August 2013 Archives

Travellin' Light by C.J. Dennis

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In a recent sermon a bishop declared that more than half of the present world troubles was due to a mad scramble for useless wealth, yet no man grew happier in proportion to the growth of his possessions.

I'm travellin' light (said old George Jones),  
   For I gits no joy from a hamperin' load:
So the further I goes the less I owns,
   An' the free-er I feels on life's long road.
I have knowed a many who gathered great wealth,
   But I feels no envy, I claims no right.
All that I needs is me tucker an' health;
   So I'm travellin' light.

There is many a time as I've heard it said
   He's the happiest man whose wants are few.
I've found what I want. So, why worry me head
   With other men's wants or what other men do?  
When I was a striplin' I set great store
   By this gettin' an' havin'; but as years went
I had little of gold; but I gathered much more,
   For I gathered content.

Travellin' light (said old George Jones),
   Oh I learnt the knack of it none too soon;
A bit of a bunk for me weary bones,
   In a bit of a house, an' the priceless boon
Of a bit of content, with the day's work done,
   An' a bit of a yarn with a friend at night,
It's a long, long road to the set o' the sun;
   So I'm travellin' light.

First published in The Herald, 31 August 1933;
and later in
The Courier-Mail, 16 September 1933.

Philanthropy by C.J. Dennis

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Mr. F. V. Smith, K.C., of Adelaide, addressing the Canadian Bar Association at Toronto said that Australian judges were so poorly paid that many people wondered how they lived.

"'Ow do yeh live, yer Honor?"
   The pitying prisoner said.
"'Ow do yeh do on yer measly screw
   An' pay fer yer 'umble bread?
There's many a time I thort I did,
   Of you, with many a sob;
Finin' a bloke a couple er quid
   To earn a couple er bob.

Gaolin' a bloke is a poor paid lark,
   Tho' 'anging a bloke may pay,
But you 'ave n't the luck in your job, old duck,
   To 'ang blokes every day.
Well, I'm fined three quid by this 'ere court,
   An' tho' yer verdict's strange,
Collar this fi' pun note, ole sport,
   An' you kin keep the change."

First published in The Sun-News Pictorial, 30 August 1927

Fashion Note by C.J. Dennis

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A Berlin cable announces that four prisoners were recently beheaded by an executioner in evening dress and wearing a top hat.

If I'm ever executed
   And quite easily I may
My dispatcher must be suited
   In sartorial array
That befits the great occasion.
   I refuse to be bumped off,
Or to listen to persuasion,
   Lest he be a perfect toff.

If he passes my inspection
   When he treads the gallows deck,
Then in gratified subjection
   I'll extend my swan-like neck.
But he simply may not back it --
   And I must decline to die --
Should he wear a dinner jacket
   With a ready-made white tie.

I shall voice extreme displeasure
   If I find him crudely dressed
In a suit not made to measure
   With a pair of pants impressed.
Then, in accents patronising,
   I'll upbraid such crude display;
And, while he's apologising,
   I shall calmly walk away.

Yet, if I am executed,
   I've a fear they will employ
Some ill-mannered cove recruited
   From the ill-dressed hoi-polloi.
And I'll yield my life, unhappy,
   To some prince of uncouth coots --
Some black darbled, shirt-sleeved chappie
   In a pair of blucher boots.

First published in The Herald, 29 August 1933;
and later in
The Courier-Mail, 9 September 1933.

Early Morning Tea by C.J. Dennis

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You are growing convalescent
   As pain's fingers are withdrawn;
And you waken in a strange, white room at last;
   Yet your thought is aught but pleasant
In the cold, grey winter dawn,
   As you realise a weakness not yet past.
Then a little sound comes creeping
   From some distant inner shrine,
And you bid farewell to sleeping
   At that trebly welcome sign.

'Tis the tink-clink-tinkle of a teacup,
   From morbid thought imagination stirs;
And with sharp anticipation you await the glad libation --
   The draught of draughts the thrsrting tongue prefers.
And you listen for that soul-uplifting gurgle,
   As from the precious pot you hear them pour
The golden brew you're craving . . .  Then a weak, white hand is waving
   To the white capped Sister smiling at the door.

More than all that Juno's daughter
   Bore to tables of the great,
Sweeter far than all Olympian Hippocrene,
   More than all man's heady water
Is the nectar you await,
   Now to nibble bred-and-butter in between.
Say, can this be stuff man gobbles
   Listlessly some afternoon?
Or, to sound of bells and bobbles,
   Underneath a bright bush moon?

Hear that tink-clink-tinkle of the teacup,
   And the rattle of the spoon against the cup.
Was cup-bearer ever sweeter?  Then you meekly smile to greet her
   And most valiantly struggle to sit up.
So, having quaffed, your head sinks to the pillow,
   And you know contentment, lately past belief,
As, your heavy eyelids closing, once again you fall to dozing
   While you bless all China and the precious leaf.

First published in The Herald, 28 August 1934

Possession by C.J Dennis

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Wild flowers within motor car radius of Melbourne are threatened with extinction, owing to the senseless depredations of greedy excursionists.

I find it hard to understand
The man who wanders through the land
   Seeing in beauty this alone:
   Some precious thing that he may own.
A field of bloom, a flowering tree
Breaks on his gaze, and instantly
   Greed wakes the predatory whine:
   "Ah, give me! Give me! It is mine!"

Down thro' the sylvan scene he swoops,
And in an hour each blossom droops;
   And, at his passing, beauty dies
   That might have blessed a thousand eyes.
Visions I have of fairies slain
Where he has trod, for no man's gain.

And not alone where blossoms smile
Does greed destroy all things worth while;
   For all in life that means so much
   Wilts at his devastating touch:
All beauty moulders to decay
Because, poor fool, he passed that way.

And so, until the world has learned
Content in beauty must be earned
   Thro' sharing heaven's bounteous joys,
   The predatory fist destroys
Ever the joys for all men meant;
And ever fails to find content.

First published
in The Herald, 27 August 1930

The Little Homes by C.J. Dennis

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We have heard the cheering, brothers,
   We have heard the martial peal;
We have seen the soldiers marching
   And the glint of sun and steel.
We have heard the songs, the shouting;
   But, while forth the soldier roams, 
Who has heard the weeping, brothers,
            In the Little Homes?

We have seen the gay processions
   And the careless, laughing crowds.;
We have seen the banners waving
   Out against the peaceful clouds;
Yet, while colors proudly flutter
   Over noble spires and domes,
Who has seen the mourning, brothers,
            In the Little Homes?

From the Little Homes that nestle
   Where the smiling fields sweep wide,
From the Little Homes that huddle
   In the city, side by side,
They have called the eager fighters --
   Men who went with smiles and cheers;
Pride of wives and pride of mothers,
            Choking back the tears!

Women of the little homesteads,
   Women of the city slums,
They are waiting, ever waiting;
   And the sound of muffled drums
In some stricken Home is echoed,
   Where grey Grief is guest to-day.
And to-morrow?  Nay, the others
            Still must wait -- and pray.

What the Little Homes shall suffer,
   What the Little Homes shall pay
Must be more than sturdy fighters,
   More than women's grief to-day.
In the years that follow after,
   Be our battles won or lost,
In the Little Homes, my brothers,
            They shall pay the cost.

They shall pay the cost of glory,
   They shall pay the price of peace,
Years and many long years after
   All the sounds of battle cease.
When the sword is sheathed -- or broken --
   When the battle flag is furled,
Still the Little Homes must suffer
            Over all the World.

Have you seen the old grey mothers
   Smiling to the ringing cheers?
Have you seen the young wives striving
   Bravely to hold back the tears?
Have you seen the young girl marching
By her soldier-lover's side?
Have you, seen our country's women
            All aglow with pride?

Then, shall we think shame, my brothers,
   To give thanks upon our knees
That the land we love should hold them --
   Wives and mothers such as these?  
Women who still hide their sorrow 
   As their soldiers march away, 
Turning brave and steadfast faces
            To the light of day?

