John Milton Hayes

(1884-1940 / Lancashire, England)

Biography of John Milton Hayes

John Milton Hayes poet

John Milton Hayes, better known as J. Milton Hayes, was an English actor and poet, best known for his 1911 dramatic monologue The Green Eye of the Yellow God, much parodied by his contemporary Stanley Holloway and later by The Goon Show. He also wrote and performed many other monologues. Curiously little is known about Hayes, save that he was from the north of England (probably Lancashire) and that he knew Alec Waugh when the two were prisoners of war together in Mainz, Germany in 1918. From the fact that he was accommodated alongside Waugh at Mainz, we may assume that Hayes served as an officer in the First World War. In his book My Brother Evelyn and Other Profiles Waugh describes Hayes as 'A North Country man; he was nearly forty; he was brisk, assured, purposeful, with his eye on the main chance. He was the first person I heard analyse success. He gives Hayes's account of the writing of the poem:

I wrote The Green Eye of the Little Yellow God in five hours, but I had it all planned out. It isn't poetry and it does not pretend to be, but it does what it sets out to do. It appeals to the imagination from the start: those colours, green and yellow, create an atmosphere. Then India, everyone has his own idea of India. Don't tell the public too much. Strike chords. It is no use describing a house; the reader will fix the scene in some spot he knows himself. All you've got to say is 'India' and a man sees something. Then play on his susceptibilities.

His name was Mad Carew. You've got the whole man there. The public will fill in the picture for you. And then the mystery. Leave enough unsaid to make paterfamilias pat himself on the back. 'I've spotted it, he can't fool me. I'm up to that dodge. I know where he went.' No need to explain. Then that final ending where you began. It carries people back. You've got a compact whole. 'A broken-hearted woman tends the grave of Mad Carew' They'll weave a whole story round that woman's life. Every man's a novelist at heart. We all tell ourselves stories. That's what you've got to play on.

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My old football

YOU can keep your antique silver and your statuettes of bronze,
Your curios and tapestries so fine,
But of all your treasures rare there is nothing to compare
With this patched up, wornout football pal o’ mine.
Just a patchedup wornout football, yet how it clings!
I live again my happier days in thoughts that football brings.
It’s got a mouth, it’s got a tongue,
And oft when we’re alone I fancy that it speaks
To me of golden youth that’s flown.

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