Works in the Herald 1935

Urged by the desire for more and yet more revenue, a State politician has now suggested a tax on pleasure. This is distinct from the amusement tax, and has yet to be defined.

"This seems a gloomy city," said the stranger,
   For every man I meet seems glum of face.
Is war impending?  Else what nameless danger
   Threatens the citizens of this sad race?"
"Ah, thereby hangs a tale," replied the native.
   "None dares to smile in this unhappy land.
The cause of this is mainly legislative,
   As I will strive to make you understand.

"This was a place of peace and happy leisure,
   Where beaming smiles proclaimed the joyous mind;
Until our Government got taxing pleasure
   And happiness of every sort and kind.
They taxed the man who ate a hearty dinner,
   And all at once dyspepsia seemed rife.
They taxed the toper and the racecourse winner,
   Till all men feigned to find no joy in life.

"In truth, thro' all this land there's scarce one lover
   Of misery; but shamming woe suits fine;
For, if you think a bit, you will discover
   That pleasure is a hard thing to define.
And where you find men weeping and bewailng,
   Declaring life a burden to their backs,
A Government discovers unavailing
   All efforts to collect a pleasure tax.

"But you know governments," pursued the native,
   "As well as I do; and you'll own it's true
How cunning are these leeches legislative
   When they are really after revenue.
I've heard the Ministry has contemplated
   A tax on gloom.  So, should you come back here,
Evasive still you'll find us, but elated,
   And wreathed in spurious grins from ear to ear."

Herald, 8 August 1935, p6

Copyright © Perry Middlemiss 2004-05