Not all poetry about motor cycling is mawkish doggerel. When the following ditties were written, as you’ll see, motor cycling bards had a light touch in humorous rhyming. The first poem demands to be read out loud [and anyone who recalls Ernie, the Fastest Milkman in the West is likely to find themelves doing a Bennie Hill impression]…
MOUNT PLEASANT! (1910)
Reginald’s mount was a mild affair
With a gear of six to one.
An engine of one and a quarter hp
In lightness second to none.
It had been a pushbike in its youth
Til ‘converted’ up to date,
And still on a hill it would stop and brood
On its former pushful state.
The mount of Archibald (Reggie’s friend)
Was a thing to approach with awe.
It was to the mount of Reginald
As the oak tree to the straw.
Its gear was one and a bit to one,
Its hp nine-eleven.
It wasn’t a toy for a good little boy
Either under or over seven.
Now, it happened one day on the open road
Outside a well-known inn
That Reggie’s single-cylinder
And Archibald’s double twin
Stood side by side like lamb and lion
Awaiting their owners’ start,
When who should arrive in a motorcar
But the gel of Reggie’s heart!
Now, Reggie many a time had talked
Of his monster motor-bike,
Of its fearsome speeds and doughty deeds
(We, ourself, have done the like),
And the gel of his heart, of course, believed
In his deeds of derring do,
His “throttled to fifty miles an hour”
(Our girls have believed us too).
The girl of his heart admired the twin
And Reggie felt rather flat
When she pointed to Reggie’s gentle mount
With, “Whose bit of wire is that?”
And when she declared the monster twin
Magnificent and fine,
Then Reginald told a sad untruth
And said, “Er – yes – that’s mine.”
When she said, “I’d love to see you ride,”
He tried in vain to evade,
But she pleaded hard, and soft as well,
Till Reggie, much dismayed,
Consented to kindly demonstrate,
So he gave the thing a run
And the – Did a comet hit the earth?
Or somebody fire a gun?
As Reggie explained, he was just about
To mount with skill and care,
When just as he hopped on the footboard – well,
The footboard wasn’t there!
It’s very annoying for Reginald
That the girl of his heart was present;
And the scene of his most un-pleasant dismount
Was mockingly called, “Mount Pleasant.”
THE MOTOR AND THE MOTORMAN. (1909)
(With apologies to The Walrus and the Carpenter.)
The Motor and the Motorman went out to take the air
They groaned like anything because tthe mixture wasn’t square,
And more they groaned because a hill Uprose before them there.
If only this old ‘ surface’ thing were but a ‘spray,’ my dear,
Do you suppose,” the Motor said, “Yon hill-top we should clear?”
I doubt it,” said the Motorman, and shed a bitter tear.
Pretty plug, come spark with us,” The Motor did beseech;
A steady spark, a nice thick spark until the top we reach;
We’ll switch you off at that, and have free engine, my peach!
The sparking plug, he looked at him and missed quite once in three;
The sparking plug he winked his eye. “Retard, retard!” said he.
(Meaning, ” The lever’s too advanced in his ideas for me.”)
O throttle,” said the Motorman, “Come open, open more!
The operation’s painless, ’cause I’ll give you gas galore.”
The Motor grunted, ” ‘Twas enough to make me hot before!”
The plug he gave a final spark; then all things ceased to go.
The Motor and the Motorman walked on a mile or so;
And then they rested on a bank conveniently low.
Then several miles of muddy road they walked to catch a train ;
The language of the Motorman was warmer than the rain;
And when they found the last had gone, his words—well, words were vain !
SPEEDING BY (1909)
A YORKSHIRE LEGEND. (1910)
The firelight in eager eyes,
In the inglenook; and like a book,
With every look of candour frank,
The old man spreads himself, and lies
Of things oft-told; of buried gold;
How Edwin bold was badly sold
In days of old, on Sutton Bank.
* * * *
Angeline was a maiden fair,
Fascinating purple eyes and hair.
