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Title: Backblock Ballads and Later Verses
Author: C. J. Dennis
eBook No.: 0500911h.html
Language: English
Date first posted: November 2021
Most recent update: November 2021

This eBook was produced by: Walter Moore

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Backblock Ballads and Later Verses

C.J. Dennis


An Old Master
The Builders
The Lovers
The Chase of Ages
A Guide for Poits
Grimbles and the Gnad
The Joy Ride
The Homeward Track
Sore Throat
When the Sun’s Behind the Hill
Hopeful Hawkins
Hymn of Futility
A Song of Rain
The Bore
The Cultured Constable
My Poor Relation
The Boon of Discontent
Son of a Fool
The Silent Member
The High Priest
The Philistine
Work or Reflection
The March
The Little Homes
The Bridge Across the Crick
Vulgar Fractions
The Minglers
The Austra-laise

An Old Master

We were cartin’ lathes and palin’s from the slopes of Mount St. Leonard,
    With our axles near the road-bed and the mud as stiff as glue;
And our bullocks weren’t precisely what you’d call conditioned nicely,
    And meself and Messmate Mitchell had our doubts of gettin’ through.

It had rained a tidy skyful in the week before we started,
    But our tucker-bag depended on the sellin’ of our load;
So we punched ’em on by inches, liftin’ ’em across the pinches,
    Till we struck the final section of the worst part of the road.

We were just congratulatin’ one another on the goin’,
    When we blundered in a pot-hole right within the sight of goal,
Where the bush-track joins the metal. Mitchell, as he saw her settle,
    Justified his reputation at the peril of his soul.

We were in a glue-pot, certain—red and stiff and most tenacious;
    Over naves and over axles—waggon sittin’ on the road.
“’Struth,” says I, “they’ll never lift her. Take a shot from Hell to shift her.
    Nothin’ left us but unyoke ’em and sling off the blessed load.”

Now, beside our scene of trouble stood a little one-roomed humpy,
    Home of an enfeebled party by the name of Dad McGee.
Daddy was, I pause to mention, livin’ on an old-age pension
    Since he gave up bullock-punchin’ at the age of eighty-three.

Startled by our exclamations, Daddy hobbled from the shanty,
    Gazin’ where the stranded waggon looked like some half-foundered ship.
When the state o’ things he spotted, “Looks,” he says, “like you was potted,”
    And he toddles up to Mitchell. “Here,” says he, “gimme that whip.”

Well! I’ve heard of transformations; heard of fellers sort of changin’
    In the face of sudden danger or some great emergency;
Heard the like in song and story and in bush traditions hoary,
    But I nearly dropped me bundle as I looked at Dad McGee.

While we gazed he seemed to toughen; as his fingers gripped the handle
    His old form grew straight and supple, and a light leapt in his eye;
And he stepped around the waggon, not with footsteps weak and laggin’,
    But with firm, determined bearin’, as he flung the whip on high.

Now he swung the leaders over, while the whip-lash snarled and volleyed;
    And they answered like one bullock, strainin’ to each crack and clout;
But he kept his cursin’ under till old Brindle made a blunder;
    Then I thought all Hell had hit me, and the master opened out.

And the language! Oh, the language! Seemed to me I must be dreamin’;
    While the wondrous words and phrases only genius could produce
Roared and rumbled, fast and faster, in the throat of that Old Master—
    Oaths and curses tipped with lightning, cracklin’ flames of fierce abuse.

Then we knew the man before us was a Master of our callin’;
    One of those great lords of language gone for ever from Out-back;
Heroes of an ancient order; men who punched across the border;
    Vanished giants of the sixties; puncher-princes of the track.

Now we heard the timbers strainin’, heard the waggon’s loud complainin’,
    And the master cried triumphant, as he swung ’em into line,
As they put their shoulders to it, lifted her, and pulled her through it:
    “That’s the way we useter do it in the days o’ sixty-nine!”

Near the foot of Mount St. Leonard lives an old, enfeebled party
    Who retired from bullock-punchin’ at the age of eighty-three.
If you seek him folk will mention, merely, that he draws the pension;
    But to us he looms a Master—Prince of Punchers, Dad McGee!



Ai’ve just obteened a pension for mai Paw.
And you should hev seen the people that were theah.
    Re-ally, it was surpraising!
    Maind, Ai am not criticaising,
But it was embarrassing, Ai do decleah.
Ai met the Snobson-Smythes and Toady-Browns, and many moah
Belonging to ouah set; and wondahed what they came theah foah.

And, of course, Ai didn’t say a word of Paw.
Ai rather think they’ve nevah heard of Paw.
    But Ai thought it well to mention
    That Ai came to get the pension
For an aged person who had worked for Maw.
The Snobson-Smythes said, “Fancy!  That is just why we came dahn.”
But Ai’ve heard they hev a mothah hidden somewheah out of tahn.

Ai do deserve some gratitude from Paw.
To think what Ai’ve gone thro’ foah him to-day!
    Mixing with the lowah classes—
    And Ai never saw such masses
Of disreputable creatuahs, Ai must say.
Imposters, Ai’ve no doubt, if most of them were but unmasked.
And then, the most humiliating questions Ai was asked!

Yes, he forced me to admit it was foah Paw.
Asked me, brutally, if it was foah mai Paw.
    Some low-bred official fellow,
    Who conversed in quaite a bellow,
And he patronised me laike a high Bashaw.
And his questions, rudely personal, Ai hardly could enduah.
The Government should teach its people mannahs, Ai am suah!

Ai’m glad we’ve got the pension foah Pooah Paw.
His maintenance has been—O, such a strain.
    Ouah establishment’s extensive
    And exceedingly expensive,
As mai husband has remawked taime and again.
It’s quaite a miracle how Ai contrive to dress at all.
He cut me dahn to twenty guineas for last Mayoral Ball!

And it’s such a boah to hev to think of Paw—
To hev a secret skeleton laike Paw.
    Paw, you know, was once a diggah,
    And he cuts no social figgah.
And his mannahs! O, they touch us on the raw.
Of course, we’re very fond of him, and all thet sort of thing;
But we couldn’t hev him—could we?—when theah’s naice folk visiting.

It’s cost us pawnds and pawnds to care foah Paw.
And then, it is so hard to keep him dawk.
    Why, no later then last Mond’y,
    Ai was out with Lady Grundy,
When we ran raight into him outsaide the Pawk.
Goodness knows!  Ai managed, somehow, to elude him with a nod,
And Ai said he was a tradesman; but she must hev thought it odd.

You can’t picture the ubiquity of Paw,
And he’s really very obstinate, is Paw.
    Why, he held to the contention
    That this most convenient pension
Was a thing he hadn’t any raight to draw!
He said we’d kept him eighteen months, and ought to keep him yet.
But mai husband soon convinced him that he couldn’t count on thet.

He was a pioneah, you know, mai Paw.
But of mai early laife Ai never tell.
    Paw worked, as Ai hev stated;
    And he had us educated;
And, later on, Ai married rather well.
And then, you know, deah Paw became—er—well, embarrassing.
For he is so unconventional and—all thet sort of thing.

But the Government has taken ovah Paw.
We are happy now we’ve aisolated Paw.
    And a bettah era’s dawning,
    For mai husband said this mawning
Thet the money saved would buy a motah-caw.
Paw was so good to us when we were young, that, you’ll allow,
It’s really taime the Government did something foah him now.


The Builders

Behold, I built a fowlhouse in my yard!
   Two months ago the great work was begun,
And every eventide I labored hard,
   What time my daily office grind was done.
’Tis to my industry a monument,
The fowls, my wife and I are well content.

Indeed, I built a fowlhouse.  God forbid—
   Although I made it, floor and roof and wall —
That I should boast about this thing I did.
   I mention it most modestly withal.
Just these two hands, this brain were all I had.
I built it on my own, and I am glad.

And, as I toiled at eve, my wife would come,
   The candle, nails and divers tools to hold;
And when I swore because I hit my thumb
   She did not hang the contract up to scold,
Nor move a vote of censure, and maintain
The thing should be pulled down and built again.

She is my helpmate, both in name and deed;
   Nor does she deem it policy to nag.
And when she saw my wounded finger bleed
   She bound it up, most tenderly, with rag.
Thus, for one end, did both of us conspire—
To have a fowlhouse was our joint desire.

And, when I went about my work in town,
   No secret vision filled my day with dread
That she would pull the whole contraption down
   And start a building of her own instead.
I knew, indeed, she would take care to leave
Unharmed my handiwork of yester eve.

You’ll note—if you’re at all intelligent
   Our system was simplicity itself:
We wanted something, that was evident,
   To wit, a fowlhouse, perches, and a shelf
For nests.  I got some timber, tools and nails,
And set to work.  This method seldom fails.

And when I’d done, and saw it stand complete,
   With triumph was I most absurdly filled. 
A tiny thing, enclosing ten square feet,
   That any deft suburbanite might build—
Yet was my soul with satisfaction seized;
And, on the whole, I think the fowls were pleased.

Now that my hens are well and snugly housed,
   And given cosy nests in which to lay,
It seems, their gratitude has been aroused:
   Our egg supply increases day by day.
And yet, I vow, when I their house designed
No sordid thought of eggs was in my mind.

Maybe I seem a trifle too inclined
   To brag about a very simple feat.
Yet strange ideas crowd into my mind
   When I sit down to scan my morning sheet,
And read of other builders who should be
Goliaths in comparison with me.

These mighty undertakings, I’ve no doubt—
   Vast railway lines that span a continent,
And other matters that I read about
   Are apt to cause much wordy argument.
Yet I, who calmly built a house for fowls, 
Can feel contempt for these unseemly howls.

For, when they move to build, unholy shouts
   Go up to Heaven from opponent throats;
The Ins are ever brawling with the Outs;
   And both are scheming sordidly for votes. 
They build not as true builders, such as I,
Who build for love, and scorn the trade they ply.

Thank God, my wife and I are well content
   In doing things to win a modest name
Without the aid of Party Government
   And all the meanness of that paltry Game.
Honest endeavor, and some boards and nails,
Pride in our work—this method seldom fails.

I am so diffident, I hardly care
   To give advice to statesmen evident,
And yet, on this occasion, shall I dare
   To offer them some small encouragement:
Let them forego their wrangles, curses, howls,
And strive to build a little place for fowls.

’Tis sheer presumption, surely, to compare
   Myself with statesmen in high honor decked;
Yet do I feel emboldened to declare
   That I am more deserving of respect.
They, by their brawls, a mighty work have marred;
I built an honest fowlhouse in my yard.


“Sowin’ things an’ growin’ things, an’ watchin’ of ’em grow;
That’s the game,” my father said, an’ father ought to know.
“Settin’ things an’ gettin’ things to grow for folks to eat:
That’s the life,” my father said, “that’s very hard to beat.”
For my father was a farmer, as his father was before,
Just sowin’ things an’ growin’ things in far-off days of yore,
In the far-off land of England, till my father found his feet
In the new land, in the true land, where he took to growin’ wheat.
       Wheat, Wheat, Wheat! Oh, the sound of it is sweet!
       I’ve been praisin’ it an’ raisin’ it in rain an’ wind an’ heat
           Since the time I learned to toddle, till it’s beatin’ in my noddle,
       Is the little song I’m singin’ you of Wheat, Wheat, Wheat.

Plantin’ things—an’ grantin’ things is goin’ as they should,
An’ the weather altogether is behavin’ pretty good—
Is a pleasure in a measure for a man that likes the game,
An’ my father he would rather raise a crop than make a name.
For my father was a farmer, an’ “All fame,” he said, “ain’t reel;
An’ the same it isn’t fillin’ when you’re wantin’ for a meal.”
So I’m followin’ his footsteps, an’ a-keepin’ of my feet,
While I cater for the nation with my Wheat, Wheat, Wheat.
       Wheat, Wheat, Wheat! When the poets all are beat
       By the reason that the season for the verse crop is a cheat,
           Then I comes up bright an’ grinnin’ with the knowledge that I’m winnin’,
       With the rhythm of my harvester an’ Wheat, Wheat, Wheat.

Readin’ things an’ heedin’ things that clever fellers give,
An’ ponderin’ an’ wonderin’ why we was meant to live—
Muddlin’ through an’ fuddlin’ through philosophy an’ such
Is a game I never took to, an’ it doesn’t matter much.
For my father was a farmer, as I might ’a’ said before,
An’ the sum of his philosophy was, “Grow a little more.
For growin’ things,” my father said, “it makes life sort o’ sweet
An’ your conscience never swats you if your game is growin’ wheat.”
       Wheat, Wheat, Wheat! Oh, the people have to eat!
       An’ you’re servin’, an’ deservin’ of a velvet-cushion seat
           In the cocky-farmers’ heaven when you come to throw a seven;
       An’ your password at the portal will be, “Wheat, Wheat, Wheat.”

Now, the preacher an’ the teacher have a callin’ that is high
While they’re spoutin’ to the doubtin’ of the happy by an’ by;
But I’m sayin’ that the prayin’ it is better for their souls
When they’ve plenty wheat inside ’em in the shape of penny rolls.
For my father was a farmer, an’ he used to sit an’ grieve
When he thought about the apple that old Adam got from Eve.
It was foolin’ with an orchard where the serpent got ’em beat,
An’ they might ’a’ kept the homestead if they’d simply stuck to wheat.
       Wheat, Wheat, Wheat! If you’re seekin’ to defeat
       Care an’ worry in the hurry of the crowded city street,
           Leave the hustle all behind you; come an’ let contentment find you
       In a cosy little cabin lyin’ snug among the wheat.

