June 2013 Archives

The Chase of Ages by C.J. Dennis

| No TrackBacks
Light of my lives! Is the time not yet?
   Lo, I've brooded on a star
Through many a year, with the hope held dear
   That, in some future far,
I would know the joy of a love returned.
   Are my lives lived vainly, all?
Since that cosmic morn when life, now-born,
   First moved on this mundane ball?
Yea, I mind it yet, when first we met
   On a tertiary rock,
Flow the graceful charm of your rudiments
   Imparted love's first shock.
But I was a mere organic cell
   In that early eocene,
While you were a prim, primordial germ,
   And the mother of protogene.
So I loved and died, and the ages sped
   Till the time of my second birth;
When I took my place in the cosmic race,
   And again came down to earth.
Once more we met.  Ah, love, not yet!
   You were far above my state!
For how could I raise my mollusc gaze
   To a virtuous vertebrate?
Again we died, and again we slept,
   And again we came to be --
I as an anthropoidal ape,
   And you as a chimpanzee.
You as a charming chimpanzee,
   With a high, patrician air;
And I watched you waltz from tree to tree
   As I slunk in my lowly lair.
And yet again, in an age or so,
   We met, and I mind the sob
I sobbed when I found that I was what?
   And you were a thingumbob.
You had sold your tail for a kind of soul,
   You had grown two thumbs beside;
And I knew again that my love was vain,
   So I went to the woods and died.
As a humble homunculus, later on,
   I crept to your cave at night,
And howled long, love-lorn howls in vain
   To my lady troglodyte.
And I grew insane at your cold disdain,
   And my howlings filled the place,
Till your father sought me out one night,
   And - again I yearned in space.
Then, light of my lives!  Is the time not yet?
   say, in what distant life --
In what dim age that is still to come
   May I win and call you wife?
Still high above!  My love, my love!
   Nay, how can I raise my eyes
To you, my star of the eocene,
   My e'er elusive prize?
Lo, Time speeds on, and the suns grow cold,
   And the earth infirm and hoar,
And, ages past, we are here at last --
   Ay, both on the earth once more.
But, alas, dear heart, as far apart
   As e'er in this cosmic whirl;
For I'm but a lowly writer-man
   And you are a tea-room girl.

First published in The Bulletin, 30 June 1910;
and later in
Backblock Ballads and Other Verses by C.J. Dennis, 1913; and
Backblock Ballads and Later Verses by C.J. Dennis, 1918.

The Battler by C.J. Dennis

| No TrackBacks
"Could you give me a bite to eat?" said he,
   As he tarried by my back door.
And I thought of the dull, lean days that be
   As I glanced at the clothes he wore:
Patched in places, and worn and old,
Yet cosy enough to fend the cold.
   And I caught the glint of his gay blue eye,
   Sure sign of his slogan: "Never say die".

"Could you spare me a trifle to eat?" said he;
   "For it's tough on a man these days."
Then, somehow or other it seemed to me,
   Some trick of his voice, or ways,
Stirred half lost thought.  But I let it go,
As he said that his tea was "pretty low":
   And his sugar-bag, too, was "well-nigh out".
   "Tho' I'd hate", he added, "to put you about."

"Could you do with a couple of chops?" said I.
   "Some eggs and a ration of bread?"
"Why, mister, that would be comin' it high!
   It's a feed for a king!" he said.
So with this, and a trifle of sugar and tea,
Tucked under his arm: "Thanks, boss", said he.
   "It's hard on the roads when yer out of a job ... 
   D'yeh think yeh'd be missin' a couple o' bob?"

"One minute!" I bade him, as memory stirred.
   "Have I ever seen you before?"
"Seen me?" said he.  "Why, upon my word!
   For the half o' my life or more,
I been comin' round nigh every year.
An' I never yet drawed a blank - not 'ere.
   An' I'll say this for yeh: you ain't too bad
   As a regular customer - best I've 'ad."

First published in The Herald, 29 June 1933;
and later in
More Than a Sentimental Bloke: A Performance, 1990.

The Busted Bard by C.J. Dennis

| No TrackBacks
A Tragedy in Six Spasms

A bard one Spring did blithely sing
   Sing hey for a lilting lay, sing hey!
"I'll write a rhyme with a right good ring."
   Sing ho for a journey in the inky way!
With dictionaries bound in tan,
With pen and paper he began.
And oh, he was so spick and span.
Sing ho down derry for a literary man!
   For a lilting lay sing hey!

"Dear me," quoth he, "now let me see;"
   Sing hey for a lilting lay, sing hey!
"My masterpiece this thing must be."
   Sing ho for a treader in the inky way!
"A theme that's somewhat fresh to find
I'll exercise my mighty mind.
Now come, ye muses, pray be kind.
Sing hey down derry for the literary grind!
   For a lilting lay sing hey!"

"Ah, ha!  Hurrah!  Also Huzzah!
   Sing hey for a lilting lay, sing hey!
Eureka!  Likewise Ha, ha, ha!
   Sing ho for a header in the inky way!
I have it!  Just the very thing!
'Tis inspiration!  Now to sing
About the new-born babe of Spring.
Sing ho, with a literary ting-a-ling-a-ling!
   For a lilting lay sing hey!"

E'er this was read, I should have said
   Sing hey for a lilting lay sing hey!
The bard had influ. in his head.
   Sing ho for a treader in the inky way!
He sought to find a rhyme for babe.
Cried he:  "Id is ad awful shabe!
Alas!  Alack!  Cad this be fabe?
Sig ho, dowd derry for the literary gabe,
   For a lildig lay sig hey!"

In haste he took each rhyming book,
   Sing hey for a lilting lay, sing hey!
And found 'twas waste of time to look.
   Sing ho for a plodder in the inky way!
But still he sought, and sought and sought.
Alack, he thought there surely ought
To be a rhyme -- but found he naught.
Sing hey down derry; he was literally caught.
   For a lilting lay sing hey!

So, by his lot be warned: I wot
   Sing hey for a lilting lay, sing hey!
'Tis vain to search for what is not.
   Sing ho for wallow in the inky way.
Alas, there is no rhyme for babe.
Said he: "I thought to make a nabe
Ad dow I cah'd; but all the sabe --
Sig, hey dowd derry for the literary gabe.
   For a lilting lay, sig hey."

First published in The Critic, 28 June 1905

Bountiful Rain by C.J. Dennis

| No TrackBacks
After a serious threat of drought, such bountiful rain has fallen in Gippsland and the eastern hill and forest country, that flood warnings have been issued.

Bountiful rain, we have yearned for you, prayed for you,
   When, thro' the drought days, ill visions had scope;
Thankfulness vast in the past we displayed for you
   When you have come at the end of our hope.
Now you have come, is our subsequent attitude
   Smacking of gracelessness far from the mind.
Is there a tinge of reproach in our gratitude
   If we suggest that you can be too kind?

Farmland and forest have known your munificence;
   Sweet, tender green springs anew in the fields;
Meekly and meetly we hail your beneficence,
   Dreaming again fresh, glorious yields.
Bountiful rain, of your bounty give ear to us,
   Yet deem us not for your bounty unfit,
If we remark that just now you appear to us --
   Well -- overdoing it just a wee bit.

The forest's aweep, but the rain is still falling;
   The farmlands are soaking, the paddocks awash;
The swollen hill-creeks thro' their gullies go brawling;
   And down thro' the cowyard the dairymen slosh.
Shade of old Noah and all his zoology!
   Bountiful rain!  Now the drought threat has ceased,
Might we suggest, with an abject apology,
   More than enough is as good as a feast.

