The Dream And The Cup
Here my fancy finished; so,
Dreaming, I could clearly see
How he galloped. This was no
Spectacle of misery.
There I gazed, upon my pet
Leading ev'ry other horse.
I can see the picture yet.
Later I was at the course.
I can see the picture yet:
Leading ev'ry other horse.
There I gazed upon my pet
Spectacle of misery!
How he galloped! This was no
Dreaming! I could clearly see
Here, my fancy finished - so!
A Forest Scene
As I went down a forest place
At the closing of the year
To find me peace, and gather grace
In this green gladness here.
I saw a scene I knew of old,
In many a year gone by
A loveliness to have and hold
Here, with the gully waters cold,
And the bland, blue peeping sky.
And I saw the blue wrens trooping near,
And I heard the thrushes call,
And found surcease from worldly fear
For a peace was over all.
And my mind went back to long ago,
For here was a scene I knew
Where the gums and ancient tree ferns grow,
And the ever-lasting waters flow,
And life yields little new.
And I thought of the world - of the world of men,
Who ever seek them change,
And haste, and hectic, haste again
To a goal beyond their range.
And I heard the thrush and the blue wren there
Fluting their songs of glee
For them this world was passing fair,
And they found content and gladness there.
Why came not peace to me?
Then I saw life, as men see life
I who am but a man;
And I dreamed of a scene devoid of strife,
Built on the good God's plan.
And I came me back from that forest place,
With a dream to have and hold,
Of men with naught but life to face,
Of men grown young in simple grace,
And the birds and the bush grown old!
'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 'earee!' '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 'i! 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 out the blanky skin off er the'r sides!
The flamin' cows!'
The Cab Horses' Story
Now, you wouldn't imagine, to look at me,
That I was a racehorse once.
I have done my mile in - let me see
No matter. I was no dunce.
But you'd not believe me if I told
Of gallops I did in days of old.
I was first in - ah, well! What's the good?
It hurts to recall those days
When I drew from men, as a proud horse should,
Nothing but words of praise:
Oh, the waving hats, and the cheering crowd!
How could a horse help being proud?
My owner was just as proud as I;
I was cuddled and petted and praised.
My fame was great and my price was high,
And every year 'twas raised.
Then I strained a sinew in ninety-nine,
And that's when started my swift decline.
I was turned to grass for a year or so;
Then dragged to an auction sale;
And a country sport gave me a go;
But how could I hope but fail?
'A crock,' said he. And I here began
To learn of the ways of cruel man.
A year I spent as a lady's hack
I was growing old and spent
But she said that the riding hurt her back;
So we parted; and I went
For a while - and it nearly broke my heart
Dragging a greasy butcher's cart.
Then my stifle went. And I, proud horse,
Son of the nobly born,
The haughty king of a city course,
Knew even a butcher's scorn!
So down the ladder I quickly ran;
Till I came to be owned by a bottle man.
And my bed was hard and my food was poor,
And my work was harder still
Dragging a cart from door to door
The slave of Bottle-oh Bill.
Till even he, for a few mean bob,
Sold me into this hateful job.
As I dozed and dreamed in the ranks one day,
Thinking of good days past,
I heard a voice that I knew cry, 'Hey!
Say, cabby, is this horse fast?'
And he looked at me in a way I know.
'Twas the man I'd loved in the long ago.
'Twas my dear, old master of ninety-nine,
And I waited, fair surprised.
But ne'er by a look and ne'er by sign
Did he show he recognised.
Then I heard his words ('twas my last hard knock):
'Why don't you pole-axe the poor old crock?'
And he turned aside to a low-bred mare
That was foaled on some cockie's farm,
And he drove away. What do I care?
I can come to no more harm.
In a knacker's yard I am worth at least
Some pence for a hungry lion's feast.
Peace, perfect peace. . . . Come, lay aside your gun.
The danger zone is past; the gauntlet run.
The bark of Scylla ceases on her shore,
And grim Charybdis threatens us no more.
Respite, Nepenthe, leaning-posts and beer!