In the city, more’s the pity, thousands live an’ thousands die
Never carin’, never sparin’ pains that fruits may multiply;
Breathin’, livin’, never givin’; greedy but to have an’ take,
Dyin’ with no day behind ’em lived for fellow-mortals’ sake.
Now my father was a farmer, an’ he used to sit and laugh
At the “fools o’ life,” he called ’em, livin’ on the other half.
Dyin’ lonely, missin’ only that one joy that makes life sweet—
Just the joy of useful labour, such as comes of growin’ wheat.
       Wheat, Wheat, Wheat! Let the foolish scheme an’ cheat;
       But I’d rather, like my father, when my span o’ life’s complete,
          Feel I’d lived by helpin’ others; earned the right to call ’em brothers
       Who had gained while I was gainin’ from God’s earth His gift of wheat.

When the settin’ sun is gettin’ low above the western hills,
When the creepin’ shadows deepen, and a peace the whole land fills,
Then I often sort o’ soften with a feelin’ like content,
An’ I feel like thankin’ Heaven for a day in labour spent.
For my father was a farmer, an’ he used to sit an’ smile,
Realizin’ he was wealthy in what makes a life worth while.
Smilin’, he has told me often, “After all the toil an’ heat,
Lad, he’s paid in more than silver who has grown one field of wheat.”
       Wheat, Wheat, Wheat! When it comes my turn to meet
       Death the Reaper, an’ the Keeper of the Judgment Book I greet,
           Then I’ll face ’em sort o’ calmer with the solace of the farmer
       That he’s fed a million brothers with his Wheat, Wheat, Wheat.

The Lovers

One idle hour she sought to see
   Whose image ’twas he cherished so
(All fondly certain whose ’twould be),
   And found—a girl she did not know.

A trusty maiden’s modest face,
   All innocence and purity.
“What nun is this that fills my place?
   Alas, he loves me not!” sighed she.

“Nay, daughter, let no foolish fears
   Your trust in his devotion mar,”
Her mother said.  “Come, dry your tears;
  That is the girl he thinks you are.”

All fondly curious with love
   (Half guessing what he would lay bare)
He rifled her heart’s treasure trove,
   And found—a stranger’s image there.

“This is the man she loves!” said he,
   And, searching in the noble face,
Read high resolve and constancy.
   “This saint,” he cried, “usurps my place!”

“Nay,” spake his friend.  “Your anger cool;
   Gaze on that God-like face once more:
Then be satisfied, O fool;
   That is the man she takes you for.”


He was tall and tough and stringy, with the shoulders of an axe-man,
    Broad and loose, with greenhide muscles; and a hand shaped to the reins;
He was slow of speech and prudent, something of a Nature student,
    With the eye of one who gazes long across the saltbush plains.

Smith by name, but long forgotten was his legal patronymic
    In a land where every bushman wears some unbaptismal tag;
And, through frequent repetition of a well-worn requisition,
     “Smith” had long retired in favor of the title, “Got-a-Fag.”

Not until the war was waging for a month, or maybe longer,
    Did the tidings reach the station, blest with quite unfrequent mails;
And, though still a steady grafter, he grew restless ever after,
    And he pondered long of evenings, seated on the stockyard rails.

Primed with sudden resolution, he arose one summer morning,
    Casually mentioned fighting as he deftly rolled his swag;
Then, in accents almost hearty, bade his mate, “So long, old Party!
    I am on some Square-head huntin’.  See you later.  Got a fag?”

Ten long, sunburned days in saddle, down through spinifex and saltbush,
    Then a two-days’ railroad journey landed him at last in town,
Charged with an aggressive feeling, heightened by his forthright dealing
    With a shrewd but chastened spieler who had sought to take him down.

“Smart and stern” describes the war-lord who presided at recruiting.
    To him slouched an apparition, drawling, “Boss, I’ve got a nag —
Risin’ four—good prad he’s counted.  Better shove me in the mounted.
    Done a little bit o’ shootin’—gun an’ rifle.  Got a fag?”

Two months later, drilled and kneaded to a shape approaching martial,
    Yet with hints of that lithe looseness discipline can never kill,
With that keen eye grown yet shrewder, and example to the cruder,
    Private Smith (and, later, Sergeant) stinted speech and studied drill.

“Smith,” indeed, but briefly served him; for his former appellation
    In its aptness seized the fancy of the regimental wag,
When an apoplectic colonel gasped, “Of all the dashed infernal....”
    As this Private Smith saluted, with “Ribuck, boss!  Got a fag?”

What he thought, or how he marvelled at the unfamiliar customs
    Of those ancient and historic lands that later met his eyes,
He was never heard to mention; though he voiced one bold contention,
    That the absence of wire fences marked a lack of enterprise.

Soon his shrewd resource, his deftness, won him fame in many places;
    Things he did with wire and whipcord moved his company to brag.
And when aught concerning horses called for knowledge in the forces
    Came a hurried, anxious message:  “Hang the Vet!  Send Got-a-Fag!”

Then, one morning, he was missing, and a soldier who had seen him
    Riding for the foe’s entrenchments bade his mates abandon hope.
Calm he seemed, but strangely daring; some weird weapons he was bearing
    Built of twisted wire and iron, and a dozen yards of rope.

At the dawn a startled sentry, through the early morn-mists peering,
    Saw a dozen shackled foemen down the sand dunes slowly drag.
Sore they seemed, and quite dejected, while behind them, cool, collected,
    Swearing at a busy sheep-dog, rode their drover, Got-a-Fag.

To the Colonel’s tent he drove them, bransishing a stockwhip featly,
    Bristly calling, “Heel ’em, Laddie!”  While the warrior of rank
Sniffed, and then exclaimed with loathing: “What’s this smell of burning clothing?”
    Said the drover: “Got ’em branded: ‘A—Broad Arrow,’ off-side flank.”

“A,” he drawled, stan’s for Australia, an’ the Gov’ment brand’s in order.
     ‘Crown—G.R.’ upon the shoulder marks ’em for the King an’ flag.
Roped the blighters same as how we fix the calves on Kinchacowie.
    But it’s dead slow sorter must’rin’,” he concluded.  “Got a fag?”

When the weary war is over, back to his old cattle station,
    If luck holds, he’ll one day journey, casually drop his swag,
Drawling, “Been up yonder—fightin’....Not much doin’ mostly skitin’....
    Gimme drovin’ for excitement... Rain seems wantin’.... Got a fag?”

The Chase Of Ages

Light of my lives! Is the time not yet?
   Lo, I’ve brooded on a star
Through many a year, with the hope held dear
   That, in some future far,
I would know the joy of a love returned.
   Are my lives lived vainly, all,
Since that cosmic morn when life, new-born,
   First moved on this mundane ball?

Yea, I mind it yet, when first we met
   On a tertiary rock,
Flow the graceful charm of your rudiments
   Imparted love’s first shock.
But I was a mere organic cell
   In that early Eocene,
While you were a prim, primordial germ,
   And the mother of protogene.

So I loved and died, and the ages sped
   Till the time of my second birth;
When I took my place in the cosmic race,
   And again came down to earth.
Once more we met.  Ah, love, not yet!
   You were far above my state!
For how could I raise my mollusc gaze
   To a virtuous vertebrate?

Again we died, and again we slept,
   And again we came to be —
I as an anthropoidal ape,
   And you as a chimpanzee.
You as a charming chimpanzee,
   With a high, patrician air;
And I watched you waltz from tree to tree
   As I slunk in my lowly lair.

And yet again, in an age or so,
   We met, and I mind the sob
I sobbed when I found that I was—what?
   And you were a thingumbob.
You had sold your tail for a kind of soul,
   You had grown two thumbs beside;
And I knew again that my love was vain,
   So I went to the woods and died.

As a humble homunculus, later on,
   I crept to your cave at night,
And howled long, love-lorn howls in vain
   To my lady troglodyte.
And I grew insane at your cold disdain,
   And my howlings filled the place,
Till your father sought me out one night,
   And—again I yearned in space.

Then, light of my lives!  Is the time not yet?
   Say, in what distant life —
In what dim age that is still to come
   May I win and call you wife?
Still high above!  My love, my love!
   Nay, how can I raise my eyes
To you, my star of the Eocene,
   My ever elusive prize?

Lo, Time speeds on, and the suns grow cold,
   And the earth infirm and hoar,
And, ages past, we are here at last —
   Ay, both on the earth once more.
But, alas, dear heart, as far apart
   As e’er in this cosmic whirl;
For I’m but a lowly writer-man
   And you are a tea-room girl.

A Guide For Poits

(Compiled by the Sentimental Bloke)

I ain’t no verse-’og.  When I busts in song
   An’ fills the air wiv choonful melerdy,
I likes fer uvver coves to come along
   An’ biff the lyre in company wiv me.

So, when I sees some peb beguile an hour
   Be joinin’ in the chorus o’ me song,
I never sees no use in turnin’ sour;
   Fer singin’ days wiv no one larsts too long.

I’d like to see the Rocks an’ Little Lon
   Grow centres for the art uv weavin’ rhyme,
Wiv dinky ’arps fer blokes to plunk upon,
   An’ spruiking poits workin’ overtime.

I’d love to listen to each choonful lay
   Uv soulful coots who scorn to write fer gain;
To see True Art bloom down in Chowder Bay,
   An’ Culcher jump the joint in Spadger’s Lane.

Gawstruth!  Fer us life’s got no joy to spare,
   We’re short uv bird songs, “soarin’ clean an’ pure.”
A bloke is ’ardly orf the bottle there
   Before ’e’s in the jug—a bird fer sure.

So ’oo am I to say no blokes shall sing
   Jist ’ow an’ where an’ when sich blokes may choose?
She’s got no lines to show, nor yet no ring.
   Lor’ blim’me!  I ain’t married to me Muse!

An, square an’ all, to show there’s no offence,
   To show that in me ’eart true friendship lies,
I gives free gratis, an’ wivout ixpense,
   A few igzamples, just to put ’em wise.

First, choose some swingin’ metre, sich as this,
   That Omar used—per Fitz—to boost the wine.
An’ ’ere’s a point true artists shouldn’t miss:
   Sling in a bit o’ slang to ev’ry line.

An’ when yer full o’ them alternate rhymes —
As all the true push poits is at times —
Jist ring the changes, as I’m doin’ now;
An’ find ixcuse to say: “The bloomin’ cow!”

Or, comin’ back to Omar’s style again,
It’s easy fer to pen a sweet refrain
   Wiv this ’ere jist a dead-’ead sort o’ line,
An’ this one rhymin’ wiv the former twain.

An’ though this style me soul ’as often vext,
   Wiv care an’ pains the knack is easy cort;
This line’s rhymed wiv the first, an’ then the next
   Is cut orf short.
An’ if yeh want to round it orf orl neat
Just add a couplet ’ere of equil feet.

An’ ’ere’s a style I’ve very often done:
   You swing orf ’ere, an’ find a second rhyme,
Then hitch the third line to the leadin’ one.
   An’ make the fourth lap wiv the second chime,
   An’ then you sort o’ come another time,
An’ jist end up the same as you begin.

It’s orl dead easy when yeh know the way,
An’ ’ave the time to practise it—But, say,
   Although it sort o’ takes the eye, no doubt
(An’, mind yeh, I’m not sayin’ but it may) —
   Wivout a stock uv rhymes to see you out
This style o’ rhymin’s like to turn yeh grey.

The triplets comes much ’arder than the twins;
But I ’ave ’ad to bear ’em fer me sins.
   ’Ere, fer a single line, yeh change the style,
Switch orf an’ rhyme the same as you begins;
   An’ then yeh comes back at it wiv a smile,
   Pertendin’ it’s dead easy orl the while.

Them sawed-orf lines ’as often stood me friends;
Fer you kin cut ’em up to serve yer ends.
   An’ frequent I ’ave slung the dotin’ throng
                     This sort o’ song.
To ring su’prises on the eye an’ ear
Is ’arf the game.  It seems to kind o’ queer
   The dull monotony.  Yeh make a miss,
                     An’ then do this.

Aw, ‘Struth! it’s pretty; but you take my tip,
It gives a bloke the everlastin’ pip
  ‘Oo tries to live upon the game and gets. . . .
   Corns on ’is brain an’ melancholy debts!

Wiv sweat an’ tears, wiv misery an’ sighs,
   Yeh wring yer soul-case fer one drop of bliss
To give the cold, ’ard world; an’ it replies,
   “Prompt payment will erblige.  Please settle this.”

The rarest treasures of yer ’eart yeh spend
On callous, thankless coots; an’ in the end
It comes to this: if you can’t find a muse
‘Oo takes in washin’, wot’s the flamin’ use?

Grimbles And The Gnad

It was told me by a bushman, bald and bent, and very old,
Upon the road to Poolyerleg; and here’s the tale he told.
’Twould seem absurd to doubt his word, so honest he appeared—
And, as he spoke, the sou’-west wind toyed gently with his beard.

                    “First it was the Grimble Grubs,
                        Which they et his ’taters;
                    An’ all we buried in the end
                        Was Martin’s boots and gaiters.”

