February 2013 Archives

'Tis an Ill Wind -- A Heat Wave Homily by C.J. Dennis

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While the majority of people in town and country grumbled peevishly about the heat yesterday, many citizens engaged in summer trades hailed such weather as a belated godsend after an uncertain and profitless summer season.

We stand and gasp in the city street
   Or pant in the country glare,
Hurling a curse at the humid heat
   And the unrefreshing air;
And we weakly vow this heat-wave can
   Bring joy to none who thinks.
Aye.  But what about the ice-cream man,
  And the cove who sells cool drinks?

Are never these to know the joy
   Of a sudden profit earned
And a quick reward in their employ
   While the fickle sunlight burned?
But the mercury that never drops
   Awakes our dismal wails.
Yet what about the drapers' shops
   And the need for summer sales?

We thirst, we drink, we thirst again,
   And drink, turn and about,
And realise all effort vain
   To ease this endless drought.
We long for grey skies, vapor-hung,
   And wish chill winter here.
But what about your old friend Bung
   And the steady sale of beer?

Then grieve no more, oh, selfish wight,
   When summer suns burn down,
And harp no more upon your plight
   By heat-struck field or town.
Rather, in altruistic mood,
   Thus let your thought be bent:
"E'en hot north winds may blow some good
   To someone.  Be content."

First published in The Herald, 28 February 1935

To a Son of Peace by C.J. Dennis

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The State Secretary of the Returned Soldiers' League (Mr. C. W. Joyce) has lately stated that there is an anti-soldier feeling among the younger generation, much of it open and flagrant.  The country's population today holds 55 per cent. of young people who were either not born or were too young to understand its meaning when the war was being fought.

Bland youth, to whom the War is but a story
   Told by the elders round the winter fire,
A tale of ancient fear and tarnished glory
   And quaint heroes of some grey-bearded sire,
Are you so safe that you can laugh at battle?
   Are you so sure your world today is sane?
Are you so deaf that, tho' the sabres rattle
   Even today, you count all portents vain?
So were we safe, and deemed our generations
   Secure in sanity; so were we sure,
A score of years ago, no war-mad nation
   Could rouse a whole world's anger, and endure.
So were we young, with all youth's scornful laughter.
   Now we are old; not too old to forget
Unheeded beacon fires and and what came after ...
   And still grim Armageddon is not yet.
If you have gods, thank them, with thanks o'erflowing,
   First, that your path thus far has known no thorn;
Then pray.  Pray you may never come to knowing
   The bloody baptism that men you scorn
Have known, and lived -- lived on to bear the stricture
   Of beardless youth.  Pray that this world you deem
So sane, so sure, may shape war to your picture --
   The phantasy of some spent grey-beard's dream.

First published in The Herald, 27 February 1933

The Sundowner by C.J. Dennis

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   I live a life thet's wild an' free,
      An' me troubles they are few;
   So 'ere's to another drink t' me
      An' a thousan' a year to you.
   A man can't count on much down 'ere;
      An' I don't long fur wealf.
   A trifle o' tucker an' whips o' beer,
      Is all that I ask -- meself.

Fur it's carryin' me bloomin' swag frum mornin' until night;
   An' it's waiting in the dusk outside the town
Fur I git me share o' walkin' when the world is fair and bright,
   An' me tucker when the sun goes down.
                    My oath!
   But I'm 'appy when the sun goes down.

   With honest work I don't agree,
     Fur where's the use o' toilin'?
   While other men they work for me,
      I watch me billy boilin'.
   I'll take wot e're you 'ave to give,
      An' steal wot e're I can;
   Be the sweat of other brows I live,
      So hurray fur the workin' man!

   An' this me song as I trudge along,
      Or watch me billy boil --
   "'Ere's to the man thet earns 'is bread -
      An' mine - by honest toil."
   Fur men must work, an' women weep,
      To make the world go roun';
   But I've no weepin' women to keep,
      So I watch the sun go down.

An' it's carryin' me bloomin' swag frum mornin' until night,
   An' waitin' near the station or the town;
Fur I git me share o' loafin' when the sun is at 'is height,
   An' me tucker when the sun goes down.
                     My oath!
   But I'm 'appy when the sun goes down.
First published in The Critic, 26 February 1898

Reformation by C.J. Dennis

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A whisky still is to be erected near Melbourne. - News item.

George was never for sport or game;
   He was never the outdoor kind.
And, after the early closing came
He sat indoors at a parlor game
   At the back of a close-drawn blind.
But often now, on the lawn, I spy
   George in the darkness there,
Face upturned to the starlit sky,
Breathing deep and -- I wonder why --
   Sniffing the evening air.

First published in The Sun News-Pictorial, 25 February 1927

Barley Grass by C.J. Dennis

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Wavin' corn upon the hillside,
Twinklin' daisies on the rise,
Mystic bushes across the ranges,
Wattle in its spring-time guise,
Stately gums that mark the twinin's
Of the ole creek -- let 'em pass.
Leave me here to lie, a-lazin'
In the noddin' barley grass.

Barley grass was noddin', noddin'
'Long the dear ole township track
Where, in school days, we were ploddin':
Four mile there an' four mile back.
Teacher, on the summer mornin's,
Called us, scoldin', from the class,
An' we wasted precious moments
Pickin' out the barley grass.

Barley grass insinuatin',
In a summer long ago,
Gained a girl maternal ratin',
Made a chap a holy show.
"Some one's been to walk with some one --
Down the creek-side with a lass.
Fie, it ain't no use denyin'
Tell-tale seeds of barley grass."

Came a time, when fortune frownin'
Sent a spring in cruel guise:
Wilted corn upon the hillside,
Brown soil barren on the rise,
Droopin' gums along the ole creek
Dry beneath a sky of brass;
An' we longed for just the sight of
One green tuft of barley grass.

But we battle on together,
Her an' me that mockin' spring,
Never losin' faith or doubting'
What the future was to bring.
Watchin', waitin' for the dawnin',
For the time of trial to pass;
An' 'twas her that found one mornin'
That first peep of barley grass.

We don't want no wreath of roses,
We don't want no immortelles,
When the last of us reposes
In the last of earthly spells.
Plant above - we ain't presumin'
To be writ on stone or brass --
Just a modest, unassumin',
Simple bit of barley grass.

First published in The Critic, 24 February 1904;
and later in 
Backblock Ballads and Other Verses by C.J. Dennis, 1913.

Country Pubs by C.J. Dennis

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Recent severe criticism of the catering arrangements in country hotels uttered by Mr. Menzies, M.L.A., has revived the demand for improvement in such places.  But one is moved to wonder if this protest will do any more than dozens of others in getting real improvements.