She was Edwin’s—temporary—joy.
Edwin was—pro tem—her darling boy.
Angeline went one week in May
To her aunt in Helmsley ; and a day
Later came a wire from Edwin: “I’m
Motor cycling down, arriving nine.”
* * * *
‘Twas nearly nine o’clock
And Thirsk was at his back.
When Edwin got a shock
The engine gave a knock
Before him Sutton Bank
As, steeply up its flank,
A dim path he
Discerned, gyrating high
To distant regions; where,
Beyond the eastern sky,
The Land of Bye-and-bye,
“May I misfire before
I fail my tryst with her!”
Across the bridge he tore,
To his machine.
Three times he stormed the hill,
Before he passed the ‘trough.’
Three times again, until
He got a frightful spill
At Big Tree Bend.
“No beastly ‘one in four’
Is going to shunt me off
From her whom I adore.
This struggle must,” he swore,
“In victory end.”
A window far on high,
Beneath the hill’s black brow,
Mirrored the sunset sky,
And gleamed, a bloodshot eye.
In angry frown.
Young Edwin frowned as black,
And quoted “Do it now.”
He tried six times; alack!
Six times he turned him back
The hill adown.
Then, more or less insane,
He turned, a thirteenth time,
Machine and self again
To face those hairpins twain
Of Sutton Bank.
With scarce a slackened wheel
Beyond the ‘trough’ they climb;
Now round the corner reel:
Then, as the steep they feel,
Then cried he in his need,
“To pass that second bend
I’d sell my soul.” “Agreed!”
The motor picked up speed
and snorted loud.
AGREED! What did it mean?
Or did his fancy lend
Voice to some Thing unseen,
That shadowed his machine,
And mocked and mowed?
Or was it—horror dread—
It was!…His heart stood still.
Upon the engine head
He saw an imp, who said,
With thumb to nose,
“AGREED Observe we flash,
Like petrol flame, uphill—
Now round the comer dash,
And now—O Edwin rash—
Your bargain close!”
* * * *
And now, they say.
Each year in May,
A spectral motor climbs the Bank
With glowing cylinder and tank
And clears the bends–
But there it ends,
And vanishes afire!
For Edwin sold his soul to round
That second bend, before he found
‘Twas all in vain
He’d ne’er attain
The TOP: ’twas some yards higher!
A HIGH RESOLVE. (1911)
There was a brave old Yorkshireman
Who came one day to town;
He said: I’m Phelon Moore and Moore
As though I’d been done down.
My legs are getting old and stiff,
I cannot push a bike;
I think I’ll get a motor one,
And see what that is like.
Great Scott! I’ll be a Wanderer,
And ride these islands through;
I’ll chase the wary Lincoln Elk,
And hunt the NS(Gn)U.
I’ll Triumph over every foe,
And all that venture nigh;
The Humber is my native Hoe,
“Excelsior!” my cry.
With Fairy movements I shall glide
End to End to End and back,
And on my record-breaking ride
My belt shall ne’er be slack.
My word! I’ll make the Moto-Reve,
You’ll see the Mabon clutch
With angry fingers at my throat;
They won’t beat me by much.
With crafty movements I’ll elude
The Griffon grim and grey;
“FN” shall be my motto—
“Fear nought,” that is to say.
Brave Douglas I shall put to flight,
I’m Matchless, don’t you see,
The Motosacoche is out of sight,
Left far behind by me.
The Indian chief will fight me hard.
The Wolf may try my pluck,
I’ll Bat along till yard by yard
They one by one get stuck.
My peerless riding all shall see,
A motor bike’s the notion,
And henceforth that will always be
My means of locomotion.
MOTOR MURMURS (1910)
“My petrol engine is the most peevish thing in existence; you can’t hurt it without it giving tongue…and this in no uncertain fashion”—Ixion
I strolled along the Great North Road,
A little while ago,
And watched the motor bicycles
Which flitted to and fro;
I listened to their murmurings
Whilst idling on my walk,
For I understand the language
which petrol engines talk.