With this cryptic observation he began his anecdote;
And, when I sought particulars, he smiled and cleared his throat;
Then sat him down, and with his brown, rough hands about his knees
He told it all. And, as he spoke, his beard waved in the breeze.

                    “First it was the Grimble Grubs—
                        As I sez at startin’,
                    Which they et his tater crops,
                        Which it troubled Martin.”

Now, this Martin was a farmer with a scientific mind—
(It was thus the bushman started, as his beard blew out behind)—
He farmed the land and, understand, his luck was all tip-top,
Till them there little Grimble Grubs got in his tater crop.

P’raps you have heard of Grimble Grubs; more likely p’raps you’ve not;
When once they taste your ’taters you can look to lose the lot.
An’ poor Martin, he was worried till he met a feller who
Had read a book about the Swook, the which lives in Peru.

Now the Swook it is a beetle that inhabits Wuzzle Shrubs,
An’ it makes a steady diet of the little Grimble Grubs;
So Martin he imported some, at very great expense,
An’ turned ’em loose to play the dooce and teach the Grimbles sense.

                    Then he swore by Wuzzle Swooks—
                        Friends of cultivators—
                    Which they et the Grimble Grubs,
                        Which they et his ’taters.

But when the Wuzzle Swooks had et the Grimble Grubs right up,
Then they had to change their habits for to find a bit an’ sup;
So they started on his turnips, which was summat to their taste,
Till Mister Martin’s turnip patch became a howling’ waste.

Then he natural grew peevish, till one afternoon he heard,
From a Feller in the poultry line, about the Guffer Bird
Which is native of Mauritius and the woods of Tennessee,
An’ preys upon the Wuzzle Swooks for breakfast, lunch and tea.

                    So he got some Guffer Birds
                        Over from Mauritius,
                    Which the same by nature are
                        Very, very vicious:
                    Which they et the Wuzzle Swooks—
                        Plague of cultivators—
                    Which they et the Grimble Grubs,
                        Which they et the ’taters.

Then Martin swore by Guffer Birds, until one day he found
They’d et up all the Wuzzle Swooks for miles an’ miles around,
An’, havin’ still some appetite, an’ being’ mighty mean,
They perched upon his apple trees and stripped his orchard clean.

Here’s where Martin got excited; he was in an awful funk,
Until one day he read about the little Warty Swunk,
Which has his home in Mexico, an’ lives on Guffer Birds;
An’ Martin, being’ desperate, imported him in herds.

                    Then he praised the Warty Swunks,
                        Beady-eyed and vicious,
                    Which they et the Guffer Birds,
                        Native of Mauritius,
                    Which they et the Wuzzle Swooks—
                        Plague of cultivators—
                    Which they et the Grimble Grubs,
                        Which they et the ’taters.

Now them Swunks were simply wonders, an’ old Martin stopped his growls,
Till they et up all the Guffer Birds, an’ started on his fowls.
An’ the riots in his hen-house that occurred near every night
They robbed him of his beauty sleep an’ turned his whiskers white.

He was wearin’ to a shadder, till by accident he seen
A picture of the Bogggle Dog in some old magazine.
And the same he was notorious for huntin’ Swunks an’ such,
And for living’ on their livers which he fancied very much.

Now the Boggle Dog of Boffin’s Land is most extremely rare,
But Martin mortgaged house an’ home just to import a pair.
They was most ferocious animals; but Martin he was mad;
An’ he sooled ’em on the Warty Swunks with all the breath he had.

                    Oh, he loved the Boggle Dogs,
                        Called ’em “Dear” an’ “Darlin’”—
                    Fierce, ferocious Boggle Dogs,
                        With their savage snarlin’;
                    Which they et the Warty Swunks,
                        Beady-eyed and vicious,
                    Which they et the Guffer Birds,
                        Native of Mauritius,
                    Which they et the Wuzzle Swooks—
                        Plague of cultivators—
                    Which they et the Grimble Grubs,
                        Which they et the ’taters.

Then Martin he picked up a bit, an’ got his proper sleep,
Until he found the Boggle Dogs had taken to his sheep;
For Warty Swunks is hard to catch, and nimble on their feet,
An’ livers of merino lambs is just as nice to eat.

Now, I’m thinkin’ here that Martin must have gone a trifle mad,
Else he’d never have imported such a creature as the Gnad;
For the Gnad, though few folks know it, roams about the Boffin bogs
An’ he has a passin’ fancy for the flesh of Boggle Dogs.

But Martin he imported one with his last bit of cash,
An’ loosed him on the Boggle Dogs—an action worse than rash;
But the Boggles stayed in hidin’, for the Boggles were discreet,
And the Gnad he cast his eye around for something he could eat.

“Sool ’em, Towser!” shouted Martin dancin’ ’mid his ravaged crops;
But the Gnad regarded Martin as he slowly licked his chops.
An’ the last we seen of Martin, far as I can call to mind,
He was tearin’ round his paddock with the Gnad just close behind.

                    First it was the Grimble Grubs,
                        Which they et his ’taters,
                    Then it was the Wuzzle Swooks—
                        Plague of cultivators—
                    Then it was the Guffer Birds,
                        Native of Mauritius,
                    Then it was the Warty Swunks,
                        Beady-eyed an’ vicious,
                    Then it was the Boggle Dogs,
                        With their snarls and snortin’,
                    Till the bad ferocious Gnad
                        Finished his importin’.
                    An’ all because the Grimble Grubs
                        They got into his ’taters,
                    We never found a stitch of him
                        But blucher boots and gaiters.

Thus the bushman closed his story with a sympathetic sigh;
Then wrung my hand most heartily, and sadly said “Good-bye.”
And, as he went, ’twas evident he mourned his friend’s decease.
He bowed his head, and, as I’ve said, his beard waved in the breeze.


“The flamin’ cows!” ’e ses; ’e did, an’ worse;
    ’Twas ’orrible the langwidge that ’e used.
It made me blood run cold to ’ear ’im curse;
    An’ me that taken-back-like an’ confused;
    W’ile them poor beasts ’e belted an’ abused.
“They couldn’t shift,” ’e ses, “a blanky ’earse!
                        The flamin’ cows!”

“The flamin’ cows!” You oughter ’eard ’im curse.
    You would a bin that shocked. . . . An’ the idear!
’Im usin’ such remarks about a ’earse;
    An’ ’is own brother buried not a year.
    “Not move a blanky ’earse!” ’e ses. My dear,
You ’ardly could imagine langwidge worse.
                        “The flamin’ cows!”

“The flamin’ cows!” Wot would the parson say?
    An’ ’im so friendly-like with ’im an’ ’er.
I pity ’er; I do, ’cos, in ’er way.
    She is respectable. But ’im! It’s fur
    From me, as you well know, to cast a slur,
On anyone; but wot I ’eard that day. . . . 
                        “The flamin’ cows!”

“The flamin’ cows!” I know quite well that we
    Ain’t wot you’d call thin-skinned; and nasty pride
Is wot I never ’ad. . . . But ’er! . . . W’y she—
    She’s allus that stuck-up an’ full o’ side;
    A sorter thing I never could abide.
An’ all the time ’er ’usband. . . . Goodness me!
                        “The flamin’ cows!”

“The flamin’ cows!”    O’ course ’e never knowed
    That I was list’nin’ to ’im all the w’ile.
’E muster bin a full hour on the road;
    An’, Lord, you could ’a’ ’eard ’im for a mile.
    Jes’ cos they stuck ’im in that boggy sile:
“If they ain’t blanky swine,” ’e ses, “I’m blowed!
                        The flamin’ cows!”

“The flamin’ cows!”    W’y, if it ’ad occurred,
    An’ me not ’eard, I’d ’ardly think it true.
An’, you know well, I wouldn’t breathe a word
    Against a livin’ soul, I don’t care ’oo;
    Not if the Queen of Hingland arst me to.
But, oh! that langwidge! If you only ’eard!
                        “The flamin’ cows!”

“The flamin’ cows!” ’e ses,, an’ more besides.
    An’ fancy! ’Im! To think that ’e would swear!
W’y “Blarst!” ’e sez. . . .     Yes! “Blarst the’r blanky ’ides!”
    (Oh, you may well throw up your ’ands an’ stare!)
    Yes—“Blarst,” ’e ses, “the’r blanky ’ides an’ ’air!
I’ll cut the blanky skin off er the’r sides!
                        The flamin’ cows!”

The Joy Ride

Ah Gawd! It makes me sick to think
    Of what I ’eard an’ seen;
Poor ’Arry like a wet rag flung
    Across the wrecked machine;
An’ Rose, ’er face all chiner-white
    Against the gory green.

Now ’Arry Cox ’e drives a car
    For Doctor Percy Gray.
Ses ’e to me: “On Sund’y nex’
    The Doc will be away.
’Ow is it for a little trip
    To Fernville for the day?

“I know two bonzer girls,” ’e ses;
    “Fair ’otties, both, they are.
There’s Rose who serves behind the joint
    In Mudge’s privit bar,
An’ Lena Crump who jerks the pump
    Down at the Southern Star.”

Now, who’d refuse a Sund’y trip
    With girls an’ all give in?
The car was there an’ oil to spare.
    To rat would be a sin!
An’ who’d refuse a drop o’ booze
    When pals is flush o’ tin?

Wot all the courts an’ papers say
    Can’t add to my distress. . . . 
Rose, with the blood upon ’er face
    An’ on ’er crumpled dress!
An’ that poor champ who got the bump—
    Ah, Gawd! ’E was a mess!

The girls ’ad stout at ten mile out,
    An’ we was drinkin’ beer.
I swear they lies like ’ell who ses
    That we was on our ear!
For, or we was both, I take me oath,
    As sober as me here.

Now, Lena was a dashin’ piece,
    ’Igh-spirited an’ flash.
’Twas plain enough to me that day
    That ’Arry’d done ’is dash.
An’ Rose—(Ah! how ’er eyes did stare)
    Rose was my speshul mash.

It’s easy now fer folks to talk
    Who might ’ave done the same.
We meant no ’arm to anyone,
    An’ ’Arry knew ’is game.
’Twas like a flash, the skid—the crash.
    An’ we was not to blame.

I wisht I could shut out that sight;
    Fergit that awful row!
Poor Rose!    ’Er face all chiner-white,
    Like I can see it now;
An’ ’Arry like a heap o’ clothes
    Jist chucked there any’ow

They ses we painted Fernville red;
    They ses that we was gay;
But wot come after dull’s me mind
    To wot them liars say.
We never dreamed of death an’ ’ell
    When we set out that day.

’Twas ev’nin’ when we turned for ’ome:
    The moon shone full that night:
An’ for a mile or more ahead
    The road lay gleamin’ white:
An’ Rose sat close aside o’ me.
    ’Er face turned to the light.

Wot if we sung a song or two?
    Wot if they ’eard us shout?
Is song an’ laughter things to curse
    An’ make a fuss about?
“Go faster! faster!” Lena screams.
    An’ ’Arry let ’er out.

I’d give me soul jist to ferget.
    Lord!    how ’er eyes did stare!
’Er kisses warm upon me lips,
    I seen ’er lyin’ there.
Blood on ’er face, all chiner-white,
    An’ on ’er yeller ’air.

I never took no ’eed o’ pace
    (I’ve been on twenty trips).
An’ Rose was restin’ in me arms,
    ’Er cheek against my lips.
A precious lot I dream of skids,
    A lot I thought of slips.

I only know we never thinks—
    I know we never dreams
Of folk walkin’ on that road;
    Till, sudden, Lena screams. . . . 
An’, after that, the sights I saw
    I’ve seen again in dreams.

We never seen the bloke ahead!
    ’Ow can they call us rash?
I jist seen ’Arry move to shove
    ’Is arm around ’is mash;
I seen ’er jump to grab the wheel,
    Then, Lord! . . . there came the smash!

Aw, they can blame an’ cry their shame!
    It ain’t for that I care.
I held ’er in my arms an’ laughed. . . . 
    Then seen ’er lying’ there,
The moonlight streamin’ on ’er face,
    An’ on ’er yeller ’air.

The Homeward Track

Once a year we lumber southward with the clip from Yarradee;
Spell the bullocks in the township while we run our yearly spree.
What’s a bullocky to live for? Days of toil are hard and long;
And you’d not begrudge him yearly one short week of wine and song.
While it lasts he asks no better.  When it’s over “Yoke ’em up,”
And we’ll make another promise for to shun the brimming cup.
When we’ve done our little cheque in, and the township’s at our back;
Then we start to think of mending—out along the Homeward Track.

For there comes a time of reck’ning when we’re trudging by the team;
Back again to work an’ worry; kind of waking from a dream;
We begin to see the folly of a week of wicked fun,
Bought with months of weary slaving, punching bullocks on the run.
But our views are somewhat tempered when we’ve done a twelve months’ drouth;
And our thoughts ain’t so religious when the team is heading south.
When the pleasure is before us, work and worry at our back,
We forget the grim reformers out along the Homeward Track.

What’s the odds? It’s got to happen. What we’ve done we’ll do again;
And we know it while we make ’em, resolutions are in vain.
Life’s a weary track to travel, mostly full of ruts and stumps:
Them that spends their days in drudging have to take their joy in lumps.
Yoke ’em up an’ get a move on! Gayest times must have an end,
There’s a weary track to travel when we’ve nothing left to spend.
If there’s still a bob we’ll wet it, and a last glad joke we’ll crack,
Time enough for vain regretting when we’re on the Homeward Track.

