April 2013 Archives

The Sentimental Bloke and the Siren by C.J. Dennis

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She sung a song; an' I sat silent there,
Wiv bofe 'ands grippin' 'ard on to me chair;
   Me 'eart, that yesterdee I thort wus broke
Wiv 'umpin' sich a 'eavy load o' care,
   Come swellin' in me throat like I would choke.
I felt 'ot blushes climbin' to me 'air.
'Twas like that feelin' when the Spring wind breaves
Sad music in the sof'ly rustlin' leaves.
   An' when a bloke sits down an' starts to chew
Crook thorts, wivout quite knowin' why 'e grieves
   Fer things 'e's done 'e didn't ort to do --
Fair winded wiv the 'eavy sighs 'e 'eaves.
She sung a song; an' orl at once I seen
The kind o' crool an' 'eartless broot I been.
   In ev'ry word I read it like a book --
The slanter game I'd played wiv my Doreen --
   I 'eard it in 'er song; an' in 'er look
I seen wot made me feel fair rotten mean.
Poor, 'urt Doreen! My tender bit o' fluff!
Ar, men don't understand; they're fur too rough;
   Their ways is fur too coarse wiv lovin' tarts;
They never gives 'em symperthy enough.
   They treats 'em 'arsh; they tramples on their 'earts,
Becos their own crool 'earts is leather-tough.
She sung a song; an' orl them bitter things
That chewin' over lovers' quarrils brings
   Guv place to thorts of sorrer an' remorse.
Like when some dilly punter goes an' slings
   'Is larst, lone deener on some stiffened 'orse,
An' learns them vain regrets wot 'urts an' stings.
'Twas at a beano where I lobs along
To drown them memories o' fancied wrong.
   I swears I never knoo that she'd be there.
But when I met 'er eye -- O, 'struth, 'twas strong!
   'Twas bitter strong, that jolt o' dull despair!
'Er look o' scorn! ... An' then, she sung a song.
The choon was one o' them sad, mournful things
That ketch yeh in the bellers 'ere, and brings
   Tears to yer eyes. The words was uv a tart
'Oo's trackin' wiv a silly coot 'oo slings
   'Er love aside, an' breaks 'er tender 'eart....
But 'twasn't that; it was the way she sings.
To 'ear 'er voice! ... A bloke 'ud be a log
'Oo key 'is block. Me mind wus in a fog
   Of sorrer for to think 'ow I wus wrong;
Ar, I 'ave been a fair ungrateful 'og!
   The feelin' that she put into that song
'Ud melt the 'eart-strings of a chiner dog.
I listens wiv me 'eart up in me throat;
I drunk in ev'ry word an' ev'ry note.
   Tears trembles in 'er voice when she tells 'ow
That tart snuffed out becos 'e never wrote.
   An' then I seen 'ow I wus like that cow.
Wiv suddin shame me guilty soul wus smote.
Doreen she never looked my way; but stood
'Arf turned away, an' beefed it out reel good,
   Until she sang that bit about the grave;
"Too late 'e learned 'e 'ad misunderstood!"
   An' then -- Gorstrooth! The pleadin' look she gave
Fair in me face 'ud melt a 'eart o' wood.
I dunno 'ow I seen that evenin' thro'.
They muster thort I was 'arf shick, I knoo.
   But I 'ad 'urt Doreen wivout no call;
I seen me dooty, wot I 'ad to do.
   O, strike! I could 'a' blubbed before 'em all!
But I sat tight, an' never cracked a boo.
An' when at larst the tarts they makes a rise,
A lop-eared coot wiv 'air down to 'is eyes
   'E 'ooks on to Doreen, an' starts to roam
Fer 'ome an' muvver. I lines up an' cries,
   "'An's orf! I'm seein' this 'ere cliner 'ome!"
An' there we left 'im, gapin' wiv surprise.
She never spoke; she never said no word;
But walked beside me like she never 'eard.
   I swallers 'ard, an' starts to coax an' plead,
I sez I'm dead ashamed o' wot's occurred.
   She don't reply; she never takes no 'eed;
Gist stares before 'er like a startled bird.
I tells 'er, never can no uvver tart
Be 'arf wot she is, if we 'ave to part.
   I tells 'er that me life will be a wreck.
I t ain't no go. But when I makes a start
  To walk away, 'er arms is roun' me neck.
"Ah, Kid!" she sobs. "Yeh nearly broke me 'eart!"
I dunno wot I done or wot I said.
But 'struth! I'll not forgit it till I'm dead --
  That night when 'ope back in me brisket lobs:
'Ow my Doreen she lays 'er little 'ead
  Down on me shoulder 'ere, an' sobs an' sobs;
An' orl the lights goes sorter blurred an' red.
Say, square an' all--It don't seem right, some'ow,
To say such things; but wot I'm feelin' now
   'As come at times, I s'pose, to uvver men --
When you 'ave 'ad a reel ole ding-dong row,
   Say, ain't it bonzer makin' up agen?
Straight wire, it's almost worth ... Ar, I'm a cow!
To think I'd ever seek to 'arm a 'air
Of 'er dear 'ead agen! My oath, I swear
   No more I'll roust on 'er in angry 'eat!
But still, she never seemed to me so fair;
   She never wus so tender or so sweet
As when she smooged beneath the lamplight there.
She's never been so lovin' wiv 'er gaze;
So gentle wiv 'er pretty wimmin's ways.
   I tells 'er she's me queen, me angel, too.
"Ah, no, I ain't no angel, Kid," she says.
   "I'm jist a woman, an' I loves yeh true!
An' so I'll love yeh all me mortal days!"
She sung a song.... 'Ere, in me barmy style,
I sets orl tarts; for in me hour o' trile
   Me soul was withered be a woman's frown,
An' broodin' care come roostin' on me dile.
   She sung a song.... Me 'eart, wiv woe carst down,
Wus raised to 'Eaven be a woman's smile.

First published in The Bulletin, 30 April 1914;
and later in
The Songs of a Sentimental Bloke by C.J. Dennis, 1915.

Note: this poem is also known by the title The Siren.

I sent a white feather to George to-night --
   The coward who stays behind!
Was ever a maiden in such a plight?
My lover is sailing away to fight!
   And -- why is a man so blind?

Ah, me! but my lover has gone from sight,
   I shall never see him more!
Alone must I mourn for my absent knight.
But George got a feather -- and serves him right!
   I pray it hurts him sore!

I hope he will write when he sees the thing,
   I hope he will guess 'twas I!
I want him to squirm at the scorn I fling;
I'd love to be near him and see it sting,
   And -- I wonder if he'll reply?

I sent a white feather to George.  Ah, me!
   To Gus I have waved farewell --
Dear Gus, who is faring across the sea
To fight for his country, his flag -- and me!
   And the other -- how can I tell?

Oh, how can I tell of the awful mess
   I've made of the whole affair?
Yet how was a poor little girl to guess
The end of it all would be dire distress,
   When I played with that spoony pair?

Yes, Gussie and George they were courting me,
   And both of them seemed quite nice;
For George is as handsome as he can be,
And Gussie is little, but jolly and free;
   And neither was prone to vice.

Now, wasn't I luck with two such swains?
   And how could a maiden choose?
For Gussie was witty and blest with brains;
But George offered dresses and sundry gains
   That prudence should not refuse.

I think, on the whole, it was George that led.
   He had - oh, such splendid eyes!
But darling old Gus, with the things he said,
Would easily turn any poor maid's head
   Of she wasn't extremely wise.

So I played with them both, as a maiden will,
   And smiled at their fret and fuss.
Dear George was my choice; but I flirted till
The war came upon us. Then, prudent still,
   I said: "Well, it must be Gus!"

For George seemed so handsome, so strong and brave,
   I thought he was sure to go.
One boy of the two for myself to save
Was just: so my answer I sweetly gave,
   And sent him away with "No."

Ah, me!  I accepted poor Gus next day.
   I had it worked out so grand!
Dear George, broken-hearted, would sail away
To bury his sorrow; while Gus would stay.
   Now, wasn't that nicely planned?

Oh I dreamed of it all as I sat alone.
   If each had but played his part!
Poor George was to die with a love-lorn moan,
And then, ever after, would Gus atone
   To my bruised, remorseful heart.

But -- I sent a white feather to George to-night;
   And my lover I've kissed good-bye.
Brave Gus, who is sailing away to fight!
And what holds the other?  Mere craven fright!
   Oh -- I wonder if he'll reply?

First published in The Bulletin, 29 April 1915

Monday Morning by C.J. Dennis

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I often pause to contemplate
The sadly barren mental state
Of persons whom it is my fate
   To meet on Monday morning.
They should be, after Sunday's rest,
Alert, clear-minded, full of zest;
But everywhere they are oppressed,
   Bad-tempered, dull and yawning.

But I? I'm always strangely bright,
Primed with ideas and full of fight,
With brain alert and eye alight
   With rare exhilaration:
All due, no doubt to my wise bent
To do no thing I should repent,
And to a Sunday wisely spent
   In pious contemplation.

I do not wish to set myself
Upon some loft moral shelf
And treat my brother man, poor elf,
   To haughty patronising.
And yet I feel I have to say
That I regard the laggard way
That men approach their work this day
   As utterly surprising.

Oh, I could write, this gladsome morn,
With vigor of a man new-born
Rare verses, full of lilting scorn
   About my fellow's failings;
Or I could write on politics
And heave a hundred verbal bricks,
Using the rhymster's thousand tricks
   In homilies and railings.

But I resist; for, being kind
I know that human nature's blind
And weak and frail; I have no mind
   To call down envious curses.
And, tho' I tremble on the verge,
I manfully resist the urge,
And sing, where I might shout and splurge,
   These rather halting verses.

First published in The Herald, 28 April 1930

The Sabbath-Breaker by C.J. Dennis

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They are looking at me, good Christian folk,
   They are looking at me in scorn,
As they troop to church in their Sabbath dress,
And I lounge here in idleness
   This glorious Sunday morn.

