The Safeguards of Society by C.J. Dennis

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The gift, too, is completely indiscriminate.  It is to be handed over in respect to every birth, legitimate or illegitimate ... Is this an indication that Labor despises the social and sentimental safeguards with which Society protects the family and defends the marriage-tie by damning illegitimacy as a proof absolute of immorality. - Melbourne AGE, on Proposed Maternity Allowance. (Also, see John viii., 10-11.)

Dear brothers, gather round, and let us pray
For guidance on this dark and dreadful day,
When our chief ruler black Sin recognises,
And Vice rewarded is with money prizes.

Five golden sovereigns for a child of shame!
O brothers, I entreat you in the name
Of our Great God, Respectability,
Shall we permit this sinful thing to be?

     (Christian brothers, let us pray;
     Sneers shall wash her sins away.)....

Shall we, the just and virtuous of the earth,
Give bounty for a nameless, shameless birth -
We, of the fortunate, who hither came
Already labelled with a father's name?

Shall we be cheated of our Holy Right
To cast the stones of sanctimonious spite,
And mean contempt and calumny and scorn
Upon the luckless love-child, basely born?

     (Holy brothers, let us pray:
     Stones shall bruise her sins away.)

Shall MAGDALENE be aided in her hour
Of Pagan joy and labor with a dower
Filched from the taxes that the righteous pay,
And go rewarded on her sinful way?

Shall our good money go to succor that
Unhappy woman and her nameless brat!
When she some secret means might well have sought
To save the insult that Its birth has brought.

     (Godly brothers, let us pray;
     Scorn shall wear Its life away.)

To save Society our curse is hurled
At her whose Crime is published to the world,
The wretch who braves the hatred of the Good,
And sins the sin of lonely motherhood.

The sniffs and sneers of all those godly folk,
Whose secret sins are hid beneath a cloak
Of righteousness that is a lifelong lie.
Alone can save the Sacred Marriage Tie.

     (Pious brothers, let us pray;
     God will hide our sins away.)

Yet, there was ONE in olden days, I ween,
Who looked with pity on the Magdalene;
One who forbore to hurl a scornful name
At her they brought HIM, taken in her shame.

E'en though she stood accused by godly folk,
Devout and upright men, no word HE spoke,
But turned away, and wrote upon the ground,
As though HE heard not them that stood around.

     (Gentle brothers, bend the knee
     To the MAN of Galilee.)

And when their savage, sneering tale was done
HIS scorn was not for that unhappy one,
But like whipped curs went forth the godly band,
Despising pity none could understand.

Alas, my Christian brothers, even HE
Failed in his duty to Society,
And found it in HIS simple heart to say:
"Neither do I condemn thee; go thy way."

     (Dearest brothers, pray with me
     For the gift of Charity.)

But, brothers, we, the godly of to-day,
Know that the stoning is the better way.
The path of truest Charity must lie
In scorn and sneers that, save the Marriage Tie.

Thus shall the followers of HIM, the Mild,
Brand with a hateful name the blameless child;
Pelt one poor sinner in the pillory;
And damn the other for eternity.

And never, while frail women fall to shame,
And luckless babes are born without a name,
Shall wicked statesmen with a pious sham,
Deprive us of our Holy Right to damn.

First published in The Bulletin, 4 July 1912

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on July 4, 2013 8:04 AM.

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