Works in the Bulletin 1914
She sung a song; an' I sat silent there,
Wiv bofe 'ands grippin' 'ard on to me chair;
  Me 'eart, that yesterd'y I thort wus broke
Wiv 'umpin' sich a 'eavy load o' care,
  Come swellin' in me throat like I would choke.
I felt 'ot blushes climbin' to me 'air.

'Twas like that feelin' when the Spring wind breaves Sad music in the sof'ly rustlin' leaves; An' when a bloke sits down an' starts to chew Crook thorts, wifout quite knowin' why 'e grieves Fer things 'e's done 'e didn't ort to do, Fair winded wiv the 'eavy sighs 'e 'eaves.
She sung a song; an' orl at once I seen The kind o' crool an' 'eartless brute I been. In ev'ry word I read it like a book-- The slanter game I'd played wiv my Doreen. I 'eard it in 'er song; an' in 'er look I sor wot made me feel fair rotten mean.
Poor 'urt Doreen! My tender bit o' fluff! Ar, men don't understand; they're fur too rough; Their ways is 'ard an' coarse wif lovin' tarts; They never slings 'em symperthy enough; But treats 'em 'arsh; they tramples on their 'earts, Becos their own crool 'earts is leather-tough.
She sung a song; an' all them bitter things That chewin' over barneys ever brings Give place to thorts of sorrer an' remorse. Like when some 'eart-broke punter goes an' slings 'Is larst lone deener on some stiffened 'orse, An' learns to know that vain regrets wot stings.
'Twas at a beano where I lobs along To drown them memories o' fancied wrong. I swears I never tumbled that she'd be there. But when I met 'er eye -- O, 'struth! 'Twas strong, 'Twas bitter strong, that jolt o' dull despair! 'Er look o' scorn! . . . An' then, she sung a song.
The choon was one o' them slow, mournful things That ketch yeh in the bellers 'ere, and brings Tears to yer eyes; the words was of a tart 'Oo's trackin' wif a silly coot that slings 'Er love aside, an' breaks 'er tender 'eart.... But 'twasn't that; it wus the way she sings.
To 'ear 'er voice! . . . A bloke 'ud be a log 'Oo key 'is block. Me mind wus in a fog Of sorrer for to think 'ow I wus wrong. Ar, I 'ave been a fair ungrateful 'og! The feelin' that she put into that song 'Ud wring the 'eart-strings of a chiner dog.
I listens wif me 'eart up in me throat; I drunk in ev'ry word an' ev'ry note. Tears trembled in 'er voice when she tells 'ow That tart snuffed out becos 'e never wrote. An' then I seen 'ow I wus like that cow 'OO's conscience, all too late, wif guilt wus smote.
Doreen she never looks at me! but stood 'Arf turned away, an' beefs it out reel good, Until she sung that bit about the grave; "Too late 'e learned 'e 'ad misunderstood!" An' then--Gorstrooth! The pleadin' look she gave Fair in me face 'ud melt a 'eart o' wood.
I dunno 'ow I seen that evenin' through; They muster thort I was 'arf shick, I knoo. But I 'ad 'urt Doreen wifout no call; I seen me dooty, wot I 'ad to do. O, strike! I could 'a' blubbed before 'em all! But I sat tight an' never cracked a boo.
An', when, at larst, the cliners makes a rise A lop-eared coot wif curls down to 'is eyes 'E 'ooks on to Doreen, an' starts to roam Fer 'ome an' muvver. I lines up an' cries, "'An's orf! I'm seein' this 'ere cliner 'ome," An' there we left 'im, gapin' wif surprise.
She never spoke; she never said no word; But walked beside me like she never 'eard. I swallers 'ard, an' starts to coax an' plead, I sez I'm dead ashamed o' wot's occurred. She don't reply; nor seem to take no 'eed; But stares before 'er like a frightened bird.
I tells 'er never can no uvver tart Be 'arf wot she is if we 'ave to part: I tells 'er that me life will be a wreck. She never 'eeds. But when I make a start To break away, 'er arms is roun' me neck. "Ah, Kid!" she sobs. "Yeh nearly broke me 'eart!"
I dunno wot I done or wot I said. But 'struth! I'll not fergit it till I'm dead-- That night when 'ope back in me brisket lobs: 'Ow my Doreen she lays 'er little 'ead Down on me shoulder 'ere, an' sobs an' sobs; An' all the lights gits sorter blurred an' red.
Say, square an' all--it don't seem right, some'ow, To say sich things; but wot I'm feelin' now 'As come at times, I s'pose, to uvver men-- When you 'ave 'ad a reel ole ding-dong row, Say, ain't it sweet to make it up agen? So sweet it's almost worth . . . Ar! I'm a cow!
To think I'd ever seek to 'arm a 'air Of 'er dear 'ead agen! My oath! I swear No more I'll roust on 'er in angry 'eat! But still, she never seemed to me so fair; She never wus so tender or so sweet As when she smooged beneath the lamplight there.
She's never been so lovin' wif 'er gaze; So gentle wif 'er pretty wimmin's ways. I tells 'er she's me queen, me angel, too. "Ah, no, I ain't no angel, Kid," she says: "I'm jist a woman, an' I loves yeh true! An' so I'll love yeh all me mortal days!"
She sung a song.... 'Ere, in me barmy style, I sets all tarts; fer in me hour o' trile Me soul wus withered be a woman's frown, An' broodin' Care come roostin' on me dile. She sung a song -- m 'eart, wif woe carst down, Wus raised to 'Eaven be a woman's smile.

"C.J. Dennis"
The Bulletin, 30 April 1914, p47

This poem was later included in The Songs of a Sentimental Bloke under the title "The Siren" in slightly amended form. The poems are fundamentally the same with the minor differences being with spelling, punctuation and a few phrases rewritten.

Copyright © Perry Middlemiss 2002