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Victory is Not an End by C.J. Dennis

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On all sides it is acknowledged that the United Australia Party has scored a triumphant victory in the Federal election.

Victory is not an end.
   When the shout, the cheers have died
May the kindly fates defend
   Victors from enfeebling pride.
While great tasks are yet to do,
   Fault and error yet to mend,
This the strong man ever knew:
   Victory is not an end.

Never has iconoclast
   Gloating over follies killed
Won a triumph that might last,
   Lest his hand moved to rebuild.
Never has a conqueror
   Won true wisdom for a friend,
Lest he conned this lesson o'er:
   Victory is not an end.

They are great in triumph who,
   With the foeman in the dust,
Turn to labors yet to do
   That they may uphold men's trust.
They are wise who, striving yet,
   To the sterner tasks shall bend,
And 'mid clamorings ne'er forget
   Victory is not an end.

First published in The Herald, 22 December 1931

Tomorrow's Choice by C.J. Dennis

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Tomorrow shall your vote decide
Your land's humility or pride.
And for long years that mark may be
The arbiter of history.

Mayhap no day in all your life
Holds graver choice 'twixt peace and strife,
No action, of design or chance,
Be fraught with more significance.

Not thro' unwise experiment
And days in mad class-warfare spent
Has any nation of the earth 
Won aught of true and lasting worth.

Then set your faith, not in the man
Who by some mystic wizard's plan
Would conjure wealth from nothingness
And money from a printing press.

But glean your wisdom from the years
Whose tale of human hopes and fears
Bears witness no magician's art
Won profit yet by field or mart.

Truth, humor and integrity
These ever shall and yet shall be
The touchstones in which men's sound sense
Shall place the final confidence.

First published in The Herald, 18 December 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

Dad's Philanthropic Plan by C.J Dennis

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All these ships are to remain under the the control of the Commonwealth during the time of peace, and are to pass into Imperial control whenever required for war purposes. . . . As the Minister of Defence explains his policy, the whole of our navy may be taken to the other end of the world, should the British Admiralty so desire on the outbreak of war.  If this be the real meaning of the Defence scheme as expounded last night, then we virtually increase our subsidy to the British navy from £200,000 a year to £750,000 a year, and in return Great Britain humors our vanity by permitting us to call the ships we pay for an "Australian unit." - Melbourne AGE.

I knew an old philanthropist, a farming man was he,
Shrewd at a deal, but still withal a man of charity.
He had three sons - three hefty lads - Josiah, Jim and Joe,
And each of these had his own land, and made a goodly show.

But still the farming methods of Josiah, Joe and Jim
Distressed their good old parent and disturbed the mind of him.
"These sons o' mine appear to be a sight too slow," thought he
"They need a better class o' stock and more machinery."

Wherefore this old philanthropist, this shrewd old farming man,
He sat him down and pondered long, and thus evolved a plan -
A simple scheme, beneficent, and calculated so
That it would guard the interests of Josiah, Jim and Joe.

"I have acquired," reflected he, "a lot of tillage land -
Much more than I can work; and my affairs get out of hand.
If I can but amalgamate their properties and mine,
And call the whole the Empire Farm, the prospect will be fine.

Then rose the good old farming man and called his sons around,
And thus his philanthropic scheme did earnestly expound:
"My sons, it grieves my heart to see you struggling on the land;
And I've decided, after thought, to lend a helping hand.

"You all have been good sons to me, and this is my great plan:
We shall amalgamate the farms and work them as one man.
But first you need machinery; your methods are too slow.
The cost of this will fall on you - Josiah, Jim and Joe.

"Josiah I'll allow to buy a good, upstanding team;
And Joe a separator, for there's coin in milk and cream;
To Jim I give permission - he's a fav'rite son o' mine -
To buy a brand new harvester of up-to-date design.

"Josiah, he will feed the nags, and Joe can buy some cows -
And these be privileges, mind, not ev'ry dad allows -
While Jim can mind the harvester till harvest comes around,
When you can fetch it, with the nags, and work it on MY ground.

"And, as Joe's cows come into milk, he'll fetch 'em up to me,
'Long with the separator; I will work it - do you see?"
But, strange to say, they did not see - Josiah, Jim nor Joe.
They said rude things that plunged their parent into deepest woe.

