Works in the Herald 1935

In a savage verbal duel over the air in the U.S.A., General Johnson, formerly administrator of Roosevelt's N.R.A., and Father Couglan, its bitterest critic, employ such terms as: "A comic opera cream-puff with an underslung vocabulary," "economic shyster," "a cracked phonograph record," and so on, ad nauseum.

Now, my gift of crude invective is astonishingly high,
   And I've quite a flair for fierce vituperation,
But I have to sit and watch the precious moments drifting by,
   Just because my countrymen seek moderation.
But, ah, what verbal lightnings round my foeman's head might play
If I once became a freeman of the candid U.S.A.

Now "a partly vocal crea puff with a taste for comic song"
   Seems forced and weak and unimaginative;
While an "economic shyster" I consider far from strong
   In an artist with a claim to be creative.
I'd surely think of terser terms, original and tense
To fling abroad, while keeping to the strict Pickwickian sense.

For I have walked with bullockies back of the far Barcoo;
   I've drunk with shearers, hit the track with stockmen;
And surely there is none upon the earth, I don't care who,
   More famed for epithets that truly shock men.
Oh, I could "trade a line of talk" to sting a heart of wood
Or blister brazen monkeys -- well, I mean, I think I could.

Yet, when I reconsider it and con my lessons o'er,
   I begin to doubt these mighty reputations;
Robbed of their scarlet adjective, their minds seem but a store
   Of long outworn and crude reiterations,
And the fiercest trick of speech that these, my mates, can teach me now
Is to shake the ambient ether with, "Oh, 'im?  They silly cow!"

Herald, 14 March 1935, p6

Copyright © Perry Middlemiss 2003