March 2013 Archives

The Sheet Anchor by C.J. Dennis

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What Mr. Tilley Brown said in Indi, a day or two ago, most of his Fusionist friends are saying everywhere.  They distrust the Federation, he says, and "look upon the State Parliaments, with their Legislative Councils, as the sheet anchor of the people's safety."  In that one sentence the whole murder is out.  The State Rights party distrusts the Federation, it trusts the States, and in this financial agreement it is selling the Federation to the States. - Melbourne AGE.

O, ye thoughtful fellow-voters, have ye ever stayed to ponder
On the thing that stops us drifting to the Doom that waits us yonder -
Stops us whirling fast and faster
To political disaster?
Have ye thuswise contemplated?
Have ye wisely cogitated
On the danger-light ahead
Shining out a warning red;
On the hand that holds us back
When we'd tread a downward track?
(Metaphor?  Though we abuse it,
Such a subject must excuse it.)
Do ye know what saves us from the Doom that's lurking on the mat?
'Tis the trusty, old Sheet Anchor of Reactionary Fat.

O, great Legislative Councils!  Think, my brothers, how they've served us.
Yea, behold the fate from which the Noble Landlord has preserved us.
While we lay abed at night
He has carried on the fight.
When the House is sitting late,
There he watches o'er our fate.
While the wild-eyed Labor man
Weaves some visionary plan.
Wrapt in contemplation deep
He sits in the House -- asleep,
With his hands across his middle;
Wakes to murmur "Fiddle-diddle!"
Then drops off again to snooze
While wild Democrats abuse;
And they talk and howl and storm,
Prate of "Justice" and "Reform."
Spite of Socialistic roars,
Still he sleeps and gently snores.
Then, when bells ring for division, see him rouse and proudly go
O'er the floor, brave old Sheet Anchor, there to voice a loud, mad "No!"

Can ye even faintly picture what our fate would be, my brothers,
But for that most Honorable Mister Toryphat and others --
He and others of his kidney
(Also liver), up at Sydney,
Ad'laide, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth?
They, the salt of all the earth,
Have preserved us from the curse
Of too much content, or worse;
Saved our great estates from bursting,
And defied the crowd that's thirsting
Ev'ry system to upend,
And the Social Fabric rend.
Noble Anchors, it is they
Who hold off that dreadful day
When the Socialistic band
Ravages our native land,
And with wild, exultant cries
Scotches Private Enterprise.
They, the saviors of the race,
Keep the worker in his place,
Ever teaching him that he
Is a Briton, brave and free.
Free to work and free to live
On whate'er his masters give;
It is they, and they alone,
Save the Hempire and the throne.
Think of how they flap the flags
When our sense of duty sags.
Hear them, as they voice aloud
Views of our "Right Thinking" crowd,
And uphold, with holy glee,
Sacred rights of Propertee.
Brave Sheet Anchors!  Holding ever
When the straining ship would sever
Chain and cable, and drift out
To the rocks we're told about -
Horrid rocks that loom ahead,
Filling "Proper Folk" with dread.
Be ye humble, O, my brothers, for the honor of the race,
And salute the Great Sheet Anchor that has kept us in our place.

First published in The Bulletin, 31 March 1910

The Call by C.J. Dennis

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Don't yeh hear them callin, to yeh, callin' to yeh, lad?
   Where the skyline's smeared an' grey with cannon smoke,
There's a crowd o' chaps that knew yeh;
Don't yeh hear them callin' to yeh -
   Mates o' yours with 'oom yeh used to drink an' joke?
An' they trust yeh, lad; they trust yeh for the friendship that yeh had.
   Don't yeh hear them callin',
Callin' to yeh, lad?

Can't you see them beck'nin' to yeh, beck'nin' to yeh, boy?
   There's a pal o' yours that fell at Sari Bair;
An' yeh cheered 'im when yeh parted,
An' yeh felt a bit down-'earted;
   Now 'e's passed the game to you, to do yer share.
Oh, the job is reel dead earnest, an' a gun is not a toy;
   Can't yeh see them beck'nin',
Beck'nin' to yeh, boy?

Don't yeh know they're waitin' for yeh, waitin' for yeh, mate,
   Hopin', prayin' that their countrymen are game;
All that brave an' battlin' crowd of
Men that in yer 'eart yer proud of --
   Mates o' yours that 'elped to make yer country's name?
Do yeh mean to dodge the trouble till the foe is at the gate?
   "Oh, it's weary waitin',
Waitin' for yeh, mate!"

Can't yeh see them lookin' at yeh, lookin' at yeh, lad --
   Women-folk of mates o' yours that fought and fell?
Are yeh grumblin' an' protestin'?
Will yer mateship stand the testin'?
   Have yeh read the message that those wide eyes tell?
Have yeh heard grey mothers weepin'?  Have yeh seen young wives grow sad?....
   Won't yeh have them prayin',
Prayin' for yeh, lad?

As by "In Hospital. GINGER MICK"

First published in The Bulletin, 30 March 1916

Between Ourselves by C.J. Dennis

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No; we are not going to the Coronation.
   Quite ridiculous! We wouldn't, anyhow.
As dear Arthur lately said,
He would rather be found dead
   Than among the crowd infesting London now --
All the hoi polloi to see the Coronation --
   Trippers! Don't count us with them! Oh, dear no!
Every Tom, Dick, Harry there
Who contrives to raise his fare.
   I'm surprised that you should dream that we might go.

But, between ourselves, my dear, I'm simply fuming.
   I had counted so on going all along.
But, just at the very time
We need money -- It's a crime --
   Arthur's business matters have to go all wrong.
And dear Arthur says he couldn't raise a copper
   For a frankfurt if they asked cash on the spot.
So exclusiveness we hug,
And we raise our brows and shrug
   As we murmur, "Coronation?  Rather NOT!"

Our Best People do not rush the Coronation --
   I mean to say, the socially select.
One can't be too careful, dear.
We may do the trip next year
   When one really knows, you know what, to expect.
But London at the time of the Coronation?
   Oh, utterly impossible. So low!
It's a shame that our dear king
Has to suffer such a thing.
   I can't think how you could think we meant to go.

But, between ourselves, I'm mad with disappointment.
   I felt so confident we should be there
To improve our social rank.
But, dear Arthur says the bank
   Would not listen when he tried to raise the fare.
So, of necessity, we make a virtue,
   And seek the final refuge of the snob;
And with most superior poses
We look primly down our noses
   As we murmur, "Coronation! With THAT mob?"

First published in The Herald, 29 March 1937

The End of Youth by C.J. Dennis

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"Too much has been spent on pictures, parties, and having a good time.  Such spending is insane."  Mr. A.L. Gibson, of the State Savings Bank, on Australia's economic position.

Ah, well, it was a good time while it lasted;
   But youth and hectic pleasures never last.
'Tis tragedy when manhood's years are blasted
   By stretching youthful folly, with youth past.
To youth, or nation, come the years of testing
   The vital years that shall produce the sage
Or leave the fool to fall still protesting
   That folly graces age.

Youth's vain extravagance gains toleration
   Since youth was ever just a little mad;
But woe must come at last to man or nation
   When weak maturity would ape the lad.
Here is not time for grief or vain regretting,
   For "if" or "might have been," for futile sighs.
Life holds great things for them who, youth forgetting,
   Look forward with clear eyes.

First published in The Herald, 28 March 1930

My Poor Relation by C. J. Dennis

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I have a poor relation, but
   He never troubles me.
He's bowed with care; he wears an air
   Of abject misery.
Yet, I am happy to relate,
He never is importunate.

I meet him often in the street;
   Sometimes he speaks to me;
I know, indeed, he is in need -
   That's very plain to see.
Yet, tho' he is in want, I own
He never asks me for a loan. 

His cuffs are frayed around the edge;
   His hat's a sight to see;
His coat is torn; his pants are worn,
   And baggy at the knee.
Yet, tho' his need is manifest,
He never brings me one request.

I know he often wants for food,
   His tradesmen are unpaid,
His life's accurst with one large thirst
   That never is allayed.
Yet, ne'er by hint or sign does he
Suggest that it is "up to me." 

Is he too proud?  Well, truly, no;
   To beg he's not ashamed.
Yet, his neglect in that respect,
   Is scarcely to be blamed.
In fact he knows full well, you see,
That I am just as poor as he.

First published in The Gadfly, 27 March 1907;
and later in
Backblock Ballads and Other Verses by C.J. Dennis, 1913; and
Backblock Ballads and Later Verses by C.J. Dennis, 1918.

