Autumn, steam radiators

A message to the super, Danny.


Oh Danny boy, the pipes, the pipes are calling

From floor to floor, and down and side to side,

The summer’s gone, and temperatures are falling,

It’s you, it’s you must go, and I must bide

And on the ice must slide.


But come ye back when busy is the blizzard,

And when the valley’s hushed and white with snow.

It’s I’ll be here, in long johns like the Eskimos,

Oh Danny boy, I cannot feel my toes.



Oh Danny boy, Danny boy, the pipes, the pipes are knocking

From floor to floor, and down and side-to-side,

The summer’s gone, and radiators need unblocking,

It’s you, it’s you must go, the thermometer’s fried.


But come ye back ere next summer’s in the meadow

And when the valley’s hushed and white with snow,

Tis I’ll be here in salt brine and in ice floe,

Oh, plumber guy, plumber guy, how my nose I’ll blow!


But when ye come,

and the flowers have taken a beating,

If I am dead, as dead I well may be,

Maybe then ye’ll come and find the place

and finally fix the heating.





The photo of the radiator is by F J Ferris on the site.

40 thoughts on “A message to the super, Danny.

  1. Oh Robbie boy, you have a gift for rhyming,
    Your silky words, they spring up from the page.
    They lift me up, I feel my spirit climbing,
    But they don’t fix my blasted broken pressure gauge.

  2. Oh Robby boy, like sesame seeds and poppy seeds, you sure were on a roll in the role of parodist.

    For me the original has always ranked near the top of all songs. Too bad we’ll never know who composed it.

  3. HaHA! Love this one. That knocking is something I remember well. So just to let the pressure off you have to open a small screw at the top of the pipes. Then releasing any trapped air the pipes will be quieter. At least that is what I remember of these pipes.

    • Thank you Anne, this was about an old apartment so luckily I don’t have to put up with this. I remember a relative showing me a little squarish key, which was to open the valve and “bleed” the pipes, I gather just as you’re saying. Sometimes at my great-uncle’s house, it sounds like someone is in the next room rapping on the wall for all they’re worth, but he’s quite hard of hearing and doesn’t notice I guess.

  4. You bring a smile to this one-tiny-part-Irish lasses’ eyes, Robert. And a sigh of relief knowing that this was all in the past. It’s in my past, too! Ah, our landlord Marvin, rest his soul, what a mug’s game it was, trying to get more heat out of him on those icy NYC weekends! Here’s to better days, better landlords…. 🙂

  5. I’ve never lived in a place with radiators, but my grade school had them. One year, the boiler blew up. I remember that I ran straight home without asking permission. Even at that tender age, I knew to run away from loud rattles and booms.
    What I remember best about radiators is the smell of wet wool mittens drying on them after recess. It wasn’t exactly a bad smell, but it certainly was memorable – like your new lyrics to that old song! Well done!

    • Thank you, Linda, glad you liked it.
      Was everyone in the school ok? That must’ve sounded like the end of the world. Believe it or not, a lot of older public schools in NYC had coal-fired boilers until 2001.
      I know we had wet woolens drying on the heating vents in my primary school, but cannot remember the smell, probably due to being perpetually stuffed up.

  6. It was a pleasure to read your version of Danny Boy, Robert. Also what a delight it must have been for you to peruse all the wonderful comments you received for your poetic creation!

    • Thank you, Pit. Plenty of houses around here with them, they seem to last forever, and do a good job. I guess the baseboard kind that came along in the ’50’s-’60’s takes up less space, though, and a heck of lot lighter.

  7. Darts and Letters says:

    You can’t beat wonderful radiant heat, except for that knocking and banging. But we took all of ours out, we’re going to forced air. That won’t be nearly as nice but it’s a relief to not be hooked up to the gas anymore.

    • What type of fuel ⛽️ for the new forced air system? That’s the type I grew up with, and it used natural gas. When the thermostat kicked the furnace on, but hadn’t yet turned on the fan, The air would kind of whisper up out of the vents, and it really sounded like people talking very quietly.

      • Darts and Letters says:

        Electric. from the grid. Just wanted to move away from gas for everything, from cooking to heat. I guess the new forced air systems are a lot nicer. ours will even have a filter which will come in handy during wildfire season. I know exactly what you mean about the whisper, from when I was growing up. we had oil for our heat but hardly ever used it, my dad like to keep the wood stove going.

        • Oh interesting, having the filter sounds great. I’d like to go all electric when I get a more permanent place. We had a wood stove growing up but because the house was built in sections over the years it was hard to get warm air across the house and upstairs, even with sev’l fans going. There were always trees blowing down in the neighborhood so I don’t remember them ever buying wood, although I know my dad used to talk about getting truckloads of wood from a guy who cleaned out old apple orchards, and how difficult that apple wood was to split.

  8. George says:

    Brilliant. Danny Boy is a beautiful song, but the last three or four renditions I’ve heard have been sung by drunks on trains. Next time I will imagine your lyrics and assume they have come on board to escape the cold.

    • Thanks, George. The singing repertoire of drunks is probably an interesting field of study. During my semester at U of Hull, most nights there were Aussies staggering home from the pub singing the theme from “Frozen” for all they were worth.

  9. Fun and excellent poemsy. I grew up with radiators and all kinds of nighttime knocking, banging, and rumbling. And, to boot, much of that boiling water careening through the pipes was heated by coal so I not only heard noisy pipes but wore the sooty evidence of their fiery creation.

    • Thanks, Steve. Sometimes pretty unearthly sounding. And then there’s the growling noises from whoever has to rake the clinkers out of the grate. I think there’s only one person in the extended family still heating with coal and he’s pretty diehard determined to live as anachronistically (if that’s a word) as possible.

  10. melissabluefineart says:

    Glad to hear you’re in a new place. May your toes be toasty this winter! I so enjoyed what you did with the song~I am sure Danny would approve.

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