May 2013 Archives

Song of the Insane Gardener by C.J. Dennis

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The dry conditions prevailing have resulted in unprecedented frosts in several districts.  As many as 14 in succession have been registered in some places, and they are expected greatly to reduce numerous garden pests.

Oh, I dance upon the lawn in the cold, white dawn,
   And I gloat upon the corpses of a countless million slain;
Where the frost about my feet spreads its winter winding sheet
   There I chuckle and I chortle as I chant my mad refrain;
"Lime and sulphur, Paris green, arsenate of lead,
Benzole couldn't kill 'em; but they're dead, dead, dead."

Men have said I went insane when the Summer brought its bane:
   Beetle, bug, and butterfly, weevil, wog and worm,
And a thousand million thrips with my garden came to grips
   Plus a plague of things that fly and creep and crawl and squirm.
Lime and sulphur, Paris green, arsenate of lead,
They sneered at 'em, and leered at 'em, and gaily gorged ahead.

They fell upon my fancy phlox, hyacinths and hollyhocks;
   Amaryllis, antirrhinum, lupin, lily, all were lost.
All my garden's vanished glory now remained a sorry story,
   While, dismayed, I sprayed and sprayed and reckoned not the cost.
Lime and sulphur, Paris green, arsenate of lead --
Vain were these till nights afreeze dire destruction spread.

Lifeless lie the pupa cases, larvae leave no least lone traces.
   Apphis eggs (if there be any) are a pest now haply past.
With a mad song in my throat, in the dawn I dance, I gloat;
   For my evil days have ended, and revenge is here at last.
Vain the Paris green, the sulphur; vain the arsenate of lead;
Fourteen frosty nights have finished all the olden dread.

So I dance upon the lawn in the cold, white dawn,
   And I chortle o'er cadavers of a countless million slain.
Men may moan and deem it sad, vowing that I am as mad
   As a hatter.  what's it matter?  Join my maniac's refrain:
"Lime and sulphur, Paris green, arsenate of lead,
Benzole couldn't kill 'em; but they're dead, dead, dead."

First published in The Herald, 31 May 1934

The Bore by C.J. Dennis

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Ah, prithee friend, if thou has ought
   Of love and kind regard for me
Tell not you bore the stories droll
   That yesternight I told to thee.

Nor tell him stories of thine own,
   Nor chestnut of antiquitee;
Nor quip, nor crank, nor anything
   If thou has ought of love for me.

For sense of humour hath he none,
   No gift for telling tales hath he:
Yet thinks himself within his heart
   A wit of wondrous drolleree.

And in the golden summer-time
   With ear a-cock he roameth free,
Collecting quibble, quip, and crank;
   And anecdotes collecteth he.

Then in the dreary winter nights
   He sits him down 'neath my roof tree,
And in a coarse, ungently voice
   He tells those stories back to me.

He hath no wit for telling tales,
   He laughs where ne'er a point there be;
But sits and murders honest yarns,
   And claims them as his propertee.

When he laughs I rock and roar;
   Ay, laugh both loud and merrilee;
And, mark thou, friend, my martyrdom
   He is a creditor to me.

He is a man of mighty power;
   In very fact, a great J.P.;
And I, his debtor, rock and roar,
   And vow he'll be the death o' me.

Ay, prithee, friend, if thou hast love
   For goodly jests or care for me,
Then tell him not the merry tale
   That yesternight I told to thee.

First published in The Gadfly, 30 May 1906;
and later in
Backblock Ballads and Other Verses by C.J. Dennis, 1913.

Bill by C.J. Dennis

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"Gentle brother, answer truly,
   Tell what you be.
But, I pray, tax not unduly
   Your sagacitee.
Is your brand u-ni-fi-cation --
Is't, or is your appellation
Something mild and shorter still?
Answer truly, Brother Bill."

Gentle brother answered truly,
   Though in language hot --
For his temper was unruly:
   "Don't talk blinded rot!
Blow u-ni-fi-blanky-cation!
If you want me name an' station
My true moniker is Bill,
An' I work at Johnson's mill."

"Gentle brother, wax not ireful.
   I'm not out for jokes.
Yea, and consequences direful
   Smite bad-tempered blokes.
I've no doubt, all day perspiring,
You graft hard.  I'm not inquiring
Who you are or what you do,
But what are you?  Answer true." 

Brother Bill stood wildly staring,
   Anger in his eye;
And, belligerently glaring,
   Thus he made reply:
"Up at Johnson's mill I'm working,
And I ain't a bloke for shirking.
If you want me answer true,
I'm a better man that you!"

"Gentle brother, of your senses
   You seem quite bereft.
Just consider how immense is...."
   Here's Bill's dirty left
Took the catechist right squarely,
And Bill forthwith bounced him fairly,
Punched till he was out of breath.
Bill despised a shibboleth.

Note ye how each platform spouter,
   Playing at "the game,"
Strives to label ev'ry doubter
   With a foolish name.
With sly tricks and ruses clever
They are keenly seeking ever
To affix a party brand
To all voters in the land.

List, ye party politicians,
   Talking near and far,
We don't want vague propositions
   As to what you are.
For the shibboleths of party
Rightly earn the curses hearty
Of all honest men and true.
Let us hear of what you DO.

First published in The Bulletin, 29 May 1915

A Terrier's Tale by C.J. Dennis

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The other day an Australian terrier, when left in a locked sedan in Elizabeth Street, Melbourne, pressed his paw on the klaxon control and attracted such a huge and inquisitive crowd that police were needed to restore orderly traffic.

And these are beings I had deemed wise gods ....
   An old dog said to me the other day,
While we were searching in the garden clods
   For valuable bones long stored away,
That things moved gravely in the world of men
   And, in far countries, war hung in the air;
Because of passions stirred by tongue and pen,
   Suspicion, envy, strife stalked everywhere.
He was a very wise old dog indeed,
So I, a youthful terrier, gave heed.

A man, he told me, was much like a dog,
   In that both of them lived for bones and fights.
And, lately, human minds groped in a fog
   Of sad confusion.  Talk of tribal rights
By loud-mouthed barkers stirred up slumbering greeds,
   Bulldog, Alsatian, Dachshund, Mongrel growled,
And trouble brewed among the differing breeds,
   Till, vexed by clamor, all sat up and howled ....
All this he told; and I was much cast down
When later, with my boss, I drove to town.

A thoughtless man, my boss.  Troubled, forlorn,
   With what I'd heard, he left me in the car.
Soon, reaching out a paw, I blew the horn -
   (You know what these loquacious humans are)
I'd meant to call him.  But, to my surprise,
   Vast crowds of men, on urgent business bent,
Paused, listened, gazed at me with goggling eyes
   As if in wonder at some strange event.
With foolish faces, wholly at a loss,
They gaped. I went on blowing for the boss.

And then policemen came and moved them on.
   They went, reluctantly, as if in doubt,
Some wonder might occur when they had gone
   And they should miss it.  Then the boss came out.
And high time, too!  But, as away we sped,
   I thought of bones, and fights, and men, and life,
And all the things that wise old dog had said.
   Those vacant faces!  Could these banish strife
With human reason?  Vague, dull-witted clods ....
And these are beings I had deemed wise gods!

