each piece.


       Sligo Champion
      14 October 1916

       A German Squeal.

Ach Himmel! England is unfair,
On land and sea and in the air,
She cannot fight us fair and square.

With nets and other low-down means
She traps our latest submarines,
And all sea laws she contravenes.

The trenches where our army dwells
She’s made into so many hells
By smashing them with nasty shells.

And even now when we use gas
Those British devils still, alas,
us with cold steel en masse.


             Sligo Champion
            14 October 1916

         The Counter-attack

A WAXEN moon hung high in night's black tent,
A ghost-wind in the branches stirring,
And from the ridges tunnelled, scarred and rent,
A deep and sullen boom recurring.

Flash follows flash. A lurid fan-like glare
The ebon vault an instant blenches,
While green and crimson rocket-signals flare
In No-Man's-Land between the trenches.

Shells shriek, bombs crash and thunder, bullets whine,
Tornado hideous, evil-boding,
That rolls in vain against our serried line,
Alert for onslaught, calmly loading.

Now up and at them. Shouts exultant, harsh,
A melee of cold steel colliding,
Gaunt shadows grappling in a bloody marsh,
And low moans rising and subsiding.

Dawn comes: there’s not one enemy in sight,
The field is dripping red, the thinned ranks shiver,
There the victors stood, supreme in fight,
And wild their cheer-“Old Ireland for ever!”

    Sligo Champion
   21 October 1916

Some Music Hall Songs

As literary productions, music hall songs are nearly always sneered at, and yet they are uproariously applauded by thousands when produced on the stage. If the songs contain a light-hearted touch they become very popular, but the puzzle still remains—to what do they really owe their popularity? Now, people go to the music halls to be amused, not depressed, and the glamour of the stage, the scenery, the lights, the gestures, and make-up of the artistes—all tend to jollity. But in addition to all this no music hall song is a triumph unless the air or melody has a “catch” —something that appeals to the ear of the audience.
I cannot give the melodies here, but I can give extracts from some of the recent successes.

Pack up your troubles in your old kit bag,
And smile, smile, smile!
While you’ve a lucifer to light your fag,
Smile, boys, that’s the style.
What’s the use of worrying?
It never was worth while.
So, pack up your troubles in your old kit bag,
And smile, smile, smile.

Words by George Asaf, a pseudonym for George Powell, and Felix Powell (music) the song was published by Chappell & Co. in London in 1915.]
* * * * *

When you’re grown up, laddie,
When you’re big and tall,
To be a man, a thorough man,
The greatest thing of all,
Face and fight life’s battles,
Win them if you can,
But, first and foremost, laddie,
Be a man, be a man!

Curly head, now don’t you worry!
You needn’t scheme and plan,
If you had your weight in medals
’Twould take more to make a man;
So, although you go a soldiering,
Or run away to sea,
Fear God and honour mother
And a man you’re sure to be.

[from Be A Man
. Words by Leonard Cooke and Music by Henry E. Pether.]

* * * * *
Lonely I stand where the waters flow,
Gazing afar at the sunset’s glow,
Fanciful visions in clouds I see,
And picture a land where you may be.
’Tis a dream world of palace and garden fair,
And some day I know I shall meet you there.

* * * * *

In the sunset glow when the lights are low
A vision of hope I see,
And my heart once more as in days of yore
Is throbbing with ecstasy,
For I know that we, in the days to be,
By angel pinions fanned,
Heart to heart beating, love vows repeating
Will meet in Sunset Land.

[This and the verse above seem to be from
Somewhere in Sunset Land.]

* * * * *

And when I told them how beautiful you are
They didn't believe me, they didn't believe me.
Your lips, your eyes, your cheeks, your hair,
Are in a class beyond compare
You’re the loveliest girl that one could see.
And when I tell them, and I’m certainly going to tell them,
That I’m the man whose wife one day you'll be,
They'll never believe me, they’ll never believe me,
That from this great big world you’ve chosen me!

[They Didn't Believe Me
 (1914) by Jerome Kern (music) and Herbert Reynolds (lyrics) . From the Broadway musical The Girl from Utah which opened in London in October 1913]

* * * * *

Though your heart may ache awhile,
Never mind!
Though your face may lose its smile,
Never mind!
For there’s sunshine after rain,
And then gladness follows pain,
You’ll be happy once again,
Never mind!

[This is the chorus from Never Mind
written and composed by Goldbourne.]

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