The Ballad Of Norman Jack And Billy

Summer days in sixty three
Happy carefree hours in play;
Three boys that could in no way know
The folly that would blight their day.

Jack turned out to meet big Norman
Finding bird's nests - couldn't wait;
They also called for smiling Billy,
Or 'Professor' to his mates.

Dusty tattered shoes that stepped
So lightly - not with careful tread,
Down the pebbled pathway, turning
Running through the wheat-field bed.

In the wood, much darker then,
But still they saw the nest on high;
The boy had almost reached his goal
Then from below he heard a cry.

The warning came too late, the farmer
Showed his power, they had a choice:
But not for them the 'cop-shop, ' no,
'We'll work, ' they answered with one voice.

And so the trio did, all wondering
How to pay the farmer back;
Plotting in their childish heads,
Norm, Professor and young Jack.

The cleaning was a tiresome chore,
For Bill the geese-pen was a pain;
But Jack was happy cleaning cars
And pouring polish down the drain.

Seeing this, his smile returning,
Billy gave the goose a kick;
'That'll teach the thing, ' he muttered,
'Pigs and geese they make me sick! '

When the farmer's rage subsided
And he thought they'd had enough,
Another lecture then he gave them,
Talk of trespassing and stuff.

'Off you go, and if I see you
Here once more you will regret
Ever coming on my land
You scallywags, go on now, get! '

'And close the gate as you go by,
You'll have the geese all running free; '
We sauntered off and I walked over
By the pen, as he'd bid me.

'Twas then the goose that Bill had kicked,
He saw his opportunity,
The whole flock joined in, just for fun,
And chased the lads and made them flee.

The farmer and his mate laughed hard,
The boys ran off at quite a lick;
The geese gave chase, and honked and pecked,
They looked like feathered lunatics!

Once free the trio heaved a sigh,
Red faced and cursing those two men;
But still they knew it was deserved,
'We'll never go near there again! '

Written March 1994

by John Carter Brown

Comments (4)

The poem raises a pertinent question, whether to fall in love and risk heartbreak, or keep love at bay and one's heart intact. I personally would go with Tennyson: Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.
I've always loved this poem since I first read it & George Butterworth's setting of the poem intensifies its already great beauty.
some people fail to appreciate the wisdom
I did underline translation into the Russian language.