Oh, the Little Homes are Cheerful --
   Little Homes that know no pride
But the pride of sacrificing
   Loved ones to the battle tide!
They are many, many brothers,
   And their sacrifice is great.
Shrines are they and sacred places,
            Where the women wait.

Aye, the Little Homes are holy
   At the closing of the day,
When young wives must face their sorrow,
   When grey mothers kneel to pray,
Facing, all alone, dread visions
   Of the land the soldier roams,
Then God heed the sobbing, brothers,
            In the Little Homes.

First published in The Bulletin, 26 August 1915;
and later in
Backblock Ballads and Later Verses by C.J. Dennis, 1918.

Kids! by C.J. Dennis

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The Treasurer said that the policy of importing farm laborers had been undertaken at the request of the Rev. Mr. Gwynne, of Tunbridge Wells, Kent, who, on behalf of English immigration societies, had asked the Government to take from 100 to 200 lads a year.

Mr. Bowser said that hundreds of farmers badly needed laborers.  The Labor Bureau wanted 100 unmarried farm laborers, at £1 a week and keep.  Farm life in Victoria offered boys better general opportunities than they would get in any other country. (Cheers.) - Debate in Vic. Assembly.

Hundreds of 'em for the farmer! Kids of an imported brand;
Thousands of 'em for the country!  Lo, the man upon the land
Loud for England's surplus youngster - five whole bob a week, 'tis said;
And their value to the nation stands at many pounds a head.
      But the nation never riz 'em.
      That "would tend to Socialism";
So we have to fetch 'em over from the country where they're bred.

Send us kids from good old Britain - sons of men who won't be slaves -
From the land where countless paupers seek dishonorable graves
We're prepared to offer for them.  Ship them out across the deep,
From that dear old Freetrade country where the cost of labor's cheap.
      While, of our unmarried workers -
      (Married men are costly shirkers)
We will take a meagre hundred at a pound a week and keep.

We can't raise 'em in Australia, where employers by the score
For the bloke without a missus in the labor depôts roar
Ship 'em out!  The noble farmer yearns to mould their bright young lives.
Ship 'em young that for a dozen years they may not seek for wives.
      When they think of getting married
      Maybe they'll regret they tarried
Where the kid-encumbered worker vainly for a billet strives.

We don't want 'em when they're babies, for their raisin' costs a heap.
We don't want 'em when they're married, with their own young broods to keep.
And brakes upon the wheels of progress are such futile folk.  Just look
At the bob advertisement.  You'll see their chance of work is "crook."
      Ship 'em out in handy sizes
      For the cove that advertises
For the unencumbered couple - "Man to milk and wife to cook."

Spare our days!  Why should we raise 'em? We can get 'em ready-made
From a land where there's a surplus, thanks to good old BULL's Freetrade.
It will save the careful farmer.  He can give his man the sack -
Costly man who owns a missus and a child or two to whack.
      Ship 'em out, he's yearnin' for 'em;
      While they're young he'll just adore 'em
Then, when they grow up and marry, someone else can ship 'em back.

Pass in with cheap boy labor - "badly needed farming hand";
Ships pass out with young Australians seeking work in other lands.
Hurrahs! are loudly sounded for the patriotic bloke -
He who perpetrated this unseemly emigration joke.
      Cheers for him who brings the kiddy
      To a job that's sure and "stiddy"!
It will balance the outgoing of our workless married folk.

Lo, we want them - want them badly!  There is none denies the fact -
Kids to populate the country.  And behold, our noble act
England of her surplus toilers - we can do with quite a heap.
We can't breed them in the country - boys to plough and boys to reap.
      And who says it is surprising
      When we're daily advertising
For a hundred men - unmarried - at a pound a week and keep.

First published in The Bulletin, 25 August 1910

Soft Soap for Ladies by C.J. Dennis

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Mr. A. Robinson, referring to the proposed scheme of amalgamation of the various Liberal leagues in Victoria, said it was a matter that needed careful consideration. To bring women into an organisation which should consist of men only, might have the effect of seriously impairing it.  Women did the best work when they were left alone. With a joint committee there was not the same efficiency as with separate committees.  For the past seven years the Women's National League had held the field. - Daily paper.

Dear ladies, I implore you, for your own sake [and for ours],
   Do not seek amalgamation with us men;
In the past you have been peerless,
And your methods, strong and fearless,
   Still compel our admiration, now as then.
Our courage is as strong as in the past [or nearly so];
   And, as yet, we do not fear to stand alone;
But you still may aid us greatly
By-er-canvassing, as lately,
   And, pray, let us do the rest upon our own.

[Good Lord!  We can't allow these cats to interfere with us!
They're hard enough to manage where they are, with all their fuss.
At rounding up the snobbish vote they're quite a useful lot;
But, admit 'em to our inner councils? Whew! I reckon not!]

For many years, dear ladies, we've done nothing but admire
   Your drawing-room assemblies and your teas.
You've a gift for organising,
And your canvassing's surprising -
   Mere men possess no qualities like these.
Your knowledge of political economy is great;
   Your arguments, advanced as they can be.
Do not think we would resist you,
Nay, we're anxious to assist you
   At your meetings by-er-passing cakes and tea.

[Whew!  I hope that we can choke them off their latest little scheme,
If they knew our inmost secrets they'd get on the chairs and scream.
They'd simply kill the Party - such a wild, erratic mob.
What would they think it they knew, say, of Smithson's little job!]

I earnestly assure you, you can aid us men-folk best
   By remaining in a body as you are,
In the interests of the nation;
For, I think association
   With the men, on finer minds, is apt to jar.
There are certain little matters - oh, not secrets!
         Dear me, no.
   You're acquainted with our e'vry aim and act -
But-er-certain little matters
That would wear your nerves to tatters
   If you had to grapple with-er-sordid fact.

[Jee-rusalem! I hope I can persuade 'em to keep out!
What sort of Party meetings would we have with them about?
Best prime 'em up with Busted Homes and Shattered Marriage Ties.
They're keen on propagating such old, crusted Tory lies.]

Dear ladies, you have always been the Labor party's dread;
   It fears you as it fears no other thing.
All our wrongs will soon be righted,
If you stand firm and united,
   And to the Sacred Truth,as ever, cling.
Remember, Socialism is a monster in disguise,
   Which seeks to legislate for class alone.
But your association
Stands for all the blessed nation
   And the people's good - which means -er- means our own.

[I'd like to know who started this amalgamation craze;
They certainly are useful in a hundred little ways;
But a pack of foolish cacklers at our councils!  Goodness me!
Why, there wouldn't be a Party if they knew as much as we.]

First published in The Bulletin, 24 August 1911

The Fate of a Harpist by C.J Dennis

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In a recent court case the male defendant asked the Bench to consider, as man to man, the limits to the patience of the most tolerant husband, in certain circumstances.

There is women, yer Worship, of various kinds:
   An' some of 'em's fluffy a' foolish,
An' some is sispicious an' mean in their minds,
   An' others fair set-like an' mulish.
There is some, as I owns, is real kind -- tho' not many,
   As maybe yer Worship 'as coped with -- if any.

But wot can you do with a woman wot 'arps?
   I am arskin' the Bench, as a man an' a male --
Wot sticks to 'er subjeck an' cavils an' carps,
Wot won't be put orf it, but 'ammers an' 'arps
   Till you rock like a ship in a gale.
I'm a plain, placid man, an' me patience is vast;
But the patience of angels gits wobbly at last.

For she 'arps on me 'abits, she 'arps in me ears,
   She 'arps on me cricket an' listenin' in;
She 'arps an' she 'arps, till I'm full of strange fears;
   For I knows there's no end once I 'ear 'er begin.
So, am I to be blamed if I rise in me passion
   An' seek for to send 'er where 'arpin's the fashion?