First published in The Herald, 27 June 1933

Git-Yer-Gun by C.J. Dennis

| No TrackBacks
Thus it happened .... Let me mention, lest I raise an unsought quarrel,
   This occurred in times long vanished, in the land of Git-yer-gun.
'Tis a quaint, unlikely story; some folk say it has a moral;
   But that's a little matter you may settle when I'm done.

Mr. Foodle led a party that was strongly democratic,
   And it represented people with the Christian name of Bill.
And in all his hustings speeches Mr. Foodle was emphatic
   That his crowd existed solely to uphold the people's will.

Mr. Boodle led a party that was Liberal - or Tory -
   (Just according to your view-point) - and it represented those
Christened (by immersion) Percy, whose hot socks proclaimed their glory;
   And its policy was such as you may readily suppose.

So they strove in an election .... (Now, I wish it noted plainly
   That this happened years ago, and in the land of Git-yer-gun) ....
And each side employed its talent to upbraid the other mainly,
   While the voters cheered them madly, and the crowd enjoyed the fun.

The Democratic Party (Bill by name) supported Foodle -
   For such was the convention with this quaint old Party Plan -
While the Tories fought like fury to promote the cause of Boodle,
   And, of course, the crowd named Percy voted for him to a man.

And the others of the nation - all the Johns and Jeremiahs,
   All the Peters, Pauls and Paddys, all the Colins and Carews,
All the Richards and the Roberts, and the Hanks and Hezekiahs
   Voted for some bloque or other, each according to his views.

Then they counted up the numbers, when at last the fight was over,
   And both Democrats and Tories - Bills and Percys - looked quite sour
When the numbers showed them clearly neither party stood in clover;
   For a few odd Independents held the balance of the power.

Mr. Foodle called his Caucus .... And he put it to them plainly:
   "Never mind the Bills," said Foodle; "we have got them in the box.
If we would escape extinction 'tis our plan to pander mainly -
   But with caution - to the Percys and the cause of fancy socks.

"For," said Mr. Foodle gravely, "understand me, votes are needed!
   How to catch and how to keep them is the question of the hour.
Never mind your Public Questions; let the Big Things go unheeded;
   We must compromise a little if we mean to hold the power."

Mr. Boodle called his Caucus ...  And he put it to them clearly"
   "Gentlemen, ignore the Percys!  We have got them in the bag!
But the Bills, we must remember, have the votes we covet dearly;
   And till we contrive to get them we must let the Big Things lag."

So began the op'ning session, with both sides electioneering;
   Boodle grew more democratic; Foodle watered down his views;
Bit by bit they drew together, more and more alike appearing,
   Till the voters, looking at them, vowed there wasn't much to choose.

Sometimes Foodle reigned in office, sometimes it was Mr. Boodle.
   'Twas the Grand Old Party System, for the shibboleth held still.
And they vowed that ev'ry voter - (as was plain to any noodle) -
   Must most palpably be Percy if he wasn't christened Bill.

Meantime all the Dicks and Davids, all the Johns and Jeremiahs,
   All the Mats and Pats and Peters, surnamed Smith or Brown or Burke,
Shouted with the Ned and Normans and the Hanks and Hezekiahs,
   "What of those Big Public Questions?  When do you begin to work?"

Still the factions went on fighting - ('Tis a right that factions cherish) -
   But on one important matter both the parties were agreed;
In this world of sin and sorrow Bills may die and Percys perish,
   But the votes to hold his billet are a politician's need.

Boodle battled strenuously, on his rival's ground encroaching;
   Fearlessly the Foodle faction sneaked the other Party's views;
Full of fight were both opponents; the elections were approaching;
   And upon mere Public Business none had any time to lose.

With the public patience straining, and quite half the nation scoffing
   At the Bill and Percy parties, and the voters in despair.
Lo, a party led by Doodle rose serenely in the offing;
   And it said it represented folk who sported Ginger Hair.

Doodle soon became the fashion: thousands flocked around his banner;
   Scores of Antonys and Arthurs, Joes and Jacobs, Mats and Micks,
(Even some stray Bills and Percys renegaded).  In like manner
   Flocked the Hanks and Hezekiahs, and the Davids and the Dicks.

All the Red-haired of the nation joined the mighty Doodle party;
   And the Brown-haired and the Black-haired and the Grey-haired sought him too;
For, they said, "What does it matter?  He has our support most hearty.
   Never mind what shade your hair is.  He will see the Big Things through!"

Then, when that great Doodle Party swept the polls at next election,
   What a great rejoicing followed!  Heavens, how the people cheered!
And the Boodle-Foodle party - (fused for general protection) -
   Was so absolutely routed that it almost disappeared.

How the Dicks and Davids shouted with the Johns and Jeremiahs:
   "We don't care what shade his hair is - black or brown or pink or blue!"
"Glory!" cried the Mats and Michaels with the Hals and Hezekiahs.
   "Hail to Doodle!  Red-haired Doodle!  He will see the Big Things through!"

Mr. Doodle called his Caucus .... And he put it to them tersely:
   "Gentlemen, it now behoves us, seeing all the votes we've got,
To be very, very careful lest we're criticised adversely.
   Never mind the Red-haired voters; we have got them in the pot.

"But," continued Mr. Doodle, "there are others - perfect snorters.
   There's this new Bald-headed Party led by Snoodle!  Statesmanship
Now demands we do our utmost to win over his supporters.
   Meantime, gentlemen, I'm thinking we must let the Big Things rip.

"Or, if we must tackle something to allay the public clamor,
   Let us not be over-zealous and this alientate support
From our Party when the...Gracious!!!!"

I should like to go on telling how they fared; but foreign raiders
   At this very hour descended on the land of Git-yer-gun;
And the Red-heads and the Bald-heads fell beneath the fierce invaders -
   Men who bore aloft a banner blazoned with a Rising Sun.

And they smote the Pats and Percys, and the Jims and Jeremiahs.
   Bashed the Doodles, smashed the Snoodles, left the Mats and Micks for dead.
Thrust cold steel into the vitals of the Hanks and Hezekiahs,
   And plugged all the Johns and Jacobs and the Josephs full of lead.

Thus it happened .... As I've mentioned, some folk think it has a moral.
   You may judge that little matter, as I said when I began.
'Tis to me the simple story of a very ancient quarrel
   'Mid the Git-yer-gun debaters with their quaint old Party Plan.

First published in The Bulletin, 26 June 1913

The Stars by C.J. Dennis

| No TrackBacks
The twinklin', winkin', blinkin' stars
   That besprinkle me roof at night;
When I camp out back on the lonesome track,
   It's them that knows me right.
I confess to 'em all, both great and small;
   To Orion, The Cross, an' the Twins;
For they sort o' appeal, an' make a man feel
   The amazin' amount of 'is sins.

The years roll by, an' a man MUST die,
   An' I've seen most o' me days;
But age ain't brought the remorse it ought,
   Nor taught me to mend me ways;
For when you've bin to yer neck in sin --
   An' the sort of sin that's nice --
Afore you change to tracks that's strange,
   You like to consider twice.

An' where's life's fun if you 'ave to shun
   The things that make life bright;
That's wot I say to meself in the day,
   But I change me toon at night.
For it ain't no use.  When a man's bin loose
   In 'is ways (though 'e never owns)
Oft in a bright, still, starry night
   A FEAR gits into 'is bones.

