November 2013 Archives

The Rose and the Bee by C.J. Dennis

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"Well, what tidings today?" said the bee
   To the burgeoning rose.
"You are young, yet already you see
   Much of life, I suppose."
Said the rose, "Oh, this life is so filled 
   With astonishing things
That I think I could not be more thrilled
   E'en if roses had wings.

Three lupins have bloomed by the pond
   Since last you were here;
In the nest of the blue-wrens beyond
   Three nestlings appear.
A gay butterfly slept by my side
   All yesternight thro'
Till dawn, when a thrush hymned his pride.
   But how goes it with you?"

"There are great things at hand," said the bee.
   "Change comes to my life.
In my hive in the woollybutt tree
   Strange rumors are rife.
The old queen grows restless, I fear,
   She is planning to roam;
And I must adventure this year
   From the old, safe home.

"Old Black Wallaby's limping, I see,
   Trap again, I suppose.
Life is full of mischance," said the bee.
   "Ah, no," sighed the rose.
"Despite all the folly and sin
   And the gala and the strife,
It's a wonderful world we live in,
   It's a wonderful life."

First published in The Herald, 30 November 1935

A Fair Exchange by C.J. Dennis

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In reply to Mrs Minoprio's trousers, recently worn in an English golf tournament, Mr Morrison, an ex-Cambridge triple-blue, at the Royal Worlington Golf Club this week turned up in a skirt.

Would you be much impressed, my dear,
   Now you've adopted shorts,
If males like me came dressed, my dear,
   In skirts, to divers sports?
With gussets, flares and pleats and things
Like that, we'd give our fancy wings
   To grace the links and courts.
You should not worry very much,
   Since male attire you choose,
If, with a chic Parisian touch
   And taste in cut and hues,
We garbed ourselves, from neck to knees,
In crepe de chine or "summer breeze"
   Of pretty pinks and blues.
Would frills and flounces seem absurd
   Upon the manly form?
I don't see why, upon my word,
   Such gads, should raise a storm
Of ridicule.   And, if they do,
Scorn coming from one garbed like you
   Is really rather warm.
Think the position out, my dear,
   And be consistent, please.
And, while you dash about, my dear,
   In pants shorn to the knees,
You're drawing from the normal male
The same loud laugh with which you'd hail
   A man in fripperies.

First published in The Herald, 29 November 1933

The Lapse of Mother Yarra by C.J. Dennis

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All year thro' old Yarra flows
   Ever seaward going,
With her air of prim repose,
What she thinks of, goodness knows!
   But she keeps on flowing
Till, one day in each drab year,
Lo! a miracle is here.

Then old Yarra so precise,
   Trim and very proper;
Scorning all the sane advice
Of the scrupulously nice,
   Comes a social cropper;
Flinging sober thought away
Mother Yarra has her day.

As the wattle in the Spring
   Breaks to efflorescence,
With a sudden burgeoning,
So old Yarra has her fling,
   Aping adolescence;
Gets quite glad and gay and bright
For a day and half a night.

Colors sparkle in the sun
   Shouts of careless laughter
Tell of unrestricted fun
Till the carnival is done.
   If remorse comes after
I am not prepared to say -
Mother Yarra had her day!

First published in The Herald, 28 November 1931

The Griefs of Ancient Gosh by C.J. Dennis

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Rather to the discredit of modern Bureaucracy, a leading article calls attention to recent protracted disputes and deadlocks between the Railways and the Harbor Trust, the Lands Office and a local reserve committee, the Metropolitan Board and another public body, besides endless bickering involving other State and Municipal departments.

I happened in Gosh on an ancient day,
In the land of Glugs far, far away
   Where the skies are green and the grass is pink
   And the citizens rarely troubl'd to think.
Each had a vote; they were proud of that;
But they left all else to the Bureaucrat.
   Still, of course, such folly never could be
   In a civilised land this year A.D.

A junior clerk in Department A
Sent a requisition in one day
   For a mousetrap to Department B.
   This came to the ears of Department C,
Whose head said, "Just a moment please.
You control the traps, but we the cheese."
   Then Department D chipped in in a trice
   And cried, "Checkmate!  We control the mice."

Then Departments E, F, G, H, I
Became involved, and the talk ran high,
   Till the Livestock Branch got dragged in, too,
   And the Vermin Board, and I don't know who
Besides, till the mousetrap matter grew
From a mild dispute 'mid a trifling few
   To a Public Question so immense
   That a tax was levied to meet expense.

Well, time rolled on, as it ever has rolled
And the junior clerk, now bald and old,
   Received a pink form one fine day
   Which said, "One trap, mouse.  Passed O.K."
But he answered, this impatient chap,
Grown peevish, too, "Keep your blinkin' trap!
   For a trap I made from an old jam tin
   Long since; and I caught my mouse therein."

So an issue rose of a different sort,
And they sued the clerk in the State High Court
   Which sat so long and talked such bosh
   That a fierce Dictator loomed in Gosh;
And he took one long, deep, shuddering breath
And condemned that junior clerk to death
   And then, when they sought the man, they found
   He had been some twelve years underground.

Such is the tale.  But, understand
It happened in Gosh -- a backward land
   Inhabited then by a race called Glugs,
   Free-born, with a vote, but mostly mugs
For, of course, such nonsense never could be
In a modern, model Democracy
   Like ours.  Things never could happen so.
   Absurd!... Or could they? ...Oh, I don't know.

First published in The Herald, 27 November 1935

"Mac" by C.J. Dennis

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In every little country place, all up and down the land,
From ageing cradles of the race to Never-Never Land --
From the towns about the cities to the little towns out back,
There dwells a man of all trades; and he's mostly known as "Mac."
He's dwelt there since the Lord knows when and never seems to die;
And everybody, now and then, when his present job is thro' --
And twenty other little jobs that he has still to do.

A plumbing job, a painting job, a bit of fence to mend;
They want him in a hurry; and he's everybody's friend.
Kettle-mending, carpentry, a bit of scrub to cut --
There's nothing comes amiss to him -- a door that will not shut,
A safe that will not open, or a roof that hangs askew,
A plough to mend, a pump to tend - there's nothing he can't do.
He has never learned a single trade, yet somehow has the knack;
And, no matter what the trouble is, it's safe to send for "Mac."

He never makes much money, yet he never seems to care,
Tho' a dozen jobs await him, he has heaps of time to spare -
A friendly yarn, a cup of tea, a piece of sage advice,
He's willing for them every day, and never counts the price
Of half an hour or half a day spent in a neighbor's need.
He sells his toil, but not his time.  For what is time, indeed,
Save for a man to labor in just as he feels inclined?
So, if Smith's job amuses him, Brown's job can lag behind.

In every little country place he's known, or once was known,
Ere the urge that men call Progress claimed the broad earth for its own,
When man found pride in labor and the cunning of his hand,
Nor set a price in money on the arts he could command.
And many a little country place with pride today can show
Some sturdy structure "built by 'Mac' nigh fifty year ago."
Oh, they jerry-built their palaces; but many a stout bush shack
Shall stand to honor workmanship of that proud workman, "Mac." 

First published in The Herald, 26 November 1934

It Was Never Contemplated by C.J. Dennis

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When the Federal Constitution was drafted it was never contemplated, etc. etc. - Ancient Tory Wheeze.
We have no precedent. - Another.

      When old ADAM bit the apple,
      And thereafter had to grapple
With hard toil to earn his daily bread by sweat,
      There's no doubt that he protested
      That his "rights" had been molested,
And he's probably protesting strongly yet:
      "When this garden was created
      It was never contemplated --
It was never in the schedule or the plan --
      'Twasn't even dimly hinted
      That my living would be stinted,
Or that Work would ever be the lot of man."

      But in spite of protestation
      ADAM, with his lone relation,
Was evicted in an arbitrary way,
      Even though that resolution
      Wasn't in the Constitution,
And his children have been grafting to this day.
      But poor ADAM'S old contention
      Has become a stock convention
'Mid the ADAMS of the nations ever since,
      'Mid the shufflers and the shirkers,
      Crusted Tory anti-workers,
They whom nought but "precedent" can e'er convince.