Sore Throat

The pale young man he comes to me,
    An’ chats me good an’ fair;
“That langwidge that you use,” sez he
    “Pollutes the good clean air.
Why don’t you chuck sich silly rot,
An’ line-up with our ‘Clean-Lipped Lot?’ ”

Well, ’abit’s ’abit; there you are,
    An’ since I was a kid,
In school an’ shop an’ street an’ bar,
    I picked up words, I did.
To use the fancy swears I hear
Comes natural as sinkin’ beer.

An’, square an’ all, I got no use
    For them poor, shrinkin’ guys
Who, at the sound of choice abuse,
    Turn pale, an’ rolls their eyes.
Who fades and wilts an’ calls for nurse,
To hear a blithered soldier’s curse.

Beef an’ blood gravy’s fightin’ food,
    Not milk—but, all the same,
I came to see there ain’t no good
    In this crook langwidge game.
An’ so, a little vow I made,
An’ joined their swell “Clean-Lip Brigade.”

’Twas ’ard! But sternly I pursoo’d
    Me course; an’ wore a frown
Thro’ swallerin’ me speech unchewed,
    An’ chokin’ curse-words down.
Oh dear! It was a dreadful stunt!
Then, Gracious me! I hit the Front!

A feller in the firin’ line,
    Tied up with sich a gag,
Who has to curse by look an’ sign,
    He fair gets out the rag.
An’ so, I sez, each time I shoots,
“I’ll take it out of you, you ——broots!”

I don’t care what them goodies say,
    It’s cruel, fightin’ dumb!
To curse a bit, once in a way,
    Relieves your feelin’s some.
I kills four men in fair, clean fight,
An’ seven extra out uv spite.

An’ then there come the bay’nit charge;
    The blokes to left an’ right
They all was cursin’ fine an’ large,
    But I keep mum, an’ fight.
I plunks a Square-’ead in the wind,
“Annoying fellow! There!” I grinned.

With that, a great, big ’ulkin’ chap,
    Comes at me with a sword—
(The thing I needed in that scrap
    Was just one little word).
“Haw! You—you person—” I begun,
But, while I talks, he gets in one.

Fair in the neck I got that swipe,
    An’ crumbles in a heap;
An’ starts to think the time is ripe
    To ’ave a long, deep sleep.
“You are intensely rude,” I said.
An’ so, they leaves me there fer dead.

They invaleeds me ’ome, although
    The wound gives me no cares.
The cause of my complaint, I know,
    Was bottlin’ up me swears—
Congestion of them “Damns” denied;
It made me feel all swelled inside.

The pale young man he comes to me,
    “Ah friend,” he says, “How now?
Your lips are clean, I’m pleased to see,
    An’ you ’ave kep’ yer vow?”
“Me lips is bonzer,” I replied,
“But, ’Struth, me throat is scarified!”

When The Sun’s Behind The Hill

There’s a soft and peaceful feeling
Comes across the farming hand
As the shadows go a-stealing
Slow along the new-turned land.
The lazy curling smoke above the thatch is showing blue,
And the weary old plough horses wander home’ard two ’n’ two,
With their chains a-clinkin’, clankin’, when their daily toil is through,
                    And the sun’s behind the hill.

Then it’s slowly homeward plodding
As the night begins to creep,
And the barley grass is nodding
To the daisies, all asleep,
The crows are flying heavily, and cawing overhead;
The sleepy milking cows are lowing sof’ly in the shed,
And above them, in the rafters, all the fowls have gone to bed,
                    When the sun’s behind the hill.

Then it’s “Harry, feed old Roaney!”
And it’s “Bill, put up the rail!”
And it’s “Tom, turn out the pony!”
“Mary, hurry with that pail!”
And the kiddies run to meet us, and are begging for a ride
On the broad old “Prince” and “Darky” they can hardly sit astride;
And mother, she is bustling with the supper things inside,
                    When the sun’s behind the hill.

Then it’s sitting down and yarning
When we’ve had our bite and sup,
And the mother takes her darning,
While our Mary tidies up.
And Bess tells how the baldy cow got tangled in the wire;
And Katie keeps the baby-boy from tumbling in the fire;
And the baccy smoke goes curling as I suck my soothing briar,
                    When the sun’s behind the hill.

Then we talk about the season,
And of how it’s turning out,
And we try to guess the reason
For the long-continued drought.
Oh, a farmer’s life ain’t roses and his work is never done:
And a job’s no sooner over than another is begun.
For he’s toiling late and early from the rising of the sun
                    Till he sinks behind the hill.

But it grows, that peaceful feeling
While I’m sitting smoking there,
And the kiddies all are kneeling
To repeat their ev’ning prayer;
For it seems, somehow, to lighten all the care that must be bore
When the things of life are worrying, and times are troubling sore;
And I pray that God will keep them when my own long-day is o’er,
                    And the sun’s behind the hill.



Now, Ma-til-der!    Ain’t cher dressed yet? I declare, the girl ain’t up!
Last as ushul.    Move yerself, you sleepy’-ead!
Are you goin’ to lie there lazin’,
W’ile I—Nell, put down that basin;
Go an’ see if Bill has got the poddies fed;
Tell ’im not to move that clucky—ho, yer up, me lady, eh?
That’s wot comes from gallivantin’ late ut night.
Why, the sun is nearly—see now,
Don’t chu dare talk back at me now!
Set the table, Nell! Where’s Nell? Put out that light!

Now then, ’urry, goodness, ’urry! Mary, tell the men to come.
Oh there, drat the girl! MA-TIL-DER! where’s the jam?
You fergot it? Well, uv all ther. . . . 
Mary! ’Ear me tell you call ther. . . . 
Lord! there’s Baldy TANGLED IN THE BARB’-WIRE—SAM!
Now, then, take ’er steady, clumsy, or she’ll cut herself—LEAVE OFF!
Do you want the cow to—There! I never did!
Well, you mighter took ’er steady.
Sit up, Dad, yer late already.
Did ju put the tea in, Mary? Where’s the lid?

Oh, do ’urry! Where’s them buckets? Nell, ’as Bill brought in the cows?
Where’s that boy?  Ain’t finished eatin’ yet, uv course;
Eat all day if ’e wus let to.
Mary, where’d yer father get to?
Gone! Wot! Call ’im back! DAD! Wot about that ’orse?
No, indeed, it ain’t my business; you kin see the man yerself.
No, I won’t! I’m sure I’ve quite enough to do.
If ’e calls ter-day about it,
’E kin either go without it,
Or elst walk acrost the paddick out to you.

Are the cows in, B-i-ll? Oh, there they are. Well, nearly time they—Nell,
Feed the calves, an’ pack the—Yes, indeed ju will!
Get the sepy-rater ready.
Woa, there, Baldy—steady, steady.
Bail up. Stop-er! Hi, Matilder! MARY! BILL!
Well, uv all th’. . . . Now you’ve done it.
Wait till Dad comes ’ome to-night;
When ’e sees the mess you’ve—Don’t stand starin’ there!
Go an’ get the cart an’ neddy;
An’ the cream cans—are they ready?
Where’s the. . . . There! Fergot the fowls, I do declare!

Chuck!—Chook!—CHOOK! Why, there’s that white un lost another chick to-day!
Nell, ’ow many did I count?—Oh, stop that row!
Wot’s ’e doin’? Oh, you daisy!
Do you mean to tell me, lazy,
Thet you ’aven’t fed the pigs until jus’ now?
Oh, do ’urry! There’s the men ull soon be knockin’ off fer lunch.
An’ we ’aven’t got the. . . . Reach that bacon down.
Get the billies, Nell, an’—Mary,
Go an’ fetch the. . . . Wot? ’Ow dare ’e!
Bill, yer NOT to wear yer best ’at inter town!

Get up the cans, an’—Nell, go down the paddick with the lunch;
There’s that dog gone off with. . . . Bill, do ’urry on!
You must get to town in fas’ time.
Or you’ll miss the train like las’ time.
Oh, an’ Bill, if there’s SOME EMPTIES. . . . There, ’e’s gone!
Now then, Mary, ’urry up, or. . . . Ow!
TAKE IT FRUM ’IM, or ’e’ll chew it inter bits!
You’d no right to leave it out there
With them calves and things about there.
’Eavens wot a state! Dad’s best! My, you’ll get fits!

’Ave you washed the things, Matilder?    Oh, do ’urry, girl, yer late!
Seems to me you trouble more—TAKE CARE!—You dunce!
Now you’ve broke it!  Well I never!
Ain’t chu mighty smart an’ clever;
Try’n to carry arf a dozen things at once.
No back answers now! You hussy! Don’t chu dare talk back at me
Or I’ll. . . . Nelly, did ju give them eggs to Bill?
Wot? CHU NEVER? Well I. . . . Mary,
Bring them dishes frum the dairy;
No, not them, the. . . . Lord, the sun’s be’ind the hill!

* * * * * * * *

All right, Dad, all right; don’t worry. Now Matilder, goodness, ’urry!
Where’d ju put that pie that’s over? Wot? Which shelf?
Mary, wot about the tea things?
Must I alwis ’ave to see things
Managed proper? Can’t chu ’tend to it yerself?
Where’s that Bill? Wot! ain’t ’e back yet? Did ju ever see the like?
Dad, ju’ll ’ave to take an’ talk to that young Turk.
Ev’ry time ’e goes to town there,
’E just stays an’ loafs aroun’ there;
While ’e leaves us wimmin ’ere to slave an’ work.

’Ave you cleaned the sepy-rater, Nell? Well, get along to bed.
No; you can’t go ’crost to Thompson’s place to-night;
You wus there las’ Chusday—See, miss,
Don’t chu toss your head at me, miss!
I won’t ’ave it.    Mary, ’urry with that light!
Now then, get yer Dad the paper. Set down, Dad—ju must be tired.
’Ere, Matilder, put that almanick away!
Where’s them stockin’s I wus darnin’?
Bill an’ Mary, stop yer yarnin’!
Now then, Dad. Heigh-ho! Me fust sit down ter-day.

Hopeful Hawkins

Hawkins wasn’t in the swim at all in Dingo Flat,
    And to bait him was our chiefest form of bliss;
But, in justice, be it said that he had a business head.
    (That’s why I’m standing here and telling this.)

He was trav’ling for a company, insuring people’s lives;
    And stayed about a month in Dingo Flat;
But his biz was rather dull, and we took him for a gull,
    An amazing simple-minded one at that.

He was mad, he was, on mining and around about the town
    Prospected every reef. But worse than that—
He’d talk for half a day, in a most annoying way,
    On “The mineral resources of the Flat.”

He swore that somewhere nigh us was a rich gold-bearing reef,
    If a fellow only had the luck to strike it;
And he only used to laugh when the boys began to chaff,
    And seemed, in fact, to rather sort of like it.

Well, we stood him for a month until he wellnigh drove us mad.
    And as jeering couldn’t penetrate his hide
We fixed a little scheme for to dissipate his dream,
    And sicken him of mining till he died.

We got a likely-looking bit of quartz and faked it up
    With dabs of golden paint; then called him in.
Oh, he went clean off his head; it was gold for sure, he said.
    And if we’d sell our claim he’d raise the tin.

But we weren’t taking any—not at least till later on;
    For we reckoned that we’d string him on a while.
When he wanted information of the reef’s exact location
    We would meet him with a knowing sort of smile.

At last we dropped a hint that set him pegging out a claim,
    And we saw that we were coming in for sport;
For the next account we heard was when Hawkins passed the word
    He was fetching up an expert to report.

When we heard that expert’s verdict we were blown clean out of time,
    And absorbed the fact that we had fallen in.
The gold, he said, would run ’bout four ounces to the ton;
    With traces, too, of copper, zinc and tin.

Old Hawkins he was jubilant, and up at Peter’s store
    A lovely lot of specimens was showing;
And we gazed at them and groaned, for the truth had to be owned:
    We had put him on a pile without our knowing.

We couldn’t let the thing slip through our fingers, so to speak.
    There were thousands in the mine without a doubt.
So me and Baker Brothers, and half a dozen others,
    We formed a syndicate to buy him out.

Well, he said he’d not the money to develop such a claim,
    And he’d sell it if we made a decent bid.
So we made pretence at dealing, and it almost seemed like stealing
    When he parted, for five hundred lovely quid.

* * * * * * * *

We haven’t seen the vendor in the Flat for nigh a week,
    And we’re wishing, on the whole, he’d never come.
The confounded mine’s a duffer; for that simple-minded buffer
    He had salted it. The “expert” was a chum.

Hawkins wasn’t reckoned much at all in Dingo Flat.
    We’d a notion that his headpiece was amiss.
But we wish to have it stated, he was rather underrated.
    (That’s why I’m standing here and telling this.)


Tell you tales of pleasant cities, where processions never ending
Throng the streets at morn and even, while the traffic screams and roars;
                Where ’tis ever keen contriving,
                Each man with his neighbour striving;
Where tall houses hang together, and there ain’t no out-of-doors?

Sing you songs of crowds careering: days of rush and nights of clamour;
Where there’s ne’er a glimpse of greenwood to relieve the aching eyes.
                Not for me their schemes nor pleasures;
                Not for me their modes nor measures—
Give me life as strong men live it where the timber ranges rise.

