October 2013 Archives

The Oil from Old Bill Shane by C.J Dennis

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I got the oil: too right. A cove called Shane.
   Yes; ole Bill Shane. You've 'eard of 'im, of course.
Big racin' 'ead. There's no need to explain
   The things he don't know about a 'orse.
Good ole Bill Shane. They say he's made a pile
   At puntin'. Shrewd! I wis I 'ad 'is brain.
An' does 'e know the game? Well, I should smile.
   They can't put nothin' over ole Bill Shane.
Yes; Shane, Bill Shane ...  Aw, listen, lad.  Wake up!
   Why everybody's 'eard of ole Bill Shane.
They say he made ten thousan' on the Cup
   Last year, an' now he's got the oil again.
Wot? Owner? Trainer? Nah! Who 'eeds their guff?
   Bill's a big racin' man -- a punter.  See?
Top dog. I alwiz sez wot's good enough
   For ole Bill Shane is good enough for me.
Yes; he gave me the oil. I got it straight --
   Well, nearly straight. Of course, I've never spoke
To Bill 'imself direck. I got a mate
   Wot knows a bloke wot knows another bloke
Wot's frien's with Shane, an' so -- you un'erstand.
   Wot? me give you the tip? Aw, take a walk!
Yeh think I'd do a thing so under'and?
   Bill Shane would kill me if I was to talk.
Well, listen ... Now, for gosh sake, keep it dark.
   An' don't let no one know it came from Shane.
Keep it strick secret. I would be a nark
   To let you chuck yer money down the drain ...
Wazzat you said? He's scratched? 'Ere! Lemme look!
   Scratched! Ain't that noos to knock a man clean out?
I alwiz said this puntin' game was crook ...
   Who? Shane? Aw, I dunno.  Some racin' tout.

First published in The Herald, 31 October 1933

Floral Offerings by C.J Dennis

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A Love Song

[A man at Sandringham (Vic.) was fined recently for throwing flower-pots at his wife.]

Do you remember, love, the years gone by,
   When, with full many a tender phrase and sweet,
You came a-wooing me with yearnful sigh,
   And fain would cast sweet blossoms at my feet?

For you were young, and I was young. Ah, me!
   And every blossom framed a tender thought,
And I was filled with bliss and maiden glee,
    For all those floral offerings you brought.

You vowed -- and, sweetheart, you have kept the vow --
   That, in the days the future held in store,
You'd strew my path with roses, then, as now,
   And fill my life with fragrance evermore.

Ay, sweetest, it is even as you said:
   That lover's vow has never been forgot;
You still throw blossoms, darling -- at my head,
   But, oh! dear heart, why leave them in the pot?  

First published
in The Gadfly, 30 October 1907

"By Any Other Name" by C.J. Dennis

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Australian Vignerons vigorously object to the term "plonk" applied to certain Australian wines.

Strange how a thing may be given the bird
By the mere sound of a word.
Consider, for example, the designs
In names for wines.
Has about it an air of gay bravado.
Malmsey, Sauterne, Champagne,
Never gain
Any implication
Of degradation.
But wouldn't it be utterly "cronk" --
Would it have a dreadful sound
To say a certain Duke of Clarence was drowned
In a butt of plonk?

First published in The Herald, 29 October 1937

Dawn in a Forest Garden by C.J. Dennis

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Here, in soft darkness where the whole night thro',
   Dreamless, my quiet garden slumbered well.
Night's soothing fingers all adrip with dew
   Crept in and out, weaving a mystic spell
   O'er wilting bud and bell;
Now with deft touches deepening tints anew.
Now lifting up some languid suppliant who
   Had wooed the sun too well.

In the grey twilight tall trees seem to yawn
   And, waking, stretch their mighty limbs on high.
A small bird cheeps; and, silver in the dawn,
   The jewelled wattles to a soft wind sigh.
   Hard etched against the sky
The timbered hill-tops stand forth boldly drawn. . . . 
A sunbeam, laughing, trips across the lawn,
   And smiling day is nigh.

The kindly offices of night are done.
   A grey thrush carols forth his matin hymn.
Then proud, triumphant of a new day won,
   The magpie's trumpet tops a lofty limb.
   By the pool's mirrored brim
The drowsing daisies open one by one:
"Wake, brothers, wake!  Here comes our lord, the Sun!
   Awake and worship him!"

First published in The Herald, 28 October 1931;
and later in
The Singing Garden by C.J. Dennis, 1935.

The Cosmic Clock by C.J. Dennis

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Criticising Jacob Epstein's latest piece of sculpture, Eric Gill, the sculptor, says: "If I had discovered this monstrous piece of sculpture on a desert island, I should have said it was a jolly fine piece of work . . . But what is it for? Where is it going?" Sir Charles Allom calls it "filthy modern stuff, equalled only by the work of a few savages in distant times."  

I often wonder when I view 
Some work of art described as "new" 
   If there is not some limit set 
   Beyond which mortals may not get. 
In all man's arts in all his aims, 
Beside a gate a warning flames 
   Set close upon perfection's verge 
   That stays his frantic onward urge. 

But the world goes round and round and round   
And nought survives above the ground 
   Unless it takes the onward way 
   Or else drifts backward to decay. 
The high gods hate 
The static state 
And Nature will not tolerate 
   Stagnation. There is nothing new; 
   So, when there's nothing left to do. 
   Back to the jungle, boy, for you.

Surrealism's rampant paint,   
A negroid image crudely quaint
   Free-verse and jazz, discordant tunes,   
   And that unhappy thing that croons--   
All, all seem signs we're turning back   
Along an old, familiar track   
   From things achieved to things to come   
   As swings the cosmic pendulum.   

And, as stars swing across the sky,   
The rhythm throbs, now low, now high;   
   And all our arts, in peace, in war,   
   Are old; man did it all before,   
For who can say,     
Strive as we may,     
That from some lost Atlanta's day,   
   All we have thought or ever wrought   
   May not be echoes vaguely caught?   ...
   It's not a very cheerful thought.   

First published in The Herald, 27 October 1937;
and later in
The Queenslander, 17 November 1937.

The Voice of the Bush by C.J. Dennis

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"Voice of the Bush! what doth it say?"
   Exclaimed the bard, in dreamy study.
The bushman stared in some dismay,
   But truthfully responded "___!"

First published in The Bulletin, 26 October 1905

As Between Pensioners by C.J Dennis

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Mingled with general gratitude for the beneficial rainfall of last weekend are a host of varying surmises as to the cause of such a large downpour.

