Feegled from the SFWA site.
Ted Bruning April 8, 2014 at 9:16 am
I wrote this in Sir Terry’s honour. I hope he likes it.
A Chance Encounter
I met Death yesterday; I shook his bony hand.
He grinned and asked: “HOW ARE YOU?” I said: “Grand.
“No murrain, pox, nor plague – not even flu…”
He said: “DON’T BE AFRAID: I HAVEN’T COME FOR YOU.”
“Afraid?” says I; “Afraid of you? Not I!
Believe me, pal, I’m not afraid to die.
Days come and go, and one will be my last.
Until then, hey, I’m havin’ me a blast.
“Oh yes! In freezing spring I plough the clay.
Knee-deep in mud and soaking wet, all day
I plod along behind a horse’s arse.
As entertainment goes, mate, that is class.
“Then comes the summer, and the hay –
All good health-giving exercise, they say:
First I mow until my arms are dead;
Then I pitch, with shoulders turned to lead,
“Till darkness ends a day that’s been a bastard
And all the farmhands go off to get plastered.
Not so smart, my friends, because what’s worse:
Next morning’s headache, or this evening’s thirst?”
“I KNEW,” said Death, “YOU HAD A HARD LIFE, GRANTED,
BUT I NEVER GUESSED YOU WERE SO DISENCHANTED.
DOES NOTHING MAKE YOUR GRINDING TOIL WORTHWHILE?
A LEAFY GLADE, A BROOK, A COUNTRY STILE?
“MOUNDS OF GOLDEN GRAIN, AND ALL THAT STUFF –
ARE HARVEST AND ITS BOUNTY NOT ENOUGH?”
At this point I gave up. “Death, don’t you see?”
I told him, “Look! I’m 43,
“I’ve worked so hard I’m worn down to a stub.
And what’s it all been for? Aye, there’s the rub:
Who is it gets the profit of our labours?
Not me, I tell you, nor my friends and neighbours.
“You won’t see me, or any peasant farmer
Prancing about in shiny suits of armour
Waving swords or great big battle-axes -
Although they’re paid for by our bloody taxes.
“I’m fed up, frankly, trying to make ends meet,
And when I saw you strolling down the street
I sort of hoped, and not unnaturally,
That it was time, and you were here for me.”
Death grinned (he always does) and shook his head.
“ALAS, YOU’RE NOT DOWN FOR TODAY,” he said.
BUT IF YOU FEEL SO STRONGLY THAT IT’S TIME
MIGHT I SUGGEST THAT YOU RESORT TO CRIME?
“YOU KNOW THE LAW ROUND HERE IS ALWAYS WILLING
TO STRETCH YOUR NECK FOR POCKETING A SHILLING.
NICK SOMETHING NOW, MY FRIEND: I GUARANTEE
THEY’LL HAVE YOU ON DEATH ROW IN TIME FOR TEA.”
You wouldn’t think that Death was such a kidder,
But I thanked him for the tip, which I’d consider.
And just before we parted, I enquired
Who was the luckless fellow who’d expired?
“OH, NO-ONE MUCH,” he said. “SOME TIGHT-ARSED EARL
WILL GET ACROSS AN ULTRA-STROPPY CHURL.
THE PEASANT’S HAD ENOUGH OF PAYING TAX:
HE’LL TAKE A SPADE AND GIVE HIM FORTY WHACKS.
“I’LL BE THERE TO CATCH HIM WHEN HE FALLS
AND LEAD HIM TO THE WARRIORS’ TIMELESS HALLS.
THE BLOKE WHO DID IT SWINGS, AND PRETTY SOON –
I’M DUE BACK HERE TOMORROW AFTERNOON.”
“This Earl,” said I, “You wouldn’t know his name?
Not my master, is it?” “AYE, THE SAME.”
“High time,” said I, “that grasping git got paid.
Hang on – I’m just off home to fetch my spade.”
He willnae tak' a drink! I think he's deid! , on the other hand though A Midgie in yir hand is worth twa up yir kilt.