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

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on March 3, 2013 11:06 AM.

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