Recently in Society Category

"Scape-Goat" by C.J. Dennis

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BERLIN. - "Nazi leaders, realizing that Nazism is losing ground, are attempting to divert attention from their failure by campaigns against Jews, Catholics and members of Stahlhelm." - Cable News

   Supposing I should come to you
   And say to you, "Good day to you.
I have no quarrel with you, but I've rather flunked my job,
   And I must divert attention,
   So I thought I'd like to mention
That, in manner rather brutal, I must bash you on the nob."
   Would you reply politely, in a fashion sweetly meek?
   Or would your mood be critical and snarky, so to speak?

   Supposing I said to you,
   "Good morning, sir.  I'm scorning, sir,
The use of any subterfuge: truth may not be abused.
   But a certain noisy faction
   Of my mob requires distraction,
And I seek a counter-irritant to keep the boys amused.
   So, since you are quite defenceless, I must kick you in the slats."
   Do you think we might see eye to eye, as fellow democrats?

   If, on the other hand, I said,
   "See here, my man!  I fear, my man,
I much dislike your style of face!  You're small and mild and weak.
   I admit you cannot harm me, 
   But my people's threats alarm me;
So in efforts to divert them, I shall biff you on the beak.
   If you resist my action, I'll be most annoyed with you."
   Do you think you could appreciate my novel point of view?

   Suppose I then man-handled you
   And battered you and scattered you
In pieces o'er the landscape, all for "patriotic" ends --
   If, so hap, one may term any
   Such method made in Germany --
Would you refuse to squeal or seek the aid of outside friends?
   Not even if I told you it was for the common good,
   And so held the boys together?  No?  I hardly thought you would.

First published in The Herald, 14 August 1935

Hallucinations by Max A.

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There's a chap who told a story
   In the case of G.H. Druce;
'Twas a strange phantasmagory,
   Most perplexing and profuse.
Now, the doctors so sarcastic,
   Who have suffered him with patience,
Say he suffers from Fantastic

There are lots of men amid us,
   Men with tongues of gold -- or brass --
Who with oratory "kid" us
   While the spell-bound minutes pass.
Do they think, those men bombastic,
   As they spout their perorations,
That they suffer from Fantastic

Here and there you'll find a Chappie
   With a beauteous, classic face,
Who is always very happy
   When a Girl is near the place.
"She adores my Features Plastic" --
   So run his meditations;
He, too, has got Fantastic

'Mid the labour politicians
   There are many who believe
They're Society's physicians --
   Panaceas up their sleeve;
So they preach iconoclastic
   Doctrines unto all the nations,
Which are merely most Fantastic

Melbourne town has streets so dusty
   That they choke your breathing-spout:
And its Councillors too fusty
   Never wipe the nuisance out.
And that Tar and Sand make 'pastic
   To endure for generations
Is one of their Fantastic

So, you see, the Caldwell fellow
   Isn't quite the only butt
Whose brains are over-mellow,
   Who has jim-jams in his nut.
It stretches like elastic,
   This long line of queer creations,
Who are suffering from Fantastic

First published in Melbourne Punch, 20 February 1908

Author reference site: Austlit

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The Campfires of the Lost by Bernard O'Dowd

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Who will may see, on plains around
   By scanty rivers crossed,
Where none but weedy growths abound,
   The campfires of the Lost.

To fan the blaze, the twigs and cones
   From dying Hopes we tear;
And wolfish Angers gnaw the bones
   Of dead Ideals there.

And effigies of sacred things,
   Or bric-à-brac of Fame,
Anon a stern-lipped watcher flings
   Remorseless to the flame.

To drown your glory in the dark
   O, children of the Light!
The frail, the crushed, the fell, the stark
   Deploy their hosts to-night.

Grim scouts o'erleap your city's walls,
   Cast potions in your wells,
With leprous patches taint your halls,
   And mine your citadels.

Your timid treasures await
   The onset of our need;
The myriad tramp his lonely hate
   Is whetting with his greed.

