Come mourn with me for the land of Gosh,
   Oh, weep with me for the luckless Glugs
Of the land of Gosh, where the sad seas wash
The patient shores, and the great King Splosh
        His sodden sorrow hugs;
Where the fair Queen Tush weeps all the day,
   And the Swank, the Swank, the naughty Swank,
        The haughty Swank holds sway -
The most mendacious, ostentatious,
        Spacious Swank holds sway.

'Tis sorrow-swathed, as I know full well, And garbed in gloom and the weeds of woe, And vague, so far, is the tale I tell; But bear with me for the briefest spell, And surely shall ye know Of the land of Gosh, and Tush, and Splosh, And Stodge, the Swank, the foolish Swank, The mulish Swank of Gosh- The meretricious, avaricious, Vicious Swank of Gosh.
Oh, the tall trees bend, and green trees send A chuckle round the earth, And the soft winds croon a jeering tune, And the harsh winds shriek with mirth, And the wee small birds chirp ribald words When the Swank walks down the street; But every Glug takes off his hat, And whispers humbly, "Look at that! Hats off! Hats off to the Glug of rank! Sir Stodge, the Swank, the Lord High Swank!" Then the East wind roars a loud guffaw, And the haughty Swank says, "Haw!"
His brain is dull, and his mind is dense, And his lack of saving wit complete; But most amazingly immense Is his inane self-confidence And his innate conceit. But every Glug, and great King Splosh Bowed to Sir Stodge, the fuddled Swank, The muddled Swank of Gosh - The engineering, peeping, peering, Sneering Swank of Gosh.
In Gosh, sad Gosh, where the Lord Swank lives, He holds high rank, and he has much pelf; And all the well-paid posts he gives Unto his fawning relatives, As foolish as himself. In offices and courts and boards Are Swanks, and Swanks, ten dozen Swanks, And cousin Swanks in hordes - Inept and musty, dry and dusty, Rusty Swanks in hordes.
The clouds so soft, that sail aloft, Weep laughing tears of rain; The blue sky spread high overhead Peeps thro' in mild disdain. All nature laughs and jeers and chaffs When the Swank goes out to walk; But every Glug bows low his head, And says in tones surcharged with dread, "Bow low, bow low, Glugs lean, Glugs fat!" But the North wind snatches off his hat, And flings it high, and shrieks to see His ruffled dignity.
They lurk in every Gov'ment lair, 'Mid docket dull and dusty file, Solemnly squat in an easy chair, Penning a minute of rare hot air In departmental style. In every office, on every floor Are Swanks, and Swanks, distracting Swanks, And Acting-Swanks a score, And coldly distant, sub-assistant Under-Swanks galore.
In peaceful days when the countryside Poured wealth to Gosh, and the skies were blue, The great King Splosh no fault espied, And seemed entirely satisfied With Swanks who muddled thro'. But when they fell on seasons bad, Oh, then the Swanks, the bustled Swanks, The hustled Swanks went mad - The minute-writing, nation-blighting, Skiting Swanks went mad.
The tall trees sway like boys at play, And mock him when he grieves, As one by one, in laughing fun, They pelt him with their leaves. And the gay green trees joke to the breeze, As the Swank struts proudly by; But every Glug, with reverence, Pays homage to his pride immense - A homage deep to lofty rank - The Swank! The Swank! The pompous Swank! But the wind-borne leaves await their chance And round him gaily dance.
Now, trouble came to the land of Gosh: The fear of battle, and anxious days; And the Swanks were called to the great King Splosh, Who said that their system would not wash, And ordered other ways. Then the Lord High Swank stretched forth a paw, And penned a minute re the law, And the Swanks, the Swanks, the other Swanks, The brother Swanks said, "Haw!" These keen, resourceful, unremorseful, Forceful Swanks said, "Haw!"
Then Splosh, the king, in a royal rage, He smote his throne as he thundered, "Bosh! In the whole wide land is there not one sage With a cool, clear brain, who'll straight engage To sweep the Swanks from Gosh?" But the Lord High Stodge, from where he stood, Cried, "Barley! . . . Guard your livelihood!" And, quick as light, the teeming Swanks, The scheming Swanks touched wood. Sages, plainly, labour vainly When the Swanks touch wood.
The stealthy cats that grace the mats Before the doors of Gosh, Smile wide with scorn each sunny morn; And, as they take their wash, A sly grimace o'erspreads each face As the Swank struts forth to court. But every Glug casts down his eyes, And mutters, "Ain't 'is 'at a size! For such a sight our gods we thank. Sir Stodge, the Swank! The noble Swank!" But the West wind tweaks his nose in sport; And the Swank struts into court.
Then roared the King with a rage intense, "Oh, who can cope with their magic tricks?" But the Lord High Swank skipped nimbly hence, And hid him safe behind the fence Of Regulation VI. And under Section Four Eight 0 The Swanks, the Swanks, dim forms of Swanks, The swarms of Swanks lay low - These most tenacious, perspicacious, Spacious Swanks lay low.
Cried the King of Gosh, "They shall not escape! Am I set at naught by a crazed buffoon?" But in fifty fathoms of thin red tape The Lord Swank swaddled his portly shape, Like a large, insane cocoon. Then round and round and round and round. The Swanks, the Swanks, the whirling Swanks, The twirling Swanks they wound - The swathed and swaddled, molly-coddled Swanks inanely wound.
Each insect thing that comes in Spring To gladden this sad earth, It flits and whirls and pipes and skirls, It chirps in mocking mirth A merry song the whole day long To see the Swank abroad. But every Glug, whoe'er he be, Salutes, with grave humility And deference to noble rank, The Swank, the Swank, the swollen Swank; But the South wind blows his clothes awry, And flings dust in his eye.
So trouble stayed in the land of Gosh; And the futile Glugs could only gape, While the Lord High Swank still ruled King Splosh With laws of blither and rules of bosh, From out his lair of tape. And in cocoons that mocked the Glug The Swanks, the Swanks, the under-Swanks, The dunder Swanks lay snug. These most politic, parasitic, Critic Swanks lay snug.
Then mourn with me for a luckless land, Oh, weep with me for the slaves of tape! Where the Lord High Swank still held command, And wrote new rules in a fair round hand, And the Glugs saw no escape; Where tape entwined all Gluggish things, And the Swank, the Swank, the grievous Swank, The devious Swank pulled strings - The perspicacious, contumacious Swank held all the strings.
The blooms that grow, and, in a row, Peep o'er each garden fence, They nod and smile to note his style Of ponderous pretence; Each roving bee has fits of glee When the Swank goes by that way. But every Glug, he makes his bow, And says, "Just watch him! Watch him now! He must have thousands in the bank! The Swank! The Swank! The holy Swank!" But the wild winds snatch his kerchief out, And buffet him about.

This poem was originally published in The Bulletin, 4 November 1915, pp6-7, in slightly different form.

Copyright © Perry Middlemiss 2002-04