They are sniffing at me with Christian sniffs,
   As they pass me, garbed in gloom;
Right glad am I as I sprawl at ease,
With a pipe and a book beneath the trees;
   But they've marked me down for Doom.

They are gazing at me, good Christian folk,
   And their gaze is dour and stern;
And their eyes are hard, and their lips are long,
For they heard me trolling a worldly song,
   And they look to see me burn.

Nay, what have I done, good Christian folk?
   And how have I earned your scorn?
May I not he filled with joy to see
The gifts the good God sends to me
   On this glad Sabbath morn?

Would ye have me wear a bilious air,
   And clothe myself in gloom,
And don my best black Sunday dress,
And walk in mournful righteousness,
   And ponder on the Tomb?

Nay, but all Nature laughs, good folk --
   Laughs at your mood austere.
The festive birds, the joyous trees,
The wooing of the wanton breeze,
   All bid me tarry here.

They are coming from church, good Christian folk,
   And their gloom has deepened thrice.
They are pondering what the preacher said
Of the mouldy grave and the wormy dead;
   They are storing his sage advice.

They are looking at me again.  God wot
   How have I earned such blame!
I feel glad life with ev'ry breath;
I cannot meditate on death
   Nor count my joy a shame.

Nay, let me be, good Christian folk.
   I pray ye let me rest.
For I cannot join ye here below;
If I join ye not where'er ye go,
I am quite content to have it so;
   For I should be sore oppressed.

First published in The Bulletin, 27 April 1911

Cow by C.J. Dennis

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Aw, go write yer tinklin' jingle, an' yer pretty phrases mingle,
Fer the mamby-pamby girl, all fluffy frill an' shinin' silk.
Them's the sort ter fetch yer trouble, when yer tries 'em, in the double.
Blow yer beauty! Wot's the matter with the maiden 'oo kin milk?
Them there rhymers uv the wattle!  An' the bardlet uv the bottle --
'Im that sings uv sparklin' wine, an' does a perish fer the beer;
An' yer slap-dash 'orsey po-it!  Garn!  If you blokes only know it,
You 'ave missed the single subjec' fit ter rhyme about down 'ere.
An' although I ain't a bard, with bloomin' bays upon me brow,
I kinsider that it's up ter me ter sing about The Cow.
            Cow, Cow --
        (Though it ain't a pretty row,
It's a word that 'ipnertises me; I couldn't tell yer 'ow.)
        Though I ain't a gifted rhymer,
        Nor a blamed Parnassus climber,
I'm inspired ter sing a tune er two about the Blessed Cow.
Oh, the cow-bells are a-tinklin', and the daisies are a twinklin'--
Well, that ain't the style ersackly I intended fer to sing.
'Ark, was over music greater then the buzzin' sepy-rater,
Coinin' gaily money daily fer the -- no, that's not the thing!
'Omeward comes the cows a-lowin', an' the butter-cups are blowin';
But there's better butter in the -- Blarst ! That ain't the proper way
See the pretty milkmaid walkin' -- aw, it ain't no use er talkin'.
Listen 'ere, I want ter tell yer this: A cow's ther thing ter pay!
Sell yer 'orses, sell yer arrers, an' yer reapers, an' yer plough;
If yer want yer land ter pay yer, sacrifice yer life ter Cow.
            Cow, Cow --
        Sittin' underneath the bough,
With a bail, an' with a pail, an' with a little stool, an' thou
        Kickin' when I pull yer teat there,
        Swishin' flies, the pretty creatur.
Ah, there ain't no music sweeter -- money squirtin' from the Cow.
Take away the wine-cup; take it.  An' the foamin' flagon, break it.
Brimmin' cups uv butter-milk'll set yer glowin' thro' an' thro';
An' the reason I'm teetotal is becos me thrifty throat'll
Jest refuse ter swaller stuff that's costin' me a precious sou.
Once I wus a sinful spender. Used ter go a roarin' bender --
Used ter often spend a thruppence when ther' wasn't any need.
An' the many ways I've busted money, when I should er trusted
It ter cattle an' erconomy, 'ud cause yer 'eart ter bleed
But I'm glad, me friends, that godliness 'as made me careful now;
Tho' I lorst the thing wot's next it when I cottoned ter the Cow.
            Cow, Cow --
        Trudin' thro' the sloppy slough.
Ah, I once despised the Jews, but I kin under-stand 'em now --
        When they needed elevatin',
        An' ole Moses kep' 'em waitin'
Fer religi'n, they went straight 'n' sorter substichooted Cow.
Listen to the lowin' cattle.  Listen to the buckets rattle,
See, the sun is - ('Ere! You Bill!  Yer goin' ter stay all day asleep?
'Ustle, or yer'll get a taste er -- Wot?  No cheek yer flamin' waster!
This is wot I get fer payin' 'arf a quid a week an' keep!
Talk about yer unions, will yer?  Right, me covey, wait until yer
Come 'ere crawlin' - Where's that Sarah?  Ain't she finished milkin' Spot? 
Is this wot I brought yer up fer; reared, an' give yer bite an' sup fer?
'Struth! A man's own kids 'll next be talkin' Union, like as not
Garn, I ain't got time ter listen ter yer silly sniv'lin' now.
Understan' me, you was born an' bred ter think an' live fer Cow!)
            Cow, Cow --
        I'm a capitalist now
Tho' I once wus poor an' lonely, an' a waster I'll allow.
        Now I've 'an's that I kin 'ector:
        I'm a Nupper 'Ouse elector;
An' the Sanitry Inspector is an interferin' cow!
Talk about yer modrun schoolin'! Edjucation's wasteful foolin'!
I got on without it; an' it only teaches youngsters cheek --
(Where's young Tom? Wot? Ain't 'e back yet?
Sam, go -- 'Ere You'll get the sack yet!
Wastin' time there, washin' buckets! Them wus washed larst Choosdee week!
Tell young Tom if 'e don't 'urry, I'll --.  Now, mother, don't yer worry.
I'll deal Christian with 'im; but I'm not a Bible pa by 'alf.
That ole Scripchure cove's a driv'lin' idjut.  When 'is son comes sniv'lin',
Why, the blazin', wasteful crim'nal goes an' kills a poddy calf!
I'm no dotin' daddy, but I know me jooty, you'll allow,
An' the children uv me loins is born to 'ave respect fer Cow.)
            Cow, Cow -
        (Bow yer 'eads, yer blighters, bow!)
Come an' be initiated.  Come an' take the milky vow,
        Put yer wife an' fam'ly in it;
        Work 'em ev'ry wakin' minit;
Fetch yer sordid soul an' pin it, signed an' sealed an' sold ter COW.

First published in The Bulletin, 26 April 1906, and again in the same magazine on 21 August 1913; 
and later in
Backblock Ballads and Other Verses by C.J. Dennis, 1918

Anzac by C.J. Dennis

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Anzac! And war's grim storm . . .
   The scream of a pass'ng shell
Torn earth, and - a quiet form . . .
   "Pass, comrades. All is well."

Nay, but his spirit lives; be very sure.
   Year follows year, and earthly things depart;
But what he dying, gave us shall endure
   Now and for ever in the nation's heart.
Now and for ever; tho' the flesh be gone,
Still shall that Spirit bid us, "Carry on!"

Anzac! The mounds increase;
   Marking where soldiers fell . . . .
Earth's healing scars; and peace.
   "Sleep, comrades. All is well."

And be full certain that they do but sleep,
   Who, falling, yet were well content to find
Fit sanctuary in the hearts that keep
   That spirit and that memory enshrined.
High on Gallipoli, lights that once shone,
Again flame o'er the ocean: "Carry on!"

Anzac! The tramp of marching feet . . . .
   The toll of a passing-bell.
Bowed heads along a city street . . . .
   "Pass, soldier. All is well."

Pass, soldier. When your dwindling ranks grow small;
   When, one by one, old comrades you shall greet;
When the last, lonely veteran's footfall
   Goes echoing adown this city street,
Still may that Spirit, tho' all else be gone,
Cry to our sons: "Australia! Carry on!"

First published in The Herald, 25 April 1927

Author reference sites: C.J. DennisAustlitAustralian Dictionary of BiographyAustralian Poetry Library

See also.

A Song of Anzac by C.J. Dennis

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"When I'm sittin' in me dug-out with me rifle on me knees,
   An' a yowlin', 'owlin' chorus comes a-floatin' up the breeze -
Just a bit o' 'Bonnie Mary'
Or 'Long Way to Tipperaray' --
Then I know I'm in Australia took an' planted overseas . . ."

So we sang in days remembered - fateful days of pain and war --
When the young lad went forth singing, ship-bound for an unknown shore.
They were singing, ever singing, careless lads in careworn days
Sturdy youths, but yet unblooded to red war's unholy ways.
From a land untouched by slaughter
Fared they forth across the water:
Some to Destiny's grim gateway where the scarlet poppy sways.

"They were singin' on the troopship, they were singin' in the train;
When they left their land behind them they were shoutin' a refrain.
An' I'll bet they have a chorus
Gay an' glad in greetin' for us
When their bit of scrappin's over an' they sail back home again ..."

So we sang to dull the aching that was looming even then
When the boys went out to battle, to come back stern fighting men.
So we strove to keep hope buoyant while they lived untouched by war,
But they came back, not with singing, when those anxious days were o'er
Disillusioned and war-weary,
And, for all their smiles were cheery,
Some came bitter, some came broken, some, they came back nevermore.

And today again they're marching, rugged veterans, grey and grave,
These, who joined the carefree chorus, shouting many an olden stave
To the tramping cohorts' motion;
To the rolling of the ocean;
In their singing seeking kinship that high youth must ever crave.
Aye, today again they're marching with old faith and fellowship;
Grave and grey, with memory marching, but no song lifts to the lip.
Year by year the Boys are gathered; year by year the count grows fewer;
But the flame, new-lit on Anzac, goes before them burning pure;
And the Song of Anzac ringing
High above them, sounding, swinging,
Tells that memory of Anzac shall endure while these endure.