Football and horses! Breathing time is here!
O witless fools, who, with your cry, 'To Arms!'
Your warnings venomous, and false alarms,
Sought to estrange us from our yellow friends,
Thus all your potter and your bunkum ends!
We are secure once more; we breathe again.
No further need is there for ships or men.
'The Treaty is renewed!' Hip, Hip, Hooray! . . .
Now let us dream the happy hours away.
One pen-stroke! and our liberty appears
Secure again, for ten long, blissful years.
A diplomat or two, a little ink,
Some paper, and, Hi Presto! in a wink,
The Yellow Peril vanishes from sight,
Like vague dream shadows of a restless night.
Let gentleness and peace overspread the land;
And bid our infant warriors disband.
The War-god broods o'er Europe even yet?
What matter? We've a decade to forget
That e'er we dreamed we heard the grim dogs bark.
What child at noon is fearful of the dark?
The forges of the nations still are lit?
Their anvils ring? What do we reek of it?
With ten long years of peace and joy and light,
We laugh at our vague terrors of the night.
Are truces ever broken? Treaties scorned?
Statesmen corrupted? Diplomats suborned?
Perish the thought! What if, in some far day,
Some foreswom nation flung its bond away?
Shall we, for such as that, forego our joy,
And start at shadows, like a frightened boy?
Shall croaking pessimists, with mild alarms,
Force us, all needlessly, to fly to arms?
Down with the dolts who prate of ships and guns!
Stern Mars shall not enslave Australia's sons.
Come, gag the fools who urge us to defend
Our ports against our harmless yellow friend!
Their words are insults; their aggressiveness
May give him pain, and cause us much distress.
Ab, gaze on him! as he steps forth to sign -
Say, is his smile not peaceful and benign?
Ten years to hoard the gold in shop and mart;
Ten peaceful years to play the trader's part;
To tend the sheep; to watch the green corn sprout
To cheer the race; to gaily clap and shout
At sports of children, played by heedless men.
Ten years of sweet Areadia - and then? . . .
Heed not the voice that thunders the alarm:
'Ten years to play the man! Ten years to arm!'
(O God of Battles, who, thus long, hath spared
A heedless nation, grant we be prepared!
Ten pregnant years! Tens canty years of grace,
To make or mar the fortune of a race.
Grim years of strenuous and unceasing toil,
That all may not become a foeman's spoil -
That it may not be told, some fateful day:
'Ten years they had; ten years they fooled away.')
Peace, perfect peace. . . Ho, let the fun begin,
And split the welkin with a joyous din!
Charybdis grim has ceased to roar and rave,
And Scylla sits demurely in her cave.
Ho! clash the cymbals, and begin the race!
And thank the gods we have a breathing-space.
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 far 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 dropp 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 have 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 it 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.
'I Dips Me Lid'
'Young sir,' 'E sez . . . Like that . . . It made me feel
Romantic like, as if me dream was reel.
'Is dress was fancy, an' 'is style was grave.
An' me ? I 'ope I know 'ow to be'ave
In 'igh-toned company, for ain't I been
Instructed careful by me wife, Doreen ?
' Sing small,' she sez. An' that's iist wot I did.
I sounds me haitches, an' I dips me lid.
'Young sir,' 'e sez . . . O' course you understand
'Twus jist a dream. But, on the other 'and,
E seemed so reel as 'e sat spoutin' there
Beside me on ole Dame Macquarie's Chair,
Lookin' across the 'arbor while 'e talked-
Seemed sumpthink more that jist a ghost 'oo walked
Out o' the past . . . 'Phillip by name,' 'e said.
A queer ole cock, wif lace, an' wig on 'ead.
It 'appened this way: I 'ad jist come down,
After long years, to look at Sydney town.
An' 'struth! Was I knocked endways? Fair su'prised?
I never dreamed! That arch that cut the skies
The Bridge! I never thort there could 'a' been-
I never knoo, nor guessed - I never seen . . . .
Well, Sydney's 'ad some knocks since I been gone,
But strike! This shows she keeps on keepin' on.
