Poem: How to Write an Australian Novel by Ironbark (Part 1)

You must have a squatter's daughter,
   And a hero who has caught her
In the clutches of his passion like a vice;
   You must have a fat old squatter,
   And must make him make things hotter
For the hero than the hero thinks is nice.

   And the maiden must be lovely,
   And the hero pick-and-shovelly --
Just at present -- but a cultured kind of bloke,
   With a college education,
   Who has hoofed it to the station,
And is sinking tanks and post-holes for a joke.

   You must bring the two together
   With remarks about the weather;
Let her watch him while he shovels out the dirt,
   'Till she thinks the post-hole digger
   A romantic kind of figger --
Bar the patches on his moleskins and his shirt.

   You may call the maiden Dora,
   And must work the native flora
And the fauna in your tale for all they're worth;
   And a suitable location
   For her fat old father's station
May be anywhere 'twixt Narrabri and Perth.

   You must intersperse the wattle,
   And the tree they call the "bottle" --
You must weave 'em in the fabric of your tale --
   Better have the "tall yapunyah,"
   And some salt-bush, and a "gunyah,"
And a cove called Dick to drive the local mail.

   As the story waxes duller,
   Introduce some "local color,"
Which is usually understood to be
   Almost anything Australian,
   From a bleary-eyed Baccanalian
In a "shanty" to a parrot on a tree.

   Have some shearers playin' "ante" --
   That is poker -- in a shanty,
And some pictures, if they burst you with expense:
   Hire a drawin' of the station,
   And another illustration
Of a carcase, with a crow upon a fence.

   For -- to be a bit digressive --
   There is nothing so expressive
Of the sadness of our solitudes immense,
   Or so tenderly appealing
   To our sympathy and feeling
As a carcase, and a crow upon a fence.

   There's a stage in novel making
   ('Spite of all the care you're taking),
When you get your story tangled in a knot,
   And you lack the inspiration
   To create a situation
For the clear elucidation of your plot.

   Then your characters get cranky,
   And to stop their hanky-panky
Takes the patience of a literary Job;
   And to analyse their notions,
   And their feelin's and emotions,
You must pick their souls to pieces with a probe.

First published in The Bulletin, 4 October 1906

[The second half of this poem will be published next week.]

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on October 22, 2005 8:54 AM.

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