The Sentimental Bloke and the Pilot Cove by C.J. Dennis

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"Young friend," 'e sez ... Young friend! Well, spare me days!
   Yeh'd think I wus 'is own white 'eaded boy --
The queer ole finger, wiv 'is gentle ways.
   "Young friend," 'e sez, "I wish't yeh bofe great joy."
   The langwidge that them parson blokes imploy
Fair tickles me.  The way 'e bleats an' brays!
      "Young friend," 'e sez.
"Young friend," 'e sez ... Yes, my Doreen an' me
   We're gettin' hitched, all straight an' on the square.
Fer when I torks about the registry --
   O 'oly wars! yeh should 'a' seen 'er stare;
   "The registry?" she sez, "I wouldn't dare!
I know a clergyman we'll go an' see ... 
      "Young friend," 'e sez.
"Young friend," 'e sez. An' then 'e chats me straight;
   An' spouts o' death, an' 'ell, an' mortal sins.
"You reckernize this step you contemplate
   Is grave?" 'e sez. An' I jist stan's an' grins;
   Fer when I chips, Doreen she kicks me shins.
"Yes, very 'oly is the married state,
      Young friend," 'e sez.
"Young friend," 'e sez.  An' then 'e mags a lot
   Of jooty an' the spitichuil life,
To which I didn't tumble worth a jot.
   "I'm sure," 'e sez, "as you will 'ave a wife
   'Oo'll 'ave a noble infl'ince on yer life.
'Oo is 'er gardjin?" I sez, "'Er ole pot" --
      "Young friend!" 'e sez.
"Young friend," 'e sez.  "Oh fix yet thorts on 'igh!
   Orl marridges is registered up there!
An' you must cleave unto 'er till yeh die,
   An' cherish 'er wiv love an' tender care.
   E'en in the days when she's no longer fair
She's still yet wife," 'e sez.  "Ribuck," sez I.
      "Young friend!" 'e sez.
"Young friend," 'e sez -- I sez, "Now, listen 'ere:
   This isn't one o' them impetchus leaps.
There ain't no tart a 'undreth part so dear
   As 'er.  She 'as me 'eart and' soul fer keeps!"
   An' then Doreen, she turns away an' weeps;
But 'e jist smiles.  "Yer deep in love, 'tis clear
      Young friend," 'e sez.
"Young friend," 'e sez -- an tears wus in 'is eyes --
   "Strive 'ard.  Fer many, many years I've lived.
An' I kin but recall wiv tears an' sighs
   The lives of some I've seen in marridge gived."
   "My Gawd!" I sez.  "I'll strive as no bloke strivved!
Fer don't I know I've copped a bonzer prize?"
      "Young friend," 'e sez.
"Young friend," 'e sez. An' in 'is gentle way,
   'E pats the shoulder of my dear Doreen.
"I've solem'ized grand weddin's in me day,
   But 'ere's the sweetest little maid I've seen.
   She's fit fer any man, to be 'is queen;
An' you're more forchinit than you kin say,
      Young friend," 'e sez.
"Young friend," 'e sez ... A queer ole pilot bloke,
   Wiv silver 'air.  The gentle way 'e dealt
Wiv 'er, the soft an' kindly way 'e spoke
   To my Doreen, 'ud make a starcher melt.
   I tell yer, square an' all, I sorter felt
A kiddish kind o' feelin' like I'd choke ...
      "Young friend," 'e sez.
"Young friend," 'e sez, "you two on Choosday week,
   Is to be joined in very 'oly bonds.
To break them vows I 'opes yeh'll never seek;
   Fer I could curse them 'usbands 'oo absconds!"
   "I'll love 'er till I snuff it," I responds.
"Ah, that's the way I likes to 'ear yeh speak,
      Young friend," 'e sez.
"Young friend," 'e sez -- and then me 'and 'e grips --
   "I wish't yeh luck, you an' yer lady fair.
Sweet maid." An' sof'ly wiv 'is finger-tips,
   'E takes and' strokes me cliner's shinin' 'air.
   An' when I seen 'er standin' blushin' there,
I turns an' kisses 'er, fair on the lips.
      "Young friend!" 'e sez.  

First published in The Bulletin, 26 March 1914;
and later in
The Songs of a Sentimental Bloke by C.J. Dennis, 1914.

Note: this poem is also known by the title Pilot Cove.

A War March by C.J. Dennis

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Oscar Straus, the well-known Austrian composer, has been commissioned by the Kaiser to write a new imperial march inspired by the war.  It is to begin with a funeral note, and to end with one of triumph.  Straus has been promised the Order of the Red Eagle on completion of the work. - Cable.

Ow! Wow! Wow!
(Funeral note sustained by flutes, suggesting a long-bodied, short-legged, large-headed dog in anguish.)
Ow! Wow!
We are the people who make the row;
We are the nation that skites and brags;
Marching the goose-step; waving the flags.
We talk too much, and we lose our block,
We scheme and spy; we plot, we lie
To blow the whole world into the sky.
The Kaiser spouts, and the Junkers rave.
Hoch! for the Superman, strong and brave!
But what is the use of a Superman,
With "frightfulness" for his darling plan,
If he has no cities to burn and loot,
No women to ravish, no babies to shoot?
Shall treaties bind us against our wish?
Rip! Swish!
(Violins: Tearing noise as of scraps of paper being destroyed.)
Now at last shall the whole world learn
Of the cult of the Teuton, strong and stern!
Ho! for the Superman running amok!

Um - ta, um - ta, tiddeley - um - tum!
(Uncertain note, as of a German band that has been told to move on.)
Pompety - pom pom - tiddeley - um - tum!
Way for the "blond beasts!" Here they come!
While big guns thunder the nations' doom.
Room! Room!
Room for the German! A place in the sun!
He'll play the Devil now he's begun!
(Drums: Noise of an exploding cathedral.)
Ho, the gaping wound and the bleeding stump!
Watch the little ones how they jump!
While we shoot and stab, and plunder and grab,
Spurred by a Kaiser's arrogant gab;
While the Glorious Junker
Grows drunker,
And drunker, on blood.
Blood! Blood!
Sword or cannon or fire or flood,
Never shall stay our conquering feet -
On through city and village street -
Feet that savagely, madly tread,
Over the living; over the dead.
Shoot! Shoot!
Burn and pillage and slay and loot!
To the sound of our guns shall the whole world rock!

(Flutes, piccolos and trombones render, respectively, the cries of children, shrieks of women and groans of tortured non-combatants.  Violins wail mournfully.)
Shrieks! Shrieks!
Hoch der Kaiser! The whole land reeks
With tales of torture and savage rape,
Of fiends and satyrs in human shape;
Fat hands grabbing where white flesh shrinks;
And murdered age to the red earth sinks.
Kill! Kill!
Now at length shall we gorge our fill,
And all shall bow to the German will!
By the maids we ravish our lust to slake,
By the smoking ruin that mark our wake,
By the blood we spill,and the hearths we blast....
This is The Day! The Day at last!....
Praise to God! On our bended knees,
We render thanks for boons like these.
For God and the Kaiser our cohorts flock!
(Scrap of German hymn-tune interpolated here.)

Ach! Donnerwelter! Himmel! Ach!
(Medley of indescribable noises rendered by full orchestra, symbolic, partly of a German band that is being severely kicked by an irate householder, and partly innumerable blutwursts suddenly arrested in mid-career.)
Ach! Ach!
"Dot vos not fair to shoot in der back!"
Who is this that as dared to face
Our hosts unconquered, and, pace by pace,
Presses us backward, and ever back.
Over the blasted, desolate rack?
What of the plans we planned so well?
We looked for victory - this is Hell!
Hold! Hold!
Mark the heaps of our comrades bold;
Look on the corpses of Culture's sons -
Martyrs slain by a savage's guns.
Respite now, in this feast of death!
Time! An Armistice! Give us breath!
Nay? Then we cry to the whole wide world,
Shame on our foe for a plea denied!
Savages! Brutes! Barbarians all!
Here shall we fight with our backs to the wall!

Boom! Boom! Boom!
(Ten more thousands gone to their doom.)
(Bass drums only, for 679,358 bars, symbolising a prolonged artillery war. Into this there breaks suddenly the frenzied howl of the long-bodied, short-legged, large-headed dog already mentioned.)
Hate! Hate! Hate! Hate!
We spit on the British here at our gate!
Foe of humanity! Curst of the world!
On him alone let our hate be hurled!
For his smiling sneers at the Junkers' creed,
For his cold rebuke to a Kaiser's greed;
For his calm disdain of our noble race,
We fling our spite in his scornful face.
Under the sea and high in the air,
Death shall seek for him everywhere;
The lurking death in the submarine,
The swooping death in the air machine,
Alone of them all he had sealed our fate!
Hate! Hate! HATE!
(Prolonged discord, followed by deep, mysterious silence - imposed by censor - for 793 bars.)

