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

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on November 16, 2013 7:22 AM.

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