Some told me by their gentle purr
That they were all serene,
And that their drivers knew each whim
Of engine and machine;
But others told a different tale
In no uncertain way,
And just below are samples of
The things I heard them say.
“I know I’m overheating
(I hope I shall not seize)—
My valves upon their seating
Are burning by degrees,
And I’m vainly, vainly striving
To inform the silly ass
Who is fiddling with my levers
That I’m getting too much gas.”
“I’m clanking and I’m knocking,
As plainly as can be,
To indicate the shocking
Of the methods of my driver;
But he sits like one entranced,
And it never dawns upon him
That my spark’s too far advanced.”
6hp (twin) Sun:
“I’m scraping and I’m rumbling
In most acute distress;
I’m groaning and I’m grumbling
At the forgetfulness
Of the novice who’s deriving
Much enjoyment from my toil,
For the juggins can’t remember
That I need a dose of oil.”
3½hp Unnerver (with sidecar):
With agony I’m crying,
Upon this hilly road,
But have to keep on trying
To pull a double load,
For the monster who is sitting
On the saddle fails to hear
That to climb the heavy gradient
I require a two-speed gear.”
The extracts which appear above,
Though few and somewhat short,
May interest the novices
Of this absorbing sport;
They also may suggest to them—
And others, too, perhaps—
That driving probably means more
Than twiddling certain taps.
Then, learners, listen carefully,
And be on the alert,
For a motor—like a baby—
Cries out if it is hurt;
And you must do your very best
To ascertain what’s wrong
Immediately you think you hear
Your engine ‘giving tongue’.
MOTORCYCLING PARODIES: YOUNG LOCHNIVAR* (1910)
(With apologies to Sir Walter Scott)
The young Lochnivar has gone out for a ride;
His latest machine is the neighbourhood’s pride.
His gaiters are spotless, his spirits are gay,
He’s free from the office the whole of the day;
And men say, “A lucky young beggar you are!”
The ladies, “How handsome is young Lochnivar!”
He speeds on the level, he cares for no slope,
His engines with mountains is ready to cope.
Away from ther troubles and worries of ‘biz”,
What sport could be matching this pleasure of his,
When only a puncture is able to mar
The perfect enjoyment of young Lochnivar?
“The views in the valley, the scenes on the hill,
The rest by the sweet shady side of the rill,
The speeding back homeward as even draws in,
The outing all day and the lunch at an inn,
No form of amusement I’ll base on a par
With things such as these,” cried the young Lochnivar.
“Oh! Grumblers may prate, as they frequently do,
Of road hogs (referring to me and to you),
I care not for them and their ignorant taunts,
They spoil not the fun of my motoring jaunts;
For health and good spirits undoubtedly are
Produced by such travel,” quoth young Lochnivar.
* A hugely successful poem written by Sir Walter and learned by generations of schoolchildren; for comparison purposes here’s the first verse of the original:
O young Lochinvar is come out of the west,
Through all the wide Border his steed was the best;
And save his good broadsword he weapons had none,
He rode all unarm’d, and he rode all alone.
So faithful in love, and so dauntless in war,
There never was knight like the young Lochinvar.
And I don’t reckon the Green ‘Un’s anonymous scribe owes Sir Walter any apologies!
FORCE OF HABIT (1909)
Major O’Finnigan Fadd,
Of the Onety-oneth Mounted Marines,
In full regimentals is clad,
And booted and spurred; for he means
To test his new seven-horse twin
By taking it out to begin
With a run round the town,
When pretty Miss Brown
Will likely be out for a spin.
Soldiers, enthralled, see him start;
Civilians, amazed, see him tear
Careering along to the part
Of the town that’s frequented by her
He specially hopes to impress
By the daring and grace and address,
With which he bestrides
The monster he rides,
And controls at his will, more or less.