They called him many ugly names, such as "a mean old man";
And told him pretty plainly their opinion of his "plan."
"We'll buy our harvesters," said they, "and work 'em on our own;
And if you get hard-pressed - why, you can have 'em for a loan."

The poor old farmer bowed his head.  "Ingratitude!" he cried,
"And after all I've done for you, my offer is denied!"
And dad, to-day, is forced to plough and harrow, dig and sow,
For they were most ungrateful sons, Josiah, Jim and Joe.

First published in The Bulletin, 14 October 1909

The Rubaiyat of the Virtuous Voter by C.J. Dennis

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Saturday is Federal Election Day

Awake!  For scorning Politics, as might
Olympian nobs, and vowing them a blight
   Beneath the notice of wise Men like us
Is not the way to put our Country right.

Come, fill the Square, and in this joyous Spring
The Robe of Apathy from off you fling
   One little Vote may seem a small Affair;
And yet, on that a Nation's fate may swing.

Think, in the Polling Booth on Saturday
When you set down your fateful "Yea" or "Nay,"
   How Leader after Leader and his Clan
Abode his Hour or two, and went his way.

Deakin, indeed, is gone who swiftly rose,
And Reid, with his Dry Dog, where no man knows;
   But still the Vote is vital to the Cause
And still the Ballot Box holds Weal -- or Woes.

They say the Moth and Silverfish now keep
The Courts where Billihughes once thundered deep.
   Ah, "Blithering Blazes."  Such are Politics:
Votes are most precious: but wild Words are cheap.

And Bruce's lips are lock't; but in remote
High-piping Canberra, with "Vote!  Vote!  Vote!
   "Please, Vote!" the Candidate cried to the Crowd;
And still the Tax-forms round the Country float.

Yet, shall this Land of ours be sunk in shame
Because we, listless, failed to play the game?
   Ah, mark the Square according to your choice --
(And don't forget to number every Name).

And if the Vote you vote, the Square you mark
Still leave you groping in the Outer Dark
   For Cash to pay more Taxes; serves you right!
You had your Chance; but you would be a Nark.

The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
That's that.  Thou hast no more to do with it.
   'Tis vain to cry that politics are crook;
Thy later Rage won't alter Things one bit.

And that inverted Bowl we call the Sky
Whereunder we let this one Chance slip by,
   Lift not thy hands to it for aid -- for It
Is upside-down and absolutely dry.

And when Thyself with faltering Foot shall pass
Amongst the Members seeking -- what?  Alas,
   Some respite from the Burdens that you bear?
Aw, turn it up!  Don't be an Ass, thou Ass!

First published in The Herald, 13 September 1934

Votes and Favors by C.J. Dennis

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Since first we ran a railway train,
   Or laid a road from here to there,
Or built a bridge across a drain,
   Or sought relief from many a care;
Since first she gave, this fertile land,
   Her promise to the pioneer,
This slogan rose throughout the land
   And grew in volume year by year:

"Aw, leave it to the Gover'ment;
   The Gover'ment will pay.
The toil is tough: we've done enough;
   So let's call this a day.
Let's go and ask the Gover'ment.
   What do they tax us for?
An' when we've spent what they have lent
   We'll go an' git some more."

'Twas easy come and easy go,
   In easy days gone by,
But now, alas, the funds are low;
   The old milch cow runs dry.
The bounty and the house and
   The railway and the road
Have heaped their burdens on a land
   That groans beneath the load.

"Aw, leave it to the Gover'ment!
   They'll push the job ahead.
They got my vote. Why be a goat?
   A man must use his head.
Ain't they put there to hump our care,
   And plan, an' toil, an' think?
Aw, leave it to the Gover'ment;
   An' come an' have a drink."

"Aw, leave it to the Gover'ment"...
   The cry dies hard withal;
And still they plead, who cannot read
   The writing on the wall.
And still they feign, the "rulers" vain,
   On patronage to dote,
Whose feeble eyes, 'neath lowering skies,
   Still see nought but "The Vote."

