The Travers

(This poem is dedicated to all the Shaws who have descended from the Travers)

From the misty glens of lreland, from her hills and haunted bogs,
Came a clan of hunted people, chased by murd’rous English dogs.
They founded homes throughout the world; the fates we duly thank,
For sending us the Travers who came to Calderbank.
They’re ordinary people and with ordinary ways,
Tho’ one or two seem rather queer and always in a daze.
But no matter when or where you go, tho’ you are blest or curst,
You’ll find a Travers everywhere, ev’en with the Fifty-first.

When the Mighty God in goodness said to frail and erring man,
“To each and everyone I’ll send, to guide his shaky han’,
A Guardian Angel from above, but Travers I except,
For they can watch and help themselves, in fact they’re quite adept”.
So doomed to wander thro’ this world without an Angel’s touch,
Their chances for eternal bliss are not worth very much.
And “Nickie” stands and rubs his hands and waits impatiently,
For well he knows this knowing one, the Travers destiny.

To enumerate the crazy ones, we’ll start away with Mick,
His bible is the’Handicap’, therein he takes his pick,
A joyous prayer bursts from his lips whene’re he backs a winner,
But should his horse run on the’bing’, he’ll change from Saint to sinner.
Tho’ Mick is not a silly man, his notions oft are queer,
Sometimes whene’re he’s full of talk, you’d swear him full of beer.
But, bless his heart, he’s easy pleased, a place in Heav’n he pines,
He thinks Saint Peter’s at the gate, to lift the backer’s lines.

Then Tommy, God forgive him, he’s a string of bone and sinew,
He’ll tie you in a dozen knots, with tricks, to see what’s in you.
Just give him half a dozen chaps, a matchbox and some chairs,
Some water and two tumblers and he’ll wipe away your cares.
With ease he does the hardest trick, you’d think he’d practised charms,
And tho’you rack your aching back, and twist both legs and arms.
And stretch your neck and tho’ by heck, your braces come apart,
He”ll stand and watch you panting, with an unrelenting heart.

Of good and bad an ‘in-between’, the Travers have their share,
Like other human beings they can curse or say a prayer.
‘Tis certain that in lreland’s fight all thro’ her darkened past,
That many a stalwart Travers fought relentless to the last.
And oft the banshee’s eerie wail, bespoke a Travers gone,
To interview Saint Peter, whom his fate would hang upon.
His verdict tho’ unfortunate would cause the soul to pale,
For Peter always shook his head, according to the tale.

Like other lrish people, they’ve a legend of their clan,
‘Twas back thro’ distant ages when this fairytale began.
It semed that every Travers, in the days of long ago,
When’ere they left this dreary world, were hastened down below.
Then one day ‘mongst the hallowed Saints, a mighty shout was given,
For, tho’ ’twas unbelievable, a Travers got to Heaven.
They gave him quite a welcome, for these Saints are very civil,
When joy was interrupted by that screaming fiend, the devil.

He banged and kicked and shook the gate and called Saint Peter out,
“Now Nickie dear”, said Peter. “Tell me, what’s this all about?”,
The devil fumed and spluttered with his eyes ablaze with rage,
He swished his tail about him like a lion in his cage.
“l’ve come to claim my property”, said Nick with heaving breast.
“l’ve come to claim that Travers it’s my first and last request”.
Saint Peter frowned a holy frown, and rubbed his holy chin,
Puzzled by the strange demand, made by the Prince of Sin.

Saint Peter whispered softly, and his voice betrayed his ire,
“You want to take this soul below to roast him in the fire?,
A soul who merits Heaven, yet you claim him as your own,
To this unheard of impudence, the good Lord won’t condone”,
But Nickie’s rage broke out anew, he swore at such a rate,
That Peter felt uneasy at this awful show of hate.
“Perhaps I’ve made a blunder, but if you can justify,
Your reason for this transfer, then I gladly will comply.

Old Nickie wiped his foaming mouth, and started to explain,
“To see this Travers far from home, it gives me greatest pain.
He’s separated from his clan, so send him down with me”,
Saint Peter pursed his holy lips and wearily said he,
“But Nlckie, why this interest in a soul that’s here in bliss”,
The devil said in prided tone, “l stake my claim on this,
Altho’ my first name’s Lucifer, I’m sure you never knew,
That, l, the so-called Prince of Sin, I AM A TRAVERS TOO”.

John Mallaghan