I'd strolled about the town for 'arf a day
Then dragged me carcass round the 'arbor way
To view the Bridge from Dame Macquarrie's Chair
Then parks me frame, an' gits to thinkin' there-
Thinkin' of older days; an' I suppose
I must 'ave nodded orf into a doze.
Nex' thing I knoo, ole Phillip come an' sat
Beside me, friendly like, an' starts to chat.
'Young sir,' 'e sez. 'You, too, in sheer amaze
Look upon this, and hark to other days,
An' dream of this fair city's early start.
In which ('e bows) I played my 'umble part-
My 'umble part - a flagpole an' a tent.'
'Come orf!' sez I. 'You was a fine ole gent.
Reel nob. I've read about the things you did.
You picked some site.' ('E bows. I dips me lid).
'Young sir,' 'e sez. 'I've dwelt in spirit 'ere
To watch this city waxin' year by year:
But yesterday, from a mere staff, a tent,
Wonder on wonder as the swift years went-
A thrivin' village, then a busy town,
Then, as a stride, a city of renown.
Oh! what a wondrous miracle of growth
Think you not so?' 'Too right,' I sez. 'My oath!'
'I've watched, young sir,' 'e sez. 'An' I 'ave feared
Sometimes; feared greatly when ill days appeared.
Yet still they fought and wrought. I had small need
To doubt the great heart of this sturdy breed.
Black war has come. Yet, over half a world,
Their sons into that bloody fray they hurled
And still they triumphed. Still their lodestar shone.'
'Sure thing,' sez I. ' They kep' on keepin' on.'
'Young sir,' 'e sez. 'The tears well in my eyes
When I behold von arch that cleaves the skies -
That mighty span, triumphant, where we view
My old friend Darwin's vision now made true:
'There the proud arch, Colossus-like, bestride
Yon glittering stream and bound the chafing tide!
'Twas so he dreamed a few short years agone.
Spoke truly, sir; they keep on keeping on.'
So Phillip spoke 'is piece, fair puffed wif pride.
An' 'im an' me dreamed by the 'arbor-side
I, of the scene before, of years to be,
An' of the marvels that men yet might see
'Im, of a lantern gleamin' thro' the fog
To light a tent, an' two men, an' a dog . . . .
Then both of us, like some queer instinct bids,
Stands up, serloots the Bridge, an' dips our lids.
It was thus in the beginning: With a sporting chance of winning,
Jones contested an election years ago.
He was young, enthusiastic, and maintained that measures drastic
Were imperative to save the land from Woe.
For the laudable admiration of this budding politician,
Who with zeal to serve his bleeding country burned,
Was to make a reputation as a saviour of the nation,
And a clean and honest statesman - if returned.
The electors took a fancy to the youngster, and the chance he
Had of winning was improved where'er he went.
His high motives were respected, and, in short, he was elected;
And an Honest Man went into Parliament.
Went in to strive for glory where there held a system hoary,
Founded on the good old English party plan.
Wherefore Jones, half understanding things, submitted to the branding,
And became, perforce, a solid party man.
But when he heard a mention of the Whip
He gave answer, as he curled a scornful lip,
And his honest zeal upbore him,
That his course was plain before him,
Just the clean, straight course of earnest statesmanship.
For young Jones held notions utterly absurd;
And the old campaigners sniggered when they heard
That young patriot unfolding
His stern views, and Truth upholding,
But he meant it, when he said it, ev'ry word.
For a time, in all debating, Jones was famed for boldly stating
Plain, blunt truths and keen uncomfortable facts;
Till his colleagues grew uneasy, for, in fashion bland and breezy,
He proposed to back his burning words with acts.
And they told him, with much cunning, that he might be in the running
For the leadership if he'd consent to hedge.
He was bold, ambitious, clever, but advance, they said, he'd never
While he clung to childish notions of his pledge.
Brave young Jones at first was scornful; but, ere long, with visage mournful,
He sat down to think on what he stood to lose.