Pretty Miss Brown is in sight;
She’s cycling ahead, without heed
Of the Major, who, wild with delight,
Cries “Hup! ye spalpeen!” to his steed;
And, spurred by his amorous fire,
He – rang! likewise – crash! – he is by her,
But – lost in a mist
Of language, the gist
Of which is: “I’ve spurred my back tyre!”
WHERE THE SIDECAR SCORES: 1 (1903)
Oh! forecar, you’re a poor device
For lovers twain, alack!
She cannot see her swain at all,
While he beholds her back.
No tender glances are exchanged –
Indeed, the case is sad;
No arm can gentle steal around
To make waist places glad.
WHERE THE SIDECAR SCORES: 2
O, love it is a funny thing,
It tickles poets in the spring.
It caused young Robinson to bring
His girl out in a trailer.
The way was short, the rider bold.
The motor was by no means old;
So fast the merry miles unrolled
Behind the girlful trailer.
“Now hold on tight, O girl of mine,
I’m going to shave this corner fine;
Off SF Edge I’ll take the shine…”
A squeal came from the trailer!
He heeded not, but on he tore
And even faster than before,
Until at length by Brighton’s shore
He pulled up with the trailer.
The sun fades sudden from his sky
With pallid face and ruffled tie,
He gazes with a frenzied eye
Upon an empty trailer.
No more will Robinson be seen
To mote with his affection’s queen,
And advertised you’ll note: “Machine
For sale, complete with trailer.”
Moral: Have a sidecar!
In 1911 educated Englishmen had enough Latin beaten into them to appreciate the following ditty:
A TALE. (1911)
Juvenis Algy’s motor-bike
Had equus power of septem.
In colour ’twas a rufus hue;
And as for hills–it leapt ’em.
In pensive mood perambulans,
Then shoved a pump, connected to
His cylinders, to grease ’em.
By now he’d reached a praeceps hill
His machina was knocking.
Then scintillam retardavit,
Infirme, turned his currus round,
Pergavit t’other way.
The causa for the clamor
Emissus by his motor,
Was that proportio magna was,
Between id et his rota.
Moralis of this parvus talis,
Is nunquam gear for velox.
Praeterquam bike armatur cum
Efficienti gear box.
A GROWING FAMILY (1909)
Young Petrolwise of whom I write,
A happy man was he
When he started on his honeymoon
With happy Mrs P;
For it seemed to them that life would run
As smoothly from that day
As ever any tri-car ran
Upon the King’s highway.
They were a happy couple
And one day a little bird
Told Mr P and Mrs P
About a minor third;
And, in view of probabilities,
They purchased at the show
A fore-car with a tiny seat
In front of that, you know.
Now Petrolwise (I don’t think that
I mentioned this before)
Preferred a single-cylinder,
And by it oft he swore.
Imagine his expression when
The Nurse one day ran in
To his shed – I mean his garage
And said “Please sir it’s a twin!”
The happy father, pardoned motor-
Cyclist that he was
Could not restrain a symptom of
Although “The more the merrier”
Proverbial may be
The tri-car wasn’t built for four
But only built for three
But he was of inventive mind,
Like Daedalus of old.
The twin-feed bottle was his own idea;
As was the two-stroke rocking chair
Worked by a single crank,
With timing gear for Mrs P.
To synchronise a spank.
But his triumph was the graduated
To carry quintoplectively
Himself, his lady fair,
In front of them, in single file
The twins in front of them
(An item “to say nothing of”)
The dog. That’s all. Pro tem.
Exactly 100 enthusiasts left the Bulstrode Hotel, Hounslow on Boxing Day 1911 for the MCC’s Winter Run to Exter and back. Gold medals were awarded to 80 riders who finished in the required time; six were disqualified for finishing to soon or two late; and 14 failed to finish. J Robertson-Brown and Fred Gillet (4¼hp Ivy-Precision outfit) were among the DNFs and Fred left the following account of their travails.
HOUNSLOW TO HOOK (1912)
A delightful twenty-four hours’ run.