For wot can you do with a woman wot 'arps?
   I slung 'er bokays while me 'anger was 'ot.
I was full to the teeth of 'er flats an' 'er sharps;
So I slung 'er bokays, while she 'ammers an' 'arps
   (An' them flowers was still in the pot.)
Well, I needn't say more; for she's told all the rest.
But I craves yer man' mercy; an' 'opes for the best.

First published in The Herald, 23 August 1934

Forest Sanctuary by C.J. Dennis

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Seek you sorely, for a space,
   Respite from the world's dull fretting?
Come then to a secret place --
   Man's entanglements forgetting --
Deep within the forest dreaming.
   Deep within its shadows cool,
Where the mountain waters streaming
Broaden to the placid beaming
         Of a quiet pool.

Making here a great green tent,
   Ti-tree bough and wattle bending --
As strong lovers' arms are bent
   Shielding beauty -- droop, defending
This green sanctuary sleeping
   In its soft green twilit day;
And a scrap of bright sky peeping
Thro' the tall trees, sentry keeping,
         Seems a world away.

Rage the tempest as it may
   O'er the tree-tops, writhing, broiling;
Burn as may the burning day,
   Frailer loveliness despoiling;
Summer's scorn and Winter's bluster
   Seeks in vain this hallowed spot
Lending its translucent lustre
To the nodding ferns that cluster
         Many a mossy grot.

Steeply slope the banks above,
   All the outer turmoil muting;
Softly, bush birds' sings of love
   Match an organ's mellow fluting.
Here is peace past all conceiving
   In this forest chance, here
Spreads a grace that transmutes grieving
To hushed wonder, to believing
         God is very near. 

First published in The Herald, 22 August 1933

A Toff's House by C.J. Dennis

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Referring to the recent Parliament slum visit, a clergyman said on Sunday that little had been done hitherto to remove the blot as the vision of party politicians does not extend beyond the next election.

Me muvver, she sez as she'd like to know
   Wot these parly-mint coves is doin',
Pokin' their noses all over the show
   An' callin' her house a rooin.
"Rooin," they sez.  "Wot swualler" sez they.
   If they doubled me ole dad's wages
We could live in a toff's 'ouse straight away,
   An' I wouldn't leave school for ages.
Fer I couldn't play wag with me mates no more --
An' help in the market for thrums no more --
   Just ole lessons for ages an' ages.
Me muvver, she sez, if we had some votes
   For to win an election battle,
We wouldn't be here like a lot of goats,
   Or the poor, dumb, driven cattle.
But she don't know 'ow, an' she don't know 'oo
   Would carry 'er party banners.
But we'd live in a toff's 'ouse, spankin' noo.
   An' I'd have to learn good manners.
Fer I couldn't punch coots on the nose no more,
An' I couldn't go tearin' me clo'es no more;
   But she'd learn me proper manners.
"The slums?" sez me muvver.  "The slums indeed!"
   An' she'd like for to know 'oo said it.
Fair off of 'er floor you could eat yer feed;
   But they never give 'er no credit.
If sweepin' an scrubbin' had wealth at call
   We'd be all of us livin' in clover,
Set up in a toff's 'ouse -- barfs an' all --
   An' I'd have to wash all over!
For I couldn't just slash at the top no more,
Like a sensible, growed-up chap no more:
   But wash in a barf, all over!
Me muvver she sez to the man from the shop,
   It's these parly-mint coves ixpenses.
If we bundled out all of 'em, neck an' crop,
   Then we might 'ave some money for fences.
"A scandal!" she sez.  "An' a shame!" sez, she,
   "That fence atwixt me an' them Johnsons!"
But to live in a toff's 'ouse looks to me
   Like a lot of ole lessons an' nonsense.
For I couldn't stay out in the street no more;
An' I couldn't run 'round in bare feet no more,
Nor 'ave good wile rabbee to eat no more --
   Just manners an' lessons an' nonsense!

First published in The Herald, 21 August 1935

Charity by C.J. Dennis

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Oh, loyal Orange breth-er-en.
I pray you act as Christian men,
And, should your spleen arise, count ten
   Before you speak.
Nay, bear me, brothers, I beseech.
Refrain from all un-Christian speech
Remember! He, whose Word we preach,
   Was ever week.

The lazy, low Italian,
The cheating, shifty Mexican -
All Papist creatures to a man;
   Avid brutes at that -
The scum that Rome's base agents skim
With mummery from ages dim.
Dear brothers, let us sing a n'ymn,
   And pass the bat.

Oh, Orangemen, I cannot find
Words to express my state of mind -
Fit epithets to name the kind
   Of brutish man
Who takes the word of Popery
Concerning dim eternity.
But, brothers, let us ever be

Then, look upon the Irish too -
A miserable murd'rous crew!
They'll feed you up on Irish stew,
   Then cut your throat.
And - it is truth that I allege -
They'll shoot you from behind a hedge -
Dear brothers, recollect your pledge,
   And peace promote.

Oh, loyal, loving, Orangemen,
Be tolerant and kindly when
You preach about your fellow men.
   E'en as I be.
Be ever mild and circumspect.
(A curse on all the Popish sect!)
And brothers, brothers, recollect
   Sweet Charity.

First published in The Bulletin, 20 August 1908

The Artist and the Alderman by C.J Dennis

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A public protest by aesthetic and artistic citizens seems to be developing against the City Council's proposal to rebuild on the Western Market site.  A civic square with gardens is advocated as the alternative.

"Give us gardens!" said the artist,
   "Blatant brick and soulless stone,
Never built a noble city.
   Man lives not by bread alone,
Beauty brings, for our enrichment,
   Smiling lawn and spreading tree."
"Bricks and mortar," said the alderman,
   "Bring in more £.s.d."
      As acid and alkali,
         Water and fire,
      The good and the evil,
         Dissension inspire;
      As the cat and the dog,
         And the axe and the tree,
      So artists and aldermen
         Never agree.
Said the artist: "Give us gardens!
   So to save the civic soul,
Draw aesthetic men about you
   Ere base ideals take control.
Let artistic minds advise you,
   Lest you pay a shameful price."
"And who," inquired the alderman,
   "Needs any such advice?"
      As the cop and the crook,
         As the fool and the sage,
      As light and the darkness,
         Hot youth and old age,
      As the lamb and the lion,
         The ant and the bee,
      So artists and aldermen,
         Never agree.

First published in The Herald, 19 August 1935

Night and Day by C.J. Dennis

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Tasmania's premier, Mr Ogilvie, declares that Melbourne by day is a garden; by night, a cemetery.

Melbourne by day: a city, flower-laden
   An avenue of loveliness each street,
Tree-lined; a beauteous blossom every maiden --
   Well, one in every score or so you meet --
Skyline and vista, river and rooftop gleaming,
   Aesthetically rated very high;
Tower, majestic dome and tall spire dreaming
   Up to a perfect sky.
Arcadian city, garden-fringed and gay,
An artist's dream come true -- Melbourne by day.

Melbourne by night: a graveyard given over
   To ghouls and ghosts of an unholy gloom,
Grim, silent night, wherein a spectral rover
   Steals down the street to fade into its tomb
Glumly, to dodge the doleful cop patrolling
   His dismal beat before the shrouded bars;
And, over all, the curfew, tolling, tolling,
   Up to the sneering stars;
The buildings, mausoleums coldly white
As giants' sepulchres: Melbourne by night.

Melbourne beneath the sun: a garden scented,
   Where merry citizens frisk to and fro --
Phyllis and Strephon, smiling and contented,
   Gathering gorgeous blossoms as they go.
Scent of boronia and garnered wattles --
   Five-thirty! Traffic swells, and no man lags --
Burghers, at grovers' counters, snatching bottles
   To stow in luncheon bags
And hasten homeward ere the day be done
And grief descends: Melbourne beneath the sun.

