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Oh For a Glass of Beer

Be kind to people, especially at this most Christmassy time of the year, or you might come in for the kind of criticism James Stephens (1882-1950) hurled at his local landlady in his poem A Glass of Beer, which is perhaps the best tongue-lashing I've ever seen laid down in verse...

The lanky hank of a she in the inn over there
Nearly killed me for asking the loan of a glass of beer;
May the devil grip the whey-faced slut by the hair,
And beat bad manners out of her skin for a year.

That parboiled ape, with the toughest jaw you will see
On virtue's path, and a voice that would rasp the dead,
Came roaring and raging the minute she looked at me,
And threw me out of the house on the back of my head!

If I asked her master he'd give me a cask a day;
But she, with the beer at hand, not a gill would arrange!
May she marry a ghost and bear him a kitten, and may
The high King of Glory permit her to get the mange.

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