"'Tis precious stuff," said old George Jones
   "When men sore needs a fall;
Tho' how or why it comes, I owns
   I ain't got clear at all.
Some sez that in the sun, a spot
   Controls it in some way."
"It's this 'ere wireless, like as not,"
   Said old Pete Parraday.

"Wireless," scoffed grey-haired Joey Park.
   "Wot wireless did they use
When ole man Noah sailed the ark?
   It's them black cockytoos.
Last week I seen more than a few,
   An' then wot did I say --"
"'Tis wireless -- I'm tellin' you!"
   Said old Pete Parraday.

"Cockies?  Sun-spots?" said Daddy Shore,
   "Jist foolish talk an' vain.
It's this 'ere Abbysinian war
   An' guns as causes rain.
Ain't it been proved by natcharil laws
   Time an' again, the way --"
"It's this 'ere wireless is the cause,"
   Said old Pete Parraday.

Said old George Jones, "Ain't you ashamed
   To talk the way you do?
It's providence gits mostly blamed
   When things is lookin' blue.
Ain't the rain now due?  For ain't we got
   O'er all this world full sway?"
"Too right.  But wireless helps a lot,"
   Said old Pete Parraday.

First published in The Herald, 25 October 1935

Mateship - Australia's Creed by C.J. Dennis

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In a speech denouncing the seaman's strike, which threatens to throw thousands out of employment, the Prime Minister said, "One of the first principles of mateship is to stand behind a sick man and assist him, and the first principle of Unionism is the principle of mateship."

Oh, a mate was a mate in the olden days
   When mateship was a creed,
And a good man sought unselfish ways
   To serve a brother's need.
Out on the track, thro'out the land
   True mates stood ever by,
With a cheery word and a helping hand,
   That mateship should not die.

But now, where mean self-seeking looms,
   And newer councils hold,
By tricks and schemes in council rooms
   Men's faith is bought and sold.
A hundred by false catchwords swayed
   Shall prate of brotherhood,
Yet see ten thousand mates betrayed
   And deem the treason good.

For mateship grows a bitter thing
   That has its roots in hate,
Where bitter foreign phrases ring
   To sunder mate form mate.
Foul doctrines hatched in foreign schools,
   Preached in Australia's name
By one knave to a thousand fools,
   Have brought our creed to shame.

First published in The Herald, 24 October 1931 

The Cup by C.J Dennis

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You are walking down the street,
Mildly cursing at the heat,
And a friend you chance to meet
      Walking up;
Unsuspiciously you pause,
And with not apparent cause,
He jaws an' jaws an' jaws
      About the Cup.

It's the Cup, the Cup, the Cup.
"Wot's yer fancy fer the Cup?"
"Got no chance, 'e ain't my fancy" --
"Ain't a decent rider up" --
"Straight, I got 'im in a double --
Ten to one?  'Tain't worth the trouble."
So they boast and blare and bubble
      Of the Cup.

In the eating-house at lunch
Ev'ry sporting group and bunch
Talk between each bit they munch,
      And each sup.
Hardly have the time to eat --
"Tell ye, he'll be hard to beat,"
So they babble and bleat
      Of the Cup.

It's the Cup, the Cup, the Cup.
"Wot yer backin' fer the Cup?
'Im!  Why, blime, ev'ry time 'e
Starts 'e has to chuck it up!"
Thus they chatter ev'ry minute,
And I don't care what will win it.
For I don't know one horse in it --
      In the Cup.

There's no safety in retreat.
In the office, in the street,
Every blessed man you meet
      Brings it up
On the train and on the ear,
On the corner, in the bar,
Here and there, and near and far,
      It's the Cup.
It's the Cup, the Cup, the Cup.
It's the ---
      Oh, d--n the Cup!

First published in The Gadfly, 23 October 1907

The Stable Door by C.J. Dennis

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He could not help remembering that we did not stand alone, but were related by every tie to Great Britain . . . Was Great Britain's solemn pledge to see to the naval defence of Australia enough? . . . The sea power of Great Britain would protect Australia for ten years to come, but the moment it ceased to be efficient, serious efforts would have to be made for the military training of the manhood of the nation . . . There was no need to make service compulsory until an emergency arose. - GEORGE REID, on Australian National Defence.

There lived a cautious man in days of yore,
Who most securely locked his stable door
After the robbers had purloined his steed.
                                His name was Reid.

A Voice rang through the silence of the land,
Calling a loud, imperative command
Amongst a populace that leaned on posts
" Awake! Arise! Arm 'gainst the yellow hosts!"
But there was one who slowly gazed around,
Removed hie pipe, and spat upon the ground,
Then said.  "Aw, 'eaps o' time ter git up speed."
                                His name was Reid.

Again, a later day the Voice rang out;
And now the populace took up the shout:
"The yellow horde is thundering at our gate!"
But one man yawned and said, "Aw, can't yer wait?
Old Mother Hingland ain't too sick ter fight.
Chuck 'er a bob er two, she'll see us right.
Yer mighty anxious ter git out an' bleed!"
                                His name was Reid.

The fight was over; the invader crushed;
When lo, across the distant landscape rushed
A wild, excited man in war array,
Calling his countrymen to join the fray.
He wore a single, unlaced boot, this man;
He buttoned up his waistcoat as he ran,
Crying "To arms! To arms! I come to lead!"
                                His name was Reid.

The long years sped; and lo, a trumpet's roar
Wakened the earth's long dead to life once more.
Men hastened to the tryst from far and near;
Except one man, who, turning in his bier,
Complained, "All right, but please don't rush, don't rush!
I'll get there later, and avoid the crush."
But the officials gave him little heed.
                                His name was Reid.

Time ceased his labor, and the sun grew cold;
Beneath the stars the Earth, deserted, rolled;
The good and evil man found each his place.
But one lone soul, meandering through space,
At length approached the outer Golden Gate,
And found a placard there: "House full.  Too late."
It was a lonely, lonely sprite indeed.
                                Its name was Reid.

There is a spirit doomed for evermore
To shut, and shut, and shut a stable door,
Always too late to save a fiendish steed.
                                This sprite is Reid.

First published in The Bulletin, 22 October 1908

The Battler by C.J. Dennis

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The latest hold-up in "industry" concerns a strike of boxers. Pugilists at a suburban stadium have struck for higher pay. Loser in preliminary bouts demanded a more liberal reward than 12/6 for a four-round contest.

"'It 'im!" they yelled, as he mowed the air
   With a wild, wide, futile right.
"'It 'im!" they shrieked, as he floundered there,
   "Oh, fight, you blighter, fight!"
Then he grabbed for a clinch and he hung on grim,
   Earning his scant night's hire:
Then groped to his corner, brain a-swim,
   While the ringside rocked with ire.

