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The Lingothatweuze by C.J. Dennis

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I metabloke in Collun-street -
   A cove I yustano
When I wus workin Southoss,
   A yeerertwo ago.

Sezzi, "Well, owye kumminup?
   I spose yehnomee still?"
'E grabsme betha 'andansiz,
    "W'y owsheegoinbil?"

"Well, wotchadoinow?" sizzi,
   Alludin' to 'is work.
"I aven gotakop," sezee,
   "At presen'.  Wot's your lurk?"

"I'm upagenit pritty bad,
   An' lookin' furra job,"
I answers.  Then I bytsiz lug:
   "Say, kinyeh lensa bob?"

'E anzitover.  Then Isiz,
   "Well, wotsbekumaflo?"
Referrin' to a tartuviz -
   But eesiz, "Idunno.

"She yusta gimmelip," eesiz,
   "Anso we ata paht.
Ixceptin fere mag," eesiz,
   "Shewuza boshtataht."

"Shewuz orright piece," sizzi,
  "Althoer tongue wus free."
An then I springsa traponim:
   "I seener yestadee."

"Gostrooth!" sizee.  "I didunno
   Thet shewuz ovareer!
I 'ope she izen chasinmee;
   Buttit looks bloominqueer."

"Orright," sizzi, "don't loosyerblock,
   You'll meeter byunbye.
But she won'trubble you bekos
   I've marrider," sizzi.

"Well, sparemedays, it beatstha band
   'Ow these things workeround!
But after wotcha say," sizzee,
   "I'll standja ina pound."

"A quid's orright," sizzi, "but still
  I dunnowota think."
"Don't chewitover now," sizzee,
  "But cumanavadrink.'

We adabeer an' didagit;
  An' I've dunnin the Quid.
Ewuza tofter giime it.
  I wunnerwye edid?

First published in The Bulletin, 15 September 1910

Cobbers and Quids by C.J. Dennis

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At a suburban police court on Tuesday a magistrate took strong exception to a witness's frequent use of the terms "cobber" and "half-quid."

Is youth not less pedantic, less absurd,
   Less prone to value things of little worth
In failing to wax wrath about a word
   That bears suspicion of a lowly birth?
All words have known their low and vulgar days --
   Known grime and poverty when they were young;
And many a proud and pompous modern phrase
   Was once the plaything of a common tongue.

But as we grow respectable and staid
   Mere sound, to middle-age, parades as sense.
Grey slaves of precedent, we grow afraid
   Of youth and all its sane inconsequence.
Forgetting words are no god-given things,
   With queer intolerance we would insist --
In terms to which the mould of ages clings --
   On purity that never did exist.

Language is not the gift of any god;
   Rude tribesmen made it when the race was young;
And as around the weary earth we plod
   Still the illiterate enrich the tongue;
And still while careless youth goes gaily rid
   Of age's caution, precedent and pence,
Better a cobber who'll lend half a quid
   Than all the thrifty pedant's "common sense."

First published in The Herald, 10 April 1930

Puristic Protestationing by C.J. Dennis

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Amongst the unwieldy collection of spurious words and phrases, coined or perverted in fevered haste to meet modern chaotic conditions -- as, for example, "reconditioning," "cavalcade," "finalizing," "implementing" -- now springs the masterpiece.  The latest term, used to describe the class of strike, now rapidly spreading in America and elsewhere, is "sit-downing."

Out of the well of English undefiled
   Few phrases come to match the heavy frowning
With which grave scholars long since have reviled
   The modern habit of linguistic clowning.
In vain do they depreciate the mood
   For adjectival "verbing," verbal "nouning";
And now, the worst of all the ugly brood,
   Comes this uncouth monstrosity "Sit-downing."

Had we a worthy Minister of Art,
   I think I should be ceaselessly partitioning
For the stern banning of each flash upstart,
   Like that most awful bounder "air-conditioning":
An apt example of these hustling days
   Of crude circumlocutory "expressioning":
When all they mean by that unlovely phrase
   Is merely ventilating or, say, freshening.

They will "face up to it," who merely face
   A situation, and, in ways surprising,
When they would end a matter then, in place
   Of ending it, they speak of "finalizing."
It may sound erudite to minds that squint --
   This cumbersome and clumsy verbal sinning
That so offends old-fashioned eyes in print
   And pester ancient ears when "listen-inning."

Then let us not, sit-downing to this curse,
   At poisoned pools and wells impure go supping;
But, ere we be afflicted by far worse,
   Let us be resolute in our stand-upping
To this base treason. Let us strike a blow
   At those who in such tangled fields go rovering.
Else shall we see King's-Englishing brought low
   As the last bulwark trembles to fall-overing.

First published in The Herald, 24 March 1937

Shaw? Pshaw! by C.J. Dennis

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In declaring that the King is the best speaker in the realm, whose broadcasts create loyalty, Mr Bernard Shaw declares: "If he (the King) delivered a single broadcast with an 'Oxford' accent his people would rise up that very day and proclaim a republic."

Not reahly?  Oh Ai say!  What priceless rot!
   Suahly such uttah nonsense can't be true?
The King not speak ouah culchahed tongue?  What, what?
   Whai?  Ai've been to Oxford; but Ai do.
Ai've spoken Oxford now foah quaite a whaile --
Ever since Ai achieved mai latest stayle.

Ai mean to say -- these statements seem to me
   Quaite teeasonable, if you undahstand
Mai meaning.  And, bai jove! there seems to be
   A hint of something rathah undahhand
In statements that this Shaw straives to uphold --
A rabid Bolshevik!  So ai've been told.

This fellah Shaw!  Ai've nevah read his traipe,
   And never want to.  Balley lot of rot!
Ai always hev dislaiked that common taipe
   Who sneer at culchah.  Why the boundah's got 
The priceless nerve to claim that loyaltay
Comes thro' rough speaking bai His Majestay!

