Poem: The Tale of Mr Brown by C.J. Dennis

   There was a crafty editor -
   (Of course, you understand
   That this was long before the light
   Of reason lit the land.)
   There was a crafty editor
   Whose calculating mind
   Controlled a mighty daily
   Of the "influential" kind.
   It was the "Morning Megaphone";
   'Twas popularly said
   To ev'ry corner of the land
   Its circulation spread.
      For it was read
By Smith and Smythe, and Lane and Lee,
Murphy, Morphy and Magee,
Puddlefoot and Ponsonby;
Read with rare avidity
By quite nine hundred thousand folk of ev'ry walk in life.
Indeed, by all the populace, its sister, and its wife.

   Now this very crafty editor -
   (I wish to make it clear
   That this was ere men knew their minds
   Or spoke them, minus fear).
   This very crafty editor
   Conceived a crafty plan
   To boost the circulation
   Of the paper that he ran.
   In short, his scheme was to create,
   With journalistic zeal,
   A Popular Opinion.
   And produce a Public Squeal
      That would appeal
To Smith and Smythe, and Lane and Lee,
Murphy, Morphy and Magee,
Puddlefoot and Ponsonby -
Men whose perspicacity
Was not above the common, but the object was to swell
The ardor of the Public and its maiden aunt as well.

   Now at this time Josiah Brown -
   (I trust you grasp the fact
   'Twas long before men pleased themselves
   How they should think and act).
   Josiah Brown, plain citizen,
   Lay shug a-bed and dreamed,
   Nor thought, nor knew, nor ever heard
   Of that the pressmen schemed.
   Nor troubled to consider,
   Or suppose, or speculate
   That a Mighty Public Question cried
   For him to arbitrate
      And in like state
Slept Smith and Smythe, and Lane and Lee,
Murphy, Morphy and Magee,
Puddlefoot and Ponsonby -
Independent men and free -
And nine hundred thousand others, each and ev'ry one inclined
To congratulate himself upon his hardy strength of mind.

   At breakfast time Josiah Brown
   Was much surprised to find
   That a red-hot Public Question
   Exercised the Public Mind.
   And ev'ry man of any worth,
   Except himself, it seemed,
   Had been moved to clamor loudly
   While he slept and drowsed and dreamed.
   Then he waxed enthusiastic,
   And he banged the breakfast board,
   And vowed that all along he'd voiced
   The popular accord.
      In like vein roared
The Smiths and Smythes, and Lanes and Lees,
Murphys, Morphys and Magees,
Puddlefoots and Ponsonbys -
Each and ev'ry one of these.
In fact, the Great, Glad Public and its cousin twice removed
Vowed they'd inwardly digested this Great Question and approved.

   The very crafty editor
   Lay low and gently smiled,
   While the Public rent its shirt, and grew
   Hysterical and wild.
   And proudly did Josiah Brown
   Protrude his manly chest.
   He delivered public speeches which
   Were cheered like all the rest;
   And vaguely he suspected that,
   Before the fuss began,
   Within his inmost mind of minds
   He had conceived the plan.
      So, to a man,
Did Smith and Smythe, and Lane and Lee,
Murphy, Morphy and Magee,
Dash and Dingle, Prout and Pringle, Puddlefoot and Ponsonby,
And a million thinking units of the Great Democracy.
(But, of course, it must have happened when the world was very young,
And no one thought his private thoughts before he loosed his public tongue.)

First published in The Bulletin, 6 May 1909

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on September 22, 2007 9:23 AM.

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