THE TROUBLES AT BABEL
by
Walter Stanford
The foreman on the Babel works was walking round the Tower
When a shower of bricks came hurtling down from the 27th floor
He dodged aside and saved his life, then up the stairs he flew
Repeating on his way the choicest Hebrew oaths he knew

The way was long, and frequently for breath he had to stop
But in a half-an-hour or so he'd mounted to the top 
Then stumbling o'er heaps of trowels, mortarboards and picks
He yelled out at a workman, "Jacobs, who let drop them bricks?"

Five hundred hands at once stopped work and looked up in surprise
For what the sounds he made were meant for, no one could devise
And Jacobs thought "What gibberish is this he speaks to me?"
Then answered slowly, "Qu'est ce qu'il y a donc: que'est ce que tu me dis?"

The foreman stared and gasped for breath, then fiercely said, "All right
My lad, you'll take a week's stipend and sling your hook tonight."
Poor Jacobs, turning to a pal, said, "Pense-tu qu'il est fou?"
The pal, amazed, replied, "Ich verstehe nicht, was sagtest du?"

Meanwhile, the other men began to talk about the row
But found they couldn't understand each other anyhow
For one was talking Spanish and, another Japanese
Whilst others jabbered Turkish, Double Dutch and Cingalese

Chaldean, Polynesian, Finnish, Chocktaw, Latin, Greek
No tongue, known or unknown today, that someone didn't speak
At first they thought it funny, but the joke began to pall
And soon the situation wasn't humorous at all.

At length, one of the men, by pantomimic sign and wink
Suggested that they'd better knock off work and have a drink
This met with great approval, labour ended for the day
And all hands turned in the 'Babel Arms' across the way

The landlord was dumbfounded, but his breath was vainly spent
When he asked them in Assyrian what this strange invasion meant
However, after various signs that took the place of speech
He gathered what they wanted was a 'pint of four'arf' each.

They drank and made some speeches, but no one knew what about
And later on they all went home to think the matter out
While the foreman, fierce and heated, tearing handfuls from his hair
Essayed before the architect to lay the whole affair

He, poor man, couldn't understand, and fearful was the din
When the Managing Director of the Company came in
Again more complications and it wasn't very long
Before it dawned upon them something awful must be wrong.

The three went off together, and then in a body sped
To the various directors of 'The Tower Limited'
Who promptly held a meeting which for incoherent row
Has never had its equal from that period till now

The Chairman bawled and shouted till he got extremely hoarse
But as he spoke in Gaelic, no one understood of course
And when the meeting ended, as the clocks were striking four
One thing was clear enough to all - 'twas all up with the Tower.

That night the Babel residents sat up till very late
And most of them decided it was best to emigrate
And all that week they left the town in families and bands
In haste to quit the spot and settle down in other lands

A few who still spoke Yiddish stopped, and oft with one accord
They mournfully turned out to read a notice on a board
That stood against the Tower, exposed to sun and rain and gale
"In Bankruptcy - large quantity of building stock for sale."   
The end