    Where the timber-trucks come swinging down the curving hill-side track;
    Where the splitter trudges singing with his weekly tucker pack;
    Where the mountain ash is waving by the giant messmate tree—
    ’Spite the toiling, ’spite the slaving—that’s the place where I would be.

I can mock your traffic’s roaring when the winds sweep through the forest;
When the stars shine o’er the tree-tops I can scorn your glaring lights.
                You may keep your slum and alley—
                When the sun sets in the valley
There’s a scene I wouldn’t barter for a wealth of city sights.

Tell me not of fame and fortune won through striving with your fellows,
Power of purse, and pride in scheming: these are things that I despise.
                Give me health and strength to labour;
                Give me peace and love of neighbour;
Give me joys that strong men cherish where the timber ranges rise.

    When the bushland dawn, comes creeping, and the tree trunks catch the sun;
    When the forest wakes from sleeping, and the day-long toil’s begun,
    Then content within us waxes, and we scorn the world’s applause
    ’Mid the ringing of the axes and the droning of the saws.

Let me tread with axe ashoulder where the track winds through the hazel.
What care I for tricks and fashions of the sheltered city street?
                For we make no god of pleasure,
                And we form no cult of leisure
In the land where big trees flourish, in the land where big hearts beat.

Let me feel the pride of striving where the timbers crash and splinter;
Strength of arm and steady courage are the qualities we prize.
                Though we face our fortune gaily
                Danger lurks beside us daily—
Oh, there’s little room for weaklings where the timber ranges rise.

    When, above the welcome shingles lazy smoke, all curling blue,
    With the forest hazes mingles, and the long day’s toil is through;
    When across the little clearing children race with greeting cries—
    No man asks for further cheering where the timber ranges rise?


Oh, I’m sick of the whole darn human race,
    And I’m sick of this earthly ball;
I’m sick of the sight of my brother’s face,
    And his works and talk and all;
I’m sick of the silly sounds I hear,
    I’m sick of the sights I see;
Omar Khayyam he knew good cheer,
    And it’s much the same with me.

Give me a bit of a bough to sit
    Beneath, and a book of rhyme,
And a cuddlemsome girl that sings a bit,
    But don’t sing all the time:
That’s all I ask, and it’s only just;
    For it’s all that I hold dear—
A bough and a book and a girl and a crust;
    That, and a jug of beer.

Then I’ll cuddle my girl and I’ll quaff my ale
    As we sit on the leafy floor;
And when the book and the beer jug fail,
    I’ll cuddle my girl some more.
For jugs give out and books get slow.
    But you take my tip for square—
Though the bough and the book and the beer jug go,
    The girl, she’s always there.

I’m sick of the sound of my fellow’s voice,
    I’m sick of their schemes and shams;
Of trying to choose when there ain’t no choice,
    And of damning several damns;
So, give me a girl that ain’t too slow,
    You can keep your book of rhyme,
And your bough and bread and your beer. Wot O!
    And I’ll cuddle her all the time.

Hymn Of Futility

Lord, Thou hast given unto us a land.
    In Thy beneficence Thou has ordained
That we should hold a country great and grand,
    Such as no race of old has ever gained.
A favoured people, basking in Thy smile:
    So dost Thou leave us to work out our fate;
But, Lord, be patient yet a little while.
    The shade is pleasing and our task is great.

Lo, Thou hast said: “This land I give to you
    To be the cradle of a mighty race,
Who shall take up the White Man’s task anew,
    And all the nations of the world outpace.
No heritage for cowards or for slaves,
    Here is a mission for the brave, the strong.
Then see ye to it, lest dishonoured graves
    Bear witness that he tarried overlong.”

Lo, Thou hast said: “When ye have toiled and tilled,
    When ye have borne the heat, and wisely sown,
And every corner of the vineyard filled
    With goodly growth, the land shall be your own.
Then shall your sons and your sons’ sons rejoice.
    Then shall the race speak with a conqueror’s mouth;
And all the world shall hearken to its voice,
    And heed the great White Nation of the South.”

And Thou hast said: “This, striving, shall ye do.
    Be diligent to tend and guard the soil.
If this great heritage I trust to you
    Be worth the purchase of a meed of toil,
Then shall ye not, at call of game or mart,
    Forgo the labour of a single day.
They spurn the gift who treasure but a part.
    Guard ye the whole, lest all be cast away!

“Say, is My bounty worth the winning?”    (Lord,
    So hast thou spoken.    Humbly have we heard.)
“No son of man is born who can afford
    To pay Me tribute with an empty word.
Guard ye the treasure if the gift be meet.
    Win ye to strength and wisdom while ye may.
For he who fears the burden and the heat
    Shall gain the wages of a squandered day!”

Lord, we have heard. . . . Loud our Hosannas rang!
    Voices of glad thanksgiving did we lift.
From out the fullness of our hearts we sang
    Sweet hymns of praise for this Thy gracious gift.
Here, in one corner of the land, we found
    A goodly garden, where abundant food
We won, with scanty labor, from the ground.
    Here did we rest. And, Lord, we found it good!

Great cities have we builded here, O Lord;
    And corn and kine full plenty for our need
We have; and doth the wondrous land afford
    Treasure beyond the wildest dreams of greed.
Even this tiny portion of Thy gift,
    One corner of our mightly continent,
Doth please us well. A voice in prayer we lift:
    “Lord, give us peace! For we are well content.

Lord, give us peace; for Thou has sent a sign:
    Smoke of a raider’s ships athwart the sky!
Nay, suffer us to hold this gift of Thine!
    The burden, Lord! The burden—by and by!
The sun is hot, Lord, and the way is long!
    ’Tis pleasant in this corner Thou has blest.
Leave us to tarry here with wine and song.
    Our little corner, Lord! Guard Thou the rest!

But yesterday our fathers hither came,
    Rovers and strangers on a foreign strand.
Must we, for their neglect, bear all the blame?
    Nay, Master, we have come to love our land!
But see, the task Thou givest us is great;
    The load is heavy and the way is long!
Hold Thou our enemy without the gate;
    When we have rested then shall we be strong.

Lord, Thou hast spoken. . . . And, with hands to ears,
    We would shut out the thunder of Thy voice
That in the nightwatch wakes our sudden fears—
    “The day is here, and yours must be the choice.
Will ye be slaves and shun the task of men?
    Will ye be weak who may be brave and strong?”
We wave our banners boastfully, and then,
    Weakly we answer, “Lord, the way is long!”

“Time tarries not, but here ye tarry yet,
    The futile masters of a continent,
Guard ye the gift I gave? Do ye forget?”
    And still we answer, “Lord, we are content.
Fat have we grown upon this goodly soil,
    A little while be patient, Lord, and wait.
To-morrow and to-morrow will we toil.
    The shade is pleasing, Lord! Our task is great!”

But ever through the clamour of the mart,
    And ever on the playground through the cheers:
“He spurns the gift who guardeth but a part”—
    So doth the warning fall on heedless ears.
“Guard ye the treasure if the gift be meet”—
    (Loudly we call the odds, we cheer the play.)
“For he who fears the burden and the heat
    Shall glean the harvest of a squandered day.”

A Song Of Rain

Because a little vagrant wind veered south from China Sea;
Or else, because a sun-spot stirred; and yet again, maybe
Because some idle god in play breathed on an errant cloud,
The heads of twice two million folk in gratitude are bowed.

                    Patter, patter. . . . Boolcoomatta,
                    Adelaide and Oodnadatta,
                    Pepegoona, parched and dry
                    Laugh beneath a dripping sky.
                    Riverina’s thirsting plain
                    Knows the benison of rain.
                    Ararat and Arkaroola
                    Render thanks with Tantanoola
                    For the blessings they are gaining,
                    And it’s raining—raining—raining!

Because a heaven-sent monsoon the mists before it drove;
Because things happened in the moon; or else, because High Jove,
Unbending, played at waterman to please a laughing boy,
The hearts through all a continent are raised in grateful joy.

                    Weeps the sky at Wipipee
                    Far Farina’s folk are dippy
                    With sheer joy, while Ballarat
                    Shouts and flings aloft its hat.
                    Thirsty Thackaringa yells;
                    Taltabooka gladly tells
                    Of a season wet and windy;
                    Men rejoice on Murrindindie;
                    Kalioota’s ceased complaining;
                    For it’s raining—raining—raining!

Because a poor bush parson prayed an altruistic prayer,
Rich with unselfish fellow-love that Heaven counted rare;
And yet, mayhap, because one night a meteor was hurled
Across the everlasting blue, the luck was with our world.

                    On the wilds of Winininnie
                    Cattle low and horses whinny,
                    Frolicking with sheer delight.
                    From Beltana to The Bight,
                    In the Mallee’s sun-scorched towns,
                    In the sheds on Darling Downs,
                    In the huts at Yudnapinna,
                    Tents on Tidnacoordininna,
                    To the sky all heads are craning—
                    For it’s raining—raining—raining!

Because some strange, cyclonic thing has happened—God knows where—
Men dream again of easy days, of cash to spend and spare.
The ring fair Clara coveted, Belinda’s furs are nigh,
As clerklings watch their increments fall shining from the sky.

                    Rolls the thunder at Eudunda;
                    Leongatha, Boort, Kapunda
                    Send a joyous message down;
                    Sorrows, flooded, sink and drown.
                    Ninkerloo and Nerim South
                    Hail the breaking of the drouth;
                    From Toolangi’s wooded mountains
                    Sounds the song of plashing fountains;
                    Sovereign Summer’s might is waning;
                    It is raining—raining—raining!

Because the breeze blew sou’-by-east across the China Sea;
Or else, because the thing was willed through all eternity
By gods that rule the rushing stars, or gods long æons dead,
The earth is made to smile again, and living things are fed.

                    Mile on mile from Mallacoota
                    Runs the news, and far Baroota
                    Speeds it over hill and plain,
                    Till the slogan of the rain
                    Rolls afar to Yankalilla;
                    Wallaroo and Wirrawilla
                    Shout it o’er the leagues between,
                    Telling of the dawning green.
                    Frogs at Cocoroc are croaking,
                    Booboorowie soil is soaking,
                    Oodla Wirra, Orroroo
                    Breathe relief and hope anew.
                    Wycheproof and Wollongong
                    Catch the burden of the song
                    That is rolling, rolling ever
                    O’er the plains of Never Never,
                    Sounding in each mountain rill,
                    Echoing from hill to hill . . . 
                    In the lonely, silent places
                    Men lift up their glad, wet faces,
                    And their thanks ask no explaining—
                    It is raining—raining—raining!

The Bore

Ah, prithee, friend, if thou hast aught
    Of love and kind regard for me,
Tell not yon bore the stories droll
    That yesternight I told to thee.

Nor tell him stories of thine own,
    Nor chestnut of antiquitee;
Nor quip nor crank, nor anything
    If thou hast aught of love for me.

For sense of humour hath he none,
    No gift for telling tales hath he;
Yet thinks himself, within his heart,
    A wit of wondrous drolleree.

And in the golden summer-time
    With ear a-cock he roameth free,
Collecting quibble, quip, and crank;
    And anecdotes collecteth he.

Then in the dreary winter nights
    He sits him down ’neath my rooftree,
And in a coarse, ungentle voice
    He fires those stories back at me.

He hath no wit for telling tales,
    He laughs where ne’er a point there be;
But sits and murders honest yarns,
    And claims them as his propertee.

And when he laughs I rock and roar,
    And vow he’ll be the death o’ me.
For, mark thou, friend, my martyrdom—
    He is a creditor to me.

Ay, prithee, friend, if thou hast love
    For goodly jests or care for me,
Then tell him not the merry tale
    That yesternight I told to thee.

The Cultured Constable

Five nights agone I lay at rest
    On my suburban couch.
My trousers on the bedpost hung,
    Red gold within their pouch.
The twin-gods Law and Order seemed
To me all powerful as I dreamed.

My life was staid, my rates were paid,
    And peace was in my mind.
Nor recked I of unruly men
    To evil deeds inclined—
Strange, primal atavistic men
Who shock the peaceful citizen.

But all the same by stealth he came,
    A man of vile intent.
What cared he that my life was pure,
    Or that I paid my rent?
He willed to violate my shrine
For household treasures that were mine.

With purpose vile and with a file
    My window he attacked.
A stealthy scratch upon the catch
    Awoke me to the fact.
Softly, with sudden fear amazed,
A corner of the blind I raised.

I saw his face! . . . Oh, what a man
    His manhood should degrade,
And seek to rob (I checked a sob)
    Except in honest trade!
A predatory face I saw
That showed no reverence for Law.

With whirring head I slid from bed,
    Crept from my peaceful couch;
Forsook my trousers hanging there,
    Red gold within their pouch.
Out through my chamber door I fled
And up the hallway softly sped.

Into the murky night I stole
    To see a certain cop,
Whose forthright feet patrol the beat
    A stone’s throw from my shop.
In my pyjama suit went I. . . . 
Across the moon dark clouds swept by.

I saw him draped upon a post,
    Like someone in a swoon.
His buttons gleamed what time the clouds
    Released the troubled moon.
He gazed upon the changing sky,
A strange light in his dreamy eye.

“Now, haste thee cop!” I called aloud,
    And seized him by the arm.
“There is a wretch without my house
    Who bodes my treasure harm”. . . . 
Toward the sky he waved a hand
And answered, “Ain’t that background grand?”

“Nay, gentle John,” said I, “attend
    A thief my goods and gold
Seeks to purloin.    Go, seize the man
    Before the trail is cold!”
“Those spires against the sky,” said he,
“Surcharged with beauty are to me.”

