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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

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

A Line to Old Man Pessimism by C.J. Dennis

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With cheerful frequency politicians and other leading men are now predicting the imminence of better times, and references to our having "turned the corner" are published almost daily.

I am sorry, old man, but the game is up
   And you've lost your occupation.
Long have you proffered the bitter cup
   To a sick and sorrowing nation.
We have listened for long to your tales of woe,
Which have all come true, as well we know;
And we've suffered your smug "I told you so"
   With listless resignation.

Sorry, old man, but your punch has gone;
   Yet you've had a long, long innings
Since our lucky star, that once had shone
   Went out in the slump's beginnings,
Then you turned your lyre to a dreary dirge,
And your dire predictions sought no urge
As you pressed us to despair's dark verge
   With a wealth of doleful dinnings.

Sorry, old man, that we grow more glad
   Each day, in hope's possession;
But you've lost the old allure you had;
   We are shaking your obsession.
And the tales you told no more ring true;
Behind the clouds the star breaks thro',
And the only thing for you to do
   Is to watch for the next depression.

First published in The Herald, 9 August 1932

Proportion by C.J. Dennis

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Victoria's adverse trade balance for the year is over £20,000,000.

My adverse balance for the year
   Is only six pounds seventeen,
And yet, the prospect is so drear,
   My agony of mind so keen,
I simply hate to ponder o'er
My mental state if it were more.

If I had spent a hundred pounds
   More than I earned, who, goodness me!
I'd rend the air with woeful sounds
   And beat my breast in agony.
And yet, in mathematics pure,
This ratio does not endure.

For instance, if, in one short year,
   I spent some twenty million pound,
My sorrow would not be, I fear,
   Proportionately so profound,
I'd simply think I'd had a prime
And altogether gay old time.

First published in The Sun-News Pictorial, 4 August 1927

Thrift by C.J. Dennis

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Mr. W. Herbert Phillips. chairman of the Board of the Savings Bank of South Australia, etc., commented on the effect of the growth of music halls in Australia, and said that it was always difficult after race meetings to collect rents for cottages from people of the working classes. - Report of the Edinburgh Thrift Conference.
Marriage, drinking long-sleevers, and going to theatres are luxuries, and it is unfair to ask employers to pay for them. - Remarks of an official of Vic. Employers' Federation.

Are ye frugal, O my brothers?  Are ye putting by the pence?
Do ye scrape and save to meet a rainy day?
      Are ye meek and self-denying,
      Or, while Fate and Fat defying,
Do ye rashly fling your hard-earned coin away?

Nay, I fear me ye are careless, ye are ignorant of Thrift,
And I fear me that ye do not - more than twice -
      Look a thrippence in the face
      Ere ye plunge and go the pace,
And lash it up on vanity and vice.

Hark, my brothers, humble brothers, common blokes that earn a wage,
Cease your mad pursuit of pleasure; pause and think.
      Listen to the anxious Tory,
      Hark ye to his mournful story,
For he loves you very dearly - ('scuse the wink).

Yes he loves you like a brother, and it pains him frightfully
To observe your careless disregard of cash.
      In his wisdom he foresees
      That if you persist in these
Wild extravagances, something has to smash.

In the olden days, dear brothers, when the worker knew his place,
He was humble and contented with his lot.
      And this modern inclination
      To aspire beyond his station
Is the fell result of Socialistic rot!

Seek ye beers and halls o' pleasure? Go ye to the races?  Fie!
Where is this lust for revelry to stay?
      Soon you'll be demanding marriage
      And - ye gods! - a baby carriage;
Things for which you will expect the boss to pay!

Why, already your wild orgies make the noble Landlord weep.
Even now you just contrive to pay his rent.
      But if you will go to races
      And to such expensive places
What of that projected rise of ten per cent?

For our betters are earth's pleasures, for the squires and wealthy drones,
For the magnates and the masters that employ;
      And all-seeing Providence,
      In Its wise beneficence,
Has decreed that he who works may not enjoy.

First published in The Bulletin, 14 July 1910

The Stern Road by C.J. Dennis

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Increasing pressure is being brought to bear on Australia's seven Governments to practise more economics in order to impose less taxation; but until that pressure grows stronger there seems small hope of any adequate action.