A kind o' fear that ain't quite clear
   Of somethin' 'e can't make out;
That makes 'im smell the fires of 'ell,
   An' lie, an' think about
The things 'e's done when 'e wus young,
   An' the things that might 'ave bin,
Of wot 'e is, an' wot 'e wus,
   An' the "fleetin' joy o' sin."

An' when yer young an' yer life's ahead,
   An' you count yer chums be the score,
You seldom think that when yer dead
   Ther' might be somethin' more.
But as years go an' life gits slow,
   An' you feel the end draw near,
Alone at night in the pale starlight;
   It's then you feel THE FEAR.

An' so' I lie an' watch the sky
   With its thousand shinin' lights.
As they wink an' blink, I lie an' think
   Through the silent summer nights.
Think of me life.  Of the joy an' strife,
   Of the good I've done, an' the bad,
Of the cash gone through an' the girls I knew,
   An' the seas of drink I've 'ad.

An' the only sound fer miles around
   Is the cracklin' fire o' the camp;
An' all alone, to the stars, I own
   That I've bin a reg'lar scamp.
An' the stars look down an' seem to frown,
   Through a kind o' shimmery haze;
An' I tell 'em straight if it ain't too late
   I'll try an' mend me ways.

Tell 'em I'll try an' put sin by,
   An' be a dif'rent man;
An' take more 'eed of the life I lead,
   An' live the best I can.
An' then the least faint light in the east
   Shows dim, as the night wears on;
Up comes the sun; the night is done;
   An' me resolution's gone.

First published in The Critic, 25 June 1898

No Sport! by C.J. Dennis

| No TrackBacks
In the days of old, when a foeman bold
   Came on with a rush and a roar,
Gallant and dashing, his bright steel flashing,
   And honestly eager for gore;
We studied to slay him while ready to pay him
   Respect in a high degree;
For a fiercely frolicking, roaring, rollicking,
   Generous foe was he.

But the foe to-day has a sneaking way;
   He lurks in a secret lair;
He crawls on his belly, and chemicals smelly 
   He wafts on the good clean air.
He's furtive and slimy, and ghoulish and grimy;
   He froths at the mouth with hate; 
He murders and ravages, shaming the savages -- 
   Simian up-to-date!

When the legions of France they led us a dance,
   In the days when a fight was clean,
They slew and they fought as a gentleman ought,
   And they never did anything mean.
With rifles and sabres they went for their neighbors,
   Ferocious, but ever polite.
Vanquished, victorious, e'er were they glorious,
   Foes it was honor to fight.

But the Blutwurst breed it holds to the creed
   Of the vulture, the snake and the skunk,
And it loves to go sneaking with chemicals reeking
   And methods that savor of funk.
While prating of Culture, it soars like a vulture,
   And drops a foul death from the sky.
It mauls us and mangles us; poisons and strangles us:
   Gloats when our children die.

When we fought a foe with a blow for a blow,
   And the chance of a good clean death,
We could honor him well when one of us fell,
   Or both of us paused for breath.
Though we jeered him and curst him, and battled to worst him,
   At least, when we finished the fray,
Quits we could stand to him, giving our hand to him --
   That was the gentleman's way.

But the bounder who slinks with his gases and stinks --
   The slimy, unclassified squid,
Who lurks 'neath the water all eager to slaughter
   The innocent woman and kid --
The world is against him, and when we have fenced him
   And herded him close in his lair,
If his God can endure him, we'll kill or we'll cure him,
   And cleanse once again the good air.

First published in The Bulletin, 24 June 1915

Purely Personal by C.J. Dennis

| No TrackBacks
The Federal Treasurer (Mr. Casey) says he can recall no instance in his political career of a private person asking for a copy of Hansard unless personal interests were involved.

Now recently a well-known and scholarly librarian
Was approached in his habitat by a person who may be termed loosely as an Australian proletarian,
Who said: "Pray, sir, I wish to borrow from this library a copy of Federal Hansard."
"Stone the crows! Do you know what you are asking for?" the cultured librarian answered.
(Which, candidly, is a pretty awful rhyme;
But must do for the time;
For in these days
Modern poets are apt to rhyme in many fierce and fantastic ways,
All of them quaintly queer.)
O tempora! O mores! O Canberra! O dear! O dear!

"Too right I do," the proletarian made retort.
"Hansard is an unabridged, unexpurgated report
Of all speeches, chorally, sedate, wise and witty,
Heard in our Federal City
Above the rumble of rolling logs and the harsh grinding of axes,
And delivered by the noble fellows who extort and expend our various taxes.
Am I right or am I right?" 
O tempora! O mores! O Canberra! O lovely night!

"Well," replied the librarian, "despite the quaint phraseology in which your asserveration is wrapped,
I admit that your description, tho' terse and vigorous, is not entirely inapt.
At the same time, if you will allow me so to speak,
May I say that this occasion is absolutely and unquestionably unique.
Man and boy, for 27 years, I have watched Hansard cumber the shelves here; but until now, no man, woman, or child, has ever appear'd to need it.
I take it, sir, your intention is to read it?"
"Aw, don't be daft!" the proletarian made reply.
O tempora! O mores! O Canberra! O me! O my!

"Between ourselves," the proletarian returned; "and speaking, in good sooth,
The unashamed tho' naked truth --
As it should be between honest men and brothers --
On of the legs of our kitchen table is much shorter than the others;
Wherefore my missus thought --"
"Say no more," the librarian besought.
"Take it, and if, perchance, one volume is not enough,
Come back, and I will give you more; for we want to be rid of the darn stuff
It's cluttering up all the place here."
O tempora! O mores! O Canberra! O dear, dear, dear!

First published in The Herald, 23 June 1936

Sweet Reason by C.J. Dennis

| No TrackBacks
After he had agreed to take over all their debts, the State Premiers have, for the first time in history, arrived at a perfect agreement with the Federal Prime Minister.

I would agree with Mr. Bruce,
   And I think he must be very nice;
And, should his council be of use
   Or not, I'd take it at that price.

If he will only come to me
   With some pet scheme -- I care not what --
Upon such terms, I will agree
   To close the bargain on the spot.

I trust I have an open mind:
   Discord I hate, and things like that;
And, should he seek me, he may find
   I'm even waiting on the mat.

I'll own to consciousness of sin,
   And seek new light without regrets
In conference, if he'll begin
   By offering to take my debts.

First published in The Sun-News Pictorial, 22 June 1927

The Fowl by C.J. Dennis

| No TrackBacks
A small orchardist near Melbourne was charged, the other day, with "removing" chickens off a neighbour's hen ranch.  Defendant pleaded that his neighbour did not know how to rear chickens, that he was not fit to keep poultry, and he(defendant) had taken the birds because they were not being properly treated.  At this, there was much laughter in court.The orchardist was fined, and ordered to restore the chickens.

A noble lesson this should teach,
   Dear children unto you.
If other people's goods you reach,
Of rectitude 'twill be a breach,
Or parsons will your virtues preach,
   According to the point of view,
   Or to the kind of folks you "do".

You steal a chicken off a fence
   With wrath the pious shake,
Although you say with eloquence
The owner used it ill, and hence
You kindly sought to recompense
   The bird for troubles past, and make
   It happier, for Heaven's sake.

But if you are a statesman grand,
   And ships and armies raise,
To steel some feeble niggers' land,
To make its folks a Christian band,
To take their moral weal in hand - 
   The Empire echoes with your praise,
   And churches bless you all your days.