Melbourne when darkness falls: a burial acre --
   Necropolis, wrapt in a clammy shroud.
Even the merry moon would fain forsake her
   And hide her gay, fat face behind a cloud.
Athwart the sky the tortured storm-wrack sweeping
   Stoops to the fog that up from seaward rolls
With Gloom's grim cohorts ever creeping, creeping
   To claim men's hopeless souls ...
Hark! From suburbia a gay voice calls,
"Here's luck, old dears!" Melbourne when darkness falls.

First published in The Herald, 18 August 1937 

The Ballad of Bill's Breeches by C.J. Dennis

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Once on a time, a party by the name of Mr. BULL
Discovered that with many schemes his hands were pretty full.
His cares of family were great. Four fine young sons he'd got;
They were, indeed, of goodly breed, a strong and hefty lot.
But Mr. BULL's domestic cares (as shortly will be seen)
Were not with them, but with his wife, whose name was JINGOPHINE.
A foolish fad this lady had that all the boys were ninnies;
         And, though they grew,
         As children do,
She dressed them all in pinnies.

Now, while her boys were young, JOHN BULL engaged in business strife -
Took little heed of their affairs, and left them to his wife;
And JINGOPHINE, who loved her lord, impressed them, noon and night.
With tales of his magnificence, his wisdom, wealth and might.
But when they talked of growing up, and "helping pa" some day,
She shook her finger at them in her stern, maternal way.
"Your pa's a great, big man," she said.  "You never, never, NEVER
         Can hope to be
         As big as he,
Or half so wise and clever.

Now, JINGOPHINE, like other dames of fussy, frilly kind,
Delighted to have round her folk of weak and narrow mind.
Pet persons were her weakness. also aldermen and those
Who held the very strictest views, and wore the nicest clothes.
They cheered her when she praised her lord, and listened, with a frown.
To tales of BILL; and all agreed he'd have to be "kept down."
"He is a naughty child," they said, "a most precocious brat.
To think good Mr. BULL should have an offspring such as that!"
But BILL despite the stern rebukes of aldermen and Wowsers,
         Defied the crowd.
         And shouted loud:
"Shut up!  I want my trousers!"

Now, in the course of time, JOHN BULL awakened to the fact
That, in the interests of his sons, 'twas time for him to act.
"My dear," he said, "these sons of ours are growing quite immense;
We ought to have a business talk - I'll call a conference.
They're nearly men; and they must learn, each one, to stand alone.
Each with responsibilities, and a household of his own.
They can't always be at our skirts, like great, big, awkward gabies."
         "Why, Mr. BULL!"
         She cried.  "You fool!
Those boys are only babies!"

But at the meeting Mr. BULL spoke plainly to his lads.
"My sons," said he, "I don't agree with all your mother's fads.
You can't be always little boys; like other lads, you've grown;
And now 'tis time to face the world, and learn to stand alone.
We still remain one family; and none will fail, I know,
To aid another in distress, against a common foe.
Dear lads, I know, you'll recollect - despite success and riches -
         Your father still."
         "Hear. hear!" said BILL -
"Hooray!  I've got me breeches!"

From out that solemn conference BILL marched in highest glee,
With more more respect for Mr. BULL, now that his limbs were free.
"The old man, he's an all-right sort, and talks sound, common sense,
It's time we learned to act like men, and chucked this fool-pretence.
We've done with apron-strings at last.  But what will Ma say now?
Her Wowsers and her aldermen? LORD, won't there be a row!
They've pecked at me quite long enough; it's up to me to scare 'em.
         They'll howl for weeks!
         But here's me breeks;
An', spare me days, I'll wear 'em!"

The Wowsers and the aldermen and Mrs. JING0PHINE
Were seated in the drawing-room when BILL came on the scene.
"He's got 'em on!" a Wowser cried.  "He's disobeyed his ma!"
"Help! Murder!" shrieked the aldermen. "He'll kill his pore, dear vp!"
Pell-mell they rushed to Mr. BULL - "Oh, sir, that dreadful BILL!
He'll murder you!  He stole yer pants!  He's got 'em on 'im still! Mr. BULL 
   said. "Is he?
         There, there, good folk,
         You've had your joke.
Now, go away; I'm busy."

But, up and down the land they went, the Wowsers and the rest;
And BILL, besides the trousers, sported now a coat and vest.
"He's dressin' like a man!" they shrieked. "He's going to resist
His dear, kind pa!  Oh, who'll restrain this rank disloyalist?
He won't take sops from 'is fond ma; 'er pore 'art's nearly broke!
He's even gone at scoffed at us; an' treats us as a joke!" ....
And if you chance to come across those aldermen and Wowsers
         You'll find them still
         Abusing BILL
Who grins, and wears the trousers.

First published in The Bulletin, 17 August 1911

The Year o' the Flood by C.J. Dennis

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There's a drought-ridden, sun-blistered country,
   Away to the north o'er the ranges,
      Where the poor farming wreck
      Has a crick in his neck
Thro' lookin' for weather and changes.
Where the wind, from the furnace of Hades,
   Blows dust that has never been mud;
      Where the talk of the town
      Is of prices gone down,
And the drought since "the year o' the flood."

In every place there's a red-letter day,
   From which the folks reckon things up;
      Such as "When Riley's son
      Took a fall out of Dunne," 
"The year that Blind Mike won the Cup."
But, away in the dry, droughty country,
   Where the cattle live mostly on "end,"
      In that dull dusty clime,
      Every man counts the time
From "the year of the terrible flood."

It's a land of dull, disappointment;
   Of dreariness, drouth and despair;
      Where the farmin' folk live
      On what nature can give
In the way of sheoaks, and such fare.
It's the country of sore-eyes and sadness,
   Of "pip" and of poorness of blood.
      Ah, but watch their eyes light,
      In the pub of a night,
When they talk of "the year o' the flood."

Tho' the oldest inhabitant reckons
   He was "so 'igh, maybe at the time,"
      Ev'ry child above eight
      Has a yarn to relate
Of the joy of that deluge sublime.
And the landmarks have stood thro' the ages,
   Of the day when the streets last saw mud;
      When the poorest could get
      Any "lashin's" of wet
In the glorious year o' the flood.

High up in the limbs of a gumtree,
   That grows down by Tomlinson's shed,
      Is a huge withered stump,
      That a team couldn't hump;
Certain proof of the height, so 'tis said.
And they'll tell you that "up in that tree, sir,
   Is where Mathew Wimbleton stood,
      Where he hooked Johnson's daughter
      Up out of the water
That terrible year o' the flood!"

So they sit on the sun-blistered fences;
   They sit in the shade of the range;
      They sit on their nags,
      Or on bottles or bags;
Or they sit on their heels for a change.
And they've no time for Bedford or Dyson,
   And they ne'er heard of Lawson or Rudd;
      And they don't care a "darn,"
      For they've got a good yarn;
And they talk of "the year o' the flood." 

First published in The Critic, 16 August 1905

The Liberal Constitution by C.J. Dennis

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The Liberal party's platform was an all-embracing one. - Daily paper.

          Jack Sprat would eat no fat,
             His wife would eat no lean,
          And so, betwixt them both, you see,
             They licked the platter clean.
                          - Old nursery rhyme

Gentlemen, I'd like to mention, with your very kind attention,
   One important point I wish you all to know;
We've a policy extensive and extremely comprehensive --
          Me an' Joe.
As a fact, 'tis all-embracing, just to put the matter flat;
Therefore, where's the need to mention that we favor "this" or "that"? 

Quite unlike the other party, we're so vigorous and hearty,
   We can thrive on any diet, high or low.
And, if you decide to follow us, just notice what we swallow -
          Me an' Joe.
It is hardly worth while mentioning what Joseph can't digest,
And, when he has picked his dishes, I, with ease, absorb the rest.

While other folks are musing o'er the menu, picking, choosing,
   In a fashion most fastidious and slow,
At embracing or surrounding -- all the meal we are astounding --
          Me an' Joe.
As an economic method it admits no ifs or buts;
For we clean up all the courses from the oysters to the nuts.

