Recently in Politics and Politicians Category

Slime by Zora Cross

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I saw it like a lovely purple gem
Lying between green glooms of gentle trees 
A pool, which, when the little shadowy breeze 
Swept it, glowed like a fairy diadem.
And, over it, a reed bent its brown stem.
Even a lily bloomed there. On my knees 
I knelt; and, busied with old memories,
Touched the still waters, idly stirring them.

God's tears! What odour vile arose! What gnats!
What filthy hordes of living beastly things! 
I sickened, as I saw my hand, my wrist
Blacken: and a thick stench of plague-limp rats 
Polluted me. For, poet I, my wings
Had brushed the foulest toad -- a Communist.

First published in The Sydney Morning Herald, 21 March 1931

The Russian Peoples by Mabel Forrest

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"The majority of the people do not understand -- they only wonder why the song has ceased." -- Extract from a Russian's letter.

With bearded faces and dull eyes they stand
Eyes pitiful as those of any child
With strong still bodies, yet with wavering hand
The glance so questioning and withal, so mild,
Their feet washed deep in rivulets of blood,
And in their souls strange passions unreleased,
Waiting, perhaps, the flaming of a mood,
The tongue still asking why the song has ceased!
For they loved beauty from the sculptor's hand,
And they loved music -- as the hills the wind --
And most of all they loved their great white land,
And now they stagger -- as a giant blind
Who cannot set the fullness of his strength
To some clear end, but stumbling to the rim
Of gaping canyons, crash down at length
Where Death has rigged an unseen grave for him!

Behind the ruddy torches, and the gloom
Of condor wings that gloat above the feast
They wait... like children in a burning room
Heedless -- and wondering why the song has ceased!

First published in The Triad, 10 March 1918 

Author reference sites: AustlitAustralian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

Rope's End by C.J. Dennis

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The Federal Session is drawing to a close, and Ministers are confident of getting into recess. - Recent news item.

   Ho, the good ship Fusion's 'ove in sight
      Of the 'arbor at Recess,
   She's sailin' slow with 'er 'ull down low,
      An' she's plainly in distress.
   'Er sheets is tore an' 'er gear's askew,
      She's a most unsightly ship;
   Fer she shipped a real ole rough-up crew,
      An' she's 'ad a crazy trip.

         But 'eave dull care
            Right overside,
         Fer the 'arbor's there,
            An' we'll gently ride
         Right into Port Recess.
                     O yes.
         To the safety of Recess.
Fer the cruise wus rough, an' we've 'ad enough
         Of a life on the rollin' sea;
Of the pitchin' an' the tossin', an' the floggin' and the bossin',
         And the threats of mu-tin-nee.

   Ho, the good ship Fusion's comin' in,
      An' 'er main-top gallant's gone;
   But we know she's safe by the wide, glad grin
      On the purser bold, B John.
   But the capting 'e ain't wild wi' glee,
      An' 'is troubles ain't done yet,
   Fer 'e knows 'e's failed in the course 'e sailed,
      An' the owners mus' be met.

         But 'ip 'ooray!
            Fer we 'ardly thort
         When we sailed away
            That we'd land in port.
         An' a cheer for fust-mate Joe!
         'E's a rare ole salt is Joe.
'E seen us thro', fer 'e hazed the crew,
         An' 'e cowed 'em good an' quick.
Fer the lubbers started growlin' when the windy storms wus howlin'
         But Joe he done the trick.

   Ho! the seas wus rough at Finance rock,
      An' we nigh on guv up 'ope:
   Fer the crew went wild; but the capting smiled
      When the fust mate seized a rope.
   With a good rope's-end 'e set to mend
      Their ways wi' a rough, rude shock;
   An' 'e hazed 'em good, as a fust mate should,
      An' we weathered Finance rock.

         O, the seas wus bad,
            An' the crazy crew
         Wus nigh on mad,
            An' the tempest grew,
         An' it looked like Davey Jones;
                     I owns
         I thort of Davey Jones.
But the fust mate 'e smelled mu-ti-nee,
         An' 'e seized a rope's-end tough,
An' 'e druv 'em to their places, with terror on their faces,
         Till they sed they 'ad enough.

   Ho, the good ship Fusion's nigh to port,
      An' it's joy fer ev'ry 'and.
   But the capting 'e sits mournfullee,
      A-watchin' of the land.
   Fer the course 'e took ain't by the book
      As 'is owner told 'im to;
   Fer 'e left the chart to the fust mate's part,
      An' the 'andlin' of the crew.

         But it's 'ip 'ooray!
            Ses the foremast 'and,
         Fer the joyful day
            When we treads the land
         In the harbor of Recess.
                     O yes,
         There's a rest at Port Recess.
An' it's 'ip, 'ip, 'ip! fer the Fusion ship,
         Fer 'er sailin' days is o'er.
She's a 'ulk they're all abusin', an' she's seed 'er last o' cruisin',
         An' she'll put to sea no more. 

First published in The Bulletin, 16 December 1909

The Purge by C.J. Dennis

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"If I had my way," said Sydney's Lord Mayor this week, "I would shoot 'em all -- all the politicians, Labor and U.A.P.  The party system is bound to come to an end because it is grossly unfair."

Line 'em up at the break o' day and fill 'em full of lead,
Nor trouble to look to the Party brand, for they're all much better off dead.
And gag them tight lest speech attend the grey dawn's reverent hush
For, sheep or goat, they one and all are tarred with the same old brush.
So march 'em out in a huddled horde, the lean ones and the stout,
An' line 'em up by a cold, hard wall, and shout their livers out.

Bung 'em in a leaky boat and shove 'em out to sea,
With a copy of last year's Hansard in the pocket of each M.P.
As they go drifting down the tide I'll watch 'em from afar;
If the sharks don't eat 'em, something will, not so particular.
So where the great clams lurk agape and the octopuses creep,
Carry 'em out in a coffin ship and scuttle her where it's deep.

Take 'em out to a flying field when the day burns bright and clear,
And hurry 'em off in aeroplanes to the utmost stratosphere,
All with a nice gold pass apiece and a diver's leaden boots,
And all attracted by second-hand string to paper parachutes.
Then, as the calm, incurious sky returns each unopposed,
You may all go home to tea, good folk, for the incident is closed.

Ask them all to a banquet spread in the good old Borgian style,
And, as each drains his doctored draft, then, smile -- darn yeh!  Smile!
And, as corrosive sublimate and soothing cyanide
Bring peace at last, no tongue shall wag to tell men how they died.
Then softly, softly, lock the door, and leave the dreaming there;
And we'll play a quick-step going home to show that we don't care.

First published in The Herald, 7 December 1935

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.

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 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 Stable Door by C.J. Dennis

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He could not help remembering that we did not stand alone, but were related by every tie to Great Britain . . . Was Great Britain's solemn pledge to see to the naval defence of Australia enough? . . . The sea power of Great Britain would protect Australia for ten years to come, but the moment it ceased to be efficient, serious efforts would have to be made for the military training of the manhood of the nation . . . There was no need to make service compulsory until an emergency arose. - GEORGE REID, on Australian National Defence.

There lived a cautious man in days of yore,
Who most securely locked his stable door
After the robbers had purloined his steed.
                                His name was Reid.

A Voice rang through the silence of the land,
Calling a loud, imperative command
Amongst a populace that leaned on posts
" Awake! Arise! Arm 'gainst the yellow hosts!"
But there was one who slowly gazed around,
Removed hie pipe, and spat upon the ground,
Then said.  "Aw, 'eaps o' time ter git up speed."
                                His name was Reid.

Again, a later day the Voice rang out;
And now the populace took up the shout:
"The yellow horde is thundering at our gate!"
But one man yawned and said, "Aw, can't yer wait?
Old Mother Hingland ain't too sick ter fight.
Chuck 'er a bob er two, she'll see us right.
Yer mighty anxious ter git out an' bleed!"
                                His name was Reid.

The fight was over; the invader crushed;
When lo, across the distant landscape rushed
A wild, excited man in war array,
Calling his countrymen to join the fray.
He wore a single, unlaced boot, this man;
He buttoned up his waistcoat as he ran,
Crying "To arms! To arms! I come to lead!"
                                His name was Reid.

The long years sped; and lo, a trumpet's roar
Wakened the earth's long dead to life once more.
Men hastened to the tryst from far and near;
Except one man, who, turning in his bier,
Complained, "All right, but please don't rush, don't rush!
I'll get there later, and avoid the crush."
But the officials gave him little heed.
                                His name was Reid.

Time ceased his labor, and the sun grew cold;
Beneath the stars the Earth, deserted, rolled;
The good and evil man found each his place.
But one lone soul, meandering through space,
At length approached the outer Golden Gate,
And found a placard there: "House full.  Too late."
It was a lonely, lonely sprite indeed.
                                Its name was Reid.

There is a spirit doomed for evermore
To shut, and shut, and shut a stable door,
Always too late to save a fiendish steed.
                                This sprite is Reid.

First published in The Bulletin, 22 October 1908

The Candid Candidate by C.J Dennis

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Alfred Ebenezer Jackson was a very earnest man,
Who aspired to be a statesman, and he consequently ran
At a general election as the Candid Candidate,
Sworn to tell the truth ungarbled, leaving all the rest to Fate.

Jackson had a firm conviction that the average M.P.
Was not perfectly straightforward as a member ought to be.
"They disguise their actual motives," Jackson said, "and so they fail.
I shall leave no false suspicion that I'm sitting on a rail."

"Fellow men," quoth Ebenezer, in his first campaign address.
"My desire to gain election is most eager, I confess:
True, some patriotic ardor fills me with its holy fire;
But to get a safe and steady billet is my main desire.

"Now, to put the matter plainly, I've no wish to twist or hedge,
And I'm quite prepared to stand to all the things that I allege.
I aspire to serve Australia in the Big Affairs of State:
To that aim all local interests gladly I'll subordinate.

"I shall give no hasty promise for the sake of votes from you.
Roads and bridges you shall have them when they are your right and due;
But where this whole country's interest clashes with your local lot,
Then my vote is for Australia and the rest can go to pot!

"I'll not stoop to curry favor for the sake of your back yard,
While the Big Things of the nation call for labor long and hard;
For I'm not of those hard grafters whose chief work is turning coats,
With their thoughts on next election, and their eyes upon your votes.

"Party ties shall never hold me when I hear Australia call,
Through my service to the nation do I seek to stand or fall.
And to talk election piffle in the House, if I be sent
There to work, I'll deem an insult to the folk I represent.

"I shall scheme to drag no railway through the back yard of this State;
Nor on any handy dust-heap in this dashed electorate
Shall I vote to plant a city, while the fact is evident
That a better site is waiting elsewhere on the continent.

"I am solid for Protection: but my creed I won't abuse
By mean tricks to shift the duty from commodities you use:
Nor shall I denounce with loathing Socialists' experiments
While I howl for State assistance for my own constituents.

"Now, my worthy friends, you know me, and just what I mean to do.
As plain people of Australia I am ev'ry time for you,
With my eyes upon the future and this great land's destiny,
I shall not to 'local interests' sacrifice posterity."

Alfred Ebenezer Jackson raised a wild, derisive shout
From "intelligent electors."  "Mad!" they said, "without a doubt."
And because they knew he meant it - ev'ry work he spoke or wrote -
Alfred Ebenezer Jackson did not get a single vote!

First published in The Bulletin, 9 October 1913

"Eats" by C.J Dennis

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The only idea that State members have of spending the £50,000 Federal gift is to build kitchens and a dining-room.

When Willie gets a penny piece
   Straight to the lollie-shop he flies,
And, heartened by his wealth's increase,
   Reviews the stock with bulging eyes.

And so it is thro' all our lives,
   Till Death declares the tale complete;
Man ever toils and yearns and strives
   With eyes on something good to eat.

With little child or stout M.P.
   Old Nature varies not her plan;
When either has the £.s.d.
   His thoughts fly to the inner man.

First published in The Sun-News Pictorial, 6 October 1927

A Few Remarks on Goats, Asses and the Dead Hand by C.J Dennis

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The Ministry had effected one act of restoration - it had restored, with all its signs and portents, the mace, that sign and portent of the Government of ancient days, the Government of the fourteenth century.  (Laughter.) - Anstey, M.H.R.

I don't mind kings and dukes and things;
   I don't mind wigs or maces;
I don't mind crowns or robes or gowns
   Or ruffles, swords or laces -
But what I do object to, and some others more than I,
Are the mad old, bad old practices these baubles signify.

Good friends, brother Australians and fellow voters;
I think that you will agree with me that few of us are doters
Upon the customs, practices, fooleries and tommyrotics of the mouldy past;
Nor are we apt to cast
A reverent eye behindward upon ancient precedent:
Nor do we consent
To let the cold, clammy and unusually muddling Dead Hand
Control the destinies of this our native land.
Nay, rather do we stand
Tiptoe upon the summit of the Present, peering out,
With faces eager and expectant eyes, into the mystic Future.  Have you a doubt
That in Progress, Business-like Procedure, Common-sense Habit, and Up-to-Date Method we are all earnest believers?
Is it not so?....
Well, I don't know
So much about it.  'Twere easy to prove, good friends, that we are, in the lump, followers of Make-Believe, triflers with Humbug and inane self-deceivers.
'Twere easy to prove that our ass-like attribute indeed surpasses
That of innumerable and intensely asinine asses.
And here, good friends, I extend to all of you my blessin',
And conclude, amidst great applause, the first lesson.

Secondly, my brothers -
Right-thinking persons, men-in-the-street, common-sense individuals, and people who call a spade a spade, and others -
There are full many of us who deeply deplore
The use or display of these gauds, decorations, baubles and trappings that belong to the unpractical, superstitious and quite unfashionable days of yore.
We deride, for instance, the notion that the caudal appendage of a deceased horse
Perched upon the cranium of an erudite justice can add to his dignity or give to his remarks more force.
In short, we class as mere bunkum, bosh, flapdoodle and other sludge
The contention that the hind end of a horse can in any way assist the fore end of a judge.
The wig, the gown, the staff, the rod, the mace,
We regard as obsolete, and entirely out of place.
If there is one thing more than another upon which we pride ourselves it is, I suppose,
The fact that we scorn to wear grandpa's old-fashioned clothes.
The poor old gentleman's pantaloons, his shirts, his cravat, his fob-chain, his frill-whiskers are all anathema to us.
Good friends, why all this fuss?
Why waste all this precious energy in denouncing the wig, the gown, the mace?
They may be, in a sense, out of place;
Yet, why should these things shock you?
Believe me, they are perfectly innocu-
Ous, and furthermore, dear friends,
They serve their ends;
For why deny these toys
To that large, mentally-bogged, and much misunderstood class of elderly girls and boys
Whose state demands some sign or symbol
To push an idea or a principle into their heads, even as the thimble
Thrusts the needle into the cloth?
Then why so wrath?
Heed ye, good friends, the parable of the beam and the mote.
Nay, I crave your pardon, but I have known a not particularly intelligent goat
To view materially essential matters with a more discerning eye; to possess, so to speak, more innate perspicacity
Than you - that is to say, us.  Nay, grasp not at the seeming audacity
Of these few remarks; for perfect perspicuity
Attends them, and I like not ambiguity.
As thinking machines the ass, the goat, good people are preferable; at least, so it appears.
And here, the ending of my second lesson is attended by your deafening and appreciative cheers.

My worthy friends, ye who scorn to wear my poor grandpa's clothes
Get down from your pedestals, O ye modern intellectual giants; let each decline his scornful and uptilted nose.
Deride, would ye, grandpa's ancient mace?
Abolish it, would ye, and hunt it off the place?
What's the matter with it?  It's not eating anything, is it?
And it might prove handy if a masked burglar, or a Trust or a mad dog paid the House a visit.
Gird, would ye, at grandpa's wig, at his gown trimmed with the overcoats of late lamented rabbits?
But, Oh! my up-to-date brothers, what have ye to say about grandpa's and great-grandpa's and great-great-grandpa's ridiculous customs, absurd precedents, inane systems and obsolete habits?
What about that musty, dusty, mouldy, mildewed, hoary, Tory, injurious, time-wasting, insane, inane, self-ridiculed, unwieldy and utterly unprofitable system of Party Government?  Great-great-great-great-grandpa's cherished System, good friends?
Does it serve our modern ends?
Or is it, think you, obsolete and absurd?
I pause for a reply....What!  Not a word?
Do I hear you raving to have it abolished?
Yearn ye to see this thing demolished?
Go to the ass, ye dullards!  He doesn't eat mouldy sawdust when there's good hay about.
And here, kind friends, I pass to "fourthly," flattered by your encouraging shout.