First published in The Herald, 28 May 1936;
and later in
Random Verse: A Collection of Verse and Prose edited by Margaret Herron, 1952.

A Mixed Crew by C.J. Dennis

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As I say, it all depends upon policies, and policies must be dealt with first.  At the same time we may be pulling in the same boat when our boat is threatened from the same quarter.  There are various kinds of combinations, from alliances based on principles to fusions of temporary unions and understandings. - Somewhat cryptic utterance by ALFRED DEAKIN.

      Tho' it sounds a trifle mystic,
      Somewhat vague and cabalistic,
When you come to analyse the inner side
      Of political alliance
      You will find it is a science
That embraces matters delicate and wide.
It involves the close cohesion of the faction or cabal,
And the very fleeting friendship of the temporary pal.

But pull for the shore, lads, pull for the shore.
Never mind wot boat yer in, struggle at yer oar.
Cook is on the gunwale, cursin' us fer cows;
Deakin's in stern-sheets. Mauger's at the bows;
The stormy winds are blowin' an' the enemy's at hand;
We must settle it among us when we're safely on the land.

      There's the Temporary Fusion;
      Which is mainly an illusion
When you view it in the light of ev'ry day.
      But politically? -- truly
      'Tis a state in which, unduly,
You are never pledged or promised either way.
An ideal party union, where a man may trim his sail;
Though vulgar folk allude to it as "sitting on a rail."

But pull for the shore, lads, pull for the shore.
We'll settle in the harbor when the hurricane is o'er.
Quick is partly inside; Irnine's partly out;
Willie Kelly's overside, flunderin' about;
Forrest's at mast'ead, letting out a roar.
Never mind who owns the boat.  Pull for the shore.

      Then there's the Coalition,
      Which is entered on condition
You can swallow certain principles with ease.
      'Tis corruption sugar-coated;
      And no matter how you've voted
In the past, you may change it if you please.
Though the common crowd may scoff at the reversal of your vote,
If you murmur "Coalition" you may safely turn your coat.

But pull for the shore, lads, pull for the land.
Never mind who owns the craft, lend a willin' hand.
Smith is on the bowsprit, yellin' "Anti-Sosh"!
Reid is on the towline, draggin' in the wash;
Jawbone Neild is founderin', shoutin' for a rope;
But pull, lads, pull, for the shore's our only hope.

      Note you now the Understanding,
      Quite devoid of party branding,
Where the parties undertake to understand
      That, in certain set conditions,
      They'll consider their positions,
And reach out for what they want with either hand.
And for the country's welfare and the nation's lasting good,
They agree to understand that they are all misunderstood.

But pull for the shore, lads, pull for the shore.
Groom is on the fore'atch with 'arf a dozen more;
Knox is in the chart-room makin' up his mind;
Wilks is on a hen-coop, draggin' on behind.
Never mind the company; only keep afloat.
You can't be too particular who's mannin' of the boat.

First published in The Bulletin, 27 May 1909

Color Schemes by C.J. Dennis

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According to the cables, roofs are now painted in Spain to suit one's political opinions. If a bombing airman does not happen to like the colour of a roof, he drops a bomb on it.

I wonder what the world will be
   In forty years, in fifty years? 
Last night a sad dream came to me 
   To plague my soul. For it appears 
As dreams will do, I built a home 
    Whose roof I stained a pretty brown. 
When over it there happed to soar 
An aeroplane that Russians bore
   And blew the whole thing down. 

I rallied and rebuilt my shack. 
   (I did not care for color schemes) 
And stained the roof an ebon black 
   ('Tis strange how things appear in dreams). 
Then over it a Russian flew 
   And with a high-explosive shell 
My home in smithereens he blew,
He hated that Italian hue 
   So I said "Very well." 

And so, I built another hut 
   Whose roof I stained a ruby red; 
And thought, "Now I have harbour," but 
   Another man flew over head 
And rained his ruin on my home 
   And scattered death till I 
   Had no resource from out the sky 
And not a place to roam.

Eventually, torn with fright, 
   I built me many rooves --- 
Tartan, bright yellow, crimson bright --- 
   But fate met all my moves 
Until, at last, in dull despair 
   A last resort I found --- 
The ultimate resource of man --- 
I hit upon a clever plan 
   And got me underground.

First published in The Herald, 26 May 1937;
and later in
The Queenslander, 17 June 1937.

The Wonders of the One Pound Note by C.J. Dennis

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An artist, convicted in Melbourne City Court yesterday, said in defence that out of love for the beautifully artistic design of the £1 note came the desire to make a replica. He had no intention, he said, of cashing it. Possibly he intended to frame it.

You .... with but a sixpence in your pocket, and you with half a "quid," and you with a solid bank balance, and sundry others;
Let not the cares of money e'er oppress you.
Today I would address you
Upon the wonders of the one pound note
And in the words that someone one day wrote
Across its face,
I trust my words will not be out of place.

Have you e'er given our pound note a glance --
When you have had a chance?
Artistic, ain't it?
I wonder what aesthete they got to paint it?
Doesn't its face attract you, and its smile
Lure you to love and fondle it a while --
The brief while that 'tis with you?  Don't you feel
It has a certain -- shall we say -- appeal?
And, have you ever
Marvelled at all that intricate and clever --
That wonderful arrangement of the "ones"
That pop up in the most unexpected places?
There are so many there
That, just to count them, makes you feel almost a millionaire.
And have you ever noticed how its face is
Adorned with divers writings in quaint style?
Brothers; those writing often make me smile.
Is it indeed a sin to copy such?
It doesn't matter much.
But, as a writer, I'm interested in the subject, and up to the time those few lines were indicted
I've never heard that note was copyrighted.
But, still, why need we quarrel
About that matter?  But what I have been trying to say all this time is that I consider that the pound note, beloved though it be by all classes of the community, is, in some senses, highly immoral
For why?
It tells a lie.
What does it say?
"I (the Commonwealth treasurer) promise to pay
"One pound in gold" --
(Oh brothers!  How can such vain things be told?)
"Upon demand" (he prints DEMAND in "caps.")
But will he pay? . .  Perhaps!
Why, brothers?  Why?
Go up and try,
Go up into the lordly treasuree
And ask to see
The Treasurer, and there and then unfold
The tale of your dire need for gold.
The man won't dare to look you in the face.
Demand (as he invites you to), insist, reason, argue, shout, yell your demand at him, and he'll probably have you kicked out of the place.
Now, brothers, is that fair?
I know there was a catch in there somewhere.
So next time that you Bills and Bens, and Hals and Toms amd Dicks and Timothys and Thomases
Kid yourselves that you are well off, consider, it is not wealth, splosh, spondulicks, brass, beans, dough that you possess; but merely a pocketful of worthless promises.
The man won't recognise that note: he hates it;
Yet gaols the flatterer who imitates it.

First published in The Herald, 25 May 1922

The Demon Milk by C.J. Dennis

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Dr. Dale, the City health officer, told a meeting of women that milk makes children naughtier.

"Yer honor, please!" the prisoner said,
   "It isn't wot you think.
To look on wine when it is red
   Or alco'olic drink
Is not among me little ways.
I been teetotal all me days.