They are marching with the old days, with the singing in their hearts,
With the memory of mateship that for not one hour departs:
Silent men, with sober faces,
Marking now the vacant places
Yearly growing, yearly showing where life ends and hope re-starts.
That triumphant Song of Anzac that the living Anzac hears -
Hears imperfectly and dimly,
As he tramps on gravely, grimly -
Haunts the old familiar roadway he has trodden thro' the years.
Done are these with youth's vain dreaming who have yet to pay earth's price,
These who harked to young mates singing,
These who saw their young souls winging,
Ever singing, blithely singing, to the gates of Paradise.

First published in The Herald, 24 April 1937

A Strike of Loyalists by C.J. Dennis

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If the King of England signed the Bill and force was used to coerce the Ulster loyalists, he for one would never again sing the National Anthem.  How could he sing "God Save the King" if his Majesty gave his sanction to such an iniquitous measure?  (Hear, hear.) - Speaker at a Melbourne Orange meeting.

Never again!  Though he starve and die
   For the lack of praise we gave him.
Never again!  Though he yearn and sigh
   For the strains of the old "Gor' Save 'Im."
If a king will thus transgress our rules
We loyalists shall down our tools.

What is the use of a king to us
   Who is dead against our notions --
Mocking our whims and our foibles thus,
   And  our "loyal" Orange motions?
What is the use of our loyalty
If a king won't think the same as we?

Never again shall we doff the hat
   To the strains of anthems royal:
When they lift their voices -- (mostly flat) --
   And declare they still are loyal.
And the lack of howls in a minor key
Shall rack his soul with misery.

Not a word of ours shall praise his name,
   For he counts no more our cobber.
And a king who fails to play our game
   Ain't worth a single slobber.
Then let him reign in silence grim;
This lack of praise will madden him.

Never again shall the rafters ring
   With a midnight song uproarious,
Asking heaven to save our king
   And to send him great and glorious.
And heaven, marking well the lapse,
Will cease its patronage, perhaps.

Then let him mope in his castle dim,
   A king unsung, ungreeted;
And yearn in vain for the loyal hymn
   To which he once was treated.
And let him weep and cry in vain:
"Let's hear 'Gor' Save' just once again!"

Never again!  Though he plead with sobs
   And on his knees doth sue us!
For kings who want to hold their jobs
   Must be respectful to us.
If they ignore our little ways
Henceforth shall we withhold all praise.

Upon his throne in London town
   A king sat up and wondered.
The loyal howls he longed to drown
   No more around him thundered.
"Nay, can it be we are so blest?
Peace! Peace at last!  Now may we rest!"

First published in The Bulletin, 23 April 1914

A Song of Rain by C.J. Dennis

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Because a little vagrant wind veered south from China Sea;
Or else, because a sun-spot stirred; and yet again, maybe
Because some idle god in play breathed on an errant cloud,
The heads of twice two million folk in gratitude are bowed.

      Patter, patter ... Boolconmatta,
      Adelaide and Oodnadatta,
      Pepegoona, parched and dry
      Laugh beneath a dripping sky.
      Riverina's thirsting plain
      Knows the benison of rain.
      Ararat and Arkaroola
      Render thanks with Tantanoola
      For the blessings they are gaining,
      And it's raining -- raining -- raining!

Because a heaven-sent monsoon the mists before it drove;
Because things happened in the moon; or else, because High Jove,
Unbending, played at waterman to please a laughing boy,
The hearts through all a continent are raised in grateful joy.

      Weeps the sky at Wipipipee
      Far Farina's folk are dippy
      With sheer joy, while Ballarat
      Shouts and flings aloft its hat.
      Thirsty Thackaringa yells;
      Taltabooka gladly tells
      Of a season wet and windy;
      Men rejoice on Murrindindie;
      Kalioota's ceased complaining;
      For it's raining -- raining -- raining!

Because a poor bush parson prayed an altruistic prayer,
Rich with unselfish fellow-love that Heaven counted rare;
And yet, mayhap, because one night a meteor was hurled
Across the everlasting blue, the luck was with our world.

      On the wilds of Winininnie
      Cattle low and horses whinny,
      Frolicking with sheer delight.
      From Beltana to The Bight,
      In the Mallee's sun-scorched towns,
      In the sheds on Darling Downs,
      In the huts at Yudnapinna,
      Tents on Tidnacoordininna,
      To the sky all heads are craning --
      For it's raining -- raining -- raining!

Because some strange, cyclonic thing has happened -- God knows where --
Men dream again of easy days, of cash to spend and spare.
The ring fair Clara coveted, Belinda's furs are nigh,
As clerklings watch their increments fall shining from the sky.

      Rolls the thunder at Eudunda;
      Leongatha, Boort, Kapunda
      Send a joyous message down;
      Sorrows, flooded, sink and drown.
      Ninkerloo and Nerim South
      Hail the breaking of the drouth;
      From Toolangi's wooded mountains
      Sounds the song of plashing fountains;
      Sovereign Summer's might is waning;
      It is raining -- raining -- raining!

Because the breeze blew sou'-by-east across the China Sea;
Or else, because the thing was willed through all eternity
By gods that rule the rushing stars, or gods long aeons dead,
The earth is made to smile again, and living things are fed.

      Mile on mile from Mallacoota
      Runs the news, and far Baroota
      Speeds it over hill and plain,
      Till the slogan of the rain
      Rolls afar to Yankalilla;
      Wallaroo and Wirrawilla
      Shout it o'er the leagues between,
      Telling of the dawning green.
      Frogs at Cocoroc are croaking,
      Booboorowie soil is soaking,
      Oodla Wirra, Orroroo
      Breathe relief and hope anew.
      Wycheproof and Wollongong
      Catch the burden of the song
      That is rolling, rolling ever
      O'er the plains of Never Never,
      Sounding in each mountain rill,
      Echoing from hill to hill ...
      In the lonely, silent places
      Men lift up their glad, wet faces,
      And their thanks ask no explaining --
      It is raining -- raining -- raining!

First published in The Bulletin, 22 April 1915;
and later in
Backblock Ballads and Later Verses by C.J. Dennis, 1918.

The Silent Toast by C.J. Dennis

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Mr. Murray facetiously protested against the practice of toasting Parliament at every public function...."I would like all societies to think," said the Premier, "whether it would not be better always to have this toast drunk like that of his Majesty, or in silence, solemnly and with melancholy, like that of a memory." - Daily paper.

With melancholy mien, stand up!
   With sad eyes downward bent,
All solemnly come drink with me
   Unto "Our Parliament."
Not to the present crowd I ween,
But to "A House that Might Have Been."

In silence charge your glasses all,
   Your brows o'ercast with gloom;
I bid you toast a vanished host
   Now mould'ring in the tomb.
I pledge a mournful memory -
   "The patriots who used to be."

I give you "MURRAY, Democrat" --
   A memory.  Stand up!
Strict silence keep; drink long and deep,
   And drain the bitter cup.
I give JACK MURRAY, staunch and game,
Who lived before JOHN WEARY came.

I pledge "The Men who used to be"
   Ere Coalition came;
Before they turned and meekly learned
   To play the Fusion game:
The game, with all its wiles and tricks,
Of grab-all party politics.

I give you DEAKIN.... Bow your heads!
   I give you him that led
And held wide sway but yesterday,
   Yet now is Fused and dead:
The man whose patriotic views
Are scarcely cold - slain by a Fuse.

The KIDSTON of pre-Fusion days --
   I pledge in silence deep
That pioneer of yesteryear;
   Now he lies fast asleep
Within a Tory-fashioned tomb,
For Fusion marked him out for doom.

All solemnly I rise again
   And toast "The Other PEAKE";
That democrat who'd shudder at
   An act so poor and weak
As Fusing with his one-time foes
For office.  Calm be his repose!

In silence drink; your glasses clink.
   I pledge a memory;
I give the toast of that lost host,
   The men who used to be.
All mournfully your glasses raise:
"To Liberals of other days."

First published in The Bulletin, 21 April 1910

The Bulldog Breed by C.J. Dennis

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For the first time in many years the British Budget shows a surplus - the amount being over 29 millions - and brings definite relief at last to workers, to unemployed, to taxpayers and motorists.  Thus, eschewing hysterical and dramatic schemes for recovery, Britain stolidly and silently forges toward a new prosperity.

"It's dogged as does it."  They've made it a saying,
   A motto to hold in that tight little isle --
To hold in their fighting and toiling and playing --
   And stick to the job with a tight little smile.
As fortune seems bleakest they cut out complaining --
   They cut out the cackle and dig in their toes
As, inch upon inch, the lost ground they're regaining,
   And just how they manage it nobody knows. 

"It's dogged as does it."  There's something heroic,
   Unseen and unsung in this desperate drive;
With mien of the meek and the mind of a stoic,
   They win their chief goal when they seem least alive.
The nations behold, yet can scarcely believe it
   As Britain wins thro' to a triumph again;
And, wondering, ask how those dullards achieve it
   In that darkest hour when all effort seems vain. 

"Its dogged as does it."  No pause for regretting,
   For sighing or sobbing she seeks in the fray;
But silently, steadily, all else forgetting,
   Stays on the job till the clouds clear away.
Then, rubbing its eyes in incredulous wander,
   The world scarce believes such a miracle true
As, snatchin' for victory, e'en from a blunder,
   The tight little island again muddles thro'.

First published in The Herald, 20 April 1934

Repatriation by C.J. Dennis

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A speaker recently pointed out that one of the blessings of the depression is that it keeps men from retiring and rotting.  Young framers of 35 to 40 who had retired are now back at the plough in useful life and service.