They're the ADAMS of the race; they're the men that clog the pace,
With their backs upon the vanguard and their eyes upon the rear;
Praising loud their point of view, and regarding owt that's new
With a rabid Tory hatred and a vague old-fashioned fear.
They're the men of yester-year loitering all needless here,
And meandering around and 'round in aimless, endless rings.
Ever ready to resent acts without a precedent,
Such as were not contemplated in the ancient scheme of things.

      "O, it was not contemplated!"
      'Tis the cry of the belated,
The complaint of all the Old Worlds waterlogged;
      'Tis the trade-mark of the Tory;
      'Tis the declaration hoary;
'Tis the protest of the busted and the bogged.
      Mark, whenever it is uttered --
      By the lips of ancients muttered,
There is wisdom lacking here, at any rate
      For, when Tories were created
      It was never contemplated
That they ever would attempt to contemplate.

      There are many things decided,
      Quite by precedent unguided.
It was never contemplated, by the way.
      When the scheme of things was shaping,
      And mankind emerged from aping,
That he'd ever learn to eat three times a day;
      Yet, all precedent unheeding,
      Even Tories time their feeding,
And are known to be quite regular at meals;
      Though in neolithic ages
      'Twas laid down by ancient sages
That a man shall eat when so inclined he feels.

He's the dead weight at the back; he's the log upon the track;
He's the man who shouts the warning when the danger's past and gone;
He's the prophet of the old by defunct traditions hold;
He's the chap who sits and twaddles while the crowd goes marching on.
Of the things uncontemplated in the councils of the dead;
But the nation marches by heedless of his bitter cry --
Marches on and contemplates the vital things away ahead.

      In the shaping of a nation
      Can we crowd all contemplation -
Can we plan it in a hurried week or so?
      Cease your ancient whiskered story
      And observe, O gentle Tory,
We are contemplating matters as we go.
      E'en to-day we're contemplating
      Matters princip'ly relating
To the shaping of to-morrow's onward way;
      And to-morrow ev'ry grafter
      Will be forming plans for after;
But we are not harking back to yesterday.

      For the future days arranging;
      Seeking, planning, ever changing;
Weeding out the old mistakes of yester-year;
      Planting now the seed of new things
      March the men who dare and do things,
Opening up the unblazed road without a fear.
      And, O mark you, gentle Tory,
      We shall judge your measures hoary
By the use in this day's scheme they represent;
      We shall use them if we want them;
      If we don't we shall supplant them,
For we do not care a damn for precedent.

He's discretion at its worst; he a harbinger reversed;
He's the obstinate old party who abhors the new and strange.
He's the man whose ancient eyes ever fail to recognise
That the Law of Man was ever Change, and ever will be Change.
He's a scoffer at the Law; he's a blemish and a flaw;
And he whines as did old ADAM when he lost the realms of bliss.
When they shored him in the cold in the parlous days of old:

First published in The Bulletin, 25 November 1909;
and later in
Backblock Ballads and Other Verses by C.J. Dennis, 1918.

Birds of Other Feather by C.J. Dennis

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A 720ft. talkie film of the Australian Lyre Bird in its natural surroundings has been produced by the Commonwealth Cinematograph Branch after three years of patient effort.

To avoid confusion
Amongst the untaught,
And for the information of the punning dunce,
Let it be stated at once
That the item above is not fraught
With any political allusion.
If it were --
Well, my dear sir!
I mean to say --
Three years? Why a single day
Would suffice to complete
Several thousand feet.

First published in The Herald, 24 November 1937

The Silent Cop by C.J. Dennis

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In spite of protests by the press and public bodies the Police Department's secrecy concerning reports continues inexplicably.

Books in running brooks there are,
   As the Bard knew well;
Yet, as to what crooks there are,
   Cops never tell.
Lacking all loquacity,
A limited capacity
For stories whose veracity
   Might raise a public yell,
They plead, with rare sagacity,
   And cops never tell.

Sermons still in stones there are,
   Found by dale and dell,
Tales in bleaching bones there are;
   But cops never tell.
Tho' with rare rascality
And much illegality,
Rascals, in reality,
   The daily crime lists swell,
Scorning in vain verbality,
   Cops never tell.

Tongues, we know, in trees, there are,
   Voices in the shell
That speak of surging seas there are,
   But cops never tell!
Unless, thro' insobriety,
Or, seeking notoriety,
The troubler of society
   Is safe within the cell,
With, stubborn contrariety
   Cops never tell.

From out all Nature come to us
   Confessions none may quell,
Nor earth nor sky are dumb to us,
   But cops never tell.
Despite the multiplicity
Of crimes and man's duplicity,
Which over our felicity
   Has cast an evil spell,
Shrinking from crude publicity,
   Cops never tell.

First published in The Herald, 23 November 1935

Perpetual Motion by C.J. Dennis

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"What beautiful lawns!  Here is a place to dream in."

What (said the poet) should we care
   For all this mad world's phantasies,
For rumours rife upon the air
   Of terrors looming overseas?
If so, the soul were plagued alway
   With far-fetched grieving, what of mirth?
For somewhere sorrow broods all day;
   Yet laughter, too, inhabits earth.

For the sun shines and the grass grows,
   And the ferns nod above the stream
That down this placid valley flows;
   Then let us rest a while, and dream.
For the grass grows as the sun shines,
   And the stream flows and sings a song
To chide the sad heart that repines
   Ah, summer, summer, linger long!

What (I gave answer) badgers me
   Are not the tragedies of earth.
Despite your gay philosophy
   Of seeking joy and claiming mirth
For boon companions as you go,
   Oft times these very joys oppress
And suns that shine and streams that flow
   May be a source of weariness.

For the grass grows and the sun gleams
   To sear the grass and, where they flow,
I must bring water from the streams
   To make the blinking grass to grow.
And the sun gleams and the grass grows --
   Indeed I know it well enough;
For as it springs where water flows
   I've got to cut the blasted stuff.

First published in The Herald, 22 November 1934

Lost Opportunity by C.J. Dennis

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In the Senate yesterday an Honorable Senator, after referring to the Treasurer as a hi-jacker, a four-flusher, and a Tammany boss, proceeded to tell the Assistant Minister for Works that "if he protruded his jaw into the fight he would stop one, too."

Lawblimey!  I missed me vercation!
   I've tumbled - too late for the bus -
That the makin' of laws is for fellers wot jaws,
   Like me, with the picturesque cuss.
In me youth I'd an innercent notion
   I'd flop in this law-givin' trade,
An' I've wasted me youth in 'ard yakka - ah, strooth!
   When I 'ad all the gifts ready-made.

'Ere's me with a mouthful of phrases
   I gathered in by-ways an' lanes;
An' I've wasted 'em all thro' ignorin' the call
   To a game w'ich I thort needed brains.
Too modest, that's me.  Too retirin':
   To blind to me own blinkin' worth,
When today I might at the top of the tree
   Pickin' plums in a Senator's berth.

An' yet - I dunno.  Things is ordered,
   An' blokes sorter drifts to a lurk
That is best for their bent.  An' if that means content,
   Well, I ain't got no quarrel with work.
An' when I git thinkin' of statecraft,
   Its schemes an' its shams an' its shifts,
'Tisn't much of a game in the end.  All the same,
   It's a pity I've wasted me gifts!

First published in The Herald, 21 November 1931

The Cosinic Curve by C.J. Dennis

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Professor H. Priestley, of Sydney University, declares that there is much undernourishment among Sydney girls because of "slimming."  "Better," he says, "have curves and good health than no curves and bad health."

Callithumpus Kevin Kerr was a young astronomer,
   Rich and handsome, eligible, sound and single,
Somewhat absent as to mind, and peculiarly inclined
   To allow his love quest and his work to mingle.
"Jupiter," said he, "and Mars, all fixed and unfixed stars
   And their orbits mid the circular have tarried;
There is nothing straight nor square in the heavens anywhere --
   Which reminds me, I should think of getting married."