Legislative indigestion in regard to any question
   Marks the party whose vitality is low;
Weaklings in the estimation of that sturdy combination,
          Me an' Joe.
For the food that is politically poisonous to me
Joe takes with relish, while -- well, vice versa don't you see.

I can take, with little trouble, foods political that double
   Joseph up, upon the floor, in direst woe;
But they all declare, who've seen us, we're omnivorous between us --
          Me an' Joe.
Joseph's fond of food imported with a dash of Tory sauce;
I love fare more democratic and Australian grown, of course.

Thus, observe, in fiscal matters we contrive to clean the platters.
   'Tis surprising how we make the viands go!
With our dual constitution we can do great execution --
          Me an' Joe.
And the others of our party have such varied appetities
That there's really very little left to feed the cat o' nights.

For, the others at the table, watching us, are quickly able
   To elect the food they fancy most -- although
Some they find it hard to swallow in their brave attempts to follow
          Me an' Joe.
Then a little Argus Syrup or some "Mother 'Eralds Pills"
Are most useful in averting any gastronomic ills.

Gentlemen, 'twould only weary you to state in manner dreary,
   That we favor "this," or "that," or "so-and-so,"
When, as you well know who've seen us, we can scoff the lot between us --
          Me an' Joe.
And I warn you to be careful of that legislative group
Which has appetite for nothing but mere Democratic soup.

Such dyspeptic politicians are not fit for their positions;
   They are weak and puny creatures: let them go;
And, whatever you adhere to, you can bet your cause is dear to
          Me -- or Joe.
For our iron constitution is a thing to marvel at,
And, when we 'ave dined, as I have said, there's little for the cat.

First published in The Bulletin, 15 August 1912

"Scape-Goat" by C.J. Dennis

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BERLIN. - "Nazi leaders, realizing that Nazism is losing ground, are attempting to divert attention from their failure by campaigns against Jews, Catholics and members of Stahlhelm." - Cable News

   Supposing I should come to you
   And say to you, "Good day to you.
I have no quarrel with you, but I've rather flunked my job,
   And I must divert attention,
   So I thought I'd like to mention
That, in manner rather brutal, I must bash you on the nob."
   Would you reply politely, in a fashion sweetly meek?
   Or would your mood be critical and snarky, so to speak?

   Supposing I said to you,
   "Good morning, sir.  I'm scorning, sir,
The use of any subterfuge: truth may not be abused.
   But a certain noisy faction
   Of my mob requires distraction,
And I seek a counter-irritant to keep the boys amused.
   So, since you are quite defenceless, I must kick you in the slats."
   Do you think we might see eye to eye, as fellow democrats?

   If, on the other hand, I said,
   "See here, my man!  I fear, my man,
I much dislike your style of face!  You're small and mild and weak.
   I admit you cannot harm me, 
   But my people's threats alarm me;
So in efforts to divert them, I shall biff you on the beak.
   If you resist my action, I'll be most annoyed with you."
   Do you think you could appreciate my novel point of view?

   Suppose I then man-handled you
   And battered you and scattered you
In pieces o'er the landscape, all for "patriotic" ends --
   If, so hap, one may term any
   Such method made in Germany --
Would you refuse to squeal or seek the aid of outside friends?
   Not even if I told you it was for the common good,
   And so held the boys together?  No?  I hardly thought you would.

First published in The Herald, 14 August 1935

Votes and Favors by C.J. Dennis

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Since first we ran a railway train,
   Or laid a road from here to there,
Or built a bridge across a drain,
   Or sought relief from many a care;
Since first she gave, this fertile land,
   Her promise to the pioneer,
This slogan rose throughout the land
   And grew in volume year by year:

"Aw, leave it to the Gover'ment;
   The Gover'ment will pay.
The toil is tough: we've done enough;
   So let's call this a day.
Let's go and ask the Gover'ment.
   What do they tax us for?
An' when we've spent what they have lent
   We'll go an' git some more."

'Twas easy come and easy go,
   In easy days gone by,
But now, alas, the funds are low;
   The old milch cow runs dry.
The bounty and the house and
   The railway and the road
Have heaped their burdens on a land
   That groans beneath the load.

"Aw, leave it to the Gover'ment!
   They'll push the job ahead.
They got my vote. Why be a goat?
   A man must use his head.
Ain't they put there to hump our care,
   And plan, an' toil, an' think?
Aw, leave it to the Gover'ment;
   An' come an' have a drink."

"Aw, leave it to the Gover'ment"...
   The cry dies hard withal;
And still they plead, who cannot read
   The writing on the wall.
And still they feign, the "rulers" vain,
   On patronage to dote,
Whose feeble eyes, 'neath lowering skies,
   Still see nought but "The Vote."

First published in The Herald, 13 August 1930

Casey by C.J. Dennis

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There's a dab an' wattle shanty of the edge of Wild Dog Scrub,
Which ain't the place, exac'ly thet you'd call a fust-class pub;
But when yer flush yer welcome there -- no matter who you are,
Where Mister Paddy Casey deals the booze across the bar;
For 'e loves you like a brother, when you 'ave a bob to wet,
But when yer awn yer uppers you must 'ump the swag an' get.

Oh, Casey!  Mr. Casey!  Yer a hot un, yer a daisy.
Yer as pisinous an' rotten as yer beer.
You've took us down an' rooked us;
You 'ave blessed nearly cooked us;
But we'll square it with you some day,
          Casey dear.

We grafted 'ard fer six long months an' made a little pile,
Enough to keep us livin' nice an' sober fer a while;
We finished up the shearin' an' we pocketed our pay,
An' reckoned that we'd save it fer to meet a rainy day.
Then, callin' in at Casey's, "just to 'ave a drink or two,"
We made a bloomin' week of it, an' now our pile is blew.

Oh, Casey!  Mr. Casey!  Yer principles is hazy.
Our notions of yer honesty ain't clear;
But you've sharked our blessed cheques,
An' you've made us shakin' wrecks,
You're a scoundrel, an' you know it,
          Casey dear.

We 'anded in our pay, an' sed, "to tell us when 'twas done."
We run thro' seven quid afore we thought we'd busted one,
An' now 'e 'as the cheek to up an' tell us to our face
We'd better shift ourselves, "fer we're a nuisance on the place."
We've begged 'im fer a pick-me-up, but, lor, it ain't no use.
We'll 'ump the drum -- stone broke -- to 'ome, an' shun the bloomin' booze.

But, Casey; darlin' Casey!  Watch yer soul, you daisy.
You ain't upon the narrow way, it's clear;
An' we'll love to 'ear you yell,
When you feel a thirst in 'ell,
For it's there we're bound to meet you,
          Casey dear.

First published in The Evening Journal, 12 August 1899

Prayer for Travellers by C.J. Dennis

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The big empty estates make the railways lose money, and then there's the deficit, and then comes the necessity for cheapness to make up the deficit, and then there's the smash. - BULLETIN (23/7/'10)

No one should step on a train without a silent prayer for the safe-keeping of himself and fellow-passengers; or step from a train in safety without lifting up his heart in thanksgiving to God. - Victorian clergyman.

Lord, Who made the Fatman,
   Who owns the runs afar,
Where the rotting townships
   And useless railways are,
Punish not Thy servant
   For his greed and vice;
Let some other traveller
   Be the sacrifice.

Lord of politicians
   Of an olden day,
They who built the railways
   That never, never pay,
Visit not Thy vengeance
   On my guiltless head;
Let some Tory traveller
   Pay the cost instead.

Lord, Who knoweth in what year
   The car in which I sit
Was built, and that it runneth still
   To meet the deficit,
Hold its planks together, Lord,
   Stay its crazy bolts;
Let some godless traveller
   Bear the shocks and jolts.

Lord, Who knoweth who's to blame
   For the railway smash,
Thou Who marketh how thet scheme
   To make up squandered cash,
If Thou still ordainest
   A sacrifice must be,
Hold it till a later train -
   Mercy, Lord, on me!