We know those little country pubs,
   By cross-road and by creek,
Where faithfully the landlord scrubs
   His counter once a week,
And stands before his shining bar
   To cater for man's thirst
With all the best; but where the meals are
   He caters with the worst.
"Wottle you 'ave?"  There's beer or brandy,
Rum or half-and-half or shandy.
   Wine or whisky.  Bottles wink --
   "Wottle you 'ave, boys?  Name your drink" ...
But in the grimy dining room
A slattern lass of grease and gloom
   Intones in accents charged with grief:
   "Wottle you 'ave?  There's corn-beef." 
In the bar the talk grows gay,
   The landlord beams, for trade agog,
And yokels wile dull hours away
   Idly yarning o'er their grog ...
But in that cave of gastric woes
   Grimly the hungry traveller eats,
To end by turning up his nose
   And hoping to fill up on sweets.
"Wottle you 'ave?" -- The cups are cloudy.
Linen soiled.  The waitress dowdy,
   Comes like an avenging fate
   Snatching at the greasy plate --
Soggy cabbage; soapy "spuds" --
Droning flies and smell of suds.
   Now she whines, like some lost soul:
   "Wottle you 'ave?  There's jam-roll."

First published in The Herald, 23 February 1933

The Glug Quest by C. J. Dennis

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Follow the river and cross the ford,
   Follow again to the wobbly bridge,
Turn to the left at the notice board,
   Climbing the cow-track over the ridge;
Tip-toe soft by the little red house,
   Hold your breath if they touch the latch,
Creep to the slip-rails, still as a mouse,
   Then . . . run like mad for the bracken patch.
Worm your way where the fern fronds tall
   Fashion a lace-work over your head,
Hemming you in with a high, green wall;
   Then, when the thrush calls once, stop dead.
Ask of the old grey wallaby there --
   Him prick-eared by the woollybutt tree --
How to encounter a Glug, and where
   The country of Gosh, famed Gosh may be.
But, if he is scornful, if he is dumb,
Hush! There's another way left. Then come.
On a white, still night, where the dead tree bends
   Over the track, like a waiting ghost,
Travel the winding road that wends
   Down to the shore on an Eastern coast.
Follow it down where the wake of the moon
   Kisses the ripples of silver sand;
Follow it on where the night seas croon
   A traveller's tale to the listening land.
Step not jauntily, not too grave,
   Till the lip of the languorous sea you greet;
Wait till the wash of the thirteenth wave
   Tumbles a jellyfish out at your feet.
Not too hopefully, not forlorn,
   Whisper a word of your earnest quest;
Shed not a tear if he turns in scorn
   And sneers in your face like a fish possessed.
Hist! Hope on! There is yet a way.
Brooding jellyfish won't be gay.
Wait till the clock in the tower booms three,
   And the big bank opposite gnashes its doors,
Then glide with a gait that is carefully free
   By the great brick building of seventeen floors;
Haste by the draper who smirks at his door,
   Straining to lure you with sinister force,
Turn up the lane by the second-hand store,
   And halt by the light bay carrier's horse.
By the carrier's horse with the long, sad face
   And the wisdom of years in his mournful eye;
Bow to him thrice with a courtier's grace,
   Proffer your query, and pause for reply.
Eagerly ask for a hint of the Glug,
   Pause for reply with your hat in your hand;
If he responds with a snort and a shrug
   Strive to interpret and understand.
Rare will a carrier's horse condescend.
Yet there's another way. On to the end!
Catch the four-thirty; your ticket in hand,
   Punched by the porter who broods in his box;
Journey afar to the sad, soggy land,
   Wearing your shot-silk lavender socks.
Wait at the creek by the moss-grown log
   Till the blood of a slain day reddens the West.
Hark for the croak of a gentleman frog,
   Of a corpulent frog with a white satin vest.
Go as he guides you, over the marsh,
   Treading with care on the slithery stones,
Heedless of night winds moaning and harsh
   That seize you and freeze you and search for your bones.
On to the edge of a still, dark pool,
   Banishing thoughts of your warm wool rug;
Gaze in the depths of it, placid and cool,
   And long in your heart for one glimpse of a Glug.
"Krock!" Was he mocking you? "Krock! Kor-r-rock!"
Well, you bought a return, and it's past ten o'clock.
Choose you a night when the intimate stars
   Carelessly prattle of cosmic affairs.
Flat on your back, with your nose pointing Mars,
   Search for the star who fled South from the Bears.
Gaze for an hour at that little blue star,
   Giving him, cheerfully, wink for his wink;
Shrink to the size of the being you are;
   Sneeze if you have to, but softly; then think.
Throw wide the portals and let your thoughts run
   Over the earth like a galloping herd.
Bounds to profundity let there be none,
   Let there be nothing too madly absurd.
Ponder on pebbles or stock exchange shares,
   On the mission of man or the life of a bug, 
On planets or billiards, policemen or bears,
   Alert all the time for the sight of a Glug.
Meditate deeply on softgoods or sex,
   On carraway seeds or the causes of bills, 
Biology, art, or mysterious wrecks,
   Or the tattered white fleeces of clouds on blue hills. 
Muse upon ologies, freckles and fog,
   Why hermits live lonely and grapes in a bunch, 
On the ways of a child or the mind of a dog,
   Or the oyster you bolted last Friday at lunch.
Heard you no sound like a shuddering sigh! 
Or the great shout of laughter that swept down the sky? 
Saw you no sign on the wide Milky Way? 
Then there's naught left to you now but to pray.
Sit you at eve when the Shepherd in Blue
   Calls from the West to his clustering sheep. 
Then pray for the moods that old mariners woo,
   For the thoughts of young mothers who watch their babes sleep.
Pray for the heart of an innocent child,
   For the tolerant scorn of a weary old man, 
For the petulant grief of a prophet reviled,
   For the wisdom you lost when your whiskers began.
Pray for the pleasures that he who was you
   Found in the mud of a shower-fed pool, 
For the fears that he felt and the joys that he knew
   When a little green lizard crept into the school. 
Pray as they pray who are maddened by wine:
   For distraction from self and a spirit at rest.
Now, deep in the heart of you search for a sign --
   If there be naught of it, vain is your quest.
Lay down the book, for to follow the tale 
Were to trade in false blame, as all mortals who fail. 
And may the gods salve you on life's dreary round; 
For 'tis whispered: "Who finds not, 'tis he shall be found!"

First published in The Bulletin, 22 February 1917;
and later in
The Glugs of Gosh by C.J. Dennis, 1917; and
Selected Works of C.J. Dennis, 1988.

