Well Said, Davy

By John Fuller b. 1937 John Fuller
He went to the city and goosed all the girls   
With a stall on his finger for whittling the wills   
To a clause in his favour and Come to me Sally,   
One head in my chambers and one up your alley
   And I am as old as my master.

I followed him further and lost all my friends,   
The grease still thick on his fistful of pens.   
I laced up his mutton and paddled his lake
In the game of Get-off-me and Just-for-my-sake
   And I am as old as my master.

I sang in his service a farewell to sorrow
With rolled black stockings, the bone and the marrow.   
The Law was a devil to cheat as you pleased
As we knelt on the backs of the city girls’ knees   
   And I am as old as my master.

So back to the country where birds are squawking,   
With possets for pensions and witless talking   
Of walloped starvelings and soldiers’ fortunes
From his nodding bench in the smothered orchards
   And I am as old as my master.

Age turns the cheek of a buried scandal
In a nightmare of cheese and a quarter of candle.   
When the servant is privy he’s good as a guest,
The first to be carved to and last to be pressed   
   And I am as old as my master.

Country or city, no pleasure can last:
It’s farewell to the future and beckon the past.   
Though he that we drink with is sometimes a fool,   
A single grey tooth may furnish a smile
   And I am as old as my master.

John Fuller, “Well Said, Davy” from Collected Poems, published by Chatto & Windus. Used by permission of The Random House Group Limited,

Source: Collected Poems (1996)

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Poet John Fuller b. 1937


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 John  Fuller


A prolific poet, novelist, children’s writer, critic, and editor, John Fuller has written or edited nearly 50 books, including more than a dozen collections of poetry. Fuller was born in Kent, England, and his father was the poet Roy Fuller. John Fuller was mentored by W.H. Auden and also influenced by Eliot, Graves, and Stevens. His poetry displays a virtuosic ease within the constraints of formal, metered verse; it is a poetry . . .

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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