Lord, who made the Fatman,
   Who grabbed for sake of cash,
The land that made the deficit
   That made the railway smash,
Send Thou not Thy lowly folk
   To be the sacrifice -
They that sin the sin, O Lord,
   Should surely pay the price.

First published in The Bulletin, 11 August 1910

The Martyred Democrat by C.J. Dennis

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The annual report showed that steady progress had been made.  The membership of the Toorak branch numbered 500.  Public and drawing-room meetings had been held, and the electorate had been canvassed. - Report of the Vic. Wimmen's League
The main note of Liberal policy, as declared in the platform, is that it is Federal and democratic.  Melbourne ARGUS.

[Note. - This tragic recitation may be delivered at ordinary gatherings without fee or charge; but the right to recite it in "select" drawing-rooms, stock exchanges, boudoirs, bank parlors, directors' board-rooms or Legislative Councils is strictly reserved.]

                    (Begin breezily):
In Lady Lusher's drawing-room, where float the strains of Brahms,
While cultured caterpillars chew the leaves of potted palms -
In Lady Lusher's drawing-room, upon a summer's day,
The democrats of Toorak met to pass an hour away.
They hearkened to a long address by Grabbit, M.L.C.,
While Senator O'Sweatem passed around the cakes and tea;
And all the brains and beauty of the suburb gathered there,
In Lady Lusher's drawing-room - Miss Fibwell in the chair.

                 (With increasing interest):
Ay, all the fair and brave were there - the fair in fetching hats;
The brave in pale mauve pantaloons and shiny boots, with spats.
But pride of all that gathering, a giant 'mid the rest,
Was Mr Percy Puttipate, in fancy socks and vest.
Despite his bout of brain-fag, plainly showing in his eyes,
Contracted while inventing something new in nobby ties,
He braved the ills and draughts and chills, damp tablecloths and mats,
Of Lady Lusher's drawing-room: this prince of Democrats.

                    (Resume the breeze):
Upon a silken ottoman sat Willie Dawdlerich,
Who spoke of democratic things to Mabel Bandersnitch.
And likewise there, on couch and chair, with keen, attentive ears,
Sat many sons and daughters of our sturdy pioneers;
Seed of our noble squatter-lords, those democrats of old,
Who held of this fair land of ours as much as each can hold;
Whose motto is, and ever was, despite the traitor's gab:
"Australia for Australians - as much as each can grab."

                    (In cultured tones):
"Deah friends," began Miss Fibwell, "you - haw - understand ouah league
Is formed to stand against that band of schemers who intrigue -
That horrid band of Socialists who seek to wrest ouah raights,
And, with class legislation, straive to plague ouah days and naights.
They claim to be the workers of the land; but Ai maintain
That, tho' they stand for horny hands, we represent the bwain.
Are not bwain-workers toilers too, who labah without feah?"
(The fashioner of fancy ties: "Heah, heah!  Quaite raight!  Heah, heah!")

"They arrogate unto themselves the sacred name of Work.
But still, Ai ask, where is the task that we've been known to shirk?
We're toilahs, ev'ry one of us, altho' they claim we're not."
(The toiler on the ottoman: "Bai jove, I've heard thet rot!")
"Moahovah, friends, to serve theah ends, they're straiving, maight and main,
To drag down to theah level folk who work with mind and bwain.
They claim we do not earn ouah share, but, Ai maintain we do!"
(The grafter in the fancy socks: "The'ah beastly rottahs, too!")

                   (With rising inflexion):
"Yes, friends, they'll drag us down and down, compelling us to live
Just laike themselves - the selfish class, on what they choose to give.
Nay, moah, they'll make us weah theah clothes - plain working - clothes, forsooth!
Blue dungarees in place of these." . . . "Mai Gahd!  Is this the trooth?"
                    (With fine dramatic force):
A gurgling groan; a sick'ning thud; a flash of fancy socks,
And Mr Percy Puttipate fell like a stricken ox.
Crashed down, through cakes and crockery, and lay, 'mid plate and spoon,
In Lady Lusher's drawing-room one summer afternoon.

                    (With a rush of emotion):
A scream from Mabel Bandersnitch pierced thro' the ev'ning calm
(The cultured grubs, alone unmoved, still chewed the potted palm).
Strong men turned white with sudden fright; girls fell in faint and swoon
In Lady Lusher's drawing-room that fateful afternoon.
                    (With tears in the voice):
But Puttipate? ... Ah, what of him - that noble Democrat,
As he lay there with glassy stare, upon the Persian mat?
What recks he now for nobby ties, and what for fancy socks,
As he lies prone, with cake and cream smeared on his sunny locks?

Good Mr Grabbit took his head, O'Sweatem seized his feet;
They bore him to an ambulance that waited in the street.
Poor Mabel Bandersnitch sobbed loud on Dawdlerich's vest;
A pall of woefell over all - Miss Fibwell and the rest.
A mournful gloom o'erspread the room, as shades of ev'ning fell,
And, one by one, they left the place till none was left to tell
The tale of that dire tragedy that wrecked the summer calm -
Except the apathetic grubs, who went on eating palm.

                    (Suggestive pause; then, with fresh interest):
There still be men - low common men - who sneer at Toorak's ways,
And e'en upon poor Puttipate bestow but grudging praise.
But when you hear the vulgar sneer of some low Labor bore
                    (With fine dramatic intensity):
Point to that pallid patriot on Lady Lusher's floor!
Point to that daring Democrat, that hero of Toorak,
Who lifeless lay, that fateful day, upon his noble back!
Point to that hero, stricken down for our great Party's sake,
His sunny locks, his fiery socks o'er-smeared with cream and cake.

                    (In scathing tones):
Then lash with scorn the base poltoon who sullies his fair fame.
Who, moved by fear, attempts to smear the lustre of that name.
Great Puttipate! The Democrat! Who perished, all too soon,
In Lady Lusher's drawing-room, one summer afternoon.

(Finish with a noble gesture, expressing intense scorn, bow gracefully, and retire amidst great applause.)

First published in The Bulletin, 10 August 1911;
and later in
The Collins Book of Australian Poetry edited by Rodney Hall, 1981;
The Penguin Book of Australian Satirical Verse edited by Philip Neilsen, 1986; and
The Sting in the Wattle: Australian Satirical Verse edited by Philip Neilsen, 1993.

A Line to Old Man Pessimism by C.J. Dennis

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With cheerful frequency politicians and other leading men are now predicting the imminence of better times, and references to our having "turned the corner" are published almost daily.

I am sorry, old man, but the game is up
   And you've lost your occupation.
Long have you proffered the bitter cup
   To a sick and sorrowing nation.
We have listened for long to your tales of woe,
Which have all come true, as well we know;
And we've suffered your smug "I told you so"
   With listless resignation.

Sorry, old man, but your punch has gone;
   Yet you've had a long, long innings
Since our lucky star, that once had shone
   Went out in the slump's beginnings,
Then you turned your lyre to a dreary dirge,
And your dire predictions sought no urge
As you pressed us to despair's dark verge
   With a wealth of doleful dinnings.

Sorry, old man, that we grow more glad
   Each day, in hope's possession;
But you've lost the old allure you had;
   We are shaking your obsession.
And the tales you told no more ring true;
Behind the clouds the star breaks thro',
And the only thing for you to do
   Is to watch for the next depression.

First published in The Herald, 9 August 1932

"After All--" by C.J. Dennis

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"No nation in the world is readier than the Australian nation to respond to an appeal to its patriotism." -- The London "Times," commenting on the Australian Loan Conversion plan.

We have grinned 'neath the weight of 
   And groaned 'neath the strictures and blame, 
But when critics have done criticising 
   They own we like playing the game. 
We are prone to extravagant follies, 
   But, just on the edge of a fall, 
We are apt to awake to the danger, 
   And country comes first, after all. 