(Deep staccato note as of a bursting blutwurst.)
Ow! Wow! Wow!
(Dying howl of a stricken hound.  Silence again for an indefinite number of bars.  Then, in countless bars, saloons, tea-shops, coffee-houses, cafes and restaurants throughout the British Empire and most of Europe, a sudden, loud, triumphant chorus, toned by a note of relief, and dominated by "The Marseillaise" and "Tipperary."  A somewhat uncertain but distinctly nasal cheer is heard from the direction of New York.)

Peace! Peace!
At last the sounds of the big guns cease;
At last the beast is chased to his lair,
And we breathe again of the good, clean air.
The gates have fallen! The Allies win!
And the boys are marching about Berlin!
The Kaiser's down; and the story goes
A British Tommy has pulled his nose.
The German eagle has got the pip:
Vive les Allies!...Hooroo!...Hip! Hip!...

[Note to the Kaiser: As the author has a prejudice against Red Eagles, a plain, 
brown Kookaburra would be more acceptable - Den.]

First published in The Bulletin, 25 March 1915

Puristic Protestationing by C.J. Dennis

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Amongst the unwieldy collection of spurious words and phrases, coined or perverted in fevered haste to meet modern chaotic conditions -- as, for example, "reconditioning," "cavalcade," "finalizing," "implementing" -- now springs the masterpiece.  The latest term, used to describe the class of strike, now rapidly spreading in America and elsewhere, is "sit-downing."

Out of the well of English undefiled
   Few phrases come to match the heavy frowning
With which grave scholars long since have reviled
   The modern habit of linguistic clowning.
In vain do they depreciate the mood
   For adjectival "verbing," verbal "nouning";
And now, the worst of all the ugly brood,
   Comes this uncouth monstrosity "Sit-downing."

Had we a worthy Minister of Art,
   I think I should be ceaselessly partitioning
For the stern banning of each flash upstart,
   Like that most awful bounder "air-conditioning":
An apt example of these hustling days
   Of crude circumlocutory "expressioning":
When all they mean by that unlovely phrase
   Is merely ventilating or, say, freshening.

They will "face up to it," who merely face
   A situation, and, in ways surprising,
When they would end a matter then, in place
   Of ending it, they speak of "finalizing."
It may sound erudite to minds that squint --
   This cumbersome and clumsy verbal sinning
That so offends old-fashioned eyes in print
   And pester ancient ears when "listen-inning."

Then let us not, sit-downing to this curse,
   At poisoned pools and wells impure go supping;
But, ere we be afflicted by far worse,
   Let us be resolute in our stand-upping
To this base treason. Let us strike a blow
   At those who in such tangled fields go rovering.
Else shall we see King's-Englishing brought low
   As the last bulwark trembles to fall-overing.

First published in The Herald, 24 March 1937

To the Boys Who Took the Count by C.J. Dennis

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See, I'm writin' to Mick as a bloke to a bloke --
   To a cobber o' mine at the front --
An' I'm gittin' full up uv the mullock they poke
   At the cove that is bearin' the brunt.
Fer 'e mus'n't do this an' 'e shouldn't do that,
   An' 'e's crook if 'e looks a bit shick,
An' 'e's gittin' too uppish, an' don't touch 'is 'at --
   But 'ere's 'ow I puts it to Mick.

Now it's dickin to style if yer playin' the game.
   If it's marbles, or shinty, or war;
I've seen 'em lob 'ome 'ere, the 'alt an' the lame,
   That wus fine 'efty fellers before.
They wus toughs, they wus crooks, they wus ev'ry bad thing,
   But they mixed it as gentlemen should.
So 'ere's to the coot wiv 'is eye in a sling,
   An' a smile in the one that is good.

It wus playin' the game in the oval an' ring --
   An' playin' fer orl it wus worth --
That give 'em the knack uv a punch wiv a sting
   When they fought fer the land uv their birth.
They wus pebs, they wus narks, they wus reel naughty boys,
   But they didn't need no second 'int,
So ere's to the bloke wiv 'is swearin' an' noise,
   An' 'is foot in a fathom uv lint.

There wus fellers I knoo in the soft days uv peace;
   An' I didn't know much to their good;
An' they give more 'ard graft to the overworked p'leece
   Than a reel puffick gentleman should.
They wus lookin' fer lash long before it wus doo;
   When it come, they wus into it, straight.
So 'ere's to the bloke wiv 'is shoulder shot thro'
   'Oo is cursin' the days 'e's to wait.

Ar, dickin to swank! when it comes to a mill,
   It's the bloke wiv a punch 'oo's yer friend.
An' a coarse, narsty man wiv the moniker Bill
   Earns the thanks uv the crowd in the end.
(An' when I sez "earns" I am 'opin' no stint
   Will be charged agin us by-an'-bye.)
So 'ere's to the boy wiv 'is arm in a splint
   An' a "don't-care-a-dam" in 'is eye.

'Cos the fightin's too far fer to give us a grip
   Of the 'ell full uv slaughter an' noise,
There's a breed that gives me the particular pip
   Be the way that they torks uv the boys.
O, they're coarse, an' they're rude, an' it's awful to liv
   Wiv their cursin' an' shoutin' an' fuss.
Dam it!  'Ere's to the bloke wiv the bad-lookin' chiv
   That 'e poked inter trouble fer us!

O, it's dead agin etikit, dead agin style
   Fer to swear an' to swagger an' skite;
But a battle ain't won wiv a drorin'-room smile,
   An' yeh 'ave to be rude in a fight.
An' it's bein' reel rude to enemy blokes
   That'll earn yeh that 'ero-like touch,
So 'ere's to the boy wiv 'is curses an' jokes
   'Oo is 'oppin' about on a crutch.

Now, the Turk is a gent, an' they greets 'im as such,
   An' they gives doo respect to 'is Nibs;
But 'e never 'eld orf to apolergise much
   When 'e slid 'is cold steel in their ribs.
An' our boys won the name that they give 'em of late
   'Cos they fought like a jugful uv crooks,
So 'ere's to the bloke wiv the swaggerin' gait
   An' a bullet mark spoilin' 'is looks.

So, the bloke wiv the scoff, an' the bloke wiv the sneer,
   An' the coot wiv the sensitive soul,
'E 'as got to sit back, an' jist change 'is idear
   Uv the stuffin' that makes a man whole.
Fer the polish an' gilt that's a win wiv the skirts
   It wears thin wiv the friction uv war.
So 'ere's to the cove 'oo is nursin' 'is 'urts
   Wiv an oath in the set uv 'is jor.

When yeh've stripped a cove clean an' got down to the buff
   Yeh come to the meat that's the man.
If yeh want to find grit an' sich similar  stuff,
   Yeh've to strip on a similar plan.
Fer there's nothin' like scrappin' to bare a man's soul,
   If it's Billo, or Percy, or Gus.
So 'ere's to the bloke 'oo 'ops round on a pole
   An' 'owls songs goin' 'ome on the bus.

Spare me days!  When a bloke takes the count in a scrap
   That 'e's fightin' fer you an' fer me,
Is it fair that a snob 'as the nerve fer to snout
   Any swad 'cos 'is manners is free?
They're deservin' our thanks, frum the best to the worst --
   An' there's some is reel rorty, I own --
But 'ere's to the coot wiv the 'ang-over thirst
   'Oo sprags a stray toff fer a loan.

So I'm writin' to Mick; an' I'm feelin' reel wet
   Wiv the sort o' superior nark,
'Oo tilts up 'is conk an' gits orl the boys set,
   'Oo are out fer a bit uv a lark.
So I puts it to Mick, as I sez when I starts,
   An' I ends wiv the solemest toast:
'Ere's to 'im - (raise yer glass) - 'oo left pride in our 'earts
   An' 'is bones on Gallipoli coast.

First published in The Bulletin, 23 March 1916;
and later in
The Moods of Ginger Mick by C.J. Dennis, 1916.

By Your Right! by C.J. Dennis

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"I have never seen anything like the sallow faces and poor physique of the navy and army men who took part in the Jubilee display at Manly.  We were all sickened by the sight," said General H.W. Lloyd last week.  It was a disgrace, he added, referring to "those weedy specimens," and Australians could not sneer at dictators who did so much for the youth of their various countries.

Here's a state of things,
   Memory still clings
      To the picture of a Digger,
      Hallowed and heroic figure
Facing death in fields afar --
That unequalled avatar
      He of whom it had been said:
      "The bravest thing God ever made."
Long and lean and loose of shoulder
Graying now and growing older.

