The poet took two bottles stout Of good old Queensland rum, And one of ink, and spread them out; A bottle, too, of gum, And big blank sheets of paper white, And then resumed his place Amid the crockery to write A poem of rare grace That must command its space, And e'en a thumping cheque invite, And please the populace. The poet wrote the whole night through, And at the rum he sipped. The sheets about the room he strew, And in the ink he dipped. He gummed this stanza next to that, And paused a while to think, Then charged again with venom at The bottle holding ink His merry rhymes to chink, And every time a line went flat He took another drink. And when at length the day had come Quite empty were the lot Of bottles - gum, and ink, and rum. The poet, though, was not. Full, too, the pages....Fortune hard Brought back the verse again. Then for the bottles in the yard The poet went from a swain Three coppers did obtain. "See, earnest labor," cried the bard, "Is never wholly vain!"
First published in The Bulletin, 3 January 1918