"'Ot?" by C.J. Dennis

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'Ot? - Well, wot a thing to arst!
Think I'm made of marble?  Wot?
'Ot?  Ay? 'Ot!! Why, --! An' -!
Wot a question!  'Course I'm 'ot!

'Ot?  Well, I should say I am!
Think I'm goin' to say I'm not?
Do I feel the wot?  Oh-!
Shut yer 'ead! I know it's 'ot!!

'Ot?  Dy'e think I bloomin' well
Don't know that much?  'Ot!  Great Scot!!!
Do I wot?  Oh, ----!!!
'Eavens, don't I know it's 'ot!

'OT?  Wot rot!  Do I look cool?
Do I notice wot?  The glare?
Why you -!!  *****!! Fool!!
--!  ***? --!!!  --***?
--!  --!  --!  ***!!!!!! - There!

First published in The Gadfly, 21 February 1906

Melbourne Streets - Royal Arcade by C.J. Dennis

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As I went over through the Royal Arcade,
   Where mirrors counterfeited space
To multiply the gauds displayed,
   I met a fellow face to face --
A loutish oaf who did not know
   The traffic laws - a swishing "jay"
Who shuffled when I sought to go
   To left or right, and blocked my way.

I gazed into his foolish face,
   And thought that I had never seen
So great a lack of saving grace
   In any visage.  Vacant, mean,
A smirking moron's, one would say,
   Denoting low mentality...
I cursed the fool and walked away. 
            And so did he.

First published in The Herald, 20 February 1929

The Cockie's Man by C.J. Dennis

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I'm but a simple cockie's man -- a common sort o' bloke;
But I'm 'uman an' 'ave feelin's, just the same as other folk.
I'm bloomin' well disgusted with the present state o' things;
The country's fairly busted, so this is wot I sings:-

         Gawd 'elp the cockie's man --
            Graftin' all the day;
         Send 'im better tucker an'
            Send 'im better pay.
         'Elp 'im on a little bit
            In 'is worldly fight,
         Then, if I should think of it,
            I'll say a prayer at night.

A bloke 'as got to keep 'imself on fifteen bob a week.
It don't cost much to feed 'im, cos e's 'umble an' e's meek.
'E wants a decent livin', an' that's wot 'e don't get --
The drought it stops the bloomin' crops an' leaves 'im in the wet.

A man can't 'ave a decent drunk, not three times in a year;
The money goes in tucker, an' there's nothin' lef' fur beer.
I ain't no guzzlin' glutton, but I like me glass of ale,
With me damper an' me mutton -- 'spech'ly when the latter's stale.
I'm sick o' drivin' 'arrers, an' I'm sick o' chuckin' 'ay;
I'm sick o' doin' anythink -- fur 'arf-a-crown a day.
I wisht I was an angel -- an' I 'ope I will be soon;
I'd play upon me golden 'arp, an' this'd be me toon --

         Gawd 'elp the cockie's man,
            Sweatin' in the sun.
         Wot's 'e gittin' punished for?
            Wot's 'e bin an' done?
         Make 'is life a little bright,
            'Elp 'im awn a bit,
         Then e'll say a prayer at night --
            If 'e don't forgit.

First published in The Critic, 19 February 1898

The Tree-Creeper by C.J. Dennis

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My family holds many kinds:
   The red, the white of brow, the brown;
And each a life's emptiness finds,
   Where rugged gum trees lift a crown
Up to the kind, life-giving sun
And here live I, the prying one.
Round and round the trunk I go,
   Ever upward, round and round,
While my long, prehensile toe
   Makes my foothold safe and sound
To the ragged bark I cling;
   A ragged bark am I
I sing and search and search and sing,
   And in the crannies peep and pry.
"Woodpecker" some would have me styled;   
   But well they know, the gum-trees tall,
That my assaults are passing mild
   And most beneficient withal
To hunt the "wog" is my affair,
   To sing awhile, then softly steal
And drag him from his darksome lair
   To be a merry songster's meal.
So round and round the tree I go,
   Round and round and ever up;
And many a secret place I know
   Where I may royally dine or sup.
From tree to tree, from dawn to dark,
   I sing and search and search and sing,
About the ragged storm-scarred bark
   To make a merry banqueting. 

First published in The Herald, 18 February 1933

The Healers by C.J. Dennis

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At the University Wilson Hall tonight Fellows of the Royal Australian College of Surgeons begin their fifth annual conference.

Now are the healers gathered
   To talk of hidden things
And plan new "lurks" to filch the works
   To which poor mankind clings.
With eyes on the duodenum
   And appendix vermiform,
They conjugate "to operate"
   As the arguments wax warm.

"Put out your tongue." "Say ninety-nine."
   Ah, how we quake in dread
When they begin to listen-in,
   Then gravely shake the head.
And oft about my middle
   A strange numb feeling stole,
When a healer tried with x-ray eyes
   To search my inmost soul.

Yet, honour to the healers,
   NOogross self-seekers these,
Who give their skill to lift the ill
   Of human miseries;
Who give their lives to service,
   And dedicate again
Skilled hand and mind to humankind,
   For sake of fellow-men.

First published in The Herald, 17 February 1932

Ignoramus by C.J. Dennis

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What crass, abysmal ignorance!  Forlorn!
   Despite his looks, the man must be half-witted!
They gasped for air; they gazed on him in scorn,
   And tried to think of epithets that fitted.
Clown!  Dolt!  Unlettered oaf!  And yet, some spark
   Of clear intelligence seemed in his bearing.
Men called him clever!  But his one remark --
   His only one -- had left them gaping, staring!
Long had they argued: first this one, then that,
   Sedately, quietly, gravely polemic.
No voice was raised; each had the subject pat --
   A weighty matter, almost academic.
But he had said no word; but sat and read
   A book by Einstein, while the rest disputed,
A hand supporting his fine, massive head;
   And seemed to be all that he was reputed.
And still they talked and talked; till some one stopped,
   Searching for words, and so the thread was broken.
Then he looked up; and then the bomb was dropped
   As, joining the discussion, he had spoken.
His long white finger marking still his place
   Upon the page he read, the question rolling
Prim and precise, he said, with smiling face:
   "Excuse me, but -- er -- what IS body bowling?"

First published in The Herald, 16 February 1933

Note: "body bowling" is another term for "bodyline".

The Thrifty Vote by C. J. Dennis

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Mrs. Darling (S.A.) asked if the thrifty and the unthrifty man should have the same vote.  
(Voices: "No.") - Report Hobart Women's Conference.

When lovely woman stoops
   To criticise our laws,
The hardened cynic whoops
   And voices loud guffaws;
But, still, there's much the matter with the franchise,
   And lovely woman's found it full of flaws.