I give the man in charge!” I cried,
    “He is on evil bent!
He seeks of all its treasured art
    To strip my tenement!”
He answered, as one in a dream,
“Ain’t that a bonzer colour-scheme?    

“Them tortured clouds agen the moon,”
    The foolish cop pursued,
“Remind me of some Whistler thing;
    But I prefer the nood.”
Said I, “Arrest this man of vice!”
Said he, “The nood is very nice.”

“My pants,” cried I, “unguarded lie
    Beside my peaceful couch—
My second-best pair, with the stripes,
    Red gold within their pouch!
Thieves!    Murder!    Burglars!    FIRE!” cried I.
Sighed he, “Oh, spires against the sky!”

Then, in my pink pyjamas clad,
    I danced before his eyes.
In anger impotent I sought
    His ear with savage cries.
He pushed me from him with a moan.
“Go ’way!” he said.    “You’re out of tone.”

“Why do I pay my rates?” I yelled—
    “The wages that you draw!
Come, I demand, good cop, demand
    Protection from the law!”
“You’re out of drorin’, too,” said he.
“Still, s’pose I better go an’ see.”

I guided him a-down the street;
    And now he stayed to view
The changing sky, and now he paused
    Before some aspect new.
And thus, at length, we gained my gate.
“Too late!” I cried.    “Alas, too late!”

Too late to save my household gods,
    My treasures rich and rare.
My ransacked cupboards yawned agape,
    My sideboard, too, was bare.
And there, beside my tumbled couch,
My trousers lay with rifled pouch.

“Now, haste thee, cop!” I called again,
    “Let not thy footsteps lag!
The thief can not be far away.
    Haste to regain the swag!” . . . 
His arms I saw him outward fling.
He moaned, “Where did you get that thing?”

With startled state I looked to where
    His anguished gaze was bent,
And, hanging by my wardrobe, was
    A Christmas Supplement—
A thing I’d got for little price
And framed because I thought it nice.

It was a Coloured Supplement
    (The frame, I thought, was neat).
It showed a dog, a little maid—
    Whose face was very sweet—
A kitten, and some odds and ends.
The title, rather apt, was “Friends.”

“Accursed Philistine!” I heard
    The strange policeman hiss
Between his teeth. “O wretched man,
    Was I hired here for this?
O Goth! Suburbanite! Repent!
Tear down that Christmas Supplement!

And, as athwart my burgled pane
    The tortured storm-wrack raced,
That man of Coptic Culture grew
    All limp and ashen-faced.
Then to my window seat he crept,
And bowed his head, and wept, and wept.

My Poor Relation

I have a poor relation, but
    He never troubles me.
He’s bowed with care; he wears an air
    Of abject misery.
Yet, I am happy to relate,
He never is importunate.

I meet him often in the street;
    Sometimes he speaks to me;
I know, indeed, he is in need—
    That’s very plain to see.
Yet, though he is in want, I own
He never asks me for a loan.

His cuffs are frayed around the edge;
    His hat’s a sight to see;
His coat is torn; his pants are worn,
    And baggy at the knee.
Yet, though his need is manifest,
He never brings me one request.

I know he often wants for food,
    His tradesmen are unpaid,
His life’s accurst with one large thirst
    That never is allayed.
Yet, ne’er by hint or sign does he
Suggest that it is “up to me.”

Is he too proud? Well, truly, no;
    To beg he’s not ashamed.
Yet, his neglect in that respect,
    Is scarcely to be blamed.
In fact he knows full well, you see,
That I am just as poor as he.

The Boon Of Discontent

    Once an anthropoidal ape,
    Hairy, savage, strange of shape,
On a day that was excessively B.C.,
    In a forest damp and dim,
    With his tail round a limb,
Hung head downward from a neolithic tree;
And appeared to be lost in gloomy introspection.

    In his dull primeval style,
    He considered quite a while—
A comparatively thoughtful ape was he—
    Then he drummed upon his chest,
    And remarked: “I give it best!
Strike me lucky! This ’ere game’s no good to me!
And I’m full up of the whole damn business!”

    To the father of the tribe
    He proceeded to describe
How upon a change of living he was bent.
    Said the Tory anthropoid:
    “Son, such thoughts you should avoid:
They are obviously born of discontent.
And such revolutionary notions would rend the whole social fabric.”

Since the Eocene,
    Till this age of Biplanes,
Man has ever been
    Yearning toward the high planes.
And while the Tory lags behind in by-ways worn and narrow,
’Tis the discontented section that shoves on the old world’s barrow.

    Once a naked troglodyte,
    On a bitter Winter’s night,
Sat and shivered in his cave the whole night through!
    For his scanty coat of hair
    In no manner could compare
With the matted clothes his late forefather grew.
(Meaning the meditative anthropoidal ape I mentioned previously.)

    And the troglodyte remarked,
    As without a wild dog barked,
And a dinosaurus lumbered through the fog,
    “I am sick of nakedness,
    And I’d like, I must confess,
To be shielded in the clothing of a dog.
And, hang me, if I don’t go after one in the morning.”

    He was met with scoffs and grins,
    When he walked abroad in skins:
And the troglodyte Conservatives cried: “Shame!
    Thus to hide the healthy nude
    Is obscene, indecent rude!”
But the malcontent felt warmer, all the same.
And so began the evolution of the split skirt and the hot sock.

Since the Age of Stone,
    To these Days of Reason,
Man has keener grown
    In and out of season.
’Tis through being discontented that humanity progresses.
If you’re satisfied with dog skins you will ne’er have satin dresses.

    Once upon a time, a slave
    Had an impulse to behave
In a most unprecedented sort of style.
    He threw down his tools, and cried
    That he wasn’t satisfied,
And all slavery was barbarous and vile.
(They probably boiled him in oil; but that’s merely incidental.)

    Once again, a man who rode
    In a coach disliked the mode
Of that locomotion. ’Twas too slow by far.
    He was filled with discontent;
    So he—or some other—went
And, in course of time, evolved the motor-car.
And, if ever you’ve had one scare seven devils out of you,
    you’ll know it for a very great invention.

    So, observe, this discontent
    To mankind is wisely sent
That he may be urged along to conquer new things,
    They who were quite satisfied,
    Like the Dinosaurs, died.
While the discontented anthropoids still do things.
And continue to be discontented, of course; but that’s all in the game.

Since the age of apes,
    To this generation,
Mankind thus escapes
    Absolute stagnation.
Here’s the only consolation my philosophy is giving:
Discontentment with existence is your sole excuse for living.

Son Of A Fool

Gyved and chained in his father’s home,
    He toiled ’neath a conqueror’s rule;
Bowed to the earth in the land of his birth;
    The Slave who was Son of a Fool.

Poor remnant he of a conquered race,
    Long shorn of its power and pride,
No reverence shone in his sullen face
    When they told how that race had died.
But the meed that he gave to his father’s name
Was a down-drooped head and a flush of shame.

Oh, the Fool had reigned full many a year
In the Land of the Bounteous Gifts,
Dreaming and drifting, with never a fear,
As a doomed fool pleasantly drifts;
And he ate his fill of the gifts she gave—
The Fool who was sire of a hopeless Slave.

Year by year as his harvest grew,
    He gleaned with a lightsome heart;
His barns he filled, and he sowed and tilled,
    Trading in port and mart.
Proud of his prowess in sport and trade
Was the Fool, who scoffed at an alien raid.

Little he recked of the gathering cloud
    That boded a swift disgrace.
Was he not seed of a manly breed,
    Proud son of a warlike race?
And he told of the deeds that his sires had done—
While he wielded a bat in the place of a gun.

Small were his fears in the rich fat years,
    Loud was his laugh of scorn
When they whispered low of a watching foe,
    Greedy for gold and corn;
A foe grown jealous of trade an power,
Marking the treasure, and waiting the hour.

And, e’en when the smoke of the raiders’ ships
    Trailed out o’er the northern skies,
His laugh was loud: “’Tis a summer cloud,”
    Said the Fool in his Paradise.
And, to guard his honor, he gave a gun
To the feeble hands of his younger son.

Oh, a startled Fool, and a Fool in haste
    Awoke on a later day,
When they sped the word that a foe laid waste
    His ports by the smiling bay,
And his voice was shrill as he bade his sons
Haste out to the sound of the booming guns.

And scarce had he raised his rallying cry,
    Scarce had he called one note,
When he died, as ever a fool must die,
    With his war-song still in his throat.
And an open ditch was the hasty grave
Of the Fool who fathered a hopeless Slave.

They point the moral, they tell the tale,
    And the old world wags its head:
“If a Fool hath treasure, and Might prevail,
    Then the Fool must die,” ’tis said.
And the end of it all is a broken gun
And the heritage gleaned by a hapless son.

Gyved and chained in his father’s home,
    He toiled ’neath a conqueror’s rule;
While they flung in his face the taunt of his race:
    A Slave and the Son of a Fool.

The Silent Member

He lived in Mundaloo, and Bill McClosky was his name,
But folks that knew him well had little knowledge of that same;
For he some’ow lost his surname, and he had so much to say—
He was called “The Silent Member” in a mild, sarcastic way.

He could talk on any subject—from the weather and the crops
To astronomy and Euclid, and he never minded stops;
And the lack of a companion didn’t lay him on the shelf,
For he’d stand before a looking-glass and argue with himself.

He would talk for hours on literature, or calves, or art, or wheat;
There was not a bally subject you could say had got him beat;
And when strangers brought up topics that they reckoned he would baulk,
He’d remark, “I never heard of that.” But all the same—he’d talk.

He’d talk at christ’nings by the yard; at weddings by the mile;
And he used to pride himself upon his choice of words and style.
In a funeral procession his remarks would never end
On the qualities and virtues of the dear departed friend.

We got quite used to hearing him, and no one seemed to care—
In fact, no happ’ning seemed complete unless his voice was there.
For close on thirty year he talked, and none could talk him down,
Until one day an agent for insurance struck the town.

Well, we knew The Silent Member, and we knew what he could do,
And it wasn’t very long before we knew the agent, too,
As a crack long-distance talker that was pretty hard to catch;
So we called a hasty meeting and decided on a match.

Of course, we didn’t tell them we were putting up the game;
But we fixed it up between us, and made bets upon the same.
We named a time-keep and a referee to see it through;
Then strolled around, just casual, and introduced the two.

The agent got first off the mark, while our man stood and grinned;
He talked for just one solid hour, then stopped to get his wind.
“Yes; but—” sez Bill; that’s all he said; he couldn’t say no more;
The agent got right in again, and fairly held the floor.

On policies, and bonuses, and premiums, and all that,
He talked and talked until we thought he had our man out flat.    
“I think—” Bill got in edgeways, but that there insurance chap
Just filled himself with atmosphere, and took the second lap.

I saw our man was getting dazed, and sort of hypnotized,
And they oughter pulled the agent up right there, as I advised.
“See here—” Bill started, husky; but the agent came again,
And talked right on for four hours good—from six o’clock to ten.

Then Bill began to crumple up, and weaken at the knees,
When all at once he ups and shouts, “Here, give a bloke a breeze!    
Just take a pull for half a tick and let me have the floor,
And I’ll take out a policy.” The agent said no more.

The Silent Member swallowed hard, then coughed and cleared his throat,
But not a single word would come—no; not a blessed note.
His face looked something dreadful—such a look of pained dismay;
Then he have us one pathetic glance, and turned, and walked away.

He’s hardly spoken since that day—not more than “Yes” or “No”.
We miss his voice a good bit, too; the town seems rather slow.
He was called “The Silent Member” just sarcastic, I’ll allow;
But since that agent handled him it sort o’ fits him now.


Aw, go write your tinklin’ jingle, an’ your pretty phrases mingle,
    For the mamby-pamby girl, all fluffy frill an’ shinin’ silk.
That’s the sort to bring you trouble, when you tries ’em, in the double.
    Blow your beauty! Wot’s the matter with the maiden ’oo can milk?
Them there rhymers of the wattle! An’ the bardlet of the bottle—
    ’Im that sings of sparklin’ wine, an’ does a perish for the beer;
An’ your slap-dash ’orsey poet! Why, if you blokes only know it,
    You ’ave missed the only subject fit to rhyme about down ’ere.
An’ although I ain’t a poet, with the bays upon my brow,
I consider that it’s up to me to sing about The Cow.

                        Cow, Cow—
                (Though it ain’t a pretty row,
It’s a word that ’ipnortises me; I couldn’t tell you how.)
                Though I ain’t a gifted rhymer,
                Nor a blamed Parnassus climber,
I’m inspired to sing a time er two about the Blessed Cow.

Oh, the cow-bells are a-tinklin’, and the daisies are a twinklin’—
    Well, that ain’t the style exackly I intended for to sing.
’Ark, was ever music greater then the buzzin’ sepyrater,
    Coinin’ gaily money daily for the—no, that’s not the thing!
’Omeward comes the cows a-lowin’, an’ the butter-cups are blowin’;
    But there’s better butter in the—Blarst! That ain’t the proper way!
See the pretty milkmaid walkin’—aw, it ain’t no use of talkin’.
    Listen ’ere, I want to tell you this: A COW’S THE THING TO PAY!
Sell your ’orses, sell your ’arrers, an’ your reapers, an’ your plough;
If you want your land to pay you, sacrifice your life to Cow.

