Ballade of a Non-Starter

Read at the Funeral of Lister earlier this year.

This is not what I meant my life to be,
But, come to think of it, what did I mean?
I never had much heart to go to sea,
I did not wish to be a Rural Dean.
I might have been a layer, a marine,
A burglar, a theosophist, a spy,
If I had wanted; but I was not keen –
I could have done it, but I did not try.

I might have wandered over Araby
Or been a pirate in a Brigantine,
I might have held the universe in fee,
I might have been as fat as I am lean,
I might have played upon this earthly scene
A part most horribly and hugely high,
But who am I to mourn the might-have-been?
I could have done it, but I did not try.

The great and noble have not heard of me,
And in the gilded beds they sleep serene;
I claim my privilege, which is to see,
I leave to them the joy of being seen.
I often thought, when I was seventeen,
That I should start in earnest, by and by,
And make myself a pile in margarine –
I could have done it, but I did no try.

Prince you may make me work some great machine,
Or sit in this dim office till I die;
I never shall be King of Kensal Green –
I could have done it, but I did not try.

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