When I was a windy boy and a bit And the black spit of the chapel fold, (Sighed the old ram rod, dying of women), I tiptoed shy in the gooseberry wood, The rude owl cried like a tell-tale tit, I skipped in a blush as the big girls rolled Nine-pin down on donkey's common, And on seesaw sunday nights I wooed Whoever I would with my wicked eyes, The whole of the moon I could love and leave All the green leaved little weddings' wives In the coal black bush and let them grieve.
When I was a gusty man and a half And the black beast of the beetles' pews (Sighed the old ram rod, dying of bitches), Not a boy and a bit in the wick- Dipping moon and drunk as a new dropped calf, I whistled all night in the twisted flues, Midwives grew in the midnight ditches, And the sizzling sheets of the town cried, Quick!- Whenever I dove in a breast high shoal, Wherever I ramped in the clover quilts, Whatsoever I did in the coal- Black night, I left my quivering prints.
When I was a man you could call a man And the black cross of the holy house, (Sighed the old ram rod, dying of welcome), Brandy and ripe in my bright, bass prime, No springtailed tom in the red hot town With every simmering woman his mouse But a hillocky bull in the swelter Of summer come in his great good time To the sultry, biding herds, I said, Oh, time enough when the blood runs cold, And I lie down but to sleep in bed, For my sulking, skulking, coal black soul!
When I was half the man I was And serve me right as the preachers warn, (Sighed the old ram rod, dying of downfall), No flailing calf or cat in a flame Or hickory bull in milky grass But a black sheep with a crumpled horn, At last the soul from its foul mousehole Slunk pouting out when the limp time came; And I gave my soul a blind, slashed eye, Gristle and rind, and a roarers' life, And I shoved it into the coal black sky To find a woman's soul for a wife.
Now I am a man no more no more And a black reward for a roaring life, (Sighed the old ram rod, dying of strangers), Tidy and cursed in my dove cooed room I lie down thin and hear the good bells jaw-- For, oh, my soul found a sunday wife In the coal black sky and she bore angels! Harpies around me out of her womb! Chastity prays for me, piety sings, Innocence sweetens my last black breath, Modesty hides my thighs in her wings, And all the deadly virtues plague my death!