Paul Laurence Dunbar
Paul Laurence Dunbar, 1872-1906

A Border Ballad
by Paul Laurence Dunbar
[from Lyrics of Lowly Life, 1896]

Oh, I haven’t got long to live, for we all
     Die soon, e’en those who live longest;
And the poorest and weakest are taking their chance
     Along with the richest and strongest.
So it’s heigho for a glass and a song,
     And a bright eye over the table,
And a dog for the hunt when the game is flush,
     And the pick of a gentleman’s stable.

There is Dimmock o’ Dune, he was here yester- night,
     But he’s rotting to-day on Glen Arragh;
‘T was the hand o’ MacPherson that gave him the blow,
     And the vultures shall feast on his marrow.
But it’s heigho for a brave old song
     And a glass while we are able;
Here’s a health to death and another cup
     To the bright eye over the table.

I can show a broad back and a jolly deep chest,
     But who argues now on appearance?
A blow or a thrust or a stumble at best
May send me to-day to my clearance.
     Then it’s heigho for the things I love,
My mother’ll be soon wearing sable,
     But give me my horse and my dog and my glass,
And a bright eye over the table.


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