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  • The Sick Journalist
  • E. Nesbit

THROB, throb, throb, weariness, ache, and pain!One's heart and one's eyes on fire,And never a spark in one's brain.The stupid paper and ink,That might be turned into gold,Lie here unused,Since one's brain refusedTo do its tricks—as of old.One can suffer still, indeed,But one cannot think any more.There's no fire in the grate,No food on the plate,And the East-wind shrieks through the door.The sunshine grins in the street:It used to cheer me like wine,Now it only quickens my brain's sick beat;And the children are crying for bread to eatAnd I cannot write a line!Molly, my pet—don't cry,Father can't write if you do—And anyhow, if you only knew,It's hard enough as it is.There, give old daddy a kiss,And cuddle down on the floor;We'll have some dinner by-and-by.Now, fool, try! Try once more!Hold your head tight in your hands,Bring your will to bear!The children are starving—your little ones—While you sit fooling there. [End Page 5] Beth, with her golden hairMoll, with her rough, brown head—here they are—see!Against your knee,Waiting there to be fed!—I cannot bear their eyes.Their soft little kisses burn—They will cry againIn vain, in vain,For the food that I cannot earn.If I could only writeJust half a column or soOn 'The Prospects of Trade,' or 'The Irish Question,' or 'Why are Wages so Low?'—The printers are waiting for copy now,I've had my next week's screw,There'll be nothing more till I've written something,God! what am I to do?If I could only write!The paper glares up whiteLike the cursed white of the heavy stoneUnder which she lies alone;And the ink is black like death,And the room and the window are black.Molly, Molly—the sun's gone out,Cannot you fetch it back?Did I frighten my little ones?Never mind, daddy dropped asleep—Cuddle down closely, creepClose to his kneeAnd daddy will seeIf he can't do his writing. Vain!I shall never write again!Oh, God! was it like a love divineTo make their lives hang on my penWhen I cannot write a line?

—E. Nesbit. 1908. Ballads and Lyrics of Socialism. London: Fabian Society. [End Page 6]


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