Do these tall, tough men
   Vanish from our ken?
      Must they disappear for ever,
      Fighters all, if "soldiers" never?
Gathered up from farm and city,
Certainly they were not pretty --
      Faces, rugged as a rock,
      Carven, from a red-gum block --
Anzacs who, unblooded still, 
Faced the hell of that first hill.

Has this sturdy seed
   Given but a weed?
      Do frail forms and sallow faces
      Fill these big, bronzed warrior's places,
So that generals are stricken
At the sight of them, and silken?
      Has a pioneering nation
      Wilted in one generation,
Needing a dictator's hand
To uphold a weakening land?

Moderate your grief.
   Might is not all beef.
      Fat and force may go together;
      So do strength and green-hide leather,
And all heroes are not made
From the pick of the parade.
      Yet the warning must be heeded:
      Health is vital, training needed,
That a nation's weal increase
Be the issue war or peace. 

First published in The Herald, 22 March 1937

To a Magpie by C.J. Dennis

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The City Council has granted permission to the Railways Commission to shoot magpies which build nests of wire in the overhead equipment of the electric train system.

O joyous caroller of morn
   Whose wild, triumphant fluting brings
Cheer to an Autumn day new born,
   Who, in the dawn's cool, splendor, flings
Defiance to the departing night,
   Bidding Gloom's myrmidons begone,
Harmonious harbinger of light,
   Proud trumpeter, sing on, sing on!

O foolish and imprudent fowl
   Who stops the early morning rain,
While mad commuters loudly howl
   And traffic managers complain,
Death claims you.  Yet, cease not to sing
   In that bird heaven to which you've gone
Thro' your domestic blundering,
   Short-circuiter, sing on, sing on!

First published in The Herald, 21 March 1929

The Joy Ride by C.J. Dennis

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Ah Gawd! It makes me sick to think
   Of what I 'eard an' seen;
Poor 'Arry like a wet rag flung
   Across the wrecked machine;
An' Rose, 'er face all chiner-white
   Against the gory green.

Now 'Arry Cox 'e drives a car
   For Doctor Percy Gray.
Ses 'e to me: "On Sund'y nex'
   The Doc. will be away.
'Ow is it for a little trip
   To Fernville for the day?

"I know two bonzer girls," 'e ses;
   "Fair 'otties, both, they are.
There's Rose who serves behind the joint
   In Mudge's privit bar,
An' Lena Crump who jerks the pump
   Down at the Southern Star."

Now, who'd refuse a Sund'y trip
   With girls an' all give in?
The car was there an' oil to spare.
   To rat would be a sin!
An' who'd refuse a drop o' booze
   When pals is flush o' tin?

Wot all the courts an' papers say
   Can't add to my distress....
Rose, with the blood upon 'er face
   An' on 'er crumpled dress!
An' that poor champ who got the bump --
   Ah, Gawd! 'E was a mess!

The girls 'ad stout at ten mile out,
   An' we was drinkin' beer.
I swear they lies like 'ell who ses
   That we was on our ear!
For we was both, I take me oath,
   As sober as me here.

Now, Lena was a dashin' piece,
   'Igh-spirited an' flash.
'Twas plain enough to me that day
   That 'Arry'd done 'is dash.
An' Rose -- (Ah! how 'er eyes did stare)
   Rose was my speshul mash.

It's easy now fer folks to talk
   Who might have done the same.
We meant no 'arm to anyone,
   An' 'Arry knew 'is game.
'Twas like a flash, the skid -- the crash.
   An' we was not to blame.

I wisht I could shut out that sight;
   Fergit that awful row!
Poor Rose!  'Er face all chiner-white,
   Like I can see it now;
An' 'Arry like a heap o' clothes
   Jist chucked there any'ow.

They ses we painted Fernville red;
   They ses that we was gay;
But wot come after dull's me mind
   To wot them liars say. 
We never dreamed of death an' 'ell
   When we set out that day.

'Twas ev'nin' when we turned for 'ome:
   The moon shone full that night:
An' for a mile or more ahead
   The road lay gleamin' white:
An' Rose sat close aside o' me.
   'Er face turned to the light.

Wot if we sung a song or two?
   Wot it they 'eard us shout?
Is song an' laughter things to curse
   An' make a fuss about?
"Go faster! faster!" Lena screams.
   An' 'Arry let 'er out.

I'd give me soul jist to ferget.
   Lord!  how 'er eyes did stare!
'Er kisses warm upon me lips,
   I seen 'er lyin' there.
Blood on 'er face, all chiner-white,
   An' on 'er yeller 'air.

I never took no 'eed o' pace
   (I've been on twenty trips).
An' Rose was restin' in me arms,
   'Er cheek against my lips.
A precious lot I dream of skids,
   A lot I thought o' slips.

I only know we never thinks --
   I know we never dreams
Of folk walkin' on that road;
   Till, sudden, Lena screams....
An', after that, the sights I saw
   I've seen again in dreams.

We never seen the bloke ahead!
   'Ow can they call us rash?
I jist seen 'Arry move to shove
   'Is arm around 'is mash;
I seen 'er jump to grab the wheel,
   Then, Lord!...there came the smash!

Aw, they can blame an' cry their shame!
   It ain't for that I care.
I held 'er in my arms an' laughed....
   Then seen 'er lying' there,
The moonlight streamin' on 'er face,
   An' on 'er yeller 'air.

First published in The Bulletin, 20 March 1913;
and later in
Backblock Ballads and Other Verses by C.J. Dennis, 1918.

Casey's Shanty by C.J. Dennis

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It's empty now, but years ago
   It used to be a pub;
'Twas built by Hicks in '76,
   On the edge of Wild Dog Scrub.   

Built of slab, an' ir'n an' dab --
   It's done it's bit o' trade,
An' many a bloke it's rooned an' broke,
   An' one or two it's made.

Hicks sold out to Tate, fur 'bout
   A thousan', so they say;
But 'Arry Tate was far too straight
   To make the shanty pay.

Refused ye drink if 'e should think
   Ye'd 'ad enough already;
Tried to arrange a sort o' change,
   An' keep the fellers steady.

An' as I say, it didn't pay,
   'Arry 'ad to hook it;
'Ad to go in a year or so,
   Then Paddy Casey took it.

Strike me dumb!  'E made things 'um --
   Casey was a daisy!
Tanglefoot an' doctored rum
   Drove the fellers crazy.

Casey 'd snap our 'ard-earned cheques,
   Pour the liquor down us;
Make us broken, tremblin' wrecks,
   Then 'e wouldn't own us.

Made 'is pile?  Well I should smile!
   Livin' down below;
Does the grand with four in 'and --
   Quite a toff you know.

Well, when Casey left the place
   Things wus gettin' slack;
Teams wus gittin' rather scarce
   Comin' down the track.

Times, you see, thet used to be
   Wus gawn, an' biz was slow;
So the bloke thet took it broke --
   Smashed, an' 'ad to go.

Now it's empty, an' its days is
   Over - never fear;
Many men it's sent to blazis
   In it's short career.

First published in The Critic, 19 March 1898

A Guide for Poits by C.J. Dennis

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I ain't no verse-'og.  When I busts in song
   An' fills the air wiv choonful melerdy,
I likes fer uvver coves to come along
   An' biff the lyre in company wiv me.

So, when I sees some peb beguile an hour
   Be joinin' in the chorus o' me song,
I never sees no use in turnin' sour;
   Fer singin' days wiv no one larsts too long. 

I'd like to see the Rocks an' Little Lon
   Grow centres for the art uv weavin' rhyme,
Wiv dinky 'arps fer blokes to plunk upon,
   An' spruiking poits workin' overtime.

I'd love to listen to each choonful lay
   Uv soulful coots who scorn to write fer gain;
To see True Art bloom down in Chowder Bay,
   An' Culcher jump the joint in Spadger's Lane.

Gawstruth!  Fer us life's got no joy to spare,
   We're short uv bird songs, "soarin' clean an' pure."
A bloke is 'ardly orf the bottle there
   Before 'e's in the jug -- a bird fer sure.

So 'oo am I to say no blokes shall sing
   Jist 'ow an' where an' when sich blokes may choose?
She's got no lines to show, nor yet no ring.
   Lor' blim'me!  I ain't <i>married</i> to me Muse!

An, square an' all, to show there's no offence,
   To show that in me 'eart true friendship lies,
I gives free gratis, an wivout ixpense,
   A few igzamples, just to put 'em wise.

First, choose some swingin' metre, sich as this,
   That Omar used -- per Fitz -- to boost the wine.
An' 'ere's a point true artists shouldn't miss:
   Sling in a bit o' slang to ev'ry line.

An' when yer full o' them alternate rhymes --
As all the true push poits is at times --
Jist ring the changes, as I'm doin' now;
An' find ixcuse to say: "The bloomin' cow!"