"'It 'im!" they cried, as he came once more.
   "Why didn't you 'it 'im then?"
But he went to the mat for a count of four,
   Then he rose, and the clinched again.
"'It 'im!" they roared, athirst for blood;
   And their anger was loud and deep.
But he hit the floor with a sickening thud,
   And quietly went to sleep.

As he left the ring, a loser still,
   With many a bruise bedecked.
"If they want me to strike," said he, "I will,
   In a way that they least expect.
For I'm weary of bein' a choppin' block
   For a mad mob's holiday.
With twelve and a tanner for takin' the knock."
   So he struck -- for higher pay.

First published in The Herald, 21 October 1931

Sea Piece by C.J. Dennis

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Beer has been banned on British warships as its stowage occupies too much space -- in the ship, not the sailor.

"Beer?" said the tar,
Leaning against the bar.
"Since they left beer ashore
The rollin' billers ain't no more
Me spiritcheoll 'ome.
Beer is wot I craves;
An' I got so perishin' dry
I ketch meself 'avin' a try
To blow the blinkin' foam
Off-er the wild, wild waves."

First published in The Herald, 20 October 1937

If We Had Only Known by C.J. Dennis

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'Tis the hope that we hope for the days to come
   That chases the dark despair;
But it lightens the load in the days that are
   To dream of the days that were.

The wattle bloom is as golden still
   As ever before in spring;
And joyous now as in years ago
   Is the magpie's caroling.
Then what do we mourn in these bright days?
   Why do we sit and sigh?
Why do we dream those sad sweet dreams
   Of dead days long gone by?

The good mare gallops with stride as strong
   And free as she did of yore;
The wine is red, and the friend we had
   Is staunch as he was before.
Our love's dear lips are soft and warm,
   The goal of our hopes is nigh;
The skies are blue!  Our love is true!
   Then why do we dream and sigh?

There is something vanished from out these days --
   Something we miss so sore --
A mother, a child, or a faithful friend
   We had learned to love of yore.
From these dear days that we dream of now
   A love or a hope has flown;
And we sigh, "Ah me, how happy were we!
   Would we had only known!"

The wattle will bloom in the years to come,
   The world will laugh as gay;
Still we would sigh for the days gone by,
   And dream of our life to-day.
Mayhap that their love's lips are cold,
   Or another friend has died,
Or the good grey mare grows stiff and old,
   And falters in her stride.

We will dream a dream of our life to-day
   When another joy has flown;
And sigh "Ah me, how happy were we!
   Would we had only known!
For we were gay but yesterday --
   The sun shone brightly then --
An hour or two, and the night is through;
   The sun will shine again!

'Tis the hope we hope for the days to come
   That chases the dark despair;
But it lightens the load in the days that are
   To dream of the days that were.

First published in The Evening Journal, 19 October 1899

The Wicked Cricket Critic by C.J Dennis

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The London Observer says it is difficult to put a weight on the tongues of cricket barrackers, but cricket writers are worse than barrackers.

If the cricket critics' nagging
Merits stern official gagging --
   Which I doubt --
How would critical ascetics,
With their prosy homiletics,
   Shut it out?
And the question then arises:
If more cricketing surprises,
   Such as bodyline, begin to threaten cricket,
And another stunt, when sprung,
Call for clicking of the tongue,
   Should a cricket critic critically click it?
When the barrackers grow lyric
In a manner most satiric
   And profane,
How, one ventures still to wonder,
May the clamor be kept under?
   How restrain?
For one barbaric larrik-
In can do a lot of barrack-
   In', and cause a lot of worry at the wicket.
But would sportsmen be abusing
Cricket canons in refusing
   To supply that cricket critic with a ticket?
As a critic analytic
Of the cricket critics' critic
   I would say,
When we criticise their cricket,
Then the players have to stick it,
   Come what may.
No specific soporific
May be used; for it is diffic-
   Ult to strike a critic partly paralytic.
So there's nothing gained in seeking,
As I know; and I am speaking
   As a critic of the cricket critic's critic.

First published in The Herald, 18 October 1933

Shweemeesh by C.J. Dennis

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Chocolates have recently been discovered in Melbourne containing five per cent. of pure proof spirit.

I would offer you a "snifter," but there's nothing in the house;
And if I bring a bottle home the wife is sure to "rouse."
But a sweetmeat on occasion with her full approval meets;
So, have another chocolate; they're such nice sweets.

She holds "views" concerning alcohol; and probably she's right.
Too many "spots" do harm a man, especially at night.
Go on, old man, just help yourself. It's nothing much in treats;
Still have another chocolate; they're such nice sweets.

Whaz 'at? Oh, yes, the flavor's fine when once you get a taste.
Here, grab a han'ful! Azzer style. Don't let 'em go to waste.
They're quite innoc--(ick)--ocuous. Beats alcohol by streets.
Here, have anuzzer schocolit; they're sush nice sweets ...

S'sh! 'Ere's a wife. ... 'Ullo, me dear. I'm entertainin' Smith.
A lirrle box-a schocolits. Not mush to do it with.
Whaz 'at? Strong drink? Mosh shertinly -- not -- so! I'm on th' leash
'Ere, darlin'. 'Ave a schocolit; they're sush nicesh sweesh.

First published in The Herald, 17 October 1931

The Ballad of the Bondi Bather by C.J Dennis

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There is much consternation among the large number of men who indulge in surf-bathing at Bondi, on account of new regulations to be enforced.  The Waverley Municipal Council has decided that a neck-to-knee costume is to be no longer  sufficient.  A skirt, reaching at least to the knees, has to be added, and arms must be concealed to near the elbows.   Loitering on the beach is also to be prohibited, and all intercourse between bathers and the general public is to be  forbidden.  The penalties for a breach of the regulations will range from 20s. to £25.

A bather down at Bondi was strolling by the sea,
As innocent as any Bondi bather well could be,
Nor deemed it any evil, as it may well be supposed,
That a kneecap was uncovered and a funny-bone exposed.

Nay, who should think it sinful that no skirt concealed the shape?
The bathing clothes were wet and tight with no concealing drape;
But the godly folk of Waverley espied it on the sands,
And the godly folk of Waverley cast up their eyes and hands.

For a bather down at Bondi with a funny-bone exposed
Is a monster of iniquity to whom all heaven's closed.
And a bather down at Bondi with a shameless, naked knee
Is evil to the pious folk of godly Waverley.