It ain't the wine, it ain't the beer,
   It ain't the gin-an'-two
That bows me 'ead in sorrer 'ere.
   'Tain't no fermented brew
That druv me on to sin an' strife.
Hark: 'Ere's the story of me life.

When I was just a little kid
   I was a model child.
Wot I was tole to do I did,
   Reel innercint an' mild.
But, bein' wise, an' unlike some,
At one year old I 'owled for rum.

Me nurse, wot was a strict t.t.
   Aimed my young soul to bilk,
An' every day she flooded me
   Wiv quarts an' quarts of milk.
Oh, 'ow the stuff coursed thro' each vein
An' set on fire me tiny brain.

At five, as well may be believed,
   I was a little tough;
For by that then I 'ad conceived
   A cravin' for the stuff.
I swiped it from each neighbor's door,
An' roamed the district seekin' more.

The cravin', sir, it got me down,
   When I grew to a man;
I raided dairies thro' the town,
   Pinched bottle, billy-can,
An' never could resist no'ow
The fascination of a cow.

It ain't the rum, it ain't the beer --
    Oh, 'ow I wish it was! --
That brings me ignominy 'ere.
    'Ave pity, sir, becos
It was the demon milk, I vows,
That made me pinch that 'erd of cows."

First published in The Herald, 24 May 1929;
and later in 
Random Verse edited by Margaret Herron, 1952; and
My Country: Australian Poetry and Short Stories, Two Hundred Years edited by Leonie Kramer, 1985.

The Fortunes of Grandison-Lee by C.J. Dennis

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Now Percival Gregory Grandison-Lee
   He came of a fine old stock.
His sire was an eminent K.C.B,
But Percival never appeared to be
   A chip off that shrewd old block.
In spite of the strain
He was weak of brain,
   Though a jolly good fellow was he.
And, to tell the truth,
In his gilded youth
   His manner of living was free.

Now Percival's father, the elder Lee,
   Aspired to the House of Lords;
So he earnestly sought for the £ s. d.
Becoming a prominent guinea-pig, he
   Was chairman of numerous Boards.
But the game was rash,
And there came a smash,
   And he perished of felo-de-se.
And up to his neck,
In the subsequent wreck
   Was Percival Grandison-Lee.

So Percy resigned from the King's armee;
   He couldn't maintain the style.
And, after a harrowing period, he
Was faced by the spectre of bank-rupt-cee,
   His schedule he had to file.
He smiled through court
   Like a hardy sport,
   But he sorrowed in privacee;
For an easy job
For a hard-up nob
   Isn't growing on every tree.

He touched then for tenners so frequentlee
   That the friends of Lee, deceased,
A length procession of loans could see,
And they whispered to one of the Ministree
   As Percival's plans increased.
Thus they shipped him off
As a gilded toff
   On the staff of a high grandee
To earn his bread
As a figurehead --
   And a Governor's A.D.C.

In that country of democrats o'er the sea
   The cream of Society's cream
They worship a feathered and frilled grandee,
And e'er on his gorgeous A.D.C.
   The "nicest" are ready to beam.
His boots were tight,
And his hat was bright,
   And his tie was a fantasee;
And the wealthiest girls --
Society's pearls --
   Just loved his refulgency.

He strolled in the wake of the high grandee
   In his glittering uniform;
At frivols and functions and afternoon tea
He lolled with a manner so easy and free
   That he took the girls by storm.
And he wooed a maid
Of the sheep brigade,
   One of the squatocracee,
With a station Outback
And a house at Toorak,
   And they wedded right merrilee.

Now Percival Gregory Grandison-Lee
   In his London club doth dwell;
He squats at his ease through a deputee
That idle and valueless absentee,
   And says that this land is Hell;
But once every year
For the Cup he's here,
   As the master of Bungabaree;
Our well-equipped courses
And galloping horses
   Are all that appeal to Lee.

First published in The Bulletin, 23 May 1912

The Secret Thing by C.J. Dennis

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A Voice: Give us your policy.
Mr Cook: If I gave you my policy you wouldn't understand it.  (Laughter.)
- Report of Joe Cook's Bendigo Meeting.

What! Would you ask for the Liberal policy?
When did I ever such ignorant folly see?
         'Tis inconceivable!
         Hardly believable!
What could you now of that mystical thing?
Nay, 'tis enshrouded in sacred obscurity;
'Twill be revealed in some distant futurity;
         Wait a few years for it;
         Then you'll raise cheers for it,
And all the land with Hosannas shall ring.

Hist! Lest the populace glean the least word of it!
Tell them our policy! Who ever heard of it?
         People, be serious!
         Something mysterious
Lurks in the dark at the back of the scenes.
Nothing in modern nor yet ancient history --
Delphian oracle, Asian mystery --
         E'er was so mystical,
         Signs cabalistical
Have to be learned ere ye know what it means.

Hush! Let the ignorant never get breath of it;
One little word would encompass the death of it.
         Guard it religiously!
         It is prodigiously
Secret and sacred. Ah, cherish it well!
Let not the tiniest rumor auricular
Get to the crowd on the smallest particular.
         Argue persuasively,
         Answer evasively,
But our Great Secret we never must tell.

Chut! Have a care! E'en our minions be mutable!
Given them no hint of our secret inscrutable.
         Talk like an oracle;
         Words metaphorical
Pour in the ears of the credulous crowd.
Nay, keep it dark, if existence political
Ever you valued -- the moment is critical!
         Close as a cloister
         Be, dumb as an oyster.
The Caucus to baulk us would howl it aloud.

Ssh! Only Joe and a few hold the key to it;
Trust them implicitly; safely they'll see to it.
         Fondly they're holding it,
         Shaping and moulding it,
Oh, 'twill be marvellous when they are through!
They will reveal it when labor is perishing;
Till then our Holy of Holies they're cherishing.
         Cryptic and wonderful!
         Tut!  Let no blunderful
Liberal speak, or the day he will rue!

Hist! Not a word! Lest our chrysalis beautiful
Should be disturbed by a whisper undutiful.
         Hush! Not a syllable!
         For it is killable.
Once to reveal it were fatal for sure.
Though it is now in a state somewhat statical,
Wholly mysterious, quite enigmatical,
         In some futurity
         Out of obscurity,
Lo, 'twill emerge to us perfect and pure.

First published in The Bulletin, 22 May 1913

The Boon of Discontent by C.J. Dennis

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Discontent is evident in every country in the world, and there appears to be no sovereign remedy for unrest. - Wisdom from the daily papers.