Or, comin' back to Omar's style again,
It's easy fer to pen a sweet refrain
   Wiv this 'ere kist a dead-'ead sort o' line,
An' this one rhymin' wiv the former twain.

An' though this style me soul 'as often vext,
   Wiv care an' pains the knack is easy cort;
This line's rhymed wiv the first, an' then the next
   Is cut orf short.
An' if yeh want to round it orf orl neat
Just add a couplet 'ere of equil feet.

An' 'ere's a style I've very often done:
   You swing orf 'ere, an' find a second rhyme,
Then hitch the third line to the leadin' one.
   An' make the fourth lap wiv the second chime,
   An' then you sort o' come another time,
An' jist end up the same as you begin.

It's orl dead easy when yeh know the way,
An' 'ave the time to practise it. -- But, say,
   Although it sort o' takes the eye, no doubt
(An', mind yeh, I'm not sayin' but it may) --
   Wivout a stock uv rhymes to see you out
This style o' rhymin's like to turn yeh grey.

The triplets comes much 'arder than the twins;
But I 'ave 'ad to bear 'em fer me sins.
   'Ere, fer a single line, yeh change the style,
Switch orf an' rhyme the same as you begins;
   An' then yeh comes back at it wiv a smile,
   Pertendin' it's dead easy orl the while.

Them sawed-orf lines 'as often stood me friends;
Fer you kin cut 'em up to serve yer ends.
   An' frequent I 'ave slung the dotin' throng
            This sort o' song.
To ring su'prises on the eye an' ear
Is 'arf the game.  It seems to kind o' queer
   The dull monotony.  Yeh make a miss,
            An' then do this.

Aw, 'Struth! it's pretty; but you take my tip,
It gives a bloke the everlastin' pip
  'Oo tries to live upon the game and gets. . . . 
   Corns on 'is brain an' melancholy debts!

Wiv sweat an' tears, wiv misery an' sighs,
   Yeh wring yer soul-case fer one drop of bliss
To give the cold, 'ard world; an' it replies,
   "Prompt payment will erblige.  Please settle this."

The rarest treasures of yer 'eart yeh spend
On callous, thankless coots; an' in the end
It comes to this: if you can't find a muse
'Oo takes in washin', wot's the flamin' use?

First published in The Bulletin, 18 March 1915;
and later in
Backblock Ballads and Other Verses by C.J. Dennis, 1918;
Selected Works of C.J. Dennis, 1988; and
Favorite Poems of C.J. Dennis, 1989.

Perhaps by C.J. Dennis

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In his Ballarat speech Mr. Deakin had said nothing to which he could be pinned down.  "I hope to see," "I propose if you cannot get on to somebody else," "I suggest," "I would like to see," "I believe it would be advisable" - there were Mr. Deakin's phrases, but not one definite promise had he made on behalf of the Government. - Labor Candidate Frank Anstey (Vic.)

He is a clever politician still
Who never blunders on the blunt "I will."
For, with an eye on the events to come,
Is it not better to remain quite dumb?
Or else, if he must speak, 'tis ever best
To wisely compromise on "I suggest."

Who knows what complications may arise?
For "Coalition" fades, "Alliance" dies,
And even "Fusion's" apt to drift away,
And he may have to turn again some day.
And, in that Fusion where no man may be
Sole leader, better say, "I'd like to see."

What knows he of the complicated game
Of party politics, who would declaim
In manner positive, with "Yes" and "No,"
When he might say, "I'd like to have it so?"
The sweets of office never are for him
Who cannot conjugate the verb "to trim."

There once were happy days, alas, long flown,
When leaders held opinions of their own;
And bravely said "I will," without a jot
Of fear lest one should answer, "I will not."
Those were the days when leaders stood alone,
And half-Prime Ministers were quite unknown.

O, for the right to say, "This shall I do,"
And pow'r and confidence to see it thro'!
But in a Fusion only slightly fused
Such positive expressions are not used;
(For all a modern Fusion e'er allows
Are hints of aspirations, never vows).

In that great game of politics, as played
To-day, no clever man should be dismayed;
For who would thunder foolish "Ayes" and "Noes"
When there's the diplomatic "I propose"?
And, mark, while such expression leaves one free,
It loses nought in affability.

Some show of policy to catch the votes
One has to have; but never burn your boats;
For if that bridge of boats you rashly burn
Who knows how, later on, events may turn?
But, having these, a man may nimbly skip
Back, o'er his "ifs" and "mights" and gain the ship.

He is a foolish politician who
Employs so rash a phrase as "I shall do."
But he who, wisely, never promise makes
Is ne'er foresworn, and never promise breaks.
He never strays into opponents' traps
Who compromises on the safe "perhaps."

First published in The Bulletin, 17 March 1910

The Lonely Voice by C.J. Dennis

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When opening a recent conference of poultry breeders, the Minister for Agriculture (Mr Hogan) is reported to have said that the only criticism now heard of the Egg Board was that the prices were too high.  Whether that was so, he said, was "for egg producers to decide."  Evidently the egg consumer, who pays the price, has no voice in the matter.

I'm but a meek consumer
   Who likes his breakfast egg;
My "rights" are but a rumour,
   Ruth is all I may beg.
I am the hapless victim
   Of Bureaucratic czars;
I must accept their dictum
   And jest about my scars.
The blows and stripes are all for me,
   With none to heed my agony.

I'm but a poor Australian,
   Yet I must eat to live.
They ship goods to the alien
   At price I'd gladly give;
But when they seek for profit
   They sock me in the eye;
For the egg, if I would scoff it,
   I'm charged for doubly high,
And, if for cheaper eggs I yearn,
   I'm told it isn't my concern.

This morn I asked my grocer,
   "Have eggs gone down today?"
He answered glumly, "No, Sir;
   There's tuppence more to pay.
Some goes to the producer,
   The rest goes to the Board.
But, muffs like you an' me, sir,
   Our interests are ignored
Until the basic wage they bump
   To catch the cost o' living's jump.

I'm but a meek consumer,
   A pawn, a handy peg;
And, in a bitter humor
   I pass my breakfast egg.
I almost pass my breakfast,
   I haven't any rights,
My fortunes go to wreck fast
   Until I dream o' nights
I've sailed afar across the deep
   To buy Australian produce cheap. 

First published in The Herald, 16 March 1938

The Lack by C.J. Dennis

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The Bergavenny (Wales) guardians have established a "modern home," costing £8000, where tramps can lie in bed and push a bell to summon an attendant.  There will be hot baths and showers, with hot suppers, which can be taken in bed if the inmate is not well.

"This is the life!" said Dusty Dan --
"This is the life to hand a man!
My happy way is strewn with flowers;
But why waste money on the showers?

"The hard cash wasted on that bath
Might yet make pleasanter my path,
If wisely spent on bottled beer
And motor cars to fetch us here!"

First published in The Sun-News Pictorial, 15 March 1927

The Madman by C.J. Dennis

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"I should go mad," he said, "in such a place!
   The lack of company, the loneliness!
Nothing but trees to stare you in the face;
Nothing to do; no life; no pep; no pace!
   I'd die of melancholy." I said "Yes?"
"Why, yes," said he.  "The suburbs can be bad.
But this?  Why, heavens, man!  I should go mad."
"What do you do?" he said.  "How find a way
   To pass the time?  Of course, the country's great
For rest and that" (I wished he'd go away;
I had a hundred things to do that day).
   "Oh, well," I said, "I think; I meditate
And -- " "Think?  A man can't always think  --
Not all the time.  Good lord!  I'd take to drink!
"I'd go stone mad," he said.  "I know the trees
   And birds and sky, and all that sort of stuff
Please for a while.  But man can't live on these.
I've got my love of nature's harmonies;
   But, spare me days, man, nature's not enough.
You work, you say.  But then, when work is done,
What in the thunder do you do for fun?
"Ah, well," he said.  "It's peaceful, that I'll say.
   Er -- what's the time?  Good heavens, I must go!
I've got a crowd of men to see to-day;
I'll miss the train!  I must be on my way.
   Can't spare another half a minute.  So,
Good-bye.  I wonder you're not dilly, lad."
"Ah, that's just it," I told him.  "I am mad."

First published in The Herald, 14 March 1933;
and later in
More Than a Sentimental Bloke edited by John Derum, 1990.

Slogan for Buyers by C.J. Dennis

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The Prime Minister has called upon every citizen in Australia to help in adjusting the trade balance.

There's a practical test if you'd give of your best
   In the effort to balance the ledger --
If you're willing to aid in adjusting our trade --
   Unless you're a slacker or hedger.
When next in a store you are pondering o'er
   Some purchase, have never a doubt
If it's made in Australia your money stays here;
   If it isn't your money goes out.

