Times is Hard

Original Text: 
Anthony Hopkins, Songs from the Front & Rear: Canadian Servicemen's Songs of the Second World War (Edmonton: Hurtig, 1979): 157. M 1679.18.S6 Robarts Library.


1] a World War II song popular with the troops (for the music, see Hopkins).
shit-house: out-house, common on Canadian residential properties before the popular indoor flush toilet. Back to Line
2] Anthony Hopkins notes: "... a parody of the evil landlord evicting a poor honest woman, foreclosing on the mortgage while twirling his mustache ends and leering at the daughter" (157). Back to Line
3] Father's away: off to war as a sailor, and so not in a good position to pay. Back to Line
4] in the family way: pregnant, in too delicate a condition to appease the family's creditors. Back to Line
5] gonorrhea: a highly contagious sexually transmitted disease, evident on the genital mucous membrane: this affects the brother's ability to support the family.
Note the internal rhyme on "dear" and "gonorrhea." Back to Line
6] fucking hard: really very hard ...a reference to the difficulties being experienced by the sister and the brother in earning a living? Back to Line
7] Repeating the first line, increasing the pathos of the speaker's appeal, and emphasized by one more metrical foot. Back to Line
8] in the yard: a North Americanism ... the British would say "the garden." Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: 
RPO 1998.