A biograph was an early form of cinema projection.
BILLY'S BIOGRAPH
by (Taylor and Clarke) 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