September 2013 Archives

Brown's Tram by C.J Dennis

| No TrackBacks
A city clerk was Henry Brown,
Whose suburb knew nor tram nor train;
And ev'ry morn he walked to town.
From nine till five, with busy brain,
He labored in an office dim.
Each eve he walked out home again.
And all this tramping seemed to him
A waste of time, for, 'mid the strife,
He could not keep his lawn in trim.
It clouded his domestic life --
This going early, coming late --
And much distressed his little wife.
Then some wise man declared the State
Should put in trams, and for this scheme
Brown was a red-hot advocate.
At last he realised his dream;
And daily in and out of town
He trammed it with content supreme.
For, though it cost him half-a-crown
A week in fares, the time he saved
Meant much to him and Mrs. Brown.
And so they lived and pinched and slaved
And their suburban happiness
Seemed all that they had ever craved.
The little wife began to bless
The trams; nor grieved their meagre dole
Was weekly two and sixpence less.
Then Brown's employer, kindly soul,
Learned of this tram-car luxury,
And promptly rose to take his toll.
He sent for Brown and said that he
Should now contrive to come at eight
Since trams blessed his vicinity.
He also deemed it wise to state
That idleness begat much ill,
And it was wrong to sleep in late.
Yet Brown contrived to tram it still,
And trim his lawn with tender care,
And pay his rent and baker's bill.
His little wife vowed it unfair;
But bowed to stern, relentless fate,
And smiled and sewed and worked her share.
Just here, the landlord wrote to state,
Since trams improved his property,
He'd raise the rent as from that date.
"Three shillings weekly will not be
Too much - an equitable rise,
Considering the trams," wrote he.
What profit oaths or women's sighs?
His "sacred rights," of wealth the fount,
A landlord has to recognise.
To what do poor clerks' lives amount?
An extra hour of slavery
Swells an employer's bank account.
The wealthy boss thanks God that he
Has saved some money out of Brown.
The landlord smiles contentedly.
The trams run gaily up and down,
A sight Brown sadly notes as he
Plods daily in and out of town.

First published in The Bulletin, 30 September 1909;
and later in
Backblock Ballads and Other Verses by C.J. Dennis, 1913.

The Perfumed Pup by C.J. Dennis

| No TrackBacks
"The Daily Sketch says that the latest from Paris are pet-dog perfumes.  Already there are a dozen different kinds, made up in tiny phials.  The cost works out at 7/6 a drop."

I have a dog -- a real he-hound
   And when I read him this sad stuff,
He rolled a large, brown eye around
   And savagely commented "Whuff!"

I gathered, from his curling lip,
   How with it he would wipe the mat
If once he had within his grip
   A supper-sissy pup like that.

And, if I sought with purpose grim
   To scent him so, he'd turn and bite
The hand that fed and scented him,
   And, on the whole -- 'twould serve me right.

First published in The Sun-News Pictorial, 29 September 1927

Scrap Iron by C.J Dennis

| No TrackBacks
Old Pete Parraday is back from the Show.
"Wastin' of a man's time," he says, "it was, to go.
New things, an' strange things, an' funny things they've planned:
Muddled-up machinery a man can't understand,
With doo-dads an' dinky-doos an' gadgets fancy-faked;
I stared at 'em an' studied till me poor head ached.
A man to be a farmer now, with them coniptions queer,
Has got to go to college first an' be a ingineer.

"I s'pose they calls it progress, but it fair makes me sick,
This buildin' somethink cute an' queer for doin' somethink quick:
Savin' time an' savin' space they've sweated an' they've slaved;
An' don't do nothink with it much when once they've got it saved,
Ixcep' to slaughter honest folk, in peace-time an' war,
With motey cars an' airyplanes much quicker than afore.
A man is scarcely born today afore he's dead an' done.
(A-crossin' of them city streets ain't no man's fun.)

"I s'pose I'm of an old age, a age that's nigh on past.
'Good riddance, too,' they'll say of us when all is gone at last:
The safe men, the slow men, who done nowt big or new --
'Cep' pioneerin' continents, an' that ain't much to do.
But they can have their sky-scrapers towerin' to the skies.
These wise, old hills o' mine is quite a tidy size!
An' they have taught me many a thing of mankind an' his ways
That's like to send these modrin folk fair dumbstruck with amaze.

"Oh, I dessay I had me fun. But what pained most in town;
I never seen an old friend the whole time I was down --
Them old mates out o' Gippsland an' back o' Bungaree,
With long beards an' carpet bags, they've stole a march on me.
They've gone an' stole a march on me, since thirty year ago,
An' I'm a stranger in the world that men don't know.
So back I comes to my old hills to hid me silly face --
A stranger in a new world; scrap-iron out o' place."

First published in The Herald, 28 September 1936

The Broken Teapot by C.J. Dennis

| No TrackBacks
Farm-wives are complaining bitterly in the press that the new Egg Board regulations, virtually banning the barndoor egg, have deprived them of a traditional source of income and forced them to go to niggardly husbands for pin-money.

Mum's bit of egg money on the mantelpiece
   In the broken teapot in the olden days,
Hardly earned and hoarded there,
Much content afforded there
   Long before inspectors came and bureaucratic ways.
But science by the barn-door rules the farmer's lot
And Mum's bit of egg-money dwindles in the pot.

Ever since the first years this was mother's perquisite,
   Eggs daily gathered by the old barn door,
From the stable gathered in,
From the shed and fodder bin,
   Carted in and traded at the small town store;
Gathered from the wayward hen laying far afield
As the new-cleared acres gave their golden yield.

Long it was a stand-by while the kids were little ones --
   Mum's broken teapot resting on the shelf --
Some print to make a dress for Lil,
Sunday boots for Joe and Bill,
   A loan to Dad and, now and then, a  trifle for herself:
Growing heavy Christmas time by dint of watchful thrift
To buy a little Christmas cheer and here and there a gift.

But Mum's bit of egg-money grows a thing of history,
   And Mum's broken teapot an heirloom now indeed,
Since Science ousts the picturesque;
And Dad has bought an office desk
   To puzzle o'er official rules and size and weight and breed.
But Mum is brooding darkly o'er the forbidden egg,
Which, like a furtive gangsteress, she threatens to bootleg.

First published in The Herald, 27 September 1937

The Scribe's Lament by C.J. Dennis

| No TrackBacks
I slave long hours in solitude,
   And scribble in my inky den;
From fat M.P. to actor-dude,
   I've made folk famous by my pen.
Pork butchers I've immortalized,
   Praised drapers for posterity,
Discovered virtues, faults disguised,
   But -- no one ever writes of me.

I've puffed important nobodies,
   I've flattered flats in anecdote;
With puff par. and biographies
   I've buttered folks of little note;
I've interviewed fat aldermen,
   And covered pugs with flattery,
Made reputation with my pen;
   But -- no one ever writes of me.


Yet when I view the quaint array
   I've marshalled for the world to see,
I am not filled with blank dismay
   That no one ever writes of me. 

First published in The Gadfly, 26 September 1906

A Few Remarks on Goats, Asses and the Dead Hand by C.J Dennis

| No TrackBacks
The Ministry had effected one act of restoration - it had restored, with all its signs and portents, the mace, that sign and portent of the Government of ancient days, the Government of the fourteenth century.  (Laughter.) - Anstey, M.H.R.

I don't mind kings and dukes and things;
   I don't mind wigs or maces;
I don't mind crowns or robes or gowns
   Or ruffles, swords or laces -
But what I do object to, and some others more than I,
Are the mad old, bad old practices these baubles signify.