Friends, countrymen and fellow-voters of this fair land,
All ye smart, up-to-date people who scorn dear grandpa's raiment, are you feeling his dead hand?
Think ye that ancient fist should interfere so in the vital affairs of to-day?
Or are ye so apathetic that you don't care a tuppenny curse either way?
'Tis cheap and easy to scoff at granpa's gauds and trappings and to the Devil send 'em;
But have ye ever seriously considered such things as elected Ministries or the Initiative and Referendum?
Not you!  You shirk, good friend, you shirk.
That means Work!

Friends, I am done....I know not what ye intend to do about it, and I haven't much hope; but, for my part,
I say unto ye, in a spirit of true brotherly love, and with my hand upon my heart,
That I have enjoyed the acquaintance of asses who were never fooled by musty precedent.  Aye, and intelligent goats
Who scorned the jam-tin diet of their forebears when there was good grass about - but they had no votes.
And what is a goat without a vote?  

First published in The Bulletin, 25 September 1913

Cheek by C.J. Dennis

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The success of the DEAKIN scheme at the Imperial Defence Conference.... Australia's control will be far closer under the DEAKIN scheme than under the FISHER scheme.... The change which the endorsement of the DEAKIN scheme by the British Government, etc. - Remarks by Melbourne AGE.

When PHARAOH chased the chosen Jew, and perished in the sea,
Things seemed to hint at failure in the PHARAOH policy.
For 'tis written that the Opposition leader had his way;
But we've never been enlightened on what PHARAOH had to say.
But probably before the wave came over him he swore:
"This is the naval policy I've always battled for!"
And continued to enlarge upon his policy's success,
Till a mouthful of the salt Red Sea cut short his brief address.

   For there's nothing like a cool, calm cheek;
   And there's wisdom in a big bold bluff.
      If you find you've made a blunder,
      And your policy goes under,
   You've a chance if you can bellow loud enough.
   That's the time you need a brass-bound cheek;
   When your theory to smithereens is blown,
      Seize the other fellow's notion
      In the subsequent commotion,
   And declare, by all the gods, it is your own.

When BRUTUS punctured CAESAR in his quaint old Pagan way,
A lot of folk were almost sure that BRUTUS won the day.
'Twas the popular opinion, and was backed by solid facts;
But we are not told what CAESAR thought about these ancient acts.
For it was not "Et tu BRUTE" that he murmured as he fell,
But "I'm charmed to see my policy is carried out so well."
And if we are allowed to make a sporting sort of guess,
He's skiting still in Hades of that policy's success.

   For there's nothing like a hard-boiled cheek;
   And there's virtue in assurance when its strong;
      In claiming all the credit,
      And declaring that you said it
   Would occur just as it happened all along.
   No, there's nothing like a steel-shod cheek;
   And there's something in a tall, tough skite
      Should it be the white you back,
      And the winner turn out black,
   Buck up, and say you meant a blackish white.

O, ye proud and haughty Britons, quondam rulers of the waves,
Have you ever once reflected why it is ye are not slaves?
Nay, the glorious foundation Britain's freedom stands upon
Is the firm and fearless policy of glorious King JOHN!
For when the Barons waited on him, asking him to sign
The grand old Magna Carta, did he hesitate and whine?
No!  Spake that grand old monarch, with a rather bitter smile:-
"This is the policy I've advocated all the while!"

   Ay, there's nothing like a cast-iron cheek,
   When you "fuse" to give away a doubtful gift,
      Saying, "This is what we'll give -
      This or - some alternative."
   Lie low and watch which way the cat will shift.
   Just wait and watch and polish up your cheek;
   And when the Dreadnought hurling back is sent
      With the curt advice to spend it
      On yourself - well, let that end it;
   And remark: "Precisely.  That is what we meant."

First published in The Bulletin, 16 September 1909

A Different Route by C.J. Dennis

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Asked if, in effect the agreement did not closely approximate to the Labor Party's Brisbane Conference proposal, Mr. Deakin admitted that in some measure it did, though the conclusions arrived at had been reached independently of that conference's views, and along different lines altogether. - Melbourne AGE.

Say you have some great objective.
Very well. Be calm, reflective;
Make no vulgar show of vigor; 'tisn't good.
Do not rush the thing directly;
But approach it circumspectly,
As a gentlemanly politician should.
Though certain consequences hinge upon the laws you make,
Your prestige in high politics rests with the road you take.

For the common sort of fellows,
With enthusiastic bellows,
Rush about and shout their schemes in ev'ry ear;
In their shirt-sleeves, toiling, fretting,
And most vulgarly a-sweating,
Quite without a thought or care how they appear.
And if they do arrive at things a trifle in advance
Their strenuous endeavors go to prove their ignorance.

Have a care for your appearance
If you claim the least adherence
To the genteel game of politics as played
By right-thinking politicians,
Who "consider their positions"
Once a week, while common business is delayed.
And shun, O, shun that fearsome fellow eager for a spurt,
And the man who, metaphorically, labors in his shirt.

What though others rush before you?
What though busy folk ignore you?
Draw your gloves on carefully and take your stick.
Having chosen your direction,
Then proceed, with circumspection,
Stepping out with dignity - but not too quick.
If mere workers are before you, that is what you must expect;
But reflect, with satisfaction, that your route is more select.

Then, pray, have no hesitation -
Should you find your destination
Is the same as that of him that humps the load -
In declaring that your action
Gives you perfect satisfaction,
As you reached the place by quite another road.
Ignore his paltry claim to being first - such was his whim;
But emphasise the fact that you disdained to follow him.

First published in The Bulletin, 9 September 1909

Cackle by C.J. Dennis

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I trust our deliberations will be characterised neither by niggling nor peddling, but by strong views and broad views. (Applause.) - ALFRED DEAKIN.

   Oh, my brothers do not wrangle.
   When the sweets of office dangle
   At a most inviting angle
         Be polite.
   In the legislative struggle,
   When in office safe you snuggle,
   Then to jangle or to juggle
         Isn't right.

   And, O never, never niggle!
   Though the vulgar people giggle
   When they see a statesman wriggle
         To a place.
   And, I prithee, never niggle;
   With the man who stops to peddle,
   For the act upon his head'll
         Bring disgrace.

And we ought to take a broad, strong view.
What's the matter if the prospect isn't new?
   There is virtue in the viewing.
   When it comes to merely doing,
Well, it's really not important what you do.
   It's the view -
         Grand view!
Never let the doing part embarrass you.

   When in politics you dabble
   Then of course you'll have to babble,
   To the vote-possessing rabble -
         'Tis the game.
   When you engineer a shuffle
   The ensuing party scuffle
   Somebody is sure to ruffle,
         All the same.

   Then be wary; do not tremble;
   Smile politely and dissemble,
   Though your actions do resemble
   When your legislative symbol
   Is the tricky pea and thimble
   Your manipulations nimble
         Are not faults.

But, I charge you, take a strong, broad view.
It is most entrancing when you have the screw.
   There's no need to be exacting
   In the manner of your acting;
'Tis the statesman's motto when dissensions brew
   Watch the view -
         Wide view!
And your story of the sight will see you through.

   When a banquet you've to tackle
   Where the ancient chestnuts crackle,
   And you have to rise and cackle
         To your kind.
   Mayhap some hiccoughing freak'll
   Rise and, venturing to speak, 'll
   Mention you as "Misher Deakle,"
         Never mind.

   Let your honeyed phrases trickle,
   And defend the Fusion pickle;
   Show them that you are not fickle
         In the least.
   Say that, why we do not muzzle
   Labor members is a puzzle;
   And they'll cheer you as they guzzle
         At the feast.

And bid them take a broad, strong view.
Bid them see around both corners, same as you.
   You're the saviour of the nation
   At a mayoral celebration
If you do not harp too much upon the "do."
   Praise the view -
         Grand view!
And they vow you are a statesman strong and true.

   With this popular preamble
   You may then adroitly amble
   To the shocking party scramble.
         Voice your fears.
   Tell them Labor's sure to stumble
   If it does not cease to grumble;
   And each alderman will mumble
         Glad "Hear, hears."

   While the nuts they calmly nibble
   Let vague phrases gently dribble;
   Give them any quip or quibble.
         You're immense.
   But, ah prithee! do not trifle
   With a hint of acts; and stifle
   Any mention of a rifle
         Or defence.

For there's safety in the strong, broad view.
The suppression of the hard, strong "do"
   Is a matter most essential
   When the Tory consequential
Is the man you reckon on to see you thro'.
   Boost the view -
         Great view?
And they'll all begin to think they see it too.

   Budding statesmen, there is muckle
   In the View when you've to truckle
   To the crowd that will not buckle
         Into graft.
   When your policy's a muddle,
   And you're sailing in a puddle
   With a Fusion crowd that huddle
         On a raft;

   Talk in vague, unmeaning jingle;
   For the crowd with which you mingle
   Holds within it scarce a single
         One who'll work.
   Here, where HANSARD's pages rustle,
   Three a show of rush and bustle,
   But there's ne'er a chance to hustle;
         You must shirk.

Keep your eye upon the broad, strong view.
Call the crowd's attention to it till you're blue.
   Keep them watching intently,
   And you can con-ven-i-ently
Hate the fact that you have nothing much to do.
   Praise the view -
         Fine view!
And they may forget to keep an eye on you.

First published in The Bulletin, 2 September 1909

Soft Soap for Ladies by C.J. Dennis

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Mr. A. Robinson, referring to the proposed scheme of amalgamation of the various Liberal leagues in Victoria, said it was a matter that needed careful consideration. To bring women into an organisation which should consist of men only, might have the effect of seriously impairing it.  Women did the best work when they were left alone. With a joint committee there was not the same efficiency as with separate committees.  For the past seven years the Women's National League had held the field. - Daily paper.

Dear ladies, I implore you, for your own sake [and for ours],
   Do not seek amalgamation with us men;
In the past you have been peerless,
And your methods, strong and fearless,
   Still compel our admiration, now as then.
Our courage is as strong as in the past [or nearly so];
   And, as yet, we do not fear to stand alone;
But you still may aid us greatly
By-er-canvassing, as lately,
   And, pray, let us do the rest upon our own.

[Good Lord!  We can't allow these cats to interfere with us!
They're hard enough to manage where they are, with all their fuss.
At rounding up the snobbish vote they're quite a useful lot;
But, admit 'em to our inner councils? Whew! I reckon not!]

For many years, dear ladies, we've done nothing but admire
   Your drawing-room assemblies and your teas.
You've a gift for organising,
And your canvassing's surprising -
   Mere men possess no qualities like these.
Your knowledge of political economy is great;
   Your arguments, advanced as they can be.
Do not think we would resist you,
Nay, we're anxious to assist you
   At your meetings by-er-passing cakes and tea.

[Whew!  I hope that we can choke them off their latest little scheme,
If they knew our inmost secrets they'd get on the chairs and scream.
They'd simply kill the Party - such a wild, erratic mob.
What would they think it they knew, say, of Smithson's little job!]

I earnestly assure you, you can aid us men-folk best
   By remaining in a body as you are,
In the interests of the nation;
For, I think association
   With the men, on finer minds, is apt to jar.
There are certain little matters - oh, not secrets!
         Dear me, no.
   You're acquainted with our e'vry aim and act -
But-er-certain little matters
That would wear your nerves to tatters
   If you had to grapple with-er-sordid fact.

[Jee-rusalem! I hope I can persuade 'em to keep out!
What sort of Party meetings would we have with them about?
Best prime 'em up with Busted Homes and Shattered Marriage Ties.
They're keen on propagating such old, crusted Tory lies.]

Dear ladies, you have always been the Labor party's dread;
   It fears you as it fears no other thing.
All our wrongs will soon be righted,
If you stand firm and united,
   And to the Sacred Truth,as ever, cling.
Remember, Socialism is a monster in disguise,
   Which seeks to legislate for class alone.
But your association
Stands for all the blessed nation
   And the people's good - which means -er- means our own.

[I'd like to know who started this amalgamation craze;
They certainly are useful in a hundred little ways;
But a pack of foolish cacklers at our councils!  Goodness me!
Why, there wouldn't be a Party if they knew as much as we.]

First published in The Bulletin, 24 August 1911

The Ballad of Bill's Breeches by C.J. Dennis

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Once on a time, a party by the name of Mr. BULL
Discovered that with many schemes his hands were pretty full.
His cares of family were great. Four fine young sons he'd got;
They were, indeed, of goodly breed, a strong and hefty lot.
But Mr. BULL's domestic cares (as shortly will be seen)
Were not with them, but with his wife, whose name was JINGOPHINE.
A foolish fad this lady had that all the boys were ninnies;
         And, though they grew,
         As children do,
She dressed them all in pinnies.

Now, while her boys were young, JOHN BULL engaged in business strife -
Took little heed of their affairs, and left them to his wife;
And JINGOPHINE, who loved her lord, impressed them, noon and night.
With tales of his magnificence, his wisdom, wealth and might.
But when they talked of growing up, and "helping pa" some day,
She shook her finger at them in her stern, maternal way.
"Your pa's a great, big man," she said.  "You never, never, NEVER
         Can hope to be
         As big as he,
Or half so wise and clever.

Now, JINGOPHINE, like other dames of fussy, frilly kind,
Delighted to have round her folk of weak and narrow mind.
Pet persons were her weakness. also aldermen and those
Who held the very strictest views, and wore the nicest clothes.
They cheered her when she praised her lord, and listened, with a frown.
To tales of BILL; and all agreed he'd have to be "kept down."
"He is a naughty child," they said, "a most precocious brat.
To think good Mr. BULL should have an offspring such as that!"
But BILL despite the stern rebukes of aldermen and Wowsers,
         Defied the crowd.
         And shouted loud:
"Shut up!  I want my trousers!"

Now, in the course of time, JOHN BULL awakened to the fact
That, in the interests of his sons, 'twas time for him to act.
"My dear," he said, "these sons of ours are growing quite immense;
We ought to have a business talk - I'll call a conference.
They're nearly men; and they must learn, each one, to stand alone.
Each with responsibilities, and a household of his own.
They can't always be at our skirts, like great, big, awkward gabies."
         "Why, Mr. BULL!"
         She cried.  "You fool!
Those boys are only babies!"

But at the meeting Mr. BULL spoke plainly to his lads.
"My sons," said he, "I don't agree with all your mother's fads.
You can't be always little boys; like other lads, you've grown;
And now 'tis time to face the world, and learn to stand alone.
We still remain one family; and none will fail, I know,
To aid another in distress, against a common foe.
Dear lads, I know, you'll recollect - despite success and riches -
         Your father still."
         "Hear. hear!" said BILL -
"Hooray!  I've got me breeches!"

From out that solemn conference BILL marched in highest glee,
With more more respect for Mr. BULL, now that his limbs were free.
"The old man, he's an all-right sort, and talks sound, common sense,
It's time we learned to act like men, and chucked this fool-pretence.
We've done with apron-strings at last.  But what will Ma say now?
Her Wowsers and her aldermen? LORD, won't there be a row!
They've pecked at me quite long enough; it's up to me to scare 'em.
         They'll howl for weeks!
         But here's me breeks;
An', spare me days, I'll wear 'em!"

The Wowsers and the aldermen and Mrs. JING0PHINE
Were seated in the drawing-room when BILL came on the scene.
"He's got 'em on!" a Wowser cried.  "He's disobeyed his ma!"
"Help! Murder!" shrieked the aldermen. "He'll kill his pore, dear vp!"
Pell-mell they rushed to Mr. BULL - "Oh, sir, that dreadful BILL!
He'll murder you!  He stole yer pants!  He's got 'em on 'im still! Mr. BULL 
   said. "Is he?
         There, there, good folk,
         You've had your joke.
Now, go away; I'm busy."

But, up and down the land they went, the Wowsers and the rest;
And BILL, besides the trousers, sported now a coat and vest.
"He's dressin' like a man!" they shrieked. "He's going to resist
His dear, kind pa!  Oh, who'll restrain this rank disloyalist?
He won't take sops from 'is fond ma; 'er pore 'art's nearly broke!
He's even gone at scoffed at us; an' treats us as a joke!" ....
And if you chance to come across those aldermen and Wowsers
         You'll find them still
         Abusing BILL
Who grins, and wears the trousers.

First published in The Bulletin, 17 August 1911

The Liberal Constitution by C.J. Dennis

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The Liberal party's platform was an all-embracing one. - Daily paper.

          Jack Sprat would eat no fat,
             His wife would eat no lean,
          And so, betwixt them both, you see,
             They licked the platter clean.
                          - Old nursery rhyme

Gentlemen, I'd like to mention, with your very kind attention,
   One important point I wish you all to know;
We've a policy extensive and extremely comprehensive --
          Me an' Joe.
As a fact, 'tis all-embracing, just to put the matter flat;
Therefore, where's the need to mention that we favor "this" or "that"? 