I put on several pairs of socks,
And clothed myself in wool,
Packed up the turkey-sandwiches,
And saw the flask was full.
1 wrung my driver by the hand;
“Robertson Brown,” said I,
“To-night away to Exeter
With you I’ll do or die.”
Our engine was an Ivy-P,
Whose horse-power was not great:
Four and a quarter had to pull
The coachbilt sidecar’s weight;
How much it had to pull that night
Will later on appear,
When I describe in glowing terms
Our trouble with the gear.
The Turner sidecar was a treat—
All weather it defied;
Moreover, it had road-bump-proof
Our lamp, a hefty FRS,
Orion’s belt outshone
(Orion might have wished that night
He’d got a chain drive on).
The poets, so I am informed,
Who lived in ancient days,
Chose attics underneath a roof
Wherein to write their lays.
But I’ll write ‘neath the open sky,
Said I without regret;
Inspired by frost if it is fine,
If not, inspired by wet.
At Hounslow there were gathered all
Great Britain’s choicest bloods;
Dame Fashion had provided joys
In overalls and duds,
Thank Goodness! there was vain enough,
For, had there been no squalls
And had the night been dry, think what
A waste of overalls.
I saw “I’m It” with twenty-two-
Inch wheels and strange air springs,
And Mundy lowering his gear,
And Vernon Taylor’s wings,
And Thompson with his green stream-line
Which all design out-knocks,
And Thomas Frank and 0P Hill
With crackers in a box.
We started from Bulstrode Hotel
To ride the long night through;
Our hearts were stout, our clothes were thick,
Our sou’-westers were new.
But man proposes Exeter,
While Fate, who’s always near,
Steps in and utterly upsets
The meshes of the gear.
It was on Egham’s little hill,
And somewhere near the top,
Our engine seemed to grow quite tired,
Then faltered to a stop.
Examination in the dark
Evolved the simple fact
That both the gears were in at once,
And neither would retract.
Adjustments made, we journeyed on,
But up hill it was plain
The high gear, acting on its own,
Had sidled in again.
Ignoring the controlling rod,
That high gear would assert
Itself on awkward gradients;
The lower gear felt hurt.
Although as yet we’d hardly got
As far as Hartley Row,
It seemed as though we must have done
Two hundred miles or so.
A mile at moments such as these
Is made of every yard.
And every little eminence
Becomes as steep as Chard.
“The time has come,” I said to Brown,
“To talk of many things,
Of ratios and formulas,
Of Karslakes and George Kings.”
But Brown replied, “Would I were back—
We still are far from Devon—
At home in pleasant Portland Street,
And still the engine pulled and pulled,
And didn’t stop to bask;
The Ivy clung hour after hour
Right bravely to its task.
Vainly the gear put on the brake,
For still the engine turned;
The Watawata held, although
The gear-bearings were churned.
Which showed what pluck the engine had. But, hang it all! ye gods!
When both the gears are in at once
Too fearful are the odds.
Some sage advice I gave to Brown
(It came too late, I fear),
“If I were you I wouldn’t let
The hub control the gear!”
Upon a slightly sloped incline,
Where mud was thick and svelte,
The high gear hit the lower gear
Somewhere below the belt.
And then we stopped and tinkered things,
Hopeless was our outlook
Till someone told us we were but
A short half-mile from Hook.
A pleasant little spot is Hook;
Not far from London Town;
The villages of Devonshire
No doubt deserve renown.
But Hook in Hampshire’s pleasant realm
Is quite as good a spot
As Exeter for writing odes
And mild poetic rot.
We might have gone to Exeter,
‘Mid wind and sleet and showers,
Or wallowed in Wiltonian floods
For hours and hours and hours.
Instead of that old Destiny
Rough-hews us as it will.
And bids us stop the night at Hook,
Where we are stopping still.
0, Hook! Sweet Auburn never was
So sweet as thou to us!
Thy charms in poetry or prose
I could at length discuss.
Though Yeovil has its “Mermaid” fame,
And Exeter its “Bude,”
Hook with a temperance hotel,
“The Acom,” is endued.