The blue sky and the brown earth
   And my hand to the plough once more,
I have found again life's only worth,
   And the deadening dream is o'er.
The good nag's rhythmic, muffled plod
   And the cloven furrow's roll;
The brave smell of the new-turned sod --
   I'm a man again! And whole.

Oh, I had dreamed in the olden days,
   As a man dreams, lacking sense,
Of a carefree life of easy days
   And the lure of indolence.
For I counted care an unmixed harm
   And toil an evil thing;
So I left the plough, and I left the farm,
   And fain would be a King --

A King without his kingdom. Soon,
   A lonely road I went
To find in ease an empty boon,
   In leisure, discontent.
A thousand little niggling cares
   Made mock of indolence.
And apprehension set its snares
   Around my hoarded fence. 

Oh, brown earth and blue sky!
   I'm home again, and King
No longer doomed to live and die
   A rusting, rotting thing.
Aching no more to plan and toil
   For visions worlds away.
My dream is here on this kind soil.
   My kingdom is today!

First published in The Herald, 19 April 1933

Weary by C. J. Dennis

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Aw, I'm sick o' the whole darn human race,
   An' I'm sick o' this mundane ball;
I'm sick o' the sight o' me brother's face,
   An' his works an' talk an' all;
I'm sick o' the silly sounds I hear,
   I'm sick o' the sights I see;
Ole Omar K. he knew good cheer,
   An' it's much the same with me.

Gimme a bit o' a bough to sit
   Beneath, an' a book of rhyme,
An' a cuddlesome girl that sings a bit,
   But don't sing all the time:
That's all I ask, an' it's only just;
   For it's all that I hold dear --
A bough an' a book an' a girl an' a crust;
   That, an' a jug o' beer.

Then I'll cuddle me girl an' I'll quaff me ale
   As we sit on the leafy floor;
An' when the book an' the beer jug fail,
   I'll cuddle me girl some more.
For jugs give out an' books get slow.
   But you can take my tip for square
Tho' the bough an' the book an' the beer jug go,
   The girl, she's always there.

For I'm sick o' the sight o' me brother's face,
   An' the world's a sight too slow;
An' I'm sick o' tryin' to go the pace,
   When there ain't no pace to go;
I'm sick o' the "gilded halls of vice,"
   An' I'm sick o' the "sainted shrine,"
I'm sick o' me own an' me friends' advice,
   An' the gold that won't be mine.

I'm sick o' the sound o' me fellow's voice,
   I'm sick o' his schemes an' shams;
O' trying to choose when there ain't no choice,
   An' of damin' several dams;
So, gimme a girl that ain't too slow,
  You can keep your book of rhyme,
An' you bough an' bread an' your beer.  Wot O!
   An' I'll cuddle her all the time.

First published in The Gadfly, 18 April 1906;
and later in
The Bulletin, 21 August 1913; and
Backblock Ballads and Other Verses by C.J. Dennis, 1913.

Good Friday by C.J. Dennis

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So we forget?  The streets bloom gay
   With festive garments, many hued;
And man and maid laugh down the way
   With all the joy of life imbued.
Respite from toil, surcease from care
   Lend gladness to a merry voice,
As brother cries to brother there,
         "Let us rejoice."

Do we forget?  The garden blooms;
   Joy beckons from the sunlit hill,
Where now no triple shadow looms
   To cast o'er all the earth a chill.
This day is made for carefree souls!
   For holiday!  For Eastertide! ...
Yet, thro' it all a bell still tolls
         For One Who died. 

First published in The Herald, 17 April 1930

The Hymn of Futility by C.J. Dennis

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The settlement of the Territory is Australia's own job, and Australia's own salvation depends on the efficiency and  expedition with which it is done. - The BULLETIN (12/3/'14)

Lord, Thou hast given unto us a land.
   In Thy beneficence Thou has ordained
That we should hold a country great and grand,
   Such as no race of old has ever gained.
A favoured people, basking in Thy smile:
   So dost Thou leave us to work out our fate;
But, Lord, be patient yet a little while.
   The shade is pleasing and our task is great.

Lo, Thou hast said: "This land I give to you
   To be the cradle of a mighty race,
Who shall take up the White Man's task anew,
   And all the nations of the world outpace.
No heritage for cowards or for slaves,
   Here is a mission for the brave, the strong.
Then see ye to it, lest dishonoured graves
   Bear witness that he tarried overlong."

Lo, Thou hast said: "When ye have toiled and tilled,
   When ye have borne the heat, and wisely sown,
And every corner of the vineyard filled
   With goodly growth, the land shall be your own.
Then shall your sons and your sons' sons rejoice.
   Then shall the race speak with a conqueror's mouth;
And all the world shall hearken to its voice,
   And heed the great White Nation of the South."

And Thou hast said: "This, striving, shall ye do.
   Be diligent to tend and guard the soil.
If this great heritage I trust to you
   Be worth the purchase of a meed of toil,
Then shall ye not, at call of game or mart,
   Forgo the labour of a single day.
They spurn the gift who treasure but a part.
   Guard ye the whole, lest all be cast away!

"Say, is My bounty worth the winning?"  (Lord,
   So hast thou spoken.  Humbly have we heard.)
"No son of man is born who can afford
   To pay Me tribute with an empty word.
Guard ye the treasure if the gift be meet.
   Win ye to strength and wisdom while ye may.
For he who fears the burden and the heat
   Shall gain the wages of a squandered day!"

Lord, we have heard....Loud our Hosannas rang!
   Voices of glad thanksgiving did we lift.
From out the fullness of our hearts we sang
   Sweet hymns of praise for this Thy gracious gift.
Here, in one corner of the land, we found
   A goodly garden, where abundant food
We won, with scanty labor, from the ground.
   Here did we rest.   And, Lord, we found it good!

Great cities have we builded here, O Lord;
   And corn and kine full plenty for our need
We have; and cloth the wondrous land afford
   Treasure beyond the wildest dreams of greed.
Even this tiny portion of Thy gift,
   One corner of our mighty continent,
Doth please us well.  A voice in prayer we lift:
   "Lord, give us peace!  For we are well content."

Lord, give us peace; for Thou has sent a sign:
   Smoke of a raider's ships athwart the sky!
Nay, suffer us to hold this gift of Thine!
   The burden, Lord!  The burden-by and by!
The sun is hot, Lord, and the way is long!
   'Tis pleasant in this corner Thou has blest.
Leave us to tarry here with wine and song.
   Our little corner, Lord!  Guard Thou the rest!

But yesterday our fathers hither came,
   Rovers and strangers on a foreign strand.
Must we, for their neglect, bear all the blame?
   Nay, Master, we have come to love our land!
But see, the task Thou givest us is great;
   The load is heavy and the way is long!
Hold Thou our enemy without the gate;
   When we have rested then shall we be strong.

Lord, Thou hast spoken ... And, with hands to ears,
   We would shut out the thunder of Thy voice
That in the nightwatch wakes our sudden fears --
   "The day is here, and yours must be the choice.
Will ye be slaves and shun the task of men?
   Will ye be weak who may be brave and strong?"
We wave our banners boastfully, and then,
   Weakly we answer, "Lord, the way is long!"

"Time tarries not, but here ye tarry yet,
   The futile masters of a continent,
Guard ye the gift I gave?  Do ye forget?"
   And still we answer, "Lord, we are content.
Fat have we grown upon this goodly soil,
   A little while he patient, Lord, and wait.
To-morrow and to-morrow will we toil.
   The shade is pleasing, Lord!  Our task is great!"

But ever through the clamour of the mart,
   And ever on the playground through the cheers:
"He spurns the gift who guardeth but a part" -
   So cloth the warning fall on heedless cars.
"Guard ye the treasure if the gift be meet" --
   (Loudly we call the odds, we cheer the play.)
"For he who fears the burden and the heat
   Shall glean the harvest of a squandered day."

First published in The Bulletin, 16 April 1914;
and later in
Backblock Ballads and Later Verses by C.J. Dennis, 1918.

