A man should always try, to do the right and proper thing
Atticus Finch thought that his abiding rule
And in difficult times in those faraway days
He took on Tom’s case, many thought him a fool.
I look back now as a much older man
And I realise how good he could be
He believed in right and justice and truth
That innocence was colourless, just as it should be.
Young Scout was six and Jem near ten
In that hardscrabble Maycomb town
When Tim Johnson the dog, got the rabies disease
and Ol’ One Shot Finch shot him down.
Atticus was a shooting whizz as a boy
But he thought he was unfairly blessed
So he put down his rifle as a fairness
But the rabid dog was distressed.
When Scout was nine, a case came of major concern
When Miss Mayella Violet Ewell claimed rape and assault
She was not a very innocent young woman
She claimed it was Tom Robinson’s fault.
Evidence proved her a liar as Atticus knew that it would
So in the Maycomb County Courtroom he shuffled his papers and rose
He showed it was a case of covering her own guilt
And by the time he sat down, everyone knows.
Turned out Bob Ewell, Mayella’s Pa, had beat her
Trying to tempt a black man was her sin
When I look back now and consider those days
I see how racism so easily wears civility thin.
Old Bob had a sour temper and he set against Mr Finch
Tom Robinson he killed, then he disappeared from sight
Yet in the end, it was mainly Atticus he hated
And he attacked his children on Halloween night.
But he ended up dead, a knife in the gut
And Heck Tate, the Sheriff, wanted to know how
After gathering the evidence, one allowable fact
He’d fallen on his knife somehow.
Atticus wouldn’t take all this in from Heck
He thought Jem had done the foul deed
Protecting young Scout was what he thought
But it was Boo, the Radley boy, indeed.
Mr Arthur, so quiet and shy and so pale
Had stopped Mr Ewell in his tracks
Heck wouldn’t let Boo be dragged through the courts
So the crime disappeared through the cracks.
Bob Ewell had always been a very bad man
He beat his wife and his children, each one
He was foul to Tom’s widow as she walked past his place
When he died, some were glad he was gone.
Bob Ewell is forgotten, Tom Robinson too
Heck Tate, the doc and another few
But Atticus Finch and his honourableness
Will resonate with all who are true.
©Joe Wilson – A case in Maycomb County…2015
(To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee)
‘Shoot all the bluejays you want, if you can hit ‘em,
but remember it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.’
This is a poor tribute to my favourite book and my abiding belief in equality. The cover design of the book is by Glenn O’Neill, but the photograph was taken by me. Over the years I have worn out a couple of copies. My daughter bought me this third copy.