Archive for April 3rd, 2012

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

The Cares of a Caretaker by Wallace Irwin

A nice old lady by the sea
Was neat as she was plain,
And every time the tide came in
She swept it back again.

And when the sea untidy grew
And waves began to beat,
She took her little garden rake
And raked it smooth and neat.

She ran a carpet-sweeper up
And down the pebbly sand.
She said, ‘This is the only way
To keep it clean – good land!’

And when the gulls came strolling by,
She drove them shrilly back.
Remarking that it spoiled the beach,
‘The way them birds do track.’

She fed the catfish clotted cream
And taught it how to purr –
And were a catfish so endowed
She would have stroked its fur.

She stopped the little sea-urchins
That travelled by in pairs,
And washed their dirty faces clean
And combed their little hairs.

She spread white napkins on the surf
With which she fumed and fussed
‘When it ain’t covered up,’ she said,
It gits all over dust.’

She didn’t like to see the ships
With all the waves act free,
And so she got a painted sign
Which read: Keep off the Sea.

But dust and splutter as she might,
Her work was sadly vain;
However oft she swept the beach,
The tides came in again.

And she was sometimes wan and worn
When she retired to bed –
‘A woman’s work ain’t never done,’
That nice old lady said.


Date: 1906

By: Wallace Irwin (1875-1959)