Clementina Mumphin-Moore was a modern girl who wore
   Slinky frocks, and her slimming concentrated.
Thus, her health was far from good; but Matilda Mabel Wood
   Was circular in shape -- cats said "inflated."
Both these girls, the thick and thin, were most interested in
   Callithumpus Kevin Kerr, who so austerely
Walked with face turned to the sky; each one rolled a roguish eye
   "With view above," for each one loved him dearly.

Callithumpus Kerr one day went a-mumbling on his way,
   And both maids watched him as he conned his table:
"Jupiter, the Moon and Mars, all the fixed and unfixed stars
   Are circular in shape -- why, hello, Mabel!"
Clementina, oh, so slim, was invisible to him.
   But he gazed at Mabel as he thought of Saturn.
Then he said, quite suddenly, "Mabel!  Will you marry me?
   For an astronomer you're just the pattern."

Thro' a crevice in the floor Clementina Mumphin-Moore
   Slipped; and no one ever heard of her thereafter.
Mabel wed her clever Kerr, and their home, so friends aver,
   Is a place of curves and meals and happy laughter.
Girls!  Be warned in time; because certain universal laws
   Rule creation, and you may not monkey with 'em.
Mould yourselves upon old mars and the fixed and unfixed stars,
   For slim and slinky girls "ain't got no rhythm."

First published in The Herald, 20 November 1935

'Urry by C.J. Dennis

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Now, Ma-til-der! Ain't cher dressed yet? I declare, the girl ain't up!
Last as ushul. Move yerself, you sleepy'-ead!
Are you goin' to lie there lazin',
W'ile I -- Nell, put down that basin;
Go an' see if Bill has got the poddies fed;
Tell 'im not to move that clucky -- ho, yer up, me lady, eh?
That's wot comes from gallivantin' lat ut night.
Why, the sun is nearly -- see now,
Don't chu dare talk back at me now!
Set the table, Nell!  Where's Nell?  Put out that light!

Now then, 'urry, goodness, 'urry! Mary, tell the men to come.
Oh there, drat the girl!  MA-TIL-DER! where's the jam?
You fergot it? Well, uv all ther ...
Mary! 'Ear me tell you call ther ...
Lord! there's Baldy TANGLED IN THE BARB'-WIRE -- SAM!
Now, then, take 'er steady, clumsy, or she'll cut herself -- LEAVE OFF!
Do you want the cow to -- There!  I never did!
Well, you mighter took 'er steady.
Sit up, Dad, yer late already.
Did ju put the tea in, Mary? Where's the lid?

Oh, do 'urry!  Where's them buckets? Nell, 'as Bill brought in the cows?
Where's that boy?  Ain't finished eatin' yet, uv course;
Eat all day if 'e wus let to.
Mary, where'd yer father get to?
Gone!  Wot! Call 'im back! DAD!  Wot about that 'orse?
No, indeed, it ain't my business; you kin see the man yerself.
No, I won't! I'm sure I've quite enough to do.
If 'e calls ter-day about it,
'E kin either go without it,
Or lest walk acrost the paddick out to you.

Are the cows in, B-i-ll? Oh, there they are.  Well, nearly time they -- Nell,
Feed the calves, an' pack the -- Yes, indeed ju will!
Get the sepy-rater ready.
Woa, there, Baldy -- steady, steady.
Bail up. Stop-er! Hi, Matilder! MARY!  BILL!
Well, uv all th' . . . Now you've done it.
Wait till Dad comes 'ome to-night;
When 'e sees the mess you've -- Don't stand starin' there!
Go an' get the cart an' neddy;
An' the cream cans - are they ready?
Where's the ... There!  Fergot the fowls, I do declare!

Chuck! -- Chook! -- CHOOK!  Why, there's that white un lost another chick to-day!
Nell, 'ow many did I count? -- Oh, stop that row!
Wot's 'e doin'?  Oh, you daisy!
Do you mean to tell me, lazy,
Thet you 'aven't fed the pigs until jus' now?
Oh, do 'urry! There's the men ull soon be knockin' off fer lunch.
An' we 'aven't got the ... Reach that bacon down.
Get the billies, Nell, an' - Mary,
Go an' fetch the ... Wot? 'Ow dare 'e!
Bill, yer NOT to wear yer best 'at inter town!

'Ave you washed the things, Matilder? Oh, do 'urry, girl, yer late!
Seems to me you trouble more -- TAKE CARE! -- You dunce!
Now you've broke it!  Well I never!
Ain't chu mighty smart an' clever;
Try'n to carry arf a dozen things at once.
No back answers now! You hussy!  Don't chu dare talk back at me
Or I'll ... Nelly, did ju give them eggs to Bill?
Wot? CHU NEVER? Well I ... Mary,
Bring them dishes frum the dairy;
No, not them, the ... Lord, the sun's be'ind the hill!

'Ave you cleaned the sepy-rater, Nell? Well, get along to bed.
No; you can't go 'crost to Thompson's place to-night;
You wus there las' Chusday - See, miss,
Don't chu toss your head at me, miss!
I won't 'ave it. Mary, 'urry with that light!
Now then, get yer Dad the paper. Set down, Dad -- ju must be tired.
'Ere, Matilder, put that almanick away!
Where's them stockin's I wus darnin'?
Bill an' Mary, stop yer yarnin'!
Now then, Dad.  Heigh-ho!  Me fust sit down ter-day.

First published in The Bulletin, 19 November 1903;
and later in
Backblock Ballads and Other Verses by C.J. Dennis, 1918;
Selected Works of C.J. Dennis introduced by Barry Watts, 1988; and
Favourite Poems of C.J. Dennis, 1989.

On the Farm at Brady's Gap by C.J. Dennis

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There's hills to the north, an' south, an' aste,
   An' a dusty plain on the west;
A small lean-to, wid a shed or two,
   'Tis a lonesome place at best;
But all the houses in this broad town,
   To me, aint worth a rap
Beside the dear ould tumble-down
   On the farm at Brady's Gap.

In a smart suburban villa,
   In a trim suburban street,
Before the fire sat Dad Maguire,
   With neatly slippered feet;
Dressed in a suit of broadcloth,
   And a fancy velvet cap,
He told the tale, in a plaintive wail,
   Of the farm on Brady's Gap. 

'Tis not f'r me to grumble
   At the life I lade down here,
Wid niver a care f'r crops to bear,
   An' niver a drought to fear,
I've all that man cud want for,
   Wid me house, an' horse an' trap --
'Twas a knock-knee'd grey, and an ould spring-dray,
   On the farm at Brady's Gap.

'Tis twinty years last August
   Since first we tuk the land --
A barren, thirsty counthry --
   But Lord, we thought it grand;
For we was young and hopeful,
   Me an' the missus thin;
An' our only son (God rest his soul)
   Was a child of nine or tin.

'Twas a peaceful lonesome life we led;
   Our luck now in now out,
A daily fight for mate an' bread,
   Wid frost, an' wind, an' drought.
An' bit by bit our bye grew up,
   A lively smart young chap,
Wid whips of go -- an' life was slow
   For him at Brady's Gap.

An' after much persuadin'
   An' pleadin' wid the wife,
I gave the lad me promise
   To let him start in life.
I'd save a bit o' money
   Whin things was at their best;
An' most of that I gave to Pat,
   An' shipped him to the West.

'Twas there the made the money
   That keeps us livin' here,
Contint an' indipindent;
   But the price we paid was dear.
Fur Paddy tuk the typhoid
   An' died of it over there,
Leavin' us rich an' wealthy.
   But a childless lonely air.

There' a hilly waste north, south, an' aste,
   An' a dusty plain out West;
An' ould lean-to wid a tree or two,
   'Tis a dreary place at best.
But often now when I'm sittin' here
   Fur me after-dinner nap;
A tear starts out, when I drame about
   The farm at Brady's Gap.