Everything that you buy, be it socks or a tie,
   Should help to give work to your brothers;
And 'tis wise to give heed to the family need
   Ere the family wealth goes to others.
Although your heart hankers for needles or anchors,
   There's a thing more important than costs
If it's made in Australia your money is saved;
   If it isn't your money is lost.

In getting and spending, in toil never ending
   Tho' most of our lives may be spent,
'Tis folly complaining we never are gaining
   If gains ever outward are sent.
All the wealth that we win does not even begin
   To give ease, if it goes up the spout.
If you purchase Australian your money stays in;
   If not, all your money goes out.

First published in The Herald, 13 March 1930

The Boss's Cousin Frum 'Ome by C.J. Dennis

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The boss 'as a relation residin' at the station,
   Come out frum 'Ome about a month ago;
An' of all the 'owlin' swells, an' of all the bloomin' sells
   'E's the biggest that I ever got to know.
'Is moustache an' 'air is sandy, and 'e's sich a blessed dandy;
   'Is trousis!  Lord!  They're like a pair o' bags.
I like to dress up trim, but afore I'd look like 'im
   I'd go rig me persin out in rags.

When first 'e showed 'is 'ead inside the shearin' shed,
   The boys just smiles an' nudged at one another;
But when we seen 'is walk, an' when we 'eard 'im talk,
   Our laughcher was as much as we could smother.
We used to roar with fun, when the Chinese cook -- Ah Wun,
   'Oo in 'is way's a bit of a take-off;
With 'is yeller 'ead on high, an' a 'ap'ny in 'is eye,
   Would strut about an' ape this bloomin' toff.

But it wasn't very long afore we changed our song;
   An' seen the other side o' this 'ere swell.
'Twas along of 'Arry Wright, 'oo is alwa's gittin' tight:
   He's a shearer, an' a fightin' man as well.
He was copped one day last week an' fined afore the beak.
   An' went an' got blind drunk fur consolation --
Got fairly on 'is ear on Casey's fightin' beer,
   An' then came roarin' back into the station.

Then a cheeky young wool-picker, be the name of Billy Dicker,
   Commenced chiakin' Wright an' got 'im riled.
An' quicker'n it's wrote, 'Arry 'ad 'im be the throat,
   An' I thought 'e'd choke the life out o' the child.
We durstn't interfere, fur when 'Arry's on the beer
   'E's a demon; then all at once we 'eard --
"Drop that boy, you cowardly pup!" an' the swell came runnin' up,
   An' was into Wright without another word.

We reckoned 'e'd be killed, fur 'e didn't seem the build
   To stand a round with such a man as Wright;
But talk of a surpise, you might think I'm tellin' lies,
   But I never seen a more one-sided fight.
'E went fur Wright an' bashed 'im; 'pon me oath 'e fairly smashed 'im;
   I reely thought 'e'd break 'is bloomin' neck;
Then with a final clout, 'e fairly laid 'im out,
   An' left 'im on the ground a bleedin' wreck.

So 'ere's to this relation residin' at the station,
   With 'is collar, eye-glass, stick, an' pants so neat;
Fur of all the 'owlin's swells, an' of all the bloomin' sells,
   'E's the biggest thet I ever chanced to meet.

First published in The Critic, 12 March 1898

The Bar-Room Patriot by C. J. Dennis

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Following Lord Kitchener's advice, a number of patriotic people have resolved to refrain from treating soldiers to intoxicating drinks.

Why, 'ow's she goin', Bill, ole sport?
   I thort I knoo your dile!
My oath!  You look the proper sort!
   That khaki soots your style.
I never 'eard you'd joined, yeh know --
It makes me feel I want to go.

Must be a year or more, I s'pose,
   Since last time we two met!
An' then, to see you in them clothes --
   Can't realise it yet!
I'm proud to think a friend o' mine
Is off to biff the German swine!

You look slap-up in that rig-out.
   We ort to celebrate --
I fell it's up to me to shout!
   But -- can't be done, ole mate!
For I 'ave took a solemn vow
I never shout for soldiers now.

No, Bill; you mustn't take offence;
   You'll undertsand, I think.
I've come to see there ain't no sense
   In buyin' soldiers drink.
I loves me country an' me king;
An' boozin' soldiers ain't the thing.

An' yet it's sich a time ago
   Since you an' me 'ave met,
It's sorter 'ard to let you go
   Without one little wet.
Say, come in 'ere, an' you can take 
A soft-un, jist fer ole time's sake.

Well, Bill -- 'ere Miss!  Don't you attend
   To customers in 'ere?
A lime-an'-soder fer me friend:
   And' mine's a long, cool beer.
Ah, Bill, you stick to that soft stuff;
Chuck booze, an' you'll be right enough.

Well, 'ere's a go!...My oath, that's goo!
   Bets beer I've 'ad to-day....
Yes, Bill, I 'olds no soldier should
   Drink all 'is brains away.
I'm patriotic, that I am;
To fight on beer ain't worth a damn.

Now, Bill, look 'ere, you take my tip --
   I know that German lot --
An', when you meet 'em, let 'er rip.
   An' prod 'em in the -- wot?
Well, jist one more.  Mine's beer thish time.
An' bill, ole frien', you shtick to lime.

'Ere's joy!...Wot was I sayin'?  Oh!
   Them Germans allush funk
The bay'nit.  Take my tip, an' go
   Fair for their stummicks -- plunk!
Jist stick 'em in the -- 'Ere, Miss, 'ere!
Give 'im the soft one!  Mine's the beer.

See, Miss, I don't booze sojers now.
   They shouldn't drink the stuff!
Me conshuns, Miss, it won't allow --
   'Right, Bill; don't cut up rough.
I'm proud to let the ole bar 'ear
I wouldn't buy no sojers beer.

I wouldn't buy no cursed drink
   Fer any fightin' bloke!
Wot?  Torkin' loud?  Well, do yeh think
   I'm 'shamed o' wot I shpoke?
I stansh on principle, by Gosh!
'Ere, 'ave anurrer lemin squash.

Oh, yesh; I've 'ad a few ter-day.
   Thish makes -- eighteen er so.
But I don't 'ave to go away
   To fight no rotten foe!
Go fer their stummichsk, Bill, ole man!
Jist prod 'em - why, 'ello!  'Ere's Dan!

'Ave one wi' ush, Dan.  Yoush a beer?
   Yes, mine'sh a -- wot-o, Jim!
Lesh innerjooce my cobber 'ere --
   I'm buyin' squash fer 'im.
'E's sojer....Took a solemn vow:
I don't -- (hic) -- shoush fer soljersh now.

I jist been tellin' soljer frien'
   Them Germans got no -- whash?
Orright, Dan: mine's a beer agen.
   Me friend 'ere'sh drinkin' sqauash.
Yeh mustn't buy no beer fer 'im --
Unpa'ri -- (hic) --.  Whash you think, Jim?

It 'urts me feelin's, all er same.
   Bill'sh 'listed!....Orful sad!....
Pore bill!  That fightin'sh rotten game.
   Go fer their stummicksh, lad!
Sharge wisher bay'nit, ev'ry time!
An' take my tip -- you shtick ter lime!

'Ere'sh to Aushtralier, ev'ry time!
   I doesh my lirrle bit
Be buyin' only squash 'n' lime
   To keep er soljersh fit.
Fine, pa'ri-otic effort.  Wot?
'Ere's to er blockesh wash gettin' shot!

Aw, I kin shtan' annurrer, Jim.
   Yesh, mine's a long, wet beer.
But don't you buy no beer fer 'im,
   'N' get 'im on 'is ear!
I never shoush fer sojersh now.
Unpari-pari -- sholum vow!

Wash sayin', Bill?  Wash 'at I 'ear?
   Yeh don't want me ter shout?
You been teeto'ler fer a year!
   Well, 'ash a fair knock-out!
You mean er shay...lemme buy lime,
Wile you....injoyed it all er time!

You mean er shay you thort it ni-esh
   To take yer ole pal in?
You lemme make self-sacrifi'esh,
   Wile you stan' there an' grin!
Wash?  Goin', is 'e?  Let 'im go!
Ni'esh sorter bloke ter fighter foe!

I wouldn't shoush fer sojersh now --
   Not fer a million poun'!
I bought 'im lemon-squash, ther cow,
   And then 'e takesh me down!
Go fer the'r stummiscksh?  'Im?  No fear!
Down wish er Kaiser!  Mine'sh a beer.

First published in The Bulletin, 11 March 1915

Quantum Sufficit by C.J. Dennis

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A cable states that the German Nazi leaders are educating the nation to accept the idea of "extra wives."