Some have to Middle Wallop gone,
To where Windwhistle blows,
To Crewkerne and to Honiton,
And places such as those.
Well, let them go, as to the Pole
Went Shackleton or Cook,
While we will pause upon our way—
We’ve got as far as Hook!
Now at this gladsome season of the year
When Spring puts forth her this-year’s-pattern buds,
And roadsides deck themselves in flowery gear
And lay aside their best assorted muds,
It doth behove me in these present pages
To tell of those who Jived in the dark ages.
Therefore, without excuse, I tell the tale
Anent Sir Wotabout, a worthy knight,
And Lady Helen de la Farthingale,
And several other people, who have quite
Escaped the pen and memory mementive
Of ancient bards—my own is more retentive.
The Lady Helen was the only cliild
Of Baron Brasted, who a castle had
Upon a hill. The Baron often smiled
Because that hill was steep, its surface bad.
And suitors riding up to woo his daughter
Failed on the one in seven-and-a-quarter.
Helen by all the gallant knights was wooed.
Some came on horses, slow and tortoise-like
And some in carts laborious and crude.
But no one came upon a motorbike,
Because no motorbike was on the market
In those dark days, not even a Noah’s Arkette.
In consequence, their lack of dash and speed
In climbing up the Baron’s steep front drive
Made the good Baron very vexed indeed.
And he declared ” Till someone looks alive,
Eftsoons! and does this measured furlong well in-
side seven seconds, none shall wed fair Helen!”
This caused dismay among the knights, who knew
Their chance to gain fair Helen’s hand was nil.
The Young Sir Wotabout despondent grew,
Yet by an extra effort hoped on still;
For, as he stood apart and muttered, “Had I
A motorbike!” Helen gave him the glad eye.’
At this he hied himself unto a cave
Wheie dwelt a dragon. Here Sir Wotabout
Observed the dragon snort red fire, and rave,
And breathe blue smoke and thunder from its snout.
“Methinks,” thought he, “this dragon hath possession
Of motive power, but badly lacks compression.”
That night Sir Wotabout went forth to snare
The dragon by a trap adroit and neat.
He placed a cylinder outside its lair
Fitted with valves and piston all complete,
And when the dragon placed its head unsightly
Therein to search for nuts, he brazed it tightly.
The captured dragon coughed, and gave a hiccough ;
The valves opened and closed in strict rotation;
The piston fearful speed began to pick up
At each terrific gurgling exhalation.
Placed on two wheels, with belt, belt rim, and pulley,
It answered speed requirements very fully.
His friends advised him not to ride the thing.
It was, they said, both dangerous and noisesome.
But youth, they knew, of course, must have its fling.
Sir Wotabout determined to enjoy some,
And having tuned his steed and cut the cackle,
Resolved the Baron’s hillclimb next to tackle.
Upon that hill Sir Wotabout achieved
A Dark Age record time, and without fail
The Baron him with open arms received,
So did the Lady Helen Farthingale;
And when the day arrived for him to marry her,
The dragon’s tail supplied a splendid carrier.
Touchstone in the Daily Mail wrote an ode in praise of the military motor cyclists who won their spurs on the Western Front…
Swift as a bullet out of a gun
He passed me by with an inch to spare,
Raising a dust cloud thick and dun
While the stench of lubricant filled the air.
I must admit that I did not like
The undergrad on his motor bike
I have seen him, too, at the wayside inn,
A strapping lad scarce out of his teens.
Grimy, but wearing a cheerful grin;
A young enthusiast, full of beans.
While his conversation was little better
Than pure magneto and carburetter.
Now he, he has got the chance of his life,
The chance of earning glorious scars,
I picture him scouring a land of strife,
Crouching over his handle-bars.
His open exhaust, with its roar and stench,
Like a Maxim gun in a British trench.