The Sentimental Bloke Becomes a Father by C.J. Dennis

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My son! ... Them words, jist like a blessed song,
Is singin' in me 'eart the 'ole day long;
     Over an' over; while I'm scared I'll wake
     Out of a dream, to find it all a fake.
My son! Two little words, that, yesterdee,
Wus jist two simple, senseless words to me;
     An' now -- no man, not since the world begun,
     Made any better pray'r than that.... My son!
My son an' bloomin' 'eir ... Ours! ... 'Ers an' mine!
The finest kid in -- Aw, the sun don't shine --
     Ther' ain't no joy fer me beneath the blue
     Unless I'm gazin' lovin' at them two.
A little while ago it was jist "me" --
A lonely, longin' streak o' misery.
     An' then 'twas "'er an' me" -- Doreen, my wife!
     An' now it's "'im an' us" an' -- sich is life.
But 'struth! 'E is king-pin! The 'ead serang!
I mustn't tramp about, or talk no slang;
     I mustn't pinch 'is nose, or make a face,
     I mustn't -- Strike! 'E seems to own the place!
Cunning? Yeh'd think, to look into 'is eyes,
'E knoo the game clean thro'; 'e seems that wise.
     Wiv 'er 'an nurse 'e is the leadin' man,
     An' poor ole dad's amongst the "also ran."
"Goog, goo," 'e sez, and curls 'is cunnin' toes.
Yeh'd be su'prised the 'eaps o' things 'e knows.
     I'll swear 'e tumbles I'm 'is father, too;
     The way 'e squints at me, an' sez "Goog, goo."
Why! 'smornin' 'ere 'is lordship gits a grip
Fair on me finger -- give it quite a nip!
     An' when I tugs, 'e won't let go 'is hold!
     'Angs on like that! An' 'im not three weeks old!
"Goog, goo," 'e sez. I'll swear yeh never did
In all yer natcheril, see sich a kid.
     The cunnin' ways 'e's got; the knowin' stare --
     Ther' ain't a youngster like 'im anywhere!
An', when 'e gits a little pain inside,
'Is dead straight griffin ain't to be denied.
     I'm sent to talk sweet nuffin's to the fowls;
     While nurse turns 'and-springs ev'ry time 'e 'owls.
But say, I tell yeh straight ... I been thro 'ell!
The things I thort I wouldn't dare to tell
     Lest, in the tellin' I might feel again
     One little part of all that fear an' pain.
It come so sudden that I lorst me block.
First, it was, 'Ell-fer-leather to the doc.,
     'Oo took it all so calm 'e made me curse --
     An' then I sprints like mad to get the nurse.
By gum; that woman! But she beat me flat!
A man's jist putty in a game like that.
     She owned me 'appy 'ome almost before
     She fairly got 'er nose inside me door.
Sweatin' I was! but cold wiv fear inside --
An' then, to think a man could be denied
     'Is wife an' 'ome an' told to fade away
     By jist one fat ole nurse 'oo's in 'is pay!
I wus too weak wiv funk to start an' rouse.
'Struth! Ain't a man the boss in 'is own 'ouse?
     "You go an' chase yerself!" she tips me straight.
     There's nothin' now fer you to do but -- wait."
Wait? ... Gawd! ... I never knoo wot waitin' meant.
In all me life till that day I was sent
     To loaf around, while there inside -- Aw, strike!
     I couldn't tell yeh wot that hour was like!
Three times I comes to listen at the door;
Three times I drags meself away once more;
     'Arf dead wiv fear; 'arf dead wiv tremblin' joy ...
     An' then she beckons me, an' sez -- "A boy!"
"A boy!" she sez. "An' bofe is doin' well!"
I drops into a chair, an' jist sez -- "'Ell!"
     It was a pray'r. I feels bofe crook an' glad....
     An' that's the strength of bein' made a dad.
I thinks of church, when in that room I goes,
'Oldin' me breaf an' walkin' on me toes.
     Fer 'arf a mo' I feared me nerve 'ud fail
     To see 'er Iying there so still an' pale.
She looks so frail, at first, I dursn't stir.
An' then, I leans acrost an' kisses 'er;
     An' all the room gits sorter blurred an' dim ...
     She smiles, an' moves 'er 'ead. "Dear lad! Kiss 'im."
Near smothered in a ton of snowy clothes,
First thing, I sees a bunch o' stubby toes,
     Bald 'ead, termater face, an' two big eyes.
     "Look, Kid," she smiles at me. "Ain't 'e a size?"
'E didn't seem no sorter size to me;
But yet, I speak no lie when I agree;
     "'E is," I sez, an' smiles back at Doreen,
     'The biggest nipper fer 'is age I've seen."
She turns away; 'er eyes is brimmin' wet.
"Our little son!" she sez. "Our precious pet!"
     An' then, I seen a great big drop roll down
     An' fall -- kersplosh! -- fair on 'is nibs's crown.
An' still she smiles. "A lucky sign," she said.
"Somewhere, in some ole book, one time I read,
     'The child will sure be blest all thro' the years
     Who's christened wiv 'is mother's 'appy tears."'
"Kiss 'im," she sez. I was afraid to take
Too big a mouthful of 'im, fear 'e'd break.
     An' when 'e gits a fair look at me phiz
     'E puckers up 'is nose, an' then -- Geewhizz!
'Ow did 'e 'owl! In 'arf a second more
Nurse 'ad me 'ustled clean outside the door.
     Scarce knowin' 'ow, I gits out in the yard,
     An' leans agen the fence an' thinks reel 'ard.
A long, long time I looks at my two lands.
"They're all I got," I thinks, "they're all that stands
     Twixt this 'ard world an' them I calls me own.
     An' fer their sakes I'll work 'em to the bone."
Them vows an' things sounds like a lot o' guff.
Maybe, it's foolish thinkin' all this stuff --
     Maybe, it's childish-like to scheme an' plan;
     But -- I dunno -- it's that way wiv a man.
I only know that kid belongs to me!
We ain't decided yet wot 'e's to be.
     Doreen, she sez 'e's got a poit's eyes;
     But I ain't got much use fer them soft guys.
I think we ort to make 'im something great --
A bookie, or a champeen 'eavy-weight:
     Some callin' that'll give 'im room to spread.
     A fool could see 'e's got a clever 'ead.
I know 'e's good an' honest; for 'is eyes
Is jist like 'ers; so big an' lovin'-wise;
     They carries peace an' trust where e'er they goes
     An', say, the nurse she sez 'e's got my nose!
Dead ring fer me ole conk, she sez it is.
More like a blob of putty on 'is phiz,
     I think. But 'e's a fair 'ard case, all right.
     I'll swear I thort 'e wunk at me last night!
My wife an' fam'ly! Don't it sound all right!
That's wot I whispers to meself at night.
     Some day, I s'pose, I'll learn to say it loud
     An' careless; kiddin' that I don't feel proud.
My son! ... If there's a Gawd 'Oos leanin' near
To watch our dilly little lives down 'ere,
     'E smiles, I guess, if 'E's a lovin' one --
     Smiles, friendly-like, to 'ear them words -- My son.

First published in The Bulletin, 15 April 1915, and again in the same magazine on 29 January 1930;
and later in
The Songs of a Sentimental Bloke by C.J. Dennis, 1915; and
Selected Works of C.J. Dennis, 1988.

Note: this poem is also known by the title The Kid.

Aha! Beware! by C.J. Dennis

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Gregory Wade is a man of dark sayings.  Once again he has stated with a face of gloom that if certain Labor members don't cease their attacks he will tell all he knows about them.  This murky taunt is Wade's favorite weapon; he seems to know a horrid secret about everybody. - BULLETIN, 24/3/'10.

Aha! Beware! I know your guilty past!
   I was a witness of that secret crime.
One word! and all your fondest hopes I blast.
               I bide me time.
I hold you in me grip, unhappy man,
And I shall cr-r-rush you if you thwart me plan.

Hist! Have a care, lest I divulge the plot.
   I saw you forge the will!  With these two eyes
I recognised the corpse, and, know the spot
               Where it now lies.
I know the hand that sped the fatal blow,
And stole the widder's che-ild.  Aha!  I know!

Be warned! Seek not to sully my fair fame.
   Who stole the papers?. . . Ah!. . . Then have a care
The man that pawned the spoons -- I know his name;
               And I'm aware
Who lured the girl aboard the lugger.  Aye!
All -- all is known to me, for I was nigh.

I know who shook the fowls! ...  Then do not seek
   To try my patience over much, for lo,
You're doomed if but one little word I speak;
               For well I know
Who killed the dog and set the house alight
And robbed the clothes-line at the dead o' night.

Remember! All your secrets I could tell.
   To me your cupboard doors are all ajar.
Each hidden skeleton I know full well.
               Push me too far,
And I shall tell the world who dodged his rent,
And privately ate sausages in Lent.

'Twas I that lurked unseen within your lair!
   'Twas I that overheard the villain's plot!
I saw you filch the marriage lines!  Beware!
               I heard the shot!
How little you suspected who was by
When you purloined the jools.  Aha!  'Twas I!

You cannot hide your covert crimes from me;
   To me your private life's an open book.
Then do not cross my path or, suddenly --
               One word! One look!
And all your guilty past, the world shall know,
And to the dust your pride be humbled low.

My mind is the receptacle for all
   The peccadilloes of mine enemies.
I hold them sternly at my beck and call,
               Just as I please.
And it was I who hid in that dark lane
And heard them plan the wrecking of the train.

Hist!  If you speak one word all, all is lost!
   Once thwart my will and, lo, your doom I seal!
Eye you frustrate my plans count well the cost;
               I shall reveal
Your sin, and on you heap anathema!
Hist!  We shall meet again.  Farewell.  Aha!

First published in The Bulletin, 14 April 1910

Our Town Awakes by C.J. Dennis

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Six o'clock.  From the railway yard
      The engine toots; careering hard,
   A milk-cart rattles by and stops;
   A magpie calls from the gum-tree tops;
The pub "boots", sweeping out the bar,
Waves to the early service-car,
   While the town's chief toper waits outside,
   Woe-begone and bleary-eyed;
Two cows go lowing down the way;
A rooster crows.  It's another day.

Eight o'clock.  The tradesmen come --
      Shop-boys whistling, masters glum,
   To stand at doors and stretch and yawn;
   Fronts are swept and blinds are drawn;
The washerwoman, Mrs Dubbs,
Slip-slops off to her taps and tubs,
   Washing clothes for other folk;
   The cheery barber cracks a joke,
But the day's first client fails to laugh --
Fresh from a tiff from his better half.

Nine o'clock.  Precise and neat,
      Miss Miggs comes mincing down the street,
   The town's dressmaker, pert and prim,
   Sly eyes, from under her hat's brim,
Gathering gossip by the way:
The same old goings-on today --
   That grocer off for his morning nip;
   The chemist, too, that married rip,
Flirting again with the girl next door.
Miss Miggs gleans twenty tales to store.

Ten o'clock.  The town grows brisk;
      Down the main street motors whisk;
   Jinkers, carts and farmers' drays
   Stop at shops and go their ways;
In solemn talk with the town surveyor
Comes Mr Mullinger, our mayor,
   Pausing at doors for a friendly chat;
   He bows, he smiles, he lifts his hat ...
Now a brisker rush and a sudden din:
"That's her!" And the city train comes in.

First published in The Herald, 13 April 1937;
and later in
The Queenslander, 29 April 1937; and
Random Verse edited by Margaret Herron, 1952.

Hello Digger! by C.J. Dennis

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Mr. Hugh J. Ward's novel War Memorial appeal plan, whereby every telephone subscriber will be asked to contribute, was enthusiastically launched at the Legacy Club's luncheon yesterday. Each member of the club has been allotted ten pages of the telephone directory, and undertakes to appeal to all the subscribers whose names appear in his section.