We are reckless, mayhap, in our living, 
   And slow to awaken to fear; 
But when we do wake and seek action 
   These praises are pleasant, to hear. 
She has watched more in sorrow than anger 
   Our waywardness ride for a fall; 
But old Motherland now recognises 
   We're not such bad boys, after all. 

We are young, we are robust, and ardent, 
   And optimists right to the end; 
Dull caution was never our watchword, 
   Timidity never our friend. 
But with the hard facts set before us, 
   We've sound common sense at our call; 
And, if wisdom be deemed patriotic, 
   We merit the praise, after all.

First published in The Herald, 8 August 1931;
and later in
The Advertiser and Register, 13 August 1931;
The Chronicle, 20 August 1931; and
The Border Watch, 3 November 1931.

Morning Glory by C.J. Dennis

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Singing morning has begun.
Where the wooded ranges run
To far summits, there the snow
Lingers yet.  But down below
In the quiet, green-girt places,
Where full many a swift creek races
From the snow-lands to the sea,
Now breaks sudden harmony.
Where this tree-waned clearing dreams,
First a rosy promise be
As young dawn steels up the sky
Where the frozen ramparts lie.
Now, from dew-wet leaves a-glitter,
Comes a little drowsy twitter,
And the first swift spear of light
Wounds at last the stubborn Night.
Flashing now, bright javelins
Pierce the murk; and now begins --
As Day's gleaming ranks deploy --
Morning's canticle of joy.
First a sleepy chuckle, breaking,
Tells of Laughing Jack awaking,
Pausing; then, from tree to tree,
Leaps unbound hilarity.
Here's the signal .... Morning's hush
Sweetness shatters, as Grey Thrush,
Vieing with the seraphim,
Lifts his liquid matin hymn.
Golden Whistler joins him then,
Now Red Robin, now Blue Wren;
Magpie's trumpet, sounding, swelling,
Caps the eager chorus welling,
As a wealth of varied notes
Pours now from a hundred throats
Up to greet their lord, the Sun,
Morning, morning has begun!

First published in The Herald, 7 August 1933;
and later in
Random Verse edited by Margaret Herron, 1952.

Mar by C.J. Dennis

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"'Er pore dear Par." she sez, "'e kept a store";
An' then she weeps an' stares 'ard at the floor.
   "'Twas thro' 'is death," she sez, "we wus rejuiced
To this," she sez ... An' then she weeps some more.
"'Er par," she sez, "me poor late 'usband, kept
An 'ay an' corn store. 'E'd no faults ixcept
   'Im fallin' 'eavy orf a load o' charf
W'ich -- killed 'im -- on the -- " 'Struth! But 'ow she wept.
She blows 'er nose an' sniffs. "'E would 'a' made"
She sez, "a lot of money in the trade.
   But, 'im took orf so sudden-like, we found
'E 'adn't kept 'is life insurince paid.
"To think," she sez, "a child o' mine should be
Rejuiced to workin' in a factory!
   If 'er pore Par 'e 'adn't died," she sobs...
I sez, "It wus a bit o' luck for me."
Then I gits 'as red as 'ell, "That is -- I mean,"
I sez, "I mighter never met Doreen
   If 'e 'ad not" -- an' 'ere I lose me block --
"I 'ope," I sez, "'e snuffed it quick and clean."
An' that wus 'ow I made me first deboo.
I'd dodged it cunnin' fer a month or two.
   Doreen she sez, "You'll have to meet my Mar,
Some day," she sez.  An' so I seen it thro'.
I'd pictered some stern female in a cap
Wot puts the fear o' Gawd into a chap
   And 'ere she wus, aweepin' in 'er tea
An' drippin' moistcher like a leaky tap.
Two dilly sorter dawgs made outer delf
Stares 'ard at me frum orf the mantelshelf.
   I seemed to symperthise wiv them there pups;
I felt so stiff an' brittle-like meself.
Clobber?  Me trosso, 'ead to foot, wus noo --
Got up regardless, fer this interview.
   Stiff shirt, a Yankee soot split up the back,
A tie wiv yeller spots an' stripes o' blue.
Me cuffs kep' playing wiv me nervis fears
Me patent leathers nearly brought the tears
   An' there I sits wiv, "Yes, mum.  Thanks.  Indeed?"
Me stand-up collar sorin' orf me ears.
"Life's 'ard," she sez, an' then she brightens up.
"Still, we 'ave alwus 'ad our bite and sup.
   Doreen's been sich a help; she 'as indeed.
Some more tea, Willy?  'Ave another cup."
Willy! O 'ell! 'Ere wus a flaming pill!
A moniker that alwus makes me ill.
   "If it's the same to you, mum," I replies
"I answer quicker to the name of Bill."
Up goes 'er 'ands an' eyes.  "That vulgar name!"
No, Willy, but it isn't all the same,
   My fucher son must be respectable."
"Orright," I sez, "I s'pose it's in the game."
"Me fucher son," she sez, "right on frum this
Must not take anythink I say amiss.
   I know me jooty by me son-in-lor;
So, Willy, come an' give ya Mar a kiss".
I done it.  Tho' I dunno 'ow I did.
"Dear boy," she sez, "to do as you are bid.
   Be kind to 'er," she sobs, "my little girl!"
An' then I kiss Doreen.  She sez "Ah Kid!".
Doreen! Ar 'ow 'er pretty eyes did shine.
No sight on earth or 'Eaving's 'arf so fine,
   An' as they looked at me she seemed to say
"I'm proud of 'im, I am, an' 'e is mine."
There was a sorter glimmer in 'er eye,
An 'appy, nervis look, 'arf proud, 'arf shy;
   I seen 'er in me mind be'ind the cups
In our own little kipsie, bye an' bye.
An' then when Mar-in-lor an' me began
To tork of 'ouse'old things an' scheme an' plan,
   A sudden thort fair jolts me where I live:
"These is my wimmin folk! An' I'm a man!"
It's wot they calls responsibility.
All of a 'eap that feelin' come to me;
   An' somew'ere in me 'ead I seemed to feel
A sneakin' sort o' wish that I was free.
'Ere's me 'oo never took no 'eed o' life,
Investin' in a mar-in-lor an' wife:
   Someone to battle fer besides meself,
Somethink to love an' shield frum care and strife.
It makes yeh solim when yeh come to think
Wot love and marridge means.  Ar, strike me pink!
   It ain't all sighs and kisses.  It's yer life.
An' 'ere's me temblin' on the bloomin' brink.
"'Er pore dead Par," she sez, an' gulps a sob.
An' then I tells 'er 'ow I got a job,
   As storeman down at Jones' printin' joint,
A decent sorter cop for fifty bob.
The things get 'ome-like; an' we torks till late,
An' tries to tease Doreen to fix the date,
   An' she gits sudden soft and tender-like,
An' cries a bit, when we parts at the gate.
An' as I'm moochin' 'omeward frum the car
A sudden notion stops me wiv a jar --
   Wot if Doreen, I thinks, should grow to be,
A fat ole weepin' willer like 'er Mar!
O, 'struth!  It won't bear thinkin' of!  It's crook!
An' I'm a mean, unfeelin' dawg to look
   At things like that.  Doreen's Doreen to me,
The sweetest peach on w'ich a man wus shook.
'Er "pore dear Par"...I s'pose 'e 'ad 'is day,
An' kissed and smooged an' loved 'er in 'is way.
   An' wed an' took 'is chances like a man --
But, Gawd, this splicin' racket ain't all play.
Love is a gamble, an' there ain't no certs.
Some day, I s'pose, I'll git wise to the skirts.
   An' learn to take the bitter wiv the sweet...
But strike me purple!  "Willy!"  That's wot 'urts.

First published in The Bulletin, 6 August 1914;
and later in
The Songs of a Sentimental Bloke by C.J. Dennis, 1915;
Selected Works of C.J. Dennis, 1988;
The Illustrated Treasury of Australian Humour edited by Michael Sharkey, 1988; and
Favourite Poems of C.J. Dennis, 1989.