Good friends, brother Australians and fellow voters;
I think that you will agree with me that few of us are doters
Upon the customs, practices, fooleries and tommyrotics of the mouldy past;
Nor are we apt to cast
A reverent eye behindward upon ancient precedent:
Nor do we consent
To let the cold, clammy and unusually muddling Dead Hand
Control the destinies of this our native land.
Nay, rather do we stand
Tiptoe upon the summit of the Present, peering out,
With faces eager and expectant eyes, into the mystic Future.  Have you a doubt
That in Progress, Business-like Procedure, Common-sense Habit, and Up-to-Date Method we are all earnest believers?
Is it not so?....
Well, I don't know
So much about it.  'Twere easy to prove, good friends, that we are, in the lump, followers of Make-Believe, triflers with Humbug and inane self-deceivers.
'Twere easy to prove that our ass-like attribute indeed surpasses
That of innumerable and intensely asinine asses.
And here, good friends, I extend to all of you my blessin',
And conclude, amidst great applause, the first lesson.

Secondly, my brothers -
Right-thinking persons, men-in-the-street, common-sense individuals, and people who call a spade a spade, and others -
There are full many of us who deeply deplore
The use or display of these gauds, decorations, baubles and trappings that belong to the unpractical, superstitious and quite unfashionable days of yore.
We deride, for instance, the notion that the caudal appendage of a deceased horse
Perched upon the cranium of an erudite justice can add to his dignity or give to his remarks more force.
In short, we class as mere bunkum, bosh, flapdoodle and other sludge
The contention that the hind end of a horse can in any way assist the fore end of a judge.
The wig, the gown, the staff, the rod, the mace,
We regard as obsolete, and entirely out of place.
If there is one thing more than another upon which we pride ourselves it is, I suppose,
The fact that we scorn to wear grandpa's old-fashioned clothes.
The poor old gentleman's pantaloons, his shirts, his cravat, his fob-chain, his frill-whiskers are all anathema to us.
Good friends, why all this fuss?
Why waste all this precious energy in denouncing the wig, the gown, the mace?
They may be, in a sense, out of place;
Yet, why should these things shock you?
Believe me, they are perfectly innocu-
Ous, and furthermore, dear friends,
They serve their ends;
For why deny these toys
To that large, mentally-bogged, and much misunderstood class of elderly girls and boys
Whose state demands some sign or symbol
To push an idea or a principle into their heads, even as the thimble
Thrusts the needle into the cloth?
Then why so wrath?
Heed ye, good friends, the parable of the beam and the mote.
Nay, I crave your pardon, but I have known a not particularly intelligent goat
To view materially essential matters with a more discerning eye; to possess, so to speak, more innate perspicacity
Than you - that is to say, us.  Nay, grasp not at the seeming audacity
Of these few remarks; for perfect perspicuity
Attends them, and I like not ambiguity.
As thinking machines the ass, the goat, good people are preferable; at least, so it appears.
And here, the ending of my second lesson is attended by your deafening and appreciative cheers.

My worthy friends, ye who scorn to wear my poor grandpa's clothes
Get down from your pedestals, O ye modern intellectual giants; let each decline his scornful and uptilted nose.
Deride, would ye, grandpa's ancient mace?
Abolish it, would ye, and hunt it off the place?
What's the matter with it?  It's not eating anything, is it?
And it might prove handy if a masked burglar, or a Trust or a mad dog paid the House a visit.
Gird, would ye, at grandpa's wig, at his gown trimmed with the overcoats of late lamented rabbits?
But, Oh! my up-to-date brothers, what have ye to say about grandpa's and great-grandpa's and great-great-grandpa's ridiculous customs, absurd precedents, inane systems and obsolete habits?
What about that musty, dusty, mouldy, mildewed, hoary, Tory, injurious, time-wasting, insane, inane, self-ridiculed, unwieldy and utterly unprofitable system of Party Government?  Great-great-great-great-grandpa's cherished System, good friends?
Does it serve our modern ends?
Or is it, think you, obsolete and absurd?
I pause for a reply....What!  Not a word?
Do I hear you raving to have it abolished?
Yearn ye to see this thing demolished?
Go to the ass, ye dullards!  He doesn't eat mouldy sawdust when there's good hay about.
And here, kind friends, I pass to "fourthly," flattered by your encouraging shout.

Friends, countrymen and fellow-voters of this fair land,
All ye smart, up-to-date people who scorn dear grandpa's raiment, are you feeling his dead hand?
Think ye that ancient fist should interfere so in the vital affairs of to-day?
Or are ye so apathetic that you don't care a tuppenny curse either way?
'Tis cheap and easy to scoff at granpa's gauds and trappings and to the Devil send 'em;
But have ye ever seriously considered such things as elected Ministries or the Initiative and Referendum?
Not you!  You shirk, good friend, you shirk.
That means Work!

Friends, I am done....I know not what ye intend to do about it, and I haven't much hope; but, for my part,
I say unto ye, in a spirit of true brotherly love, and with my hand upon my heart,
That I have enjoyed the acquaintance of asses who were never fooled by musty precedent.  Aye, and intelligent goats
Who scorned the jam-tin diet of their forebears when there was good grass about - but they had no votes.
And what is a goat without a vote?  

First published in The Bulletin, 25 September 1913

Comic Cosmic Relief by C.J. Dennis

| No TrackBacks
At a recent meeting of the International Radio Union in London, Mr R. A. Watt, a wireless expert, revealed how wireless atmospherics, born with a head and tail, drop their tails and eventually split themselves in half.

Sadly sobbing, sadly sobbing,
   Rolls the restless wireless sea,
Where the wireless waves go bobbing
   Up and down so dolefully.
And nothing there the gloom assails,
   Depression to undo,
Till some merry little static
In a manner most erratic --
Till statics drop their little tails
   And split themselves in two.

Just to watch their comic wriggling
   Moves the stratosphere to mirth,
And a giddy urge to giggling
   Trails a titter round the earth.
When wireless humor flops and fails
   And nought can raise a laugh,
Then some artful atmospheric
Sends the other half hysteric --
Gay atmospherics drop their tails
   And split themselves in half.

Once again the world grows weary;
   Sadly superheterodyne
Wax the wireless waves, and dreary,
   Doleful frequencies repine!
Until, once more, loud laughter hails
   The comic cosmic crew.
As some little stunting static,
Most absurdly acrobatic --
Till statics drop their little tails
   And split themselves in two.

There is art in every antic,
   So, when sitting at your set,
Rage no more with fury frantic
   O'er the statics that you get.
For, far beyond your ken, great gales
   Of laughter loud, with cosmic chaff
Hilarious and quite Homeric,
Sounds, as some impish atmospheric
Calls on his crowd to drop their tails
   And split themselves in half.

First published in The Herald, 24 September 1934

A Letter to the Front by C.J Dennis

| No TrackBacks
I suppose you sometimes dream, Bill, in between the scraps out there,
Of the land you left behind you when you sailed to do your share:
Of Collins-street, or Rundle-street, or Pitt, or George, or Hay,
Of the land beyond the Murray, or "along the Castlereagh."
And I guess you dream of old days and the things you used to do,
And you wonder how 'twill strike you when you've seen this business through,
And you try to count your chances when you've finished with the Turk,
And swap the gaudy war game for a spell of plain, drab work.