First published in The Herald, 13 August 1930

"Us" by C.J. Dennis

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Three-fourths of the trouble over the Northern Territory agreement arise out of inability to realise the greatness of this country's possibilities.  There has been a frantic clawing to drag the Port Darwin railway round by "our" State and to deviate it through "our" backyard, apparently because of an impression that there is never going to be any other railway, and that if "we" don't get hold of this particular railway "we" are for ever undone. - BULLETIN (30/6/'10).

Now listen to me, good masters,
   You of the States Frights crowd,
You of the shrill, high voices
   Clamoring long and loud;
Filling the land with your ravings,
   Renting the air with your fuss,
To what in the end do your mouthings trend?
   Whom do you mean by "Us"?

You are ever alert and ready
   To clamor about "our" aims;
You never neglect the chances
   Of bolstering up "our" claims;
"We" have to be considered,
   "We" of the voices loud, 
But it seemeth to me that your frequent "we"
   Is the "we" of a small, mean crowd.

For "us" of a bloated city
   The needs of a land must wait;
And the weal of a nation suffer
   For "us" of a selfish State -
"Us" of an ancient order
   Of rancor and hate and spite,
And what care we how the nation be
  So long as we hold our "right"?

I have seen "you" rise at a banquet,
   A pitiful sight to see:
Your wide white weskit bulging
   With tucker and loyalty.
Of the great and glorious Hempire
   I have heard you yammering hard,
Then marked you drop with sickening flop
  To the claims of "our" backyard.

If "we" can collar the railway
   The national hope we'll blast;
And we'll deafen the land with howlings
   If the claims of "our" port are passed.
If a scheme can't be exploited
   For the gain of "our" precious State,
Then we'll rave and cuss, and the howl of "us"
   Is a howl of envious hate.

What are the needs of a nation,
   What are a whole land's aims
If they clash with our paltry notions
   Of "interests," "rights" and "claims"?
"We," with our back-yard visions;
   "We," with our hen-roost dreams -
Your plans we'll smash; there must be spot cash
   For "us" in your nation's schemes.

Then listen to me good masters,
   While you rave and whine and fuss,
The day of your doom is nearing,
   And you'll answer to all of US -
Us of the young Australia,
   When your clamor and howls be spent;
And dawns the day when you'll all make way
   For "Us of the Continent."

First published in The Bulletin, 28 July 1910

The Capital Site by C.J. Dennis

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"I hear them speak of a Fed'ral site
Where shall arise a city bright -
Mother, where is this bonzer spot?
Shall we not seek it and build our cot?
Is it in some mild and temp'rate zone
Where the native of drought is never known?"
            "Not theah, not theah, me che-ild."

"Is it where the mighty ranges rise
And point their white tops to the skies
Where mountain torrents hurry down
Past thriving farm and peaceful town
Where our great city may be planned,
A credit to our native land?"
            "Not on yer life, me che-ild."

"Is it where the noble rivers flow,
And fruit and corn abundant grow;
Where wide and verdant grasslands sweep,
And pleasant orchards, fruited deep,
Reach out for miles across the plains,
Smiling to sun and grateful rains?"
            "You bet it ain't, me che-ild."

"Is it far away, in the Empty North,
Where the camel trains pro back and forth;
Some unprotected, distant spot
Where the populace congesteth not;
Fair to our foeman's envious eye,
Which 'twould be wise to occupy?"
            "Right off the track, me che-ild."

"Is it in that land where grows the spud,
And the patient dairy cow her cud
Doth ruminate, while high green maize,
And oats, and rape delight her days;
Where pumpkins, large as great barn doors,
Astonish country edi-tors?"
            "That ain't the place, me che-ild."

"Is it where the squatters squat their sheep,
And large and easy incomes reap;
That fertile land. unpeopled still,
Where none may delve, or grow, or till;
Those large, unoccupied estates
Where sheep-lords reign and dodge their rates?"
            "Clean out of it, me che-ild."

"Then, mother, where the devil is
This splendid city to be riz?
Is it where the giant forest trees
Sway in the soft and balmy breeze;
Where laughing brooklets twist and turn
Through gullies decked with tender fern?"
            "Aw, give it up, me che-ild."

"Where the cocky prays, me gentle lad,
In vain for rain, and the seasons bad
Come regularly once a year,
And the outlook's permanently drear;
Where the Cotter cots - but mostly not;
Right, in the coastland's driest spot;
            "It is theah, it is theah, me che-ild."

