Works in the Herald 1927
To His Dead Cobber from the Sentimental Bloke
I'm sittin' 'ere, Mick -- sittin' 'ere today,
   Feelin' arf glum, 'arf sorter -- reverent.
   Thinkin' strange, crooked thorts of 'ow they say:
   "The 'eads is bowed thro' all a continent";
An' wond'rin' -- wond'rin' in a kind of doubt
   If other coves is feelin' like I do,
Tryin' to figure wot it's all about,
   An' -- if it's meanin' anythin' to you.

Silence ....... The hour strikes soon tho' all the land
An' 'eads bend low.  Old, mate, give me your 'and.
      Silence -- for you, Mick, an' for blokes like you
      To mark the Day -- the Day you never knoo.

The Day you never knoo, nor we forget ....
   I can't tell why I'm sittin' 'ere tis way,
Scrawlin' a message that you'll never get --
   Or will you?  I dunno.  It's 'ard to say.
P'raps you'll know all about it, where you are,
   An' think, "Ah well, they ain't too bad a lot."
An' tell them other digs, up on your star
   That now, or nevermore, they ain't fergot.

Silence ....... Not 'ere alone, Mick -- everywhere --
In city an' country 'eads are bare.
      An', in this room, it seems as if I knoo
      Some friend 'oo came -- Old cobber!  Is it you?

My 'eart is full, Mick ..... 'Struth! I ain't the bloke
   As well you know, to go all soft an' wet.
Fair's fair, lad.  Times I've known when you 'ave spoke
   Like you was tough an' 'ard as 'ell -- an' yet
Somethin' behind your bluff an' swagger bold
   Showed all them narsty sentiments was kid.
It was that thing inside yeh, lad, wot told.
   It made you go an' do the thang you did.

Silence ...... There's mothers, Mick, you never knoo
No mother.  But they're prayin' for you too.
      In every 'eart -- The Boys! The Boys are there,
      The Boys ...... That very name, lad, is a pray'r.

The Boys! Old cobber, I can see 'em still: The drums are rollin' an' the sunlight gleams On bay'nits. Men are marchin' with a will On to the glory of their boy'ood's dreams. Glory? You never found it that, too much. But, lad, you stuck it -- stuck it with the rest, An' if your bearin' 'ad no soulful touch, 'Twas for OUR souls that you went marchin' -- West. Silence ...... The children too, Mick -- little kids, Are standin'. Not becos their teacher bids: They've knoo no war; but they 'ave stopped their play Becos they know, they feel it is The Day. So may it be thro' all the comin' years. But sorrow's gone, lad. It's not that we know. The sobbin's passed, 'ole cobber, an' the tears. An' well we un'erstand you'd 'ave it so. But somethin's deeper far than that 'as come, Somethin' a mind can't get within its bounds, Somethin' I can't explain. A man is dumb When 'e thinks .... Listen! 'Ear the bugles sound!
Silence! * * * * * *
Well, Mick, ole cock, I dunno why I've wrote, It's just to ease a thing inside wot says "Sit down, you sloppy coot, an' write a note To that old cobber of the olden days. E'll know -- for sure 'e'll know." So lad, it's done, Work's waitin', an' a man can't get in wrong; Our goal is still ahead. But yours is won: That's the one thing we know, lad, so -- So long!
Silence ...... It's over, Mick; so there you are. I know you're 'appy up there on your star, Believe us lad, that star shall never fall While one is left to say "Gawd keep 'em all!"

"C. J. Dennis"
Herald, 11 November 1927, p4

Copyright © Perry Middlemiss 2002-06