First published in The Bulletin, 21 June 1906

The Seeker by C.J. Dennis

| No TrackBacks
A seventy-year old mining prospector, an early pioneer of Westralian gold fields, last week-end "dropped in" on his family, in New South Wales, after sixteen years absence in New Zealand.  He is on his way to try his luck once more in the West.

There's country I ain't work yet (said he),
   An' supposin' me health went wrong,
Why, I'd hate to be missin' a bet (said he)
   So I got to be pushin' along.
For seventy year ain't old (said he)
   When you're just on the edge of a find;
An' there's like to be lashin's o' gold (said he)
   At a spot that I got in mind.
From Southern Cross to the Marble Bar,
   From the Bar to the Golden Mile,
I tramped in the old days, hard an' far,
   For a glimmer of fortune's smile,
But the lass weren't free with her smiles them days,
   So I knocks 'round Maoriland
This sixteen year, an' I've trod strange ways,
   But I ain't struck payin' sand.
Still, a man can't break with his own home folk;
   So I best look in as I pass,
For a bit of a yarn an' a bit of a smoke,
   An' maybe a friendly glass.
Then off again for the game's own sake,
   While I still feels hale an' strong;
For a man can't tell when his luck will break;
   So I got to be pushin' along.
To be lingerin' here ain't right (said he),
   For they'll bury me deep some day;
An' I'd not be astonished a sight (said he)
   If the color showed up in the clay
When they're givin' me grave a pat (said he)
   An' I'm singin' me glory song.
Me?  missin' a strike like that! (said he)
   No; I'd best be pushin' along.

First published in The Herald, 20 June 1935

K'Shoo by C.J. Dennis

| No TrackBacks
A Seasodable Rhybe

When your dose is code as barble,
   Ad you sduffle all the day,
Ad your head id is behavig
   Id a bost unbleased way;
When your ev'ry joid is achig
   With a very paidful cramb,
When your throat is dry ad tiglish,
   Ad your feed are code and damb;
Whed your eyes are red ad rudding
   With the dears that will cub oud;
You cad safely bake your bind ub
   There is very liddle doubd.

You've got a code -- a code --
   Ad idfluedzal code;
You cahd tell how you coughd id,
   But id's a got a good firb hode.
Your face is whide, your eyes are pigk,
   Your doe is red ad blue;
Ad you wish that you were -
   Ah --
      Ah --
         Ah -- h --
               Kish -- SHOO-O-O!!

I dode wad to be a boed,
  Ad I do nod log for fabe,
But I have to wride to get by bread
   Ad budder, all the sabe.
id is very aggravadig,
   Ad this world is very hard
Whed the idfluenza fasteds
   Od a sendibendal bard.
Oh, I caddod sig of subber skies!
   I caddod twag by lyre!
For all the buses id the world
   Are powerless to idspire.

I've got a code -- a code --
   A bost udpleased code;
I caddod sig a sog ob sprig,
   I caddod bake ad ode.
For inspirashud will nod cub:
   I'b feelig very blue;
Oh, would thad I was -- 
   Ah --
      Ah --
         Ah -- h --
               Kish -- SHOO-O-O!!

I have to wride adother verse,
   Ad dode doe whad to say;
But I've got to buy some bedicid
   To drive this code away;
Oh, the boed's is a hard, hard life,
   His lod is very sore;
Ad if mbsfortude cubs to hib,
   He has to toil the bore.
And dow, I thig I've bade enough,
   By wridig this last verse,
To go ad buy byself sub stuff
   Before by code gets worse.

I've got a code -- a code --
   Ad agravatig code!
If I was well I'd wride you such
   A charbig liddle ode.
I'd sig of labkins od the sward,
   Bedeath the skies so blue,
If it wasn'd for the --
   Ah --
      Ah --
         Ah -- h --
               Kish -- SHOO-O-O!!

First published in The Gadfly, 19 June 1907;
and later in
Backblock Ballads and Later Verses by C.J. Dennis, 1918.

The Great God Guff by C.J. Dennis

| No TrackBacks
The majority of Parliamentarians were accustomed to put party interests first, and those of the State second. They would continue even under the Elective Ministry system to give spoils to the victorious. Majorities would still rule; not in the interest of Australia but in the interests of the party alone. The thing could not be carried out. - From the statements of Senator BLAKEY, at a recent A.N.A. conference in Victoria.

There was once a Simple People - (you, of course, will understand
This is just a little fable of a non-existent land) -
There was once a Simple People, and they had a Simple King,
And his name - well, SMITH the First will do as well as anything -
And they lived upon an island by a pleasant southern sea,
Which they boastfully referred to as the "Country of the Free."
This King SMITH was quite a model.  He was kind and he was wise.
But, alas! a higher sovereign he was forced to recognise.

As in ev'ry age and nation, since the tale of man was known,
Superstition here existed as the power behind the throne.
It was vague and unsubstantial but its sway was plain enough,
And 'twas known upon the island, simply, as the Great God GUFF.
They made sacrifices to it, treasure, corn and slaughtered beasts,
Good King SMITH cringed to the idol where upon his throne he sat;
And the People feared it greatly; and the priests grew very fat.

Now, the welfare of the priestcraft did not always coincide
With the welfare of the People, hence the wily priests relied
On the hoary superstition that had stood the test of years;
Thus they led both king and people by their rather ass-like ears;
Crying: "GUFF was ever with us!  GUFF the Great must be obeyed!
GUFF the god must be consulted ere a single law be made!"
And the very simple People with their very simple King
Bowed their heads and said, "So be it.  GUFF be served in ev'rything."

So the nation muddled somehow on its island by the sea -
Simple superstitious people in their "Country of the Free."
And whene'er they yearned for Progress, as things drifted to the worst,
SMITH replied, "Have patience, people.  GUFF must be consulted first.
Other lands and other nations may progress without his aid;
But upon our native island never rule or law is made
Till his priests have pondered o'er it, seeking to divine his will.
So it was with our forefathers, so with us it must be still."

Came a time when folk grew restive, murmuring amongst themselves,
While the nation's schemes and projects lay neglected on the shelves.
Then arose amid the people one of singular renown --
Since his name the eld refuses, let us call him, simply, BROWN.
BROWN was something of a student, strong on things like common-sense;
He was plain and blunt and forceful; and he hated smug pretence.
And before the priests and people, in a manner rude and gruff,
He arose and put this question, briefly: "Who and what is GUFF?"

Loud the People shrieked in terror; and the High-Priest threw a fit;
And the king rose from his dais as his eye with anger lit.
"He blasphemes!" declared the monarch. "Seize the sacrilegious brute!
Great God GUFF may not be questioned! He is mighty! absolute!"
But BROWN stood his ground and answered, "Oh, I'm sick of all that stuff!
Give me one clear definition: What's the bloomin' use of GUFF?
He's a silly superstition! and I'll prove to you, King SMITH,
If you'll give me just five minutes, that your idol is a myth."

Well, to bring a simple story to a sudden, simple end,
BROWN beat down all opposition, and affairs began to mend.
Good King SMITH, with seemly wisdom, on his idol turned his back;
And, without much fuss, the People simply gave old GUFF the sack.
And the priests?  Well, some took service with the king, and so reformed;
Some adopted Christian Science; some in vain still raved and stormed;
Others strove to mend their fortunes with an Independent Kirk;
Some became mere weather prophets; some - a paltry few - got work.