Your serfs now mocking greet your cries
   Of "honor," "law," and "trust";
Your lily women recognise
   The prowling lips of Lust.

Your veil of Art, by free winds tossed,
   Is rending as you look--
Your Art, which claimed to love the Lost,
   And jeered them, and forsook.

Your brutal Science yields a corps
   Of derelicts, to train
With formulas of lethal lore
   Our nascent rebel brain.

The scavengers of Learning there,
   And outcaste lords of rhyme
Compose us anthems of despair,
   And polygots of crime.

And godless phalanxes assist
   Our priesthood celebrate
A diablic eucharist
   With chalices of hate.

Your system's ripened fruits appear
   In vampire and in sot;
The tiger women wait you here,
   You soiled and left to rot.

See there a squeezed-out sponge of trade,
   Or gambler's child, or wife!
And there a haggard sempstress, speyed
   By Competition's knife!

Within your walls anon there shines
   A wrecker's signal-light;
And falcon-featured Catilines
   Sneak to and fro to-night.

Ah! city-dwellers, fearful wrong
   Entails a fearful cost;
And ye who dare may see who throng
   Those balefires of the Lost.

First published in The Bulletin, 29 August 1896 and again in the same magazine on 23-30 December 1980.

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Street Pageant by Ella McFadyen

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Sometimes the glamour comes upon mine eyes,
   And o'er the fretful faces of the crowd,
   The hungering gaze, the clinging shoulders bowed,
The slouching gait, the strained, masked miseries,
Comes transformation. They grow glorious-these;
   I see them a brave throng, whom trumpets loud
   Proclaim for pilgrims to crusade avowed,
Marching to far-off, ageless destinies.

First published in The Sydney Morning Herald, 10 August 1937

Author reference site: Austlit

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The Kingdom by David McKee Wright

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I have a dream of a quiet State
   Where a goodly king would rule,
With a house of books at the palace gate
   And a little white-walled school.
There trees would grow before the wall
   And flowers about the trees;
And the queen would go in cap and shawl
   To tend her hens and bees.

A wheel would spin at an open door
   And a loom would click near by;
And a man of might at the threshing floor
   Would make the white chaff fly.
There would be sheep on the hills above
   And corn in the fields below;
And each would have room to seek and love
   The thing that was good to know.

The king would go out with a team to plough
   And a prince would harrow the soil;
And a statesman come with a thoughtful brow
   And a spade for his daily toil.
And one would draw a fiddle-bow
   And one would make a song;
And a man and a maid would softly go
   In the dusk and think no wrong.

The boys at their play would run and shout
   And the girls dance round in a ring;
And a father-thought would wrap them about
   And a mother-thought would sing
To their brave hearts always in shine or shade,
   Till the youngest child must know
How the dimpled fairy steps have made
   The path where their feet may go.

There would be pride in the walk of the king
   And pride in the craftsman's hand;
And all the wealth that the years could bring
   Would lie in the sweet of the land.
Fine green words would the tall trees say
   Below the moon and the sun;
And a man would bless the shining day
   For joy of his work begun.

Out of the treasure of written books
   And the magic of spoken song
Would the people gather their golden looks
   From a dream that was fine and long;
And laughter would blow like a merry wind
   To ruffle the thoughts of men;
For the breathing soil would be very kind
   And kinder the breathing pen.

And there would we sing God save the King
   And the royal race he bore,
While the good earth's tribute we loved to bring
   And lay at his palace door.
The word that he spoke would be our word,
   And his fear would be our fear;
And the land would whiten to one keen sword
   If the step of the foe drew near.

First published in The Bulletin, 18 July 1918

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

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The Pastoral Push by Ernest Favenc

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There was a youth whose yearnings had a most ambitious aim,
For they lured him far from pathways, where all things were dull and tame;
They spread before him visions, right beyond the drowsy bush,
For that youngster's burning longing was, to organise a push.

Of the fringe he cultivated, of the rapture of his crowd,
When he learned to whistle through his teeth, discordantly and loud,
I say nothing. For such attributes are commonplace and dead.
He longed to wreck a township and to paint the backblocks red.