Hello!  Do you remember, friend of mine,
   The promise we made long years ago?
The sky was clouded then, and suns that shine
   On peaceful days, we hardly hoped to know
Ever again.  For your dear friends and mine,
Had marched for victory -- or anodyne.

The Anzacs!  It was scarcely then a word
   Familiar to our ears.  But do you hear
His voice -- his precious voice come back to you
   Who rests today beside a coastline drear.
Saying, "I did my little for a friend
And -- must we be forgotten in the end."

Hello! When you pick up the 'phone today
   And hear -- not as a favor but a right,
That those who won for us the glorious day
   Shall not be shrouded in oblivious night:
Is it a living voice that answers you,
Or some lost friend that long ago you know? 

The Anzacs!  Every man who has a hear
   Keeps there enshrined, an intimate, so dear.
The memory of one who played his part
   That we, in peaceful days, might linger here --
Living -- And, selfishly, shall it be said
We took the payment -- and -- forgot our dead?

Hello!  You in your office snugly squat,
   Pick up the 'phone: all safe in peaceful days.
And suddenly, a voice long, long forgot
   Comes in an undertone, and, pleading says:
"Do you forget us, digger?  Is the cost
So much ... so much, against all we lost?"

The Anzacs!  They are calling you today.
   A long-stilled voice mayhap, comes to your ear --
A voice familiar, that perchance might say
   "Remember those whom once you held so dear."
And, listening, don't forget, the man who seeks
Remembrance ... Brother!  'Tis an Anzac speaks!

First published in The Herald, 12 April 1928

Smiler Smith: The Legend of a Freak by C.J. Dennis

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"No; I don't believe in croakers," said McGee of Brady's Bend
   To a writing man in search of rustic lore,
"Tho' the bloke that's allus smilin' samples trouble in the end.
   'Ave I ever told you 'bout Bill Smith afore?
Thought I never.  Tho' I might 'ave done, fer that pertic'ler yarn's
   Quite a favrit one uv mine, becos it shows
All the truth uv that old sayin', 'More yer lives ther more yer larns.'
   ('Ave yer got a plug uv baccer 'bout yer clothes?)

"Now, I s'pose yer've 'eard the cockie's allus growlin', more or less.
   Yer kin 'ardly blame the ones that lives roun' 'ere.
It's a Gawd-fergotten country, an' th'r mostly in a mess;
   Never yet 'ad wot yer'd call a decent year.
On the payin' land the cockie's on the grumble all the same?
   Yes, but there it's just a case uv policy;
So's to keep too many comin' on the land to spoil ther game.
   That's to scare off opposition, don't yer see?

"Well, take this 'ere bloke, Bill Smith, wus wot yer'd call quite oppersite:
   'E was never known to grumble in 'is life;
But was allus on the smilin' racket, mornin', noon, an' night.
   'Owsoever things wus shapin' -- (Len's yer knife.)
So 'e come 'ere with 'is fambly, an' took up a bit uv land --
   That's to say, 'e 'ad a wife an' one small child --
Bein' only lately married -- an' the 'opes 'e 'ad was grand.
   W'en we told 'im that 'e'd starve 'e only smiled.

"An' 'e smiled a trifle wider w'en 'e found the farm 'e'd bought
   Wasn't 'arf up to the 'count the vendor give;
But 'e never threatened lor, nor sued the agent -- as 'e ought;
   Only smiled, an' settled down, an' tried to live.
Course 'is first year wus a failure, an' 'is crop come up that thin
   That 'e turned the poultry on it, fer to scratch.
Sed 'e'd 'ave ter grin an' bear it, an' 'e did -- erspechly grin,
   Like a bloomin' 'eathen image -- (Got a match?)

Then, to make 'is troubles 'arder, 'e'd another mouth to feed --
   An addition to 'is fambly that same year;
But 'e came the 'appy father -- it ud made yer 'eart-strings bleed
   Fer to see the poor chap smile frum ear to ear.
That wus only the beginnin'.  Same ole story ev'ry year:
   Ev'ry season like the one uv w'ich I spoke;
An' 'e kept on 'avin' failures, an' 'is missus 'avin' -- ('Ere!
   Wot durn rotten sorter baccer's this yer smoke?)

"Well, 'is smile become a sorter institootion in a way,
   'Cos around these drouthy parts 'is sort wus rare;
An' to strangers in the district we would point 'im out an' say:
   'There's a freak -- a smilin' cockie over there.'
Ev'ry Sunday, in the chapel, 'e'd sit smilin' in 'is place,
   Like as if 'e never knoo the touch uv sin;
An' w'enever 'ell wus mentioned 'e would nearly split 'is face,
   Seems the more 'e scented trouble more 'e'd grin.

"'E wus allus full uv worry, an' 'e toiled without a spell,
   But the corner uv 'is mouth was never dropped.
So 'e smiled on life, an' death, an' drouth, an' fate, an' fear uv 'ell,
   Fer exactly seven summers, then 'e stopped.
'Ow?  Well, not upon a sudden like, but slowly, by degrees,
   You could see 'is smile was fadin' outer sight:
Sorter frayin' at the edges -- goin' threadbare at the knees --
   Gettin' worn, an' old, an' tattered -- (Got a light?)

"Stan's to reason, you can't wear a thing fer ever an' a day,
   Thout it goin' w'en yer've 'ad it f'r a while.
'Tisn't go'n to larst a lifetime.  'Tain't to be expected -- Ay?
   It wus just the same with this 'ere feller's smile.
Cos 'e allus 'ad it on 'im, night an' day, in shine or rain,
   An' uv course, 'e couldn't 'elp but wear it out;
So 'e lost it, an' it wouldn't stand no patchin' up again,
   'Cos I often seen 'im tryin' -- (Go'n' ter shout?)"

First published in The Critic, 11 April 1903

Cobbers and Quids by C.J. Dennis

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At a suburban police court on Tuesday a magistrate took strong exception to a witness's frequent use of the terms "cobber" and "half-quid."

Is youth not less pedantic, less absurd,
   Less prone to value things of little worth
In failing to wax wrath about a word
   That bears suspicion of a lowly birth?
All words have known their low and vulgar days --
   Known grime and poverty when they were young;
And many a proud and pompous modern phrase
   Was once the plaything of a common tongue.

But as we grow respectable and staid
   Mere sound, to middle-age, parades as sense.
Grey slaves of precedent, we grow afraid
   Of youth and all its sane inconsequence.
Forgetting words are no god-given things,
   With queer intolerance we would insist --
In terms to which the mould of ages clings --
   On purity that never did exist.

Language is not the gift of any god;
   Rude tribesmen made it when the race was young;
And as around the weary earth we plod
   Still the illiterate enrich the tongue;
And still while careless youth goes gaily rid
   Of age's caution, precedent and pence,
Better a cobber who'll lend half a quid
   Than all the thrifty pedant's "common sense."

First published in The Herald, 10 April 1930

The Mystic by C.J. Dennis

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An "Ode to the Moon" did he indite
   With his two-and-half soul-power.
('Twas the child of a starlit summer night,
   Begot by a gloomy hour.)

And he vowed it was a work immense,
   And he quoted it a lot,
And be published it at his own expense;
   But the cold, hard world said - "Rot!"

And he wrote him ringing verse of horse,
   And the stockman, and his pipe,
And the brooding bushland; but, of course,
   The world just murmured - "Tripe!"

So he sat him down for another fling,
   And his time-exposure mind
Evolved a topical sort of thing,
   Of a gay and hum'rous kind.

And he looked to see the world go wild,
   And laugh until it cried;
But the verse was poor and the humor mild,
   And - "Bosh!" the tired world sighed.

Then he oiled his weird, ball-bearing mind,
   In a dull, despairing mood,
And he wrote a thing of a cryptic kind,
   Which nobody understood.

'Twas an ode to the "Umph" and the "Thingmebob,"
   With a lilt and a right good ring,
And hints of a smirk, a snarl, a sob,
   And a murky murmuring.

Nay, nobody understood a word,
   Nor strove to understand;
But few dared say it was absurd,
   So most agreed 'twas "Grand!"

Then be let his hair grow lank and long,
   And an air intense he got,
And ever he strove to nurse in song
   The cult of the "Dunnowhat."

And now he never writes in vain,
   But a famous man is he,
With a ten soul-power and a chuck-lathe brain,
   And an air of mysterie.

So, of his lot take heed; I wot
   If you aspire to fame,
Don't waste a tune on horse or moon,
   But rave of Whatsitsname;
                       It's tame,
   But still it's Whatsitsname.