And the folk of Waverley espied the bather there,
They locked their womenfolk inside and hastened to the Mayor:
"Alas," they cried, "upon our beach a fiend in human frame.
Ay, all too much in human shape, has put our town to shame!

"He strolls upon the open beach, his funny-bone in sight,
Our womenfolk are all indoors, half fainting from the fright;
Our brave police are after him, they think they have a clue,
For he has shown his humerus, ay, and his kneecap, too."

The good Mayor's brow frowned darkly as he thundered, "Have they brought
And tried for his iniquity before our august court."
"Ay, try him!" yelled the populace, and rushing down the street,
They seized the Bondi bather, whom they wrapped within a sheet.

The good Mayor sat upon the bench, a solemn sight to see.
Upon his face he wore a look of shocked propriety;
But as the bather was unwrapped he cried in great distress,
"Why, you haven't brought a bather; you have brought a batheress!"

Then the populace of Waverley, it turned a fiery red,
The populace of Waverley hung its collective head,
And the voice of Waverley went up attuned to deepest woe.
"Oh, how can we be blamed for it? How were we to know?"

The pious Mayor of Waverley he did not say a word.
The populace of Waverley began to feel absurd.
The blushing Bondi bather, she just hung her pretty head.
Then spake the Mayor, "Let the men all haste indoor," he said.

The modest men of Waverley they hastened from the court.
The godly Mayor stayed behind, altho' he never ought;
Then the Bondi bather murmured, "May I go away and dress?"
And the pious magistrate looked down and blushing, answered, "Yes."

There's a moral to my story, as you surely will have guessed --
You have to move discreetly when you deal with the undressed.
And they never since have raised their heads, the folk of Waverley:
That's the ballad of the bather down at Bondi by the sea.

First published in The Gadfly, 16 October 1907

A Song for a Centenary by C.J. Dennis

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Somebody has expressed a fear that there is danger of Victoria's taking her Centenary too seriously.

Come, sing with a ring and a right good swing -
   (Hey!  Hey for a lilting lay!)
Any old silly, old jolly, old thing.
   (For a lilting lay Hey! Hey!)
So long as it be merry
Does the method matter very -
(Sing hey, down derry!)
   Does it matter what we sing?

Centenaries are far between,
And more than one few men have seen.
The sun is high, the fields are green -
Green, green!  Oh, joyous scene!
   (Hey for a lilting lay!)
A Royal Prince comes hence once more;
The loyal crowds with gladness roar;
The girls, agog, are bubbling o'er;
The ships are in and Jack's ashore.
(Then hey, down derry for the merriment in store!)
   For a lilting lay sing hey!
   Hail the happee day!

An ode be blowed!  We need no goad -
   (Hey!  Hey for a lilting lay!)
To urge us on our joyous road.
   (For a lilting lay Hey! Hey!)
So long as it be jolly
With a touch of fun and folly -
(Sing ho, hi, holly!)
   Who's to quarrel with the mode?

For Prince and poet, salts and seers
We hymn the tale of pioneers;
With eyes upon the future years,
Cheers, cheers are in our ears.
   (For a lilting lay sing hey!)
We sing the song of a task well done;
Yet sing of labors scarce begun,
Still thro' the centuries to run.
We are the children of the sun!
(Then hey, down derry for a festival of fun!)
   Sing hey for a lilting lay!
   Hail the happee day!

First published in The Herald, 15 October 1934

Dad's Philanthropic Plan by C.J Dennis

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All these ships are to remain under the the control of the Commonwealth during the time of peace, and are to pass into Imperial control whenever required for war purposes. . . . As the Minister of Defence explains his policy, the whole of our navy may be taken to the other end of the world, should the British Admiralty so desire on the outbreak of war.  If this be the real meaning of the Defence scheme as expounded last night, then we virtually increase our subsidy to the British navy from £200,000 a year to £750,000 a year, and in return Great Britain humors our vanity by permitting us to call the ships we pay for an "Australian unit." - Melbourne AGE.

I knew an old philanthropist, a farming man was he,
Shrewd at a deal, but still withal a man of charity.
He had three sons - three hefty lads - Josiah, Jim and Joe,
And each of these had his own land, and made a goodly show.

But still the farming methods of Josiah, Joe and Jim
Distressed their good old parent and disturbed the mind of him.
"These sons o' mine appear to be a sight too slow," thought he
"They need a better class o' stock and more machinery."

Wherefore this old philanthropist, this shrewd old farming man,
He sat him down and pondered long, and thus evolved a plan -
A simple scheme, beneficent, and calculated so
That it would guard the interests of Josiah, Jim and Joe.

"I have acquired," reflected he, "a lot of tillage land -
Much more than I can work; and my affairs get out of hand.
If I can but amalgamate their properties and mine,
And call the whole the Empire Farm, the prospect will be fine.

Then rose the good old farming man and called his sons around,
And thus his philanthropic scheme did earnestly expound:
"My sons, it grieves my heart to see you struggling on the land;
And I've decided, after thought, to lend a helping hand.

"You all have been good sons to me, and this is my great plan:
We shall amalgamate the farms and work them as one man.
But first you need machinery; your methods are too slow.
The cost of this will fall on you - Josiah, Jim and Joe.

"Josiah I'll allow to buy a good, upstanding team;
And Joe a separator, for there's coin in milk and cream;
To Jim I give permission - he's a fav'rite son o' mine -
To buy a brand new harvester of up-to-date design.

"Josiah, he will feed the nags, and Joe can buy some cows -
And these be privileges, mind, not ev'ry dad allows -
While Jim can mind the harvester till harvest comes around,
When you can fetch it, with the nags, and work it on MY ground.

"And, as Joe's cows come into milk, he'll fetch 'em up to me,
'Long with the separator; I will work it - do you see?"
But, strange to say, they did not see - Josiah, Jim nor Joe.
They said rude things that plunged their parent into deepest woe.

They called him many ugly names, such as "a mean old man";
And told him pretty plainly their opinion of his "plan."
"We'll buy our harvesters," said they, "and work 'em on our own;
And if you get hard-pressed - why, you can have 'em for a loan."

The poor old farmer bowed his head.  "Ingratitude!" he cried,
"And after all I've done for you, my offer is denied!"
And dad, to-day, is forced to plough and harrow, dig and sow,
For they were most ungrateful sons, Josiah, Jim and Joe.

First published in The Bulletin, 14 October 1909

The Down-Hill Track by C.J Dennis

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Improving conditions at home and travellers' tales from abroad, all indicating a world-wide industrial recovery, raise the question of whether nations and individuals will be as ill-prepared for the prosperity as they were for the depression.