For instance, there's this plan,
   Which some uphold to-day,
By which the thrifty man
   Has not one whit more say
In the choosing of our noble legislators
   That he loafs the happy hours away.

'Tis clearly most unfair
   That he who busts his tin
Should have an equal share
   In saying who'll go in
To Parliament, to aggravate the Speaker
   As he who looks on spending as a sin.

They both should have a vote --
   (That's clearly in the game);
But still, I'd have you note,
   It should not be the same;
For, when the reckless bloke sends in a duffer,
   Why should we hold the thrifty man to blame?

(Of course, as now we live --
   To state the matter flat --
We most absurdly give
   A special vote to Fat;
But seeing Fat is not at all times thrifty,
   Then, plainly, lovely woman can't mean that.)

A Royal Commission is
   To me the only thing
That could decide the biz.
   For surely that should bring
Some evidence to light anent the thrifty
   And those who are disposed to have a fling.

A person's worth in cash,
   Of course would be no proof
That he refrained from rash
   Experiments with "oof";
Nor should another's poverty be taken
   As evidence he shook the festive hoof.

But if we once could weed
   The sheep from out the goats
Perhaps we might proceed
   Distributing the votes.
I think I'd give the spendthrift person pink ones,
   And blue ones to the chap who socks his notes.

I have a notion slight
   That when I first began
I'd other thoughts which might
   Elaborate this plan;
But this thing keeps recurring to distract me:
   "Now what the dickens is a thrifty man?"

First published in The Bulletin, 15 February 1912

Ancient Australia by C.J. Dennis

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(A German scientist, Dr. Herman Klatsch, after a visit to Warrnambool, Vic., formed the theory that Australia was the first home of the human race.)

A Teuton anthropologist -- you'll have to sneeze his name --
Discovered things at Warrnambool that made him glad he came;
For Warrnambool was once the home of neolithic man
When Nature fashioned things upon a slightly larger plan.

Australia was prominent in days before the Fall,
For it bore the early masters of this ancient mundane ball.
No doubt the chap whose hairiness comprised his only "duds"
Once throve at Warrnambool by growing prehistoric spuds.

No doubt he bought the market up -- formed corners, trusts and rings;
And, if we let our fancy play, no doubt - why, lots of things.
The prehistoric "Bushy Bill," with whiskers on his neck;
Came down to bust his bit of flint -- his neolithic cheque.

And then, no doubt, he "got 'em" -- not the modern snakes and frogs
But purple Loxolophodons and mammoth Goliwogs;
And on "The Block," in Collins Street, with tail of latest shape,
There strutted, in the days of old, the Anthropoidal Ape.

'Twas there he met his "little girl," and took her to the play.
With a wing of Dodo after, at the cafe of the day;
While the prehistoric punter had his day at Flemington,
And lost his bit of sandstone on his favorite Mastodon.

In Toorak lived Coryphodons, Dinocreas, and such --
The heavy aristocracy, who were respected much;
And the pushites of old Collingwood appeared in ancient docks
For pelting prehistoric "cops" with tertiary rocks.

Then the very early artists did their "little things" in stone,
Or executed etchings on a bit of mammoth bone;
And the critics who were hostile at the ancient private view,
With their little works of art the early artists promptly slew.

Within the caves in Spring Street dwelt a noisy, wrangling crowd,
Who used stone axes in debate, and argued long and loud.
In ancient "lingo," high above the din.  "Yes No"! would shout
A stoutish man who led a dry Coryphodon about.

But tho' these ancient, hairy chaps were partial to a row,
And tho; they had their troubles in the early days, as now,
On the whole, the early public most contented must have been,
For we cannot trace one poet in "the early Eocene."

First published in The Gadfly, 14 February 1906

The Genesis of Gloom (Australian Variety) by C.J. Dennis

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Once upon a time, in days remote,
A politician bought a vote.
   The price he paid is not quite clear,
   But probably a pot of beer
Secured his end.  But he got in;
So folk excused this venial sin.

Now if the thing had stayed right there,
We might have dodged a load of care.
   But pots of beer soon failed to serve
   The candidate of dash and nerve;
And, with cold cynicism, came
The urge to organise the Game.

Soon the political machine
Beheld the profit it might glean
   Thro' gifts spread thro' electorates
   To help the "Outs" the "Ins" frustrate;
While shrewd "Ins", not to be outdone,
Increased the offers two to one.

Later, the craftiest M.P.'s
Perceived that loans from overseas
   Might help them hand out cakes and ale
   Upon a most colossal scale;
And Parties with each other vied
To spread their largesse far and wide.

Railways were built from here to there
That served no purpose anywhere,
   And public works that did not pay
   Like mushrooms, sprouted in a day,
With promises were issues fought,
And whole electorates were bought.

Millions and yet more millions flowed
To go the same old easy road. . . .
   Till, with a dearth of easy cash
   The game was up; and came the crash.
'Tis pitiful; but there you are.
With pots of beer in some back bar
   This evil had its genesis
   And it has brought the land to - this.