So they thrived, the simple People, on their island by the sea;
And their schemes and projects prospered, for the land, at last, was free.
SMITH the First, emancipated, o'er a happy country ruled.
And he smiled when he reflected how the nation had been fooled;
How the simple King and People, by a superstition cursed.
Ever cried in foolish terror: "GUFF must be consulted first!"
And the last words of that monarch long were treasured in the land . . .
But, of course, it's all a fable, as you'll clearly understand.

Yet - there lives a simple People on an island by the sea,
And a simple Monarch rules them called the King DEMOCRACY.
Rather, does he seek to rule them, but his will is warped and bent
By a childish superstition known as "Party Government."
And the idol has its priestcraft that pretends to lead the race;
Though they call them "Politicians" in this later year of grace.
And whene'er the folk grow restive, as things drift from worse to worst,
Cry the priests, "Behold the Party! It must be considered first!"

And the simple, simple People bend their heads and murmur, "Yes,
We respect the claims of Party . . . But who is to mend this Mess!
Schemes go wrong and projects languish, and the Big Things of the State
Lie neglected while this Party bids us wait and ever wait!"
Oh, for some plain, forceful person with a plain, drab name like BROWN,
And a wholesome hate for humbug, and a stern, determined frown,
To arouse the simple People and their king, DEMOCRACY,
Cringing to their fool-god Party on their island by the sea!

First published in The Bulletin, 18 June 1914

The Stern Road by C.J. Dennis

| No TrackBacks
Increasing pressure is being brought to bear on Australia's seven Governments to practise more economics in order to impose less taxation; but until that pressure grows stronger there seems small hope of any adequate action.

If I'd the right (said old George Jones)
To tax a country till it groans,
   An' take an' levy tribute when I shouldn't;
You think that I'd be toilin' here,
Pinchin' an' savin' year on year?
   Well, p'raps I would; an' p'raps again I wouldn't.
For human nature's awful weak,
And men were ever prone to seek
   The easy way; an' it ain't so surprisin'
That men, or Gover'ments, should dash
Along the easy path to cash
   Before the hard road to economisin'.
There's few will take the uphill road
Unless there be the whip an' goad
   Of need, of stern necessity to twist 'em.
But where the downhill track runs straight
All are inclined to gravitate.
   An' there's the rub with all our social system.
If I'd the pow'r (said old George Jones)
To tax, an' live on easy loans,
   Well, p'raps I would be stern an' labor lovin',
And p'raps I might be strong an' brave
An' eager all the time to save,
   But not, I think, till someone done some shovin'.

First published in The Herald, 17 June 1933

Roosevelt by C.J. Dennis

| No TrackBacks
The statesmanlike courage of President Roosevelt in acting over the heads of Congress and accepting Britain's token payment on account of war debts has awakened a world-wide sense of relief and an immense admiration for the man.

There comes a time in world affairs
   When care and troubles press,
When every forlorn aspect wears
   A guise of dire distress
And when the darkest hour seems near
   And hope a thing forlorn --
A Roosevelt!  A Roosevelt!
   Comes like the light of morn.
There is a limit to men's schemes
   Of avarice and greed,
When some one mind to higher themes --
   Forced by his brother's need --
Conceives some altruistic plan
   Of high and noble aim --
A Roosevelt!  A Roosevelt!
   To save the nation shame.
When all seems smashing to its doom
   Earth wins the priceless dower --
The mind to pierce the deepest gloom,
   The man to fit the hour.
We know not how.  We know not why;
   But for the nations' ease --
A Roosevelt!  A Roosevelt!
   Shall sway men's destinies.

First published in The Herald, 16 June 1933

The Royal Hat by C.J. Dennis

| No TrackBacks
Now a hat is a hat, and a head is a head,
And there's "reason in most things," as someone has said,
And a joke is a joke; but, I give you a word,
This roofing of kings is becoming absurd.

In days neolithic, when clothing was rare,
And a troglodyte's wardrobe comprised mainly hair
When a nose-bone and anklet were reckoned "the thing,"
The cave-men elected a kind of a king.

Then trouble arose; for the bloke in the street
Didn't bow to the king when they happened to meet;
For when a king's hairiness sums up his clobber,
A loyalist hardly knows when he should slobber.

This king set to work, with a serious frown,
And in few than six months he'd invented the crown --
A mere wreath of rushes, not much of a thing,
But it published the fact that the wearer was king.

Now, I put it to you, as a man to a man
There was reason and sense in that troglodyte's plan;
For as he remarked, "'Tisn't much of a fit,
But 'twill help to proclaim to the crowd I am It."

But he didn't call round him his dukes and his lords,
His cousins and aunts, and relations in hordes,
His troglodyte bishops to blither and rave;
No, he just shoved it on in his own private cave.

But the king who came next was a vain sort of man
(And this is just where all the trouble began).
He was fond of a "function" and eager for show;
And he sowed all the seeds of the nonsense we know.

It started like that; and the foolishness grew
From inviting a friendly and intimate few,
Till the time when the whole blinded nation was bid on
The day when the king had to get his new lid on.

With a babble the rabble goes forth to the Fog,
Forgetting the rent, and forsaking the dog;
They are rushing to London and all because -- Why?
To see a crown cocked o'er the boss-prince's eye!

From its innermost heart to its outermost spot
The whole bloomin' Empire has gone off its dot.
For to count "any class" you must be in the swim,
And shout with the crowd at the hatting, "That's 'im!

"That's 'is 'ighness the King with the large golden hat --
It's worth twice the money to see 'im like that!"
And every old person "of note" will be there,
Who can dodge the collector and rake up the fare.

Barons and bishops and boodlers in hordes,
The earliest earls and the lordliest lords,
Nabobs and niggers from India's strand
And the juiciest Jews that they raise on the Rand.

Marshals and marquises, brewers in sheaves,
Admirals, aldermen, stock-exchange thieves,
And the duckiest duchesses, gorgeously gowned,
Will flock into London to see the King crowned.

Princes and premiers from over the seas
Will jostle the Rajahs and Labor M.P.'s;
The peerage and beerage will crowd in the Stand,
With squatters and rotters who libel their land.

And, when you consider the crowd and the time,
You expect them to burst into babyish rhyme:
"With a rumpity-bump, and a pit-a-pit-pat.
To see an archbishop put on the king's hat."

But I put it to you, as a friend to a friend:
What the deuce is the use of it all in the end?
For you'd think, once he's under his gorgeous cover,
There ought to be something to show when it's over.

But, save you! he don't wear the thing in the street,
To signify something to coves he may meet;
He wraps it in wadding and puts it away,
And wears a plain billycock tile every day!

And when all the blither and blather is o'er,
The rustle and bustle, the rush and the roar,
Then, this is what calls for hilarious laughter:
He's just as much monarch before it as after!

The bills and the bailiffs come round as before,
And buzz-flies will buzz in the springtime once more,
It doesn't make milkers or mining shares rise,
Or cure indigestion or specks 'fore the eyes.

The welkin may ring with the national glee,
(You'll know, though I don't, what the welkin may be).
And the "thin crimson thread of our kinship" may twang;
But that ain't improvin' the birthrate a hang.

So, I put it to you, as a cobber to cobber;
Do you see the sense of this silly old slobber?
Take any old head, and take any old hat,
Shove one on the other -- what's there in that?

For a hat is a hat, and a head is a head,
And a joke is a joke, as I've previously said;
But a farce is a farce, and, I give you my word,
This roofing of kings is becoming absurd.