Well, Bill, you know just how it is these early days of Spring,
When the gilding of the wattle throws a glow on everything.
The olden days, the golden days that you remember well,
In spite o' war and worry, Bill, are with us for a spell.
For the green is on the paddocks, and the sap is in the trees.
And the bush birds in the gullies sing the ole, sweet melodies;
And we're hoping, as we hearken, that when next the Springtime comes
You'll be with us here to listen to that bird-talk in the gums.

It's much the same old Springtime, Bill, you recollect of yore;
Boronia and daffodils and wattle blooms once more
Sling sweetness over city streets, and seem to put to shame
The cult of greed and butchery that got you on this game.
The same old,sweet September days, and much the same old place;
Yet, there's a subtle something, Bill, upon each passing face:
A thing that cannot be defined; a look that you put there
The day you lobbed upon the beach and charged at Sari Bair.

It isn't that we're boasting, lad; we've done with most of that -
The froth, the cheers, the flapping flags, the wildly waving hat.
Such things are childish memories; we blush to have them told;
For we have seen our wounded, Bill, and it has made us old.
Nor with a weary child's regret, not with a braggard's pride,
But with a grown youth's calm resolve we've laid our toys aside.
And it wus you that taught us, Bill, upon that fateful day,
That we at last had grown too old for everlasting play.

And, as a grown man dreams at times of boyhood days gone by,
So shall we, when the mood is here, for carefree childhood sigh.
But, as a clean youth looks out on life, clear-visioned and serene,
So may we gaze, and ever strive to make our manhood clean.
When all the strife is over, Bill, there yet is work to do;
And in the bloodless fights to come we shall be needing you.
We will be needing you the more for what you've seen and done,
For you were born a Builder, lad, and we have just begun.

There's been a deal of talk, old mate, of what we owe to you,
of what you've braved and done for us, and what we mean to do.
We've hailed you as a hero, Bill, and talked Of just reward,
When you have done the job you're at, and laid aside the sword.
I guess it makes you think a bit, and weigh this gaudy praise;
For even heroes have to eat, and - there are other days:
The days to come when we no more need stalwart sons to fight,
When the wild excitement's over, and the Leeuwin looms in sight.

Then there's another fight to fight, and you will find it tough
To doff the khaki for a suit of plain civilian stuff.
When all the cheering dies away and hero-worship wanes,
You'll have to face the old drab life and fight for other gains;
For still your land will need you, as she needs each sturdy son.
To fight the fight that never knows the firing of a gun -
The quiet fight, the steady fight, when you shall prove your worth,
And milk a cow on Yarra Flats or drive a quill in Perth.

The gold is on the wattle, Bill; the sap is on the trees,
And the bush-birds in the gullies sing the old, sweet melodies;
There's a good, green land awaiting you when you come home again
To swing a pick at Broken Hill or ride Yarrowie Plain.
The streets are gay with daffodils, but, haggard in the sun.
A wounded soldier passes; and we know old days are done.
For down, deep down inside our hearts, is something you put there
The day you landed on the beach and charged at Sari Bair.

First published in The Bulletin, 23 September 1915;
and later in
The Moods of Ginger Mick by C.J. Dennis, 1916.

Note: This poem was later published in The Moods of Ginger Mick with the same title but a different emphasis - basically this version shows the letter as being written by
Ginger Mick, whereas the book version has it written to Ginger Mick by Bill (the Sentimental Bloke).  In addition an entirely new first verse has been added in the book version.

His Bread and His Art by C.J Dennis

| No TrackBacks
It was an actor, seedy, sad,
   Who stood within the gate;
Long weary marches he had had -
   He had not dined of late.

He sighed: "I hope I don't intrude.
   Believe me or I die:
For days I have not tasted food.
   A stranded player I."

"An actor man?" the lady said.
   "What is your favourite role?"
"Hot, madam, and with butter spread,"
   He answered from his soul.

First published in The Bulletin, 22 September 1910

My Venture in Wool by C.J Dennis

| No TrackBacks
I wish I hadn't sold my sheep.
   Now wool's gone up
I sit here, sipping -- as I weep --
   A bitter cup.
In '31, when none sought wool,
   I bought them cheap;
And now I feel I was a fool
   To sell my sheep.

I used to watch them graze about
   On my estate.
I'd made the fences safe and stout
   And barred the gate.
And often, when the skies were blue
   And kind the sun,
I used to count them two by two
   And one by one.

I'd count them over; then I'd take
   To dreaming there
Of what vast fortunes men might make
   If, by some rare
Good chance, wool should go up. Alas!
   Oh, smiling skies!
Oh, patient sheep and gleaming grass!
   Wool wouldn't rise.

A neighbour, counting them one day,
   Asked would I sell.
I haggled in my poor, weak way
   Then said, "Aw, well,
   I might." Wool still, was very cheap.
So, nothing loth --
   Alas my profitable sheep! --
I sold them -- both.

First published in The Herald, 21 September 1933;
and later in
The Courier-Mail, 7 October 193.

Sonnet for Simplicity by C.J. Dennis

| No TrackBacks
A party of American scientists has succeeded in reaching a 4,500 ft. plateau in the Grand Canyon, Arizona, which has remained unexplored by the known world for at least 12,000 years. The party expects to make important discoveries.

Should you discover on that height   
   Some simple race still wrapped in ignorance,   
   Untaught in tales of man's immense advance 
From the deep dark of neolithic night      
   To triumph, and that glorious upward flight   
   With all its count of pride and circumstance, 
   Of war and pageantry and high romance 
That brought our lovely world to its last plight --- 

Should you meet such, ah, seek not to invoke 
   Our gods of progress for them, nor increase     
Man's knowledge 'mid these foolish, favoured folk.   
   Climb down, climb down again in haste and cease 
Conversion, with man's message yet unspoke: 
   And leave them to their folly --- and their peace.

First published in The Herald, 20 September 1937;
and later in
The Courier-Mail, 2 October 1937.

More for the Money by C.J. Dennis

| No TrackBacks
In spite of complaints of bad reception, it is improbable that the Postal Department will make further changes in wireless wave-lengths.

What are the wild waves saying now that their lengths are changed?
In a manner most dismaying are the stations now arranged.
   And I twist and twirl and twiddle at the knobs, then, with a screech
   Come sounds of a sobbing fiddle and a League of Nations speech,
Or the Abyssinian crisis with the football field's alarms,
Or the fat stock market prices mixed up with stuff by "Brahms."
   More for my money truly in these daft days I get.
   Since the waves become unruly and the solo's a duet:-
      From 3HA and 3DB, or 3LO and 7NT,
         From 3AR and 5CK.  Sounds mingle in the cutest way:
      "You are listening now . . . to a song by Bach . . .
      On the Jersey cow . . . 'Hahk, Hahk, the Lahk!'
         On the cult of the tomato . . .
      My cutie says . . .  Scratched for the Cup . . .
      Von Plonken plays . . .  Prime wethers up . . .
         With a 'cello obligato . . ."

What are the wild waves saying, now that their paths o'erlap?
And the trumpet's brazen braying breaks in on the solemn chap
   Who'd tell the listening nation how flames of war arise;
   But a strident Sydney station yells, "Smoke gets in your eyes."
And you'll note if you're observant that, spite of all you say,
Your boss, the Civil Servant, goes on his own sweet way;
   He deplores the sad disaster when your set so misbehaves;
   But the servant rules the master, and chaos rules the waves.
      From 3HA and 3DB, from 3LO and 7NT,
         From 3AR and 5CK.  Sounds mingle in the quaintest way.
      But in a while you cease to smile,
         For the thing's no longer funny.
      Listener, be wise.  Pray, realise
         You get more for your money.

