The Dying Hobo

The Dying Hobo

(By Roland P. Gray)

Beside a Western water tank
Once cold November day,
Inside an empty box care
A dying hobo lay.

His partner stood beside him,
With low and drooping head,
And listened to the last words
The dying hobo said:

“I’m going to a better land,
Where everything is bright.
Where longnecks grow on bushes,
And you sleep out every night.

“Where you do not have to work at all,
Nor even change your socks.
And little streams of alcohol
Come trickling down the rocks.

“Tell my sweetheart back in Denver,
That her fair face I no more will view;
Tell her that I’ve jumped the fast freight
And that I am going through.”

The hobo stopped, his head fell back;
He had sung his last refrain,
His partner swiped his hat and shoes
And jumped an eastbound train.

Fresno Bee Republican (Fresno, California) May 30, 1937

Songs and Ballads of the Maine Lumberjacks: With other Songs from Maine
by Roland Palmer Gray, Bruce Rogers
Contributors: Roland Palmer Gray,Bruce Rogers
Publisher: Harvard University Press – Cambridge, MA – 1924
Page 102

*  *  *  *  *

Omitted from version in newspaper:
[after verse: “Tell my sweetheart…]

“Tell her not to weep for me,
In her eyes no tears must lurk,
For I’ve gone to a better land,
Where I won’t have to work.

“Hark, I hear a whistle;
I must catch her on the fly.
Farewell, partner, it’s not
So hard to die.”

Bio from the University of Maine 1912 yearbook

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3 Responses to “The Dying Hobo”

  1. William Jackson Says:

    Maybe I’m wrong. However, my father Harold Newton Jackson taught me the poem when I was a tyke. He told me he had written the poem which varies little from the song on the record. Recently I was going through some family memorabilia and found the song in a handwritten book of poetry that my father is thought to have written. Harold was born in 1898 and died in 1974. Would appreciate any comments.
    – William Jackson

    • oldnews Says:

      Hi William,
      Not sure what to tell you. I did a quick search: “the dying hobo”+”Harold Newton Jackson” and came up empty. The poem was printed in the newspaper as cited back in 1937. Would it have been possible for your father to ever have been in contact with Roland Palmer Gray? Might be interesting to look into it, but not sure how you could find out anything like that.

      • William Jackson Says:

        Thanks for your reply. I can’t say if my father’s path crossed with Roland Palmer Gray but I’ll try to find out some things with this new lead. My father rode the rails and was 39 when the poem was run in the the newspaper. Thanks again for your response.
        -William Jackson

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