First published in The Bulletin, 15 June 1911;
and later in
Backblock Ballads and Other Verses by C.J. Dennis, 1913.

My Scenario by C.J. Dennis

| No TrackBacks
Amongst other prizes, the Commonwealth Government is offering two of £500 each for film scenarios.

Oh, I've got a lovely story that I've thought out all myself.
   It will make a gorgeous picture, I am sure.
(Mind, it isn't for the money, for I am not keen on pelf,
   And my attitude to Art is very pure.)
It is full of real heart-int'rest, mother-love and passion rare,
   And gun-fights and a bad, bold man (who dies),
And a big, strong he-man hero with divinely marcelled hair;
   And I really think it ought to win the prize.

The hero falls on evil days and sinks and sinks quite low
   (This is where the villain comes upon the scene),
But the mother writes a letter pointing out the way to go
   (We will show the letter, close-up, on the screen);
Then Augustus (that's the hero) meets a lovely girl by chance,
   With great, big, soulful, golf-ball, baby eyes,
And undying love comes to them at the very first brief glance.
   Oh, I really think it ought to win the prize.

But ways of true love ne'er run smooth, and lots of dreadful things
   Occur, and all their plans turn out amiss.
But thro' the fights and flights and frights she clings and clings and clings
   To win him with the last, long, luscious kiss.
I don't know much of writing things -- scenarios and such;
   Still, one never really knows what one can do.
But the theme is so original and has so quaint a touch
   That I think it ought to win the prize.  Don't you?

First published in The Herald, 14 June 1929;
and later in
Random Verse: A Collection of Verse and Prose edited by Margaret Herron, 1952;
The C.J. Dennis Collection edited by Garrie Hutchinson, 1987; and
More Than a Sentimental Bloke: A Performance, 1990.

Victory by C.J. Dennis

| No TrackBacks
"Peace hath her victories" .... Not where the reek --
   Of battle rises and, in blind, brute hate,    
Men for the lives of men insanely seek: 
   Not here do nations earn an honored fate;         
But where men, striving with a mightier foe,                  
   Win on to nobler, mightier victories, 
Blessing the nations that in peace may know  
   Such sons as these.  

Peace hath her victories; yet knows defeat    
   When, fat with ease and drugged by tranquil days,  
Australia's sons stray upon errant feet
   Led by false prophets into devious ways.
Then the heart sickens and the nation quails
   To learn the measure of man's vanities;  
Till hope again glows to the glorious tales    
   Of men like these.

Now come the conquerors! Not in the guise      
   Of slayers but life-givers to the earth; 
For in their valiant battles with the skies                
   Has man's ambition come to newer birth,     
To wider vision till he understands --
   Forgetting petty spites and jealousies --     
Australia's greatness lies there in the hands             
   Of men like these.

They come in triumph wheeling from on high,    
   Kings of the air and conquerors of space          
Who found, twixt angry sea and angrier sky,          
   A vision and an ideal for their race;
Until, inspired, a wakened nation feels
   New vigor; and a contrite nation sees 
Folly and sloth bound to the chariot wheels
   Of men like these.  

Peace may not last; clear skies may yet grow grey.   
   Anzacs and seed of Anzacs! Carry on!          
Who be there else to guard against the day               
   We, or our children, yet may look upon --
That fateful day when, stricken to the sod,    
   Yet rising still unconquered to her knees       
Australia shall know cause to thank her God
   For men like these.    

First published in The Herald, 13 June 1928;
and later in
The Cairns Post, 6 July 1928.

Arch Criminal by C.J. Dennis

| No TrackBacks
A forthright and outspoken Sydney clergyman recently took to task certain Church leaders who thunder against the alleged sins of flappers (such as the use of lip-stick, face-powder and cigarettes) while they utterly neglect to attack man's avarice, selfishness, injustice and jealousy.

When muddled mentors take the stage
   To gird against our erring,
They simulate an awful rage,
They funk the task and straight engage
   A palpable red-herring.
Fearing at higher marks to aim,
   The futile knuckle-rapper,
With flaming words of bitter blame,
Plays at the rather outworn game
   Of "Flagellate the Flapper."
Altho', my sweet, you may be neat
And winsome, too, from head to feet,
In face and form a nymph complete,
   In manner softly winning;
One touch of powder Number Two,
And heaven's gates are closed to you;
Tho' still ajar for those who do
   This sad world's heavy sinning.
The man whose greed outstrips his need
   (While lesser folk deplore it)
Is due for stern rebukes indeed.
Yet, gently, brother; Why give heed
   To this?  Be wise; ignore it.
For, lo, this fellow may be rich --
   Of social rank delectable.
For better curb the urgent itch
To censure, lest you hurt him; which
   Would hardly be respectable.
So, precious pet, they'd fain forget
Sins of the mighty, while they fret
O'er lip-stick, rouge and cigarette,
   And graver sinning palliate.
As Public Enemy you rank
Now No. 1 for those who shrank
Ever from bigger game, and thank
   Their stars you can't retaliate.

First published in The Herald, 12 June 1935

The Gum Tree by C.J. Dennis

| No TrackBacks
By the side of the track the gnarled old gum 
   Lifts strong arms to the sky; 
He marks the rare bush toilers come, 
   And the tourists trooping by. 
So has he stood thro' many a year 
   And watched them come and go; 
They change, says he, who pass by here, 
Yet forms are straight and eyes are clear, 
   As in the long ago. 

From bullock drays to motor cars, 
From gloom to lights that shame the stars, 
   Change comes indeed; from garb they wore, 
   From moleskin pants to the wide plus four, 
From tall bush wives of sterling grit,   
To laughing girls in riding kit; 
   An outward change, says the old gum tree, 
   But the race seems much the same to me. 

By the side of the back the old gum stands, 
   Last of his giant race, 
Who saw these men from distant lands 
   Change all a country's face. 
From his mountain side where the old gum grows 
   He has watched the fathers press 
Who came not back; but well he knows 
Today's strong men are sons of those   
   Who tamed the wilderness.

First published in The Herald, 11 June 1931;
and later in
The Advertiser and Register, 22 August 1931.

The New Bigot by C.J. Dennis

| No TrackBacks
Commenting on the concern expressed recently by certain churchmen over the modern growth of a cheap atheism and religious indifference, a leader writer remarks that, while the great scientists are never amongst the scoffers, the tendency of the shallow thinkers always is to win others over to his own easy unbelief.

He knows it all.  He makes no truce with doubt,
   No compromise with "Mayhap" or "Perchance";
Doctor and saint he is prepared to flout
   With all the dull-wit's easy arrogance.
Because some stray breeze struck his fragile barque,
It drifts, uncaptained, to the outer dark.

Some single book he read, some talk he heard
   Moves him to fling "old-fashioned" faiths behind,
To deem age-old philosophies absurd
   In the deep prescience of his "modern" mind,
He knows it all.  Not thro' long, labored thought;
But that his pansophy is cheaply bought.

So, knowing all and being deeply wise,
   Snatched, thro' his sapience, from an ancient "blight,"
His urge is ever to proselytise
   And bring his poor, blind brother to the light.
And ne'er did bigotry of long ago
Hurl bitterer taunts at that it would not know.

He is his own queer god, untrammelled, free,
   And on old "slaveries," with curious hate,
He heaps the mock-heroic blasphemy
   Of every twopenny sophisticate;
Failing, for all his prescience, to perceive
Blasphemy stultified lest one believe.