First published in The Herald, 13 February 1931

The Stror 'At Coot by C. J. Dennis

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Ar, wimmin! Wot a blinded fool I've been!
   I arsts meself, wot else could I ixpeck?
I done me block complete on this Doreen,
   An' now me 'eart is broke, me life's a wreck!
The dreams I dreamed, the dilly thorts I thunk
Is up the pole, an' joy 'as done a bunk.
Wimmin! O strike! I orter known the game!
   Their tricks is crook, their arts is all dead snide.
The 'ole world over tarts is all the same;
   All soft an' smilin' wiv no 'eart inside.
But she fair doped me wiv 'er winnin' ways,
Then crooled me pitch fer all me mortal days.
They're all the same! A man 'as got to be
   Stric' master if 'e wants to snare 'em sure.
'E 'as to take a stand an' let 'em see
   That triflin' is a thing 'e won't indure.
'E wants to show 'em that 'e 'olds command,
So they will smooge an' feed out of 'is 'and.
'E needs to make 'em feel 'e is the boss,
   An' kid 'e's careless uv the joys they give.
'E 'as to make 'em think 'e'll feel no loss
   To part wiv any tart 'e's trackin' wiv.
That all their pretty ways is crook pretence
Is plain to any bloke wiv common-sense.
But when the birds is nestin' in the spring,
   An' when the soft green leaves is in the bud,
'E drops 'is bundle to some fluffy thing.
   'E pays 'er 'omage -- an' 'is name is Mud.
She plays wiv 'im an' kids 'im on a treat,
Until she 'as 'im crawlin' at 'er feet.
An' then, when 'e's fair orf 'is top wiv love,
   When she 'as got 'im good an' 'ad 'er fun,
She slings 'im over like a carst-orf glove,
   To let the other tarts see wot she's done.
All vanity, deceit an' 'eartless kid!
I orter known; an', spare me days, I did!
I knoo. But when I looked into 'er eyes --
   Them shinin' eyes o' blue all soft wiv love --
Wiv mimic love -- they seemed to 'ipnertize.
   I wus content to place 'er 'igh above.
I wus content to make of 'er a queen;
An' so she seemed them days ... O, 'struth! ... Doreen!
I knoo. But when I stroked 'er glossy 'air
   Wiv rev'rint 'ands, 'er cheek pressed close to mine,
Me lonely life seemed robbed of all its care;
   I dreams me dreams, an' 'ope begun to shine.
An' when she 'eld 'er lips fer me to kiss ...
Ar, wot's the use? I'm done wiv all o' this!
Wimmin! ... oh, I ain't jealous! Spare me days!
   Me? Jealous uv a knock-kneed coot like that!
'Im! Wiv 'is cute stror 'at an' pretty ways!
   I'd be a mug to squeal or whip the cat.
I'm glad, I am -- glad 'cos I know I'm free!
There ain't no call to tork o' jealousy.
I tells meself I'm well out o' the game;
   Fer look, I mighter married 'er -- an' then....
Ar strike! 'Er voice wus music when my name
   Wus on 'er lips on them glad ev'nin's when
We useter meet. An' then to think she'd go ...
No, I ain't jealous -- but -- Ar, I dunno!
I took a derry on this stror 'at coot
   First time I seen 'im dodgin' round Doreen.
'Im, wiv 'is giddy tie an' Yankee soot,
   Ferever yappin' like a tork-machine
About "The Hoffis" where 'e 'ad a grip....
The way 'e smiled at 'er give me the pip!
She sez I stoushed 'im, when I promised fair
   To chuck it, even to a friendly spar.
Stoushed 'im! I never roughed 'is pretty 'air!
   I only spanked 'im gentle, fer 'is mar.
If I'd 'a' jabbed 'im once, there would 'a' been
An inquest; an' I sez so to Doreen.
I mighter took an' cracked 'im in the street,
   When she was wiv 'im there lars' Fridee night.
But don't I keep me temper when we met?
   An' don't I raise me lid an' act perlite?
I only jerks me elbow in 'is ribs,
To give the gentle office to 'is nibs.
Stoushed 'im! I owns I met 'im on the quiet,
   An' worded 'im about a small affair;
An' when 'e won't put up 'is 'ands to fight --
   ('E sez, "Fer public brawls 'e didn't care") --
I lays 'im 'cross me knee, the mother's joy,
An' smacks 'im 'earty, like a naughty boy.
An' now Doreen she sez I've broke me vow,
   An' mags about this coot's pore, "wounded pride."
An' then, o' course, we 'as a ding-dong row,
   Wiv 'ot an' stormy words on either side.
She sez I done it outer jealousy,
An' so, we parts fer ever -- 'er an' me.
Me jealous? Jealous of that cross-eyed cow!
   I set 'im 'cos I couldn't sight 'is face.
'Is yappin' hair got on me nerves, some'ow.
   I couldn't stand 'im 'angin' round 'er place.
A coot like that! ... But it don't matter much,
She's welkim to 'im if she fancies such.
I swear I'll never track wiv 'er no more;
   I'll never look on 'er side o' the street --
Unless she comes an' begs me pardin for
   Them things she said to me in angry 'eat.
She can't ixpeck fer me to smooge an' crawl.
I ain't at any woman's beck an' call.
Wimmin! I've took a tumble to their game.
   I've got the 'ole bang tribe o' cliners set!
The 'ole world over they are all the same:
   Crook to the core the bunch of 'em -- an' yet
We could 'a' been that 'appy, 'er an' me ...
But, wot's it matter? Ain't I glad I'm free?
A bloke wiv commin-sense 'as got to own
   There's little 'appiness in married life.
The smoogin' game is better left alone,
   Fer tarts is few that makes the ideel wife.
An' them's the sort that loves wivout disguise,
An' thinks the sun shines in their 'usban's' eyes.
But when the birds is matin' in the spring,
   An' when the tender leaves begin to bud,
A feelin' comes -- a dilly sorter thing --
  That seems to sorter swamp 'im like a flood.
An' when the fever 'ere inside 'im burns,
Then freedom ain't the thing fer wot 'e yearns.
But I 'ave chucked it all. An' yet - I own
   I dreams me dreams when soft Spring breezes stirs;
An' often, when I'm moonin' 'ere alone,
   A lispin' maid, wiv 'air an' eyes like 'ers,
'Oo calls me "dad," she climbs upon me knee,
An' yaps 'er pretty baby tork to me.
I sorter we a little 'out, it seems,
   Wiv someone waitin' for me at the gate . . .
Ar, where's the gang in dreamin' barmy dreams,
   I've dreamed before, and nearly woke too late.
Sich 'appiness could never last fer long,
We're strangers -- 'less she owns that she was wrong.
To call 'er back I'll never lift a 'and;
   She'll never 'ear frum me by word or sign.
Per'aps, some day, she'll come to understand
   The mess she's made o' this 'ere life o' mine.
Oh, I ain't much to look at, I admit.
But 'im! The knock-kneed, swivel-eyed misfit? ...

First published in The Bulletin, 12 February 1914; 
and later in
The Songs of a Sentimental Bloke by C.J. Dennis, 1915.

The Bush Fire by C.J. Dennis

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Every advocate of inflation, whether straightforward or camouflaged, is insistent in the assertion that his particular scheme can be controlled and limited.  A similar claim might be made in regard to controlling a raging bush fire, once it has taken hold.

           THE AIM

Let's have a tiny little bush fire.
   It's a cold, cold night tonight.
We are sick of this long session
Of the darkness of depression.
   And a fire would make things bright.

Just a teeny, weeny little bushfire;
   It's easily controlled.
We can sit around and watch it;
If it spreads we'll simply scotch it.
   But we must keep out the cold.

Oh, let's have the smallest little bush fire;
  It's a fair thing in this storm.
There are plenty here to fight it,
So just strike a match and light it. . . .
   Ah! Now we'll all get warm.

            THE AFTERMATH

Hey!  Watch there!  The blooming thing is spreading!
   Don't let it catch those trees!
Now that clump of scrub has caught it!
Well who ever would have thought it?
   There's a change, too, in the breeze.

It was only just a tiny little bushfire,
   But it's leaping, roaring now
And we can't hope to defeat it,
Better grab your traps and beat it
   For we must get out somehow.