So he studied all the papers that discoursed upon the theme;
Of the youths who make a city night one wild, delirious dream.
And he came to the conclusion that the town of Hogan's Flat
Was peculiarly adapted for the game that he was at.

Hogan's Flat was on the Darling, very sleepy, very slow;
There one policeman only did his steady sentry go.
The inhabitants were scanty, and an aged lot and meek,
And very slow and ancient was the Honorary Beak.

He mustered up his followers and told them what he thought,
And discoursed to them quite glibly on the battle to be fought
And he said, "You can believe me, for you know I've learnt the trade,
That on angular blue metal our reliance must be laid.

"We will stone their glass shop-windows, and we'll sack their blooming bars,
And pile our blazing bonfires to the timid, frighten'd stars,
And that solitary Bobby, he will wish himself miles back,
When a well-aimed gibber hits him with a loud, resounding whack."

So they came, these desperate pushites, vowed before they went to bed,
To paint that little township one big sunset glare of red.
And o'er the road for metal they dispersed with wild acclaim --
And were very much disgusted when they could not find the same.

Not a stone, nor flint, nor gibber, not a rock could there be found,
For the Darling's banks are noted an an utter stoneless ground.
And the leader felt no beaten at the failure of his scheme
That he let that single bobby run him in as in a dream.

Where has gone that soaring youngster with his intellectual brow?
As Hans Breitmann would ejaculate, "Whar is dot barty now?"
Is he working for his tucker, and when shearing's at an end,
Does he hump a shabby bluey, and go fishing in the Bend?

Alas, we can't conjecture where all the failures go.
And, after such wild yearnings, tame existence must be slow.
But he lived to paint a moral --- if you wish to cut it grand,
You should find out first for certain the materials are at hand.

First published in The Bulletin, 7 July 1904.

Author: Ernest Favenc (1845-1908) was born in Surrey, England, and arrived in Australia in 1864.  He initially worked on stations in North Queensland before joining an expedition to survey a possible rail link between Brisbane and Darwin.  He married in 1880 and moved to Sydney.  He continued to travel throughout Australia during which he wrote poetry and essays and histories of Australian exploration.  He died in Sydney in 1908.

Author reference sites:
Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

Centennial. "Sydney Morning Herald", 1831-1931 by Lance Fallaw

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Tamed the shy son and builded many a street:
Comes now a fuller life -- the printed sheet.

   What news, what news in Sydney town?
      What shipping in Port Jackson lies?
   Staid topics must the pen set down
      For its young enterprise.
         Yet in such day-spun stuff
         The searcher finds enough
To garb again the 'thirties and their mode:
         The days of Goulburn's birth,
         The springing out of earth
Of towns along Macquarie's westward road.
         But most through Sydney Heads
         Draw traffic's stretching threads;
What brig from Hobart comes? What hopes attend
         Port Phillip's village growth?
         Are Hunter's valleys loth
To crown the settler's care with fruitful end?
         Passing the southern bounds,
         A Governor rides the rounds,
Sir Richard counts the flocks of Twofold Bay.
         While under Flagstaff Hill,
         The infant capital still
Nestles and grows -- 'tis writ from day to day.
Read and remark; hear the old Brickfield's din,
And see the coaches post to Richmond's Black Horse Inn.

Gold in the Austral soil! Her hidden veins
Reflect the golden wonder of her plains.

   How the crowded columns told the tidings then!
   Where gold grows the world goes -- the world of zestful men
   Through the range of ramparts passed the trudging train
   Bee-like swarm of "rushes" o'er the Bathurst plain.
   Townsmen left the counter, sailors left the ship,
   Many a crewless vessel missed its outward trip.
   Turon and the Ophir -- see the names in print,
   All the vanished diggings, each a season's mint.
   Still the main stream gathers, now at Lambing Flat,
   Now across the Murray, bound for Ballarat.
   Combing countless gullies goes adventure's band;
   Canvastown for vanguards, then the cities stand.
   Gold with guards for escort making for the port,
   Shout and shot in lonely spot, the coach a running fort,
   Who shall get and squander? Who shall grasp and hold
   Turn the page and con the age, the age that's writ in gold.
Shrills the far trump whose breath the war-lords blow.
Again and yet again the sons shall go.