The dawnin' of prosperity
   Recalls (said old George Jones)
When I was young, a song we sung,
   In none too sober tones,
When easy, breezy days were here,
   An' cash was wildly spent.
Small good it done to anyone;
   But this is how it went:
"Oh, toil with a will to the summit of the hill.
   It's the luggin' an' the tuggin' does the trick,
But be careful of the drop when you've labored to the top,
   An' the fool who makes the pace too quick.
For there's more loads spilled, an' there's more men killed,
   Where the road runs to the valley down below;
So, restrain that eager itchin'; sit well back into the britchin'.
   Go slow, Sonny-lad, go slow!"
I've lived me life (said old George Jones)
   An' learned me lesson well:
The pampered flesh clothes no old bones,
   As history's headstones tell --
The "Champagne Charlies" of my day,
   The short an' merry run -
High livin's tucked more men away
   Than hard times ever done.
Oh, dig in yer toes where the up'ard track it goes.
   It's the strivin' an' the drivin' does the trick.
But take it steady, son, when yer on the down'ard run;
   'Tis the fool who makes the pace too quick.
For the most men trips when the down grade dips,
   An' there's more stones a'lurkin' for your toe.
Save yer wind an' spare yer muscle for the next long uphill tussle.
   Go slow, Sonny-lad, go slow!

First published in The Herald, 13 October 1933

Brothers O' Mine by C.J Dennis

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Brothers o' mine, brothers o' mine,
All the world over, from pole to pole --
All of them brothers of mine and thine --
Every wondering, blundering soul.
Banded together by grace divine,
Brothers o' mine, brothers o' mine.

Good Brother Green at the service sat --
Sat in the chapel and bowed his head;
Praying most fervently into his hat;
Bending his knee when The Word was read.
For good Brother Green was a godly man --
A godly keristian; and what be more,
He loved all sinners, and carefully ran
A worldly and prosperous grocery store.

"Brothers o' mine, brothers o' mine,"
Quoted the preacher, with dolorous drone:
"The Lord He hath given thee all that is thine.
Love ye not gold for itself alone.
E'er to the fallen thy mercy incline,
Love thou thy neighbour! O, brothers o' mine."

Good comrade Hal in the tavern sat --
Sat in the tavern and tossed his head,
Tilting a glass to the brim of his hat;
Bending his arm when the toast was said.
But comrade Hal was a godless man --
A godless sinner; and what be more,
He loved good liquor, and carelessly ran
A long, long bill at the grocery store.

"Brother o' mine, brother o' mine,"
Shouted the tippler in riotous tone,
"Toiled thou, and sweated for all that is thine;
But love not gold for itself alone.
Gold bringeth gladness and red, red wine.
Fill up another! O, brother o' mine."

Every Sabbath, since childhood years,
Good Brother Green at the service sat --
A traveller stern in this vale of tears --
Breathing his piety into his hat;
Praying for guidance and praying for light;
Vowing unworthiness more and more;
With a nice warm feeling that all was right
With the business of Green's Cash Grocery Store.
"Brothers o' mine, brothers o' mine,"
Turn not away from thy brother in sin.
Afar let the light of your righteousness shine,
A beacon to gather the wanderer in.
Lovers of wickedness, lovers of wine,
said the worshipper, "brothers o' mine."
Every Sabbath, since childhood's years,
Comrade Hal in the tavern sat --
A rioter gay in this vale of tears,
Tilting his glass to the brim of his hat;
Drinking from morn to the fall of night;
Vowing good-fellowship more and more;
With a nice warm feeling that all was right,
And a curse for the bill at the grocery store.
Brothers o' mine, brothers o' mine,
Seek ye a pew or a pewter to-day?
Where is the brotherhood vaunted divine --
Here, in the tavern - or over the way?
Drink is a snare, and a mocker is wine;
But the world? - Nay, forget it, O brothers o' mine!

Monday morn, with a soul for work,
Good Brother Green stood rubbing his hands --
Rubbing his hands with an oily smirk;
Seeking the trade a good name commands.
Came there a widow who pleaded for time --
For a month, for a week!  Ah, what would it mean!
"Sell up her sticks.  This pretence is a crime!
And business is business," quoth good Brother Green.
Brothers o' mine, brothers o' mine!
Cover your drunkenness, cover your spite!
Brother in piety, brother in wine --
Are we a brotherhood?  Lord give us light!
Lover of cant, or the lover of wine --
Which lov'st thou of these brothers o' thine?

Heavy and dull on the Monday morn,
Comrade Hal went rubbing his head -
Rubbing his head with an air forlorn;
Seeking the tavern where wine is red.
Passed he a beggar who aid invoked.
"Catch, then, brother," he merely cried,
Spinning a coin as he smiled and joked.
"Now I go thirsty," the tippler sighed.
Brothers o' mine, brothers o' mine --
Brothers in purple, brothers in rags --
Who can the bonds of your kin define?
Plead ye beggars, and jest ye wags!
"Nay, beggar brother, why dost thou whine?
All these good people are brothers o' thine."

First published in The Bulletin, 12 October 1905

The Dinkum Aussie Block by C.J Dennis

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A caricaturist who paid so much attention to Mr Bruce's spats when he was in Australia must feel chastened today.  Mr Bruce has been selected by the noted artist, Edmond Kapp, to represent us in the British Museum and in the National Gallery, as owner of a striking head, characteristic of the best Australian type.

What have we missed?  Now he returns no more
We are left with but our blindness to deplore,
But, concentrating on his spats instead,
Missed all the lure of that impressive head.
Caricaturists, gazing at his feet,
Drew little else, and deemed the sketch complete;
Likewise cartoonists, whose gaunt fingers crept
Unconsciously to limn him as they slept.
And we poor Aussies of the rough hewn "dile,"
Think to salve our vanity the while,
Who said: "Though we've a gargoyle for a face,
At least 'tis typical of our strong race" --
Where are we now?  Where is our last excuse
For owning features so unlike a Bruce?
The Bruce, round whom admiring artists flock
Because he owns the dinkum Aussie block.
He kept his block; and keeping it became
A classic type to spread his country's fame.
While we poor groundlings, with our eyes cast down,
Saw only feet to bolster his renown.
Could we not raise our eyes?  And now, bereft
Of pride, we've but this consolation left;
Still humble members we -- plain as we are --
Of that proud race that claims him avatar.

First published in The Herald, 11 October 1933

City of Dreams by C.J Dennis

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In Melbourne lately, there are not lacking signs of a cultural and architectural renascence.  Professor Wood-Jones suggests the adoption of the Melbourne Hospital site for a centre of art and culture, while Mr Lionel Lindsay pleads for less vulgarity and more artistic cohesion in the city's architecture.

