Poem: Mansfield, Poet and Man by C.J. Dennis

Mr John Masefield, the Poet Laurate, has accepted an invitation to visit Melbourne for the Centenary celebrations.

He comes as a man who has lived 'mid men
   With the gloss and the polish off;
And truth flows free from his ready pen
For he looked on life with a keen eye then,
   And he found small cause to scoff.
And he loved the sea and its ships of sail
And a sailor's way and a sailor's tale;
   And he looked on the world at an epoch's close
   And found what none but the venturer knows.

He comes as a poet that the gods adopt
   With songs of the wild and the free
Shorn of the snivelling cadence dropped
From the lips of the sophist snugly propped
   On the throne of a pink settee.
And he loves the land and the flowering wealds,
The west wind's song and the daffodil fields
   As he loves the song of a howling gale
   Caught in the cup of a bellying sail.

And what shall he say of us who comes here --
   This man who has lived as a man?
He shall follow the way of the pioneer
And our own high venturers, blind to fear,
   Who strove when the race began;
And the digger's way and the drover's way
And the rough, rude life of an olden day
   And the track of the lonely Overland --
He shall follow them all -- and understand.

And his keen mind's eye shall pierce the gilt
   That would cover the old, rough life:
He shall sense the soul of a young land built
In the days when life had a strong, rude lilt
   And a rhythm tuned to strife.
He shall trace again in the Anzac's soul
The spirit that made this young land whole.
   And so, as he sees, shall he blame or praise
   By a standard won in the world's highways.

First published in The Herald, 11 April 1934

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