First published in The Herald, 19 September 1935

The Confidence Man by C.J. Dennis

| No TrackBacks
[During Show week in Adelaide the National League hired the Town Hall, and gave a free show "by invitation" to the farmers.  For disinterested generosity, the National League is truly famous.]

Oh, farmer, when you come to town
   To spend a short vacation,
Be on your guard, and struggle hard,
   And watch against temptation.
Be careful of the wily bar,
   The toteshop and the races,
Keep out of range of Stock Exchange,
   And all such sinful places.

Be careful, too, whate'er you do,
   Of ev'ry smiling dealer,
And shun, oh, shun, the gentle "gun" --
   Ingratiating spieler.
But of the score of wiles or more
   That threaten your position,
Do not forget the cutest yet --
   The Tory politician!

Nay, do not by his smiling eye,
   Or suavity prodigious,
Be taken in: but, with a grin,
   Observe his mien religious.
For while you're down about the town
   He'll make your life worth living
With song and drink; but think, just think --
   Bears he a name for giving?

Is he to us so generous
   In all his little dealings?
Doe she eschew the business view
   With philanthropic feelings,
And strive alway, in manner gay,
   To be the gentle charmer,
With cash he's made in close, keen trade?
   Well, what do you think, farmer?

He'll flatter you, and vow your view
   Identical with his is;
Your family he'll treat, and be
   Attentive to "the missus";
He'll tell you of his boundless love,
  Undying, sir, and tested!
But -- just go slow.  Why is he so
   Infernally int'rested?

He'll take you out, he'll treat and shout,
   In a manner free and hearty.
And, 'tween the drinks, tell what he thinks
   About the "Labah Party";
That robber band, that wants the land,
   And suffers from illusions;
Don't take the bait, don't contemplate,
   And draw your own conclusions.

He is in truth a crafty sleuth,
   A spieler of finesse, sir;
With subtle art he plays the art,
   In manner and in dress, sir.
And, like them all, he keeps the ball
   A-rolling for your pleasure;
A day or two, deceiving you,
   Then plucks you at his leisure.

His talk is grand about "the land,"
   And "folks that want to steal it,"
And if some day they get their way,
   He tells how you will feel it.
And he is so unselfish; oh,
   Ingenuous his patter!
He may own miles, and yet, he smiles
   That's quite another matter.

Yet, 'spite his groans, maybe he owns
   Land that your sons are needing;
But, mark his plight, he holds it tight,
   And yet his heart is bleeding --
Aye, bleeding sore, all for the poor,
   Poor farmer with the hand hard
(But don't, I pray, have aught to say
   Of "cornstacks" or the "standard").

These things are small, no weight at all.
   "Tush, hardly worth a fig, sir!
Mere trifles quite.  We must unite!
   The question is so big, sir!"
So he will smile and talk the while.
   Of "theft" and 'confiscation,"
And weep anew at thoughts of you,
   "The backbone of the nation!"

So on, and on, while at the Show,
   You'll find him on you doting,
And if, perchance, he should advance,
   A hint concerning "Voting,"
Don't be in haste, and pledges waste,
   The while his wine you're drinking,
Just shake his hand then thank him, and --
   Go home and do some thinking.

First published in The Gadfly, 18 September 1907

The Lure of Spring by C.J. Dennis

| No TrackBacks
As I walked out one brave spring morn,
   When earth was young and new,
I met a laughing mountain maid
   As fresh as mountain dew.
Oh, blow you breezes; shine, you sun!
For this the world was well begun.
   And spring's soft promise, lifted high,
   Shone wattle gold against blue sky. 

As I walked with her that spring morn
   I sought her brave young eyes,
And to earth's olden mysteries
   I straightway read replies.
Oh, yearn you, gum-tips to the sun!
For this the world was well begun.
   And mysteries thronged about us now
   As green buds swelled upon the bough.

I have walked out on many a Spring
   Since that long-vanished day;
But aught of that ill-treasured lore
   Recapture no man may.
Yet, laugh you, young grass to the sun!
For that the world was well begun.
   And every bird-song gladly sung
   Still whispers secrets to earth's young.

As I walk out this brave spring morn,
   And man and maid I see
By some green way, I thank kind life
   That gave one Spring to me.
Oh, blow you breezes; shine you sun!
For this the world was well begun:
   That spring holds for young lovers yet
   Deep secrets that the old forget.

First published in The Herald, 17 September 1934;
and later in
The Queenslander, 27 September 1934.

Cheek by C.J. Dennis

| No TrackBacks
The success of the DEAKIN scheme at the Imperial Defence Conference.... Australia's control will be far closer under the DEAKIN scheme than under the FISHER scheme.... The change which the endorsement of the DEAKIN scheme by the British Government, etc. - Remarks by Melbourne AGE.

When PHARAOH chased the chosen Jew, and perished in the sea,
Things seemed to hint at failure in the PHARAOH policy.
For 'tis written that the Opposition leader had his way;
But we've never been enlightened on what PHARAOH had to say.
But probably before the wave came over him he swore:
"This is the naval policy I've always battled for!"
And continued to enlarge upon his policy's success,
Till a mouthful of the salt Red Sea cut short his brief address.

   For there's nothing like a cool, calm cheek;
   And there's wisdom in a big bold bluff.
      If you find you've made a blunder,
      And your policy goes under,
   You've a chance if you can bellow loud enough.
   That's the time you need a brass-bound cheek;
   When your theory to smithereens is blown,
      Seize the other fellow's notion
      In the subsequent commotion,
   And declare, by all the gods, it is your own.

When BRUTUS punctured CAESAR in his quaint old Pagan way,
A lot of folk were almost sure that BRUTUS won the day.
'Twas the popular opinion, and was backed by solid facts;
But we are not told what CAESAR thought about these ancient acts.
For it was not "Et tu BRUTE" that he murmured as he fell,
But "I'm charmed to see my policy is carried out so well."
And if we are allowed to make a sporting sort of guess,
He's skiting still in Hades of that policy's success.

   For there's nothing like a hard-boiled cheek;
   And there's virtue in assurance when its strong;
      In claiming all the credit,
      And declaring that you said it
   Would occur just as it happened all along.
   No, there's nothing like a steel-shod cheek;
   And there's something in a tall, tough skite
      Should it be the white you back,
      And the winner turn out black,
   Buck up, and say you meant a blackish white.

O, ye proud and haughty Britons, quondam rulers of the waves,
Have you ever once reflected why it is ye are not slaves?
Nay, the glorious foundation Britain's freedom stands upon
Is the firm and fearless policy of glorious King JOHN!
For when the Barons waited on him, asking him to sign
The grand old Magna Carta, did he hesitate and whine?
No!  Spake that grand old monarch, with a rather bitter smile:-
"This is the policy I've advocated all the while!"

   Ay, there's nothing like a cast-iron cheek,
   When you "fuse" to give away a doubtful gift,
      Saying, "This is what we'll give -
      This or - some alternative."
   Lie low and watch which way the cat will shift.
   Just wait and watch and polish up your cheek;
   And when the Dreadnought hurling back is sent
      With the curt advice to spend it
      On yourself - well, let that end it;
   And remark: "Precisely.  That is what we meant."

First published in The Bulletin, 16 September 1909

The Lingothatweuze by C.J. Dennis

| No TrackBacks
I metabloke in Collun-street -
   A cove I yustano
When I wus workin Southoss,
   A yeerertwo ago.