   Once an anthropoidal ape,
   Hairy, savage, strange of shape,
On a day that was excessively B.C.,
   In a forest damp and dim,
   With his tail round a limb,
Hung head downward from a neolithic tree;
And appeared to be lost in gloomy introspection.
   In his dull primeval style,
   He considered quite a while --
A comparatively thoughtful ape was he --
   Then he drummed upon his chest,
   And remarked: "I give it best!
Strike me lucky!  This 'ere game's no good to me!
And I'm full up of the whole damn business!"
   To the father of the tribe
   He proceeded to describe
How upon a change of living he was bent.
   Said the Tory anthropoid:
   "Son, such thoughts you should avoid:
They are obviously born of discontent.
And such revolutionary notions would rend the whole social fabric."
      Since the Eocene,
   Till this age of biplanes,
      Man has ever been
   Yearning toward the high planes.
And while the Tory lags behind in by-ways worn and narrow,
'Tis the discontented section that shoves on the old world's barrow.
   Once a naked troglodyte,
   On a bitter Winter's night,
Sat and shivered in his cave the whole night through!
   For his scanty coat of hair
   In no manner could compare
With the matted clothes his late forefather grew.
(Meaning the meditative anthropoidal ape I mentioned previously.)
   And the troglodyte remarked,
   As without a wild dog barked,
And a dinosaurus lumbered through the fog,
   "I am sick of nakedness,
   And I'd like, I must confess,
To be shielded in the clothing of a dog.
And, hang me, if I don't go after one in the morning."
   He was met with scoffs and grins,
   When he walked abroad in skins:
And the troglodyte Conservatives cried: "Shame!
   Thus to hide the healthy nude
   Is obscene, indecent rude!"
But the malcontent felt warmer, all the same.
And so began the evolution of the split skirt and the hot sock.
      Since the Age of Stone,
   To these Days of Reason,
      Man has keener grown
   In and out of season.
'Tis through being discontented that humanity progresses.
If you're satisfied with dog skins you will ne'er have satin dresses.
   Once upon a time, a slave
   Had an impulse to behave
In a most unprecedented sort of style.
   He threw down his tools, and cried
   That he wasn't satisfied,
And all slavery was barbarous and vile.
(They probably boiled him in oil; but that's merely incidental.)
   Once again, a man who rode
   In a coach disliked the mode
Of that locomotion.  'Twas too slow by far.
   He was filled with discontent;
   So he - or some other - went
And, in course of time, evolved the motor-car.
And, if ever you've had one scare seven devils out of you, you'll know 
     it for a very great invention.
   So, observe, this discontent
   To mankind is wisely sent
That he may be urged along to conquer new things,
   They who were quite satisfied,
   Like the Dinosaurs, died.
While the discontented anthropoids still do things.
And continue to be discontented, of course; but that's all in the game.

      Since the age of apes,
   To this generation,
      Mankind thus escapes
   Absolute stagnation.
Here's the only consolation my philosophy is giving:
Discontentment with existence is your sole excuse for living.

First published in The Bulletin, 21 May 1914;
and later in
Backblock Ballads and Later Verses by C.J. Dennis, 1918.

A Secret in Society by C.J. Dennis

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It has for some time been a well-kept secret in London society circles that King Edward's health has not been as good as his personal friends would wish. - Melbourne AGE.

Quick! - Quick!
His Majesty is sick
Hurry with the camomile and fetch a heated brick.
      He has got another spasm.
      'Tisn't often that he has 'em.
When he does he's touchy, and inclined to raise Old Nick.
But, care! O, care!
Should a duke or baron dare
Tell the news below his station he'll be bowstringed then and there.

Hist! - Hist!
The King has got a twist!
There's a swelling of his fingers that have recently been kissed
      By some loyal princely nigger,
      And they're getting big and bigger,
And we fear some black infection has attacked the royal fist.
But see, O see,
That 'tis whispered secretly;
Or they'll lynch the Lord Physician for allowing it to be.

Hush! Hush!
Don't stand around and crush!
The royal countenance is overspread with quite a flush.
      He is feeling rather worried,
      And his pulse is rather hurried,
But we have to save the nation from a universal blush.
Then mind, O mind!
Shut the door and draw the blind.
Let no lord or earl divulge it to the lesser human kind.

Ssh! Ssh!
It is the royal wish
That the populace must never know the King has eaten fish:
      Eaten largely of tinned salmon,
      With results (but we must gammon) --
With results that make him sorry that he didn't pass the dish,
And O! 'Tis O!
If the populace should know,
There would be an inundation when the tears began to flow.

First published in The Bulletin, 20 May 1909

A Fair Spin by C.J. Dennis

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Says a "Herald" heading: Pillory the Exporter of Bad Quality Goods.

I'll give the game a go.
They say I should be circumspect; but I don't care a hang.
I'll bang
The cows in slang . .
'Ere!  Wot's the game?
Don't this Australia want a decent name
For treatin' other blokes all on the square?
I wouldn't dare
To sell crook rabbits down in Spadger's land;
Fer, if the ole tarts down there should complain
Jist once, why, all me custom
Would go right up the pole.
Upon me soul!
Yeh see, I trust 'em
An' they trust me.
Because they say, "This rabbito, why 'e
Gives us a dinkum spin.
'E wouldn't take us in."
Now, ain't that nice?
I don't like givin' statesmen my advice,
But - well, I'm just an ord'nary sorter bloke,
Still, I think it is getting past a joke
When coves that earns reel decent livli'oods
Rings in crook goods
Jist 'cos it pays.
Aw, spare me days!
I got some sense of wot the 'eads calls pride,
An', for to do a snide,
Crook deal like that
Sooner eat me 'at.
Fair dinkum: when I sum the 'ole thing up.
But still, I sometimes think
That us blokes -- toilin' for a bit of dough --
Gives the straight game a go
Better than all the 'eads who play a game
Wot gives Australia a rotten name.
Blimey!  I sooner be --
(Now, let me see
Wot's this that Wordsworth says?)
Why, spare me days!
"I'd sooner be"
(Yes, me!)
"A pagan, suckled in some creed outworn,"
Than some smug Christain 'oo puts up to scorn
Australia's name.
Aw, strike!  We play the game:
Us rabbitos.  An' -- on the square --
Even if I 'ad 'eaps of gilt to spare,
Like some of these
Exporters that I knows,
I wouldn't go
And play the game so low.
I'd not send one crook rabbit overseas,
No, not to please
A flamin' King;
It ain't the thing.
Desertin' Aussie is a dirty trick.
            GINGER MICK.

First published in The Herald, 19 May 1922

Winter Rhapsody by C.J. Dennis

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Winter has come; and tardily --
   Now little nipping winds are rife
Where laggard leaves, on many a tree,
   Still cling tenaciously to life.
Spent Autumn with a myriad hues
   Had laughed at death and mocked the worm.
And now bluff Winter shouts glad news
Of Winter joys, which I refuse,
   I simply sit and squirm.

For Winter, too, holds many joys,
   Pert flappers, furred to ears and chin,
With painted lips, to lure the boys,
   And hose that lets the breezes in
Go laughing by . . . A gladness cleaves
   E'en to yon toiler, who with firm,
Swift strokes, sweeps up the fallen leaves
And, working, whistles. . . . No Man grieves
   Save I who sit and squirm.

He whistles on in merry mood,
   And sweeps, and sweeps along the street.
"How like all futile life," I brood.
   Nought but frustration, death, defeat.
For as he sweeps, poor toiling hack --
   Sweeps up dead leaf and deadly germ,
Rude winds arise and sweep them back,
And all's to do again!  Alack!
   I sit, and sneer, and squirm.