Quite unlike the other party, we're so vigorous and hearty,
   We can thrive on any diet, high or low.
And, if you decide to follow us, just notice what we swallow -
          Me an' Joe.
It is hardly worth while mentioning what Joseph can't digest,
And, when he has picked his dishes, I, with ease, absorb the rest.

While other folks are musing o'er the menu, picking, choosing,
   In a fashion most fastidious and slow,
At embracing or surrounding -- all the meal we are astounding --
          Me an' Joe.
As an economic method it admits no ifs or buts;
For we clean up all the courses from the oysters to the nuts.

Legislative indigestion in regard to any question
   Marks the party whose vitality is low;
Weaklings in the estimation of that sturdy combination,
          Me an' Joe.
For the food that is politically poisonous to me
Joe takes with relish, while -- well, vice versa don't you see.

I can take, with little trouble, foods political that double
   Joseph up, upon the floor, in direst woe;
But they all declare, who've seen us, we're omnivorous between us --
          Me an' Joe.
Joseph's fond of food imported with a dash of Tory sauce;
I love fare more democratic and Australian grown, of course.

Thus, observe, in fiscal matters we contrive to clean the platters.
   'Tis surprising how we make the viands go!
With our dual constitution we can do great execution --
          Me an' Joe.
And the others of our party have such varied appetities
That there's really very little left to feed the cat o' nights.

For, the others at the table, watching us, are quickly able
   To elect the food they fancy most -- although
Some they find it hard to swallow in their brave attempts to follow
          Me an' Joe.
Then a little Argus Syrup or some "Mother 'Eralds Pills"
Are most useful in averting any gastronomic ills.

Gentlemen, 'twould only weary you to state in manner dreary,
   That we favor "this," or "that," or "so-and-so,"
When, as you well know who've seen us, we can scoff the lot between us --
          Me an' Joe.
And I warn you to be careful of that legislative group
Which has appetite for nothing but mere Democratic soup.

Such dyspeptic politicians are not fit for their positions;
   They are weak and puny creatures: let them go;
And, whatever you adhere to, you can bet your cause is dear to
          Me -- or Joe.
For our iron constitution is a thing to marvel at,
And, when we 'ave dined, as I have said, there's little for the cat.

First published in The Bulletin, 15 August 1912

The Martyred Democrat by C.J. Dennis

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The annual report showed that steady progress had been made.  The membership of the Toorak branch numbered 500.  Public and drawing-room meetings had been held, and the electorate had been canvassed. - Report of the Vic. Wimmen's League
The main note of Liberal policy, as declared in the platform, is that it is Federal and democratic.  Melbourne ARGUS.

[Note. - This tragic recitation may be delivered at ordinary gatherings without fee or charge; but the right to recite it in "select" drawing-rooms, stock exchanges, boudoirs, bank parlors, directors' board-rooms or Legislative Councils is strictly reserved.]

                    (Begin breezily):
In Lady Lusher's drawing-room, where float the strains of Brahms,
While cultured caterpillars chew the leaves of potted palms -
In Lady Lusher's drawing-room, upon a summer's day,
The democrats of Toorak met to pass an hour away.
They hearkened to a long address by Grabbit, M.L.C.,
While Senator O'Sweatem passed around the cakes and tea;
And all the brains and beauty of the suburb gathered there,
In Lady Lusher's drawing-room - Miss Fibwell in the chair.

                 (With increasing interest):
Ay, all the fair and brave were there - the fair in fetching hats;
The brave in pale mauve pantaloons and shiny boots, with spats.
But pride of all that gathering, a giant 'mid the rest,
Was Mr Percy Puttipate, in fancy socks and vest.
Despite his bout of brain-fag, plainly showing in his eyes,
Contracted while inventing something new in nobby ties,
He braved the ills and draughts and chills, damp tablecloths and mats,
Of Lady Lusher's drawing-room: this prince of Democrats.

                    (Resume the breeze):
Upon a silken ottoman sat Willie Dawdlerich,
Who spoke of democratic things to Mabel Bandersnitch.
And likewise there, on couch and chair, with keen, attentive ears,
Sat many sons and daughters of our sturdy pioneers;
Seed of our noble squatter-lords, those democrats of old,
Who held of this fair land of ours as much as each can hold;
Whose motto is, and ever was, despite the traitor's gab:
"Australia for Australians - as much as each can grab."

                    (In cultured tones):
"Deah friends," began Miss Fibwell, "you - haw - understand ouah league
Is formed to stand against that band of schemers who intrigue -
That horrid band of Socialists who seek to wrest ouah raights,
And, with class legislation, straive to plague ouah days and naights.
They claim to be the workers of the land; but Ai maintain
That, tho' they stand for horny hands, we represent the bwain.
Are not bwain-workers toilers too, who labah without feah?"
(The fashioner of fancy ties: "Heah, heah!  Quaite raight!  Heah, heah!")

"They arrogate unto themselves the sacred name of Work.
But still, Ai ask, where is the task that we've been known to shirk?
We're toilahs, ev'ry one of us, altho' they claim we're not."
(The toiler on the ottoman: "Bai jove, I've heard thet rot!")
"Moahovah, friends, to serve theah ends, they're straiving, maight and main,
To drag down to theah level folk who work with mind and bwain.
They claim we do not earn ouah share, but, Ai maintain we do!"
(The grafter in the fancy socks: "The'ah beastly rottahs, too!")

                   (With rising inflexion):
"Yes, friends, they'll drag us down and down, compelling us to live
Just laike themselves - the selfish class, on what they choose to give.
Nay, moah, they'll make us weah theah clothes - plain working - clothes, forsooth!
Blue dungarees in place of these." . . . "Mai Gahd!  Is this the trooth?"
                    (With fine dramatic force):
A gurgling groan; a sick'ning thud; a flash of fancy socks,
And Mr Percy Puttipate fell like a stricken ox.
Crashed down, through cakes and crockery, and lay, 'mid plate and spoon,
In Lady Lusher's drawing-room one summer afternoon.

                    (With a rush of emotion):
A scream from Mabel Bandersnitch pierced thro' the ev'ning calm
(The cultured grubs, alone unmoved, still chewed the potted palm).
Strong men turned white with sudden fright; girls fell in faint and swoon
In Lady Lusher's drawing-room that fateful afternoon.
                    (With tears in the voice):
But Puttipate? ... Ah, what of him - that noble Democrat,
As he lay there with glassy stare, upon the Persian mat?
What recks he now for nobby ties, and what for fancy socks,
As he lies prone, with cake and cream smeared on his sunny locks?

Good Mr Grabbit took his head, O'Sweatem seized his feet;
They bore him to an ambulance that waited in the street.
Poor Mabel Bandersnitch sobbed loud on Dawdlerich's vest;
A pall of woefell over all - Miss Fibwell and the rest.
A mournful gloom o'erspread the room, as shades of ev'ning fell,
And, one by one, they left the place till none was left to tell
The tale of that dire tragedy that wrecked the summer calm -
Except the apathetic grubs, who went on eating palm.

                    (Suggestive pause; then, with fresh interest):
There still be men - low common men - who sneer at Toorak's ways,
And e'en upon poor Puttipate bestow but grudging praise.
But when you hear the vulgar sneer of some low Labor bore
                    (With fine dramatic intensity):
Point to that pallid patriot on Lady Lusher's floor!
Point to that daring Democrat, that hero of Toorak,
Who lifeless lay, that fateful day, upon his noble back!
Point to that hero, stricken down for our great Party's sake,
His sunny locks, his fiery socks o'er-smeared with cream and cake.

                    (In scathing tones):
Then lash with scorn the base poltoon who sullies his fair fame.
Who, moved by fear, attempts to smear the lustre of that name.
Great Puttipate! The Democrat! Who perished, all too soon,
In Lady Lusher's drawing-room, one summer afternoon.

(Finish with a noble gesture, expressing intense scorn, bow gracefully, and retire amidst great applause.)

First published in The Bulletin, 10 August 1911;
and later in
The Collins Book of Australian Poetry edited by Rodney Hall, 1981;
The Penguin Book of Australian Satirical Verse edited by Philip Neilsen, 1986; and
The Sting in the Wattle: Australian Satirical Verse edited by Philip Neilsen, 1993.

The Anti-Socialist by C.J. Dennis

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'Tis morn.
An individualistic cock
Proclaims the fact.
The dissipated cat sneaks home forlorn.
'Tis time to get up and act!
'Tis eight o'clock!
The stern and stalwart anti-Socialist,
And independent citizen, whose fist
Is raised against all Socialistic schemes,
Wakes from the land o' dreams;
(Nightmares of Sosh)
Gets up, and has a wash
In water from the Socialistic main;
Empties it down the Socialistic drain,
And, giving his moustache the proper twist,
He then
Breakfasts upon an egg,
Laid by some anti-Socialistic
And, as he chews,
Endeavours to peruse
The news
In some wise publication, printing views
That no right-thinking man could grumble at;
And, having scoffed the egg,
His hat
He reaches from its peg;
Perambulates the Socialistic path --
But that
Annoys him just as little as the bath.
Tho' both essentially are Sosh's works,
He never shirks
Their use;
But much abuse
Of Socialistic ideas, without excuse,
Flavors his conversation in the train --
The Socialistic train.
But, here again,
He is not heard to murmur or complain
Against the train.
At length the hour
Of ten
Strikes the Socialistic tower;
And then
He gains
His office and enquires
For letters and for wires.
Nor e'en complains
They reach him thro' a Socialistic post.
There are a host
Of letters -- quite a pile --
Some from his friends
(Ah! See him smile),
Cursing the Labor party's aims and ends.
Here is a note
Bidding him be content and of good cheer,
For, in the House last night, the Fusion vote
Defeated Labor on the Telephone 
Discussion.  Wherefore charges won't be near
As dear
As he has cause to fear.
And that reminds him.  He rings on the 'phone,
And tells a friend
At t'other end
That Socialism's better left alone.
Says it emphatically thro' the 'phone --
The Socialistic 'phone --
That instrument
The Government is running at a loss
Of very much per cent.
He knows that it is so.
But is he cross?
He's quite content...
So, through the day
He goes his anti-Socialistic way.
Round and about
The town,
Wearing the Socialistic pavement out;
Riding in Socialistic trams
And damning damns
When Socialism's mentioned -- with a frown...
As night comes down,
He scorns the Socialistic atmosphere
Of a plain pub
And beer,
And seeks his club.
While here
He drinks
And tells his fellow members what he thinks
About the "Labah pawty" and its claims
And visionary aims.
They languidly remark "Hear, hear."...
Then out once more
And, in a Socialistic tram and train,
On to suburbia, and home again
To his own door.
Then to his bed;
Laying his wise and proper-thinking head
In downy pillow-deep.
He is about to drop 
To sleep
When -- "Flop... Flop...
Flop" ...
What's that?
The cat,
Chasing an individualistic rat?
Nay, 'tis the footfall of the midnight cop,
Echoing through
The stilly night,
Telling that I and you
Are guarded in our right;
He guards the persons and the propertee
Of you and me.
He's a Socialistic institution too --
The man in blue.
The whole blue Socialistic crew....
I wish he'd keep
Still, that cop,
I want to go to sleep...
Why does he keep
Flop, flop, flop!
With his big feet
Along the street?
Why can't he stop?...
His Socialistic feet....
Why don't he change his beat?...
Of all the rows I ever heard --
Upon my word!
When you stop to think of it
A bit,
This Socialistic business is absurd!

First published in The Bulletin, 5 August 1909

The Incorrigible by C.J. Dennis

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The peculiar psychology of the German leaders and their utter failure to appreciate the mentality of other peoples has again led them into blunders, this time over the Austrian situation, so that once more they find themselves isolated from the rest of Europe.

The bad boy of Europe,
   He stands in dire disgrace,
Crying too loud his innocence
   While guilt grins from his face.
The gangster and the racketeer
   Earth's honest folk disown,
And the bad boy of Europe
   He walks his way alone.

In cynical dishonor
   The world is not yet lost,
As the dull boy of Europe
   Discovers to his cost.
Something is let to decency,
   And something of fair play,
As the shameless boy of Europe
   Learns, to his vague dismay.

Tho' nations yet be governed
   By chiefs too worldly-wise,
There runs an unclean pathway
   From which men turn their eyes.
Defined by laws unwritten,
   There yet remains The Code;
But the bad boy of Europe
   Treads the forbidden road.

Never, 'mid Christian nations,
   Shall might be counted right;
And murder stays foul murder
   Ever in just men's sight.
The wide world shall disown them
   Who own that guilt-stained crew
Whose acts belie their mouthings;
   Whose mouthings ring untrue.

First published in The Herald, 1 August 1934

The Farmers' Vote by C.J. Dennis

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MISTER EDITER, - I'm writin' in the int'rests of the farmer,
   '0o, I've notised, 'as bin slandered frequent in THE BULLYTEEN.
An' I 'ope, when you've reflected, an' 'ave growed a trifle carmer,
   You will own 'e ain't deservin' of the insults I 'ave seen.

Sir, I 'ave no lit'ry leanin's, but I tells a truthful story,
   An', befoar I vencher further, I woud 'ave you understand -
An' my plain, unvarnished stat'ment will be backed by any Tory -
   That the backbone of our country is the man upon the land.

'Ence, in speakin' of the farmer, I am allus most respec'ful,
   For, dispite 'is scurvy treatment, 'e is stanch; an', I may say,
Wot with rabit Socialism, an' with Guverments neglec'ful,
   'E is left to 'ump Matilder in a most disgrasful way.

Take the cue of farmer JINKINS. Sends 'is produce to the city,
   To a smart commishun agent 'oo's a member of a ring;
Gits a check fer nex' to nothin', with remarks that it's a pity
   That the markit's tendin' downward in the case of ev'rything.

Sir, I asks, an' asks straitforward, wot's this country's Guv'ment doin'?
   Ain't the farmer an' 'is intrests worth consid'rin' with the rest?
No!  They leaves 'im unpretected, rooked an' fleeced an' facin' rooin,
   While they fools with wages questions, at the Labor crowd's behest.

Take the cue of farmer JOHNSON.  Wants to buy a modrin reeper,
   An' 'e 'as to pay the seller double wot it costs to bild.
Tho' 'e tries a dozen places, yet 'e fales to get it cheaper.
   For the ring 'as rigged the markit, an' all competishin's killed.

Now, I asks agen emphatik, an' in tones of indignation,
   Wots the blanky Guv'ment doin'?  Ain't the farmer worth sum 'elp?
No!  Their all too busy plannin' Socialistic legislashin,
   All agenst our vestid int'rests, while the Labor members yelp.

Take, agen, the case of 'AYSEED. 'E grows wheat, an' 'as to 'awl it
   Into markit, where the buyers fixes up a little plan -
"Onerable understandin," or sich fancy names they call it;
   But it's jist a low-down swindle ment to rook the farmin' man.

Sir, wot is the Guv'ment thinkin'?  Wot's it goin' to do about it!
   Is the farmer to be plundered rite an' left without a word?
Labor inflooence is workin' all the time; an' 'oo can dout it,
   While the cry of Socialism everywhere is loudly 'erd?

Now, I site another instance.  Take the case of farmer BILLINS.
   'E wants men to do 'is plowin'; an 'e gives a pound a week.
But theni parysights of Onions ups an' asks fer thirty shillin's;
   An' the Guv'ment's most obejunt ev'ry time the Onions speak.

Sir, me blud boiles in me buzim!  An' without no hesitation.
   I declair that SociaLism's rooinin' this 'appy land.
An' I say, an' say emphatik, that all Labor legislation
   Should he stamped out of our statues with a firm, relentless 'and!

Wot we want's a Guv'ment deppo, fer our produce.  Also needed
   Is a Guv'ment fact'ry fer to manyfacter our macheens.
Let the rabbit cry of Onion agitaters go un'eeded,
   An' supply us Guv'ment laber.  The we'll show wot farmin' means.

Kin you wonder that the farmer votes agen the Labor party,
   While they aim at vestid int'rests an' at privit interprise?
Only give us wot we ask for, our support will be most 'earty,
   For all mesures that rite-thinkin' farmers may consider wise.

Don't we vote for our class-int'rests?  Ain't we follerin' the squotters?
   Don't we listen ost attentive to the brainy biziness men
Frum the city, 'oo 'ave warned us 'gen the skeems of Labor rotters?
  They're attendin' to our int'rests, an' we'll vote with them agen.

In conclusion, let me mention that the Press is most imfatick
   That the farmer's vote is allus most intelligent; an' 'e
Never fales in 'is support of any mesure demycratick
   When it soots 'imself.  I am, sir, yours an' cetra - SPUDS, J.P.

