Fish-O! by C.J. Dennis

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Recently the Postmaster-General (Senator McLachlan) broadcast an eloquent address upon the vast possibilities of the Australian fishing industry.  Fish abounded, he declared, and markets must be developed.

On the following day a housewife was offered Australian whiting, frozen and filleted at 3/8 per lb. at a store where foreign sardines were sold at 3d. per tin.

The Minister speaks on the ambient air,
The housewife harks to the speaker's blare;
And the tale it tells is a glorious tale
Of a food supply that can never fail,
Of the fish that teem by our sunlit shore --
Succulent sustenance, food galore.
Food for the million! Think what it means!
But the housewife sighs
For a hope that dies;
And the housewife opens a tin of sardines.

Down to the sea the fishermen go
Where the salt spray drifts and the breezes blow
And the mewing seagulls swoop and call,
And the toil is heavy, the wage is small.
And the fishermen stoop o'er their dripping nets;
The housewife worries and skimps and frets;
Out of the speaker eloquence flows:
There are fish galore
By our sunlit shore.
But the harried housewife knows. She knows.

The Minister speaks and the picture gleams.
Diesel-engined, the trawler steams
Out to the seaways gathering wealth
For the land's content and the people's health.
Fish on the table of every man!
Develop our markets! Start a plan!
Organise! Organise! Let us begin! ...
She has heard it before,
Aye, times a score;
And the housewife opens another tin.

Canadian salmon, crab from Japan,
Scottish kippers to stay a man,
Pilchards from Norway, tinned in oil
Harvest of far seas won by toil,
Of alien effort that takes our pay.
Step up, people! It's cheap today!
Imported haddock and herring roes.
Australian fish?
That, too -- if you wish.
But the harried housewife, she knows, she knows.

First published in The Herald, 5 July 1937;
and later in
The Queenslander, 15 July 1937.

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on July 5, 2013 6:49 AM.

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