Poem: Two Singers by Kodak (Ernest O'Ferrall)

The summer morn was bright and fair,
And bees were humming everywhere;
A frowning poet nursed his jaw
And listened to a squealing saw.

"Whoo-whee! Wow-zee! Whizz-kling!" The teeth
Sang to the red wood underneath;
The logs were loaded on the wain
And then the song began again.

The poet bit his pen and tried
The saw-mill's screech to set aside;
He could not think of anything
For that "Whoo-whee! Wow-zee! Whizz-kling!"

Before the screaming of the disc
His tame-lamb thoughts refused to frisk;
They trembled back to cells remote,
While the saw cut the forest's throat.

A bloke whose nerves were never raw
Shoved timber at the whirling saw,
And did not guess his honest toil
Was making someone's brain-pan boil.

"Whoo-whee! The red-gum's dying wail
Rose like the spirit of a gale.
The poet snatched his hat and ran
To interview the working man.

Into the sawmill yard he dashed
And sought the thing that sang and flashed.
"Stop that damned saw!" Someone cried: "Bill!
Stop that there saw!" Soon all was still.

"What's up?" they asked, and gathered round
In all the yard there was no sound.
"I cannot work," the poet said,
"With that thing ringing in my head!"

"I have Important Work to do,
And a Great Soul appeals to you
To stop the saw -- or stop its row."
A sad voice said, "Gorblimey -- how?"

"I do not know!" the poet cried.
The foreman called plain Bill aside:
"Hey! ask him what he does. Poor cow!
He don't look right to me, somehow."

Said Bill, "What is this job you're at?"
The poet beamed beneath his hat:
"I'm writing verse." "Oh, that's your lurk!
Gorstrooth! I thought you told us 'work'!"

He nodded, and the waiting saw
Began again. Into its maw
He thrust a log. "Whoo-whee!" it cried.
The cursing poet stepped aside.

"Isn't that fine?" the sawyer sang,
As the bright shield revolved and rang.
"There's music -- and just smell the wood!
I tell you, Digger, work is good!

"With that saw singing all day
A bloke's ashamed to take his pay.
What? Don't yer like it? Well, that's queer;
For music you can't have much ear."

The stricken poet rushed away
And did no further "work" that day;
That bard whose nerves were never raw
Exulted in his singing saw.

First published in The Bulletin, 26 August 1920

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on June 21, 2008 8:07 AM.

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