Short Stories
All Titles

In Association with Amazon.com

Home > Authors Index > Browse all available works of Harry Graham > Text of Actor Manager

A poem by Harry Graham

The Actor Manager

Title:     The Actor Manager
Author: Harry Graham [More Titles by Graham]

Long ago, our English actors
Ranked with rogues and vagabonds;
They were jailed as malefactors,
They were ducked in village ponds.
In the stocks the beadle shut them,
While the friends they chanced to meet
Would invariably cut them
In the street.

With suspicion people eyed them,
Ev'ry country-squire would feel
That his fallow-deer supplied them
With the makings of a meal.
They annexed the parson's rabbits,
Poached the pheasants of the peer,
And had other little habits
Just as queer!

Even Will, the Bard of Avon,
As a poacher stands confest,
And altho', of course, cleanshaven,
Was as barefaced as the rest.
He, a player by vocation,
Practised, like his buckskin'd pals,
Indiscriminate flirtation
With the gals!

Now, the am'rous actor's cravings
For romance are orthodox;
Nowadays he puts his savings,
Not his ankles, into "stocks."
Nobody to-day is doubting
That a halo round him clings;
One can see his shoulders sprouting
Into wings.

Watch the mummer managerial,
Centre of a rev'rent group;
Note with what an air imperial
He controls his timid troupe.
Deadheads scrape and bow before him,
To his doors the public flocks;
Even duchesses implore him
For a box.

Enemies, no doubt, will tell us
(What we should not ever guess)
That he is absurdly jealous
Of subordinates' success.
Minor mimes who score a hit or
Threaten to advance too fast,
Are advised to curb their wit or
Leave the cast!

Foes declare that, at rehearsal,
Managers are free of speech,
And unduly prone to curse all
Those who come within their reach.
With some tiny dams (or damlets)
They exhort each "walking gent--"
Language that potential Hamlets
Much resent.

Do not autocrats, dictators,
All who lead successful lives,
Swear repeatedly at waiters,
Curse consistently at wives?
Shall the heads of the Profession,
Histrionic argonauts,
Be denied the frank expression
Of their thoughts?

Will not we who so applaud them
Execrate with righteous rage
Player knaves who would defraud them
Of their centre of the stage?
Do we grudge these godlike creatures
Picture-cards that advertise--
Calcium lights that flood their features
From the flies?

No, for ev'ry leading actor
Who produces problem plays,
Is a most important factor
In the world of modern days.
Kings occasionally knight him,
Titled ladies take him up;
Even millionaires invite him
Out to sup.

Proudly he advances, trailing
Clouds of limelight from afar,
(Diffidence is not the failing
Of the true dramatic "star").
What cares he for rank or fashion,
Politics or place or pelf?
He whose one prevailing passion
Is himself?

All the world's a stage, we know it;
Managers, whose heads are twirled,
Think (to paraphrase the poet)
That the stage is all the world.
Other men discuss the summer,
Or the poor potato crop,
Nothing can prevent the mummer
Talking "shop."

With his Art as the objective
Of his intellectual pow'rs,
He (as usual, introspective)
Talks about himself for hours.
While his friends, who never dream of
Interrupting, stand agog,
He decants a ceaseless stream of

He is great. He has become it
By a long and arduous climb
To the crest, the crown, the summit
Of the Thespian tree--a lime!
There he chatters like a starling,
There, like Jove, he sometimes nods;
But he still remains the "darling
Of the gods!"

[The end]
Harry Graham's poem: Actor Manager