First published in The Bulletin, 21 July 1910

The Lonely Voice by C.J. Dennis

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When opening a recent conference of poultry breeders, the Minister for Agriculture (Mr Hogan) is reported to have said that the only criticism now heard of the Egg Board was that the prices were too high.  Whether that was so, he said, was "for egg producers to decide."  Evidently the egg consumer, who pays the price, has no voice in the matter.

I'm but a meek consumer
   Who likes his breakfast egg;
My "rights" are but a rumour,
   Ruth is all I may beg.
I am the hapless victim
   Of Bureaucratic czars;
I must accept their dictum
   And jest about my scars.
The blows and stripes are all for me,
   With none to heed my agony.

I'm but a poor Australian,
   Yet I must eat to live.
They ship goods to the alien
   At price I'd gladly give;
But when they seek for profit
   They sock me in the eye;
For the egg, if I would scoff it,
   I'm charged for doubly high,
And, if for cheaper eggs I yearn,
   I'm told it isn't my concern.

This morn I asked my grocer,
   "Have eggs gone down today?"
He answered glumly, "No, Sir;
   There's tuppence more to pay.
Some goes to the producer,
   The rest goes to the Board.
But, muffs like you an' me, sir,
   Our interests are ignored
Until the basic wage they bump
   To catch the cost o' living's jump.

I'm but a meek consumer,
   A pawn, a handy peg;
And, in a bitter humor
   I pass my breakfast egg.
I almost pass my breakfast,
   I haven't any rights,
My fortunes go to wreck fast
   Until I dream o' nights
I've sailed afar across the deep
   To buy Australian produce cheap. 

First published in The Herald, 16 March 1938

Irony by J. Braham

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Many members at home, speaking of our national defences, say that Britain is totally unprepared for war, and that some of our most cherished possessions are practically defenceless.

Will your people take our country?
   Saod the ptressman to the Jap.
No, we'll not have such effront'ry,
   Said the truthful little chap
Not a rumour have I heard;
The idea is too absurd.
You may take my sacred word,
   Of its truth there's not a scrap.

You've a fertile land, and healthy,
   Said the Consul to the pro.,
With wool, wheat, and gold 'tis wealthy,
   As we Japanese well know.
You've strong forts all round your coast,
Of huge ships a mighty host,
And we all should be "on toast"
   If we tried to land. Oh, no!

You're a jew'l bright in Britain's crown,
   Said the Consul, with a grin.
And who would brave proud England's frown
   That precious gem to win.
In security you bask,
Why such foolish questions ask?
You but simply wear a mask,
   And to taunt us is a sin.

Many nations look with longing,
   Said the little Jap. once more.
With their troops would here be thronging
   Could they only get ashore.
Your defences are so sound,
Not a single vantage ground
In Australia can be found:
   Why risk shedding useless gore?

First published in Melbourne Punch, 10 November 1910

Author reference sites: Austlit.

See also.

The Dream of McHaggis by W.T. Goodge

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McHaggis was a person wise;
   An import merchant who
Embraced his opportunities,
   As most importers do.
A champion he of foreign trade,
   Like others of his school,
Who thought Australian only made
   For growing wheat and wool.

The harvesters which he'd import
   At thirty pounds apiece
Were of the new elastic sort
   Whose values soon increase!
For, when he got them safe ashore,
   Surprising as it sounds,
He'd lose by selling them, he swore,
   At less than sixty pounds!

McHaggis had a dream one night,
   A very horrid dream,
And one that filled his soul with fright
   And made him long to scream.
He dreamt a statesman ruled the land,
   A man of graver kind,
A statesman of high courage and
   Napoleonic mind.

That statesman asked the Parliament
   To say Mac, at the most,
Must sell his goods at ten per cent.
   Above the import cost;
Or else the goods in question would
  At once be confiscate,
And that the cute McHaggis should
   Deal fairly with the State!

McHaggis woke! The jarring chord
   He could not straight perceive;
And then he murmured: "Praise the Lord,
   I still have power to thieve!"

     *     *     *     *     *
Oh, gentle reader, do not scoff
   At this wild theme I've found,
For there are any number of
   McHaggises around!  

First published in The Bulletin, 18 October 1906

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Poetry Library

See also.

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