First published in The Bulletin, 9 April 1908

The Lapse of the Sentimental Bloke by C.J. Dennis

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She never magged; she never said no word; 
But sat an' looked at me an' never stirred. 
   I could 'a' bluffed it out if she 'ad been 
Fair narked, an' let me 'ave it wiv 'er tongue; 
It silence told me 'ow 'er 'eart wus wrung. 
      Poor 'urt Doreen!
Gorstruth! I'd sooner fight wiv fifty men
Than git one look like that frum 'er agen!
She never moved; she never spoke no word;
That 'urt look in 'er eyes, like some scared bird: 
   "'Ere is the man I loved," it seemed to say.
"'E's mine, this crawlin' thing, an' I'm 'is wife;
Tied up fer good; an' orl me joy in life
      Is chucked away!"
If she 'ad bashed me I'd 'a' felt no 'urt!
But 'ere she treats me like -- like I wus dirt.
'Ow is a man to guard agen that look?
Fer other wimmin, when the'r blokes go crook,
   An' lobs 'ome wiv the wages uv a jag,
They smashes things an' carries on a treat
An' 'owls an' scolds an' wakes the bloomin' street
      Wiv noisy mag.
But 'er -- she never speaks; she never stirs ...
I drops me bundle ... An' the game is 'ers.
Jist two months wed! Eight weeks uv married bliss 
Wiv my Doreen, an' now it's come to this!
   Wot wus I thinkin' uv? Gawd! I ain't fit 
To kiss the place 'er little feet 'as been! 
'Er that I called me wife, me own Doreen! 
      Fond dreams 'as flit; 
Love's done a bunk, an' joy is up the pole; 
An' shame an' sorrer's roostin' in me soul.
'Twus orl becors uv Ginger Mick -- the cow! 
(I wish't I 'ad 'im 'ere to deal wiv now!
   I'd pass 'im one, I would! 'E ain't no man!) 
I meets 'im Choosdee ev'nin' up the town. 
"Wot O," 'e chips me. "Kin yeh keep one down?" 
      I sez I can. 
We 'as a couple; then meets three er four 
Flash coves I useter know, an' 'as some more.
"'Ow are yeh on a little gamble, Kid?" 
Sez Ginger Mick. "Lars' night I'm on four quid.
   Come 'round an' try yer luck at Steeny's school.
"No," sez me conscience. Then I thinks, 'Why not? 
An' buy 'er presents if I wins a pot? 
      A blazin' fool 
I wus. Fer 'arf a mo' I 'as a fight; 
Then conscience skies the wipe ... Sez I "Orright."
Ten minutes later I was back once more,
Kip in me 'and, on Steeny Isaac's floor,
   Me luck was in an' I wus 'eadin' good. 
Yes, back agen amongst the same old crew! 
An' orl the time down in me 'eart I knew 
      I never should ... 
Nex' thing I knows it's after two o'clock -- 
Two in the morning! An' I've done me block!
"Wot odds?" I thinks. "I'm in fer it orright." 
An' so I stops an' gambles orl the night;
   An' bribes me conscience wiv the gilt I wins. 
But when I comes out in the cold, 'ard dawn 
I know I've crooled me pitch; me soul's in pawn. 
      My flamin' sins
They 'its me in a 'eap right where I live; 
Fer I 'ave broke the solim vow I give.
She never magged; she never said no word. 
An' when I speaks, it seems she never 'eard.
   I could 'a' sung a nim, I feels so gay!
If she 'ad only roused I might 'a' smiled. 
She jist seems 'urt an' crushed; not even riled. 
      I turns away, 
An' yanks me carkis out into the yard, 
Like some whipped pup; an' kicks meself reel 'ard.
An' then, I sneaks to bed, an' feels dead crook.
Fer golden quids I couldn't face that look --
   That trouble in the eyes uv my Doreen.
Aw, strike! Wot made me go an' do this thing?
I feel jist like a chewed up bit of string,
      An' rotten mean!
Fer 'arf an hour I lies there feelin' cheap;
An' then I s'pose, I muster fell asleep....
" 'Ere, Kid, drink this" ... I wakes, an' lifts me 'ead, 
An' sees 'er standin' there beside the bed; 
   A basin in 'er 'ands; an' in 'er eyes -- 
(Eyes that wiv unshed tears is shinin' wet) -- 
The sorter look I never shall ferget, 
      Until I dies. 
" 'Ere, Kid, drink this," she sez, an' smiles at me. 
I looks -- an' spare me days! <i>It was beef tea!</i>
Beef tea! She treats me like a hinvaleed! 
Me! that 'as caused 'er lovin' 'eart to bleed.
   It 'urts me worse than maggin' fer a week! 
'Er! 'oo 'ad right to turn dead sour on me, 
Fergives like that, an' feeds me wiv beef tea ... 
      I tries to speak; 
An' then -- I ain't ashamed o' wot I did --
I 'ides me face ... an' blubbers like a kid.

First published in The Bulletin, 8 April 1915;
and later in
The Songs of a Sentimental Bloke by C.J. Dennis, 1915; and
Selected Works of C.J. Dennis, 1988.

Note: this poem is also known by the title Beef Tea.

Reverie in a Garden by C.J. Dennis

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This week is Garden Week in Melbourne.

I'd never known these peaceful hours
   Till on a summer long ago
I won the gift of friendly flowers,
   And learned their ways, and came to know
   From what drab earth may beauty grow.

But since I learned, as might the bees,
A garden's myriad mysteries
   Of alchemy when seeds are sown,
   I've known delights I've never known.

Endless delights the garden holds:
A still pool fringed by marigolds;
   A rose-lined walk; a shaded lawn;
   A dew-wet iris in the dawn --

The gift of color tulips win
In the dark night; how seeds begin
   In downy cradles, snugly set;
   The incense of one violet.

"A garden is a livesome thing,"
The poet sang. Well might he sing,
   Knowing what love and loveliness
   One simple garden may express.

"God walks in mine," the poet cried.
By whom shall such words be denied?
   Never by him whose secret heart
   Holds all a garden may impart.

Had I the choice to walk with kings
Or walk alone where lilac swings
   Its censers, wreathed in wondrous scent,
   I'd walk alone, and know content.

Yet, might I walk alone?  He knows
Who, where some well-loved garden grows,
   Feels, at a flash, his heart set free
   In beauty-bidden ecstasy --

As if, unheralded, unguessed,
   An accolade of peace had crowned --
A sudden gift of grace had blest
   The garden's glory, and he found
   His feet on consecrated ground.

First published in The Herald, 7 April 1933

The Therapoet by C.J. Dennis

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Someone has suggested that, if window boxes are encouraged in Collins-street, doctors may become poets.

Hail, smiling morn!  The passing tram-car's bell
   Sounds to mine ear like love songs sweetly sung.
The sunlit pavement glows, and all is well --
   Put out your tongue.

Without my window salpiglossis blooms,
   Nasturium nods to laughing columbine.
Sweet odors waft thro' my consulting rooms --
   Say ninety-nine.

Tra-la, tra-la!  Let's troll a merry lay!
   See how my maiden-hair bends to the breeze!
Who could be sad on such a golden day?
   One guinea, please.

First published in The Sun-News Pictorial, 6 April 1927

"For Richer, For Poorer" by C.J. Dennis

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"A wife is entitled to share her husband's riches, but, if he is poor, she must also share his poverty," said a judge in divorce in Sydney last week.

When the world is kind and life is gay,
And boon companion drift your way,
   When cash is plenty in the bank
   And a man can spend, a wife can swank
With frills and frocks and a streamlined car,
Gay parties and a cocktail bar;
   When the kids are sent to a high-class school
   And friends flock 'round to play the fool
With easy cash at golf and bridge,
And the wolf's afar o'er the mountain ridge;
   When a pound note looks like half-a-crown
   And a smile comes readier than a frown --

You can keep on loving, keep on living,
Keep on spending, keep on giving,
   Keep on drifting with the flow --
   Easy come and easy go.
Oh, it's simple lightly to vow,
While Fortune's smiling at the prow.

But when that pleasant season stops,
And the wolf sits down and licks his chops
   Outside the door; when the car is gone
   Because the payments don't keep on;
When the wife can't have her costly "perm"
Or get her frocks from the same "posh" Firm;
   When the cocktail bar's of no more use
   And the mortgage interest is the deuce;
When the kids must shift to a cheaper school
And lifelong friendships tend to cool
   As, one by one, friends let you down,
   And a sixpence looks like half-a-crown --

Can you keep on loving, keep on living,
Scared of spending, done with giving,
   Keep on battling 'gainst the fret --
   Hard to hold and hard to get?
Oh, it's then the day to test the vow,
When life is sinking in the slough.

First published in The Herald, 5 April 1937

The Sonnets We've Never Sung by C. J. Dennis

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A journalist approached us the other day and said there was nobody in Adelaide to write about.

There's a song for Mr. Deakin, with a pretty power for speakin'
   On the things that have been done and are to be;
There's a song for Mr. Waring, filled with little words of swearing,
   On the Out-and-Outer Harbour, and you'll see.
We are sure to find a ditty for Foster, Richard Witty,
   And some other legislators in our mind;
There'll be psalms for Candy Cohen from the Opposition goin',
   And for Tories who are bigoted and blind.
Should we beg the public's pardon as we mention Mr. Vardon,
   And the subject of the local option fuss. 
To pass from scenes of talk and strife to quite another walk of life,
   To warble of the Reid who built the 'bus?
There's a sonnet for Abe Shannon, and for William Foote, and Canon
   Wise, and clergymen who point the way to right;
There's a line for Archie Beviss, for it would for ever grieve us,
   Should we leave him out of anything we skite.
Here's a yell for Kidman's Sidney, and some others of his kidney
   Living restless lives in cattleyard and camp;
There are songs for vet'rans glorious, like Crispe the meritorious,
   And auctioneers like Bedford and Bill Hamp;
There's an ode to Jimmy Marshall, and to prove we're quite impartial
   Let us sing to Dudley Hayward while we can;
Let's write odes to Mr. Waddy and his stamps with gum so shoddy,
   And to Mr. Pendelton, the railway man;
While to fierce teetotal terrors, such as Lord and Charlie Ferors,
   We will sing about their fame that doesn't Ware.
There'll be songs for Mr. Stanton, and Conservatives who rant on
   Giving State schools into Mr. Williams' care;
In a cultivated rich key let us sing of Charlie Nitschke,
   Bawl a chorus song for Flannagan and Green;
As our pen the subject dwells on, let us write of Carr and Nelson,
   Strike the harp and hum a line to Harry Dean;
Or, in tones that grow ecstatic, sing of Gordon the emphatic,
   Dealing sentences upon the Police Court bench.
When our voice the skylark mocks, well, let us sing of Johnny Coxell
   (This song supply I'm sure we'll never quench);
If this paper's space alloweth, we can warble of Chenoweth,
   We may sing to William, Silver, if we like;
Or, in sporty manner lusty, sing to Blacker, true and trusty,
   And the deeds of daring Deards upon the bike.
There are songs for politicians, for policemen and patricians,
   There is e'en a song for Ebenezer Ward;
There are ditties for musiscians and for stately statisticians,
   And for men whose names the space we can't afford;
We could warble on so brightly ever morn and even nightly,
   But a cloud is coming o'er the printer's brow;
So we'll take a top note ringing, and forthwith we'll stop our singing,
   And, modesty becoming, make our bow.