Sezzi, "Well, owye kumminup?
   I spose yehnomee still?"
'E grabsme betha 'andansiz,
    "W'y owsheegoinbil?"

"Well, wotchadoinow?" sizzi,
   Alludin' to 'is work.
"I aven gotakop," sezee,
   "At presen'.  Wot's your lurk?"

"I'm upagenit pritty bad,
   An' lookin' furra job,"
I answers.  Then I bytsiz lug:
   "Say, kinyeh lensa bob?"

'E anzitover.  Then Isiz,
   "Well, wotsbekumaflo?"
Referrin' to a tartuviz -
   But eesiz, "Idunno.

"She yusta gimmelip," eesiz,
   "Anso we ata paht.
Ixceptin fere mag," eesiz,
   "Shewuza boshtataht."

"Shewuz orright piece," sizzi,
  "Althoer tongue wus free."
An then I springsa traponim:
   "I seener yestadee."

"Gostrooth!" sizee.  "I didunno
   Thet shewuz ovareer!
I 'ope she izen chasinmee;
   Buttit looks bloominqueer."

"Orright," sizzi, "don't loosyerblock,
   You'll meeter byunbye.
But she won'trubble you bekos
   I've marrider," sizzi.

"Well, sparemedays, it beatstha band
   'Ow these things workeround!
But after wotcha say," sizzee,
   "I'll standja ina pound."

"A quid's orright," sizzi, "but still
  I dunnowota think."
"Don't chewitover now," sizzee,
  "But cumanavadrink.'

We adabeer an' didagit;
  An' I've dunnin the Quid.
Ewuza tofter giime it.
  I wunnerwye edid?

First published in The Bulletin, 15 September 1910

The Looting of Jim by C.J. Dennis

| No TrackBacks
Jim Johnson is a farmin' man -- he is a farmin' man --
And all year round the skin peels off his nose,
For up that way, I've heard them say, the sun is wont to tan
      The farmin' man.
         And oh, to see his clothes!
He wears the strangest cast-ir'n lookin' clothes.

For when he's dressed up in his best -- that is his very best --
Jim Johnson is the weirdest sight to see.
You'd be inclined to call to mind, when you beheld his vest,
      And -- er -- the rest,
         The local founderee --
A casting from the local founderee.

Now, do not think me rude; I'm not.  I certainly am not;
For Jim was honest, tho' his style amused;
Aye, as the sun, or any one; and sometimes just as hot --
      That's when he got
         Excited or confused.
And he was most pathetic when confused.

Well, just to cut the story short -- (I'm sure you like it short) --
Jim Johnson recently said to his wife,
He thought he'd go and see the Show.  He said he really ought
      He ought, he thought,
         Just one time in his life.
He said he'd like to just for once in his life.

And so she brushed his Berlin suit -- his cast-ir'n Sunday suit --
And Jimmy brushed his whiskers various ways;
Then got his nag and carpet bag, and after some dispute,
      Got on the brute,
         And faced the city maze --
Went, via railway station, to the maze.

Now, Jimmy knew a thing or two -- a thing or two he knew :
In fact, he wasn't quite the jay he seemed;
For he had heard a warning word -- a friendly word or two
      About the crew
         Of spieling men who schemed --
Of how to rob poor farming men they schemed.

So, thinkin' hard, he kept his guard -- kept closely on his guard.
No purse-trick person had a chance with him.
He sort of thought he didn't ought to have his pleasure marred
      In this regard,
         Considered cunnin' Jim.
"I'll floor 'em if they tackle me," said Jim.

He viewed the city Show with glee -- with most abounding glee.
The pigs and cattle interested him;
And there he ran against a man who strangely seemed to be
         Delighted to see Jim,
Tho' Jim could not remember knowin' him.

The stranger was extremely free -- familiarly free;
In fact, he was most intimate indeed.
He had, he told, an uncle old, and then explained that he
      Was in Fiji;
         But he did not proceed.
He was too bruised and battered to proceed.

For Jim -- well, you will understand -- I'm sure you'll understand;
"Revoltin' details best not written down."
Jim gave him fits, then wiped the bits of stranger off his hand --
      His hairy hand -
         And strolled around the town --
Went out the gates to stroll around the town.

And it was there he met the gal -- a very pretty gal;
But whether he met her or she met him
Up to this day he cannot say.  "Please, for the Hospi-tal."
      This said the gal;
         And then she smiled at Jim.
The damsel sweetly smiled.  That finished Jim.

And such a charming girl was she -- a perfect peach was she.
The sort that sort of takes your breath away --
Your breath and things -- small offerings.  Her sphere appeared to be
         And, say, her smile was gay;
Her smile was most embarrassing and gay.

He blushed behind his whiskers, and -- his bushy whiskers -- and
Remarked -- well, he ain't quite sure what he said,
Altho', poor bloke, he must have spoke; for you will understand
      He was unmanned
         And queer about the head.
Nice girls, they always queered him in the head.

She wanted money for a cause -- a most deserving cause;
At least, I've gathered facts to that extent.
And in his pockets Jim he socks his large and hairy paws,
      And then withdraws,
         And gives her ev'ry cent --
Except his railway ticket -- ev'ry cent.

Of course, there's no excuse for Jim -- I ain't excusin' Jim;
But picture if you think there's cause for blame --
A charming imp, and him all limp.  Supposing you were him --
      If you were Jim --
         I think you'd do the same.
You would if you had whiskers just the same.

And afterwards, when Jim he fled -- back to his home he fled --
(I think I told you he was on the land) --
His missus she, well - seems to me that -- anyhow, "Nuff sed" --
      The past is dead.
         I'm sure you'll understand --
You'll surely have the sense to understand.

First published in The Critic, 14 September 1904

The Rubaiyat of the Virtuous Voter by C.J. Dennis

| No TrackBacks
Saturday is Federal Election Day

Awake!  For scorning Politics, as might
Olympian nobs, and vowing them a blight
   Beneath the notice of wise Men like us
Is not the way to put our Country right.

Come, fill the Square, and in this joyous Spring
The Robe of Apathy from off you fling
   One little Vote may seem a small Affair;
And yet, on that a Nation's fate may swing.

Think, in the Polling Booth on Saturday
When you set down your fateful "Yea" or "Nay,"
   How Leader after Leader and his Clan
Abode his Hour or two, and went his way.

Deakin, indeed, is gone who swiftly rose,
And Reid, with his Dry Dog, where no man knows;
   But still the Vote is vital to the Cause
And still the Ballot Box holds Weal -- or Woes.

They say the Moth and Silverfish now keep
The Courts where Billihughes once thundered deep.
   Ah, "Blithering Blazes."  Such are Politics:
Votes are most precious: but wild Words are cheap.

And Bruce's lips are lock't; but in remote
High-piping Canberra, with "Vote!  Vote!  Vote!
   "Please, Vote!" the Candidate cried to the Crowd;
And still the Tax-forms round the Country float.

Yet, shall this Land of ours be sunk in shame
Because we, listless, failed to play the game?
   Ah, mark the Square according to your choice --
(And don't forget to number every Name).

And if the Vote you vote, the Square you mark
Still leave you groping in the Outer Dark
   For Cash to pay more Taxes; serves you right!
You had your Chance; but you would be a Nark.

The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
That's that.  Thou hast no more to do with it.
   'Tis vain to cry that politics are crook;
Thy later Rage won't alter Things one bit.