First published in The Evening Journal, 18 November 1899

Going Home by C.J. Dennis

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Believing himself near death, Henry Isaac Williams, an old bush pensioner, slipped unobserved from, Murwillumbah hospital on Wednesday night and went into the bush to die.  "I want to get it over out there," he had said.  "I don't want to die in a house."

When I set out for the West (said he)
   On my last big tramp alone,
I could start the journey best (said he)
   From the land I call my own.
For I want the skies and the friendly trees
   And the bush-bound tracks I know,
And I want the bush birds' melodies
   To cheer me as I go.

For there's none to point the way (said he)
   When a soul sets forth to range;
And a soul might drift astray (said he)
   In a city grim and strange.
For I'd head me east or head me west,
  And I'd veer, and double back;
But in the land I know the best
   I'd head straight up the track.

So set me free in the bush (said he)
   Where the way is plain and straight;
And I'll need no urging push (said he)
   Nor halt, nor hesitate.
But where the golden sun-shafts fall
   Thro' fretted shades I'll roam
Till I hear the old gatekeeper's call,
   Then I'll know that I've come home.

First published in The Herald, 17 November 1931

The Rival Seers by C.J. Dennis

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In Sydney this week a man was sent to gaol for six months for having told fortunes by tea cup reading.

The queer discriminations used
   In this law-ridden land
Leave me bewildered and confused.
   What man can understand
Why this soothsayer they acclaim
   And with high honors hail,
While that poor prophet, sunk in shame,
   Ignobly goes to jail?

Because he peers upon a palm
   And speaks of things apart --
Of "dark men" looming strong and calm,
   To thrill some spinster heart
And wake fond dreams; or else, because
   He looks into a cup
And lies.  They say he breaks the laws,
   And coppers mop him up.

Yet, if it be against the law
   Men's fortunes to foretell,
What of that other man I saw
   (Indeed, I know him well)
Who on a platform lately stood
   And promised paradise,
Prosperity and endless good,
   If folk took his advice?

He had no cup to be his guide,
   No cards, no crystal ball;
Yet, heavens!  How he prophesied!
   You'd think he knew it all.
Dread doom awaited us, he warned,
   Death and destruction grim,
Lest we the other Party acorned
   And cast our votes for him.

Was he arrested on the spot
   And bundled into quod
For fortune-telling?  He was not,
   (I thought it rather odd)
Tho' his proud promise of content
   Was guess-work, clearly rash,
They put him into Parliament
   And gave him wads of cash.

The queer discriminations used
   In cases such as these
Leave me bewildered and bemused
   'Mid inconsistencies.
For while one seer with bays they deck,
   Tho' perjured to the eyes,
The other gets it in the neck,
   For far less whopping lies.

First published in The Herald, 16 November 1934

Brotherhood of Earth by C.J. Dennis

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"For, notwithstanding every tribulation, the earth is a safeguard and ... a security against ills of any kind. The earth remains when everything else has departed." - Passage from the will of a N.S.W. grazier, recently dead, who implored his sons to hold on to the land.

While we are of the earth is the earth our haven,
   The broad lands and the green grass under the sun.
Upon the heart of a man is this deep graven
   Whose toil is done
Out in the fields and the fallow lands and the stubble
   Where beasts are his brothers, and all things of earth
Stand to his need; in fair content, in trouble,
   The only worth.

We come of the clay and to the clay descending
   In its dark couch from all the upper strife
Find that deep peace that yet is not an ending,
   But unity of life
With the high stars and life past comprehension
   Of man's blunt senses born from out the sod.
Here is not burial, but an ascension
   To things of God.

Cleave to it then, my son, that it may teach you
   The brotherhood of earth while earth things last,
That some foreknowledge, some dark hint may reach you
   Out of the vast
Unknowable that broods about those living
   Close to the soil and with the soil yet strive
That it may give them hope, and, in the giving,
   Keep faith alive.

Not from the skies above, not out of cities,
   Not thro' vague gropings of human mind,
Not in the play of mortal hates or pities
   Such peace we find.
While we are of the earth shall earth uphold us,
   Our mother, teacher, and our one true friend
Till time and space be done, and joys enfold us
   With unity sans end.

First published in The Herald, 15 November 1937

We Are Eleven by C.J. Dennis

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[The Victorian Eleven arrived yesterday.  The team consists of: - J. Ainsley, W. Carkeek, E. V. Carroll, F. B. Collins, F. Laver, F. Vaughan, P. McAllister, V. Ransford, T. Rush, J. Saunders, E. Goss, and G. Hazlitt. - Cricket Item]

            A cricketer,
That lightly goes and comes,
   And fields at risk of life and limb,
What should he know of sums?

I met a little "flannelled fool."
   He was eight, not out, he said;
And he was looking far from cool --
  His little face was red.

He had a lively, sporting air,
   And he was whitely clad;
His arms were bare, yes, very bare;
   His necktie made me mad.

"Batsmen and men that bowl the ball,
   How many may you be?"
"How many?" he said.  "Eleven in all."
   And wondering looked at me.

"And who are they? I pray you tell."
   He said, "Eleven are we.
Down at the match you'd know us well
   If you would go and see.

"Two of us in the longfield stand.
   Then there is Vaughan and Rush,
F. Laver, Collins, Ransford, and
   J. Ainsley," did he gush.

"Besides, there are four more of us,
   Whose names I don't recall;
But, if you must kick up a fuss
   I'll recollect 'em all."

"You say that two in longfield dwell,
   And then ten more we see;
Yet you're eleven?  I pray you tell,
   Sweet sir, how that may be."

Then did the little man reply,
   "Eleven in all are we,
Most of us at short slips try
   When we play 'off-theory.'"

"You run about, my little chap,
   Your limbs are very fit;
Unless you fear some grave mishap,
   Just try to think a bit."

"The grass is green; they may be seen,"
   The little man replied.
"Twelve steps or more, thro' the oval door,
   If you will step inside.

"My leg-glides there I try a bit;
   My fours I often drive;
As there upon the ground I hit,
   It makes me feel alive.

"And, often, ere the sun has set --
   That's if the light is fair --
My little cricket bat I get,
   And do my practice there.

"Carkeek, he was the first to go --
   He made a duck that day;
It was O'Connor laid him low,
   And so he went away.

"So in the grand stand he was laid,
   And, as the play went on,
Around about the wickets played
   McAlister and Vaughan.

"And then" -- "Hold on, my man," I smiled.
   "You're apt to be a rover.
Why, talk of Wordsworth's 'simple child'!
   You bowl that maiden over!

"How many of you now?" said I.
   "Are two and three and seven?"
Quick was the little man's reply --
   "Oh, mister, we're eleven."

"But that's absurd.  It's most absurd!
   You'd vex a saint in heaven!"
'Twas throwing words away, for still
The little man would have his will.
   "Nay, mister we're eleven." 

First published in The Gadfly, 14 November 1906

The Mountain Labored by C.J. Dennis

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Mr. Cook (to Mr. Groom): Sit down!  Don't answer the question.  They are like a lot of dingoes over there.  (Interruption.)
The Speaker: Order!  Order!
Mr. Cook: Behave like men.  (Uproar.)
Mr. Page: I rise to a point of order.  I for one on this side of the House object to being called a dingo.  (Laughter.)
Mr. Cook: I have not called the hon. member a dingo.  (Opposition dissent.)
Mr. Page: I appeal to you, Mr. Speaker.  (Prolonged laughter.)
The Speaker: Order!  Order!  It is the custom of the House for an hon. member to accept a disclaimer.
Mr. MacDonald (Q.): It is not true.  (interruptions.)
Mr. Cook: I did say that there was a noise like a lot of dingoes.  (Cheers.) - Parliamentary report.

A patriot spake thus to an eager throng:
"Give me the power and I shall right each wrong.
And Fortune, smiling, on our land shall look" -
         His name was COOK.

