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John Milton Hay (Джон Милтон Хэй)

Jim Bludso of the Prairie Belle

WELL, no, I can't tell where he lives,
    Because he don't live, you see. 
Leastways, he's got out of habit
    Of livin' like you and me. 
Oh, where have you been these last three year,
    That you havn't heard folks tell 
How Jimmie Bludso passed in his checks
    The night of the Prairie Belle?

He weren't no saint -- them engineers
    Are pretty much alike -- 
One wife in Natchez under the Hill,
    And another one here, in Pike. 
A careless man in his talk was Jim,
    And an awkward hand in a row, 
But he never flunked and he never lied, --
    I reckon he never knowed how.

And this was all the religion he had, --
    To treat his engine well; 
Never be passed on the river;
    To mind the pilot's bell. 
And if ever the Prairie Belle took fire, --
    A thousand times he swore 
He'd hold her nozzle agin the bank
    Till the last soul got ashore.

All boats have their day on the Mississip,
    And her day come at last. -- 
The Movastar was a better boat,
    But the Belle she wouldn't be passed. 
And so she came tearing along that night,
    The oldest craft on the line -- 
With a crewman squat on her safety valve
    And her furnace crammed, rosin and pine.

And the fire broke out as she cleared the bar,
    And burned a hole in the night, 
And quick as a flash she turned, and made
    For the willer-bank on the right. 
There was runnin' and cursin', but Jim yelled out,
    Over all the infernal roar, 
"I'll hold her nozzle agin the bank
    Till the last galoot's ashore."

Through the hot, black breath of the burning boat
    Jim Bludso's voice was heard, 
And they all had faith in his cussedness,
    And knowed he would keep his word. 
And, sure as you're born, they all got off
    Before the smokestacks fell, -- 
And Bludso's ghost went up alone
    In the smoke of the Prairie Belle.

He weren't no saint, but at Judgement
    I'd run my chance with Jim, 
'Longside of some pious gentlemen
    That wouldn't shake hands with him. 
He seen his duty, a dead sure thing, --
    And he went for it, thar and then, 
And Christ ain't a going to be too hard
    On a man that died for men.

John Milton Hay's other poems:
  1. Little Breeches
  2. Good Luck and Bad Luck

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