originally published November 21, 2012
A tale I’d never heard before
I am to you impartin’
The story of an unsung dude
Whose name was Richard Martin.
He spoke for beasts who couldn’t speak,
Gave animals a voice.
In eighteenth-cent’ry Ireland that
Was not an oft-heard noise.
For animal rights was not a trend,
A fad, a common thang.
But Dick was not a common dude;
He swung by his own swang.
He came upon this Earth one morn’
In Ballynahinch Castle.
In Sev’teen-Fifty-Four (to write
That year out was a hassle).
He grew up privileged, spoiled and lucky,
Raised as Jacobite.
Hey cool, that’s yet another topic
Covered on my site.
(If I may interject and tell you
Why this is a ballad:
I felt the urge to switch it up
Amidst this topic-salad.)
And so, young Dick was raised to wed
Miss Liz Vessey, seen here:
Okay, that’s prob’ly not the same,
But still my point is clear.
Two sons she’d spurt into the clan:
Young Bob and Anthony.
And though this rhyme is strained and forced,
They made a family.
He loved to travel, see the world,
America he met.
Then war broke out with England, so
He felt he’d better git.
Into the House of Commons went
Sir Dick with all the dicks.
The same year that the Yanks got free,
He tried to get the Catholics free –
They were no second-class.
Sir Dick thought he could broker peace
(His head was up his ass).
He rose to get elected as
A noble M of P.
That’s “Member” of the “Parliament”,
If not too clear to see.
So Dick became notorious
As Parliament’s class clown.
He’d cut off serious speakers, bringing
That old wood roof down.
He rep’ed his peeps and stood for right
And won them with his schtick.
Oh things were looking groovy for
The folks who cheered for Dick.
Dick lived in Galway, known for where
They still speak ol’ Gaeltacht.
A language that most Irish folks
Still say, “…the fuck is that?”
He christened Galway’s theatre – he
Loved arts, this was not random.
“For here,” he said, “we’ll show great plays,
But dear God, please not Phantom.”
The Catholics cheered his work for them,
The Prots thought he was cool.
And when they aimed to take him down,
He’d best them in a duel.
Were that a joke I’d say it’s weak,
But no, this is the truth.
Oh damn, I’m desp’rate for a rhyme –
Hey, here’s a word: Forsooth!
No really, Dick knew how to duel
It kept him never bored.
With pistol? Sure! A bitch-slap? Yes!
But damn he loved his sword.
“Hairtrigger Dick” they called him once
A hundred duels had passed.
Though now that name would likely mean
He finished sex too fast.
If Dick were here and heard that smear,
“Ten paces!” he might shout.
“You’ll prob’ly shoot in eight,” I’d laugh,
And then he’d knock me out.
But back to Dick – he’d work too late,
Poor Lizzie on her own.
So Dick employed his boys a tutor:
Theo “Wolfe-man” Tone.
Sir Tone considered acting as
The mission of his life.
But shit got real when he was caught
Inside Dick Martin’s wife.
The Wolfe-man fled; he nearly had
To face Dick in a duel.
He knew the stats and saw the notches,
Wolfe-man was no fool.
But Theo, revolutionary
Irish rebel hero,
Can get his own damn ballad elsewhere,
We’ll move on from here-oh.
So Dick went down to France to shake
Some hands and meet the King.
The Revolution broke out, so
Dick ran out on that thing.
America then France, it seems
When ol’ Dick’s at your door,
You stand a chance of breaking out
In some horrific war.
I joke of course, it’s just a fluke,
I’d never be so sick.
The Irish loved this guy; his nick-name
Was “Humanity Dick.”
The greatest thing Dick ever did,
His legislative feasts,
Was standing up for critters great
And tiny – all the beasts.
When people baited bears for fun
Then had them killed outright,
‘Twas Dick who stood before the folks
And told them this ain’t right.
And when they’d set their dogs to fight
It pissed off good ol’ Dick.
“This shit be wack, I don’t care if
You’re God or Michael Vick.”
He took his quest to London, tried
To sway those staunchy Brits.
While some would listen solemnly,
Some others fell to fits.
“Ol’ Dick’s a nutter,” so they’d say,
“His bill will never pass.”
They drew him in the Daily Standard,
Ears shaped like an ass.
While some would leer and scoff and grunt
And mock and yes, lampoon,
It soon was clear there was support
For ass-ear Dick’s new tune.
The driving force? He would deny,
Though Dick was there that day,
When in a London coffee shop
They formed SPCA.
Eventually his good deeds spread;
SPCA would stick.
When folks would moan, “Dude, knock it off,”
He’d tell them, “Eat a Dick.”
So Liz, his wife, she skronked again
With some guy named Petrie.
Dick sued the guy and won ten grand;
Not bad for Dick, agree?
While riding in a coach with all
That cash, Dick said, “What for?”
He tossed it out the window as
A gift for London’s poor.
How kind, you’d think, how generous;
That Dick was such a mensch!
He gave so much, and all because
He’d married some slut wench.
But Dick had troubles of his own,
His praise was unearned yet.
You see, Dick had a knack for digging
Deep in massive debt.
He lost his seat in ’26,
Which means ol’ Dick was screwed.
In office, one can’t be arrested,
Now he’s one doomed dude.
They’d nab his house, the debtors would,
They’d sell his horse, his pants,
But Richard Martin, he was smart –
He ran like hell to France.
He ditched his wife and ditched his past
“Yeah, screw it. Bury it.”
And Dick, with all his Dick-ish charm,
Wed young Miss Harriet.
His life’s work done, his legend true,
Dick didn’t give two fucks.
With Harriet, he sailed away
To live as two Canucks.
And so, next time you toss a dime
To the SPCA.
Remember ol’ Humanity Dick,
And raise a glass today.