Lo, I beheld, throughout a continent,
   A nation wrestle with affairs of State,
And patriotic cries, wher'er I went,
   Poured forth alike from groundlings and the great.
I heard man reason with his fellow man;
   From shore to shore rang out one mighty screech,
As, daily, from a thousand platforms ran 
   Rivers of speech.

Consul and Senator keen combat waged.
   Doctor and Saint joined hotly in the fray;
North, South and West and East the battle raged;
   And ev'ry citizen had much to say;
Bland politicians talked incessantly -
   It seemed a very battle of the gods;
Though much they said appeared to me to be
   Over the odds.

Then lo, upon the great Election Day,
   The day appointed for the mighty test,
Cab, jinker, motor-car and humble dray
   Hither and thither sped at the behest
Of rival statesmen whose bold streamers flared
   On wall and hoarding....You can guess the rest -
   'Twere easy spared.

My wife remained at home to mend my socks;
   But forth went I to claim my sovereign right,
To win my freedom at the ballot-box....
   I got back home at twelve o'clock that night.
Or was it two next morning?  I forget.
   But I had done my duty like a man:
Helped in the noblest scheme man's fashioned yet -
   The Party Plan.

And then a solemn hush fell on the land
   (I was content, considering my head,
Next Morning).  And behold, on ev'ry hand,
   Expectancy and hope one plainly read,
Till through the land rang out the herald's voice
   Telling the upshot of that mighty fray:
"Joseph is consul!  Citizens, rejoice!
   'Ip, 'ip, 'ooray!"

Rejoice I did; and my prophetic soul
   Saw for my country happiness and peace.
For he had reached at last the longed-for goal.
   Now would our corn and oil and beer increase!
What would it profit else, this strike, this pain -
   A mighty Nation shaken to its soul?
Sans good result, all hope ('twas very plain)
   Was up the pole.

Into the Hall of State I blithely went,
   Eager to hear the dignified debate -
Grave, reverend seigneurs in grave argument
   Engaged, discussing great affairs of State,
Wise counsellors....But stay!  What's here amiss?
   Are these the honored makers of the Law?
Now Heav'n defend our Party Plan! for this
   Is what I saw:

A yelping, clamorous, unruly clan;
A small bald, agitated, snapping man;
And, as they raved, his fist he fiercely shook -
His name was COOK.

First published in The Bulletin, 13 November 1913

The Austra-laise by C.J. Dennis

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A Marching Song
Air - Onward Christian Soldiers 

Fellers of Australier,
   Blokes an' coves an' coots,
Shift yer --- carcases,
   Move yer --- boots.
Gird yer --- loins up,
   Get yer --- gun,
Set the --- enermy
   An' watch the blighters run.
   Get a --- move on,
      Have some --- sense.
   Learn the --- art of
      Self de- --- -fence.
Have some --- brains be-
   Neath yer --- lids.
An' swing a --- sabre
   Fer the missus an' the kids.
Chuck supportin' --- posts,
   An' strikin' --- lights,
Support a ---- fam'ly an'
   Strike fer yer --- rights.
   Get a --- move on, etc.
Joy is --- fleetin',
   Life is --- short.
Wot's the use uv wastin' it
   All on --- sport?
Hitch yer --- tip-dray
   To a --- star.
Let yer --- watchword be
   "Australi- --- -ar!"
   Get a --- move on, etc.
'Ow's the --- nation
   Goin' to ixpand
'Lest us --- blokes an' coves
   Lend a --- 'and?
'Eave yer --- apathy
   Down a --- chasm;
'Ump yer --- burden with
   Enthusi- --- -asm.
   Get a --- move on, etc.
W'en old mother Britain
   Calls yer native land
Take a --- rifle
   In yer --- 'and
Keep yer --- upper lip
   Stiff as stiff kin be,
An' speed a --- bullet for
   Post- --- -ity.
   Get a --- move on, etc.
W'en the --- bugle
   Sounds "Ad- --- -vance"
Don't be like a flock er sheep
   In a --- trance
Biff the --- Kaiser
   Where it don't agree
Spifler- --- -cate him
   To Eternity.
   Get a --- move on, etc.
Fellers of Australier,
   Cobbers, chaps an' mates,
Hear the --- German
   Kickin' at the gates!
Blow the --- bugle,
   Beat the --- drum,
Upper-cut an' out the cow
   To kingdom- --- -come!
   Get a --- move on,
      Have some --- sense.
   Learn the --- art of
      Self de- --- -fence.

(With some acknowledgements to W.T. Goodge.)

First published in The Bulletin, 12 November 1908, and again in the same magazine on 18 March 1942;
and later in
Backblock Ballads and Later Verses by C.J. Dennis, 1918;
The Australian Soldiers Magazine, September 1918;
Selected Verse of C.J. Dennis chosen and introduced by Alec H. Chisholm, 1950;
An Anthology of Australian Verse edited by George Mackaness, 1952;
Complete Book of Australian Folklore compiled by Bill Scott, 1976;
The Penguin Book of Australian Humorous Verse compiled by Bill Scott, 1984;
The Illustrated Treasury of Australian Verse compiled by Beatrice Davis, 1984;
Selected Works of C.J. Dennis introduced by Barry Watts, 1988; and
Favourite Poems of C.J. Dennis, 1989.

Footnote to 1915 reissue - Where a dash (---) replaces a missing word, the adjective "blessed" may be interpolated.  In cases demanding great emphasis, the use of the word "blooming" is permissible.  However, any other word may be used that suggests itself as suitable.

Dennis acknowledges W.T. Goodge at the end of this poem.  The piece he was referring to was

A Message: Armistice Day 1936 by C.J. Dennis

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I got dreamin' that a message came in some mysterious way
From one ole pal of mine, gone West this many an' many a day,
   A bloke the name of Ginger Mick, a fightin' cove I knoo.
   (But he's Digger Corporal Mick Esquire, late A.I.F., to you).
'E got 'is on Gallipoli, an' sleeps there with the best,
Not leavin' very much be'ind, excep' one small request.
   "Look after things," was all 'e said, when 'e was mortal 'urt
   Dead sure 'is mates -- that's me an' you -- would never do 'im dirt.

Think of it in Silence, with yer 'eads bowed low
Do we keep the unspoke compact with the men we used to know?)

For I dreams it in the silence of a dark Remembrance Eve,
An' the message seems to tell me it is gettin' late to grieve.
   "But if you seem to miss us still, then get the sob-stuff o'er
   An' think about the things wot we went an' fought a war.
Send us a pray'r an' drop a tear an' bend a reverent knee,
(Says Digger Corporal Ginger Mick, A.I.F., says 'e).
   But is the things we fought for still the things most dear to you,
   The honor an' the glory an' the mateship that we knew?"

(Think of it in Silence, when the Last Post plays
The splendid glimpse of truth we 'ad, once, in the bitter days.)

"Grief is a passin' compliment," the message seems to say;
But tears don't carry on the job for men that drift away.
   We 'ad small time or taste for such where guns was raisin' 'ell,
   When we got busy plantin' blokes an' wishin' 'em farewell.
We blowed sad music over 'em -- plain Digs, or Brass 'at Knuts --
But we played a quick-step comin' back, to show we 'ad the guts.
   Our speech was rough, our ways was tough -- tough as our bloody game.
   Are the rough, tough, lads still honored, like when the Terror came?"

(Think of it in the Silence, when their spirits hover near;
The vision and the vows that held while still the land knew fear.)

'E's sleepin' on Gallipoli.  At least, 'is bones is there:
Bones worth a ton of livin' flesh that won't play fair --
   Not till the Terror comes again.  "An' when it does," says 'e,
   "If gods worshipped let you down, well, don't blame me."
'E's seen a lot, an' learned a lot most like, where 'e 'as gone;
An' 'eaven 'elp us when we meet if we ain't carried on.
   A vulgar person, Ginger Mick, a fightin' cove I knoo --
   (But Digger Corporal Ginger Mick, if you please, to you.)