It was only just a harmless little bushfire
   But, gosh!  How it did burn!
Now the old homestead is blazing.
Well it's certainly amazing;
   But a man must live and learn.

First published in The Herald, 11 February 1931

Mornin' Magpies by C.J. Dennis

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   There's a dismal fowl and dreary
   Haunts me thro' the night-watch weary,
When the task of livin's wearin', and the world is lookin' blue;
   When my daytime hopes are fallin',
   I can hear the mopoke callin'
I can hear his mournful callin' down the creek the whole night thro'.

   Then I feel my spirit sinkin',
   And I lie a-thinkin' -- thinkin'
Of the good intentions stifled, and the resolutions broke,
   Of the things I've done I shouldn't,
   And the times I said I wouldn't;
Then he strikes the note I'm chantin' with his sepulchral "Mo-poke!"

   When I feel the world has beat me,
   And the black thoughts come to greet me,
And I find myself a-doubtin' if the sun will shine again;
   When the ghosts of old sins haunt me,
   And the fears of hell fires daunt me;
Then the croaking bird of Satan comes to chant his dismal strain.

   Oh, there ain't no joy in livin',
   And there ain't no hope of heaven,
And the world is cold and barren -- hope is dead and spirit broke.
   Call again, you dismal croaker!
   Rub it in, you ghoulish joker!
I am ripe for hellish banter. Call again! Mo-poke! Mo-poke!

   No, there ain't no use in strivin';
   Needs must with the devil drivin';
And there ain't no manhood in me, and there ain't no chance to mend.
   All my chances are behind me,
   And despair has come to find me:
Come to find me -- cowed and broken: come to stay until THE END.
   There's the least faint streak out eastward,
   And I'm catchin' just the least word
Of the bird talk in the gum-tops -- just a sleepy, timid "tweek."
   Hark!  From yonder forest giant,
   Hear it ring out, proud, defiant!
Hear the joyous mornin' magpies carolin' along the creek!

   Hope awake, and spirit lighter!
   Was there ever mornin' brighter?
Where is now the broken blighter who would play a craven's part?
   Who's the one to sigh and rue things?
   I'm a man to dare and do things!
The mornin' magpie's callin' -- carolin' within my heart.

First published in The Critic, 10 February 1904;
and later in 
Backblock Ballads and Other Verses by C.J. Dennis, 1913.

Heat Wave by C.J. Dennis

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Day after day, week after burning week,
   A ruthless sun has sucked the forest dry.
Morn after anxious morn men's glances seek
   The hills, hard-etched against a harder sky.
      Gay blossoms droop and die.
Menace is here, as day draws to its peak,
And, 'mid the listless gums along the creek,
         Hot little breezes sigh.

To-day the threat took shape; the birds were dumb.
   Once more, as sullen, savage morning broke,
The silence told that trembling fear had come,
   To bird and beast and all the forest folk.
      One little wisp of smoke
Far in the south behind the listless gum
Grew to a purple pall.  Like some far drum,
         A distant muttering broke.

Red noon beheld red death come shouting o'er
   These once green slopes -- a leaping, living thing.
Touched by its breath, tree after tall tree wore
   A fiery crown, as tho' to mock a king --
      A ghastly blossoming
Of sudden flame that died and was no more.
And, where a proud old giant towered of yore,
         Stood now a blackened thing.

Fierce raved the conquering flame, as demons rave,
   Earth shook to thunders of the falling slain.
Brambles and bushes, once so gay and brave,
   Shrank back, and writhed, and shrieked and shrieked again
      Like sentient things in pain.
Gone from the forest all that kind Spring gave ...
And now, at laggard last, too late to save,
         Comes soft, ironic rain.

First published in The Herald, 9 February 1933;
and later in
The Singing Garden by C.J. Dennis, 1935; and
Selected Works of C.J. Dennis, 1988.

I'm a Poor Down-Trodden Cockie by C.J. Dennis

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I'm a poor down-trodden cockie, an' I'm gettin' on in years;
   I have held this bit of land since eighty-three;
And in that time I thought I'd seen most all the cares an' fears
   It was possible a farmin' man could see.

I've been eaten out be rabbits, an' a time or two with rust;
   An' the seasons have been mostly out of joint.
I've been worried with the locusts, and the heat, an' wind, an' dust,
   An' the prices have been down to starvin' point.

   An' now me sons have 'listed,
   Fer it couldn't be resisted;
Such a chance to get some shootin' ev'ry day.
   So they're marchin' to the wars,
   For to have a cut at Boers;
Gone to find a better like an' better pay --
                  So they say --
An' the farm can mind itself while they're away.

I've been loaded up with mortgages an' bound by bills o' sale;
   I have had me turn of fire an' flood an' drought.
There's me crops been choked with oats, an' nipped by frost, an' spoilt by hail;
   I've been visited by ev'ry curse about.

But, spite of all me troubles, I have brought up Jack an' Ned,
   So that useful, handy farmin' men they've grown;
But they've chucked away their chances to do soldierin' instead,
   An' they've left their poor old father on his own.

For me sons have gone away now,
   An' mother chucks the hay now,
While Mary does the ploughin' 'sted of Jack;
   An' Sissy lumps the wheat,
   An' father kills the meat,
For me sons have gone to strike a burger's track --
                  Ned an' Jack --
An' the farm can go to h__l till they come back.

First published in The Critic, 8 February 1902

Mallee Wife by C.J. Dennis

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"Nice for a holiday," said a Mallee woman recently, after inspecting the hustle and show of the city for the first time.  "But to live in," she continued, "give us the Mallee."

Home's best (she said), and the tale
Of the hungering soil and the flail
   Of the sun and the shuddering threat
   Of the heat, and more heat yet;
Of more than a woman can stand,
Almost, in that merciless land,
   With its lifelong, lingering strife,
   For the Mallee mother and wife.

Oh, I've seen all the spurious zest
Of the city, and yet, home's best;
   The sweep of the plain's vast verge,
   And the calling of Life and the urge
To struggle and hope in vain,
Then struggle and hope again --
   That, and the faith that clings
   For the solving of human things.

Home's best (she said).  I have seen
The glamor of cities, the sheen
   Of the silken garments rare --
   And they spell for me despair;
Despair for the woman who cleaves
To luxury's yellowing leaves --
   Despair for the weakening race,
   Who, faltering, fall from grace.

Life, as I know it is stern;
And the seed of my seed must learn
   That nothing has life to give
   Save a man must labor to live --
Struggle and ache and toil
For the gifts that come of the soil,
   Since every treasure of worth
   Comes of the hard, kind earth.