First published in The Bulletin, 27 July 1911

Affable Alf by C.J. Dennis

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Has he magnetised the people? Has he over-persuaded them?  I recognise his marvellous gifts of speech; they are, I think, beyond compare.  I have heard Mr. George Turner say that Mr. Deakin has sometimes convinced him by the way he looked at him. - Senator 'Siah Symon.

Have you heard the inscrutable mutable Alf,
The mannerly man with the silvery tongue?
               Ever loquacious,
               Smiling and gracious.
Loud in the land have his praises been sung.
He has magnetised all with his eloquent speakin' --
The Great oratorical oracle, Deakin.
His somewhat sporadical radical speeches
Have over-persuaded us all, and his style --
               His easy urbanity
               Tickles our vanity;
And we are won by his affable smile.
He captivates all with his eloquence sinister,
Does the persuasive, evasive Prime Minister.
His fine pyrotechnical technical phrases,
His grand perorations, exordiums, too,
               'Spite their obscurity,
               Are of a purity
And of a quality equalled by few,
And he knows all the tricks of portfol-i-o seekin',
That clever illusionist, fusionist Deakin.
But, beware of mysterious serious Alf.
His weird cabalistical, mystical call --
               His impetuosity,
               Plus his verbosity,
Acts like a strange anaesthetic on all.
But, when you get over the charm of his speakin',
You'll come to a frangible, tangible Deakin.
You'll find an accessible cessible man,
With political frailties many as most o' them.
               'Spite his euphonical
               Gifts histrionical,
Critics political point, to a host o' them.
He is but a man after all and a weak 'un --
A most, inexcusable fusible Deakin.
His most omnifarious various views
He'll alter to suit the occasion that pays him,
               Though lacking in clarity.
               Any disparity
In his fused following's powerless to daze him.
Regarded apart from his eloquent speakin',
O, what a lamentable, rentable Deakin!

First published in The Bulletin, 22 July 1909

Mugga Mugga by C.J. Dennis

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The spot chosen by the "Advisory Board" for Australia's Federal City is described as being somewhere near the Mugga Mugga Mountain. The water supply is doubtful.

            Candidly, I do not hug a
            Wish to go to Mugga Mugga;
To the Mugga Mugga Mountain by Yassberra's desert place,
            Where they're planning - more's the pity -
            To erect Australia's city,
To upraise a drouthy city - monument to our disgrace.

            'Tis proposed that we shall lug a
            Myriad pipes to Mugga Mugga -
Water-pipes to get the wetness to the city's thirsty crowd
            Water to ablute and bathe in?
            Nay!  The language will be scathin'
When the Mugga mugs discover: "NOTICE - BATHING NOT ALLOWED."

            Wearily, with jar or jug, a
            Citizen at Mugga Mugga
Will await his turn for water - wait with bucket, billy-can,
            Kerosene-tin - any vessel
            That the Cotter's muddy mess'll
Safely keep in - O, the weepin' of the Mugga Mugga man!

            I can see a future Mugga
            Resident arise and tug a
Show'r-bath chain without result, then curse aloud and thirst for blood -
            Curse the crawling Cotter trickle.
            For he will be in a pickle
When the Cotter isn't cotting and Molongolo's mostly mud.

            I've a yearn, within, to plug a
            Jaw whenever Mugga Mugga
Mountain's mentioned in my hearing, for it makes me very sore.
            When I realise Dalgety
            Was thrown over for the petty
Claims of parish politicians I'm inclined to raze for gore.

            I'd rejoice if someone dug a
            Deep, wide grave at Mugga Mugga
And interred all Canberranters, minus service, sob or stone -
            All nefarious State-Frighters!
            Yassinine old nation-blighters!
Nay; I'd lug a Mugga-fighter there and plant him on my own!

First published by The Bulletin, 15 July 1909

The Psalms of the Pharisees by C.J. Dennis

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Mr Thrower: I know instances in which dairy farmers sweat their own children.  I would give a Wages Board power to prevent a man sweating his own family...
Mr Twaddle: Judge Higgins is not a just Judge. . . God help the farmers of Australia if they have to suffer the restrictions that a man of that kind would place upon them.  God help the whole community, too!
Mr Fitzpatrick: God help the country members! Etc, Etc.
- Extracts from Industrial Bill Debate in N.S.W.


God help us all!...O God of Pharisees.
   Patron of wealthy Solomon of old,
Behold us, suppliant upon our knees,
   The rich, right-thinkng members of your fold!
Our earthly schemes have failed, our judges prate
   Of justice for the lowly and the weak;
Our enemies howl loudly at the gate,
   And e'en to wrest our privileges seek.
In our extremity on Thee we call.
Defend us in our need! God, help us all!

         PSALM I. - Domine, ne in furore.

1. Rebuke me not, O Lord, nor, in Thine ire,
      Seek vengeance for my small iniquities;
   For lo, Thy hateful enemies conspire
      To steal my profits and disturb my ease.
2. Thou in Thy wisdom, Lord, best e'en ordained
      The poor shall e'er be with us here below.
   Lord, Thou hast said it; and I ne'er complained.
      But strove to aid Thee, that it should be so.
3. But now mine enemies - and Thine, Lord - strive
      To wreck our holy work with impious schemes;
   And unjust judges in our courts contrive
      To help them realise their sinful dreams.
4. My soul is troubled by the workers' greed;
      They mock my pious deeds; my schemes go wrong;
   While evil men of SATAN sow the seed
      Of discontent.  But Thou, O Lord, how long?
5. Depart, ye wreckers of iniquity.
      I shall prevail!  The Lord has heard my call!
6. Ye shall be smitten, and the triumph see
      Of FAT beatified . . . God help us all!

         PSALM II. - Beati, quorum.

1. Blessèd are they, thrice blessèd in the land
      To whom the Lord hath given many kine;
   And tenfold blessèd he who may command
      The toll of olive branches eight or nine.
   Blessèd the man that ruleth helotry,
      Who e'er obey his will for scanty pence,
   And labor long, from dawn to dark, that he
      May prosper, and extend his bound'ry fence.
2. Because I was attentive to my kine
      The Lord allowed my children to increase.
   That they might labor 'mid these beasts of mine
      With respite scant, and know nor joy nor peace.
3. For day and night they labor at the bail;
      And lo, my treasure swelleth, week by week;
   And they grow dull of brain, and wan, and pale,
      The while my good kine wax obese and sleek.
4. Flesh of my flesh, made helot for the Beast;
      Bone of my bone grown warped with heavy toll!
5. I praised the Lord, and; lo, my herds increased,
      And God sent rains to fall upon my soil.
6. Oh, balm of Gilead, gushing from the teat!
      Oh, sweat of helots rising to the Throne!
   A daily offering of incence sweet!
      (Flesh of my flesh enslaved; bone of my bone.)
7. But lo, mine enemies around me crowd.
      Thou art my refuge, Lord.  Cause them to fall.
8. Scourge them, that they way cease their ravings loud;
      And make them much afraid ... God help us all!

         PSALM III. - Miserere.

1. Have mercy on me, Lord; for men of Sin,
      Unrighteous men, and judges most unjust,
   Sow treason midst the lowly with their din.
      And seek to rob me of my gilded crust.
2. Restore to me, 0 Lord, my Sacred Rights;
      Smite them that plague me with their unjust laws;
3. And I shall teach Thy will to tolling wights.
      And e'en convert the lowly to Thy cause.
4. Behold, Thou hast loved truth; but, even now,
      These evil men speak lies against my name;
   And in our very courts they brand my brow -
      These impious judges - with the mark of shame.
5. They seek to wrest the gold Thy mercy gave
      Even to me, that I might work Thy will,
6. To gild the helot and enrich the slave
      And all the collers of the lowly fill.
7. Hadst Thou desired a sacrifice, O Lord,
      I would have given it; for, even yet,
   I might compel, from out the toiling horde,
      A further offering of tears and sweat.
8. Yet punish not the lowly and the meek,
      Smite, rather, them that make the unjust laws;
9. Smite Thou our judges and the men that seek
      With blasphemy to wreck our holy cause.
   For see the weak and humble of the fold,
      Without Thy holy aid, I still may bind;
10. For when I play 'gainst them alone, behold.
      The dice are loaded. and the throwers blind.
11. Bind fast the leaders, Lord, who make these laws;
      Give them to be my prey! Lord, hear my call!
12. With bit and bridle bind Thou fast their jaws.
      Deliver them to me ... God help us all!

         PSALM IV. - De Profundis.

1. Out of the depths we cry to Thee, O Lord!
      Out of the depths of sophistry and cant!
2. Strengthen our arm, and forge for us a sword
      To smite them, who complain their wage is scant.
3. Long have we schemed with cunning, earthly schemes;
      Loud were our voices when we were assailed;
   Deep were our curses of the helot's dreams;
      But, Lord, the wiles of SATAN have prevailed!
4. From trench to trench they drove us, ever back
      And back again, till now, our doom we see.
   Our plans be dust, our privileges wrack;
      And now, O Lord, at last we cry to Thee.
5. Thou art our last, lorn hope.  Be with us now.
      Be Thou attentive, Lord, and heed our call.
6. Lod God of Solomon, Thou'dst not allow
      Thy righteous rich to fall! ... God help us all!


God help us all!...O God of Pharisees.
   Turn not away in anger; for behold!
The plutocrat, at last, upon his knees -
   The last meek suppliant of all Thy fold!
Ay, hitherto, the needy and the weak
   Have sued with Thee for mercy and for aid;
But now, O Lord, behold him!  fat and sleek,
   Cringing for help - because he is afraid.
Lord God of Pharisees, wouldst let him fall
   Even as common men?...God help us all!

First published in The Bulletin, 13 July 1911

The Gentle Politician by C.J. Dennis

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[Mr. Speaker - "Order, order." . . . Mr. Crick again rose. . . . Mr. Wood - "You withdraw the 
expression." . . . Mr. Crick (excitedly) - "I say it was sent by a ____ ____ of the Telegraph.
If I get him to-night I will pull his windpipe out." . . . Mr. Speaker - "Order, order."
 - A trifling incident in N.S.W. Parliament.]

[Mr. Watt rose to inform the Speaker that Mr. Sangster had called the member for Melbourne (Mr. Boyd)
a low cad . . . Mr. Speaker (hotly) - "Did you say it, sir, or did you not?" . . . Mr. Sangster -
"I did say it; I mean it.  I withdraw it." . . . Mr. Boyd - "It is the beer talking."  ("Chair!  
Chair!") . . . Mr. Sangster - "Liar!"
- A little affair in the Vic. Legislature.]

The gentle politician is
   An animal I love,
His glorious position is
   So very much above
Our ordinary station, and
   You've but to hear him speak,
Just hear his conversation, and
   You'll be convinced he's meek.

The strongest word he uses is,
   "Low cad."  His verbal battery,
Unused to foul abuses, is
   Inclined to flattery.
His honeyed phrases weary one
   He speaks so low and pleasantly,
Tho', p'raps, if he's a beery one,
   He'll call you "liar" presently.

Just watch him as he walks about,
   Our legislative halls,
Just listen as he talks about
   His enemy, and calls
Him names, that sound like tinkling of
   Sweet vesper bells at eve.
(He'd damn him in the twinkling of
   An eye if he had leave.

Oh, the gentle politician is
   So very meek and mild,
His saintly disposition is
   As gentle as a child,
Opponents jolt and jerk him, but
   His self-restraint is grand,
A little child can't work him, but
   He'll feed out of your hand.

In fact, he'll feed from any hands,
   he is so very tame,
And hungry, tho' there's many hands,
   Against him for that same.
I love his gentle, peaceful way,
   I love to hear him shout,
But best I love the graceful way
   He pulls a windpipe out.

First published in The Gadfly, 11 July 1906

The Woes of Bill by C.J. Dennis

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Although there are 75 members in the House of Representatives, still owing to the lack of a working majority on either side, the passing of any effective legislation will be difficult, not to say impossible, under the present system of Party Government. - Political item

Once upon a recent even, as I lay in fitful slumber,
Weaving dreams and seeing visions vague and utterly absurd,
Suddenly I seemed to waken, somewhat scared and rather shaken,
For I thought my name was mentioned, coupled with - "a certain word."

'Twas the Adjective that roused me, sanguinary and familiar,
That embellishes the diction of my fellow countrymen,
When they do commune together in regard to crops or weather -
Such a word as never, never shall defile this pious pen.

Sitting, upright on my pillow, filled with weird, uncanny feelings,
Once again I heard, distinctly someone calling on my name.
And I gazed around me vainly as a voice exclaimed quite plainly:
"Strike me up a blessed wattle if it ain't a blessed shame!"

"'Tis some idiotic joker, 't's some festive friend," I muttered,
Gazing toward my chamber window where the moonlight faintly gleamed
Then, before my bedroom curtain, I beheld a shape uncertain,
Something vague and dim and doubtful, slowly taking form it seemed.

Then, all obvious before me stood a figure most familiar,
Clad in bushman's boots and breeches and a colored cotton shirt.
Said he: "No, yer eyes don't fail yer: Here's yer cobber, BILL AUSTRALIER,
An' I've come to ask you plainly if this game ain't blessed dirt!"

"Pardon.  BILL," said I politely; "but I hardly get your meaning."
"Strewth!" said BILL.  "Dead crook, I call it!" But I stayed him with a smile.
"By your leave, my worthy bloke, we'll drop these oaths and terms colloquial,
And just talk the matter over in a peaceful, friendly style."

BILL choked back a warm expletive - for my smile was most engaging -
And, upon my invitation, sat beside me on the bed.
And, omitting decorations - fancy oaths and execrations -
That his woeful story garnished, I shall tell you what he said.

"Now my name is BILL AUSTRALIER, just plain BILL without no trimmin's,
And you'll tumble that I'm ownin' quite a tidy bit o' land;
Land that needs a bit o' workin'; an' there ain't no time for shirkin',
An' there ain't no call for loafers on the job I got on hand.

"My selection is extensive; right from sea to sea it stretches;
An' I'm needin' willin' grafters for the toil there is to do:
So some blokes called politicians speaks for overseers' positions,
An' I hands 'em out the billets, thinkin' they would see things through.

"'Strewth!  They ain't signed on 10 minutes 'fore they downs their tools in anger,
An', without no word o' warnin', started fightin' tooth an' nail.
An' I yelled till I grew husky, an' me face with rage went dusky,
But me most expensive language wasn't of the least avail.

"Tell yeh,  I was fair bewildered till a bloke gives me the office,
Puts me wise about them factions an' this Party Guv'ment lurk.
Seems, if one side takes to toilin', then the other aims at spoilin'
Ev'ry blessed job they tackle. An' the blighters calls it WORK!

"So I puts it to 'em plainly.  Sez I: 'This here Party scrappin'
In the time for which I'm payin' ain't a fair thing, anyway!'
An, I calmly asks 'em whether they can't work in peace together,
An' consider me a trifle, seein' as I find the pay.

"But it weren't no use o' torkin', they just howls and fights the harder,
Leaves me pressin' jobs to languish while they plays their party games;
Till one push turns out the stronger; then I don't chip in no longer,
For they done a bit o' graftin' while the others calls 'em names.

"Now, this year their contracts finished, so I gives 'em all the bullet,
Sacks the lot an' advertises for fresh men; an' when they came,
With near even sides, by Heaven! 38 to 37.
They remarks: 'The job be jiggered!  We're too close to play the Game.'

"Game!  What game?  Of all the blighters!" - (Here BILL'S language grew tremendous.
I have never heard a vision curse so much in all my life.)
"Five an' seventy I'm payin' for to work, an' here's them sayin'
That the sides is too near equal an' 'twould only lead to strife!

"Strike me - !"  (BILL again, in anger, aired his vast vocabulary,
Using words against his "workmen" stronger than the law allows;
And his ultimate expletive! - Fain would I remain secretive,
But I may not.  In his anger.  BILL described them as FAIR COWS!)

"Fair dashed Cows!  That's wot I call 'em.  An' I want your straight opinion. 
Am I boss of this selection that extends from sea to sea?
Here's these blinded politicians hangin' on to them positions!
An' I want the dead, straight griffen: Are they workin' points on me?"

"BILL," said I - and tears were streaming down my whiskers as I answered -
"Precedent, and rule, and custom cannot be ignored, you know.
This Great System was imported by our fathers" (Here BILL snorted) 
"From the dear old Mother Country, and we cannot let it go."

"Wot!" yelled BILL.  "Still more imported pests upon the job to plague me!
Like the rabbits an' the foxes, burrs an' thistles, an' the rest.
Must I ever curse in anguish? Must my Big Jobs ever languish?
Can't I clear me blamed selection of this Party Guv'ment pest?"