                        Cow, Cow—
                Sittin’ underneath the bough,
With a bail, an’ with a pail, an’ with a little stool, an’ thou
                Kickin’ when I pull your teat or
                Swishin’ flies, the pretty creatur.
Ah, there ain’t no music sweeter—money squirtin’ from the Cow.

Listen to the lowin’ cattle. Listen to the buckets rattle,
    See, the sun is—(’ERE! YOU BILL! D’you mean to stay all day asleep?
’Ustle, or you’ll get a taste er—Wot? No cheek you flamin’ waster!
    This is wot I get fer payin’ ’ARF A QUID A WEEK AN’ KEEP!
Talk about your Unions, will you? Right, my covey, wait until you
    Come ’ere crawlin’—WHERE’S THAT SARAH? Ain’t she finished milkin’ Spot?
Is this wot I brought you up for; reared, an’ give you bite an’ sup for?
    ’Struth! A man’s own kids’ll next be talkin’ Union, like as not!
Garn, I ain’t got time to listen to your silly sniv’lin’ now.
Understan’ me, you was born an’ bred to THINK AN’ LIVE FER Cow!)

                        Cow, Cow—
                I’m a capitalist now
Tho’ I once was poor an’ lonely, an’ a waster I’ll allow.
                Now I’ve ’ands that I kin hector:
                I’m an Upper ’Ouse elector;
An’ the Sanit’ry Inspector is an interferin’ cow!

Talk about your modern schoolin’! Education’s wasteful foolin’!
    I got on all right without it—only teaches youngsters cheek—
(Where’s young Tom? Wot? Ain’t ’e back yet? Sam, go—
            ’Ere! YOU’LL GET THE SACK YET!
    Wastin’ time there, washin’ buckets! THEM WUS WASHED LAST TUESDAY WEEK!
Tell young Tom if ’e don’t ’urry, I’ll—. Now, mother, don’t you worry.
    I’ll deal Christian with ’im; but I’m not a Bible pa by ’alf.
That ole Scripture cove’s a driv’llin’; when ’is prodigal come sniv’lin’,
    Why, the blazin’, wasteful crim’nal GOES AN’ KILLS A PODDY CALF!
I’m no dotin’ daddy, but I know my duty, you’ll allow,
An’ the children of my loins is born to ’ave respect for Cow.)

                        Cow, Cow—
                (Bow your ’eads, you blighters, bow!)
Come an’ be initiated. Come an’ take the milky vow,
                Put your wife an’ fam’ly in it;
                Work ’em ev’ry wakin’ minit;
Fetch your sordid soul an’ pin it, signed an’ sealed an’ sold to COW.

The High Priest

Nay, why do foolish politicians strive
    To win a fleeting popularity?
In vain, in vain, they jealously contrive
    To turn the doting Public Eye from Me.
What was this land, this nation, destined for?
    For Art, Trade, Politics? All out of place.
Behold, I am the Sporting Editor!
                I call the race!

Reviewers, leader writers—what are they?
    Subs, poets, novelists? Scribes of a sort—
Mere puny scribbling creatures of a day;
    While I, the people’s idol, stand for Sport!
For mark, when inspiration falls on me,
    What recks the public of that nameless band?
I ope’ my lips, and wisdom, gushing free,
                O’erflows the land.

I lift my voice, and, lo! an army wakes—
    A mighty host, a hundred thousand strong—
To spread the message; while the nation quakes
    And thunders with the burden of my song:
Ten lengths from home ‘Gray Lad’ outstripped ‘The Witch,’
    And passed the post by just a short neck, first.

These are the words, the pregnant words, for which
                The land’s athirst.

They are the children of my brain, mine own!—
    These mighty words for which the people yearn;
The product of my genius alone!
    Would you begrudge the laurels that I earn?
Mark you, yon sturdy native, strong o’ limb,
    That leans against the lamp-post o’er the way—
Approach, and learn of my great fame from him.
                Approach and say:—

“Awake! Arise! A curse on him who waits!
    Behold, young man, thy country needs thy like;
The foeman’s hordes are panting at our gates.
    Arouse, young patriot, go forth and strike!
Awake, and cast thy reeking ‘fag’ away!
    Arise, and take the white man’s burden up!”
“I’ll lay you ten to one, in ‘quids,’” he’ll say:
                “Wot’s won the Cup?”

Behold, the High Priest of the people’s creed!
    Proclaim his genius loud. The bays! The bays!
Come, crown the Sporting Editor—indeed,
    He is familiar with bays—with grays.
Ten lengths from home!” How exquisite!    How chaste!
    “‘Gray Lad’ outstripped ‘The Witch’!” What style! What grace!
Come, beauty, twine a laurel wreath. Nay, haste!
                He calls the race!

The Philistine

Smith is a very stupid man;
    He lives next door to me;
He has no settled scheme or plan
    Of domesticity.
He does not own a gramophone,
    Nor rush for morning trains;
His garden paths are overgrown,
    He seldom entertains.

In all our staid suburban street
    He strikes the one false note.
He goes about in slippered feet,
    And seldom wears a coat.
I don’t know how he earns his bread;
    ’Tis said he paints or writes;
And frequently, I’ve heard it said,
    He works quite late at nights.

She’s quite a pretty girl, his wife.
    Our women-folk declare
It is a shame she spoiled her life
    By wedding such a bear.
And yet she seems quite satisfied
    With this peculiar man;
And says, with rather foolish pride,
    He is Bohemian.

He will not join our tennis club,
    Nor come to may’ral balls,
Nor meet the neighbours in a rub
    At bridge, nor pay them calls.
He just delights to scoff and sneer,
    And feigns to be amused
At everything we hold most dear—
    What wonder he’s abused?

Although he’s ostracized a deal
    He never makes a fuss;
I sometimes think he seems to feel
    He ostracizes us!
But that, of course, is quite absurd;
    And, risking the disgrace,
I sometimes say a kindly word
    When I pass by his place.

But still, although one likes to keep
    One’s self a bit select,
And not be, so to speak, too cheap,
    I’m broad in that respect.
So oft, on sultry summer eves,
    I waive all diffidence,
And chat across the wilted leaves
    That garb our garden fence.

But, oh, his talk is so absurd!
    His notions are so crude.
Such drivel I have seldom heard;
    His mode of speech is rude.
He mentions “stomach” in a bark
    You’d hear across the street.
He lacks those little ways that mark
    A gentleman discreet.

Good books he seldom seems to read;
    In Art all taste he lacks.
To Slopham’s works he pays no heed;
    He scorns my almanacks—
Framed almanacks! It’s simply rot
    To hear the fellow prate
About Velasquez, Villon, Scott,
    And such folk out of date.

He lacks all soul for music, too;
    He hates the gramophone;
And when we play some dance-tune new
    I’ve often heard him groan.
He says our music gives him sad,
    Sad thoughts of slaughtered things.
I think Smith is a little mad;
    Nice thoughts to me it brings.

Now, I have quite a kindly heart;
    Good works I do not stint;
Last week I spoke to Smith apart,
    And dropped a gentle hint.
He will be snubbed, I told him flat,
    By neighbours round about,
Unless he wears a better hat
    On Sundays, when he’s out.

Last Sunday morn he passed my place
    About the hour of four;
A smile serene was on his face,
    And rakishly he wore
A most dilapidated hat
    Upon his shameless head.
“This ought to keep ’em off the mat,”
    He yelled. I cut him dead.

Work Or Reflection

Now, I always have preserved a certain attitude
    Quite definite in reference to Work—
(’Tis futility concealing
That I have the Weary Feeling
    And tendency perennial to shirk)—
Still, I always strive to recognize the principle
    That earnest, steady toil is ever best;
So that, having recognized it,
Not to say idealized it,
    I would fain lay down my pen and take a rest.

For, you understand, to recognize a principle
    Is patently a virtue in itself.
After that you have the option,
Of its strenuous adoption,’
    Or the placing of it gently on a shelf.
For myself, I’m forced to own that though my theory’s
    A thing of beauty, even in the rough,
Dearth of cash supplies good reasons,
With the Passing of the seasons,
    That this simple recognition’s not enough.

        For it’s Work—Toil—Graft—
 accomplishment that matters in the end;
        And the act of recognition,
        Even by a politician,
            Has not ever yet been known to make or mend.
        And the man who holds a lamp-post up without much fret or fuss,
        He may “recognize a principle’, and feel quite virtuous.

We have read about the lives, in ancient history,
    Of the Doers back in ev’ry age and clime;
And their method of reforming
Was reflecting and performing,
    More especially the latter, every time.
But the man who sat and recognized the principles,
    And calmly left accomplishment to Fate,
May have won a reputation,
As a saviour of the nation,
    But his name has been suppressed, at any rate.

This has clearly been the rule since far antiquity:
    Before a thing is done a man must act;
And all progress lay in knowing
What to do, and straightway going
    And just working till reform became a fact.
But to stand on distant nodding terms with principle
    Has been a most unprofitable trick.
You may scan historic pages,
And right down throughout the ages
    Mere reflection never laid a single brick.

        For it’s Graft—Toil—Work,
 performance that is needed in the land.
        Recognition, by the student,
        Of the principle is prudent,
            But it never yet has shifted any sand.
        And Hell is full of futile folk who scorned the verb “to do,”
        Who “recognized the principle” but failed to see it through.

The March

In early, prehistoric days, before the reign of Man,
When neolithic Nature fashioned things upon a plan
That was large as it was rugged, and, in truth, a trifle crude,
There arose a dusky human who was positively rude.

Now, this was in the days when lived the monster kangaroo;
When the mammoth bunyip gambolled in the hills of Beetaloo;
They’d owned the land for centuries, and reckoned it their own;
For might was right, and such a thing as “law” was quite unknown.

But this dusky old reformer in the ages long ago,
One morning in the Eocene discovered how to “throw”;
He studied well and practised hard until he learned the art;
Then, having planned his Great Campaign, went forth to make a start.

“See here,” he said—and hurled a piece of tertiary rock,
That struck a Tory bunyip with a most unpleasant shock—
“See here, my name is Progress, and your methods are too slow,
This land that you are fooling with must be cut up. Now go!

They gazed at him in wonder, then they slowly backed away;
For “throwing” things was novel in that neolithic day;
’Twas the prehistoric “argument,” the first faint gleam of “art.”
Yet those mammoths seemed to take it in exceedingly bad part.    

Then a hoary, agéd bunyip rose, and spluttered loud and long;
He said the black man’s arguments were very, very wrong;
“You forget,” he said, indignantly “the land is ours by right,
And to seek to wrest it from us would be—well, most impolite.”

But the savage shook his woolly head and smiled a savage smile,
And went on hurling prehistoric missiles all the while,
Till the bunyip and the others couldn’t bear the argument,
And they said, “You are a Socialist.” But, all the same—they went.

Some centuries—or, maybe, it was æons—later on,
When the bunyip and the mammoth kangaroo had passed and gone;
While the black man slowly profited by what his fathers saw,
While he learned to fashion weapons and establish tribal law.

There came a band of pale-faced men in ships, from oversea,
Who viewed the land, then shook their heads and sadly said, “Dear me!”
Then they landed with some rum and Bibles and a gun or two,
And started out to “civilize,” as whites are apt to do.

They interviewed the black man and remarked, “It’s very sad,
But the use you make of this great land is positively bad;
Why, you haven’t got a sheep or cow about the blessed place!
Considering the price of wool, it’s simply a disgrace!”

Then they started with the Bibles and the rum—also the guns;
And some began to look for gold and others “took up runs,”
For, they said, “This land must be cut up; it’s simply useless so:
Our name is Progress, and you’re out of date, so you must go!”

But the black was most indignant, and he said it was a shame;
For he’d been full and satisfied before the white man came,
And he used a word unpublishable in his argument,
Which is native for “A blanky Buccaneer.” And yet—he went.

It’s the same old “march unceasing.” We are getting down the list,
And yesterday’s “Reformer” is tomorrow’s “Monopolist,”
For history will repeat itself in this annoying way:
Who stood for “Progress” yesterday is “Retrograde” to-day.

The Little Homes

We have heard the cheering, brothers,
    We have heard the martial peal;
We have seen the soldiers marching
    And the glint of sun and steel.
We have heard the songs, the shouting;
    But, while forth the soldier roams,
Who has heard the weeping, brothers,
                    In the Little Homes?

We have seen the gay processions
    And the careless, laughing crowds.;
We have seen the banners waving
    Out against the peaceful clouds;
Yet, while colors proudly flutter
    Over noble spires and domes,
Who has seen the mourning, brothers,
                    In the Little Homes?

From the Little Homes that nestle
    Where the smiling fields sweep wide,
From the Little Homes that huddle
    In the city, side by side,
They have called the eager fighters—
    Men who went with smiles and cheers;
Pride of wives and pride of mothers,
                    Pride that conquers fears!

What the Little Homes shall suffer,
    What the Little Homes shall pay
Must be more than sturdy fighters,
    More than women’s grief to-day.
In the years that follow after,
    Be our battles won or lost,
In the Little Homes, my brothers,
                    They shall pay the cost.

They shall pay the cost of glory,
    They shall pay the price of peace,
Years and many long years after
    All the sounds of battle cease.
When the sword is sheathed—or broken—
    When the battle flag is furled,
Still the Little Homes must suffer
                    Over all the World.