I squirm to hear the football fans'
   Impassioned cry of "On the ball!"
Lure of the links, the punter's plans --
   I squirm, I squirm, and scorn them all,
I squirm while thrushes, fluting free,
   Shout triumph over clammy care....
Ah, laggard leaf upon the tree,
   Squirm on, and join my thenody;
For Winter's only gift to me
   Is woollen underwear.

First published in The Herald, 18 May 1934

The Lovers by C.J. Dennis

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One idle hour she sought to see
   Whose image 'twas he cherished so
(All fondly certain whose 'twould be),
   And found -- a girl she did not know.

A trusty maiden's modest face,
   All innocence and purity.
"What nun is this that fills my place?
   Alas, he loves me not!" sighed she.

"Nay, daughter, let no foolish fears
   Your trust in his devotion mar,"
Her mother said.  "Come, dry your tears;
   That is the girl he thinks you are."

All fondly curious with love
   (Half guessing what he would lay bare)
He rifled her heart's treasure trove,
   And found -- a stranger's image there.

"This is the man she loves!" said he,
   And, searching in the noble face,
Read high resolve and constancy.
   "This saint," he cried, "usurps my place!"

"Nay," spake his friend.  "Your anger cool;
   Gaze on that God-like face once more:
Then be satisfied, O fool;
   That is the man she takes you for."

First published in The Bulletin, 17 May 1906;
and later in
Backblock Ballads and Other Verses by C.J. Dennis, 1913.

The High Priest by C.J. Dennis

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[When the sporting editor, whose task it is to "call" an important race, focusses his field glasses on the galloping horses and gets fairly "into his stride," the prattle of the politician talking "against the clock" pales into insignificance.  A clear and quick eye, a thorough familiarity with the different colours and horses and a large share of confidence are only three of the many essential factors to success in this branch of press work. . . From this call all the principal newspapers in Australia secured their particulars of the running, for the details had been telegraphed broadcast over the Commonwealth before the bell rang for the next event. - Daily Paper]
[The Minister of Home affairs is somewhat alarmed at the apathy of young Australians over the acquisition of their votes when they attain their majority - News Item]

Nay, why do foolish politicians strive
   To win a fleeting popularity?
In vain, in vain, they jealously contrive
   To turn the doting Public Eye from Me.
What was this land, this nation, destined for?
   For Art, Trade, Politics?  All out of place.
Behold, I am the Sporting Editor!
            I call the race!

Reviewers, leader writers -- what are they?
   Subs., poets, novelists?  Scribes of a sort --
Mere puny scribbling creatures of a day;
   While I, the people's idol, stand for Sport!
For mark, when inspiration falls on me,
   What recks the public of that nameless band?
I ope' my lips, and wisdom, gushing free,
            O'erflows the land.

I lift my voice, and, lo! an army wakes -
   A mighty host, a hundred thousand strong -
To spread the message; while the nation quakes
   And thunders with the burden of my song:
"Ten lengths from home 'Gray Lad' outstripped 'The Witch,'
   And passed the post by just a short neck, first."
These are the words, the pregnant words, for which
            The land's athirst.

They are the children of my brain, mine own!
   These mighty words for which the people yearn;
The product of my genius alone!
   Would you begrudge the laurels that I earn?
Mark you, yon sturdy native, strong o' limb,
   That leans against the lamp-post o'er the way --
Approach, and learn of my great fame from him.
            Approach and say:-

"Awake!  Arise!  A curse on him who waits!
   Behold, young man, thy country needs thy like;
The yellow hordes are panting at our gates.
   Arouse, young patriot, go forth and strike!
Awake, and cast they reeking 'fag' away!
   Arise, and take the white man's burden up!"
"I'll lay you ten to one, in 'quids,'" he'll say:
            "Wot's won the Cup?"

Behold, the High Priest of the people's creed!
   Proclaim his genius!  The bays!  The bays!
Come, crown the Sporting Editor -- indeed,
   He is familiar with bays -- with grays.
"Ten lengths from home!" How exquisite!  How chaste!
   "'Gray Lad' outstripped 'The Witch'!" What style!  What grace!
Come, beauty, twine a laurel wreath.  Nay, haste!
            He calls the race!

First published in The Gadfly, 16 May 1906;
and later in
Backblock Ballads and Other Verses by C.J. Dennis, 1913.

His Colour Sense by C.J. Dennis

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We drove across a spring-clad land,
   A band of devotees,
And marvelled at the shading of
   The soft green in the trees.
He sat apart and smoked his pipe
   In gloomy reverie,
And growled that "in the bloomin' bush
   There's nothin' much to see."

We raved about the fleecy clouds,
   And felt ecstatic thrills,
What time we viewed the colour in
   The opalescent hills.
We pointed out the waving scrub;
   He grumbled low and deep:
"The hills are bloomin' barren, and
   The scrub won't carry sheep."

At length we reached the wayside inn
   And respite sought inside;
'Twas then his eloquence burst forth,
   And would not be denied.
With flashing eye and soul aflame,
   He praised in accents clear
The transcendental beauty of
   The amber in his beer.

First published in The Gadfly, 15 May 1907

Song of Snobs by C.J. Dennis

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"You are bound in all the arts to get a certain amount of snobbery." - Remarks heard on the short wave from Daventry, England.

When Leonardo was a lad there was a certain set
Who snubbed him most outrageously -- in fact, they snub him yet
   He wasn't in the fashion, so he wasn't in the fold;
   Before his death he was too new, and now he grows too old.
Because his art was new to them the snobs of Florence laughed;
And now, because he isn't new, the moderns scorn his craft.
"Da Vinci? Don't be crude, my dear! Call him an artist? Pshaw!
Why that old anachronism, so they say, knew how to draw!"

They have wandered thro' the ages, mouthing cliches as they go.
At first nights, and private views, 'mid the people "one should know."
   But the artist goes on laughing as thro' every age he's laughed
   At snobs who patronise the "Arts," but boggle at the craft.

When Shakespeare sought draw the crowds and please the taste of town
And watched box office takings with a worn and worried frown,
   Kit Marlowe knew, Ben Jonson knew what stuff was in the lad;
   But the dilettanti voted him quite definitely bad.
The fellow simply stole his plots, they said with lofty sneers,
And served them up most vulgarly to tickle groundling's ears.
   "Will Shakespeare? That cheap showman!
   Why the man's quite gauche, my dear!
I prefer them cultivated like dear Bacon and de Vere. "

So reputations surge and sink as lifts and ebbs the tide,
Now wallowing within the trough, now on the crest they ride.
   But the snobs are ever with us, snobs of art, of place, of pelf.
   And reading this, I rather think I might be one myself.

First published in The Herald, 14 May 1938;
and later in 
The Queenslander, 25 May, 1938; and
Random Verse edited by Margaret Herron, 1952.

The Deadly Dummy by C.J. Dennis

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LONDON, May 11 -- "A child's continual sensual pleasure of sucking a comforter often provides the first downward step in the career of a drunkard," declared Dr Potts, a Birmingham psychologist, addressing the Parents' Educational Conference.

"It's the dummy wot done it," said Bleary Bill.
"As a child I was out o' luck.
A kid in me pram, that's wot I am
When they gimme the thing to suck.
An' I took to it good, for I like the taste;
With never a thought of a life laid waste.