"BILL!" I sobbed, choked with emotion - then in wonder gazed about me;
Marked the moonlight, white and ghostly, faintly gleaming through the pane:
Saw mine old familiar trousers - (Pardon this allusion, Wowsers) -
Hanging on the bedpost sadly.  But I searched for BILL - in vain.

Gone had he from out my chamber.  Yet I sat and pondered deeply
Through that chilly winter even; and I ponder deeply still.
Evidence I've none to show men; but, I ask, was it an omen?
Did it presage good or evil, that strange vanishing of BILL?

First published in The Bulletin, 3 July 1913

Git-Yer-Gun by C.J. Dennis

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Thus it happened .... Let me mention, lest I raise an unsought quarrel,
   This occurred in times long vanished, in the land of Git-yer-gun.
'Tis a quaint, unlikely story; some folk say it has a moral;
   But that's a little matter you may settle when I'm done.

Mr. Foodle led a party that was strongly democratic,
   And it represented people with the Christian name of Bill.
And in all his hustings speeches Mr. Foodle was emphatic
   That his crowd existed solely to uphold the people's will.

Mr. Boodle led a party that was Liberal - or Tory -
   (Just according to your view-point) - and it represented those
Christened (by immersion) Percy, whose hot socks proclaimed their glory;
   And its policy was such as you may readily suppose.

So they strove in an election .... (Now, I wish it noted plainly
   That this happened years ago, and in the land of Git-yer-gun) ....
And each side employed its talent to upbraid the other mainly,
   While the voters cheered them madly, and the crowd enjoyed the fun.

The Democratic Party (Bill by name) supported Foodle -
   For such was the convention with this quaint old Party Plan -
While the Tories fought like fury to promote the cause of Boodle,
   And, of course, the crowd named Percy voted for him to a man.

And the others of the nation - all the Johns and Jeremiahs,
   All the Peters, Pauls and Paddys, all the Colins and Carews,
All the Richards and the Roberts, and the Hanks and Hezekiahs
   Voted for some bloque or other, each according to his views.

Then they counted up the numbers, when at last the fight was over,
   And both Democrats and Tories - Bills and Percys - looked quite sour
When the numbers showed them clearly neither party stood in clover;
   For a few odd Independents held the balance of the power.

Mr. Foodle called his Caucus .... And he put it to them plainly:
   "Never mind the Bills," said Foodle; "we have got them in the box.
If we would escape extinction 'tis our plan to pander mainly -
   But with caution - to the Percys and the cause of fancy socks.

"For," said Mr. Foodle gravely, "understand me, votes are needed!
   How to catch and how to keep them is the question of the hour.
Never mind your Public Questions; let the Big Things go unheeded;
   We must compromise a little if we mean to hold the power."

Mr. Boodle called his Caucus ...  And he put it to them clearly"
   "Gentlemen, ignore the Percys!  We have got them in the bag!
But the Bills, we must remember, have the votes we covet dearly;
   And till we contrive to get them we must let the Big Things lag."

So began the op'ning session, with both sides electioneering;
   Boodle grew more democratic; Foodle watered down his views;
Bit by bit they drew together, more and more alike appearing,
   Till the voters, looking at them, vowed there wasn't much to choose.

Sometimes Foodle reigned in office, sometimes it was Mr. Boodle.
   'Twas the Grand Old Party System, for the shibboleth held still.
And they vowed that ev'ry voter - (as was plain to any noodle) -
   Must most palpably be Percy if he wasn't christened Bill.

Meantime all the Dicks and Davids, all the Johns and Jeremiahs,
   All the Mats and Pats and Peters, surnamed Smith or Brown or Burke,
Shouted with the Ned and Normans and the Hanks and Hezekiahs,
   "What of those Big Public Questions?  When do you begin to work?"

Still the factions went on fighting - ('Tis a right that factions cherish) -
   But on one important matter both the parties were agreed;
In this world of sin and sorrow Bills may die and Percys perish,
   But the votes to hold his billet are a politician's need.

Boodle battled strenuously, on his rival's ground encroaching;
   Fearlessly the Foodle faction sneaked the other Party's views;
Full of fight were both opponents; the elections were approaching;
   And upon mere Public Business none had any time to lose.

With the public patience straining, and quite half the nation scoffing
   At the Bill and Percy parties, and the voters in despair.
Lo, a party led by Doodle rose serenely in the offing;
   And it said it represented folk who sported Ginger Hair.

Doodle soon became the fashion: thousands flocked around his banner;
   Scores of Antonys and Arthurs, Joes and Jacobs, Mats and Micks,
(Even some stray Bills and Percys renegaded).  In like manner
   Flocked the Hanks and Hezekiahs, and the Davids and the Dicks.

All the Red-haired of the nation joined the mighty Doodle party;
   And the Brown-haired and the Black-haired and the Grey-haired sought him too;
For, they said, "What does it matter?  He has our support most hearty.
   Never mind what shade your hair is.  He will see the Big Things through!"

Then, when that great Doodle Party swept the polls at next election,
   What a great rejoicing followed!  Heavens, how the people cheered!
And the Boodle-Foodle party - (fused for general protection) -
   Was so absolutely routed that it almost disappeared.

How the Dicks and Davids shouted with the Johns and Jeremiahs:
   "We don't care what shade his hair is - black or brown or pink or blue!"
"Glory!" cried the Mats and Michaels with the Hals and Hezekiahs.
   "Hail to Doodle!  Red-haired Doodle!  He will see the Big Things through!"

Mr. Doodle called his Caucus .... And he put it to them tersely:
   "Gentlemen, it now behoves us, seeing all the votes we've got,
To be very, very careful lest we're criticised adversely.
   Never mind the Red-haired voters; we have got them in the pot.

"But," continued Mr. Doodle, "there are others - perfect snorters.
   There's this new Bald-headed Party led by Snoodle!  Statesmanship
Now demands we do our utmost to win over his supporters.
   Meantime, gentlemen, I'm thinking we must let the Big Things rip.

"Or, if we must tackle something to allay the public clamor,
   Let us not be over-zealous and this alientate support
From our Party when the...Gracious!!!!"

I should like to go on telling how they fared; but foreign raiders
   At this very hour descended on the land of Git-yer-gun;
And the Red-heads and the Bald-heads fell beneath the fierce invaders -
   Men who bore aloft a banner blazoned with a Rising Sun.

And they smote the Pats and Percys, and the Jims and Jeremiahs.
   Bashed the Doodles, smashed the Snoodles, left the Mats and Micks for dead.
Thrust cold steel into the vitals of the Hanks and Hezekiahs,
   And plugged all the Johns and Jacobs and the Josephs full of lead.

Thus it happened .... As I've mentioned, some folk think it has a moral.
   You may judge that little matter, as I said when I began.
'Tis to me the simple story of a very ancient quarrel
   'Mid the Git-yer-gun debaters with their quaint old Party Plan.

First published in The Bulletin, 26 June 1913

Purely Personal by C.J. Dennis

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The Federal Treasurer (Mr. Casey) says he can recall no instance in his political career of a private person asking for a copy of Hansard unless personal interests were involved.

Now recently a well-known and scholarly librarian
Was approached in his habitat by a person who may be termed loosely as an Australian proletarian,
Who said: "Pray, sir, I wish to borrow from this library a copy of Federal Hansard."
"Stone the crows! Do you know what you are asking for?" the cultured librarian answered.
(Which, candidly, is a pretty awful rhyme;
But must do for the time;
For in these days
Modern poets are apt to rhyme in many fierce and fantastic ways,
All of them quaintly queer.)
O tempora! O mores! O Canberra! O dear! O dear!

"Too right I do," the proletarian made retort.
"Hansard is an unabridged, unexpurgated report
Of all speeches, chorally, sedate, wise and witty,
Heard in our Federal City
Above the rumble of rolling logs and the harsh grinding of axes,
And delivered by the noble fellows who extort and expend our various taxes.
Am I right or am I right?" 
O tempora! O mores! O Canberra! O lovely night!

"Well," replied the librarian, "despite the quaint phraseology in which your asserveration is wrapped,
I admit that your description, tho' terse and vigorous, is not entirely inapt.
At the same time, if you will allow me so to speak,
May I say that this occasion is absolutely and unquestionably unique.
Man and boy, for 27 years, I have watched Hansard cumber the shelves here; but until now, no man, woman, or child, has ever appear'd to need it.
I take it, sir, your intention is to read it?"
"Aw, don't be daft!" the proletarian made reply.
O tempora! O mores! O Canberra! O me! O my!

"Between ourselves," the proletarian returned; "and speaking, in good sooth,
The unashamed tho' naked truth --
As it should be between honest men and brothers --
On of the legs of our kitchen table is much shorter than the others;
Wherefore my missus thought --"
"Say no more," the librarian besought.
"Take it, and if, perchance, one volume is not enough,
Come back, and I will give you more; for we want to be rid of the darn stuff
It's cluttering up all the place here."
O tempora! O mores! O Canberra! O dear, dear, dear!

First published in The Herald, 23 June 1936

Sweet Reason by C.J. Dennis

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After he had agreed to take over all their debts, the State Premiers have, for the first time in history, arrived at a perfect agreement with the Federal Prime Minister.

I would agree with Mr. Bruce,
   And I think he must be very nice;
And, should his council be of use
   Or not, I'd take it at that price.

If he will only come to me
   With some pet scheme -- I care not what --
Upon such terms, I will agree
   To close the bargain on the spot.

I trust I have an open mind:
   Discord I hate, and things like that;
And, should he seek me, he may find
   I'm even waiting on the mat.

I'll own to consciousness of sin,
   And seek new light without regrets
In conference, if he'll begin
   By offering to take my debts.

First published in The Sun-News Pictorial, 22 June 1927

The Great God Guff by C.J. Dennis

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The majority of Parliamentarians were accustomed to put party interests first, and those of the State second. They would continue even under the Elective Ministry system to give spoils to the victorious. Majorities would still rule; not in the interest of Australia but in the interests of the party alone. The thing could not be carried out. - From the statements of Senator BLAKEY, at a recent A.N.A. conference in Victoria.

There was once a Simple People - (you, of course, will understand
This is just a little fable of a non-existent land) -
There was once a Simple People, and they had a Simple King,
And his name - well, SMITH the First will do as well as anything -
And they lived upon an island by a pleasant southern sea,
Which they boastfully referred to as the "Country of the Free."
This King SMITH was quite a model.  He was kind and he was wise.
But, alas! a higher sovereign he was forced to recognise.

As in ev'ry age and nation, since the tale of man was known,
Superstition here existed as the power behind the throne.
It was vague and unsubstantial but its sway was plain enough,
And 'twas known upon the island, simply, as the Great God GUFF.
They made sacrifices to it, treasure, corn and slaughtered beasts,
Good King SMITH cringed to the idol where upon his throne he sat;
And the People feared it greatly; and the priests grew very fat.

Now, the welfare of the priestcraft did not always coincide
With the welfare of the People, hence the wily priests relied
On the hoary superstition that had stood the test of years;
Thus they led both king and people by their rather ass-like ears;
Crying: "GUFF was ever with us!  GUFF the Great must be obeyed!
GUFF the god must be consulted ere a single law be made!"
And the very simple People with their very simple King
Bowed their heads and said, "So be it.  GUFF be served in ev'rything."

So the nation muddled somehow on its island by the sea -
Simple superstitious people in their "Country of the Free."
And whene'er they yearned for Progress, as things drifted to the worst,
SMITH replied, "Have patience, people.  GUFF must be consulted first.
Other lands and other nations may progress without his aid;
But upon our native island never rule or law is made
Till his priests have pondered o'er it, seeking to divine his will.
So it was with our forefathers, so with us it must be still."

Came a time when folk grew restive, murmuring amongst themselves,
While the nation's schemes and projects lay neglected on the shelves.
Then arose amid the people one of singular renown --
Since his name the eld refuses, let us call him, simply, BROWN.
BROWN was something of a student, strong on things like common-sense;
He was plain and blunt and forceful; and he hated smug pretence.
And before the priests and people, in a manner rude and gruff,
He arose and put this question, briefly: "Who and what is GUFF?"

Loud the People shrieked in terror; and the High-Priest threw a fit;
And the king rose from his dais as his eye with anger lit.
"He blasphemes!" declared the monarch. "Seize the sacrilegious brute!
Great God GUFF may not be questioned! He is mighty! absolute!"
But BROWN stood his ground and answered, "Oh, I'm sick of all that stuff!
Give me one clear definition: What's the bloomin' use of GUFF?
He's a silly superstition! and I'll prove to you, King SMITH,
If you'll give me just five minutes, that your idol is a myth."

Well, to bring a simple story to a sudden, simple end,
BROWN beat down all opposition, and affairs began to mend.
Good King SMITH, with seemly wisdom, on his idol turned his back;
And, without much fuss, the People simply gave old GUFF the sack.
And the priests?  Well, some took service with the king, and so reformed;
Some adopted Christian Science; some in vain still raved and stormed;
Others strove to mend their fortunes with an Independent Kirk;
Some became mere weather prophets; some - a paltry few - got work.

So they thrived, the simple People, on their island by the sea;
And their schemes and projects prospered, for the land, at last, was free.
SMITH the First, emancipated, o'er a happy country ruled.
And he smiled when he reflected how the nation had been fooled;
How the simple King and People, by a superstition cursed.
Ever cried in foolish terror: "GUFF must be consulted first!"
And the last words of that monarch long were treasured in the land . . .
But, of course, it's all a fable, as you'll clearly understand.

Yet - there lives a simple People on an island by the sea,
And a simple Monarch rules them called the King DEMOCRACY.
Rather, does he seek to rule them, but his will is warped and bent
By a childish superstition known as "Party Government."
And the idol has its priestcraft that pretends to lead the race;
Though they call them "Politicians" in this later year of grace.
And whene'er the folk grow restive, as things drift from worse to worst,
Cry the priests, "Behold the Party! It must be considered first!"

And the simple, simple People bend their heads and murmur, "Yes,
We respect the claims of Party . . . But who is to mend this Mess!
Schemes go wrong and projects languish, and the Big Things of the State
Lie neglected while this Party bids us wait and ever wait!"
Oh, for some plain, forceful person with a plain, drab name like BROWN,
And a wholesome hate for humbug, and a stern, determined frown,
To arouse the simple People and their king, DEMOCRACY,
Cringing to their fool-god Party on their island by the sea!

First published in The Bulletin, 18 June 1914

Roosevelt by C.J. Dennis

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The statesmanlike courage of President Roosevelt in acting over the heads of Congress and accepting Britain's token payment on account of war debts has awakened a world-wide sense of relief and an immense admiration for the man.

There comes a time in world affairs
   When care and troubles press,
When every forlorn aspect wears
   A guise of dire distress
And when the darkest hour seems near
   And hope a thing forlorn --
A Roosevelt!  A Roosevelt!
   Comes like the light of morn.
There is a limit to men's schemes
   Of avarice and greed,
When some one mind to higher themes --
   Forced by his brother's need --
Conceives some altruistic plan
   Of high and noble aim --
A Roosevelt!  A Roosevelt!
   To save the nation shame.
When all seems smashing to its doom
   Earth wins the priceless dower --
The mind to pierce the deepest gloom,
   The man to fit the hour.
We know not how.  We know not why;
   But for the nations' ease --
A Roosevelt!  A Roosevelt!
   Shall sway men's destinies.

First published in The Herald, 16 June 1933

Futility by C.J. Dennis

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Following a meeting of seamen at the wharf laborers' rooms in Melbourne today, there is a possibility of the colliers from Newcastle being declared black when they arrive in Melbourne.

To gild refined gold, or to paint the lily,
   Or seek by other means to overstress,
As Shakespeare has it, is not merely silly,
   But "wasteful and ridiculous excess."

Yes, men still try it, for no other reason
   Than that man ever would and ever will
Strive fatuously, in and out of season,
   To paint perfection's cheek more perfect still.

Yet of all futile tasks, of all the foolish,
   Absurd attempts that show of wit a lack,
The worst is his who, obstinate and mulish,
   Insists that he should paint a collier black.

First published in The Sun-News Pictorial, 9 June 1927

Bill by C.J. Dennis

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"Gentle brother, answer truly,
   Tell what you be.
But, I pray, tax not unduly
   Your sagacitee.
Is your brand u-ni-fi-cation --
Is't, or is your appellation
Something mild and shorter still?
Answer truly, Brother Bill."

Gentle brother answered truly,
   Though in language hot --
For his temper was unruly:
   "Don't talk blinded rot!
Blow u-ni-fi-blanky-cation!
If you want me name an' station
My true moniker is Bill,
An' I work at Johnson's mill."

"Gentle brother, wax not ireful.
   I'm not out for jokes.
Yea, and consequences direful
   Smite bad-tempered blokes.
I've no doubt, all day perspiring,
You graft hard.  I'm not inquiring
Who you are or what you do,
But what are you?  Answer true." 

