BILLY'S BIOGRAPH
by
(Taylor and Clarke)
A biograph was an early form of cinema projection.
It’s always dark in Blodson’s Court,
Where even Summer days are short
For tho’ its grimy walls enfold
A swarm of people young and old
‘Twere vain to call it roomy.
Adventurous sunbeams sometimes fret,
Its cowering roofs and ricochet
From attic-windows, chimney-pots
And catching unexpected spots,
Make Blodson’s still more gloomy.

To visit Blodson’s is to grope
Down something like a telescope
The noises of the street become
At twenty feet a mingled hum
Of human sound and traffic.
The end attained, you turn and get
A rather circumscribed vignette
Of busy street, and passers-by,
Affording to the Blodson eye
A picture biographic.

Within this odorous retreat
One day it was my lot to meet
A happy soul, who, open-eyed,
Gazed on a world just four feet wide
A hermit willy nilly
Behind a tiny window pane,
So highly polished, that I’m fain
To fancy the phenomenon
Arrested me, I gazed upon
The face of crippled Billy.

A wan-faced kiddy worn and ill,
He leaned against the window-sill
His curly head for ever propped
By one lean arm, I often stopped
To wave a salutation
Acquaintance grew, and in a while
I looked for the expectant smile
That shone from out that corner pane
That watched me come and go again
With growing animation.

That pane shone brightly, all the rest
Were grimy of the grimiest
In perfect harmony, in short,
With everything in Blodson’s Court
Where dirt’s in the ascendant
The inside brightness sure enough,
Was due to Billy’s ragged cuff
The only odd thing that puzzled me,
Was how ‘twas kept externally
So perfectly resplendent.

I never saw his wistful face
Peer at me through that tiny space
Without inventing theories
Of fairy window-cleaners
These were suddenly demolished
For, catching someone in the act
Of wiping it, I learned the fact
That it had come to be a sort
Of subtle joke in Blodson’s Court
To keep it always polished.

Not one but with a nod and laugh,
Would polish Billy’s Biograph
For through that corner square of glass,
In living pictures pass
The world that went by Blodson’s
And yet they were as tough a sort
As ever herded down a Court
And those who came to leave a tract,
Declared they were to be exact
The antithesis of God’s sons.

Well, Blodson’s still pursues today
The uneven tenor of its way
Yet in the lump I feel inclined
To think the All-seeing Eye will find
The necessary leaven
Its wall will shut out air and sky,
The living pictures still go by
But on the little window-pane
The dirt is crusted thick again
For Billy’s gone to Heaven.
The end