Then I took to nippin' upon the sly,
Or avin' a suck with a friend,
Tho' a neighbourin' kid warned me, 'e did,
It would  get me, sure, in the end.
An' git me it did, as you see today.
In a most insidius an' 'orrible way.

I know as me 'abits is not the best.
An' I know as the beer's a curse;
But don't blame me, for me choice weren't free,
An' the blame of it's all on nurse.
So, please, yer Honor, don't make it 'ot,
An' I'll swear off dummies right on the spot."

First published in The Sun-News Pictorial, 13 May 1927

Advance Australia by C.J. Dennis

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During the depression, when funds were desperately needed, Australia managed to remain self-supporting.  Today, with a revenue surplus of some millions in view, the Federal Government startles public opinion by borrowing overseas instead of raising and circulating the defence money within our own borders. - From a leading article on the poor response to Australia's latest London loan.

Borrowin' over the water; I've seen it all before
Raisin' loans (said Old George Jones)
   Was a trick we learned of yore.
Borrowin' over the water
   In the old Australian way
Splash the cash an' cut a dash
   An' leave the kids to pay.

Steel rails an' sausage skins, cotton goods an' fal-de-rals,
   Drapery an' rollin'-stock an' pocket knives an' sich;
That was how we took it out
When we was but a growin' lout;
But sich-like habits calls for doubt
   Now we are grown an' rich.

Borrowin' over the water for reproductive works
That ain't produced; sich habits used
   To mark the crowd that shirks.
That's why we're heaped with taxes
   In this sad year A.D.
Thro' the ancient tricks of politics
   In borrowin' overseas.

Airyplanes an' motor-cars, guns an' bombs an' bayonits --
   The cash is here to buy the things an' meet the whole expense.
But seems we'll never mend our ways;
An' habits learned in olden days
Sticks hard; so we keep up the craze
   An' borrow for defence.
Advance Australia!  Pile the loans.
The kids'll pay (said Old George Jones).

First published in The Herald, 12 May 1938

Song Without Rhymes by C.J. Dennis

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Lines written after listening on the wireless to the doleful dirge of a sad and inconsolable crooner.

I'd like to write a crooning song
   Of inconsolable regrets
To music of the sweet tom-tom
   With dulcet motor-horn effects.
But when I strive to weave the rhymes
   Harsh dissonances fill the room,
And unmatched mouthings end the lines.
   I wish that I knew how to croon.
I try, but inspiration stops,
And dull frustration thins my locks.

Oh, I want to write a crooning song,
   A blooming song
   Of love.
About a heart by passion torn
While evil stars rage in a storm
(Gosh! That's a rhyme! I'm getting on.
I wonder where I got it from?
   If I could but go on like that
   I'd moon until my tonsils crack.)

I want to serenade my sweet
   In drear and doleful terms
And tell her how my life is bleak,
   How all my being burns
With unrequited love. I roam
   The sad earth, all undone;
But when I raise my metric moan
   The rhymes will never come.
With wilful warring words I strive
Until my tortured brain cells writhe.

Oh, I want to write a moving song
   A soothing song,
   Tho' sad.
If only I could get it right
I even might grow lover-like
   And glad.
(A rhyme again! Yes, that's another!
I could be a luckless lover;
   But, alas, my song must flag
   Because I've no more rhymes in stock.)

First published in The Herald, 11 May 1937

Lotsertime by C.J. Dennis

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The suggestion has been made that the flying boat mail from England should be brought on by fast land plane via Darwin and Adelaide, thus saving about a day and a half on the route via Sydney, with the last stage by train.  But authorities so far appear to be apathetic.

Aw, chuck the mail bags over there,
      It's great to have 'em brought by air;
   But, now they're here, just sling 'em round,
   Out anywhere, upon the ground.
I'll pick 'em up an' make full speed
Soon as me 'orse 'as 'as a feed.
   Delays don't count in this fair clime;
   This is the land o' Lotsertime.

I 'ear 'ow Europe's gone fair mad
      On speed.  But I'm like my ole dad.
   The things a man don't do today
   He does termorrer, anyway.
So wot's the odds!  This speed's all tripe.
Wait on until I light me pipe.
   A spell for yarnin' ain't no crime;
   This is the land o' Lotsertime.

The Melbourne cockies, they don't care.
      There's always 'eaps o' time to spare.
   They ain't air-minded like yous blokes
   From Europe, or them Yankee folks.
Why should we be, when all is said?
When coves dies they're a long time dead.
   Why worry while the crops is prime?
   This is the land o' Lotsertime.

So, sling the mail bags over 'ere.
      I'll fill me pipe again an' clear.
   I hold one record, 't any rate;
   I always gets there, soon or late.
The mail gets thro', dry stage or wet;
An' fire or flood ain't beat me yet.
   Our troubles 'ow speed records climb
   In this 'ere land o' Lotsertime.

First published in The Herald, 10 May 1938;
and later in
The Queenslander, 18 May 1938.

When Thomas Spoke by C.J. Dennis

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["I intend to raise my voice in protest throughout the State." - Bent, on the Braddon Blot.]

"What's happened here!" the stranger said:
"Is all the population dead?
What awful desolation this!
Why, man, whatever is amiss?
Has there been pestilence or war?"
"No," said the native.  "Nothin' more
         Than Tommy's jor."

"But," cried the stranger: "look at these --
These ruined buildings, blasted trees,
Uprooted fences, railway lines,
All torn and twisted, and the mines
Caved in!  Why, man, you surely joke."
"Aw," said the native.  "Just a bloke
         Named Bent has spoke."

"Tut," said the stranger.  "Tell me not
That one man's voice has caused the lot.
Why, man, your statement can't be true,
The bloomin' landscape's all askew,
There's been an earthquake in the land."
"No, he's a politician and" --
The stranger smiled and waved his hand --
         "I understand."

"He said he'd raise his voice -- no kid,"
The native said: "An' 'struth he did
I never knew his likes -- that chap,
He's been an' changed the blessed map.
No place is where it used to be --
         Geelong's at sea;

"An' Melbourne's up at Bendigo.
Where Bendigo is I don't know;
St. Kilda's blowed to Ballarat,
An' Toorak's further off than that:
Warracknabeal's right off the slate --
         Out of the State.

"An' Kyabram has done a get.
They're lookin' for the Yarra yet,
An' Tommy Bent, the bloke that spoke
(This is the best part of the joke),
He didn't count on the rebound:
Now, spare me days, he can't be found --
         We hopes he's drowned."

First published in The Gadfly, 9 May 1906

The March by C.J. Dennis

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In early, prehistoric days, before the reign of Man,
When neolithic Nature fashioned things upon a plan
That was large as it was rugged, and, in truth, a trifle crude,
There arose a dusky human who was positively rude. 

Now, this was in the days when lived the monster kangaroo;
When the mammoth bunyip gambolled in the hills of Beetaloo;
They'd owned the land for centuries, and reckoned it their own;
For might was right, and such a thing as "law" was quite unknown.

But this dusky old reformer in the ages long ago,
One morning in the Eocene discovered how to "throw";
He studied well and practised hard until he learned the art;
Then, having planned his Great Campaign, went forth to make a start.