If I'd the right (said old George Jones)
To tax a country till it groans,
   An' take an' levy tribute when I shouldn't;
You think that I'd be toilin' here,
Pinchin' an' savin' year on year?
   Well, p'raps I would; an' p'raps again I wouldn't.
For human nature's awful weak,
And men were ever prone to seek
   The easy way; an' it ain't so surprisin'
That men, or Gover'ments, should dash
Along the easy path to cash
   Before the hard road to economisin'.
There's few will take the uphill road
Unless there be the whip an' goad
   Of need, of stern necessity to twist 'em.
But where the downhill track runs straight
All are inclined to gravitate.
   An' there's the rub with all our social system.
If I'd the pow'r (said old George Jones)
To tax, an' live on easy loans,
   Well, p'raps I would be stern an' labor lovin',
And p'raps I might be strong an' brave
An' eager all the time to save,
   But not, I think, till someone done some shovin'.

First published in The Herald, 17 June 1933

Advance Australia by C.J. Dennis

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During the depression, when funds were desperately needed, Australia managed to remain self-supporting.  Today, with a revenue surplus of some millions in view, the Federal Government startles public opinion by borrowing overseas instead of raising and circulating the defence money within our own borders. - From a leading article on the poor response to Australia's latest London loan.

Borrowin' over the water; I've seen it all before
Raisin' loans (said Old George Jones)
   Was a trick we learned of yore.
Borrowin' over the water
   In the old Australian way
Splash the cash an' cut a dash
   An' leave the kids to pay.

Steel rails an' sausage skins, cotton goods an' fal-de-rals,
   Drapery an' rollin'-stock an' pocket knives an' sich;
That was how we took it out
When we was but a growin' lout;
But sich-like habits calls for doubt
   Now we are grown an' rich.

Borrowin' over the water for reproductive works
That ain't produced; sich habits used
   To mark the crowd that shirks.
That's why we're heaped with taxes
   In this sad year A.D.
Thro' the ancient tricks of politics
   In borrowin' overseas.

Airyplanes an' motor-cars, guns an' bombs an' bayonits --
   The cash is here to buy the things an' meet the whole expense.
But seems we'll never mend our ways;
An' habits learned in olden days
Sticks hard; so we keep up the craze
   An' borrow for defence.
Advance Australia!  Pile the loans.
The kids'll pay (said Old George Jones).

First published in The Herald, 12 May 1938

The Bulldog Breed by C.J. Dennis

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For the first time in many years the British Budget shows a surplus - the amount being over 29 millions - and brings definite relief at last to workers, to unemployed, to taxpayers and motorists.  Thus, eschewing hysterical and dramatic schemes for recovery, Britain stolidly and silently forges toward a new prosperity.

"It's dogged as does it."  They've made it a saying,
   A motto to hold in that tight little isle --
To hold in their fighting and toiling and playing --
   And stick to the job with a tight little smile.
As fortune seems bleakest they cut out complaining --
   They cut out the cackle and dig in their toes
As, inch upon inch, the lost ground they're regaining,
   And just how they manage it nobody knows. 

"It's dogged as does it."  There's something heroic,
   Unseen and unsung in this desperate drive;
With mien of the meek and the mind of a stoic,
   They win their chief goal when they seem least alive.
The nations behold, yet can scarcely believe it
   As Britain wins thro' to a triumph again;
And, wondering, ask how those dullards achieve it
   In that darkest hour when all effort seems vain. 

"Its dogged as does it."  No pause for regretting,
   For sighing or sobbing she seeks in the fray;
But silently, steadily, all else forgetting,
   Stays on the job till the clouds clear away.
Then, rubbing its eyes in incredulous wander,
   The world scarce believes such a miracle true
As, snatchin' for victory, e'en from a blunder,
   The tight little island again muddles thro'.

First published in The Herald, 20 April 1934

Slogan for Buyers by C.J. Dennis

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The Prime Minister has called upon every citizen in Australia to help in adjusting the trade balance.

There's a practical test if you'd give of your best
   In the effort to balance the ledger --
If you're willing to aid in adjusting our trade --
   Unless you're a slacker or hedger.
When next in a store you are pondering o'er
   Some purchase, have never a doubt
If it's made in Australia your money stays here;
   If it isn't your money goes out.

