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The Weary Philosopher by C. J. Dennis

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Prison reform - Mr. Murray's views - Prisoners should be made to hustle. - Vic. newspaper headings

I can conceive no heav'nly bliss
More perfectly complete than this:
   To sit and smoke and idly chew
   Reflection's cud, with nought to do.
This is, in my pet social plan,
The right of ev'ry honest man.

I can conceive no punishment
For wicked men of evil bent,
   Who cheat and lie and drink and rob,
   More meet than giving them a job.
This is, to my unruffled mind,
Correction of the sternest kind.

I can conceive a world, in dreams;
A happy, restful world it seems;
   A wise, well-ordered globe wherein
   Men toil to expiate a sin,
While harmless and right-thinking folk
Have nought to do but sit and smoke.

I ask but to be left alone;
And let the wicked man atone
   In graft for having energy
   To sin against society.
For, clearly, I commit no crime,
Since I do nothing all the time.

Sins of omission, you will see,
Don't count in my philosophy
   And it is safer far to shirk,
   Lest, working, one might find more work.
No man is able to foresee
The far effects of energy.

But in this thoughtless, restless age
What honor is there for the sage?
   When Philistines, in manner rude,
   Disturb my sleepy solitude,
Where in my peaceful bower I lurk,
And coarsely shout at me: "Get work!"

First published in The Bulletin, 7 March 1912

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