His hat looks worn, and his coat-sleeves shine,
As I see him step from his 'bus at nine;
His boots are pieced and his tie home-made,
And his trousers patched where the edge was frayed,
And his face is lined by the stress of life
Where a man must fight for his bairns and wife.
"Who's that?" I ask, as his face I scan.
And the answer comes – "O, an average man."
He has not got notes, he has not got gold,
But his homely lunch, in his handbag old;
And day by day, as the seasons go,
He follows his duty to and fro,
And shadows follow him everywhere –
Grim want, and worry, and dread are there,
For life is not on a gorgeous plan-
Far, far from it – to the average man.
The floods, the banks, and the curtailed screw ,
The weekly bills, and the grasping Jew,
The servant's wage and the doctor's fee,
And the needful change by the breezy sea,
And the pent-up hours at the desk, which mean
A man's brain changed to a mere machine,
And a wife's tired eyes and the children wan,
All press like lead on the average man.
When the blood is up 'tis a simple thing
To charge where the bombs and the bullets sing.
But he is worthy a higher place
Who fronts his woes with a smiling face,
For the noblest strife in our life to-day
Is the humdrum fight in the humdrum way.
O, wealth and genius may lead the van,
But the hero is often an average man.
George Essex Evans (1894)