He knows it all . . . So, knowing all, speaks loud,
   He owns no fettering fears, no faith, no soul;
Before no altar is his proud head bowed;
   But, as about him universes roll --
Vast universes, infinite, remote,
   Heedless of this poor atom of the sod --
The challenge dying in his puny throat,
He gibbers, impotent: "There is no God!"

First published in The Herald, 10 June 1933

Futility by C.J. Dennis

| No TrackBacks
Following a meeting of seamen at the wharf laborers' rooms in Melbourne today, there is a possibility of the colliers from Newcastle being declared black when they arrive in Melbourne.

To gild refined gold, or to paint the lily,
   Or seek by other means to overstress,
As Shakespeare has it, is not merely silly,
   But "wasteful and ridiculous excess."

Yes, men still try it, for no other reason
   Than that man ever would and ever will
Strive fatuously, in and out of season,
   To paint perfection's cheek more perfect still.

Yet of all futile tasks, of all the foolish,
   Absurd attempts that show of wit a lack,
The worst is his who, obstinate and mulish,
   Insists that he should paint a collier black.

First published in The Sun-News Pictorial, 9 June 1927

The Apricot's Apology by C.J. Dennis

| No TrackBacks
Victoria's Agent-General, Mr McWhae, says that if ever we are to win our way in the fruit markets of the world we must stop the exportation of inferior fruit.

I'm only a speckled apricot,
   But they passed me at the docks.
And they said, "He'll do -- he ain't too new,
   But he'll help to fill the box."
So they sent me out on the bounding sea,
   Food for the friend, and alien --
And they said, "Look here, you make it clear
   You're dinkum, and Australian."

Well, I did my best to pass the test.
   Me! that was just a runt.
And a Turkey fig says to me, "Dig,
   You goin' to the front?"
And I answered, "Yes; I must confess
   My figure ain't allurin',
But I'm an Aussie apricot,
   And, lad, we're all endurin' --

And when I came to a British dame
   In a poor fruit pedlar's basket.
She said: "What!  That!"  And he raised his hat,
   And he said, "How can you ask it?
It comes from far Australia, mum,
   Where fruits is pretty rotten."
So I went in to a rubbish tin,
   And, henceforth, was forgotten.

But I sends a wave from me lonely grave,
   And I asks you is it fair
That blokes like me should have to be
   Advertisements out there?
No!  Send the best!  For that's the test:
   I've done what I could do. 
But can't you send some better friend
   As representing YOU?"

First published in The Herald, 8 June 1922

Shees by C.J. Dennis

| No TrackBacks
With the coming of winter sports, the controversy has been revived over the pronunciation of the work "ski."

Of these queer skates we seldom heard,
   When I was young and not too wise;
And, when I came across the word,
   I usually called them "skys."

And it was quite a shock to me,
   When some kind friend from overseas,
Corrected my philology,
   And told me to pronounce it "skees."

But here again, I understand,
   Precisians I'd failed to appease;
For one who'd been in Switzerland,
   Informed me that the word was "shees."

But, whether "skee," or "sky," or "shee,"
   Makes little difference to me;
For since I do not see the need,
   I've never "skeed" or "skied," or "sheed."

First published in The Sun-News Pictorial, 7 June 1927

The Automatic Umpire by C.J. Dennis

| No TrackBacks
A selenium cell installed at Lords, by switching on a bulb as visibility declines, is intended to relieve umpires of much responsibility in deciding when light is too poor for play.  The device suggests possibilities in the football field.

Now, Plugger Palook was a man in a thousand --
   (Said Horace the Howler) not one of yer fools.
But his barrackers vowed that he wasn't allowed
   Full scope for his talents account o' the rools.
For Plugger Palook was a footballer.  Get me?
   An' one of the old-school.  A wonder!  A wow!
He was no lily-handed gazook to be branded
   No sort of weaklin'.  Not Plugger; no how.
Not much of a kicker -- not so you would notice --
   His handball an' passin' left much to desire;
A dub at high-markin', his business was narkin'
   An' knocking out umpires wot rose up his ire.
He'd done in a dozen first half of the season,
   But the depth of officials you never can tell.
Now, a shortage they're fearin'; so, Plugger, not hearin',
   They goes an puts in a serlenium cell!
The dawgs!  Plugger starts in the very first quarter
   An' gets a bit rough'ouse in makin' things hot
When the cells says, "Now, Plugger!  You ain't playin' rugger
   Let up on them larrups."  An' Plugger says, WOT!!"
'Twas the first time in years than an umpire had cheeked him;
   So Plugger lets out a sockdollager crack.
There's a flash an' a sizzle; then he does a mizzle
   And lands out-o'-bounds on the broad of his back.
Well I'll say he was game, tho' a good bit bewildered,
   For he comes back again when he finds he is whole.
Then he tries for to tackle, but soars with a crackle,
   Up, clean thro' the posts; an' the crowd it roars, "Goal!"...
An' the heads calls that football! (said Horace the Howler)
   Deep pity for him in me proud heart it wells.
A champion world-beater!  A reel umpire eater!
   Done in an' disgraced by serlenium cells!

First published in The Herald, 6 June 1935

A Song About Feet by C.J. Dennis

| No TrackBacks
Although Larwood is out of the first Test team, and is said to be suffering from various foot and knee ailments, he continues to bowl in County matches.

I sing of feet.
Hearken to the rhythmic beat
Of my metre.  For completer
Tidings now we sit and yearn,
We would learn
Specific'ly of the position.
Definitely the condition
Of one pair of sporting feet.
Why does rumor see to cheat --
Why does news still refuse
Details, duly amplified?
Why are fuller facts denied?
It's utter rot!
Will he play or will he not?
Can you blame our rising heat?

Consider all the tales we meet.
Think of this scant news we get,
Fraught with mystery and fret:
First of hints and hopes a parcel,
Tales of troubles metatarsal,
Now a blister to affright us
Underneath a toe,
Now a sign of synovitis.
Still the rumors grow.
What's gone wrong?
We yearn, we long
To have the story made complete;
We madly bleat,

Pray forgive the way we greet
Tales like these;
And tell us, please,
Does he gallop to the wicket?
Can he face it? Can he stick it?
Shades of Spofforth, Jones and Cotter!
Does he tremble?  Does he totter?
All this vague, uncertain rumor
Hardly suits our present humor.
Speed the truth by urgent cable.
Is he active? Is he able?
Does he crawl
To bowl the ball
On feet unstable?
Waft the facts by wireless wave.
Tell us how those hoofs behave.
Some say this and some say that,
Tell us, are the arches flat?
Some declare he won't be picked.
Is this the truth, or are we tricked?
If the story is official
We'll abandon this initial
Fuss and fret . . . .
You say it is? O.K. by us . . . .
Pardon then indiscreet
Song of those no longer fleet,
Agonised and incomplete

First published in The Herald, 5 June 1934

To the Alarmist by C.J. Dennis

| No TrackBacks
Despite the number of robberies, burglaries, murder trials, abductions, assaults and other crimes recently, the authorities insist that there are no indications of a "crime wave."

When the burglars go a-burgling every evening in the week,
   And the daylight robber plies a busy trade,
When the prowler goes a-prowling, his unhappy prey to seek,
   And nightfall finds all citizens afraid:
Do not loosely talk of "crime waves," tho' brute violence be rife;
   These are merely indications of a normal social life.