Home's best (she said), and the dust
And the finger of God out-thrust,
   Saying, "You toil, or die
   Under this pitiless sky."
Even as long since said
To the Parents of Man long dead;
   Even as 'twas decreed
   In Man's first, passionate need.

Home's best.  For what do they know,
Who cleave to glitter and show,
   And strive in a strange excess
   Of pleasure for happiness?
What do they know of worth
Of the secret lure of the earth,
   And the peace, and the exquisite ache of the battle --
   For my man's sake?

First published in The Herald, 7 February 1935

Consummation by C.J. Dennis

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In rebutting a charge by the Trade Union Salaried 0fficials' Association, that the Labor political machine had failed to achieve the ideals of its founders, the A.L.P. haughtily replies that the machine has been phenomenally successful in achieving the purpose designed, namely, the election of Labor men to Parliament.

They may be duds or they may be drones,
   Or legislators heaven-sent;
But the A.L.P. for all atones
   When it gets them into Parliament.
Tho' they talk sheer drivel once they're there,
Our job is done. Why should we care?

They may be mild or they may be reds, 
   Or "has-beens" who have missed the bus.
But the simple job of counting heads
   Is all that matters much to us.
And the job we do with wondrous ease
Is the mass production of M.P's.

So, why blame us in peevish gloom,
   And charge us with this grievous sin?
They may involve the land in doom;
   But our job's done; we've got 'em in.
As from the pod come peas all green
We turn 'em out with our machine.

They may be robots, built with care,
   Or silly sheep, or crazy goats;
But, once they're tied and branded there,
   They art no longer men, but votes.
Thus, we our glorious aim achieve,
And triumph, tho' the nation grieve.

First published in The Herald, 6 February 1931

The Silver City: A Ballad of the Barrier by C.J. Dennis

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Come sing us a song of the city of sand,
   Silver, sin, and sixpenny ale;
Dumped in a desolate, drought-struck land,
   Where the dead-beat pitches his pitiful tale.

Oh, the miners work and the miners sweat;
And doubly earn the wage they get;
   On top and underground.
They toil and moil night shift and day;
And gaily they disburse their pay,
   As pay day comes around.
         Oh, pay day
         Is a gay day,
Tho' 'tis slow in comin' round.

And Bung, he smiles a well-fed smile;
And rakes the silver in the while;
   And waxes rich and stout.
The miner's stoutest friend is he,
So long's the miner's hand is free,
   And miner's cash holds out.
         He's a spender,
         On a bender,
While his hard-earned cash holds out.

The wily Book he hooks his bet,
He toils not, neither does he sweat,
   Upon the grinding mine;
But lives upon the working clods;
And lays the very shortest odds;
   And wears an air benign.
         To the miner,
         None benigner;
And it pays to look benign.

The careful Cop grabs miners tight
By scores, on ev'ry "big-pay night."
   A chance hell never lose.
The blessed Beak he fines a fine;
Then back the toilers go to mine;
   And earn another booze.
         Beak nor copper
         Put a stopper
On that yearning for a booze.

Morn, night, and noon the dust blows down
Thro' ev'ry quarter of the town --
   Round humpy, pub, and store.
It paints the face of all things brown;
And men drink pints to wash it down;
   To keep it there drink more.
         When it's dusty
         Men get thusty;
And can always do one more.

And Satan sits on a distant dump;
For in his line there's nary slump.
   He dreams sweet dreams of home;
As, watching with reflective eye;
He heaves a weary home-sick sigh;
   And vows no more to roam.
         To the heedless
         Temptin's needless;
And he might have waited home.

Then this is a lay of the land of lust,
   And the independent Ikey Mo.;
Of Greed, and Gamble, Drink, and Dust,
   And the man who slaves for Grab and Co.

First published in The Gadfly, 5 February 1908

The Gigolenes by C.J. Dennis

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Twenty Brisbane girls, known as gigolettes, have been enrolled as foundation members of the Hostesses' Club. For a modest fee they provide entertainment and pleasant companionship for lonely men.

Long since I had this story true
      From a jolly sailor-man I knew.
   He'd a whiskered face and truthful eyes;
   And I know he wouldn't tell me lies.

When a ship was wrecked on a tropic isle,
      From seaways distant many a mile,
   Two souls were saved from the fierce sea's fret --
   A gigolo and a gigolette.

A lonely missionary there
      In matrimony joined the pair,
   Who reared, amid these sylvan scenes,
   A family of gigolenes.

When half a score of years had fled --
      Or maybe more (my sailor said),
   He came there in his own good ship.
   ("Blowed off 'er course that blinking' trip").

And there, upon the sandy shore,
      Was the strangest sight (my sailor swore)
   Man ever seen, so strike him pink
   ("And me not 'ad a drop o' drink").

For standing there in rows an' rows,
      All tricked out in the queerest clo'es,
   Amid the palms and tropic scenes,
   Were scores of little gigolenes.

And every little gigogirl,
      With perm'nent waves and hair a-curl,
   In Paris models braved the gales,
   Plucked brows and painted finger-nails.

And every little gigolad
      In faultless evening clothes was clad,
   Ties of the very latest wear,
   And dancing pumps and marcelled hair.

They bowed and smirked and said, "Bai Jove!
      Thrice welcome to our tropic grove,
   May we escort you, sailors gay,
   To a supper dance, with cabaret?"

This tale the sailors told to me
      As an instance of heredity.
   And I know he scorned to tell a lie;
   For truth beamed out of his sea blue eye.

First published in The Herald, 4 February 1937;
and later in
The Queenslander, 18 February 1937.

Bush Memorial by C.J. Dennis

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It has been disclosed that one of the last requests of the late Mr "Jack" Barnes, senator-elect for Victoria and for many years president of the A.W.U., was that, for his only memorial, friends should plant beside his resting place an Australian wattle-tree.

He sought no glory in posthumous fame,
This well-loved leader with his rugged frame.
   "When I am finished," I can hear him say,
   "Then put what's left of this poor flesh away
Here on Australian soil, and over me
For my memorial plant a wattle-tree.
   Old mates will tend that living monument;
   And, if it thrive, then shall I be content."

I knew him in the olden, battling days,
Saw him greet friends from out the lonely ways,
   Bush workers, tall, tanned shearers, old-time mates
   Content to leave to him their earthly fates.
I saw them take his hand, and in that grip
Lay all of trust and hearty fellowship;
   For well they knew, as only plain men can,
   The measure of a loyal, earnest man.

The best of England brought to this new land
Was in the honest grasp of the great hand
   Of a straight simple man whose forthright ways
   Inspired the trust of comrades all his days.
I saw him 'mid opponents whose whole life
Was planned against him in the social strife;
   But, one by one, they fell to swapping yarns
   And flawless friendship with big, bluff "Jack" Barnes.