And that inverted Bowl we call the Sky
Whereunder we let this one Chance slip by,
   Lift not thy hands to it for aid -- for It
Is upside-down and absolutely dry.

And when Thyself with faltering Foot shall pass
Amongst the Members seeking -- what?  Alas,
   Some respite from the Burdens that you bear?
Aw, turn it up!  Don't be an Ass, thou Ass!

First published in The Herald, 13 September 1934

The Righteous Man by C.J. Dennis

| No TrackBacks
Is Sunday, and the man of prayer,
Of aspect mild and chastened look,
Kneels in the church, and worships there,
And bows his head upon a book,
Reading the lesson for the day.
He bleats devoutly,
                     Let us pray.

Is Monday, and the man of trade,
Of aspect keen and crafty look,
Sits in his den where schemes are laid,
And bends his gaze upon a book,
Planning the business of the day.
He softly mutters,
                     Let us prey.

First published in The Gadfly, 12 September 1906

"Kalangadoo!" by C.J. Dennis

| No TrackBacks
Oh, come, ye townsmen, gather near,
   And country dwellers, come ye, too,
And lend a sympathetic ear
   The while I tell my story true --
Of Dad, and Mum, and Bill, and Joe,
   And little Jim, and Nell, and Sue,
Who came to town to see the Show,
   From far, from far Kalangadoo.
      Oh, list, ye men of Oodnadatta,
      Nantawarra, Boolcomatta,
      Willo, willo, way-lee-o!
      Alack, alack, Kalangadoo.
Now, Dad, and Mum, and Bill, and Joe,
   And little Jim, and Nell, and Sue,
They travelled up to see the Show,
   As simple country-folk will do.
Alas, the town they did not know --
   They came from where the whiskers grew.
      Hark ye, men of Murnpeowie,
      Warrakimbo, Marachowie!
      Willo, willo, way-lee-o;
      Alack, alack, Kalangadoo.
Happy were Dad, Mum, Bill, Joe,
   Jim, and Nell, and Sue, until
Some rude man they didn't know
   Snatched the carpet-bag from Bill.
William chased the fleeing foe,
   Till he vanished from their view;
Leaving Dad, and Mum, and Joe,
   Little Jim, and Nell, and Sue.
      Hearken, men of Yudnapinna,
      Men of Tidnacoordooninna!
      Willo, willo, way-lee-o;
      Alack, alack, Kalangadoo.
Dad, and Mum, and Joe, and Nell,
   Jim, and Sue, searched everywhere,
Till they missed their Nell as well,
   In a crowded thoroughfare.
Lost their Nell and William, too --
   How, or where, they did not know:
Leaving, lonely, Jim and Sue,
   Poor old Dad, and Mum, and Joe.
      List ye men of Parachilna,
      Pepegoona, Balkanoona,
      Men of distant Mutooroo,
      Hearken men of Booborowie,
      Of Nepowie and Willowie.
      Willo, willo, way-lee-o;
      Alack, alack, Kalangadoo!
Dad, and Mum, and little Jim --
   Not forgetting Sue and Joe --
Walked till Joe -  ah, pity him! --
   Met a man he did not know;
Met a spieler, bold and bad,
   One who lured him out of view,
To the lasting grief of Dad,
   Mum, and little Jim, and Sue.
      Hark ye, men of Dulkaninna,
      Men of Killalapaninna,
      Angipena, Karaweena,
      Kangarilla, Kanmantoo.
      List ye folk of Andamooka,
      Wipipipee, Taltabooka,
      Willo, willo, way-lee-o;
      Alack, alack, Kalangadoo!
Dad, and Mum, and Jim, and Sue,
   Walked till they were fit to drop;
Susan, with a hat in view,
   Ventured in a draper's shop.
Hours and hours they seemed to wait,
   But then Susan did not come;
They were left all desolate,
   Little Jim, and dad, and Mum.
      List ye, men, of Arkaroola,
      Winnininnie, Tantanoola,
      Men of Yacka, Gumeracha,
      Wirrawilla, Waukaloo.
      Hark, ye men of Wangianna,
      Men of Wintabatinyanna!
      Willo, willo, way-lee-o;
      Alack, alack, Kalangadoo!
Dad, and Mum, and little Jim --
   Sole survivors of the day --
Wandered in the twilight din,
   Till a tramcar came their way.
Jimmy got aboard a car;
   'Twas the wrong one - luckless lad;
Travelled to a suburb far,
   Far from poor old Mum and Dad.
      Oh, ye men of Thackarinya!
      Populace of far Aldinga!
      Men of Yarrah!  Gomalara!
      Oodla Wirra!  Orroroo!
      Patriots of Warrioota!
      Oratunga!  Kalioota!
      Willo, willo, way-lee-o;
      Alack, alack, Kalangadoo!
Dad and Mum -- Oh, luckless day! --
   (This is where the tale is sad)
Passed a bar-room on their way,
   Where the liquor's strong and bad.
Dad went in to have a "taste,"
   Lingered there to sample "some,"
Since, he never has been traced.
   Luckless, longing, lonely Mum!
      Rise, ye men of Edeowie!
      Heroes, rise at Italowie!
      Rise and fight, Kybybolite!
      Great Bopeechee, hear my ditty!
      Oh, the city!   Oh, the pity!
      Willo, willo, way-lee-o;
      Alack, alack, Kalangadoo!

First published in The Gadfly, 11 September 1907

Loving But Leaving by C.J. Dennis

| No TrackBacks
(A Sob Song for Conscientious Crooners)

The Bureau of Domestic Relations has advanced a suggestion that defaulting husbands should be given preference in Government employment, enabling them to keep their families and take a burden off the State.

When I led you to the altar
   Vows were made, you'll call to mind
Darling wife.  Now a defaulter
   Must I seem if I'd be kind.
For you know how well I love you,
   How I've sought work far and near;
But to keep a roof above you
   I must now desert you, dear.

Because I love you I must leave you,
   Wife o' mine I cherish so;
Yet the parting should not grieve you
   When the whole mad tale you know.
Well you know I don't deceive you.
   Since the glad day we were wed
I have loved you; I must leave you
   If I'd gain our daily bread.

You will pardon the pretending
   When I figure in the courts,
Suits for maintenance defending,
   While, with fierce, indignant snorts
The worthy Bench a bitter potion
   Serves me with vile names that irk.
Yet you alone will know devotion
   Moves me.  For they'll give me work.

Because I love you I must leave you;
   Joining the absconding band,
That, at last I may relieve you
   By the labor of my hand.
If to keep you I seem laggard,
   Then my country will be kind.
Sweetheart of a brutal blackguard,
   Kiss me.  I know you'll understand.

First published in The Herald, 10 September 1934

A Different Route by C.J. Dennis

| No TrackBacks
Asked if, in effect the agreement did not closely approximate to the Labor Party's Brisbane Conference proposal, Mr. Deakin admitted that in some measure it did, though the conclusions arrived at had been reached independently of that conference's views, and along different lines altogether. - Melbourne AGE.

Say you have some great objective.
Very well. Be calm, reflective;
Make no vulgar show of vigor; 'tisn't good.
Do not rush the thing directly;
But approach it circumspectly,
As a gentlemanly politician should.
Though certain consequences hinge upon the laws you make,
Your prestige in high politics rests with the road you take.

For the common sort of fellows,
With enthusiastic bellows,
Rush about and shout their schemes in ev'ry ear;
In their shirt-sleeves, toiling, fretting,
And most vulgarly a-sweating,
Quite without a thought or care how they appear.
And if they do arrive at things a trifle in advance
Their strenuous endeavors go to prove their ignorance.