"I only said this German plan
Had points," remarked the small, meek man.
   "I merely said an extra wife
   Might add variety to life.
Strange how a woman will resent
A hypothetic argument.
   I didn't mean my reference
   As personal, in any sense,
But she -- aw, why talk, anyhow?
         Look at me now!

"This eye.  These bumps, here, on my head.
This battered face.  I only said
   The Germans seemed to be a race
   Who had sane views of woman's place.
Who knew her value.  As I spoke
I smiled, to show it was a joke,
   A merry quip.  Have they no sense
   Of humor?  Are they all as dense
As she?  Will none of them allow --
         Look at me now!

"I only said that in the end
This German movement might extend
   To other lands.  I mean to say,
   I never meant it in the way
She took the words.  It isn't fair!
Jam on my clothes!  Egg in my hair!
   (Who'd think that she could aim so straight?)
   Those Teuton fools are tempting fate
To dream of more than one strong frau.
         Look at me now!

"At breakfast time it all began,
Like that," explained the small, meek man.
   "Look at me now!  These Nazis might
   Perceive a portent in my plight --
My humor scorned; egg in my hair --
If they could see her standing there,
   A vengeful fury, angry-eyed,
   Ere they would wish her multiplied
They'd think again, however tough.
         One is enough."

First published in The Herald, 10 March 1937;
and later in
Random Verse edited by Margaret Herron, 1952.

Intangile Tigers by C.J. Dennis

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The mysterious Jamberoo tiger has been slain at last.  It turned out to be a large cat.

There's a moral in this: tho' I own that the preaching
   Of moral and maxim in season and out
Grows stale; yet these days of depressions far-reaching
   Demand any means to put worry to rout.
So in that menagerie now populated
   By home-coming chickens and wolves upon mats
Consider, when finally doubt's dissipated
   How often our tigers turn out to be cats.

Three-fourths of our troubles some Frenchman has told us,
   But seldom occur.  Tho' the ills of the mind
Loom forth as fierce tigers while doubts yet unfold us,
   They turn into cats once we've put them behind.
How often the dread of some darkened tomorrow
   Has ruined today; till, at Time's urgent call,
Tomorrow's false fears become yester's small sorrow --
   Innocuous cats, and not tigers at all.

So, here is the moral -- just take it or leave it.
   It doesn't much matter, you'll scorn it, no doubt.
Yet here is a truth and, if men don't receive it
   I've still done my duty in pointing it out.
False troubles, false tigers engender false fearing;
   So use the grey matter close under your hat
And, as you fare forth thro' life's dark forests peering,
   Go armed against tigers -- but still expect cats.

First published in The Herald, 9 March 1933

Compensation by C.J. Dennis

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Through forcing her to put her house in order for the future, the hard times now being experienced in Australia may well prove an eventual blessing.

Oh, the days of full and plenty --
   Careless days we used to know --
Five, ten, fifteen, twenty,
   Thirty, forty years ago --
Days when we could spend and borrow,
   Spend again, with ne'er a fear --
Ne'er a thought about tomorrow.
   But, alas, tomorrow's here.

Oh, the days of easy living,
   When we took no thought to save
From the wealth of harvests: giving
   Free as ever harvests gave.
Freely getting, freely spending --
   Easy come and easy go --
Counting on a life unending
   Of the days we used to know.

Now descend the days distressing,
   Ordered by a kindly fate --
Kindly, since it counts a blessing
   That they come not over-late --
That they come while yet a nation,
   Doomed thro' ease to dull decay,
May, by labor, win salvation
   Ere its strength be filched away.

Not for us the futile rueing,
   Dwelling on the future, glum,
Ours to now be up and doing
   For the brave days yet to come --
For the days of full and plenty
   That are looming, late or soon.
Wealth, that was a drug at twenty,
   With man's wisdom is a boon.

First published
in The Herald, 8 March 1930

The Weary Philosopher by C. J. Dennis

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Prison reform - Mr. Murray's views - Prisoners should be made to hustle. - Vic. newspaper headings

I can conceive no heav'nly bliss
More perfectly complete than this:
   To sit and smoke and idly chew
   Reflection's cud, with nought to do.
This is, in my pet social plan,
The right of ev'ry honest man.

I can conceive no punishment
For wicked men of evil bent,
   Who cheat and lie and drink and rob,
   More meet than giving them a job.
This is, to my unruffled mind,
Correction of the sternest kind.

I can conceive a world, in dreams;
A happy, restful world it seems;
   A wise, well-ordered globe wherein
   Men toil to expiate a sin,
While harmless and right-thinking folk
Have nought to do but sit and smoke.

I ask but to be left alone;
And let the wicked man atone
   In graft for having energy
   To sin against society.
For, clearly, I commit no crime,
Since I do nothing all the time.

Sins of omission, you will see,
Don't count in my philosophy
   And it is safer far to shirk,
   Lest, working, one might find more work.
No man is able to foresee
The far effects of energy.

But in this thoughtless, restless age
What honor is there for the sage?
   When Philistines, in manner rude,
   Disturb my sleepy solitude,
Where in my peaceful bower I lurk,
And coarsely shout at me: "Get work!"

First published in The Bulletin, 7 March 1912

Haw! by C. J. Dennis

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Liberals are not bothering about the fiscal question, if it can be called a question - or proclaiming a fiscal faith, for the very sufficient reason that the tariff is not at present in issue. - Melbourne ARGUS.

"Haw!  Good fellow I'm not doubting
   Your intentions are all right,
And your general appearance
   Is intelligent and bright;
But the question you're discussing
   Rather flicks me on the raw,
And it really doesn't matter;
   So we'll close the subject.  Haw!"

Since the every first reformer
   Made suggestions in the trees
All the old earth's agitators
   Meet with phrases such as these.
And it acts as brake and hobble
   On the progress of mankind,
This superior aloofness
   Of the static type of mind.

"Haw!"  It rings throughout the ages
   Since dim neolithic years,
Striving to discount the credit
   Of philosophers and seers;
And the richest, fattest mollusc
   Spat it out in savage hate
When he marked his fellow's yearning
   Towards a structure vertebrate.

"My good chap, enthusiasm's
   Right enough just now and then;
But your pose is idiotic
   In the sight of sober men.
Calm yourself, my worthy fellow,
   Stay that wildly wagging jaw.
The-ah mattah you're debating
   Isn't on the tapis.  Haw!"

Spoken in a haughty fashion,
   With an apathetic glance,
Then that simple interjection
   Clothes a mass of ignorance.
"Haw!  The fellow is a boundah!
   Do not heed his fuss and fret,
And the subject he alludes to
   Isn't mentioned in our set."

Friend, if you have privileges
   Fairly come by -- more or less --
And the claims of poorer brothers
   Cause you most acute distress --
When all argument has failed you
   'Gainst their Socialistic law
Cultivate the distant manner
   And the haughty Tory "Haw!"

Cultivate the cool aloofness
   When they seek with howlings rude
To assault your proud position.
   Cultivate the platitude:
And, when they bring forth suggestions
   Of a democratic type;
Tell then, friend, it is "un-British,"
   And, "the time is not yet ripe."

When with calm, unswerving reason,
   And with logic merciless,
They convince your better nature
   That abuses need redress,
Do not weakly yield to measures
   That your prejudices hate.
But remark, "It's not at issue,"
   And that closes the debate.

Still, my friend, despite your coldness,
   'Spite reactionary, "Haws."
These reformers somehow get there
   When they have a worthy cause,
And the fat and foolish mollusc
   Who the vertebrates ignored,
Did not block all evolution,
   So the scientists record.

As the world goes bravely onward
   Leaving molluscs far behind,
Progress ever has to reckon
   With the static type of mind.
And the fighters in the vanguard
   Recognise this simple law,
"Social evolution mainly
   Is the overthrow of 'Haw!'"

First published in The Bulletin, 6 March 1913

Resolution: A Stone for the Great Pavement by C.J. Dennis

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A strong and stalwart man was he,
   And he sat in the shearing shed
And shore, on the distant Boolooree,
   Where the best of sheep are bred.
He sang in a voice that was full and deep,
   And his shear blades merrily rang,
And he snipped and snipped at his bleating sheep;
   And this is the song he sang --

      Oh, it's goin' back to-morra, boys,
         Back to 'ome, sweet 'ome --
      The 'ome we left in sorra, boys,
         The dismal north to roam.
      We'll keep our 'ard-earned pay, me boys,
         An' shun the bloomin' booze;
      We'll stow our cheques away, me boys,
         Fur drinkin' ain't no use.

