[Byron Society home page] [Other works by Chris]

The Ballad of "Breaker" Coughlan

by Chris "Childe Harold" Oakley

Ye mighty Gods! Ye who the stars
In firmament fix'd, and Earth's relentless
Wheeling march preplann'd: A mortal who spars
'Gainst grim judgement ye mete to oppress
The wicked beyond the grave but futilely scars
The prison of his own soul, and numbers the numberless
Days of eternity but slower: E'en anguished petition
Of those he wronged perturb ye not from your inexorable mission!

Judgement harsh, for so I reck it,
On this mighty man of southern lands;
'Though godless fiend on field of cricket,
He had prayer from she who stands
In virtue so bright that her one-way ticket
To heav'n was placed by the stork in her mother's hands.
Yet no ocean of virtuous tears could save
The rogue whose scarlet sins shock'd e'en the strong and brave!

In 'Stralia's hard clime was he born and reared:
Australia the big, the barren, the bold, the brave;
Where men are men, and sheep are scared;
Where old grinding discs they for toilet roll save;
Where government badges are for wimps prepared,
And surfers, on concrete boards, easily ride the wave.
Yet next him, wets were they all: strewth what a guy
Was Guy! But vindictive, too, with horny hand and exacting eye.

"Let the bastards die!" he would exclaim on cricket pitch,
And bowl so hard, so fast and high as to break their ribs!
And evilly laugh as they carried them off, the son of a bitch!
Impassioned, then, they would plead, "How can we play with he who cribs
His technique from Genghis Khan?" Said Guy, "You're next" at which
The cad would run up again, reciting foul oaths, I'd put my dibs.
In water, too, the name was fear'd: a cunning and unyielding louse,
Like a buccaneer of olden times, he steer'd his boat 'cross other's bows.

And, Oh! the gentle, constant hearts he would break!
Amorous show concealing base desire:
Noble speeches recite, and promises make,
Yet wanting only, as he said, to "Stoke the fire."
"Once it's cool, twice it's queer." explained the cynical rake
Till as pebbles on a beach were strewn the girls left in the mire.
Ungodly wretch! O knave most reprehensible, and foolish, too:
Didst thou not see such style of life may not for e'er ensue?

For 'twas not long ere the foes he made joined to bring him down,
And "Breaker" grown careless was easefully trapped and brought to the judiciary.
There was evidence read, and witnesses heard from all corners of the town,
And a verdict reach'd - Death to the rogue, decided unanimously.
But the elderly judge, a learned man, upon the jury did frown:
"'Tis 'gainst the law of the land, but this evil sod can be punish'd more fitly:
Transport him, I say!" and a gleeful shout went up in all the room,
"To England's hard lands let him go away, which is just as good as the tomb!"

Yet in England did he get for a stretch a parole from hell;
Brief was the rest from the hell-born flames, but 'twas certainly better than nowt.
For here first spied he sweet Mary, a comely lass, who in virtue did excel:
"Rebuk'd am I" he thought as they talked 'bout Oxon's ways and thereabout.
Next day said he, "O Nick, my heart is lightsome and joyous as none can tell,
For saw I but lately such beauty as would make Helen her visage doubt!
O sun! thou art faint, O stars! thou art sham'd, gold! thy lustre is but poor!
For a sheila know I who outshines you all, whose radiance is much more!"

And straightway the penitent youth his heinous ways did mend,
And became sportmanship's model, and temp'rance in Loafers clad;
And said, "By heav'n I'll no more lose my cool, or cruelty recommend,
Or have lustful thoughts, or unkind be, or anything else that's bad:
For the love of a lady have I: she who God from heav'n did send;
I'll join the C.U., and go to church, and write more oft to my dad!"
Brave talk! - but 't could not last - for like a candle on a dark and stormy night
That is so easily quenched, o'er Guy hell's landlord sooned claimed his right.

'Twas when but Guy and brave Kendrick were left for Trinity to bat,
'Gainst grim Christ Church, who's bowlers at 90 m.p.h. could throw.
"Ye Sassunach wimps," taunted Kendrick, "ye're feeble balls would'na trouble a gnat!"
But the bowler was wroth, and fearsomely threw, and laid young Kendrick low;
On the ground did he writhe, mortally struck, "Ye bastards!" - his last words were that.
But Guy did see red, and in furious rage, said, "You sods, you who's boss I'll show!"
And when Christ Church did bat, kill'd he them all, 'cept the last man in the side,
Who beat him to death, saying, "This kind of play, I simply can't abide!"

When news of Guy's death reach'd Mary's ears, she would not be consol'd:
"He was so brave and strong, so handsome, and truly would virtuous be!
Such a penitent soul must surely go into the heavenly fold!"
Yet doubt seized her, and furthermore, a spirit did she see:
For an angel appear'd to Mary, weeping as she later told.
"Alas!" he cried, "We cannot save Guy from the satanic decree,
For an exchange was made, the Marquis de Sade for a case of Schnapps,
And the next summit must wait for a century of Sundays to elapse!"

"But that's seven hundred years!" she cried aloud in uttermost alarm,
"Was he so bad that he should deserve so long in Lucifer's lair?"
"O, eyes of love!" the angel cried, "O naive and trusting charm!
That refuse to see such evil deeds as would Attila scare!
How could we more clement be to one so full of harm?
To grant celestial joys to such naughty boys would surely be unfair!"
And Mary wept the more, for she felt the world had grown chill,
'Though, at least, she thought, she now could finish her M.Phil.