The Reflections of a Penny

Melody -

Valentine & T.C. Sterndale Bennett, 1916

I was sitting in my armchair
In my room the other day,
And I drew from out my pocket, casually,
'Mid a handful of loose silver -
A penny, old and worn,
And it seemed to catch my eye immediately.

It was only just a penny,
Slightly battered, slightly bent,
And the date on it was almost worn away,
But I dreamed that as I gazed at it,
It spoke its history,
And this is what it seemed to me to say:

'What do you know of this world
For all your thirty years of life?
What do you know of its trials or its tears?
Why, I've seen full ten times more of life
In just one single day
Than you have seen in all your thirty years!

I have wakened 'mid a crowd of gold
And silver in Park Lane,
At one, I've help'd to buy some typist's grub.
I've been thrown out to a news-boy
For the special four o'clock,
And spent the night down in an East End pub!

I've carried folks for twice
Their proper distance on a 'bus.
Through me, couples spoon for hours in the park.
I've been dropped sometimes in streets
And held the traffic up for hours,
And been mistaken for a half-crown after dark!

I've been thankfully accepted
By a West-End flower-girl.
I've been hugged by little urchins in the street.
I've been given to a chauffeur as a tip -
And then I've heard
Language that I couldn't well repeat!
  Some people say I should be proud,
But yet, you know, I'm not!
I often hear some beggar make request,
And although my owner's got his pocket
Stuffed quite full of cash,
He chooses me in preference to the rest.

If ever I'm in church,
And they are passing the plate,
It's I who am dropped in immediately,
While Scotchmen I have known
Have often shed a silent tear
At the moment they have had to part with me!

On some cold and bitter day
Outside an East-End pastry-cook's,
I have often known just what it means to stand,
While my tiny ragged owner
Gazes in with wistful eyes,
Clutching me within his little grimy hand.

P'raps I don't feel proud to know
I only mean one small meat pie,
Or a sticky jammy tart maybe - but when
I see his little hungry face
Just lighten up with joy,
Well - I'm rather glad that I'm a penny then!

Yes! I'm only just a penny
In my suit of dingy brown,
But my colour doesn't fret me in the least.
And it never troubles me,
Although they laugh at me up West,
For I guess I've got some real good pals down East.

And one reflection comforts me
As through the world I roam,
That although a humble penny I may be,
I can say what some of your banknotes
And quids can never say:
That all the world has shaken hands with me!

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