(Think of it in the Silence; an', if you pray, pray deep
That all we 'ave an' all we are old loyalties shall keep.)

First published in The Herald, 11 November 1936

In the Fullness of Time by C.J. Dennis

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In the city and suburbs there have been 71 cases of housebreaking in seven days and 26 hold-ups since September 4. Meantime the Government is still perfecting its "Consorting with Criminals" Bill, aimed at the suppression of crime.

If a footpad comes upon you in a quiet street at dark,
   And prods a large revolver in your back,
Oh, don't decide, in sudden gloom, that life's a nark,
Or toy with pessimistic thought and black;
But stick your hands high in the air as, with felonious act,
   He strips you of your cash; keep very still,
And ponder on the beautiful and more consoling fact,
   That the Government's considering a Bill.

If you reach your home on evening to discover cupboards bare,
   And every secret place turned inside out,
And all the rooms denuded of their treasures rich and rare,
   Don't hit the roof, and throw your weight about,
And babble of a crime-wave.  Keep your temper; try to smile,
   And lay this soothing unction to your soul:
The nation's mighty intellects are building plans the while,
   That, in time's gracious fullness will be whole.

For some shall be the sacrifice as some shall grab the loot;
   But evil in the end shall not prevail.
So when a hoodlum jumps on you and then "puts in the boot,"
   Think (while you may) this sort of thing must fail.
We must be philosophic.  Panic serves no thoughtful folk.
   What's property compared with perfect laws?
So, if you stop a bullet, try to ponder as you croak,
   You've been martyred in a good and noble cause.

First published in The Herald, 10 November 1931

Waiting by C.J. Dennis

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Oh, how I love the fine old chap
   Who sits upon my left at meals,
And drops his cabbage, in my lap
   From swooping fork, while he reveals
How he, at Hay, in '83,
Gave Hamlet's grand so-lil-o-quee.

He slops his supper beer o' nights,
   Or fills my dexter ear with stout,
While strenuously he recites,
   And hurls his lanky limbs about,
To prove that every modern cuss
Has missed the true Polonius.

His oysters down my back he'll throw,
   Or freely spray me with his soup,
When suddenly inspired to show
   How savage Ingomar should whoop,
Or illustrate the proper scream
With which to finish "Denver's Dream."

He throws his turnips everywhere;
   With breakfast-tea he scalds my legs;
I've spuds and carrots in my hair;
   And oft he's smitten me with eggs.
If e'er he shows, with humor grim
I'll throw these things all back at him.

First published in The Bulletin, 9 November 1911

The Listening Week by C.J. Dennis

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This week, throughout the length and breadth of the Australian continent, wireless waves from both A and B class stations are broadcasting race descriptions and results, and myriads of ears are bent toward receiving sets.

This is the listening week of the year --
A-cock and alert is the national ear --
All over the land in the country towns,
From the back of the Leeuwin to Darling Downs,
Layers of "quids" or the odd half-crowns,
     They are listening-in.
On the far-flung farms they are round each set,
The work and the worry they all forget,
Wherever an aerial soars in space
To the Cup, or the Oaks or the Steeplechase,
To the roar of the ring and the lure of the race
   They are listening-in.
In the far outback there are sun-tanned men,
Where the woolshed stands by the drafting pen --
Old Dad's come in from the Ninety Mile;
He scored on the Cup and he wears a smile,
And he "reckons this game is well worth while" --
      So he's listening in.
To the edge of the desert the sound-waves go;
      And, listening-in,
Ned of the Overland, Saltbush Joe --
      Listening-in --
Recall the giants of years long past,
And the loneliness of these spaces vast;
But they reckon that life's worth living at last
      With this listening-in.

First published in The Herald, 8 November 1933

Euphemia Quade by C.J. Dennis

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The story is here as it came to my ear
   From the lips of old Danny McGee,
Who'd the strength and the will for his bullocking still
   When his years numbered seventy-three.
There's full many a man of the bullocky clan
   On whose word one might never rely;
But old Danny McGee was a hero to me,
   And I'd hate to believe he could lie.

Now, I knows all me facts, an' I torks of the acts
   As I've seen with me own pair of eyes;
An' I teats 'em with scorn - all of them fellers forlorn
   Who will fill up a stranger with lies.
In a sense, I allows that the punchin' of cows
   Ain't conducive to general truth;
But I allus live next to the copy-book text
   I was taught in me innercent youth.

Well, I'm tellin' you this - and I'd take it amiss
   if you thought I was pullin' your leg -
I've some yarns that would fair singe the roots of your hair,
   An' just leave you as bald as an egg:
But this plain little tale is designed for the frail,
   'Twouldn't ruffle the tenderest curl;
An' it's all about Bill, of McGorrorey's Hill;
   An' it's likewise concernin' his girl.

Now, this Bill's other name was Devine, and the same
   Didn't fit with his style or his trade,
Which was punchin' a team, and his language would seem
   To arrive at his lips ready-made.
He'd a fine vocal gift which was reckoned to lift
   Seven ton by its own strength alone;
He was good at his game, an' his name an' his fame
   From the Gap to the Gorge was well known.

You would say at first glance that the thing called Romance
   An' a bullock don't seem to agree.
Funny mixture it seems - cows an' lovers' fond dreams -
   But you listen a minute to me.
There is strange things, ses you, that young fellers will do
   When they're under the spell of a maid,
So it happened to Bill, of McGorrorey's Hill;
   An' her name was Euphemia Quade.

Euphemia Quade she was certainly made
   In a mould that they don't often use.
She was pretty an' coy, an' a dream an' a joy,
   Sich as any young feller might choose.
But the treasure's old man, with the front name of Dan,
   Was a tough proposition to hit.
For, ses he, "This here girl she's a match for an earl,
   An' for plain workin' coves she ain't fit."

But young Bill had a way with the women, they say.
   He was honest, an' clean, an' a man.
He was straight as an ash; an' without bein' flash,
   He made love as a lusty youth can.
As for Phemie, why she had her two eyes to see
   That young Bill was fit mate for a queen;
So they met on the sly, when the moon from the sky
   Turned to silver the forests' trees green.

But the dear little maid she was fearful afraid
   With the risks that she took for his sake,
And the terrible ire of her obstinate sire
   Was a thing that she dreaded to wake.
"O, dear Billy!" ses she, "but I never can be
   E'er your own darlin' wife, as you hope."
"There is one way," ses Bill.  If you're game!  If you will!
   Brave it out, Phemie, dear!  We'll elope!"

On M'Gorrorey's Hill Dan'el Quade's timber mill
   Stands alone in a wide forest land.
And the hills are that steep, and the gullies so deep
   There's scarce foothold for bullocks to stand.
As a matter of course, hair or hide of a horse
   Never comes within miles of the mill;
"But," ses Bill, "Phemie, dear, there's a way, never fear;
   An' I'll find it; for I have the will."

Twice every week across Milligan's Creek
   Came down Billy Devine from the mill;
And again up the track did he punch the beasts back,
   As they clung to the side of the hill.
When at night they unyoked, and the boys sat and smoked,
   Bill got foolin' around with a pair.
"Why, he's breakin' 'em in to the saddle!"  ses Jim;
   "'Tis a treat for to hark at him swear!"

Ses the boys, "What the dooce is the blitherin' use
   Of a bullock in saddle to Bill?"
"Leave him at it," ses Jim.   "It's a mad, harmless whim;
   An' they're scarce on M'Gorrorey's Hill."
So, far into the night, be it dark, be it light,
   Bill he battled and cursed at each beast.
And his language was sure, what the fellers call "pure,"
   And its "purity" daily increased.

Now, from Dan'el Quade's mill, on M'Gorrorey's Hill,
   To the township is thirty mile, good;
An' a parson lives there who's made many a pair
   Man an' missus, as clergymen should.
But the road in between is the worst ever seen;
   'Tis a cross twixt a cliff an' a bog;
An' there's Milligan's Creek for to cross, not to speak
   Of full many a pot-hole an' log.

