Amersham Bells – 1916 poem
I like to hear the huntsman’s cry, the sound of horn and beagle,
I loves to hear ’em playing at quoits at the back of the good old Eagle;
‘Tis pleasant enough, come harvest time, to hear ’em cuttin’ the wheat,
And they little ‘ole crickets’ll cheer you up, if ye’re out by night in the street;
We’ve many good songs and sounds and cries, but there’s one that far excells,
For what we Amersham folks likes best is the sound of Amersham Bells.
There’s old Town Crier, he rings his bell, and he makes you fairly smile
With his funny “Oh yes!” and “God save the King” in his extry-martial style;
There’s the bell that rings on Market Day, – though I don’t know what it’s about –
There’s the Fire Bell too, – that’s what they rings they wants the moon put out!
But it isn’t they bells at all I mean, as ye might have guessed before,
No! It’s them that’s hung for hundreds of year in Amersham old church tower!
There’s fairish bells at Missenden, and mortal old, they say;
I s’pose there’s bells at Chesham, too, though I don’t go much that way;
O yes! I’ve heard ’em in London Town, St Pauls and old Westminster,
They’re all very well as far as they goes (as the fat man said of the spinster),
But they haven’t the “Bim!” and they haven’t the “Boom!” nor they don’t swing up and down
With a “Ding” and a “Dong” and a “Ring-ling-a-long” like the bells of Amersham Town.
There’s some as think they sound their best when they calls the folks to prayer,
And the neighbours walks by threes and fours with their Sunday-morning air;
Then there’s merry peals for holidays and jubilees and such
I’ve sampled ’em all, as you may say, from my cradle to my crutch –
But, man or boy, I’m free to own, if ’twas my latest breath,
‘Tis the bells that rings for wedding-days that tickles me to death!
O’ course I likes them wedding-bells. It ain’t in nature not to!
There’s time for every man to wed, and when it comes, he’s got to!
For every dog must have his day, and every Jack his Jill,
And what’s the good of saying “I won’t” when the maid she says “I will!”
So stick to your girls, my lads say I! Don’t leave ’em in the lurch!
Here’s jolly good health to maids and men wot’s married in Amersham church.
It weren’t plain sailing all the way when I was courting Sal,
For I was a hot-headed sort of chap, and she was a pepping gal!
And things kept going from bad to worse until – I can’t tell how –
One day we fell to ‘t, hammer and tongs, in a regular right-down row.
I says, “I’m going far overseas!” Says she “And welcome too!
If there weren’t another in Amersham Town, I wouldn’t be seen with you!”
She turns her back, and I turns mine – I were in a nasty mood! –
We was leaning together across the gate up there in Rectory Wood –
“Goodbye!” I says, and I leaps the style, and off and away to go,
When all of a sudden the sound o’ bells came clashing up from below;
“Jingle – jangle! Ding-ding-dong!” my word , but they knocked me flat!
“God back!” they rang “Go back, you fool! Don’t leave your girl like that!
So I crept back quiet along the hedge, prepared to face the worst,
And there poor Sal was, crying away as if her heart would burst!
“Come Sal!” I says, “Cheer up, my girl! ‘Twas more my fault than thine!
And oh! the music in her voice, as she leaned her cheek to mine!
“My Dicky” she says “I didn’t mean! ’twas one of my nasty spells!
And “Oh” she says “Don’t ‘ee ever go far from the sound of Amersham Bells!”
Well, Amersham Bells had done the trick – they’d sort o’ cleared the air, –
And there was Sally and me again a regular pigeon pair!
So right in the middle of Tenter Field (there weren’t none there to see)
We catches hands and we dances round like kiddies out for a spree!
And I takes her into my arms and says “If so be you’ll agree,
‘Fore ever it comes to harvest moon, ’twill be Amersham Bells for we!”