"See here," he said -- and hurled a piece of tertiary rock,
That struck a Tory bunyip with a most unpleasant shock --
"See here, my name is Progress, and your methods are too slow,
This land that you are fooling with must be cut up.  Now go!"

They gazed at him in wonder, then they slowly backed away;
For "throwing" things was novel in that neolithic day;
'Twas the prehistoric "argument," the first faint gleam of "art."
Yet those mammoths seemed to take it in exceedingly bad part.  

Then a hoary, agéd bunyip rose, and spluttered loud and long;
He said the black man's arguments were very, very wrong;
"You forget," he said, indignantly "the land is ours by right,
And to seek to wrest it from us would be - well, most impolite."

But the savage shook his woolly head and smiled a savage smile,
And went on hurling prehistoric missiles all the while,
Till the bunyip and the others couldn't bear the argument,
And they said, "You are a Socialist." But, all the same - they went.

Some centuries -- or, maybe, it was aeons -- later on,
When the bunyip and the mammoth kangaroo had passed and gone;
While the black man slowly profited by what his fathers saw,
While he learned to fashion weapons and establish tribal law.

There came a band of pale-faced men in ships, from oversea,
Who viewed the land, then shook their heads and sadly said, "Dear me!"
Then they landed with some rum and Bibles and a gun or two,
And started out to "civilize," as whites are apt to do.

They interviewed the black man and remarked, "It's very sad,
But the use you make of this great land is positively bad;
Why, you haven't got a sheep or cow about the blessed place!
Considering the price of wool, it's simply a disgrace!"

Then they started with the Bibles and the rum -- also the guns;
And some began to look for gold and others "took up runs,"
For, they said, "This land must be cut up it's simply useless so:
Our name is Progress, and you're out of date, so you must go!"

But the black was most indignant, and he said it was a shame;
For he'd been full and satisfied before the white man came,
And he used that awful word, "Bowowgong," in his argument,
Which is native for "A blanky Socialist." And yet -- he went.

It's the same old "march unceasing."  We are getting down the list,
And yesterday's "Reformer" is tomorrow's "Monopolist,"
For hist'ry will repeat itself in this annoying way:
Who stood for "Progress" yesterday is "Retrograde" to-day.

To-day we view the land, as did those men for oversea,
And, like them, slowly shake our heads and sadly say, "Dear me!
This land will have to be cut up; your methods are too slow;
Our name is Progress; you are out of date, so you must go."

They mutter Tory Platitudes, and call the land their land;
For, like the bunyip and the black, they do not understand.
Like bunyip and like black they hark to days of long ago;
And, like them, murmur "Socialist!"  But, all the same -- they'll go.

First published in The Gadfly, 8 May 1907;
and later in
Backblock Ballads and Other Verses by C.J. Dennis, 1913.

The Vote of Censure by C.J. Dennis

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   Len's a pipe er baccer, Bill.
      Siddown over there.
Bloomin' contrac's been 'ung up again.
   Aw, there's no use worryin';
      Whips er time to spare;
Blokes will 'ave their quarrils now an' then.
   'Ere's them flamin' managers
      Scrappin' like the dooce,
Playin' at the same ole silly game.
   Chuck yer pick an' shovel down,
      Wot's the bloomin' use?
We kin dror our wages orl the same!

   Toil to do?  Er course ther' is -
      'Eaps er solid work;
'Nough to keep us goin' overtime.
   But when bosses chucks it in
      An' begins to strike,
Well, fer me an' you it ain't no crime.
   Ther's that darn ole Tariff Wall
      Ain't been mended yet,
Said they'd 'tend to that long years ago.
   Aw, don't bust yer boiler, Bill!
      You've no call to fret.

Pay-day's comin' all the same, yeh know.
   Yus, I'm pretty sick of it,
   'Anging 'round the job,
While they squabbles all the 'ole day long.
   'Ere, when one bloke does a bit,
      'Nother silly yob
Comes an' pulls it down, becos it's wrong.
   Then they starts to mix it up,
      'Ell fer leather.  Biff!
Yow!  An' goes an' wastes a month in talk.
   Only fer the pay I'd be
      Orf in 'alf a jiff.
Struth!  I'd pick me dunnage up an' walk!

   It's the flamin' system, Bill,
      Got us in its grip:
Me, an' you an' orl the blessed lot.
   If they don't soon alter it,
      Take my dead sure tip,
Things on this 'ere job 'ull go to pot.
  Orl lars' shift they torks a treat,
      Gittin' nithin' done;
'Ere, this shift they starts to tork some more.
   Jist sit back in comfort, Bill;
      Stay an' watch the fun.
Ther's a bit er wages still to dror.

   Dunno wot 'e's thinkin' of,
      Bloke 'oo owns these works.
If 'twas me I wouldn't wait fer munce.
   Orl this brawlin' crowd 'ud git
      Swift an' suddin jerks.
Out into the cold, 'ard world at once.
   I'd not stand this sorter thing,
      Not fer arf a day:
Runnin' contracks at a dead sure loss.
   If yeh carn't agree, git it out!
      That'd be my way.
But, er course, I ain't the bloomin' boss.

   Say, I've 'eard this boss uv ours
      'E's the simple kind;
Dunno where 'e are or wot 'e thinks;
   Dunno 'ow to manige things,
      Carn't make up 'is mind.
Shouldn't be su'prsed to 'ear 'e drinks.
   These 'ere toughs 'as got 'im fair
      On a bit er string;
Pulls 'is leg a treat when they wants cops.
   Then, when 'e ingages 'em 
      It's another thing;
An' orl thort er toil they gently drops.

   Listen to 'em howlin', Bill....
      Give it to 'em, Joe!
Sool 'em, Andy!  Keep it goin', boys!
   Buck in, Willie!  Use yer boot!
      Land 'im with yer toe!....
Strike me up a wattle: Wot a noise!
   Spare me!  Ain't it boshter, Bill?
      Better un a play.
Work, they calls it!  Wot a bit er kid!
   An' fer thise 'ere sorter thing
      Ev'ry bloomin' day
'Ere's the boss shells out five 'undred quid!

   Aw!  Don't start to worry, Bill.
      Work?  We ain't allowed!
Put yet feet up 'ere an' 'ave a smoke.
   We jist gotter loaf eround
      Same as orl the crowd.
Work?  Well, you're a funny sorter bloke!
   Contrack's stopped!  I'm tellin' yeh -
      While they squabbles....Ho!
Look at Joseph gettin' shirty!  Yow!
   Ain't 'e workin' fer 'is money?
      Bash 'is 'ed in, Joe!....
Come on Bill, our cheques is ready now.

First published in The Bulletin, 7 May 1914

A Wreck by C.J. Dennis

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'Is clothes wus 'angin' off 'im, an' 'is feet wus through 'is boots;
'Is trousis wanted washin', but 'e 'ad no change o' soots;
I met 'im awn the never, the other side o' Quawn,
An' travelled with 'im fer a week, but now, thank Gawd, he's gawn,

An' 'e's bin a bloomin' undergraduate,
            (So 'e says.)
But I wouldn't like to own 'im fer a mate.
            (Spare me days!)
   With 'is Oxford an' 'is 'Arrer, 'e's a badun to the marrer,
This Gawd-forgotten undergraduate.