Oh, we might have a marvelous city
   Were we only less keen on cash
Less avid for things -- more's the pity --
   That fade and are gone in a flash,
A city where duffers in my line
   In rapt adoration fall flat
To behold its superlative skyline --
   But there isn't much money in that.

Oh, we might have a city most splendid
   Were sordid self-seeking denied.
Were good taste and culture attended
   By pride that transcends money-pride.
Then, urged by more glorious dreaming
   Than moved beneath Pericles' hat,
We would out-Athens Athens in scheming
   But -- there isn't much money in that.

So let's build our city according
   To canons commercial and sane.
Where every house is a hoarding
   And every "palace" a pain.
Let us mingle the Gothic and Moorish
   In the nice neo-Georgian flat.
What odds, tho' they blither it's boorish?
   Who cares?  For there's money in that.

Oh, let's have a conglomeration
   Of all architectural ills.
We build for ourselves, not the nation,
   And to advertise somebody's pills
With piles that are proud and pretentious
   And styles that are "pretty" and fat.
And a fig for their strictures sententious!
   There's not a brass farthing in that.

And so we'll grow richer and richer
   While curleywigs crawl the facade
Of the home of the sur-super-picture
   Or pubs where the profits are made.
Yet -- We might have a marvellous city
   If we only knew how to grow fat
At the game.  But we don't -- more's the pity.
   So there isn't much money in that.

And when we have piled up the riches,
   And pass, and leave never a trace,
A grave-digger, with clay on his breeches,
   Will come and pitch dirt on our face.
And our passing may serve to remind him,
   As he gives the grave-mound a last pat:
"Well, he's gone; and he's left nought behind him,
   And there isn't much honor in that."

First published in The Herald, 10 October 1935

The Candid Candidate by C.J Dennis

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Alfred Ebenezer Jackson was a very earnest man,
Who aspired to be a statesman, and he consequently ran
At a general election as the Candid Candidate,
Sworn to tell the truth ungarbled, leaving all the rest to Fate.

Jackson had a firm conviction that the average M.P.
Was not perfectly straightforward as a member ought to be.
"They disguise their actual motives," Jackson said, "and so they fail.
I shall leave no false suspicion that I'm sitting on a rail."

"Fellow men," quoth Ebenezer, in his first campaign address.
"My desire to gain election is most eager, I confess:
True, some patriotic ardor fills me with its holy fire;
But to get a safe and steady billet is my main desire.

"Now, to put the matter plainly, I've no wish to twist or hedge,
And I'm quite prepared to stand to all the things that I allege.
I aspire to serve Australia in the Big Affairs of State:
To that aim all local interests gladly I'll subordinate.

"I shall give no hasty promise for the sake of votes from you.
Roads and bridges you shall have them when they are your right and due;
But where this whole country's interest clashes with your local lot,
Then my vote is for Australia and the rest can go to pot!

"I'll not stoop to curry favor for the sake of your back yard,
While the Big Things of the nation call for labor long and hard;
For I'm not of those hard grafters whose chief work is turning coats,
With their thoughts on next election, and their eyes upon your votes.

"Party ties shall never hold me when I hear Australia call,
Through my service to the nation do I seek to stand or fall.
And to talk election piffle in the House, if I be sent
There to work, I'll deem an insult to the folk I represent.

"I shall scheme to drag no railway through the back yard of this State;
Nor on any handy dust-heap in this dashed electorate
Shall I vote to plant a city, while the fact is evident
That a better site is waiting elsewhere on the continent.

"I am solid for Protection: but my creed I won't abuse
By mean tricks to shift the duty from commodities you use:
Nor shall I denounce with loathing Socialists' experiments
While I howl for State assistance for my own constituents.

"Now, my worthy friends, you know me, and just what I mean to do.
As plain people of Australia I am ev'ry time for you,
With my eyes upon the future and this great land's destiny,
I shall not to 'local interests' sacrifice posterity."

Alfred Ebenezer Jackson raised a wild, derisive shout
From "intelligent electors."  "Mad!" they said, "without a doubt."
And because they knew he meant it - ev'ry work he spoke or wrote -
Alfred Ebenezer Jackson did not get a single vote!

First published in The Bulletin, 9 October 1913

Here With My Flowers by C.J Dennis

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An old man of 85, Mr George Cecil Morris, a market gardener, of Mona Vale, N.S.W., on being told of his succession to the title and estates of a baronet, is reported to have said recently: "I don't want a title. I have seen enough of titles. I don't want estates. I want to be left here with my flowers."

I have drunk of life, of the sweet and the bitter,
   Dreamed of broad acres and gold and glittering gauds,
And the eyes of my youth found lure in the spurious glitter;
   But my flowers are no frauds.
For the sown seed, and the young shoot, and the glory
   Of blossom that comes to greet returning Springs
Hold no false promise in their recurring story.
   These be true things.

Now I am old and have done with the dream of greatness,
   Of preferment's doubtful glamor and man-wrought dowers,
Of the pomp of place and a courtier's stiff sedateness.
   Leave me here with my flowers,
And the brave smell of the brown earth in the furrow,
   And a blown rose, and lilac after rain;
Where wrens sing and the humble field-mice burrow,
   Let me be lain.

I have found dignity in a tall bloom nodding,
   Jewels in hedgerows aglow from their dewy bath.
These be God-given things where I go plodding
   Adown my garden path.
And the sun shines, and the rain falls, and perfection
   Springs for a season; even as it dies
Giving fresh promise of glad resurrection.
   All else is lies.

First published in The Herald, 8 October 1937

The Aldermen and the Antirrhinum by C.J Dennis

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Melbourne civic authorities seem to be greatly disgruntled -- not to say chagrined -- about some floral window boxes which seek to lend a little vernal gaiety to Collins Street.  It is alleged that they encroach a few inches over the footpath, and the removal of the "obstruction" is demanded.

I walked out with an alderman, all on a bright spring day.
He was an august alderman, and much had he to say
Of roads and drains and bridges .... Then, as he pulled up short,
His veins stood out in ridges, his breath fled with a snort.
Then anger aldermanic came as the tempest comes;
His aspect grew satanic, his eyes stuck out like plums;
And, as it rent asunder the ambient atmosphere,
Rolled detonating thunder of civic wrath severe: --

"Tear down them antirrhium!  Tear down them columbine!
Or else, by gum, we'll fine 'em.  We'll mulct in a fine!
I won't have antirrhinum!  To Tophet I consign 'em!
Surveyors can't align 'em plumb with our buildin' line!"
(They were begonias truly; but that did not unduly
Affect his wrath unruly.  The darn things weren't in line.)
"A blot on civic beauty!  The Mayor must do his jooty,
An' have them antirrhinum abolished, or resign!"