Have you seen the old grey mothers
    Smiling to the ringing cheers?
Have you seen the young wives striving
    Bravely to hold back the tears?
Have you seen the young girl marching
    By her soldier-lover’s side?
Have you, seen our country’s women
                    All aglow with pride?

Women of the little homesteads,
    Women of the city slums,
They are waiting, ever waiting;
    And the sound of muffled drums
In some stricken Home is echoed,
    Where grey Grief is guest to-day.
And to-morrow? Nay, the others
                    Still must wait—and pray.

Then, shall we think shame, my brothers,
    To give thanks upon our knees
That the land we love should hold them—
    Wives and mothers such as these?    
Women who still hide their sorrow
    As their soldiers march away,
Turning brave and steadfast faces
                    To the light of day?

Oh, the Little Homes are cheerful—
    Little Homes that know no pride
But the pride of sacrificing
    Loved ones to the battle tide!
They are many, many brothers,
    And their sacrifice is great.
Shrines are they and sacred places,
                    Where the women wait.

Aye, the Little Homes are holy
    At the darkening of day,
When young wives must face their sorrow,
    When grey mothers kneel to pray,
Magnifying, in dread visions
    Danger where the soldier roams,
Then God heed the lonely sobbing,
                    In the Little Homes.

The Bridge Across The Crick

       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, 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”.

    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.

    Up at Wombat Peter Dawking
        Held a meeting in the hall,
    And he’d spent an hour in talking
        On the far-flung Empire’s Call,
When a local greybeard, 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,
        Proudly patriotic man;
    Understand a mean suggestion
        Men like Peter never can,
Or that free enlightened voters look on all Great Things 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 were shrill with triumph, for that contest, shrewdly run,
In the House gave Jones’s Party a majority of one.

    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”.

    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.


(A Rhybe wridded for The Gadfly)

Whed your dose is code as barble,
    Ad you sduffle all the day,
Ad your head id is behavig
    Id a bost unbleased way;
Whed your ev’ry joid is achig
    With a very paidful cramb,
Whed your throat is dry ad tiglish,
    Ad your feed are code ad damb;
When your eyes are red ad rudding
    With the dears that will cub oud;
You cad safely bake your bind ub
    There is very liddle doubd.

You’ve got a code—a code—
    Ad idfluedzal code;
You cahd tell how you caughd id,
    But id’s a got a good firb hode.
Your face is whide, your eyes are pigk,
    Your dose is red ad blue;
Ad you wish that you were—

I dode wad to be a boed,
    Ad I do nod log for fabe,
But I have to wride to get by bread
    Ad budder, all the sabe.
Id is very aggravadig,
    Ad this world is very hard
Whed the idfluenza fasteds
    Od a sendibendal bard.
Oh, I caddod sig of subber skies!
    I caddod twag by lyre!
For all the buses id the world
    Are powerless to idspire.

I’ve got a code—a code—
    A bost udpleased code;
I caddod sig a sog ob sprig,
    I caddod bake ad ode.
For inspirashud will nod cub:
    I’b feelig very blue;
Oh, would that I was—

I have to wride adother verse,
    Ad dode doe whad to say;
But I’ve got to buy some bedicid
    To drive this code away;
Oh, the boed’s is a hard, hard life,
    His lod is very sore;
Ad if bisfortude cubs to hib,
    He has to toil the bore.
And dow, I thig I’ve bade enough.
    By wridig this last verse,
To go ad buy byself sub stuff
    Before by code gets worse.

I’ve got a code—a code—
    Ad agravadig code!
If I was well I’d wride you such
    A charbig liddle ode.
I’d sig of labkins od the sward,
    Bedeath the skies so blue,
If it wasn’d for the—

Vulgar Fractions

Now, when Bill, the pick and shovel man, or Archibald, the clerk,
    Undertakes to sell the labour of a day,
Then, for certain hours he works between the dawning and the dark,
    And delivers one day’s work for one day’s pay.
This industrial arrangement has advantages for both,
    If employer and employed are honest men.
And to doubt its simple justice I would be extremely loth;
    For no sophistry shall e’er pollute my pen.

In referring to this matter I assume you have a taste
    For the stuff that sporting blokes regard as rot,
Such as politics, arithmetic and economic waste.
    (You’re excused from reading farther if you’ve not.)
But arithmetic is boring to a certain type of man
    Who is loth to strain his intellect too far. . . . 
Which reminds me, opportunely, of the modern Party Plan
    And the story of T. Trimmer, M.H.R.

As a lad young Thomas Trimmer longed to serve the Commonweal;
    To devote to great reforms his manhood’s prime.
Oh, he yearned to serve his country with a patriotic zeal;
    And proposed to give the matter his whole time.
You will note the youthful ardour—His whole time, he said, no less.
    His WHOLE time! No task or trouble would he shun.
(We shall call this “whole” a unit to avoid untidiness;
    And to represent it use the figure “1.”)

Therefore “1” denotes the labour that young Trimmer meant to give
    To his country as a maker of its laws.
But he saw that if in politics he ever meant to live
    It was wisdom to espouse some Party cause.
Wherefore, Thomas joined a Party and became a Party Man;
    He secured the nomination later on,
And he won in the election when he subsequently ran.
    Which was excellent—so far as he had gone.

Now, when Thomas entered Parliament he found that half his job
    Was to keep himself before the public eye;
And he had to make good running with the fickle-minded mob
    Lest his Party should disown him by and by.
Thus we have a simple problem in subtraction, you will note:
    1 - 1⁄2 must = 1⁄2 ’tis plain,
But half his time to noble aims could Trimmer still devote,
    And so, we have small reason to complain.

But, what with Party meetings and no-confidence debates,
    He depleted this small 1⁄2 by just 2⁄3
Which was occupied in fanning Party jealousies and hates
    With redundant and unprofitable words.
Thus the first 1⁄2 + 1⁄3 must give 5⁄6 in answer; so,
    When 5⁄6 is given to the Party cause,
Of the whole there must remain, as any simpleton should know,
    Just 1⁄6 to spend in framing splendid laws.

But 1⁄6 of any busy politician’s working day
    Is as much as any country should expect;
Yet Thomas found that, as the Party game he had to play,
    There were other matters he could not neglect.
Organizing, engineering, and a dozen other things,
    Of the 1⁄6 remaining, claimed at least 1⁄3
And a simple calculation to 1⁄9 the answer brings—
    Which, to quote the famous Euclid, is absurd.

Yet, one whole ninth of Trimmer’s time the grateful country gained,
    Till he chanced to get unhappily involved
In a private row that claimed 10⁄17 of what remained
    But I think we’ll let this problem go unsolved—
Not because I couldn’t do it!—(Mathematics, I may say,
    Are my hobby)—but for purposes of rhyme.
From the ninth you merely have to take ten seventeenths away,
    And—well, you can work it out when you have time.

If you then deduct 3⁄7 of the answer, in the end
    You will strike the final fraction—more or less—
For a fairly large proportion of his time he had to spend
    Keeping solid with the watchful Party Press.
And, of course, there were occasions when the whole thing made him sick;
    And we might deduct 1⁄10 for that, no doubt.
It’s an entertaining problem, if you like arithmetic;
    And I trust you’ll find the time to work it out.

I advise you to attempt it; for the simple sum I’ve set
    Is a task an earnest student shouldn’t shirk;
And the answer is the portion that the glad electors get
    Of a busy Party politician’s work.
Trimmer ceased his calculations when the vulgar fractions failed,
    And he had to take to decimals instead.
So, although his young resolve to serve the land has not prevailed,
    He’s “a solid Party man” I’ve heard it said.

Well, the plenitude of politicians in our native land
    Is a matter frequently remarked upon;
But, assuming you’re intelligent, the cause you’ll understand
    If you’ve followed me as far as I have gone.
Let us make the fraction lib’ral: if 1⁄20 we’ll say,
    Of a “statesman’s” day is ours, ’tis plain to see
That it takes just twenty “statesmen” to put in one working day
    For the country. (Still more Euclid)—Q.E.D.

I commend your patience, brother, if you’ve followed me thus far;
    And, in metaphor, I pat you on the back.
Let me add, in peroration, that T. Trimmer, M.H.R.
    Is quite typical of any Party hack.
Then perhaps you’ll do some thinking when you hear a wordy storm
    Of objection from the “solid Party man,”
When the theme’s Elected Ministries and similar reform:

For, when Bill, the pick and shovel man, or Archibald, the clerk,
    Sells his labour for a week at sixty bob,
Then he doesn’t waste his boss’s time and money like a nark
    In attempts to do the foreman for his job.
This industrial arrangement—so much work for so much pay—
    Seems to suit the ordinary working man;
And we’ve yet to see the office or the workshop of to-day
    Working smoothly on the “Good Old Party Plan.”

The Minglers

I hold by stern morality,
    Despite the worldlings’ scoffing;
But when I sit beside the sea
    And gaze into the offing
The bathers, mingling on the beach,
Stir thoughts I cannot put in speech.

Indeed, my sad soul loathes a sight
    So ill to minds ascetic;
Yet from the narrow path of right
    I feel a tug magnetic
That seeks to draw me o’er the sand,
Out to the siren-haunted strand.

“Come, mingle,” sings the restless sea.
    This urging sorely vexes.
E’en fish, when caught and tinned, may be
    Unwed and mixed in sexes.
But who has heard of potted sin,
Or found temptation in a tin?

Hark, by the seaside yester eve
    I had a wondrous vision.
The sun was just about to leave
    With his well-known precision,
When I espied upon the sand
A tin of a familar brand.

And, as I gazed, my limbs grew limp
    And giddiness came o’er me;
For from it stepped a fish-like imp
    That smirked and bowed before me;
His puckered features seemed to be
Awry with spite and devilry.

“Young man,” he said, “You’re wasting time.
    Why do you sit there mooning?
So brave a youth, just in his prime,
    Should find more joy in spooning.
For, see! the ocean hath its pearls;
Go forth and mingle with the girls!”

And from the tins that lay about
    Upon the silver shingle
I heard a wee shrill chorus shout,
    “Young man, go forth and mingle!”
And then I knew each empty tin
Concealed its special imp within.

I felt the red blood course anew,
    I felt my pulses tingle;
And still the tiny chorus grew;
    “Young man, go forth and mingle!”. . . . 
Then, from an old, bashed can I saw
A lordly lobster wave a claw.

“Good fellow, have a care!” he said,
    “Stray not from pathways upper!
I am the ghost of one long dead,
    Slain for a sinful supper.
But once good works were done by me
Among the sinners of the sea.

“In life I roamed the vasty deep
    Engaged upon a mission,
Which was my fellow-fish to keep
    From swimming to perdition.
Now I am dead” (his voice grew thin),
“Alas! they mingle in the tin!

“Beware the blood that bounds and leaps!
    Your sinful feelings throttle.
Beware the imp that leers and peeps
    From out each tin and bottle!
A submarine reformer speaks.
Beware when gay Belinda squeaks!”

Lo, as he spoke my blood grew chill,
    The spell no longer bound me,
The impish chorus now was still
    And silence reigned around me.
The ghostly lobster disappeared;
My heart of base desire was cleared.

But, to this day, I feel a thrill
    ’Mid tins upon the shingle;
I seem to hear that chorus shrill:
    “Young man, go forth and mingle!”. . . . 
But then I hear the lobster’s voice,
And, knowing I am saved, rejoice.

The Austral—aise

Fellers of Australier,
    Blokes an’ coves an’ coots,
Shift yer —— carcases,
    Move yer —— boots.
Gird yer —— loins up,
    Get yer —— gun,
Set the —— enermy
    An’ watch the —— run.

    Get a —— move on,
        Have some —— sense.
    Learn the —— art of
        Self de- —— -fence.

Have some —— brains be-
    Neath yer —— lids.
An’ swing a —— sabre
    Fer the missus an’ the kids.
Chuck supportin’ —— posts,
    An’ strikin’ —— lights,
Support a —— fam’ly an’
    Strike fer yer —— rights.

    Get a —— move on, etc.

Joy is —— fleetin’,
    Life is —— short.
Wot’s the use uv wastin’ it
    All on —— sport?
Hitch yer —— tip-dray
    To a —— star.
Let yer —— watchword be
    “Australi- —— ;-ar!”

    Get a —— move on, etc.

’Ow’s the —— nation
    Goin’ to ixpand
’Lest us —— blokes an’ coves
    Lend a —— ’and?
’Eave yer —— apathy
    Down a —— chasm;
’Ump yer —— burden with
    Enthusi- —— -asm.

    Get a —— move on, etc.

W’en the —— trouble
    Calls yer native land
Take a —— rifle
    In yer —— ’and
Keep yer —— upper lip
    Stiff as stiff kin be,
An’ speed a —— bullet for
    Pos- —— -terity.

    Get a —— move on, etc.

W’en the —— bugle
    Sounds “Ad- —— -vance”
Don’t be like a flock er sheep
    In a —— trance
Biff the —— foeman
    Where it don’t agree
Spifler- —— -cate him
    To Eternity.

    Get a —— move on, etc.

Fellers of Australier,
    Cobbers, chaps an’ mates,
Hear the —— enermy
    Kickin’ at the gates!
Blow the —— bugle,
    Beat the —— drum,
Upper-cut an’ out the cow
    To kingdom- —— -come!

    Get a —— move on,
        Have some —— sense.
    Learn the —— art of
        Self de- —— -fence.


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