Letter by CJD to J.G. Roberts 1913.09.23

Sept 23/13

Dear Mr Roberts,

Hearty thanks for responding so promptly to my anguished complaint (regarding the dearth of congenial society) by sending along good Hilaire Belloc to bear me company. and very good company I find him. Until now I have read only extracts from his works, and I am glad to know him better.

Just now I am trying to grind out a rhyme for the National Song Competition. "Grind out" is the only term, for good songs, national or other, are not produced this way.

I am willing to wager the best of them will be mechanical and stilted.

The idea, or inspiration, or whatever you care to call it, seldom comes to a writer at the right moment from a financial standpoint. If it does it will be pure luck, and the best craftsman will probably win the competition.

Still, a 100 is worth trying for, even by the affluent author of a book of verse; but who can wax patriotic who read recent political news?

Spring is beginning to dapple the mountains here, and my stern determination to leave the place - which I make regularly every sodden winter - weakens already - as usual. Toolangi is very like a woman in this respect. She weeps till one grows weary of it and threatens to leave her; then smiles so divinely that one is loath to go. If I were a real poet with a soul I could make something of that. I shall think it over.

Kind regards and again thanks,
Yours truly,
C.J. Dennis

J.G. Roberts Collection, MS8508, Book 1 - State Library of Victoria.

The poem referred to as a "rhyme for the National Song Competition" was probably The Australiase.

Copyright © Perry Middlemiss 2002-04