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

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on October 10, 2013 7:25 AM.

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