The Great God Guff by C.J. Dennis

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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

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on June 18, 2013 7:21 AM.

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