Lad, when we met in that country lane
Neither foresaw the days to come,
But I know that if ever we meet again
My heart will throb to your engine’s hum,
And to-day, as I read, I catch my breath
At the thought of your ride through the hail of death!
But to you it is just a glorious lark
Scorn of danger is still your creed.
As you open her out and advance your spark
And humour the throttle to get more speed,
Life has only one end for you,
To carry your priceless message through!
THE NOVICE. (1917)
Half an hour, half an hour, half an hour longer
Twisting himself like a newly-caught “conger”;
Testing the spark, yet, oh–
Blaming the magneto!
While his words get so much wronger and stronger.
Boys to the right of him, boys to the left of him—
Almost on top of him–add to his fury.
[Would he acquitted be if he slew two or three?
Nearly—if you an’ me got on the jury.]
“Where is that spanner gone? How does this thing screw on?
What is this gadget? ‘Compression’ —what’s that?
Maybe they’ve left it out! or it fell off, no doubt;
Can’t find it, anyhow. Where is my hat?
“I can’t stick here all night; no one can set this right;
Sorry I bought the thing; look at my glove!
Must be the gears are wrong—I thought that, all along;
Give me a hand, you boys; help me to shove.”
0, the wild charges made, when, overnight delayed,
At an hotel he stayed, dressed like a toff.
Wasn’t he half-dismayed! Then, a chap, in the trade,
Showed- him the blunder made–
Petrol tap “off”.
Life and the Open Road. (1917)
By Sophie Elliott Lynn
Pleasant it is to hear the swish
Of the water round your boat,
Or in flannels cool in some still pool,
To drift and laze afloat.
There’s joy in swimming with crestless waves
Where the tide runs deep and wide,
And there’s life alway in the swift short sway
Of a horse’s steady stride.
But there’s joy of life in the open road,
The road that is unknown too,
Where the endless wind that is seldom kind
Can kiss you or cut in two.
A boat will rock as the sea gets strong.
And the crested waves turn cold;
They buffet and beat—and a horse’s feet
Grow tired-a horse grows old.
But with grease and oil and a little time
Your bike is a friend that’s fair;
On valley or hill it is faithful still,
And it always gets you there.
You cross the glare of a summer sun,
You bow to the slash of rain,
But never you find in storm or wind
That you’ve given your care in vain.
Ah, me! the streak of the long white road
Where the tall, dark trees flash by,
And the heat of the day gets wiped away
With the dusk of a twilight sky.
And the moon comes up from a dewy haze,
And the damp air lends you power,
You know you can do—the whole night through—
Your thirty miles per hour.
A Miser to his ‘Hoard’. (1917)
By Sec-Lt. RDC Graham.
When I unlock the garage door to see
No dastard thief has robbed me of my prize
That fear is constantly before my eyes
Ah! how I rub my wasted hands in glee
And chuckle hoarsely at the sight of thee,
Poor sorry remnant of my ‘juice’ supplies!
This thought provokes the moist unbidden tear,
Or not infrequently the peevish curse.
(I don’t say ‘Blow!’ but something rather worse,
Causing a pinkness in the atmosphere.)
Yet so things stand: and I am not quite clear
Just how thy precious contents I’ll disperse.
Shall. I fare forth on some long-distance ‘blind’
Which, like a swan-song, shall be very sweet?
–Or light a noble bonfire in the street?
(For a dramatic finish I’m inclined.)
Or keep thee here, unopened and enshrined,
To gaze on while I wait the Huns’ defeat?
The Dirge of the Carburetter. (1917).
You thought you were above decay
Upon your pedestal of clay.
The tricar vanished in its pride,
Accumulators came, and died:
You saw the trailer’s final rout.
Hub gears came in—hub gears went out,
And belt drive tottered on its throne.
Of all the parts you stood alone.
Each year your pipes were cankered through
With juice of still more heavy brew.
With substitute we “wreaked our wills.
Your float was caked with petrol pills.
You even swallowed paraffin.
But now at last your checks are in.
Begone ! The weak must leave the race :
A gas tap comes to take vour place.
