When I was a boy there was a friend of mine,
We thought ourselves warriors and grown folk swine,
Stupid old animals who never understood
And never had an impulse, and said “You must be good!”
We stank like stoats and fled like foxes,
We put cigarettes in the pillar-boxes,
Lighted cigarettes and letters all aflame–
O the surprise when the postman came!
We stole eggs and apples and made fine hay
In people’s houses when people were away,
We broke street lamps and away we ran;
Then I was a boy but now I am a man.
Now I am a man and don’t have any fun,
I hardly ever shout and never, never run,
And I don’t care if he’s dead, that friend of mine,
For then I was a boy and now I am a swine.
— John Collings Squire, Poems: First Series, 1919