It is well to speak discreetly; choose your words at such a time.
   You may call the thing a hurricane, an avalanche of crime;
But when crackmen crack the record and the crooks will not behanve
   It makes the "heads" quite angry if you call the thing a "wave."

When you seize your daily paper, and discover ev'ry morn
   That another shop or household has been cracked,
   'Tis absurd to grow indignant and to raise a howl forlorn,
   And marvel why authorities don't act.
They are acting. You will notice that quite nearly every day
   They detect unlicensed motors, or the walker known as "jay."

But to talk about a "crime wave" is quite palpably absurd,
   And it hurts official feelings when that foolish phrase is heard.
   When to trifling depradations such outlandish names you give,
   Pray remember, crooks are human and a burglar has to live.

When the Minister says firmly that "such things should never be,"
   When he says he's "shocked," why, surely that's enough
To indicate quite clearly that he has no sympathy
   With criminals who make the game too rough.
And, if these solemn warnings to malefactors fail,
   Well, I, for one, won't be surprised if he should mention jail.

But to talk about a "crime wave!" Oh, my friend! do have some sense!
Have you thought how such wild talk may harm the business of a "fence?"
You are surely courting trouble when such vain remarks are made.
Serve you right if he should sue you for unjust restraint of trade.

First published in The Herald, 4 June 1923

Saturday Afternoon by C.J. Dennis

| No TrackBacks
Whenever I dream of hope for a land,
   Or the promise of joys to be,
It is not the leaders in command,
Or the visions of wealth or buildings grand,
   Or its elders I ask to see
But the eyes of its youth as they pass ashine
   On the quest of its weekly boon,
When the heart grows light and the day be fine
   On a Saturday afternoon.
Never was world so workaday.  Never was work so drear,
   If a land's young laugh its fears away
   Once in a while, no skies may stay
Shrouded for long by fear.
For the heart of youth shall be the gauge
   And youth's voice call the tune,
Confounding ever the wisest sage
   On a Saturday afternoon.
Sing hey for the end, for the crowd of the week,
   When, bidding a truce to care
The young go forth new life to seek,
And brave young body and glowing cheek
   Tell a land's whole story there.
A glad tale told in the shining eyes
   And the patter of laughing shoon,
With life at the full when hope runs high
   On a Saturday afternoon.

First published in The Herald, 3 June 1933

The Gloomy Victorian by C.J. Dennis

| No TrackBacks
A learned judge found occasion to refer recently to what he called "the gloomy psychology of Victorians."

Where is this glum Victorian -
   This man of mien forlorn -
Fit butt for some historian 
   To heap with heavy scorn?
I've sought him up an down the street
   Thro' labyrinthine ways,
Wherever men and maidens meet;
By road or rail, or on two feet
   I've searched for him for days.
I've looked for him where business cares
   Weigh down on every rank,
Seeking to catch him unawares
In tears upon the office stairs;
   Yet ever drew a blank
I've sought him in the hinterland
   On Sunny Saturdays.
He smiled a while and waved his hand
   Amid his draughts and drays,
And said, "Excuse me: I must catch
This bus to see a football match,"
   And gaily went his ways. 
In palaces and picture shows
Where e'er a soul for solace goes
I've hunted him; and goodness knows
   He seemed too gay by half;
And neither consciousness of sin
Nor sorrow kept his gladness in;
For, truth to tell, his silly grin
   Fled only for a laugh.

Where is this glum Victorian --
   Man of the brooding eye?
His story, tho' a hoary 'un
   I've failed to verify.
I've sought him on the sandy beach,
Mid shining sheik and perfect peach;
   But he was never there.
I've sought him in the gleaming bush
Mid many a merry hiking push,
   And moaned in my despair.
I've sought him him on the sunlit course
Doing his dough on some slow horse,
   And glimpsed a gloomy note.
But swiftly, moved by some queer force,
He grinned, and backed without remorse
   Another hairy goat ....
Then hopeless, haggard and distraught,
   I met a ragged man
And pitifully him besought
To tell me where he might be caught,
   This glum Victorian.
He looked me up, he looked me down
And, tho' he seemed a sorry clown,
A merry smile replaced his frown
   As thus to me he spoke:
"So far, I ain't met such 'tis true,"
Said he; "but, by the looks of you,
   I reckon you're the bloke."

First published in The Herald, 2 June 1934

The Clerk by C.J. Dennis

| No TrackBacks
For pure self-sacrificing philanthropy, commend me to the city clerk who votes the Labor ticket!  Being a clerk myself I speak feelingly, and when I hear of a fellow-clerk, voting that way I resent it as an act of treachery against his own class. - "City Clerk," Collins-street, in Melbourne AGE.

The unsoiled hand, the sleek, black coat,
   The senile, ledger-haunted hours,
The knowledge that my freeman's vote
   Is humbly cast to please "the powers,"
A futile spite against the mass,
   A small, weak hate of Labor's side,
These privileges of Our Class
    I cherish with a puny pride.

The sycophancy of the snob,
   The day-long cringe, the life-long fear
That I may lose a steady job -
   That "job genteel" I hold so dear -
These be the splendid attributes
   Of one who yearns to emulate
His master; and all work-soiled brutes
   Regards with mean, reflected hate.

Not mine the arrogance of wealth,
   No pride in honest labor mine;
But while I still hold life and health
   My pet ambition is to shine
A small, pale star that faintly glows
   In Fat's impressive firmament,
The while I earn mere food and clothes,
   And help the boss to cent. per cent.

Ambition?  E'en my timid soul
   Dreams of a day when I shall rule;
When I may heckle and control
   The trembling slaves of desk and stool;
When I shall be of Fat myself
   Who now but dangles at his skirt.
A magnate!  Armed with pow'r and pelf.
   Meet recompense for eating dirt.

I mark the lowly toiler rage.
   "Resist!" he cries.  "Resist! Unite!"
The while I sue for patronage -
   A deferential parasite.
Then to my aid comes Pride of Class,
   I take my stand beside the Boss.
I earn his praise! .... Although, alas,
   His gain, mayhap, will be my loss.

For who would risk a master's ire - 
   That deity who rules my life,
That god who may, in vengeance dire,
   Snatch happiness from 'child' and wife?
"Rights!" shout the horny-handed. "Rights!"
   The dolts defy the pow'rs that be.
While I watch through the restless nights
   And tremble for my salary.

Oh. what rash madness moves these clods?
   E'en my own fellow serfs, alas,
Speak treason 'gainst the money-gods
   And turn black traitors to Our Class.
Our Class!  That genteel, cultured band,
   Well-dressed, respectable, elite -- 
The servile mind, the soft white hand --
   Patrician class of Collins~street!

Cohorts of Collins-street, arise!
   O legions, wake in Finders-land!
Let each pale hero recognise
   His class, and fight with might and main.
Fight for the master sturdily!
   What though his profit be our loss?
And let our watchword ever be,
   Or Class! OUR BILLET, and OUR BOSS!

The sleek, black coat, the unsoiled hand,
   The proud assertion of the worm.
Behold the Class!  Oh, noble band!
   Mild, desk-worn yoemen of "The Firm."
With swagger of the over-dressed.
   With meekness of the underpaid,
They flout the plaint of the oppressed,
   And stare at Liberty, afraid.

First published in The Bulletin, 1 June 1911

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from June 2013 listed from newest to oldest.

May 2013 is the previous archive.

July 2013 is the next archive.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.


Powered by Movable Type 4.23-en