Brother Bill stood wildly staring,
   Anger in his eye;
And, belligerently glaring,
   Thus he made reply:
"Up at Johnson's mill I'm working,
And I ain't a bloke for shirking.
If you want me answer true,
I'm a better man that you!"

"Gentle brother, of your senses
   You seem quite bereft.
Just consider how immense is...."
   Here's Bill's dirty left
Took the catechist right squarely,
And Bill forthwith bounced him fairly,
Punched till he was out of breath.
Bill despised a shibboleth.

Note ye how each platform spouter,
   Playing at "the game,"
Strives to label ev'ry doubter
   With a foolish name.
With sly tricks and ruses clever
They are keenly seeking ever
To affix a party brand
To all voters in the land.

List, ye party politicians,
   Talking near and far,
We don't want vague propositions
   As to what you are.
For the shibboleths of party
Rightly earn the curses hearty
Of all honest men and true.
Let us hear of what you DO.

First published in The Bulletin, 29 May 1915

A Mixed Crew by C.J. Dennis

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As I say, it all depends upon policies, and policies must be dealt with first.  At the same time we may be pulling in the same boat when our boat is threatened from the same quarter.  There are various kinds of combinations, from alliances based on principles to fusions of temporary unions and understandings. - Somewhat cryptic utterance by ALFRED DEAKIN.

      Tho' it sounds a trifle mystic,
      Somewhat vague and cabalistic,
When you come to analyse the inner side
      Of political alliance
      You will find it is a science
That embraces matters delicate and wide.
It involves the close cohesion of the faction or cabal,
And the very fleeting friendship of the temporary pal.

But pull for the shore, lads, pull for the shore.
Never mind wot boat yer in, struggle at yer oar.
Cook is on the gunwale, cursin' us fer cows;
Deakin's in stern-sheets. Mauger's at the bows;
The stormy winds are blowin' an' the enemy's at hand;
We must settle it among us when we're safely on the land.

      There's the Temporary Fusion;
      Which is mainly an illusion
When you view it in the light of ev'ry day.
      But politically? -- truly
      'Tis a state in which, unduly,
You are never pledged or promised either way.
An ideal party union, where a man may trim his sail;
Though vulgar folk allude to it as "sitting on a rail."

But pull for the shore, lads, pull for the shore.
We'll settle in the harbor when the hurricane is o'er.
Quick is partly inside; Irnine's partly out;
Willie Kelly's overside, flunderin' about;
Forrest's at mast'ead, letting out a roar.
Never mind who owns the boat.  Pull for the shore.

      Then there's the Coalition,
      Which is entered on condition
You can swallow certain principles with ease.
      'Tis corruption sugar-coated;
      And no matter how you've voted
In the past, you may change it if you please.
Though the common crowd may scoff at the reversal of your vote,
If you murmur "Coalition" you may safely turn your coat.

But pull for the shore, lads, pull for the land.
Never mind who owns the craft, lend a willin' hand.
Smith is on the bowsprit, yellin' "Anti-Sosh"!
Reid is on the towline, draggin' in the wash;
Jawbone Neild is founderin', shoutin' for a rope;
But pull, lads, pull, for the shore's our only hope.

      Note you now the Understanding,
      Quite devoid of party branding,
Where the parties undertake to understand
      That, in certain set conditions,
      They'll consider their positions,
And reach out for what they want with either hand.
And for the country's welfare and the nation's lasting good,
They agree to understand that they are all misunderstood.

But pull for the shore, lads, pull for the shore.
Groom is on the fore'atch with 'arf a dozen more;
Knox is in the chart-room makin' up his mind;
Wilks is on a hen-coop, draggin' on behind.
Never mind the company; only keep afloat.
You can't be too particular who's mannin' of the boat.

First published in The Bulletin, 27 May 1909

The Secret Thing by C.J. Dennis

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A Voice: Give us your policy.
Mr Cook: If I gave you my policy you wouldn't understand it.  (Laughter.)
- Report of Joe Cook's Bendigo Meeting.

What! Would you ask for the Liberal policy?
When did I ever such ignorant folly see?
         'Tis inconceivable!
         Hardly believable!
What could you now of that mystical thing?
Nay, 'tis enshrouded in sacred obscurity;
'Twill be revealed in some distant futurity;
         Wait a few years for it;
         Then you'll raise cheers for it,
And all the land with Hosannas shall ring.

Hist! Lest the populace glean the least word of it!
Tell them our policy! Who ever heard of it?
         People, be serious!
         Something mysterious
Lurks in the dark at the back of the scenes.
Nothing in modern nor yet ancient history --
Delphian oracle, Asian mystery --
         E'er was so mystical,
         Signs cabalistical
Have to be learned ere ye know what it means.

Hush! Let the ignorant never get breath of it;
One little word would encompass the death of it.
         Guard it religiously!
         It is prodigiously
Secret and sacred. Ah, cherish it well!
Let not the tiniest rumor auricular
Get to the crowd on the smallest particular.
         Argue persuasively,
         Answer evasively,
But our Great Secret we never must tell.

Chut! Have a care! E'en our minions be mutable!
Given them no hint of our secret inscrutable.
         Talk like an oracle;
         Words metaphorical
Pour in the ears of the credulous crowd.
Nay, keep it dark, if existence political
Ever you valued -- the moment is critical!
         Close as a cloister
         Be, dumb as an oyster.
The Caucus to baulk us would howl it aloud.

Ssh! Only Joe and a few hold the key to it;
Trust them implicitly; safely they'll see to it.
         Fondly they're holding it,
         Shaping and moulding it,
Oh, 'twill be marvellous when they are through!
They will reveal it when labor is perishing;
Till then our Holy of Holies they're cherishing.
         Cryptic and wonderful!
         Tut!  Let no blunderful
Liberal speak, or the day he will rue!

Hist! Not a word! Lest our chrysalis beautiful
Should be disturbed by a whisper undutiful.
         Hush! Not a syllable!
         For it is killable.
Once to reveal it were fatal for sure.
Though it is now in a state somewhat statical,
Wholly mysterious, quite enigmatical,
         In some futurity
         Out of obscurity,
Lo, 'twill emerge to us perfect and pure.

First published in The Bulletin, 22 May 1913

When Thomas Spoke by C.J. Dennis

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["I intend to raise my voice in protest throughout the State." - Bent, on the Braddon Blot.]

"What's happened here!" the stranger said:
"Is all the population dead?
What awful desolation this!
Why, man, whatever is amiss?
Has there been pestilence or war?"
"No," said the native.  "Nothin' more
         Than Tommy's jor."

"But," cried the stranger: "look at these --
These ruined buildings, blasted trees,
Uprooted fences, railway lines,
All torn and twisted, and the mines
Caved in!  Why, man, you surely joke."
"Aw," said the native.  "Just a bloke
         Named Bent has spoke."

"Tut," said the stranger.  "Tell me not
That one man's voice has caused the lot.
Why, man, your statement can't be true,
The bloomin' landscape's all askew,
There's been an earthquake in the land."
"No, he's a politician and" --
The stranger smiled and waved his hand --
         "I understand."

"He said he'd raise his voice -- no kid,"
The native said: "An' 'struth he did
I never knew his likes -- that chap,
He's been an' changed the blessed map.
No place is where it used to be --
         Geelong's at sea;

"An' Melbourne's up at Bendigo.
Where Bendigo is I don't know;
St. Kilda's blowed to Ballarat,
An' Toorak's further off than that:
Warracknabeal's right off the slate --
         Out of the State.

"An' Kyabram has done a get.
They're lookin' for the Yarra yet,
An' Tommy Bent, the bloke that spoke
(This is the best part of the joke),
He didn't count on the rebound:
Now, spare me days, he can't be found --
         We hopes he's drowned."

First published in The Gadfly, 9 May 1906

The Silent Toast by C.J. Dennis

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Mr. Murray facetiously protested against the practice of toasting Parliament at every public function...."I would like all societies to think," said the Premier, "whether it would not be better always to have this toast drunk like that of his Majesty, or in silence, solemnly and with melancholy, like that of a memory." - Daily paper.

With melancholy mien, stand up!
   With sad eyes downward bent,
All solemnly come drink with me
   Unto "Our Parliament."
Not to the present crowd I ween,
But to "A House that Might Have Been."

In silence charge your glasses all,
   Your brows o'ercast with gloom;
I bid you toast a vanished host
   Now mould'ring in the tomb.
I pledge a mournful memory -
   "The patriots who used to be."

I give you "MURRAY, Democrat" --
   A memory.  Stand up!
Strict silence keep; drink long and deep,
   And drain the bitter cup.
I give JACK MURRAY, staunch and game,
Who lived before JOHN WEARY came.

I pledge "The Men who used to be"
   Ere Coalition came;
Before they turned and meekly learned
   To play the Fusion game:
The game, with all its wiles and tricks,
Of grab-all party politics.

I give you DEAKIN.... Bow your heads!
   I give you him that led
And held wide sway but yesterday,
   Yet now is Fused and dead:
The man whose patriotic views
Are scarcely cold - slain by a Fuse.

The KIDSTON of pre-Fusion days --
   I pledge in silence deep
That pioneer of yesteryear;
   Now he lies fast asleep
Within a Tory-fashioned tomb,
For Fusion marked him out for doom.

All solemnly I rise again
   And toast "The Other PEAKE";
That democrat who'd shudder at
   An act so poor and weak
As Fusing with his one-time foes
For office.  Calm be his repose!

In silence drink; your glasses clink.
   I pledge a memory;
I give the toast of that lost host,
   The men who used to be.
All mournfully your glasses raise:
"To Liberals of other days."

First published in The Bulletin, 21 April 1910

Aha! Beware! by C.J. Dennis

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Gregory Wade is a man of dark sayings.  Once again he has stated with a face of gloom that if certain Labor members don't cease their attacks he will tell all he knows about them.  This murky taunt is Wade's favorite weapon; he seems to know a horrid secret about everybody. - BULLETIN, 24/3/'10.

Aha! Beware! I know your guilty past!
   I was a witness of that secret crime.
One word! and all your fondest hopes I blast.
               I bide me time.
I hold you in me grip, unhappy man,
And I shall cr-r-rush you if you thwart me plan.

Hist! Have a care, lest I divulge the plot.
   I saw you forge the will!  With these two eyes
I recognised the corpse, and, know the spot
               Where it now lies.
I know the hand that sped the fatal blow,
And stole the widder's che-ild.  Aha!  I know!

Be warned! Seek not to sully my fair fame.
   Who stole the papers?. . . Ah!. . . Then have a care
The man that pawned the spoons -- I know his name;
               And I'm aware
Who lured the girl aboard the lugger.  Aye!
All -- all is known to me, for I was nigh.

I know who shook the fowls! ...  Then do not seek
   To try my patience over much, for lo,
You're doomed if but one little word I speak;
               For well I know
Who killed the dog and set the house alight
And robbed the clothes-line at the dead o' night.

Remember! All your secrets I could tell.
   To me your cupboard doors are all ajar.
Each hidden skeleton I know full well.
               Push me too far,
And I shall tell the world who dodged his rent,
And privately ate sausages in Lent.

'Twas I that lurked unseen within your lair!
   'Twas I that overheard the villain's plot!
I saw you filch the marriage lines!  Beware!
               I heard the shot!
How little you suspected who was by
When you purloined the jools.  Aha!  'Twas I!

You cannot hide your covert crimes from me;
   To me your private life's an open book.
Then do not cross my path or, suddenly --
               One word! One look!
And all your guilty past, the world shall know,
And to the dust your pride be humbled low.

My mind is the receptacle for all
   The peccadilloes of mine enemies.
I hold them sternly at my beck and call,
               Just as I please.
And it was I who hid in that dark lane
And heard them plan the wrecking of the train.

Hist!  If you speak one word all, all is lost!
   Once thwart my will and, lo, your doom I seal!
Eye you frustrate my plans count well the cost;
               I shall reveal
Your sin, and on you heap anathema!
Hist!  We shall meet again.  Farewell.  Aha!

First published in The Bulletin, 14 April 1910

The Sheet Anchor by C.J. Dennis

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What Mr. Tilley Brown said in Indi, a day or two ago, most of his Fusionist friends are saying everywhere.  They distrust the Federation, he says, and "look upon the State Parliaments, with their Legislative Councils, as the sheet anchor of the people's safety."  In that one sentence the whole murder is out.  The State Rights party distrusts the Federation, it trusts the States, and in this financial agreement it is selling the Federation to the States. - Melbourne AGE.

O, ye thoughtful fellow-voters, have ye ever stayed to ponder
On the thing that stops us drifting to the Doom that waits us yonder -
Stops us whirling fast and faster
To political disaster?
Have ye thuswise contemplated?
Have ye wisely cogitated
On the danger-light ahead
Shining out a warning red;
On the hand that holds us back
When we'd tread a downward track?
(Metaphor?  Though we abuse it,
Such a subject must excuse it.)
Do ye know what saves us from the Doom that's lurking on the mat?
'Tis the trusty, old Sheet Anchor of Reactionary Fat.

O, great Legislative Councils!  Think, my brothers, how they've served us.
Yea, behold the fate from which the Noble Landlord has preserved us.
While we lay abed at night
He has carried on the fight.
When the House is sitting late,
There he watches o'er our fate.
While the wild-eyed Labor man
Weaves some visionary plan.
Wrapt in contemplation deep
He sits in the House -- asleep,
With his hands across his middle;
Wakes to murmur "Fiddle-diddle!"
Then drops off again to snooze
While wild Democrats abuse;
And they talk and howl and storm,
Prate of "Justice" and "Reform."
Spite of Socialistic roars,
Still he sleeps and gently snores.
Then, when bells ring for division, see him rouse and proudly go
O'er the floor, brave old Sheet Anchor, there to voice a loud, mad "No!"

Can ye even faintly picture what our fate would be, my brothers,
But for that most Honorable Mister Toryphat and others --
He and others of his kidney
(Also liver), up at Sydney,
Ad'laide, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth?
They, the salt of all the earth,
Have preserved us from the curse
Of too much content, or worse;
Saved our great estates from bursting,
And defied the crowd that's thirsting
Ev'ry system to upend,
And the Social Fabric rend.
Noble Anchors, it is they
Who hold off that dreadful day
When the Socialistic band
Ravages our native land,
And with wild, exultant cries
Scotches Private Enterprise.
They, the saviors of the race,
Keep the worker in his place,
Ever teaching him that he
Is a Briton, brave and free.
Free to work and free to live
On whate'er his masters give;
It is they, and they alone,
Save the Hempire and the throne.
Think of how they flap the flags
When our sense of duty sags.
Hear them, as they voice aloud
Views of our "Right Thinking" crowd,
And uphold, with holy glee,
Sacred rights of Propertee.
Brave Sheet Anchors!  Holding ever
When the straining ship would sever
Chain and cable, and drift out
To the rocks we're told about -
Horrid rocks that loom ahead,
Filling "Proper Folk" with dread.
Be ye humble, O, my brothers, for the honor of the race,
And salute the Great Sheet Anchor that has kept us in our place.

First published in The Bulletin, 31 March 1910

Perhaps by C.J. Dennis

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In his Ballarat speech Mr. Deakin had said nothing to which he could be pinned down.  "I hope to see," "I propose if you cannot get on to somebody else," "I suggest," "I would like to see," "I believe it would be advisable" - there were Mr. Deakin's phrases, but not one definite promise had he made on behalf of the Government. - Labor Candidate Frank Anstey (Vic.)

He is a clever politician still
Who never blunders on the blunt "I will."
For, with an eye on the events to come,
Is it not better to remain quite dumb?
Or else, if he must speak, 'tis ever best
To wisely compromise on "I suggest."

Who knows what complications may arise?
For "Coalition" fades, "Alliance" dies,
And even "Fusion's" apt to drift away,
And he may have to turn again some day.
And, in that Fusion where no man may be
Sole leader, better say, "I'd like to see."

What knows he of the complicated game
Of party politics, who would declaim
In manner positive, with "Yes" and "No,"
When he might say, "I'd like to have it so?"
The sweets of office never are for him
Who cannot conjugate the verb "to trim."

There once were happy days, alas, long flown,
When leaders held opinions of their own;
And bravely said "I will," without a jot
Of fear lest one should answer, "I will not."
Those were the days when leaders stood alone,
And half-Prime Ministers were quite unknown.

O, for the right to say, "This shall I do,"
And pow'r and confidence to see it thro'!
But in a Fusion only slightly fused
Such positive expressions are not used;
(For all a modern Fusion e'er allows
Are hints of aspirations, never vows).

