"Big Ben."

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DE mortuis nil ni-
Si bonum: R.I.P.: —
No more upbraid him: —
Nay, rather plead his cause,
For Ben exactly was
What Nature made him
Not radically bad,
He naturally had
No leaning sinwards;
But Nature saw it good
One life-long crave for food
Should rack his inwards.
According to his lights,
And to the appetites
In him implanted,
He did his level best
To feed — and all the rest
He took for granted.
Ere birth he was laid low,
And yet no man I know
For high birth matched him:
Apollo was his sire,
Who with life-giving fire
Ab ovo hatched him.
Just over Capricorn
This same Big Ben was born,
A feeble lizard;
But with the years came strength,
And twenty feet of length —
The most part gizzard.
By Fitzroy's rugged crags,
Its "sawyers" and its snags,
He roamed piscivorous;
Or watching for his prey,
By Yaamba creek he lay,
In mood carnivorous.
Unthinking little hogs,
And careless puppy-dogs
Fitzroy-ward straying,
Were grist unto his mill. . . .
His grinders now are still,
Himself past preying.
Whether in self-defence,
Or out of hate prepense,
Or just for fun shot,
Are things beyond my ken —
I only know Big Ben
Died of a gunshot.
It was a sorry case;
For Ben loved all our race,
Both saint and sinner;
If he had had his way,
He would have brought each day
One home to dinner: —
Loved with that longing love,
Such as is felt above
The Southern Tropic: —
Small chance was ever his,
But his proclivities
Were philanthropic.
There are who would insist
He was misogynist, —
'Tis slander horrid;
For every nymph he saw,
He would have liked her — raw,
From toe to forehead.
Then let his memory be;
No misanthrope was he;
No woman-hater;
But just what you may call,
Take him for all in all,
An alligator.

© James Brunton Stephens