DIGGER SMITH by C.J. Dennis
VI. OVER THE FENCE
'Taint my idea uv argument to call a man a fool,
An' I ain't lookin' round for bricks to 'eave at ole man Poole;
But when 'e gets disputin' 'e's inclined to lose 'is 'ead.
It ain't so much 'is choice uv words as 'ow the words is said.
'E's sich a coot for takin' sides, as I sez to Doreen.
Sez she, "'Ow can 'e, by 'imself?" Wotever that may mean.
My wife sez little things sometimes that nearly git me riled.
I knoo she meant more than she said be that soft way she smiled.
Today, when I was 'arrowin', Poole come down to the fence
To get the loan uv my long spade; an' uses that pretence
To 'ave a bit uv friendly talk, an' one word leads to more,
As is the way with ole man Poole, as I've remarked before.
The spade reminds 'im 'ow 'e done some diggin' in 'is day,
An' diggin' brings the talk to earth, an' earth leads on to clay,
Then clay quite natural reminds a thinkin' bloke uv bricks,
An' mortar brings up mud, an' then, uv course it's politics.
Now Poole sticks be 'is Party, an' I don't deny 'is right;
But when he starts abusin' mine 'e's lookin' for a fight.
So I delivers good 'ome truths about 'is crowd, then Poole
Wags 'is ole beard across the fence an' tells me I'm a fool.
Now that's the dizzy limit; so I lays aside the reins,
An' starts to prove 'e's storin' mud where most blokes keeps their brains.
'E decorates 'is answers, an' we're goin' it ding-dong,
When this returned bloke, Digger Smith, comes sauntering along.
Poole's gripped the fence as though 'e means to tear the rails in two,
An' eyes my waggin' finger like 'e wants to 'ave a chew.
Then Digger Smith 'e grins at Poole, an' then 'e looks at me,
An' sez, quite soft an' friendly-like, "Winnin' the war?" sez 'e.
Now, Poole deserves it, an' I'm pleased the lad give 'im that jolt.
'E goes fair mad in argument when once 'e gets a holt.
"Yeh make me sad," sez Digger Smith; "the both uv you," sez 'e.
"The both uv us! Gawstruth!" sez I. "You ain't includin' me?"
"Well, it takes two to make a row," sez little Digger Smith.
"A bloke can't argue 'less 'e 'as a bloke to argue with.
I've come 'ome from a dinkum scap to find this land uv light
Is chasin' its own tail around an' callin' it a fight.
"We've seen a thing or two, us blokes 'oo've fought on many fronts;
An' we've 'ad time to think a bit between the fightin' stunts,
We've seen big things, an' thought big things, an' all the silly fuss,
That used to get us rattled once, seems very small to us.
"An' when a bloke's fought for a land an' gets laid on the shelf
It pains 'im to come 'ome and find it scrappin' with itself;
An' scrappin' all for nothin', or for things that look so small --
To us, 'oo've been in bigger things, they don't seem reel at all.
"P'r'aps we 'ave some skite knocked out, an' p'r'aps we see more clear,
But seems to us there's plenty cleanin' up to do round 'ere.
We've learnt a little thing or two, an' we 'ave unlearnt 'eaps,
An' silly partisans, with us, is counted out for keeps.
"This takin' sides jist for the sake uv takin' sides -- Aw, 'Struth!
I used to do them things one time, back in me foolish youth.
Out There, when I remembered things, I've kicked meself reel good.
In football days I barracked once red 'ot for Collin'wood.
"I didn't want to see a game, nor see no justice done.
It never mattered wot occurred as long as my side won.
The other side was narks an' cows an' rotters to a man;
But mine was all reel bonzer chaps. I was a partisan.
"It might sound like swelled-'ead," sez Smith. "But show me, if you can."...
"'Old 'ard," sez Poole. "Jist tell me this: wot is a partisan?"
Then Digger Smith starts to ixplain; Poole interrupts straight out;
An' I wades in to give my views, an' 'as to nearly shout.
We battles on for one good hour. My team sleeps where it stands;
An' Poole 'as tossed the spade away to talk with both 'is 'ands.
An' Smith 'as dropped the maul 'e 'ad. Then I looks round to see
Doreen quite close. She smiles at us. "Winnin' the war?" sez she.