George Borrow

(1803-1881 / England)

Lines To Six-Foot Three


A lad, who twenty tongues can talk
And sixty miles a day can walk;
Drink at a draught a pint of rum,
And then be neither sick nor dumb
Can tune a song, and make a verse,
And deeds of Northern kings rehearse
Who never will forsake his friend,
While he his bony fist can bend;
And, though averse to brawl and strife
Will fight a Dutchman with a knife.
O that is just the lad for me,
And such is honest six-foot three.

A braver being ne’er had birth
Since God first kneaded man from earth:
O, I have cause to know him well,
As Ferroe’s blacken’d rocks can tell.
Who was it did, at Suderoe,
The deed no other dar’d to do?
Who was it, when the Boff had burst,
And whelm’d me in its womb accurst—
Who was it dash’d amid the wave,
With frantic zeal, my life to save?
Who was it flung the rope to me?
O, who, but honest six-foot three!

Who was it taught my willing tongue,
The songs that Braga fram’d and sung?
Who was it op’d to me the store
Of dark unearthly Runic lore,
And taught me to beguile my time
With Denmark’s aged and witching rhyme:
To rest in thought in Elvir shades,
And hear the song of fairy maids;
Or climb the top of Dovrefeld,
Where magic knights their muster held?
Who was it did all this for me?
O, who, but honest six-foot three!

Wherever fate shall bid me roam,
Far, far from social joy and home;
’Mid burning Afric’s desert sands,
Or wild Kamschatka’s frozen lands;
Bit by the poison-loaded breeze,
Or blasts which clog with ice the seas;
In lowly cot or lordly hall,
In beggar’s rags or robes of pall,
‘Mong robber-bands or honest men,
In crowded town or forest den,
I never will unmindful be
Of what I owe to six-foot three.

That form which moves with giant-grace;
That wild, though not unhandsome, face;
That voice which sometimes in its tone
Is softer than the wood-dove’s moan,
At others, louder than the storm
Which beats the side of old Cairn Gorm;
That hand, as white as falling snow,
Which yet can fell the stoutest foe;
And, last of all, that noble heart,
Which ne’er from honour’s path would start,
Shall never be forgot by me—
So farewell, honest six-foot three!

Submitted: Wednesday, October 13, 2010

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