And his party friends, with caution, hinted honours were his portion
If he'd but consent to water down his views.
And they e'en suggested slyly that, although they valued highly
His great services, defiance was not meet.
Till, his splendid dream departing, Jones saw plainly that a parting
With his party meant a parting with his seat.
It was then he heard the cracking of the Whip
And he found the System had him in its grip,
On the one hand was devotion
To his duty, with promotion
On the other, and the hope of leadership.
For he'd come unto the parting of the ways,
And he hearkened to the voice of fulsome praise
To the promise of preferment,
And - there happened the interment
Of the self-respecting Jones of other days.
Step by step he climbed the ladder: now a wiser if a sadder
And a meaner politician, till he led,
And his party, though erratic, was lukewarmly democratic;
Thus he strove to soothe his conscience on this head.
But there came a day of clamour when his colleagues vowed the glamour
Of his visions was all bunkum and a myth;
For these champions of the nation had perceived their sole salvation
Lay in fusing with the Tory leader, Smith.
Jones at first held out, refusing all suggestions of his fusing
With this person he had hitherto abused.
But he marked his sullen backing, and he heard the whip a-cracking,
Then he abjectly surrendered all, and - 'fused' ...
Jones is now a semi-leader. O, consider, gentle reader;
Think, how many politicians can you name
Who, though starting straight and cleanly, have surrendered weakly, meanly,
When their party bid them fuse and 'play the game'?
How they shudder at the cracking of the Whip
How they tremble lest the slightest fault or slip
Should offend their august master,
And upon them bring disaster,
And deprive them of their cherished membership.
'Twas to save their bleeding country in they went,
And to bleed it save themselves in Parliament;
Ev'ry worthy cause neglecting,
Their own worthless skins protecting,
And a fig for all the 'views' they 'represent.'
O, the 'freedom' of the Fusion Party man!
Abject creature of the grim old Tory clan,
Waiting, watching, shuffling, veering,
Scheming, plotting, engineering
Sorry product of the 'Good old Party Plan.'
Culture And Cops
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.
He planned to thieve my household goods,
Heirlooms of divers kinds.
(I cannot understand such men,
Nor fathom their dark minds.
Why cannot they abjure all vice,
And be respectable and nice?)
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 so
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 car 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 -
'What are policemen for?
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,
He bowed his head upon his hands,
And wept and wept and wept....
So, on the whole, it seems to me,
Art and policemen don't agree.
'I got no time fer wasters, lad,' sez 'e,
'Give me a man wiv grit,' sez Uncle Jim.
'E bores 'is cute ole eyes right into me,
While I stares 'ard an' gives it back to 'im.
Then orl at once 'e grips me 'and in 'is:
'Some'ow,' 'e sez, 'I likes yer ugly phiz.'
'You got a look,' 'e sez, 'like you could stay;
Altho' yeh mauls King's English when yeh yaps,
An' 'angs flash frills on ev'rythink yeh say.
I ain't no grammarist meself, per'aps,
But langwidge is a 'elp, I owns,' sez Unk,
'When things is goin' crook.' An' 'ere 'e wunk.
'Yeh'll find it tough,' 'e sez, 'to knuckle down.
Good farmin' is a gift—like spoutin' slang.
Yeh'll 'ave to cut the luxuries o' town,
An' chuck the manners of this back-street gang;
Fer country life ain't cigarettes and beer.'
'I'm game,' I sez. Sez Uncle, 'Put it 'ere!'
Like that I took the plunge, an' slung the game.
I've parted wiv them joys I 'eld most dear;
I've sent the leery bloke that bore me name
Clean to the pack wivout one pearly tear;
An' frum the ashes of a ne'er-do-well
A bloomin' farmer's blossomin' like 'ell.
Farmer! That's me! Wiv this 'ere strong right 'and
I've gripped the plough; and blistered jist a treat.
Doreen an' me 'as gone upon the land.
Yours truly fer the burden an' the 'eat!
Yours truly fer upendin' chunks o' soil!