When next I saw this shearer man
   He was in a crowded bar,
Where the liquor fast and freely ran;
   He was smoking a cigar.
His voice was loud, and his eye was bright,
   And his language coarse and slang;
His face was cut - for he'd had a fight --
   And this was the song he sang --

      Come and 'ave a drink, me boys!
         No, you can't refuse;
      Don't care what you think, me boys,
         I'm on the blanky booze.
      Lashin' up me pay, me boys,
         Little do I reck;
      Drink dull care away, me boys;
         I'm knockin' down me cheque.

Next morn I saw this shearer strong;
   He was seated on his swag;
His merry, jovial air was gone,
   And vanished was his brag.
His voice was thick and his eye was red;
   A broken man was he;
And pleading and soft were the words he said,
   And thus he spake to me --

      Say, mister, buy us a pint, sir;
         I've busted all I 'ad;
      I'm aching in ev'ry jint, sir --
         Me 'ead is awful bad.
      I've lashed me earnin's up, sir --
         Spent me bloomin' cheque,
      So buy us a pick-me-up, sir -
         I'm a gawd forsaken wreck!

First published in The Critic, 5 March 1898

In Time by C. J. Dennis

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The Minister of Forests says that "it is all a matter of time."  The Ministerial promises will all be carried out - in time. - Melbourne Age. 

"In good time, when I am ready,
   Wondrous schemes shall I unfold;
But we must be cautious, steady,
   Cleaving to the safe and old.
Patience, prudence must prevail;
They who venture often fail."

Thus the politician, weakly
   Of the big things of the State;
While the patient public, meekly
   Wait, and ever hopeful, wait;
While he slyly wooes their vote
With shrewd turnings of his coat.

But, in time, when other people
   Populate this troubled world,
Lo, from housetop and from steeple,
   Futile curses will be hurled --
Curses on the shiftless ones,
Feckless robbers of their sons.

When the last good tree has withered
   In an arid, rainless clime,
Then the weary soul who blithered
   Of the verdancy of Time
Will grow restless in his grave,
While his baulked descendants rave.

They will curse the generation
   That has beggared them by stealth;
Curse the mad procrastination
   That has robbed the land of wealth --
Wealth their foolish fathers spent,
Reckless and improvident.

"What care we?" declare the spoilers.
   "We have ample for to-day!
Other ages, other toilers --
   Let them suffer as they may.
Let the nation's hope be killed,
That our bellies may be filled!

"If to-day our wealth be doubled,
   If to-day our trade be good,
Why should we be plagued and troubled
   With vague dreams of nationhood?
For our selfish purpose we
Gaily rob prosterity."

Robbers of the coming race,
   Glibly crying "In good time."
If one day ye had to face
   Sons, and answer for your crime,
With that cry still in your throats,
How, then, would ye scheme for votes?

First published in The Bulletin, 4 March 1915

Return of a Hero by C.J. Dennis

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Mr Fitzmickle, the martinet, is furious,
The ways
(He says),
Of jumped-up Jacks-in-Office and officialdom generally are certainly curious.
Positively (he says) positively injurious
To civil discipline and respect for the law.
(Says Mr Fitzmickle, just like that)
I tell you flat,
Such a degrading display of blatant bureaucracy I have seldom seen
That is to say, I mean,
Am I a sardine?

I ask you (says Mr Fitzmickle am I a sardine?
Have I ever been
A man to be trodden under?
(And upon his audience, held spellbound,
He gazes round,
His brow as black as thunder)
To our present form of free democratic government (says Mr Fitzmickle)
I have never been fickle.
My resolve to uphold the Law, the Throne and the Empire has been and ever will be 
(His audience waits breathless.)

Yet what do we find?
   I, with other citizens of my kind --
Persons of some standing in the community --
Seize the opportunity
To witness the Test.
So I, with the rest,
Having paid for a seat,
Sit there in the heat
And the sun
For hours before play has begun.

And then (says Mr Fitzmickle) then
They have the colossal nerve to ask us to stand on our feet --
In the sun, mark you, and the heat --
To make room for others who just chanced to arrive.
The soul of Freedom leapt alive.
Did they regard us as worms?
In no uncertain terms

(A vulgar display, no doubt.
But I make no apology.)
It was crass, official ignorance of the rudiments of mass psychology
That created such a disgraceful scene.
And, I ask you again: Am I a sardine?

So speaks Mr Fitzmickle.
   His stern eyes flash.
Each individual hair upon his small moustache
Appears to prickle,
To stand out stiff.
Just as if
He were indeed a fretful porcupine.
Never be it said (he declaims) that I or mine
Ever submitted to a despotism so intolerably mean!
Again I ask: AM I A SARDINE?

He looks about, triumphant, having done.
   And his small son
Says admiringly: "I bet not, Pa.
You wouldn't be a sardine for anybody. Would he, Ma?"
And Mrs Fitzmickle says quietly: "Why, of course not. It seems quite ridiculous to me.
And now, please dear, will you begin your tea?"

First published in The Herald, 3 March 1937

Saner and Saner by C.J. Dennis

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A recent lecturer on intellectual freedom and censorships took as the title of his lecture, "A Braver, Newer World."

Braver and newer, but will it be wiser,
   Will it be saner, this world of strange joys
Vaguely envisioned by Man the deviser
   Of terrible weapons and wonderful toys?
"Onward and upward!" The urge is consuming him,
   Lashing him, driving him, claiming his soul
Yet, to what end is this fever fore-dooming him?
   What is the purpose? Whither the goal?
Would we be gods in the end, and contented?
   Gods over whom? Do we work to a plan?
Or is there no end to this striving demented?
   And who's to be conquered, except fellow man?
Yet if it be won on some misty tomorrow,
   The knowledge we seek, at a terrible cost --
Cost of men's tears and men's souls and men's sorrow --
   Will it be worth all the wisdom we've lost?
Braver and newer. The virtue of bravery
   Lies in its purpose. The lure of the new
Leads man to fatuous, self-imposed slavery,
   Blinding his eyes to the simple and true.
Wisdom sans knowledge, conceived in humility,
   Down thro' the ages has wrought for man's gain
More and yet more than the boasting futility,
   Knowledge sans wisdom, may ever attain.

First published in The Herald, 2 March 1933

The Nearing Drums by C. J. Dennis

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Beside my own house-door am I
   With all the world at peace.
A little cloud against the sky
   Trails by its tattered fleece,
The sunlight sports amid the tossing trees,
Their leaves now dark, now silver in the breeze.

The brown-tipped saplings bend and sway
   As in a mimic strife,
Like merry children at their play.
   Aglow with careless life ....
And, muffled, like the roll of distant drums,
A drone of waters from the gully comes.

The Jack has laughed the whole day long --
   A jocund bird is he!
This eve, a thrush his even song
   Pipes merrily to me.
He pipes of idle hours, of pleasant days,
Of lives cast blessedly in tranquil ways.

With peace and freedom over all
   The summer day has flown;
And well content am I to call
   This happy land mine own.
Mine own! ... And in the thrush's careless song
I mark a changing note: "How long? How long?"

How long?  And, as the years march on,
   Shall it be e'er as this?
Or shall some alien look upon
   These scenes we love -- as his?
Still from the gully sounds that rhythmic beat:
The menace of the drums; the marching feet!

Shall this dear land we call our own
   Be ours one other year?
Mark how the drums have louder grown!
   The tramping feet draw near!
And thro' the drone breaks forth a warning voice:
"Yours be the sacrifice!  Yours is the choice!"

The challenge of a bugle blast!
   The thrush's song is lost.
Pale, stern-faced men march grimly past
   Where saplings swayed and tossed;
And where the peaceful clouds sailed slowly by,
I see black smoke of cannon in the sky.

I mark the smoke of cannon rise
   To hide the summer sun;
I hear the soldiers' fighting cries,
   The booming of a gun.
My countrymen!  Our summer day has flown!
To-morrow! -- shall this loved land be our own?
Ours is the choice. And shall our sons,
   When those dark days are o'er --
When stilled again are drums and guns --
   Sit each beside his door? --
Beside his own house-door and proudly say,
"'Tis to our sires we owe this summer day?"

Or shall they, vanquished and enslaved, 
   Mourn for a country lost --
The land their fathers might have saved
   Who meanly shirked the cost?
And shall they curse, upon that evil day,
The dolts who dreamed one summer time away?

Beside mine own house-door am I,
   With all the world at peace,
A little cloud trails slowly by
   Its torn and tattered fleece,
And sweetly, to my idle ear there comes
The note of happy bird-talk in the gums.

The brown-tipped saplings bend and gleam,
   Like careless boys at play:
Like careless boys we laugh, we dream
   The livelong summer day.....
Louder the sound from out the gully comes;
The marching feet; the sullen roll of drums.

First published in The Lone Hand, 1 March 1913

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