Then, as his rage he swallowed, and joined the traffic's stream,
I diffidently followed, and sought to change the theme.
"Think you the vernal season," quoth I, "grows subtly sweet?"
Said he: "That ain't no reason for shovin' in the street
Them bloomin' antirrhinum three inches off the line.
Our officers must fine 'em.  It's breakin' Bylaw nine,
Part seven.  Schedule thirty.  Clause eight in Section A."
He really seemed quite shirty; and so I sneaked away.)

But still, o'er traffic crashes, I heard his strident tones
"Them antirrhinum clashes with our pretty safety zones!
Calliopsis an' eschscholtzia!  In streets where soft trams roll!
It's a pitcher that revolts yeh, if yeh got a civic soul! . . ."
And then his fuming faded; faint and far it died away.
'Pon my word, I felt quite jaded; I'd had a trying day.
And, tho' it seem splenetic, from this truth I may not shrink
Aldermen are NOT aesthetic.  Not so very -- do you think?

First published in The Herald, 7 October 1935

"Eats" by C.J Dennis

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The only idea that State members have of spending the £50,000 Federal gift is to build kitchens and a dining-room.

When Willie gets a penny piece
   Straight to the lollie-shop he flies,
And, heartened by his wealth's increase,
   Reviews the stock with bulging eyes.

And so it is thro' all our lives,
   Till Death declares the tale complete;
Man ever toils and yearns and strives
   With eyes on something good to eat.

With little child or stout M.P.
   Old Nature varies not her plan;
When either has the £.s.d.
   His thoughts fly to the inner man.

First published in The Sun-News Pictorial, 6 October 1927

The Old Farm by C.J Dennis

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On his chair set in the sunlight old Dad takes his hard-earned ease,
White head pillowed mid the cushions, children playing round his knees;
And his old voice halts and quavers as the dead days he'll recall,
When Matt Mullen played the fiddle by the ould barn wall.

Oh, 'tis queer ways they have with them, an' 'tis queer the things they do,
Since the boys came into manhood, an' the girls got married, too.
An' the tots that call him "grand-da" seem to multiply and grow,
Till he's lost all count entirely of those names he ought to know.

Norah's Tom and Peter's Norah, Mary's Peter - every year
Seems to bring a score of new ones.  "Queer it is.  An' faith, 'tis queer."
Men they are - young men an' women, who have ne'er a thought at all
Of Matt Mullen with his fiddle by the ould barn wall.

An' they'd try to teach him farmin'!  Him, that learned it years ago,
When young Tom - or was it Peter?  Faith, 'tis hard these days to know.
For they sold the horses on him, an' that fine three-furrow plough,
For their tractors and their motors.  Farmin'?  'Tis not farmin' now.

Music, is it, he is hearin'?  Or their silly gramophone?
Just a music-box to plague him with no tune at all, or tone.
Shure, their records an' their wireless - how could these compare at all
With Matt Mullen an' his fiddle by the ould barn wall.

Is this Tom or Mary's Peter comin' from the motor car
With his legs dressed up in stockin's?  Like a woman's, so they are.
He'll be playin' with the women, knocking round a little ball,
When he might be pitchin' horseshoes out beyant the ould barn wall!

Shure, the old farm's rooned completely.  'Tis the young, the restless young;
All too quick to spend the money; all too ready with the tongue.
An' their pleasures - could their pleasures ever match the Harvest ball,
With Mat Mullen and his fiddle by the ould barn wall.

Hark, now, to that puffin' engine, where the old pump used to be,
Shure, the farm is cluttered over with their mad machinery,
With their golfin' an' their tennis, an' their motor cars to drive.
'Twas the bay mare an' the buggy "whin me missus was alive."

"Whin your mother she was livin', rest her soul" . . . she loved the farm;
Worked, she did, with axe an' shovel, nor took shame of it, nor harm.
An' the gay dance she'd be treadin' - feet the lightest of them all,
When Matt Mullen played the fiddle by the ould barn wall.

Old Matt Mullen and his fiddle, he's with Dad the oft'nest now,
When the light winds shake the tree-tops, and the saplings bend and bow -
Old Matt Mullen, dead and buried, many, many years ago,
Playing on a ghostly fiddle all the tunes they used to know.

'Tis "The Wind That Shakes the Barley" and "The Hat Me Father Wore."
Shure, he fiddles just as bravely as he ever did of yore.
'Tis "The Minstrel Boy" he's playin', as he played in 'ninety-five;
Fiddlin' at the silver weddin', "Whin me missus was alive."

Old Dad sittin' in the sunlight "Childer, Hist!  Leave be your row,
Let yeh come an' stand beside me.  Listen, can yeh hear him now?
Tell me, can yeh hear it childer?  How the swate notes rise an' fall?
'Tis Matt Mullen wid his fiddle by the ould barn wall."

First published in The Weekly Times Annual, 5 October 1929

One Hundred Years by C.J Dennis

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Now, Batman, Prophet Batman, a hundred years ago,
   He looked upon this land and found it good.
"'Tis the place to build a village," bold Batman said, and so
   They straight began - or so I've understood -
To fling rude huts together by the swamp and by the stream,
To make beginning here and then for Batman's daring dream.

But Batman, Prophet Batman, was quite a modest cove;
   His vision sought no far and fabled goals.
A village he could picture here; but no vast treasure trove -
   A mighty city of a million souls -
A miracle arising by the swamp and by the stream
In the hundred years that followed on one pioneering dream.

Now I, far lesser prophet, stand here to view the scene -
   Tall spire, proud dome athwart a sunny sky,
This far-flung city basking by many a garden green -
   Yet hopelessly I fail to prophesy.
While earth holds threat and promise both, and high hope walks with dread,
Then who may claim the vision of one hundred years ahead?

Shall yet a greater miracle arise beside the stream,
   When wiser plans of wiser men prevail -
Some shining City of Content beyond man's boldest bream?
   Or must a world's mad frenzy end the tale,
And, in a hundred years from now, another village rise
To shield indomitable man 'neath ruin-fretted skies?

First published in The Herald, 4 October 1934

The Bucolics by C.J Dennis

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The State Government has refused to provide the £9 a week necessary to keep the National Gallery open during evening hours, which is the only time available for city workers to contemplate its treasure in art.