The Anti-Socialist by C.J. Dennis

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'Tis morn.
An individualistic cock
Proclaims the fact.
The dissipated cat sneaks home forlorn.
'Tis time to get up and act!
'Tis eight o'clock!
The stern and stalwart anti-Socialist,
And independent citizen, whose fist
Is raised against all Socialistic schemes,
Wakes from the land o' dreams;
(Nightmares of Sosh)
Gets up, and has a wash
In water from the Socialistic main;
Empties it down the Socialistic drain,
And, giving his moustache the proper twist,
He then
Breakfasts upon an egg,
Laid by some anti-Socialistic
And, as he chews,
Endeavours to peruse
The news
In some wise publication, printing views
That no right-thinking man could grumble at;
And, having scoffed the egg,
His hat
He reaches from its peg;
Perambulates the Socialistic path --
But that
Annoys him just as little as the bath.
Tho' both essentially are Sosh's works,
He never shirks
Their use;
But much abuse
Of Socialistic ideas, without excuse,
Flavors his conversation in the train --
The Socialistic train.
But, here again,
He is not heard to murmur or complain
Against the train.
At length the hour
Of ten
Strikes the Socialistic tower;
And then
He gains
His office and enquires
For letters and for wires.
Nor e'en complains
They reach him thro' a Socialistic post.
There are a host
Of letters -- quite a pile --
Some from his friends
(Ah! See him smile),
Cursing the Labor party's aims and ends.
Here is a note
Bidding him be content and of good cheer,
For, in the House last night, the Fusion vote
Defeated Labor on the Telephone 
Discussion.  Wherefore charges won't be near
As dear
As he has cause to fear.
And that reminds him.  He rings on the 'phone,
And tells a friend
At t'other end
That Socialism's better left alone.
Says it emphatically thro' the 'phone --
The Socialistic 'phone --
That instrument
The Government is running at a loss
Of very much per cent.
He knows that it is so.
But is he cross?
He's quite content...
So, through the day
He goes his anti-Socialistic way.
Round and about
The town,
Wearing the Socialistic pavement out;
Riding in Socialistic trams
And damning damns
When Socialism's mentioned -- with a frown...
As night comes down,
He scorns the Socialistic atmosphere
Of a plain pub
And beer,
And seeks his club.
While here
He drinks
And tells his fellow members what he thinks
About the "Labah pawty" and its claims
And visionary aims.
They languidly remark "Hear, hear."...
Then out once more
And, in a Socialistic tram and train,
On to suburbia, and home again
To his own door.
Then to his bed;
Laying his wise and proper-thinking head
In downy pillow-deep.
He is about to drop 
To sleep
When -- "Flop... Flop...
Flop" ...
What's that?
The cat,
Chasing an individualistic rat?
Nay, 'tis the footfall of the midnight cop,
Echoing through
The stilly night,
Telling that I and you
Are guarded in our right;
He guards the persons and the propertee
Of you and me.
He's a Socialistic institution too --
The man in blue.
The whole blue Socialistic crew....
I wish he'd keep
Still, that cop,
I want to go to sleep...
Why does he keep
Flop, flop, flop!
With his big feet
Along the street?
Why can't he stop?...
His Socialistic feet....
Why don't he change his beat?...
Of all the rows I ever heard --
Upon my word!
When you stop to think of it
A bit,
This Socialistic business is absurd!

First published in The Bulletin, 5 August 1909

Proportion by C.J. Dennis

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Victoria's adverse trade balance for the year is over £20,000,000.

My adverse balance for the year
   Is only six pounds seventeen,
And yet, the prospect is so drear,
   My agony of mind so keen,
I simply hate to ponder o'er
My mental state if it were more.

If I had spent a hundred pounds
   More than I earned, who, goodness me!
I'd rend the air with woeful sounds
   And beat my breast in agony.
And yet, in mathematics pure,
This ratio does not endure.

For instance, if, in one short year,
   I spent some twenty million pound,
My sorrow would not be, I fear,
   Proportionately so profound,
I'd simply think I'd had a prime
And altogether gay old time.

First published in The Sun-News Pictorial, 4 August 1927

Song of the Saw by C.J. Dennis

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[Mr. M. L_____, whose tender for fifty thousand sleepers has been accepted, proposes to fell many of the magnificent gums growing on his estate. - News item.]

Sing ho for the whirring King of Steel,
   And the bite of his sharp, relentless teeth!
Vanished his prey, till the earth reveal,
   Where rotting veins lie underneath.

Born was I in the heart of flame,
   Born 'mid the roaring furnace blast,
In the land where the grimy workmen came,
  Where giant beams go flashing past.

They fashioned my form with cunning hands,
   Where hammers clash and the anvil rings,
And sent me forth to the tree-clad lands
   To seek my prey 'mid the forest kings.

Fifty years had they reigned, or more,
   Forest monarchs of giant girth;
Far from the smoke, and clash, and roar
   Of the grimy place that gave me birth.

Fifty years had they reigned in peace
   Over a country verdant, fair;
Year by year did their might increase,
   Till I and my ally -- man -- came there.

And they set me up on an iron bench,
   And ground my cruel teeth anew,
That I might better tear and wrench
   These mighty monarchs thro' and thro'.

One by one did they crash to earth;
   One by one did the kings depart,
While I whirred and buzzed, and shrieked in mirth,
   As I gnawed into the very heart.

And lo! in the land that had known their reign,
   The land that was verdure-clad and fair,
Nought but the rotting roots remain
   To tell of the mighty kings that were.

Then -- Ho, for the March of the King of Steel
   And the weary waste that marks his track!
For who may the sign of his path conceal;
   Or give to the land its monarchs back?

First published in The Critic, 3 August 1901

The Silent Test by C.J. Dennis

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(With apologies to Kipling)

The English cricketer, Hobbs, has suggested that, in view of England's changed opinion on body-line, Australia should reciprocate with a move to suppress barracking.

"What's happening on this ground today?" asked one who never read.
"A cricket match, a cricket match," the old gatekeeper said.
"It seems a very tame affair," said he who never read.
"It ain't so tame as wot you think," the old gatekeeper said.
"'Tis a match between Australia an' old England's very best
Such as you never seen before. This is the new-style Test
For the body-line is done with, an' the barracker's at rest,
An' they're playin' all like gentlemen this mornin'."

"I hear no call, I hear no cry," said he who never read.
"You never will; you never will," the old gatekeeper said.
"But, hang it, man! What's wrong with 'em?" cried he who never read.
"Please speak a little quieter," the old gatekeeper said.
"For we've gas-masks in the Outer, and we've gagged 'em in the stand,
An' even in the members' part they speaks behind the hand.
An' you got to speak in whispers now that body-line is banned;
For they're playin' all like gentlemen this mornin'."

First published in The Herald, 2 August 1933

The Incorrigible by C.J. Dennis

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The peculiar psychology of the German leaders and their utter failure to appreciate the mentality of other peoples has again led them into blunders, this time over the Austrian situation, so that once more they find themselves isolated from the rest of Europe.

The bad boy of Europe,
   He stands in dire disgrace,
Crying too loud his innocence
   While guilt grins from his face.
The gangster and the racketeer
   Earth's honest folk disown,
And the bad boy of Europe
   He walks his way alone.

In cynical dishonor
   The world is not yet lost,
As the dull boy of Europe
   Discovers to his cost.
Something is let to decency,
   And something of fair play,
As the shameless boy of Europe
   Learns, to his vague dismay.

Tho' nations yet be governed
   By chiefs too worldly-wise,
There runs an unclean pathway
   From which men turn their eyes.
Defined by laws unwritten,
   There yet remains The Code;
But the bad boy of Europe
   Treads the forbidden road.

Never, 'mid Christian nations,
   Shall might be counted right;
And murder stays foul murder
   Ever in just men's sight.
The wide world shall disown them
   Who own that guilt-stained crew
Whose acts belie their mouthings;
   Whose mouthings ring untrue.

First published in The Herald, 1 August 1934

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