If you search this blog, using “Wife” as the search term, you will find five Posts that one way or another characterize the golfer’s wife of about 100 years ago. In these early days when golf was becoming popular and affordable the men played and for the most part their wives did not. A popular description of such wives was (and still is) “golf widows.” Yesterday, while searching through a Google book called Humours of the Fray by Charles L. Graves (published in London in 1907) I found yet another poem with the subject as its title, “The Golfer’s Wife.”
As is often true in these poems, the golfer himself is subject to the poet’s ridicule, while the wife though suffering is clearly the “hero.”
THE GOLFER’S WIFE
OF perfect stamina possessed,
From centenarians descended,
Jones spends his lifetime in the quest
Of health-although his health is splendid.
Last year he throve upon a fare
Which now he views with utter loathing,
And monthly he elects to wear
New hygienic underclothing.
His doctors order exercise,
Fresh air and healthy recreation;
And Jones assiduously tries
To combat physical stagnation.
Llandrindod welcomes him to-day,
To-morrow Droitwich lures him brinewards;
Next week ’tis Bath, or Alum Bay,
Or Bournemouth, and he hurries pinewards.
At scholarship inclined to scoft,
Yet fond of neither dogs nor horses,
Upon his diet and his golf
Jones focusses his mental forces ;
Unmoved by mountain peaks sublime,
Or ‘mid the most enchanting greenery,
Because he’s musing all the time
On his inside, and not the scenery.
To travel with this fearsome freak,
This valetudinarian* loafer, (*unhealthy)
I should decline, though for one week
He gave me all the gold of Ophir.
Yet his self-sacrificing spouse,
All normal interests resigning,
Beneath her lifelong burden bows
Without the semblance of repining.
With him she trots from links to links,
Wearing a smile of saintly meekness ;
With him eternal cocoa drinks
Though China tea’s her special weakness.
Nor is her sympathy profound
Relaxed at luncheon or at dinner,
When Jones reconstitutes each round,
And turns the tables on the winner.
Fine weather keeps him out of doors,
But when it rains or even drizzles
The slightest moisture he abhors
Her fate is worse than patient Grizel’s*. (* A reference to the wife of Marc Antony)
For Jones exacts attentive heed
To his malingering recital,
And poses as an invalid
When Mrs. Jones deserves the title.
No chance of respite or reward
To her the future seems to offer,
Unless some random rubber-cored
Despatches this dyspeptic golfer.
Already shrunken to a shred
By her devotion self-denying,
She perseveres, and when she’s dead
He’ll blame her selfishness in dying.
Divines are wont to disagree
Acutely in regard to Heaven,
Some doctors holding it to be
A single sphere, and others seven ;
But Jones’s consort entertains
No doubt about one crucial question ;
There will, upon the heav’nly plains,
Be neither golf nor indigestion.
Mr. Graves lived from 1856 to 1944. He was a prolific writer and poet. Among his books were a four volume set called Mr. Punch’s History of Modern England. Though I searched widely, I could find no other connections between Graves and golf beyond his poetry.