Ladies and gentlemen: I take this opportunity
To introduce myself and mention that, much as we may deplore the fact, we are essentially an agricultural community
Altho' in our metropolitan centres, millions may live and toil.
Most of us, directly or indirectly, exist by, thro', on and for the soil;
Our outlook is largely directed upon crops, prices, profits and "The Main Chance,"
So that we rarely discover time or opportunity to glance
At the fine arts and higher culture of this and older lands, and gather unto ourselves the satisfaction such contemplation lends
Therefore our guides, philosophers, mentors, leaders, teachers, and friends
Declare that, amongst the toilers of our race,
Such contemplation is utterly out of place.
And (altho' this may seem rather funny)
One cannot definitely enjoy "culchaw" unless one is -- now -- possessed of leisure and money.
To encourage it in the Common People is a vain and profitless thing.
Wherefore, I sing:-

The plough's in the furrow,
   The cow's at the bail;
We delve and we burrow,
   For nought may avail
Save toil thro' the seasons,
   Material joy;
These, these be the reasons
   For all our employ.

The mute Mona Lisa,
   Praxiteles' art,
Such trifles as these are
   Things quite, quite apart.
On, on with life's battle;
   Wring sweat from the brow.
What's culture to cattle?
   What's art to a cow?

To resume, ladies and gentlemen, the more comprehensible form of discourse I had temporarily forsaken,
Is it not possible that our mentors, censors et al. may be sadly mistaken?
Or, stay, is it conceivable that they would lock and bar our halls of art and culture at night
Lest the Common People might,
By some strange chance, absorb so much of the capacity for appreciation that they would, in time, be able to patronise us?
Nay, even to advise us?
On certain aesthetic matters which -- Perish the thought!  For who would have the heart
To vulgarise all Art?
For, consider; how were it possible to feel superior
When none remains any longer who, as one comfortably recognises, is inferior.
And so, for evermore,
Bar, bar and bolt the door
Of our Temple which enshrines works for the edification only of superior mortals,
Lock, lock and double lock those portals!
Hide from vulgar gaze the treasures that therein lurk --
Except, of course, during those hours when the toilers are at work.
Melbourne, my Melbourne!  Never let the souls of thy earthbound people into the rarer regions take wing!
Wherefore, again, I sing:-

The swine's in his wallow,
   Fat porkers are prime;
Then follow, come, follow,
   'Tis lamb-tailin' time!
All golden the butter,
   There's market for meat;
Tho' Mallee men mutter
   Of smut in the wheat.
But "paintin'" and pitcher"?
   (Franz Hals, he was Dutch)
Ah, who grows the richer
   For gawping at such?
A "pitcher" by Carot?
   A "statcher" -- all "nood"?
One fills you with sorrow;
   The other is "rood."
We toil for men's bodies,
   Our minds all a-fog.
What's paintin' to poddies?
   What's art to a hog?

First published in The Herald, 3 October 1935

The City "Willie" by C.J Dennis

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Under the spreading panama,
   The city "Willie" strides,
Now up the street, now down the street,
   Wherever fashion guides;
He weareth clocks on gaudy socks,
   And other things besides.

His hair is fine and fair and neat,
   His face is simply "such"!
His brow is white; he's most polite;
   And labelled, "Do not touch."
And he looks the whole world in the face,
   And owes his tailor much.

Week in, week out, from morn till night,
   He followeth a frock;
You can see him swing his little cane,
   What time he does the block,
Just like a little pendulum
   Upon an eight-day clock.

And the children coming home from school,
   They look him o'er and o'er,
They love to see his flaming tie,
   And hear his waistcoat roar.
And catch the burning butts that drop
   Like the "H" of a Councillor.

He goes on Sunday to the beach
   With the maiden of his choice;
He hears the seagull scream and screech,
   He hears his own sweet voice,
Singing of his own renown,
   And it makes his heart rejoice.

It sounds to him like and angel's voice,
   Singing in Paradise!
He needs must watch himself, of course,
   As to his girl he lies,
And with his soft white hand he wipes
   The sand from out his eyes.

Posing -- rejoicing -- borrowing,
   Onward thro' life he goes,
Each morning sees some suit put on,
   Each eve he doffs his clothes;
Something attempted, something worn,
   Has earned a night's repose.

Thanks, thanks to thee, my Willie friend,
   For the lesson thou hast taught;
Thus in the tailor's shop of life,
   Our fortunes must be bought;
And if we think nought of ourselves,
   Nought of us will be thought.  

First published in The Gadfly, 2 October 1907

The Theorist by C.J. Dennis

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They knew him wise, they vowed him great;
They gave him power in the State,
   Set him high that he might save
   the land from a financial grave
That yawned before their stumbling feet,
Boding oblivion complete.

His reputation was immense;
He'd more than common common-sense;
   Lore he gained in famous schools
   Incomprehensible to fools
Like you and I, and Plain, blunt men
Who nibble knowledge now and then.

His coldly scientific brain
Had striven hugely to attain
   All erudition ... Midnight oil
   He burned in unremitting toil,
Till every law and link he found
That makes the old world's works go round.

And so they set him high, this man,
With place and power, till a plan
   He had evolved to save the State
   From patently impeding fate.
"For why," said they, "this man is wise;
We seek the truth. We're sick of lies."

O'er counters set upon a board
For days and anxious days he poured;
   He moved them here, then there; he went
   To olden tomes for precedent;
Proved all by checks and counter checks,
And pondered long ere he moved next.

At long last, he produced his scheme;
It was a scientific dream!
   Clear logic! Wondrous and profound,
   Both economically sound
And mathematically right,
Faultless, far-seeing, watertight.

"Saviour!" they cried with one accord ...
He swept the pieces from the board,
   And setting in their places men,
   He sought to put in practice then
His splendid scheme, invoking laws
To influence effect and cause.

But scarcely was the first move made
Ere something slipped. Men grew afraid.
   Men differed. Some were over bold,
   Some cautious. This one craved for gold,
This one absurdly scorned the cash,
This one was dull, this one was rash.

In half a week blank chaos reigned.
Ten thousand lost what ten had gained.
   "Traitor!" all cried, and dragged him down,
   And, howling, chased him from the town
Into the outer wilderness,
And left him there to dire distress.

The State went on, and muddled through,
As States are rather apt to do.
   And, after many years had passed,
   Men found a lonely tomb at last,
And knew that, in his latter days,
The sage found wisdom in a phrase.

For there upon the humble grave,
Where the rank graveyard grasses wave,
   Half hidden by the conquering weed,
   Is written for all men to read:

First published in Stead's Review, 1 October 1930

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