Oh Who Is That Young Sinner
Oh who is that young sinner with the handcuffs on his wrists? And what has he been after that they groan and shake their fists? And wherefore is he wearing such a conscience-stricken air? Oh they're taking him to prison for the colour of his hair. 'Tis a shame to human nature, such a head of hair as his; In the good old time 'twas hanging for the colour that it is; Though hanging isn't bad enough and flaying would be fair For the nameless and abominable colour of his hair. Oh a deal of pains he's taken and a pretty price he's paid To hide his poll or dye it of a mentionable shade; But they've pulled the beggar's hat off for the world to see and stare, And they're haling him to justice for the colour of his hair. Now 'tis oakum for his fingers and the treadmill for his feet And the quarry-gang on Portland in the cold and in the heat, And between his spells of labour in the time he has to spare He can curse the God that made him for the colour of his hair.
This poem is in the public domain.
A. E. Housman
Alfred Edward Housman was born in Fockbury, Worcestershire, England, on March 26, 1859. He published two volumes of poetry during his life, including A Shropshire Lad (1896), which was widely read during World War I.
Date Published: 1937-01-01
Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/oh-who-young-sinner