         First to Sudan
The legion sped, the tale of arms began.
         Hint of a day
When round Pretoria closed the larger fray.
         O distant fields,
How faint an echo now their memory yields!
         Yet once they stood
Starred on our maps with dire solicitude,
         And wounding came
The record of their dead in letters of flame.
         Not then was seen
The opening edge of Europe's red ravine,
         Nor guessed the time
Of earth and wave on fire for Prussia's crime.
         Ah! scant their need--
Who saw the apocalyptic years -- to read
         On visible leaf
The story of the grandeur and the grief.
         Is it not stamped
Along the trench-line where the Anzacs camped,
         And blown o'er sea
By winds that croon on grey Gallipoli?

Yet, by no tumults shook, secure of aim
The States are joined-a Nation finds its name.

   Speak, chronicles of those who wrought--
      Those who foresaw, past hesitant eyes,
      The federated fabric rise,
         A chiselled thought.
   Up-looking brows! What if the feet
      Stumbled at many a wayside stone?
      Shall not the pillared pile atone
         With arch complete?
   Mark the great names, the elder race:
      A Wentworth's earlier dreams fulfilled,
      A Parkes -- let those who lived to build
         Keep these a place.
   Who falters now? Shall factions rude
      Dissolve the woven bonds of peace,
      A people's shining saga cease
         In tribal feud?
   Bid the clear creed find trumpet's throat,
      Write the large texts constraining doom,
      And let to-morrow's theme resume
         The epic note.

Still pours the Press its page, and still men say.
"What news, what news in Sydney town to-day?"

First published in The Sydney Morning Herald, 18 April 1931

Author reference sites: Austlit

See also.

The Larrikin Gang by Fred McCabe

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Mr. Fred Maccabe, who is a great traveller and goes about the world with eyes wide open, says that one of the signs of evil times to come in Victoria and New South Wales is the prevalence and toleration of larrikinism. The magistrates of these colonies, he says, are afraid to attempt to suppress by drastic punishment this colonial form of ruffianism. A short time ago, however, one sensible man who had been promoted to the bench, had the courage to send some larrikins to gaol, wheneupon Mr. Maccabe burst into poetry and penned the following lines, which he will sing at his farewell performances next week.  

When I was a boy I did enjoy
Strong health in a sinewy frame;
But I did not know
How to get a show
ln the rush of a rowdy game.
Till I found a pal
Who says, "You shall
Indulge in a push and a fight,
I've got some chums
Down in the slums
Who will join us with delight;
And they'll all agree,
With the greatest glee
To row with a slang and a bang.
Let us organise   
And the town surprise
With the pranks of a larrikin gang.
We enjoyed the charm
Of doing harm
To decent women and men,
And oh! t'was a treat
When we made a street
Like a regular wild beast's den.
And we didn't cease
When the stupid p'lice
Began to interfere
And the magistrates,
Who we all hates
Declared it would cost us dear
And they says "Look here
It seems quite clear
Since larrikins we can't hang
We must all combine
To inflict a fine
When we deal with a larrikin gang
So they connived
As we contrived,
By subscribing a bob or a crown,
When a pal was fined
We didn't mind,
'Cos we plonked the money down;
But a cove on the bench
His fist did clench,
And he says, "I'll let them know
That these young blokes
Can't play their jokes
With a curse and a kick or a blow,
With a sentence clear
And very severe
I'll draw the ruffian's fang.
They shall go to gaol
And I'll take no bail -
That settles the larrikin gang."
Since I've been in jail
I've dropped my tail,
And chucked up the larrikin gang.

First published in The West Australian, 29 January 1892

Author: Nothing is known about this author other than the notes printed at the top of this poem.

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