Brasswork

(The Lighthouse Keeper's Lament)

Oh what is the bane of a lightkeeper’s life
That causes him worry, struggle and strife,
That makes him use cuss words and beat on his wife?
It’s BRASSWORK

What makes him look ghastly consumptive and thin,
What robes him of health, vigor and vim,
And causes despair and drives him to sin?
It’s BRASSWORK

The devil himself could never invent,
A material causing more world wide lament,
And in Uncle Sam’s service about ninety percent
Is BRASSWORK

The lamp in the tower, reflector and shade,
The tools and accessories pass in the parade,
As a matter of fact the whole outfit is made
Of BRASSWORK

The oil containers I polish until
My poor back is broken, aching and still,
Each gallon, each quart, each pint and gill
Is BRASSWORK

I lay down to slumber all weary and sore,
I walk in my sleep, I awake with a snore,
And I’m shining the knob on my bedchamber door
That BRASSWORK

From pillar to post rags and polish I tote,
I’m never without them, for you will please note,
That even the buttons I wear on my coat,
Are BRASSWORK

The machinery, clockwork, and fog signal bell,
The coals hods, the dustpans, the pump in the well,
No I’ll leave it to you mates...If this isn’t...well,
BRASSWORK

I dig, scrub and polish, and work with a might,
And just when I get it all shining and bright,
In come the fog like a thief in the night,
Goodbye BRASSWORK

I start the next day when noontime draws near,
A boatload of summer visitors appear,
For no other reason than to smooch and besmear,
My BRASSWORK

So it goes along all summer, and along in the fall,
Comes the district machinists to overhaul,
and rub dirty paws all over,
My BRASSWORK

And again in the spring, if per chance it may be,
An efficiency star is awarded to me,
I open the package and what do I see?
More BRASSWORK

Oh, why should the spirit of mortal be proud,
In the short span of life that he is allowed,
If all the lining in every dark cloud,
Is BRASSWORK

And when I have polished until I am cold,
And I have taken my oath to the Heavenly fold,
Will my harp and my crown be made of pure gold?
No! BRASSWORK

"Lighthouses of the Maine Coast and the Men Who Keep Them", Robert Thayer Sterling (1935)
Attribution: Fred Morong
Categories: Poems