Have a care for your appearance
If you claim the least adherence
To the genteel game of politics as played
By right-thinking politicians,
Who "consider their positions"
Once a week, while common business is delayed.
And shun, O, shun that fearsome fellow eager for a spurt,
And the man who, metaphorically, labors in his shirt.

What though others rush before you?
What though busy folk ignore you?
Draw your gloves on carefully and take your stick.
Having chosen your direction,
Then proceed, with circumspection,
Stepping out with dignity - but not too quick.
If mere workers are before you, that is what you must expect;
But reflect, with satisfaction, that your route is more select.

Then, pray, have no hesitation -
Should you find your destination
Is the same as that of him that humps the load -
In declaring that your action
Gives you perfect satisfaction,
As you reached the place by quite another road.
Ignore his paltry claim to being first - such was his whim;
But emphasise the fact that you disdained to follow him.

First published in The Bulletin, 9 September 1909

The Germ Chaser by C.J. Dennis

| No TrackBacks
Just at present, when there is a great deal of talk about germs and injection, doctors agree that while reasonable car and precautions are commendable, any tendency to hysterical fear and panic is least to be desired.

I knew a careful lady once
Who read a book by Dr. Bunce,
A wise authority on wogs
That roam about in dust and fogs;
Indeed, he pointed out, all air,
However pure, held germs somewhere;
They clung to door-knobs, crawled on floors,
Inhabited small change in scores.
In fact, there scarcely was a thing
To which some foul germ did not cling,
Ready to leap and work its will
To some poor luckless human's ill.

The lady closed the book and sighed,
And all content within her died.
This pleasant earth for her became
The haunt of wogs, and life a game
Of hide and seek.  She joined the band
Of grim germ-chasers in the land.
She scoured and scrubbed, examined food --
Which, thus far, was all to the good --
But when she strove to disinfect
Her home, 'twas worse than mild neglect;
No hospital smelled half so bad,
And then, I fear, she went quite mad.

Her eye took on a maniac glare;
She saw germs lurking everywhere.
She hung up mottoes such as this:
"Ten thousand germs in every kiss."
She would not handle coins or take
Another's hand for friendship's sake;
Scarce dared to eat or draw a breath
For fear she might imbibe her death.
She sprayed her husband, heels to head,
With crude carbolic till he fled;
But, since she had means of her own,
She much preferred to live alone.

When going into town one day,
Wrapped up and muzzled in a way
Quite microbe-proof, from foot to crown,
A passing motor knocked her down.
And where she's sleeping soundly now
The germs have got her, anyhow ...
The point of this sad tale is here:
Better be dead than live in fear;
Better live like a Stone Age man
Before germ-consciousness began;
Better take chances, seems to me,
Than try to dodge what you can't see.

First published in The Herald, 8 September 1937;
and later in
Random Verse edited by Margaret Herron, 1952.

Up 'Long the Billabong by C.J. Dennis

| No TrackBacks
Oh, the pleasures of the city were beguilin' me;
The pleasant ways of spendin' got a-spilin' me;
The rugged road of earnin' it was rilin' me;
   Fer farmin' in the wayback isn't play.
But now the 'orny 'and of care is maulin' me;
I 'ear the voice of 'omeland sof'ly callin' me,
An' feel the strings of memory a-haulin' me
   Back 'long the billabong, afar away.

Born I was afar away frum 'ere,
   Out way back frum any noisy town.
I've knocked around the city fer a year,
   An' cursed meself each day fer comin' down.
Keepin' sheep 'n' things up there I was,
   Sold me 'appy 'ome fer most a song;
Left, an' travelled citywards becos
   Times was slow along the billabong.

An' I've knocked around the city fer a year 'r so,
An' 'ardly made me tucker an' a beer 'r so;
Until I'm startin' now to 'ave a fear 'r so
   I'll never know the dawnin' of the day
When I see again the shepherds slowly follerin'
Their dusty flocks, an' to their dogs a-hollerin';
Or watch the lazy workin' bullocks wanderin',
   Up 'long the billabong afar away.

I wasn't nohow used to city ways,
   An' started on a roarin' jamboree,
An' spent a week of wild an' wicked days,
   An' likewise, 'alf me savin's in a spree.
Since then I've drifted down frum bad to worse,
   An' ev'ry game I tackled turned out wrong,
Till now ther's nothin' left me but to curse
   The fool thet left up 'long the billabong.

I on'y need a good square feed inside o' me,
An' decent togs to hide the blessed hide o' me,
Jes' so as not to 'urt the bloomin' pride o' me
   Are the folks, an' fear o' wot they'd say;
I'll buckle to, an' roll me blessed drum, I will;
An' leave me noisy shanty in the slum, I will;
An' either land, dead beat, in Kingdom Come, I will,
   Or 'long the billabong afar away.

First published in The Critic, 7 September 1901;
and later in
Backblock Ballads and Other Verses by C.J. Dennis, 1913.

The Hidden City by C.J. Dennis

| No TrackBacks
It was the schooner Desperate
   That sailed the southern sea,
And the skipper had brought his little daughter
   To our centenary.
Blue were her eyes and plucked her brow,
   Where she wore a golden curl.
Yet, 'spite her looks, she was somehow
   A shrewd, observant girl.

But and spake an old sailor
   Who had been that way before --
"I pray don't land at yonder port
   Lest your girl count it a bore.
Last year the town had a handsome street,
   This year no street we see."
"Why?" asked the skipper.  "Poles," said the tar.
   And a sneering laugh laughed he.

For an alderman had spoken,
   Who had known the ropes long since,
And he said, "Where are them sticks an' rag
   We had for that other Prince.
Let's stick 'em up in the street again."
   Said the mayor, "Don't be a quince.
We'll have some new bright painted ones;
   And let the aesthetes wince."

"Father," the skipper's daughter cried
   "No fair city I see."
"It is behind them decorations, lass --
   Them candy sticks you see."
"But, father, why do they stand there,
   All orange smeared and red,
Like garish clowns in a stately street?"
   "Search me," the skipper said.

"Oh, father!  What are those nightmare things,
   Those gadgets brightly lit?
Let us away on urgent wings,
   Or I fear I'll have a fit."
"Courage, my child," the skipper said.
   Curb your aesthetic sense,
And close your eyes and cover your head,
   And I shall bear you hence.

"Come hither, come hither, my little daughter,
   And do not tremble so."
He wrapped her up in his seaman's coat.
   "Come," said he, "let us go
Out where no poles or pylons are,
   And no centenary,
To a scene that no man's hand may mar."
   And he steered for the open sea.

First published in The Herald, 6 September 1934

To a Dead Mate by C.J. Dennis

| No TrackBacks
Henry Lawson died in Sydney on Saturday.

There's many a man who rides today
   In the lonely, far out-back;
There's many a man who makes his way
   On a dusty bushland track;
There's many a man in bush and town
   Who mourns for a good mate gone;
There are eyes grown sad and heads cast down
   Since Henry has passed on.

A mate he was, and a mate to love,
   For mateship was his creed:
With a strong, true heart and a soul above
   This sad world's sordid greed.
He lived as a mate, and wrote as a mate
   Of the things which he believed.
Now many a good man mourns his fate,
   And he leaves a nation grieved.

True champion he of the lame and halt:
   True knight of the poor was he,
Who could e'er excuse a brother's fault
   With a ready sympathy.
He suffered much, and much he toiled,
   With his hand e'er for the right:
And he dreamed and planned while the billy boiled
   In the bushland camp at night.

