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

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on October 22, 2013 7:20 AM.

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