Everything that you buy, be it socks or a tie,
   Should help to give work to your brothers;
And 'tis wise to give heed to the family need
   Ere the family wealth goes to others.
Although your heart hankers for needles or anchors,
   There's a thing more important than costs
If it's made in Australia your money is saved;
   If it isn't your money is lost.

In getting and spending, in toil never ending
   Tho' most of our lives may be spent,
'Tis folly complaining we never are gaining
   If gains ever outward are sent.
All the wealth that we win does not even begin
   To give ease, if it goes up the spout.
If you purchase Australian your money stays in;
   If not, all your money goes out.

First published in The Herald, 13 March 1930

Compensation by C.J. Dennis

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Through forcing her to put her house in order for the future, the hard times now being experienced in Australia may well prove an eventual blessing.

Oh, the days of full and plenty --
   Careless days we used to know --
Five, ten, fifteen, twenty,
   Thirty, forty years ago --
Days when we could spend and borrow,
   Spend again, with ne'er a fear --
Ne'er a thought about tomorrow.
   But, alas, tomorrow's here.

Oh, the days of easy living,
   When we took no thought to save
From the wealth of harvests: giving
   Free as ever harvests gave.
Freely getting, freely spending --
   Easy come and easy go --
Counting on a life unending
   Of the days we used to know.

Now descend the days distressing,
   Ordered by a kindly fate --
Kindly, since it counts a blessing
   That they come not over-late --
That they come while yet a nation,
   Doomed thro' ease to dull decay,
May, by labor, win salvation
   Ere its strength be filched away.

Not for us the futile rueing,
   Dwelling on the future, glum,
Ours to now be up and doing
   For the brave days yet to come --
For the days of full and plenty
   That are looming, late or soon.
Wealth, that was a drug at twenty,
   With man's wisdom is a boon.

First published
in The Herald, 8 March 1930

The Bush Fire by C.J. Dennis

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Every advocate of inflation, whether straightforward or camouflaged, is insistent in the assertion that his particular scheme can be controlled and limited.  A similar claim might be made in regard to controlling a raging bush fire, once it has taken hold.

           THE AIM

Let's have a tiny little bush fire.
   It's a cold, cold night tonight.
We are sick of this long session
Of the darkness of depression.
   And a fire would make things bright.

Just a teeny, weeny little bushfire;
   It's easily controlled.
We can sit around and watch it;
If it spreads we'll simply scotch it.
   But we must keep out the cold.

Oh, let's have the smallest little bush fire;
  It's a fair thing in this storm.
There are plenty here to fight it,
So just strike a match and light it. . . .
   Ah! Now we'll all get warm.

            THE AFTERMATH

Hey!  Watch there!  The blooming thing is spreading!
   Don't let it catch those trees!
Now that clump of scrub has caught it!
Well who ever would have thought it?
   There's a change, too, in the breeze.

It was only just a tiny little bushfire,
   But it's leaping, roaring now
And we can't hope to defeat it,
Better grab your traps and beat it
   For we must get out somehow.

It was only just a harmless little bushfire
   But, gosh!  How it did burn!
Now the old homestead is blazing.
Well it's certainly amazing;
   But a man must live and learn.

First published in The Herald, 11 February 1931

The Mercenary View by C.J. Dennis

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With the present increased rate of exchange, people who are deriving fixed incomes from abroad are placed in the enviable position of receiving thirty per cent. more in Australian currency than is actually paid in England.

I knew a poor remittance man,
    A decent chap, but funny,
In days when my ideas began
   To be controlled by money.
He wore a swank, patrician air;
But, oh, his life was filled with care,
For he had seldom cash to spare;
   His mien was far from sunny.

I fear I was a snobbish youth
   Who led a prig's existence.
I snubbed the chap, to tell the truth,
   And kept him at a distance.
His clothes, well cut, were often worn
Threadbare.  Tho' he was gently born
His friendship I refused with scorn
   Despite his soft insistence.

But now the whirligig of time
   Sees fit to elevate him.
While, lo, the money that was mine
   Is shrinking, seriatim;
And faced by serious mishap.
While he reclines in Fortune's lap.
I'd like to find the dear old chap
   I'd want to cultivate him.

First published in The Herald, 29 January 1931

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