In that great game of politics, as played
To-day, no clever man should be dismayed;
For who would thunder foolish "Ayes" and "Noes"
When there's the diplomatic "I propose"?
And, mark, while such expression leaves one free,
It loses nought in affability.

Some show of policy to catch the votes
One has to have; but never burn your boats;
For if that bridge of boats you rashly burn
Who knows how, later on, events may turn?
But, having these, a man may nimbly skip
Back, o'er his "ifs" and "mights" and gain the ship.

He is a foolish politician who
Employs so rash a phrase as "I shall do."
But he who, wisely, never promise makes
Is ne'er foresworn, and never promise breaks.
He never strays into opponents' traps
Who compromises on the safe "perhaps."

First published in The Bulletin, 17 March 1910

Haw! by C. J. Dennis

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Liberals are not bothering about the fiscal question, if it can be called a question - or proclaiming a fiscal faith, for the very sufficient reason that the tariff is not at present in issue. - Melbourne ARGUS.

"Haw!  Good fellow I'm not doubting
   Your intentions are all right,
And your general appearance
   Is intelligent and bright;
But the question you're discussing
   Rather flicks me on the raw,
And it really doesn't matter;
   So we'll close the subject.  Haw!"

Since the every first reformer
   Made suggestions in the trees
All the old earth's agitators
   Meet with phrases such as these.
And it acts as brake and hobble
   On the progress of mankind,
This superior aloofness
   Of the static type of mind.

"Haw!"  It rings throughout the ages
   Since dim neolithic years,
Striving to discount the credit
   Of philosophers and seers;
And the richest, fattest mollusc
   Spat it out in savage hate
When he marked his fellow's yearning
   Towards a structure vertebrate.

"My good chap, enthusiasm's
   Right enough just now and then;
But your pose is idiotic
   In the sight of sober men.
Calm yourself, my worthy fellow,
   Stay that wildly wagging jaw.
The-ah mattah you're debating
   Isn't on the tapis.  Haw!"

Spoken in a haughty fashion,
   With an apathetic glance,
Then that simple interjection
   Clothes a mass of ignorance.
"Haw!  The fellow is a boundah!
   Do not heed his fuss and fret,
And the subject he alludes to
   Isn't mentioned in our set."

Friend, if you have privileges
   Fairly come by -- more or less --
And the claims of poorer brothers
   Cause you most acute distress --
When all argument has failed you
   'Gainst their Socialistic law
Cultivate the distant manner
   And the haughty Tory "Haw!"

Cultivate the cool aloofness
   When they seek with howlings rude
To assault your proud position.
   Cultivate the platitude:
And, when they bring forth suggestions
   Of a democratic type;
Tell then, friend, it is "un-British,"
   And, "the time is not yet ripe."

When with calm, unswerving reason,
   And with logic merciless,
They convince your better nature
   That abuses need redress,
Do not weakly yield to measures
   That your prejudices hate.
But remark, "It's not at issue,"
   And that closes the debate.

Still, my friend, despite your coldness,
   'Spite reactionary, "Haws."
These reformers somehow get there
   When they have a worthy cause,
And the fat and foolish mollusc
   Who the vertebrates ignored,
Did not block all evolution,
   So the scientists record.

As the world goes bravely onward
   Leaving molluscs far behind,
Progress ever has to reckon
   With the static type of mind.
And the fighters in the vanguard
   Recognise this simple law,
"Social evolution mainly
   Is the overthrow of 'Haw!'"

First published in The Bulletin, 6 March 1913

In Time by C. J. Dennis

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The Minister of Forests says that "it is all a matter of time."  The Ministerial promises will all be carried out - in time. - Melbourne Age. 

"In good time, when I am ready,
   Wondrous schemes shall I unfold;
But we must be cautious, steady,
   Cleaving to the safe and old.
Patience, prudence must prevail;
They who venture often fail."

Thus the politician, weakly
   Of the big things of the State;
While the patient public, meekly
   Wait, and ever hopeful, wait;
While he slyly wooes their vote
With shrewd turnings of his coat.

But, in time, when other people
   Populate this troubled world,
Lo, from housetop and from steeple,
   Futile curses will be hurled --
Curses on the shiftless ones,
Feckless robbers of their sons.

When the last good tree has withered
   In an arid, rainless clime,
Then the weary soul who blithered
   Of the verdancy of Time
Will grow restless in his grave,
While his baulked descendants rave.

They will curse the generation
   That has beggared them by stealth;
Curse the mad procrastination
   That has robbed the land of wealth --
Wealth their foolish fathers spent,
Reckless and improvident.

"What care we?" declare the spoilers.
   "We have ample for to-day!
Other ages, other toilers --
   Let them suffer as they may.
Let the nation's hope be killed,
That our bellies may be filled!

"If to-day our wealth be doubled,
   If to-day our trade be good,
Why should we be plagued and troubled
   With vague dreams of nationhood?
For our selfish purpose we
Gaily rob prosterity."

Robbers of the coming race,
   Glibly crying "In good time."
If one day ye had to face
   Sons, and answer for your crime,
With that cry still in your throats,
How, then, would ye scheme for votes?

First published in The Bulletin, 4 March 1915

The Thrifty Vote by C. J. Dennis

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Mrs. Darling (S.A.) asked if the thrifty and the unthrifty man should have the same vote.  
(Voices: "No.") - Report Hobart Women's Conference.

When lovely woman stoops
   To criticise our laws,
The hardened cynic whoops
   And voices loud guffaws;
But, still, there's much the matter with the franchise,
   And lovely woman's found it full of flaws.

For instance, there's this plan,
   Which some uphold to-day,
By which the thrifty man
   Has not one whit more say
In the choosing of our noble legislators
   That he loafs the happy hours away.

'Tis clearly most unfair
   That he who busts his tin
Should have an equal share
   In saying who'll go in
To Parliament, to aggravate the Speaker
   As he who looks on spending as a sin.

They both should have a vote --
   (That's clearly in the game);
But still, I'd have you note,
   It should not be the same;
For, when the reckless bloke sends in a duffer,
   Why should we hold the thrifty man to blame?

(Of course, as now we live --
   To state the matter flat --
We most absurdly give
   A special vote to Fat;
But seeing Fat is not at all times thrifty,
   Then, plainly, lovely woman can't mean that.)

A Royal Commission is
   To me the only thing
That could decide the biz.
   For surely that should bring
Some evidence to light anent the thrifty
   And those who are disposed to have a fling.

A person's worth in cash,
   Of course would be no proof
That he refrained from rash
   Experiments with "oof";
Nor should another's poverty be taken
   As evidence he shook the festive hoof.

But if we once could weed
   The sheep from out the goats
Perhaps we might proceed
   Distributing the votes.
I think I'd give the spendthrift person pink ones,
   And blue ones to the chap who socks his notes.

I have a notion slight
   That when I first began
I'd other thoughts which might
   Elaborate this plan;
But this thing keeps recurring to distract me:
   "Now what the dickens is a thrifty man?"

First published in The Bulletin, 15 February 1912

The Genesis of Gloom (Australian Variety) by C.J. Dennis

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Once upon a time, in days remote,
A politician bought a vote.
   The price he paid is not quite clear,
   But probably a pot of beer
Secured his end.  But he got in;
So folk excused this venial sin.

Now if the thing had stayed right there,
We might have dodged a load of care.
   But pots of beer soon failed to serve
   The candidate of dash and nerve;
And, with cold cynicism, came
The urge to organise the Game.

Soon the political machine
Beheld the profit it might glean
   Thro' gifts spread thro' electorates
   To help the "Outs" the "Ins" frustrate;
While shrewd "Ins", not to be outdone,
Increased the offers two to one.

Later, the craftiest M.P.'s
Perceived that loans from overseas
   Might help them hand out cakes and ale
   Upon a most colossal scale;
And Parties with each other vied
To spread their largesse far and wide.

Railways were built from here to there
That served no purpose anywhere,
   And public works that did not pay
   Like mushrooms, sprouted in a day,
With promises were issues fought,
And whole electorates were bought.

Millions and yet more millions flowed
To go the same old easy road. . . .
   Till, with a dearth of easy cash
   The game was up; and came the crash.
'Tis pitiful; but there you are.
With pots of beer in some back bar
   This evil had its genesis
   And it has brought the land to - this.

First published in The Herald, 13 February 1931

Consummation by C.J. Dennis

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In rebutting a charge by the Trade Union Salaried 0fficials' Association, that the Labor political machine had failed to achieve the ideals of its founders, the A.L.P. haughtily replies that the machine has been phenomenally successful in achieving the purpose designed, namely, the election of Labor men to Parliament.

They may be duds or they may be drones,
   Or legislators heaven-sent;
But the A.L.P. for all atones
   When it gets them into Parliament.
Tho' they talk sheer drivel once they're there,
Our job is done. Why should we care?

They may be mild or they may be reds, 
   Or "has-beens" who have missed the bus.
But the simple job of counting heads
   Is all that matters much to us.
And the job we do with wondrous ease
Is the mass production of M.P's.

So, why blame us in peevish gloom,
   And charge us with this grievous sin?
They may involve the land in doom;
   But our job's done; we've got 'em in.
As from the pod come peas all green
We turn 'em out with our machine.

They may be robots, built with care,
   Or silly sheep, or crazy goats;
But, once they're tied and branded there,
   They art no longer men, but votes.
Thus, we our glorious aim achieve,
And triumph, tho' the nation grieve.

First published in The Herald, 6 February 1931

Bush Memorial by C.J. Dennis

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It has been disclosed that one of the last requests of the late Mr "Jack" Barnes, senator-elect for Victoria and for many years president of the A.W.U., was that, for his only memorial, friends should plant beside his resting place an Australian wattle-tree.

He sought no glory in posthumous fame,
This well-loved leader with his rugged frame.
   "When I am finished," I can hear him say,
   "Then put what's left of this poor flesh away
Here on Australian soil, and over me
For my memorial plant a wattle-tree.
   Old mates will tend that living monument;
   And, if it thrive, then shall I be content."

I knew him in the olden, battling days,
Saw him greet friends from out the lonely ways,
   Bush workers, tall, tanned shearers, old-time mates
   Content to leave to him their earthly fates.
I saw them take his hand, and in that grip
Lay all of trust and hearty fellowship;
   For well they knew, as only plain men can,
   The measure of a loyal, earnest man.

The best of England brought to this new land
Was in the honest grasp of the great hand
   Of a straight simple man whose forthright ways
   Inspired the trust of comrades all his days.
I saw him 'mid opponents whose whole life
Was planned against him in the social strife;
   But, one by one, they fell to swapping yarns
   And flawless friendship with big, bluff "Jack" Barnes.

Now all he asks, to mark his resting place
Is one glad evergreen of simple grace
   And golden bloom and string, straight, rugged stem
   Where bush birds come to chant his requiem.
No worthier memorial could be planned
Than such bright symbol of his well-loved land
   For this staunch mate whose frank simplicity
   Asks but the boon of one green wattle-tree.

First published in The Herald, 3 February 1938

The Bridge Across the Crick by C.J. Dennis

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(Being a Sort of Sermon on the Beauties of Party Government and the Utter Needlessness of the Referendum.)

   Joseph Jones and Peter Dawking
      Strove in an election fight;
   And you'd think, to hear them talking,
      Each upheld the people's right.
Each declared he stood for Progress and against his country's foes
When he sought their votes at Wombat, where the Muddy River flows.

   Peter Dawking was a student,
      Of a kindly turn of mind,
   A reformer, keen but prudent,
      Aiming but to serve mankind -
Just a simple, thoughtful scholar who e'er kept this aim in view;
"Tricks and shams are sinful folly; we must see the Big Things through!"

   Joseph Jones had never tasted
      Fame, but he was sly and fat;
   And, ere he set out, he pasted
      This reminder in his hat;
"Noble aims are platform blither, and the art of politics
Is the game of nobbling voters with soft words and cunning tricks."

   Up at Wombat, where the Muddy
      Trickles down amongst the ferns,
   Folk care little for the study
      of great national concerns;
But they pride themselves on being plain and practical and slick,
And the burning local question is "the bridge across the crick."

   Bland, unfaithful politicians
      Long had said this bridge should be.
   Some soared on to high positions,
      Some sank to obscurity;
Still the bridge had been denied it by its unrelenting foes -
By the foes of patient Wombat, where the Muddy River flows.

   Peter Dawking, scorning party,
      As an Independent ran;
   Joseph Jones, loud, blatant, hearty,
      Was a solid party man.
But the electors up at Wombat vowed to him alone they'd stick
Who would give his sacred promise for the "bridge across the crick".

   Up at Wombat Peter Dawking
      Held a meeting in the hall,
   And he'd spent an hour in talking
      On Reform's insistent call
When a local grey-beard, rising, smote him with this verbal brick:
"Are or are yeh not in favour of the bridge across the crick?"

   Peter just ignored the question,
      Simple and unselfish man;
   Understand a mean suggestion
      Men like Peter never can,
Or that free, enlightened voters look on all Great Reforms as rot,
While a Burning Local Question fires each local patriot.

   Joseph Jones, serene and smiling,
      Took all Wombat to his heart.
   "Ah," he said, his "blood was b'iling" --
      He declared it "made him smart"
To reflect how they'd been swindled; and he cried in ringing tones
"Gentlemen, your bridge is certain if you cast your votes for Jones!"

   Joseph Jones and Peter Dawking
      Strove in an election fight,
   And, when they had finished talking,
      On the great election night
They stood level in the voting, and the hope of friends and foes
Hung upon the box from Wombat, where the Muddy River flows.

   Then the Wombat votes were counted;
      Jones, two hundred; Dawking, three!
   Joseph, proud and smiling, mounted
      On a public balcony,
And his friends awoke the echoes with triumphant shouts of glee;
For that vote saved Jones's Party by a one majority!

   Jones's Party -- note the sequel --
      Rules that country of the Free,
   And the fight, so nearly equal,
      Swayed the whole land's destiny.
And the Big Things of the Nation are delayed till hope grows sick,
Offered up as sacrifices to "the bridge across the crick".

   Brothers, in this age of Reason,
      Seers, economists and such,
   Preaching in and out of season,
      Seldom seem to matter much.
And, when next you see the Joneses snaring votes with shameful tricks,
Marvel not that Big Things languish in the game of politics.

   Dawking now is sadly fearing
      For the crowd's intelligence.
   Joseph, skilled in engineering,
      Full of pomp and sly pretence,
Still holds out the pleasing promise of that bridge whene'er he goes
Up to Wombat, patient Wombat, where the Muddy River flows.

First published in The Bulletin, 30 January 1913;
and later in
Backblock Ballads and Other Verses by C.J. Dennis, 1918;
My Country: Australian Poetry and Short Stories, Two Hundred Years edited by Leonie Kramer, 1985; and
Selected Works of C.J. Dennis, 1988.

The Hulk by C.J. Dennis

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      Now, 'ere's my tip
      Fer the Fusion ship,
   An' I tells it straight an' square.
      I'm a rare old tar
      As nigh an' far
   You'll not meet ev'rywhere.
      I've seen 'er sail
      In many a gale,
   But she's done 'er final trip;
So I 'itches me breeches, an' a simple tale I pitches
   O' this good ole Fusion ship.

      'Twas Alf an' Joe,
      Long years ago,
   They built 'er any 'ow.
      'Twas a strange ole skiff
      With 'er keel skew-wiff,
   An' a double-ended bow.
      Yus, a nose each end,
      An' a Grecian bend
   Amidships, quaint an' queer.
When I seen 'er take the water, "Ho!" ses I, "she is a snorter!"
   An' I gives a 'earty cheer.

      An' sail she did.
      But I'l lay ten quid
   No ship, before nor since,
      Done 'arf 'er tricks;
      'Er darned ole fix
   'Ud make longshoremen wince.
      She'd bob and bow,
      The blamed old scow,
   Like a wet an' foolish 'en;
An' 'er subsekint behav'er an' the effects fer to save 'er
   Was a treat fer sailor-men.

      An' Alf 'e was
      'Er skipper, 'cos
   No other could be got
      To sail that craft!
      An' fore an' aft
   They was a rare ole lot.
      So queer a crew
      I never knew
   An' Joe, 'e was fust mate.
An' to 'ear 'im scold and rate 'er, when 'e tried to navigate 'er -
   Well, I tell yeh, it was great!

      Fer some they said
      To point 'er 'ead
   Fer nor'-nor'-east by east,
      Fer Tory Bay,
      An' some said "Nay,"
   An' the langwidge never eased.
      An' some they pressed
      To sail doo west,
   Fer the ole Freetection port.
An' the way she waltzed an' wobbled, while they 'owled an' fought an' squabbled.
   Ho, I never seen sich sport!

