The Tumblebum stumbled back into his lair

where the odour of sausage and pain

Pervaded his soul through the roots of his hair

as spun on a chair in the rain

The gesticulations of each of his knees

had carried him only last night

To where crimson taties grow on tiny trees

and the moon threw lugubrious light

And there in profusion of jocular weed

he spied a young maiden so fair

Who consumed a solution of carrot and mead

with a snake and a mule and a bear

He found on the floor of a dried river bed

the conclusion of everything neat

And he fell for the sound in the top of her head

with its vertical indigo beat


So he played with the snake and the mule and the bear

and he bounced in the heat of the fire

But he secretly nibbled the roots of his hair

and he gnawed his soul with desire

He watched her unwinding the root of a bush

and he counted the stars on her wrist

Then he gave the horizon a bit of a push

with the bone at the base of his fist

And he cried ‘oh by beauty my bane and my broth

let me baffle you backward with braille

You may break all my biscuits and bother my moth

you may butter my bike if I fail!

For your eyes are like cannonballs winging away

I should die if I told you how few

Engines from Endinburgh stop on the way

or are shunted at dawn into Crewe!


He dressed her in mutton fat muslin and milk

in sawdust and sable and sand

He dressed her in satin and sorrow and silk

and the sweat from the palm of his hand

He sang her a song with the tips of his toes

and he danced on the roof of a train

He went on a quest for the end of his nose

and then couldn’t find her again!

The Tumblebum stumbled for many an hour

with a dark and a dangerous air

Until by the light of a bacon-tree flower

he found the back door to his lair

The Tumblebum stumbled back into his cave

with his ears and his elbows algow

And now that he’s rumbled the steps on the stave

he’s planning to play the banjo