Ther' ain't no doubt about it, 'e's bin eddicated well;
An' once upon a time 'e might 'ave bin a sorter swell;
But of all the bloomin' cadgers an' the beer sharks that I've met,
I've never seen the feller that wus equal to 'im yet.

For 'e'd steal the bit o' tucker in yer bag,
            (So 'e would!)
An' 'e'd sneak the bloomin' quart pot off yer swag,
            (If 'e could.)
   With 'is Latin an' 'is Greek, 'e's a thievin' crawlin' sneak;
'E's a scholard; but 'e ain't got room to brag.

'E used to be a barrister at 'Ome, that's wot 'e sed;
An' there's some that might believe 'im, 'cos 'e 'ad a clever 'ead.
If 'e gets a chaunce to take ye down, you bet yer life 'e will;
Fer 'e's known around the country be the name of "Crooked Bill."

An' 'e gits a bit o' money frum 'is friends,
            (Once a year.)
An' while 'e 'as a striver then 'e spends 
            (All in beer.)
   But all 'is bloomin' wealf 'e spends upon 'imself,
An' never thinks o' treatin' of 'is friends.

First published in The Critic, 6 May 1899

Winter by C.J. Dennis

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Winter comes; and our complaints
Grow apace as summer faints,
   Waning days grow dull and drear,
   Something tells, too well, I fear,
That I've found a germ or two;
Something seems -- ee! -- ah!  Tish-OO.

Subthig certigly does tell
That I'b very far frob weel.
   Ad I'b cadging cold, I fear
   As the wading days grow near,
Winter cubs; ad our complades
Grow apace as subber fades.

First published in The Sun-News Pictorial, 5 May 1927

Definitions by C.J. Dennis

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If Bradman continues as he has begun on English wickets there is a danger that he will lose all claim to the title of "batsman," not so much because of his unconventional methods, as because of the sheer lack of any means of comparison.  He is a class apart.

We have heard it.  Oft we heard it long before we came of age.
In whatever fields we practise, art whatever arts engage:
   Ever praise for the performance, still begrudging utmost fame,
   From who would extol the action yet withhold its hallowed name.
Thus, in painting, think how often, praise is mingled with complaint:
"No, of course the man's no 'artist' but, by jove, sir he can paint!"

As in fields of art and letters, tho' Australian pride has swelled
We may never match our betters while the title is withheld,
   So in sport. Consider racing. This young champion. What a horse!
   At all distances breaks records, old and new, on every course.
But the veterans, harking backward, ban the upstart with a word:
"Yes; no doubt the nag has speed. sir. But a 'racehorse'? Bah! Absurd!"

When the Digger put a show up Over There -- some push or road --
He won almost fulsome praise: "The bravest thing God made."
   But it seemed he still lacked something -- something vague and undefined
   That would make him, if he had it, the supremest of his kind.
And 'twas said in all good feeling of the valiant Aussie band:
"These men never will make 'soldiers'. But as fighters? Gad, sir! Grand!"

Tho' he skittled English wickets till their very hope grew bleak,
Ernie Jones was ne'er a "bowler". No, sir. Just a sort of freak.
   There's a danger in perfection that may set a man apart,
   What he gains in execution he may lose, 'twould seem, in art.
Now there's Bradman, freak run-getter, making scores till all is blue.
Can we call this man a "batsman". Speaking honestly, would you?  

First published in The Herald, 4 May 1938

Inured by C.J. Dennis

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A London cablegram says that the danger period of matrimony is 12 years after the wedding.

Young man about to marry,
   Don't hesitate, I pray;
No need for you to tarry
   If you can only stay.

So let it be your prayer
   That you can see it out;
For, if you are a stayer
   You'll win to bliss, no doubt.

Tho' she may nag and scold you,
   And drive you mad at first,
Let this bright thought uphold you;
   The first twelve years are worst.

First published in The Sun-News Pictorial, 3 May 1927

A Humble Prayer by C.J. Dennis

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The prize lists for the South Street competitions at Ballarat, to be held in October next, total £1,400; £150 is to be given for vocal and instrumental music, and £170 for elocution. - Melb Age

Oh, teach me how to elocute,
   Oh, teach me how to say
The boy stood on the burning deck
   In strictly proper way;
Oh, teach me how to clutch my heart,
   And roll my glittering eye,
That I may wail with all my might
   The Leper's fearful cry.

Oh, train my voice to sing the songs
   Of how the swallows fly,
And teach me how to tell the world
   How Tosti said "Good-bye";
Oh, let me learn by day and night
   The way to calm those fears;
I want to understand aright
   Just how to dry those tears.

Oh, teach me how to do my hair,
   That I may win a prize,
And how to wear my spectacles
   Before my bright-blue eyes:
For much depends, I've heard them say,
   Upon the clothes you wear,
They say it's half the victory
   To dress yourself with care.

And when I've proved victorious,
   And by the telegraph
My fame has spread, oh, hasten then
   To take my photograph;
Oh, teach me how to rest my chin
   Upon my shapely hand,
That in the picture I may look
   A credit to the land.

First published in The Gadfly, 2 May 1906

Autumn Interlude by C.J. Dennis

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These autumn days, of tempestuous storms alternating with decidedly warm sunshine, seem to have bewildered more than mere humans.  Since, in the absence of frosts, many summer blooms still struggle on, even the wise bees seem not to know what to make of it.

I said goodbye to the bees last Friday week,
To blooms, and to things like these, for Winter bleak
   Was shouting loud from the hills, and flinging high
   His gossamer net that fills frail Autumn's sky.
So I said goodbye to the bees; for I knew that soon
I should bask no more 'neath the trees on some high noon
   And hark to the drowsy hum close overhead.
   For the cold and rain must come, now Summer's dead.

So I wallowed a while in woe and wooed unease;
And I rather liked it so; for it seemed to please
   Some clamoring inner urge -- some need apart,
   And I felt self-pity surge, here, in my heart
As I said goodbye to the bees, my tireless friends
Who toil mid the flowers and the trees till daylight ends --
   Who toil in the sun, yet seem to find no irk,
   While I loll in the shade and dream; for I do love work.

Ah, fate and the falling leaf!  How dear is woe.
How subtly sweet is grief (Synthetic).  So
   I said goodbye to the bees; and then I wrote
   This crown of threnodies, while in my throat
I choked back many a sob and salt tears spent.
But I felt I'd done my job, and was content.
   For I'd penned my piece to the bees -- the poet's tosh
   Of the Autumn's drear unease.  Ah, me! Oh, gosh!

I said goodbye to the bees last Friday week....
Then the tempest shook the trees, the swollen creek
   Went thundering down to the plain, the wind shrieked past,
   And the cold, and the wet, wet rain were here at last....
Then, a hot sun, scorning rules, shone forth, alack!
And those blundering, blithering fools, the bees came back,
   Humming a song inane in the rain-washed trees. . . .
   Now it's all to do again. . . . Oh, blast the bees!

First published in The Herald, 1 May 1935

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