Poem: The Poet's Lyre by C. J. Dennis

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No longer are heard in C. J. Dennis's mountain home at Toolangi, to which he has just taken his bride, the strains of the banjo of his bachelorhood. He made the instrument himself - of native blackwood, galvanised-iron, the skin of a cat and the sinews of a wallaby. Let it sound its own requiem:

Just like the 'arp that onst on Tara's wall
   'Ung dumb as steak inside a butcher's shop,
I am the ghost of this 'ere festival:
   It ain't no cop
For me, what Low onst put in a cartoon;
I'm second fiddle in this 'oneymoon.

The dinkum days that 'im an' me 'ave spent!
   Though sooperseded by a gramophone,
I never tumbled it was permanent -
   That on me own
I'd lag soo-blanky-perfluous on the stage,
A silent oracle, like last week's AGE.

'Struth, it's enough to make me whip the cat
   'Oose skin was tanned me apron for to make,
To think I should be outed - on me pat.
   It takes the cake!
Though I can't play no "Chanson Sans Paroles"
Songs without words is surgin' through me soul!

Songs without words!  Ar, they was good ole times
   W'en songs 'ad words - it seems but yesterday
'Is fingers on my strings thrummed out the rhyms
   (And 'e could play!)
That were to bring 'im fame in "Ginger Mick."
'E scooped the pool - 'twas me that took the trick!

I scanned 'is lines for 'im without a 'itch;
   To me 'e owes the metre of 'is verse;
Ar, crool fate wot narked my concert-pitch!
   It makes me curse
The luck that turned, the forchune that betrayed,
My maker, an' the day that I was made.

Also, no more may sound an' strings combine
   As in the days ere I was carst aside;
Yet I am something more than tin an' twine -
   I 'ave me pride;
An' 'e don't recognise, by word or sign,
The mess 'e's made o' this 'ere life o' mine.

Yet, callin' back the old familiar tunes
   That galvanised the iron in me frame
(Now silent, spare me days, for many moons).
   I'd do the same
As I 'ave done, an' all my sould evoke
To re-inspire "The Sentimental Bloke."

The wind 'as mobs o' trees fer its delight,
   But only one was chosen for 'is lyre:
Mine was the wood 'e tipped would best ignite
   The poet's fire;
And of my fuel, may this coal glow red
W'ich my forgiveness 'eaps upon 'is 'ead!

First published in The Bulletin, 30 August 1917

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on August 4, 2012 1:57 PM.

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