Joe Wilson and his mates are sad,
   And the tears of bushwives fall,
For the kindly heart that Henry had
   Had made him loved of all.
There's many a man who rides today,
   Cast down and sore oppressed;
And thro' the land I hear them say:
   "Pass, Henry, to your rest."

First published in The Herald, 5 September 1922;
and later in
Random Verse edited by Margaret Herron, 1952; and
More Than a Sentimental Bloke: A Performance, 1990.

A Parody by C.J. Dennis

| No TrackBacks
Owing to the fact that the service is soon to be electrified, the Adelaide Tramway Trust finds it inadvisable to increase the rolling-stock, and the public must suffer temporary inconvenience. In the words (more or less) of the popular song:-

"There was I, waiting for a car,
Waiting for a car,
Waiting for a car,
When I thought of how the thing would jar,
Lor! How it did upset me!
By and by I heard a little word,
Wasn't it absurd?
This is what I heard:
'Can see my way to carry you to-day
Moncrief -- (Boom! Boom!) won't let me.'"

First published in The Gadfly, 4 September 1907

The Welcome Swallow by C.J. Dennis

| No TrackBacks
They know me not to praise and love aright,
Who only pause to mark my headlong flight --
   A swift and slender crescent wheeling by
   Athwart Spring's softly amaranthine sky.
   And yet I am
Named "Welcome," joyously by even these
Who, missing all my soft amenities,
   Still speak the words that ever haunted men,
   And say, "The swallows have come back again."

No braggart I, no loud-voiced chorister:
But, when the bees 'mid blossoms are astir,
   Into the quiet day my song is spent,
   A rare, sweet ministrelsy of gladness blent
   With calm content.
Content is in my pose; my tawny throat,
Swelling anew to every trickling note
   Speaks to the heart of him who listens then:
   "Peace reigns; the swallows have come back again."

Who knows me well could never love me less
For having sought and won my friendliness.
   In my sleek coat of unsuspected hues --
   Russet and fawn and darkly gleaming blues --
   I bring good news.
Drab harbinger of hope; to him who grieves
I chirp my message from the sunlit eaves.
   And, with the sun returning, turn from men
   Face down. "The swallows have come back again."

First published in The Herald, 3 September 1932;
and later in 
The Singing Garden by C.J. Dennis, 1935.

Cackle by C.J. Dennis

| No TrackBacks
I trust our deliberations will be characterised neither by niggling nor peddling, but by strong views and broad views. (Applause.) - ALFRED DEAKIN.

   Oh, my brothers do not wrangle.
   When the sweets of office dangle
   At a most inviting angle
         Be polite.
   In the legislative struggle,
   When in office safe you snuggle,
   Then to jangle or to juggle
         Isn't right.

   And, O never, never niggle!
   Though the vulgar people giggle
   When they see a statesman wriggle
         To a place.
   And, I prithee, never niggle;
   With the man who stops to peddle,
   For the act upon his head'll
         Bring disgrace.

And we ought to take a broad, strong view.
What's the matter if the prospect isn't new?
   There is virtue in the viewing.
   When it comes to merely doing,
Well, it's really not important what you do.
   It's the view -
         Grand view!
Never let the doing part embarrass you.

   When in politics you dabble
   Then of course you'll have to babble,
   To the vote-possessing rabble -
         'Tis the game.
   When you engineer a shuffle
   The ensuing party scuffle
   Somebody is sure to ruffle,
         All the same.

   Then be wary; do not tremble;
   Smile politely and dissemble,
   Though your actions do resemble
   When your legislative symbol
   Is the tricky pea and thimble
   Your manipulations nimble
         Are not faults.

But, I charge you, take a strong, broad view.
It is most entrancing when you have the screw.
   There's no need to be exacting
   In the manner of your acting;
'Tis the statesman's motto when dissensions brew
   Watch the view -
         Wide view!
And your story of the sight will see you through.

   When a banquet you've to tackle
   Where the ancient chestnuts crackle,
   And you have to rise and cackle
         To your kind.
   Mayhap some hiccoughing freak'll
   Rise and, venturing to speak, 'll
   Mention you as "Misher Deakle,"
         Never mind.

   Let your honeyed phrases trickle,
   And defend the Fusion pickle;
   Show them that you are not fickle
         In the least.
   Say that, why we do not muzzle
   Labor members is a puzzle;
   And they'll cheer you as they guzzle
         At the feast.

And bid them take a broad, strong view.
Bid them see around both corners, same as you.
   You're the saviour of the nation
   At a mayoral celebration
If you do not harp too much upon the "do."
   Praise the view -
         Grand view!
And they vow you are a statesman strong and true.

   With this popular preamble
   You may then adroitly amble
   To the shocking party scramble.
         Voice your fears.
   Tell them Labor's sure to stumble
   If it does not cease to grumble;
   And each alderman will mumble
         Glad "Hear, hears."

   While the nuts they calmly nibble
   Let vague phrases gently dribble;
   Give them any quip or quibble.
         You're immense.
   But, ah prithee! do not trifle
   With a hint of acts; and stifle
   Any mention of a rifle
         Or defence.

For there's safety in the strong, broad view.
The suppression of the hard, strong "do"
   Is a matter most essential
   When the Tory consequential
Is the man you reckon on to see you thro'.
   Boost the view -
         Great view?
And they'll all begin to think they see it too.

   Budding statesmen, there is muckle
   In the View when you've to truckle
   To the crowd that will not buckle
         Into graft.
   When your policy's a muddle,
   And you're sailing in a puddle
   With a Fusion crowd that huddle
         On a raft;

   Talk in vague, unmeaning jingle;
   For the crowd with which you mingle
   Holds within it scarce a single
         One who'll work.
   Here, where HANSARD's pages rustle,
   Three a show of rush and bustle,
   But there's ne'er a chance to hustle;
         You must shirk.

Keep your eye upon the broad, strong view.
Call the crowd's attention to it till you're blue.
   Keep them watching intently,
   And you can con-ven-i-ently
Hate the fact that you have nothing much to do.
   Praise the view -
         Fine view!
And they may forget to keep an eye on you.

First published in The Bulletin, 2 September 1909

Deprivation by C.J. Dennis

| No TrackBacks
In New Zealand, as a result of the 25 per cent. tax on the profits of foreign films, American corporations are threatening to stop the sale of their films in the Dominion. Such a reprisal is unthinkable in Australia!

The mind is staggered at the thought:
   This strong-arm stuff fills us with fright,
To think one day we may be brought
   To such a pass. Think of a night --
A Melbourne night, without the joy
Of he-men howling "Atta boy!"

What would a winter evening be
   That did not feed the thoughtful crowd
With amplified cacophony,
   Pouring from palaces, while loud
The splendid sweetie chorus rose
To greet the back stage beauty pose?

Don't rob us of our two-gun fights,
   Our nasal toughs, our baby gal,
Where those "stoopendous" sounds and sights,
   And humor, are mechanical,
And guaranteed as sure enough
One million dollar super-stuff.

Don't rob us of the pleasant dope,
   For sluggish minds we scorn to guide.
Why should the brain thro' problems grope,
   If eye and ear be satisfied?
A fearful threat! Don't think of it,
Lest, in our weakness, we submit.

First published in The Herald, 1 September 1930

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from September 2013 listed from newest to oldest.

August 2013 is the previous archive.

October 2013 is the next archive.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.


Powered by Movable Type 4.23-en