Yesterday as I was going to my chair
I saw a cat not sleeping there!
He was’t asleep there, again today
Oh how I wish he’d not be away.
At home at last after beers - three (or four or five)
Certain, I can’t be
The cat was’t waiting there you see,
When I looked both in and out
The cat wasn’t there about.
Come back, come back my pet
The door I’ve left open yet
But when I looked again he wasn’t there
No ball of fur on my chair.
With no light a shining in the room
I thought I saw the cat a welcoming
But when the switch, I pressed – on
It was as if I’d said begone
For the cat on my chair
Early morning came at last
And I looked to see what fate had cast
For when at the table sat
There was awaiting my cat.
"As I was going up the stair
I met a man who wasn't there!
He wasn't there again today,
Oh how I wish he'd go away!" 
When I came home last night at three,
The man was waiting there for me
But when I looked around the hall,
I couldn't see him there at all!
Go away, go away, don't you come back any more!
Go away, go away, and please don't slam the door...
Last night I saw upon the stair,
A little man who wasn't there,
He wasn't there again today
Oh, how I wish he'd go away...
"Antigonish" is an 1899 poem by American educator and poet William Hughes Mearns. It is also known as "The Little Man Who Wasn't There" and was adapted as a hit song under the latter title.
Inspired by reports of a ghost of a man roaming the stairs of a haunted house, in Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Canada, the poem was originally part of a play called The Psyco-ed, which Mearns had written for an English class at Harvard University, circa 1899. In 1910, Mearns staged the play with the Plays and Players, an amateur theatrical group, and on 27 March 1922, newspaper columnist FPA printed the poem in "The Conning Tower", his column in the New York World. Mearns subsequently wrote many parodies of this poem, giving them the general title of, Later Antigonishes.
Copyright © Joe Wortham | Year Posted 2017
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