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.

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on May 24, 2013 7:30 AM.

The Fortunes of Grandison-Lee by C.J. Dennis was the previous entry in this blog.

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