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 

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on August 18, 2013 11:23 AM.

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