      An' pore ole Joe!
      'Is watch below
   Was mostly short an' sweet;
      Fer 'e never knew
      Wot time that crew
   Might up an' change 'er beat.
      But Alf, the boss,
      'E took 'is doss,
   An' 'e let 'er sail or stop;
Fer in days when seas was finer 'e was skipper of a liner,
   An' 'e sorter felt the drop.

      Now, she's dropped at last
      'Er anchor fast
   In the 'arbor of Recess.
      'Er sheets is tore,
      An' 'er plates is wore,
   An' she'll sail no more, I guess.
      Alf got the pip
      On 'er final trip,
   An' there's some as said 'e swore
'E was sickened of 'er capers; so 'e 'anded in 'is papers,
   An' she'll put to sea no more.

      But it's 'ip, 'ip, 'ip!
      Fer the Fusion ship,
   Fer the navigatin' 'en!
      Since 'er cruise begun
      She 'as give great fun
   To us 'eart sailor-men.
      We 'ave cheered an' laughed
      An' joked an' chaffed
   Since the day she put to sea;
So I takes a pull and 'itches (as our 'abit is) my breeches,
   An' I give 'er three times three.

First published in The Bulletin, 23 January 1913

The Way Out by C.J. Dennis

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Yet another scheme for juggling with Australia's finances has been evolved, this time by Mr
Theodore.  It is described as "the use of Government guarantees for the conveyance of credits."
Meantime, eight earnest professional economists, sitting in conference, urge that Australia's 
one hope of salvation lies in "reduction of wages, interest and public spending."

"There must be some way out," they say.
   "There must be some way out!
We've fallen on an evil day;
   That we no longer doubt.
But surely there's some magic rare
To banish this dull load of care,
   And strengthen out defences.
We'll find it, yet, if we but look;
But this is sure: By hook or crook,
   We won't cut down expenses!"

How like a harried housewife these
   Wild politicians seem.
"Oh, George!" she cries.  "Don't scold so, please!
   You must find some shrewd scheme.
There surely must be some way out.
What of those deals you talked about?
   Are all your plans pretences?
I want a frock; I want a hat.
My parties?  Bridge debts?  What of that?
   I can't cut down expenses!"

But George he knows, as well we know,
   There is but one way out:
When incomes fall we must go slow.
   Stern facts no man may flout.
And well we know, as George must know,
A pound note just so far will go.
   And all men in their senses
Well realise there's but one way,
When we fall on an evil day --
   We've got to cut expenses.

The magic stone philosophers
   Sought in the olden years,
May, by no chance, be ours, or hers,
   For all our pleas and tears.
The only magic's common sense
Despite vague schemes and sly pretence,
   Wrangles and differences.
When economic stress appears,
One warning echoes down the years:
   "Go slow, and cut expenses!"

First published in The Herald, 19 January 1931

Under the Party Plan by C.J. Dennis

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This is written for a future generation, and may be recited in "drawing-rooms" by veteran M's.P. 50 or 100 years hence, after the establishment of Elective Ministries.

Ah, yes, but the story's an old one now;
'Tis an ancient tale, but, if you'll allow,
I'll tell you something of how they made
Our laws in the days of the Biff brigade;
In the days of valor and old Romance,
When a hasty word or an angry glance
Brought vengeance, swift as a shooting star;
And a member hurtled across the bar.
When a man relied on his strong right hand,
And -- a book, or a bottle, or a glass ink-stand;
When the Speaker's voice, like the Crack o' Doom,
Echoed and volleyed across the room,
Suspending members in threes and fours
'Mid the Labor shrieks and the Lib'ral roars.
Ah! Those were the days when a man was a man
   In Parliament under the Party plan.

Who, in these days, can conceive the sight
When they battled for office as strong men fight?
And who can picture the baresark rage
Of a member baulked of a Minister's wage?
'Twas woe to the member who failed to duck
When the missiles flew in that ancient ruck.
And woe to the Speaker who left the Chair
Without precaution, without due care
That the way was clear for a swift retreat;
For....Hist!....Was that thunder?  Nay, 'twas the feet
Of the Opposition in swift pursuit,
Eager to settle an old dispute;
Eager to settle it then and there,
Like hounds on the scent of a startled hare.
For a feud was a feud, and a clan was a clan,
   In Parliament under the Party plan.

Was a man too timid to tell the truth
Because of a Sergeant-at-Arms, forsooth?
Was a man too craven to speak his mind
For fear of the Law and the men behind?
Was a man to be hounded from place and pay
By the votes of an ignorant people?  Nay!
An interjection, a word misplaced,
And answer given in nervous haste,
And....quick as a flash: "You lie!  You cur!
You're a dirty....Order!....Disgraceful!....Sir!....
I rise to....Scoundrel!....I won't withdraw!....
You blackguard!....Liar!!....I'll break your jaw!...
I name the member....I'll let you see!...
Let go my whiskers!....Apologise?  Me??
I'll see you....Order!....Come on outside!....
Dog!....Traitor!....Villain!....I'll tear your hide!....
Sergeant, remove the....Contemptible!  Bash!!....
Insulting!....Constable, do your....CRASH!!"
Ah, show me the heroes to-day, if you can,
   As in Parliament under the Party plan.

Those were the days when a member fought
For his place and pay as a strong man ought;
When they spoke their minds till the borrowed hair
Stood straight on the head of the startled Chair;
When they said their say, till the clerks turned pale,
And the pressmen bent 'fore the awful gale.
And many a fierce and gory fight
Cheered up the sitting on some late night.
But finest of all was the last brave stand
Of the member for Fatville, Claude Legrand,
The hope, the pride of the Cursing Clan....
   In Parliament under the Party plan.

He had called the Premier a low-bred hound,
He had scattered a few choice names around,
But he scarce had warmed to his subject yet,
When the insolent Speaker bade him -- "get!"
"What?"....For an instant a hush like death
Fell on the House; and the labored breath
Of the pressmen, over the Speaker's Chair,
Was the only sound on the calm, still air.
Then....Biff!....Like a tiger Claude Legrand
Reached down, and, straight from his strong right hand,
His boot came fair at the Speaker's head,
And he dropped from the Chair like a thing of lead.
'Twas the signal!....Boom!!  In the far-off street
They heard that thunder of rushing feet;
They heard the shrieks as the members fell
With a smothered curse or a muffled yell.
For their blood was up when the fight began
   In Parliament under the Party plan.

'Twas an even battle; this way and that
The members struggled and fought and spat
Fierce oaths and teeth, as they tore and scratched,
Ay, the sides that day were right well matched.
Evenly matched till -- ah, tell it with shame --
At the Government's bidding policemen came!
And six of them hastened to Claude Legrand
Where he fought and cursed at the head of his band.
Did he blanch?  Did he quail?  Did he sue for peace?
Nay, not for a breath did his cursing cease.
On, on he fought till the Chamber floor
Was strewn with collars and coast and gore.
On, on they battled till, one by one,
His side went down to the low John Dunn.
Then scratched, and bleeding, and cut, and torn,
Brave Claude Legrand to the floor was borne.
And ten strong constables held him tight,
Then heaved him forth in the outer night...
And he who had come to the House that morn
Well-groomed, and tailored, and shaved, and shorn,
With a shiny hat, and a sleek black coat,
And a spotless collar around his throat,
Went, clothed in glory, and gore, and dirt,
And a pair of pants, and a tattered shirt....
Ah, such were the heroes who led the van
   In Parliament under the Party plan.

Yes, that is the story of Claude Legrand,
The leader of that last Liberal stand.
And through the ages his name shall ring
As the last of the Lashers, the Cursing King....
And you wonder, now that I'm old and grey,
That I take no heed of affairs to-day.
You wonder why, in the Halls of State,
I find no joy in the dull debate.
'Tis because my thoughts and my heart are there
In the days when a man defied the Chair;
In the days of valor and old Romance,
When a blow came quick on an angry glance;
When they cast them hither in threes and fours
'Mid the Labor shrieks and the Lib'ral roars;
When the pack yelped high as the Speaker ran --
   In Parliament under the Party plan.

First published in The Bulletin, 18 January 1912;
and later in
Backblock Ballads and Other Verses by C.J. Dennis, 1913.

A Warning to Ladies by C. J. Dennis

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They were within measurable distance of a terrific political struggle in Australia, and should lose no time in preparing for the battle.  On every side they had evidence of the activity of the Labor-cum-Socialist party. . .What they stood against was the Socialism that was menacing Australia. - A lady at a meeting of the Wimmin's National League, Melbourne.

Deah Ladies, - Let me wawn you, theah are feahful taimes to come,
And a most ter-ific strugge is at hand;
            And we have no taime to speah
            If we wish to do ouah sheah -
To defend, like Joan of Awk, ouah native land.
Foah a really frightful monstah is preparing to devouah
All that's uppah-clauss and propah and quaite naice;
            And if we should be behaind
            In the battle aye shall faind
All ouah priveleges vanish in a traice.

O, it makes me shuddah, ladies, when Ai ventuah to reflect
On the ravages this monstah contemplates.
            He will break up all ouah homes,
            And where'er the creatuah roams,
We'll be sundered from ouah lawful Tory mates.
We'll be tawn from ouah poah husbands in a most fe-rocious way,
O, deah ladies, can you realise ouah lot?
            For the monstah has his eye
            On the Sacred Marriage Tie;
And he'll eat up all the babes we haven't got.

And remembah, deahest ladies, all ouah comfort now depends
On destroying this wild Socialistic beast.
            Ouah sassiety diversions
            Would be vulgah mob excursions
If we pandered to the monstah in the least.
He is bent on confiscating all the houses, land and wealth
Of ouah husbands, and ouah brothahs, and ouah friends.
            He is jealous of his bettahs,
            And he calls ouah men-folk sweatahs,
He'll do anything to gain his awful ends.

He's vulgah and unchivalrous this feahful Labah thing.
He is teaching all ouah servants to despise us.
            He would drag us to his level,
            And he'd send to the - ah - devil
All the luxuries with which his toil supplies us.
He harps upon equality when, as of course you know,
And as all the very naicest people know,
            It would simply mean disaster
            To imagine ev'ry master
Quaite as ignorant as workers or as "low."

O, smaite the Socialistic monstah!  Smaite him hard, mai deahs!
O, gathah up youah skirts and join the fray.
Pray, do not shirk the battle, or, with wailing and with teahs,
You'll regret youah negligence on polling day,
We must teach the vulgah working class their raight position here;
We must keep them in their places; we must faight them without fear,
            Or there'll be a bittah wail, mai deahs,
            If Socialists prevail, mai deahs,
And all "raight thinking" people and the "naicest" disappear.

First published in The Bulletin, 13 January 1910

The Preferential Push by C. J. Dennis

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The Christmas adjournment found Mr. Wood still suspended - Sydney paper.

Now, I calls it a fair knock out,
   An' I puts it to you as a bloke
(Said Peter the Pug),
An' I ain't no mug,
   But it's gettin' too much of a joke.
'Ere's one o' that M.P. push,
   A bloke with the moniker Wood
Gits 'eaved from the 'Ouse
'Cos 'e happened to rouse;
   An' they won't let 'im back till 'e's good.

No, they won't 'ave 'im back in the 'Ouse --
   In the 'Ouse where their feelins' is 'urt,
But this bloke they'll acquit,
If 'e smoodges a bit,
   An' I ses that this pref'rince is dirt!

'Cos w'y? -- An' I puts it to you
   As a bloke 'oo 'as battled a treat --
There's a lor when they rouse
An' go crook in the 'Ouse,
   An' a lor fer the chap in the street.
Whenever I go on a tear --
   (An' I owns to me seasons of lash) --
An' lands in the jug,
Fer chiackin' a mug,
   Well, it's quod, if I'm short of the cash.

Now this 'coot as was chucked on 'is neck
   'E wus wunct at the 'ead o' the p'leece --
The boss o' the cops --
O' the blessed John 'Ops,
   As is 'ere fer preservin' the peace.
An' frum 'is persition o' power
   'E sooled all 'is Johns on to us,
An' when we wus copped
Well, the lor never stopped
   Till the Beaks 'ad a say in the fuss.

Meself an' a  cobber o' mine,
   We gets on a bit of a jag,
W'ich ends in a row
With a eatin'-house Chow
   An', o' course, in a mo' it wus lag.
We spends a 'ole night in the cells,
   Nex' mornin' we faces "the Chair,"
Who gives us a look
Like a rabbit gone crook,
   An' calls us "a ruffianly pair."

"Insultin' be'avior" it wus;
   Fer we never dealt stoush to the Chow.
(The perticuler word
As the cop said 'e 'eard
   Wasn't used, I kin swear, in that row.)
So, when we wus arst fer to plead,
   I looks at the beak where 'e sat,
An' I ses to the Lor,
"Sir, we bofe will wifdror
   An' erpolergise full to Ah Fat."

Well, the Johns nearly fell in a fit,
   An' the Bench 'e went pink to 'is ears,
An' 'e looks at me stern.
"Now I move we adjourn,"
   I remarks, "fer a couple o' years.
Fer I 'ave to git back to me job,
   An' late sittin's," I ses, "is no joke."
"'Old yer tongue!" ses the beak;
"Thirty bob or a week!"....
   An' we bofe took it out -- bein' broke.

Now, this is me point -- (an' I 'old
   That the game isn't all on the square) --
This cove they calls Wood
'As it all to the good
   When 'e slings orf 'is mag at the Chair.
'E'll say as 'e didn't mean 'arf;
   'E's sorry; an' that ends the row.
But me and me pard,
We does seving days 'ard
   Jes' fer givin' back chat to a Chow!

An' a push is a push all the time,
   In the 'Ouse or in Woolloomooloo.
But us blokes 'as to learn,
'Oo speaks out of our turn,
   There's a stretch fer "insultin'" to do.
As fer Wood -- well, the game isn't fair;
   Fer this Liberal push 'as a pull;
They kin tork an'....Well, struth!
In me innercent youth
   I respected the Lor; but I'm full!

An' I'd like to get inter the 'Ouse --
   In the 'Ouse where "insultin'" is cheap;
Where it's stoush on the nod,
Wif no subsekint quod.
   It's a place as ud soot me a 'eap.

First published in The Bulletin, 4 January 1912

What's in a Name? by C. J. Dennis

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The advertisement regarding the South Australian welcome to Mrs. Harrison Lee, the temperance advocate, stated that among the speakers would be "T. Price Esq., M.P."

In years agone there carved in stone,
   Quite close to Adelaide,
An honest man of honest birth,
   Who called a spade a spade;
A Laborite -- a Democrat,
   With brain as cool as ice,
A working man in overalls --
  "Plain Mister Thomas Price."

But now there sits immaculate,
   At functions one and all,
The same strong man who wore of late
   The mason's overall;
And when they looked a speaker out
   To welcome Mrs. Lee,
Instead of Tommy Price they got,
   "T. Price, Esquire, M.P.".

First published in The Critic, 3 January 1906

Note: Thomas (Tom) Price (1852-1909) was elected to the Lower House of the South Australian Parliament in 1893, and was Premier of South Australia from 1905 until his death in 1909. 

A Different Meaning by C.J. Dennis

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A word as applied to tactics has a different meaning from the same word if used in a personal sense. - Alfred Deakin.

It is truly as lucid as lucid can be;
   It is plain as the nose on your face
Though the tactics may be a disgrace, don't you see,
   The tactician is not a disgrace.
He may wobble and swerve and crayfish and curve -
   It is all of it part of the game -
But you mustn't say "Wobbler," for, prithee, observe
   That the meaning is not quite the same.

One might carry this argument ever so far -
   There is not the least good in denying
That though a man's talk may be lies you must baulk
   At describing the talker as "lying."
His work may be slow, but it's nonsense, you know.
   To declare that the man's a "slow worker."
And it he should shirk in the House all his work
   'Twould be foolish to call him a "shirker."

In quoting such things one could fill up a ream;
   It is so to the end of the chatter.
A man who adapts his adversary's scheme,
   He need never be called an "adapter."
And if he should fuse, it is not the least use
   To describe him as being a "Fuser."
Such a use of the word is distinctly absurd,
   And would earn but contempt for the user.

For a statesman's a statesman right on to the end,
   Never mind what his actions resemble;
He may bargain and palter and stumble and falter
   And wheedle and scheme and dissemble.
But, observe, these are acts, and though probably facts
   That would earn for the mere politician
A horrible name, it is not quite the same
   When applied to a master tactician.

And so, you electors, when chewing the ended
   Of reflection, attend to this study.
And observe, though a member may meddle with mud
   He in not, of necessity, muddy.
Though he turns like a weathercock ten ways at once,
   Till you never know which way he's leaning,
To call him a weathercock proves you a dunce,
   For it has quite a different meaning.

First published
in The Bulletin, 14 October 1909

Author reference sites: C.J. Dennis, Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Australian Poetry Library

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