Artemis in London. (1917)
by Wilfred Blaise
In many forms, in many forms, these new heroic days,
Has Artemis come down to us—in virginal brave ways.
But oh, the motor cycle maid, with lithe, straight back threw low,
Slim outspread arms, wind-braving breast, and the fair, keen face aglow!—
As she leans thrumming down Whitehall or on to th’ Embankment swings,
I see the Winged Victory, whose fluttered garment clings
About her splendid, urgent limbs, her poise superb with speed—
I see the inviolate Maid,
Buskined and unafraid,
Spear-armed, spear-eager, lead the hunt where’er the hunt may lead.
This charming ode appeared in the programme for the 1921 Scott Trial…
“With Apologies to Mr George Robey.
The fact is.
I’ve just bought a wonderful motor, it has an engine, a tank, and a gear.
Now I have this new toy, all the world is a joy, I travel for miles without fear,
I ride it in day-time and night-time, all its uses I cannot describe,
It rings like a bell, and travels like —— it belongs to a wonderful tribe.
May I say it’s a marvellous goer? Well, perhaps, that is hardly correct
Marvellous true, and it sometimes does go, though I am rather afraid it’s inclined to be slow;
Perhaps it does overheat on occasions, it is even reputed to knock.
It’s a wonderful ‘bus—though it’s taught me to cuss, well the fact is—SOME CROCK!
I used it last for a journey, to Brighton, to spend the week-end,
The weather was fine, so I started at nine, and sent off a wire to my friend.
The ‘bus was in fine, fettle, it started first kick of my feet,
So I mounted my steed—put her into low speed—and waved to the kids in the street.
The journey was really successful, well, perhaps that is hardly the word,
At least it was pleasant, now that I can say, though I felt rather tired at the close of the day;
Well, when I say tired, I was weary! I was almost too fagged out to talk,
I’d a terrible thirst though my feet were the worst, well, the fact is—I HAD TO WALK.
Now this really wonderful auto is the joy of my life so to speak,
It gives to my boy, in a minute more joy, than a car could give in a week;
It never goes right for an hour, it breaks down at the slightest excuse,
It fizzles and pops, and misses and stops, and causes the vilest abuse.
It’s a sort of a kind of a Triumph, Well, Rudge is p’rhaps nearer the mark,
Yet it isn’t a Rudge and it isn’t a Bat, though all of these names make me take off my hat;
Now Douglas you guess, or Zenith or Nut, you may even surmise it’s a Dot,
It’s a wonderful bike—a real Yorkshire Tyke, well, the fact is—IT’S A SCOTT.”
In 1927 Ixion wrote, under the heading ‘The Next Laureate’: “The following poem is reprinted from the official journal of the Metropolitan Vickers’ Apprentice Association; it is good enough to deserve a wider audience.” As usual, Ixion was right.
When we’ve ridden out our guarantee, and several thousand more,
And the mileage on the dial is running high,
Then the human engine seizes, or a.piston starts to score,
Or a frame breaks, and we settle down and die,
And the next stage (experts tell us) is a region bright and fair;
But is there room for trusty steeds besides?
When the hero reached Valhalla, did he find his charger there?
Shall we meet the old machines we used to ride?
Have they got a super garage, way out there beyond the sun?
Where the buses that we’ve ridden here below
Live in glorious new enamel and with burnished handlebars
Now await the riders whom they used to know?
Shall we trace our earthly progress from the days of pushbike frames
With an enging (for the sake of peace I shall not mention names)
Which is just a flash of lightning and a zoom?
Shall we ride our favourites once again in celestial TT,
(Lapping thirty-three times round the Milky Way)?
Shall we see St Christopher arrayed as Dergeant RAC
OrSt Peter representing the AA?
Shall we find ourselves as cherubim with uncelestial mirth
Skidding round the double hairpins on Orion?
BUT—if we have to tune up each machine we owned on earth,
Say, Bo, I guess I’m sorry for Ixion.