First published in The Gadfly, 4 April 1906

Son of a Fool by C.J. Dennis

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Gyved and chained in his father's home,
   He toiled 'neath a conqueror's rule;
Bowed to the earth in the land of his birth;
   The Slave who was Son of a Fool.

Poor remnant he of a conquered race,
   Long shorn of its power and pride,
No reverence shone in his sullen face
   When they told how that race had died.
But the meed that he gave to his father's name
Was a down-drooped head and a flush of shame.

Burned in his brain was the pitiful tale
   Of a sabre too late unsheathed;
Deep in his heart lay the poisoned dart
   Of the shame that his sire bequeathed:
The searing shame of a laggard life,
Of an arm too weak in the hour of strife.

Oh, the Fool had reigned full many a year
   In the Land of the Bounteous Gifts,
Dreaming and drifting, with never a fear,
   As a doomed fool pleasantly drifts;
And he ate his fill of the gifts she gave --
The Fool who was sire of a hopeless Slave.

Through years of plenty and years of peace
   he lolled in the pleasing shade,
Marking his flocks and his herds increase,
   Watching his waxing trade;
And he smiled when he heard of the old world's wars,
With never a care for his own rich stores.

Year by year as his harvest grew,
   He gleaned with a lightsome heart;
His barns he filled, and he sowed and tilled,
   Trading in port and mart.
Proud of his prowess in sport and trade
Was the Fool, who scoffed at an alien raid.

Little he recked of the gathering cloud
   That boded a swift disgrace.
Was he not seed of a manly breed,
   Proud son of a warlike race?
And he told of the deeds that his sires had done --
While he wielded a bat in the place of a gun.

Small were his fears in the rich fat years,
   Loud was his laugh of scorn
When they whispered low of a watching foe,
   Greedy for gold and corn;
A foe grown jealous of trade an pow'r,
Marking the treasure, and waiting the hour.

'Twas a cheerful Fool, but a Fool foredoomed
   Gazed out on a clear spring morn;
And his eye ranged wide o'er the countryside,
   With its treasures, its kine and corn.
And, "Mine, all mine!" said the prosperous Fool.
"And it never shall pass to an alien rule!"

And, e'en when the smoke of the raiders' ships
   Trailed out o'er the northern skies,
His laugh was loud: "'Tis a summer cloud,"
   Said the Fool in his Paradise.
And, to guard his honor, he gave a gun
To the feeble hands of his younger son.

Oh, a startled Fool, and a Fool in haste
   Awoke on a later day,
When they sped the word that a foe laid waste
   His ports by the smiling bay,
And his voice was shrill as he bade his sons
Haste out to the sound of the booming guns.

He was brave, they tell, as a fool is brave,
   With an oath 'tween his hard-clenched teeth,
When he found the sword that he fain would wave
   Held fast in its rusty sheath;
When he learned that the hand, so skilled in play,
Was the hand of a child that fatal day.

And scarce had he raised his rallying cry,
   Scarce had he called one note,
When he died, as ever a fool must die,
   With his war-song still in his throat.
And an open ditch was the hasty grave
Of the Fool who fathered a hopeless Slave.

They point the moral, they tell the tale,
   And the old world wags its head:
"If a Fool hath treasure, and Might prevail,
   Then the Fool must die," 'tis said.
And the end of it all is a broken gun
And the heritage gleaned by a hapless son.

Gyved and chained in his father's home,
   He toiled 'neath a conqueror's rule;
While they flung in his face the taunt of his race:
   A Slave and the Son of a Fool.

First published in The Bulletin, 3 April 1913;
and later in
Backblock Ballads and Later Verses by C.J. Dennis, 1918.

My Mate Bates by C.J. Dennis

| No TrackBacks
Schoolmates -- me an' Billy Bates,
      Sixty year ago;
Though our schoolin' was but foolin' --
      Short an' sweet, ye know.
Workin' when we was but ten
      (Folks was poor, ye see).
Drivin' ploughs an' mindin' cows --
      Billy Bates an' me.

Shipmates -- me an' Billy Bates,
      Forty year ago;
Came out 'ere in the "Boundin' Deer,"
      Straight to Bendigo.
Made a pile in a little while --
      Struck it rich did we;
Knocked it down when we got to town --
      Billy Bates an' me.

Bedmates -- me an' Billy Bates,
      Thirty year ago; 
Shearin' sheep an' livin' cheap,
      Up on Wareko.
Nohow never 'ad a row,
      Even in a spree;
Friends we'd bin through thick an' thin --
      Billy Bates an' me.

Billy Bates an' me wus mates,
      Twenty year ago;
Then old Billy acted silly,
      Got a girl in tow.
Men thet's wed's as good as dead,
      No more use fur me;
Saw 'em started, then we parted --
      Billy Bates an' me.

Room-mates -- me an' Billy Bates --
      Come 'ere yesterday.
Wife is dead.  The life 'e led
      With 'er was cruel, they say.
Cut up rough, an' spent 'is stuff,
      Acted like a brute.
So Billy Bates an' me is mates --
      In the Destitute.

First published in The Critic, 2 April 1898;
and later in
Backblock Ballads and Other Verses by C.J. Dennis, 1913.

Note: this poem was also known by the title Me 'an Bates.

The Stoush o' Day by C.J. Dennis

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Ar, these is 'appy days! An' 'ow they've flown --
   Flown like the smoke of some inchanted fag;
Since dear Doreen, the sweetest tart I've known,
   Passed me the jolt that made me sky the rag.
An' ev'ry golding day floats o'er a chap
Like a glad dream of some celeschil scrap.
Refreshed wiv sleep Day to the mornin' mill
   Comes jauntily to out the nigger, Night.
Trained to the minute, confident in skill,
   'E swaggers in the East, chock-full o' skite;
Then spars a bit, an' plugs Night on the point.
Out go the stars; an' Day 'as jumped the joint.
The sun looks up, an' wiv a cautious stare,
   Like some crook keekin' o'er a winder sill
To make dead cert'in everythink is square,
   'E shoves 'is boko o'er an Eastem 'ill,
Then rises, wiv 'is dial all a-grin,
An' sez, " 'Ooray! I knoo that we could win!"
Sure of 'is title then, the champeen Day
   Begins to put on dawg among 'is push,
An', as he mooches on 'is gaudy way,
   Drors tribute from each tree an' flow'r an' bush.
An', w'ile 'e swigs the dew in sylvan bars,
The sun shouts insults at the sneakin' stars.
Then, lo! the push o' Day rise to applaud;
   An' all 'is creatures clamour at 'is feet
Until 'e thinks 'imself a little gawd,
   An' swaggers on an' kids 'imself a treat.
The w'ile the lurkin' barrackers o' Night
Sneak in retreat an' plan another fight.
On thro' the hours, triumphant, proud an' fit,
   The champeen marches on 'is up'ard way,
Till, at the zenith, bli'me! 'E--is--IT!
   And all the world bows to the Boshter Day.
The jealous Night speeds ethergrams thro' space
'Otly demandin' terms, an' time, an' place.
A w'ile the champeen scorns to make reply;
   'E's taken tickets on 'is own 'igh worth;
Puffed up wiv pride, an' livin' mighty 'igh,
   'E don't admit that Night is on the earth.
But as the hours creep on 'e deigns to state
'E'll fight for all the earth an' 'arf the gate.
Late afternoon . . . Day feels 'is Gabby arms,
   An' tells 'imself 'e don't seem quite the thing.
The 'omin' birds shriek clamorous alarms;
   An' Night creeps stealthily to gain the ring.
But see! The champeen backs an' fills, becos
'E doesn't feel the Boshter Bloke 'e was.
Time does a bunk as us-u-al, nor stays
   A single instant, e'en at Day's be'est.
Alas, the 'eavy-weight's 'igh-livin' ways
   'As made 'im soft, an' large around the vest.
'E sez 'e's fat inside; 'e starts to whine;
'E sez 'e wants to dror the colour line.
Relentless nigger Night crawls thro' the ropes,
   Advancin' grimly on the quakin' Day,
Whose noisy push, shorn of their 'igh-noon 'opes,
   Wait, 'ushed an' anxious, fer the comin' fray.
And many lusty barrackers of noon
Desert 'im one by one -- traitors so soon!
'E's out er form! 'E 'asn't trained enough!
   They mark their sickly champeen on the stage,
An' narked, the sun, 'is backer, in a huff,
   Sneaks outer sight, red in the face wiv rage.
W'ile gloomy roosters, they 'oo made the morn
Ring wiv 'is praises, creep to bed forlorn.
All hint an' groggy grows the beaten Day;
   'E staggers drunkenly about the ring;
An owl loots jeerin'ly across the way,
   An' bats come out to mock the fallin' King.
Now, wiv a jolt, Night spreads 'im on the floor,
An' all the west grows ruddy wiv 'is gore.
A single, vulgar star leers from the sky
   An' in derision, rudely mutters, "Yah!"
The moon, Night's conkerbine, comes glidin' by
   An' laughs a 'eartless, silvery "Ha-ha!"
Scorned, beaten, Day gives up the 'opeless fight,
An' drops 'is bundle in the lap o' Night.
So goes each day, like some celeschil mill,
   E'er since I met that shyin' little peach.
'Er bonzer voice! I 'ear its music still,
   As when she guv that promise fer the beach.
An', square an' all, no matter 'ow yeh start,
The commin end of most of us is -- Tart.

First published in The Bulletin, 1 April 1909;
and later in 
The Songs of a Sentimental Bloke by C.J. Dennis, 1915; and
Selected Works of C.J. Dennis, 1988.

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