Would he infer Ai've wasted all mai taime,
   Giving mai accent just the propah ring,
To learn that Royaltay has no such aim?
   By gad, sir!  It's an insult to ouah King!
Would Shaw infer that he has let us down?
No!  Definitely, no!  The man's a clown! 

First published in The Herald, 27 January 1934

The Australian Slanguage by W.T. Goodge

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'Tis the everyday Australian
   Has a language of his own,
Has a language, or a slanguage,
   Which can simply stand alone.
And a "dickon pitch to kid us"
   Is a synonym for "lie",
And to "nark it" means to stop it,
   And to "nit it" means to fly.

And a bosom friend's a "cobber,"
   And a horse a "prad" or "moke,"
While a casual acquaintance
   Is a "joker" or a "bloke."
And his lady-love's his "donah"
   or his "clinah" or his "tart"
Or his "little bit o' muslin,"
   As it used to be his "bart."

And his naming of the coinage
   Is a mystery to some,
With his "quid" and "half-a-caser"
   And his "deener" and his "scrum".
And a "tin-back" is a party
   Who's remarkable for luck,
And his food is called his "tucker"
   Or his "panem" or his "chuck".

A policeman is a "johnny"
   Or a "copman" or a "trap",
And a thing obtained on credit
   Is invariably "strap".
A conviction's known as "trouble",
   And a gaol is called a "jug",
And a sharper is a "spieler"
   And a simpleton's a "tug".

If he hits a man in fighting
   That is what he calls a "plug",
If he borrows money from you
   He will say he "bit your lug."
And to "shake it" is to steal it,
   And to "strike it" is to beg;
And a jest is "poking borac",
   And a jester "pulls your leg".

Things are "cronk" when they go wrongly
   In the language of the "push",
But when things go as he wants 'em
   He declares it is "all cush".
When he's bright he's got a "napper",
   And he's "ratty" when he's daft,
And when looking for employment
   He is "out o' blooming graft".

And his clothes he calls his "clobber"
   Or his "togs", but what of that
When a "castor" or a "kady"
   Is the name he gives his hat!
And our undiluted English
   Is a fad to which we cling,
But the great Australian slanguage
   Is a truly awful thing!

Published in The Bulletin, 4 June 1898

Note: This poem was originally published in the Orange Leader (though I am uncertain as to when), and was subsequently also printed with the title "Larrikin Language".

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Poetry Library

See also.

The Plains by L. H. Allen

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The plains are silver!
The sky is white, and the fruit-blossoms are white,
Shaking and shining in sun, an eddying haze.
The air hangs round them like unseen bees.
It rises from them laden and faint,
Beating its wings towards the mountains,
Settling on lips and nostrils.

The plains are gold!
The orange-trees waver in autumn haze.
The fruitage bursts through the green line gold,
Or in the milder light dims and swells
Like great topazes moon-enchanted.
In the wind they are flames;
The stillness veils them in quivering smoke;
In the dusk they are vaporous echoes.

The plains are blue!
Beneath dawn, amethystine,
A runnel of lucerne-flowers;
Or, in the night-stillness of winter,
A mirror of heaven-calm,
Making flat earth an infinity
Where love creates rarer than heavenly stars.

First published
in The Sydney Morning Herald, 29 December 1928

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

The Great Australian Adjective by W. T. Godge

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The sunburnt ---- stockman stood
And, in a dismal ---- mood,
   Apostrophized his ---- cuddy;
"The ---- nag's no ---- good,
He couldn't earn his ---- food --
   A regular ---- brumby,

He jumped across the ---- horse
And cantered off, of ---- course!
   The roads were bad and ---- muddy;
Said he, "Well, spare me ---- days
The ---- Government's ---- ways
   Are screamin' ---- funny,

He rode up hill, down ---- dale,
The wind it blew a ---- gale,
   The creek was high and ---- floody.
Said he, "The ---- horse must swim,
The same for ---- me and him,
   Is something ---- sickenin',

He plunged into the ---- creek,
The ---- horse was ---- weak,
   The stockman's face a ---- study!
And though the ---- horse was drowned
The ---- rider reached the ground
   Ejaculating, "----!"

First published in The Bulletin, 11 December 1897;
and later in
Complete Book of Australian Folk Lore edited by Bill Scott, 1976;
The Penguin Book of Australian Humorous Verse edited by Bill Scott, 1984;
Old Ballads from the Bush edited by Bill Scott, 1987;
Australian Bush Poems, 1991;
An Australian Treasury of Popular Verse edited by Jim Haynes, 2002;
Our Country: Classic Australian Poetry: From the Colonial Ballads to Paterson & Lawson edited by Michael Cook, 2004; and
The Penguin Anthology of Australian Poetry edited by John Kinsella, 2009.

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Poetry Library

See also.

Winged Words by Robert Crawford

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The winged words, they pass
   Still everywhere,
Seeds of the spirit-grass
   The dream-winds bear
From that heart-field to this,
Where thought as feeling is;
There's not a seed will miss
   Life, once sown there.
They pass, the faery words,
   In shade and shine,
As they were magic birds
   This heart of mine
Gave shape and colour to,
As in the light and dew
The primal creatures grew
   From germs divine.

First published in The Lone Hand, 1 July 1908;
and later in
Lyric Moods by Robert Crawford, 1909; and
The Oxford Book of Australasian Verse edited by Walter Murdoch, 1918.

Author:  Robert Crawford (1868-1930) was born and lived in Sydney.  He attended the University of Sydney, worked as a clerk in that city and ran a typewriting business.  He died in 1930.

Author reference site: Austlit, Australian Poetry Library

See also.

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