But along that lone track, each a load on his back,
   When the moon shone out full in the sky,
There came down at a trot Bill's old Baldy and Spot -
   As I tell you without word of a lie,
An' on Spot sat the maid, as he wobbled and swayed
   'Neath the weight of the soon-to-be-bride;
An', with many looks back for pursuit up the track,
   Bill Devine rode on Baldy beside.

Then they came to the creek.  ('Tis with caution I speak,
   For I'd whisper no slander of Bill -
An' 'twas there the beasts baulked; tho' he coaxed an' he talked,
   On the bank they stoof stubborn and still.
Tho' the boy was fair wild, still his language was mild,
   An', in consequence, strange to the steers.
They expects him to swear, an' he cries in despair,
   "Phemie, dear, put your hands to your ears!"

Now, when old Dan'el Quade missed the run of his maid
   Why, he drops to their game in a tick;
An' his brow it was black as he makes down the track
   With the object of trumpin' their trick.
For he swore a loud oath he'd come up with them both,
   An' he'd deal with the man and the maid;
An', my word, you can take, 'twas no trifle to wake
   The hot anger of old Dan'el Quade.

He was wet, he was hot, an' perspirin' a lot
   When he drew near to Milligan's Creek,
An' his temper was raw when the lovers he saw,
   An' he opens his mouth for to speak.
Him young Bill never seen for the bushes between,
   An' that moment he starts to perform.
Like a log on the spot stands Dan Quade like he's shot;
   An' he bows his old head to the storm.

An' young Bill!  Did he curse?  As for chapter and verse
   I refer you to better than me.
It would parch me mouth dry if I ventured to try,
   So I leaves you to guess, fancy free.
But I know it was grand, for no man in the land
   Equalled Bill in addresses to steers.
Like a stone stood old Quade, stony still sat the maid,
   With her pretty hands to her ears.

Then, when Bill paused for breath in a silence like death,
   To the lovers strode old Dan'el Quade.
"We are lost!" mutters Bill.  Ses the boss of the mill,
   "Bill Devine, are you wantin' my maid?
If you do, she is yours, for while punchin' endures
   You're a credit to your native land!
Man alive, you can swear!  Bill Devine, put it there!"
   An' the old father holds out his hand.

With her hands to her ears, an' her mind full of fear,
   Sweet Euphemia sat on her steer;
But the smile on Dad's face spelled forebodin's of grace;
   An', ses Bill, "Take your hands down my dear.
Did you hear what I said?"  An' the maiden grows red;
   But there's fun in her eye, saucy wench,
As she ses, "I heard, here an' there, a strange word,
   Was you speakin' in German or French?"

So then, here is the tale.  Should credulity fail -
   Should your mind be invaded by doubt -
Well, you have it from me just as Daddy McGee
   From his truthful heart gave it out.
The next day, so he said, those true lovers were wed;
   And they owned old Quade's mill when he died.
So says Daddy McGee, aged seventy-three;
   And I'd hate to believe that he lied.

First published in The Weekly Times Annual, 7 November 1914

Cup Couplets by C.J. Dennis

| No TrackBacks
Here is a motto to hold and hug:
"There is but one Cup, but many a mug."

It was never a trait of the human race
To allow but horse to "go the pace."

It's many to thirst and few to sup,
And the rest to drain the dregs of the Cup.

This is a rule of a Cup day revel:
Dine with the gods and sup with the devil.

It's a Cup brimful of the red, red wine,
And a lucky one and a thirsty nine.

And this is the rule when a winner sups:
He is in on the Cup and on in his cups.

When the woman is slow and the horse is fast,
We may go a pace that is like to last.

When the woman is fast and the horse also,
It doesn't much matter what pace we go.

When the woman is fast and the horse is dead,
There's the devil to pay and an aching head.

But, fast or slow, if you play the game
To the end, the end it is just the same.

And these be the sayings of Smug the Saint;
You guess he has lost, but I wot he ain't.

First published in The Gadfly, 6 November 1907

A Racing Rubaiyat by C.J. Dennis

| No TrackBacks
Awake!  For now no longer does the Fear
Of Loss uphold Resolves of yester year:
   And, lo, the Layer of the Odds pours forth
His Spring Song to the Punter's eager Ear.

Come, book the Bet.  And on the clamorous Ring
The care-won caution of a Twelve-month fling.
   Who knows?  Tomorrow we may get the tip
That robs the Racing Game of all its sting.

Think; in the Paddock you may meet a Bloque
Who whispers secret Things abut a Moke;
   And, if you back It and, perchance, It win,
The World is yours, and Life becomes a Joke.

The Owner's lips are lockt; the Trainer sighs,
And then goes dumb; the Tipster deals in lies.
   But what of that?  Throw down the Gage to chance:
Grasp a pin bravely, lad, and shut your eyes.

And if the Tip you take, the Cash you bet
End in the Nothing all things end in, yet,
    As Lessons learned last Year were this Year scorned,
So this Year's lessons next year you'll forget.

And when Thyself with listless Foot shall pass
Amongst torn Tickets littering the Grass,
   Reflect, some tens of thousands share your shame;
You are but merely one more Silly Ass.

First published in The Herald, 5 November 1934

Grimbles and the Gnad by C.J. Dennis

| No TrackBacks
It was told me by a bushman, bald and bent, and very old,
Upon the road to Poolyerleg; and here's the tale he told.
'Twould seem absurd to doubt his word, so honest he appeared --
And, as he spoke, the sou'-west wind toyed gently with his beard.

   "First it was the Grimble Grubs,
      Which they et his ''taters;
   An' all we buried in the end 
      Was Martin's boots and gaiters."

With this cryptic observation he began his anecdote;
And, when I sought particulars, he smiled and cleared his throat;
Then sat him down, and with his brown, rough hands about his knees
He told it all. And, as he spoke, his beard waved in the breeze.

   "First it was the Grimble Grubs --
      As I sez at startin',
   Which they et his tater crops,
      Which it troubled Martin."

Now, this Martin was a farmer with a scientific mind --
(It was thus the bushman started, as his beard blew out behind) --
He farmed the land and, understand, his luck was all tip-top,
Till them there little Grimble Grubs got in his tater crop.

P'raps you have heard of Grimble Grubs; more likely p'raps you've not;
When once they taste your 'taters you can look to lose the lot.
An' poor Martin, he was worried till he met a feller who 
Had read a book about the Swook, the which lives in Peru.

Now the Swook it is a beetle that inhabits Wuzzle Shrubs,
An' it makes a steady diet of the little Grimble Grubs;
So Martin he imported some, at very great expense,
An' turned 'em loose to play the dooce and teach the Grimbles sense.

   Then he swore by Wuzzle Swooks --
      Friends of cultivators --
   Which they et the Grimble Grubs,
      Which they et his 'taters.

But when the Wuzzle Swooks had et the Grimble Grubs right up,
Then they had to change their habits for to find a bit an' sup;
So they started on his turnips, which was summat to their taste,
Till Mister Martin's turnip patch became a howling' waste.

Then he natural grew peevish, till one afternoon he heard,
From a Feller in the poultry line, about the Guffer Bird
Which is native of Mauritius and the woods of Tennessee,
An' preys upon the Wuzzle Swooks for breakfast, lunch and tea.

   So he got some Guffer Birds
      Over from Mauritius,
   Which the same by nature are
      Very, very vicious:
   Which they et the Wuzzle Swooks --
      Plague of cultivators --
   Which they et the Grimble Grubs,
      Which they et the 'taters.

Then Martin swore by Guffer Birds, until one day he found
They'd et up all the Wuzzle Swooks for miles an' miles around,
An', havin' still some appetite, an' being' mighty mean,
They perched upon his apple trees and stripped his orchard clean.

Here's where Martin got excited; he was in an awful funk,
Until one day he read about the little Warty Swunk,
Which has his home in Mexico, an' lives on Guffer Birds;
An' Martin, being' desperate, imported him in herds.