Now all he asks, to mark his resting place
Is one glad evergreen of simple grace
   And golden bloom and string, straight, rugged stem
   Where bush birds come to chant his requiem.
No worthier memorial could be planned
Than such bright symbol of his well-loved land
   For this staunch mate whose frank simplicity
   Asks but the boon of one green wattle-tree.

First published in The Herald, 3 February 1938

Week-Ends by C.J. Dennis

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I don't know what's come to the summer
   In these dull and decadent years;
But a fellow grows glummer and glummer
   As promise of autumn appears;
For there's not been a sign of a week-end of shine,
   Or the sun on the sea all aglimmer.
And, as the weeks pass, wet and windy, alas,
   Thin hope grows yet slimmer and slimmer.

Oh, the sad days, the mad days,
   Of rain and wind and mud!
The week speeds by with the sun on high
   To come a sickening thud.
When the slippery slosh of the gum golosh
   On the soaked and sodden ground
Thro' the country lane sounds once again
   When the week-end comes around.

When I go to the bush for a week-end
  From a city aglow in the sun,
My holiday comes to a bleak end
   Ere half a day's length has been run.
And I gaze thro' the pane at the splattering rain,
   Forlorn thro' a profitless Sunday,
And come back to town with the sun pouring down
   To smile on my labors on Monday.

Oh, the weekends, when pique ends
   In grim and gaunt despair!
Hope wakes anew as all week thro'
   The glass is pointing fair,
And fine and warm: but a lurking storm
   Behind the high hills grows
To spread dismay each Saturday --
   And another week-end goes.

First published in The Herald, 2 February 1931

Horace, Maurice and Doris by C.J. Dennis

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Horace is a highbrow; he owns to this himself;
   He shrinks from notoriety; he will not paint for pelf.
For Horace is an Artist. who lives for art alone --
   High Art, nouveau Art and technique all his own:
He seeks intellectuals who think and think and think,
   Upheld by Russian cigarettes and alcoholic ink,
And patronise Praxetiles, and scorn the paint and pose
   Of Mister Michelangelo, with fingers to the nose.

But Horace paints a picture, when his inspiration comes,
   Of cubes and cones and cart-wheels and dislocated thumbs,
And seven isolated eyes, a complex and a prawn;
   All cleanly meant to represent The Tragedy of Dawn.
Or something slightly similar, but Horace knows, he knows,
   AND, whatever you may think of it, 'tis not what you suppose.
Then he paints a dozen like it, and hangs 'em upside down,
   And holds an exhibition in a quiet part of town.

Half a dozen dilettanti and a girl with soulful eyes,
   They toddle to the private view and register surprise,
And gasp in admiration of this Art without a flaw,
   "My Gahd! But what a tragedy if he should learn to draw!"
   Alas for poor Valasquez and those poor old moronic must;
They'd nothing of his nuances nor half hid glorious guts.
   Then Horace packs his paintings up, and so they fade away
In charge of two crude, beery blokes in one prosaic dray.

Hail! Hail to Horace! he is justified on earth,
   For his urge is self-expression, and fulfilment came with birth.
For Horace paints for Horace in an individual way,
   And if Horace pleases Horace, well what more have you to say?


Maurice is a Modern, and he reproduces Life
   In his ultra-neo-dramas of sublime sub-conscious strife;
For the inspiration seized him on the day that her awoke
   To the psycho-something soul-storms that go on inside a bloke.
For Maurice is a Dramatist -- but, ah! not for the stage;
   For crude commercial caterers wake in him a rage;
And triflers of the Ibsen type call down his cold contempt,
   But he took and wrote an Epic at the very first attempt.

It is not at all like Shakespeare, and far ahead of Shaw --
   For one is just a carpenter, and one naively raw --
But it utters things intensely to a comprehending mind,
   Like Maurice's, if, mayhap, there's another of the kind.
But common coves like you and I, of course, can't understand,
   For Maurice writes of Hidden Things unknown on sea or land.
Old Schiller never thought of them, Goethe nor Sophocles.
   How could they have the Modern Mind who lived in those far days?

Half a dozen dilettanti and a girl with gushing ways,
   They sit up straight upon their spines and sample Maurie's plays.
Gozzi's thirty-six dramatic situations earn his scorn;
   For they went right out of fashion on the day that he was born;
He invented fifty new ones in an hour's intensive thought;
   But, no, you cannot buy them, for his brains cannot be bought.

"Hail! Hail to Maurice!" all the dilettanti shout,
   And the gushing girl gets giddy, so they have to take her out.
You and I will never, never hear his dramas. Have no fears;
   But just you watch prosperity in seven hundred years!

3. - DORIS

Doris is a decadent. She's rather proud of that;
   But she's up among the ultras, and she won't put on a hat.
Who hear her speak exclaim "Unique!" She wears a sloppy smock,
   An Eton crop and sandals, and she drinks chartreuse and hock,
Mixed, just like her metaphors, but Doris doesn't care;
   She yearns for self-expression, and you ought to hear her swear.
She potters round with poetry; oh, not the sloppy stuff
   That Mr. Keats or Coleridge wrote; that isn't tough enough.

Free thought! Free love! Free, free verse!
   Dear Doris "wants to be herself," and doesn't care a curse.
Why should she waste long, weary hours to study most intense
   To learn that "cat" will rhyme with "bat," or gain a metric sense?
Mere rhyme and rhythm giver her pains, and Shelley's turgid mud,
   Or the mawkishness of Masefield, makes the little dear spit blood.
What she wants is Life, Love, Psychic Stuff and Strength,
   So she writes a lot of Splendid Things in lines of varied length.

Half a dozen dilettanti and a youth with varnished hair,
   They listen to her read her "works" with quite a cultured air.
Tho' rhythm rules the universe, she's cast it from her life
   And renders Art in candid terms of syncopated strife.
The publishers won't print her stuff to bring her lasting fame,
   And why? It's plain. Because the craven huxters are not game!
But all the dilettante rave, and one and all declare
   She'll swamp her Ego if she weds the youth with varnished hair.

Hail! Hail to Doris! But youth is fleeting, dear,
   And you'll probably be passee if you wait another year.
But in case I failed to mention it, a verse or so ago,
   It was Doris, vital Doris, who discovered sex, you know.

Oh, Horace, Maurice, Doris, when they're well beneath the sod,
   Their kind will bend the knee to what queer futuristic god?
But the world will go on laughing, as the old world ever laughed
   At those who yearn to ply the art and scorn to learn the craft.

First published in Stead's Review, 1 February 1930

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