   Then he praised the Warty Swunks,
      Beady-eyed and vicious,
   Which they et the Guffer Birds,
      Native of Mauritius,
   Which they et the Wuzzle Swooks --
      Plague of cultivators --
   Which they et the Grimble Grubs,
      Which they et the 'taters.

Now them Swunks were simply wonders, an' old Martin stopped his growls,
Till they et up all the Guffer Birds, an' started on his fowls.
An' the riots in his hen-house that occurred near every night 
They robbed him of his beauty sleep an' turned his whiskers white.

He was wearin' to a shadder, till by accident he seen 
A picture of the Bogggle Dog in some old magazine.
And the same he was notorious for huntin' Swunks an' such,
And for living' on their livers which he fancied very much.

Now the Boggle Dog of Boffin's Land is most extremely rare,
But Martin mortgaged house an' home just to import a pair.
They was most ferocious animals; but Martin he was mad;
An' he sooled 'em on the Warty Swunks with all the breath he had.

   Oh, he loved the Boggle Dogs,
      Called 'em "Dear" an' "Darlin'" --
   Fierce, ferocious Boggle Dogs,
      With their savage snarlin';
   Which they et the Warty Swunks,
      Beady-eyed and vicious,
   Which they et the Guffer Birds,
      Native of Mauritius,
   Which they et the Wuzzle Swooks --
      Plague of cultivators --
   Which they et the Grimble Grubs,
      Which they et the 'taters.

Then Martin he picked up a bit, an' got his proper sleep,
Until he found the Boggle Dogs had taken to his sheep;
For Warty Swunks is hard to catch, and nimble on their feet,
An' livers of merino lambs is just as nice to eat.

Now, I'm thinkin' here that Martin must have gone a trifle mad,
Else he'd never have imported such a creature as the Gnad;
For the Gnad, though few folks know it, roams about the Boffin bogs 
An' he has a passin' fancy for the flesh of Boggle Dogs.

But Martin he imported one with his last bit of cash,
An' loosed him on the Boggle Dogs -- an action worse than rash;
But the Boggles stayed in hidin', for the Boggles were discreet,
And the Gnad he cast his eye around for something he could eat.

"Sool 'em, Towser!" shouted Martin dancin' 'mid his ravaged crops;
But the Gnad regarded Martin as he slowly licked his chops.
An' the last we seen of Martin, far as I can call to mind,
He was tearin' round his paddock with the Gnad just close behind.

   First it was the Grimble Grubs,
      Which they et his 'taters,
   Then it was the Wuzzle Swooks --
      Plague of cultivators --
   Then it was the Guffer Birds,
      Native of Mauritius,
   Then it was the Warty Swunks,
      Beady-eyed an' vicious,
   Then it was the Boggle Dogs,
      With their snarls and snortin',
   Till the bad ferocious Gnad
      Finished his importin'.
   An' all because the Grimble Grubs
      They got into his 'taters,
   We never found a stitch of him
      But blucher boots and gaiters.

Thus the bushman closed his story with a sympathetic sigh;
Then wrung my hand most heartily, and sadly said "Good-bye."
And, as he went, 'twas evident he mourned his friend's decease.
He bowed his head, and, as I've said, his beard waved in the breeze.

First published in The Weekly Times Annual, 4 November 1915;
and later in
Backblock Ballads and Later Verses by C.J. Dennis, 1918; and
The Bible of the Bush, 1869-1994: 125 Years of the Weekly Times edited by Hugh Jones, 1994. 

Sailing Orders by C.J. Dennis

| No TrackBacks
Through the usual coincidence many ships, including the Australian Naval Squadron, have reached Melbourne just prior to Cup Week.

Up the hook, the bosun said;
   (Ho, me hearties, ho!)
There's heavy weather on ahead
   (Tumble up, below!)
There's dirty weather coming down,
Our course is set for Melbourne town
   And a queer thing that should be!
So show a leg and tumble up, and pick your fancy for the Cup
   With the good ship running free.

Funny thing, the boatman said,
   (Ho, me hearties, ho!)
But when November looms ahead
   (Tumble up, below!)
To Melbourne Port the orders say,
And nothing's left but to obey,
   For the likes of you and me.
And what's a sailor to do, when duty calls, but see it through,
   With the good ship running free?

If I should win, the boatman said;
   (Ho, me hearties, ho!)
I'll buy myself a feather bed
   (Tumble up, below!)
And never put to sea again.
Yet luck ain't kind to sailor men,
   But I'll get my fun, said he.
But every man shall have his lass, and make his bet and drink a glass,
   To a good horse running free, said he,
   And that's the life for me!

First published in The Herald, 3 November 1931

A Post-Cup Tale by C.J. Dennis

| No TrackBacks
I'ad the money in me 'and!
Fair dinkum!  Right there, by the stand.
    I tole me wife at breakfus' time,
    Straight out: "Trivalve," I sez "is prime.
Trivalve," I sez.  An', all the week,
I swear ther's no one 'eard me speak
    Another 'orse's name.  Why, look,
    I 'ad the oil straight from a Book
On Sund'y at me cousin's place
When we was torkin' of the race.
    "Trivalve," 'e sez.  "'Is chance is grand."
    I 'ad the money in me 'and!

Fair in me 'and I 'ad the dough!
An' then a man 'as got to go --
    Wot?  Tough?  Look, if I 'adn't met
    Jim Smith (I ain't forgave 'im yet)
'E takes an' grabs me be the coat.
"Trivalve?" 'e sez.  "Ar, turn it up!
'Ow could 'e win a flamin'Cup?"
    Of course, I thort 'e muster knoo.
    'Im livin' near a trainer, too.

Right 'ere, like that, fair in me fist
I 'ad the notes!  An' then I missed --
    Missed like a mug fair on the knock
Becos 'is maggin' done me block.
"That airy goat?" 'e sez.  "E's crook!"
Fair knocked me back, 'e did.  An' look,
    I 'ad the money in me 'and!
    Fair in me paw!  An', un'erstand,
Sixes at least I coulder got --
Thirty to five, an' made a pot.
Today I mighter been reel rich --
    Rollin' in dough!  Instid o' which,
'Ere's me - Aw!  Don't it beat the band?
    Put me clean off, that's wot 'e did ...
    Say, could yeh len' us 'arf a quid?

First published in The Herald, 2 November 1927;
and later in
More than a Sentimental Bloke, 1990.

The Vocal Vamp by C.J. Dennis

| No TrackBacks
Say, kid, I used you like you some
When you were beautiful, but dumb.
   Them pearly teeth, them rollin' eyes --
   Dreamy and of amazin' size --
That leak large tears of glycerine,
When you got mushy on the screen,
   They set my feelin's all awhirl,
   An' made me go all goofy, girl.

Cutie, I fell for you, I did.
I thought you were a reel nice kid,
   Them close-ups! Say! Them cunning' curls!
   You seemed the niftiest of girls.
Them swishy looks you slung about
When villainy was winning' out
   An' you was suffering' the jars
   Of bad men chewing' big seegars!

Aw, kid, my heart was wrung with woe
To see my baby treated so.
   In agony I watched the screen,
   An' when I seen 'em treat you mean
I longed to leap from out my chair
An' be your champeen then an' there.
   Yes, all het up I was each night.
   You sure vamped me, all right, all right.

Why couldn't I be well content
With gifts that Hollywood had sent
   Of old -- the sight of you so cute
   Without no vocal attribute?
But, sweetie, man ain't built that way.
I craved to hear them sweet lips say
   One little sentence, soft an' sweet,
   To make my happiness complete.

Honey, you said ... Oh, that night!
When my great love, conceived at sight,
   Was buried in the cold, cold ground
   Because the films took to sound.
A buzz-saw, Babe, believe me true,
Ain't got one single thing on you;
   For you sure spoke a noseful, kid,
   I'll tell the cock-eyed world you did.

First published in Stead's Review, 1 November 1929

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