The 'ealthy, 'ardy, 'appy son o' toil!
I owns I've 'ankered fer me former joys;
I've 'ad me hours o' broodin' on me woes;
I've missed the comp'ny, an' I've missed the noise,
The football matches an' the picter shows.
I've missed—but, say, it makes me feel fair mean
To whip the cat; an' then see my Doreen.
To see the colour comin' in 'er cheeks,
To see 'er eyes grow brighter day be day,
The new, glad way she looks an' laughs an' speaks
Is worf ten times the things I've chucked away.
An' there's a secret, whispered in the dark,
'As made me 'eart sing like a flamin' lark.
Jist let me tell yeh 'ow it come about.
The things that I've been thro' 'ud fill a book.
Right frum me birf Fate played to knock me out;
The 'and that I 'ad dealt to me was crook!
Then comes Doreen, an' patches up me parst;
Now Forchin's come to bunk wiv me at larst.
First orf, one night poor Mar gits suddin fits,
An' floats wivout the time to wave 'good-byes.'
Doreen is orl broke up the day she flits;
It tears me 'eart in two the way she cries.
To see 'er grief, it almost made me glad
I never knowed the mar I must 'ave 'ad.
We done poor Muvver proud when she went out
A slap-up send-orf, trimmed wiv tears an' crape.
An' then fer weeks Doreen she mopes about,
An' life takes on a gloomy sorter shape.
I watch 'er face git pale, 'er eyes grow dim;
Till—like some 'airy angel—comes ole Jim.
A cherub togged in sunburn an' a beard
An' duds that shouted ''Ayseed!' fer a mile:
Care took the count the minute 'e appeared,
An' sorrer shrivelled up before 'is smile,
'E got the 'ammer-lock on my good-will
The minute that 'e sez, 'So, this is Bill.'
It's got me beat. Doreen's late Par, some way,
Was second cousin to 'is bruvver's wife.
Somethin' like that. In less than 'arf a day
It seemed 'e'd been my uncle orl me life.
'E takes me 'and: 'I dunno 'ow it is,'
'E sez, 'but, lad, I likes that ugly phiz.'
An' when 'e'd stayed wiv us a little while
The 'ouse begun to look like 'ome once more.
Doreen she brightens up beneath 'is smile,
An' 'ugs 'im till I kids I'm gettin' sore.
Then, late one night, 'e opens up 'is scheme,
An' passes me wot looks like some fond dream.
'E 'as a little fruit-farm, doin' well;
'E saved a tidy bit to see 'im thro';
'E's gittin' old fer toil, an' wants a spell;
An' 'ere's a 'ome jist waitin' fer us two.
'It's 'ers an' yours fer keeps when I am gone,'
Sez Uncle Jim. 'Lad, will yeh take it on?'
So that's the strength of it. An' 'ere's me now
A flamin' berry farmer, full o' toil;
Playin' joo-jitsoo wiv an' 'orse an' plough,
An' coaxin' fancy tucker frum the soil,
An' longin', while I wrestles with the rake,
Fer days when me poor back fergits to ache.
Me days an' nights is full of schemes an' plans
To figger profits an' cut out the loss;
An' when the pickin's on, I 'ave me 'an's
To take me orders while I act the boss;
It's sorter sweet to 'ave the right to rouse….
An' my Doreen's the lady of the 'ouse.
To see 'er bustlin' 'round about the place,
Full of the simple joy o' doin' things,
That thoughtful, 'appy look upon 'er face,
That 'ope an' peace an' pride o' labour brings,
Is worth the crowd of joys I knoo one time,
An' makes regrettin' 'em seem like a crime.
An' ev'ry little while ole Uncle Jim
Comes up to stay a bit an' pass a tip.
It gives us 'eart jist fer to look at 'im,
An' feel the friendship in 'is warm 'and-grip.
'Im, wiv the sunburn on 'is kind ole dile;
'Im, wiv the sunbeams in 'is sweet ole smile.
'I got no time fer wasters, lad,' sez 'e,
'But that there ugly mug o' yourn I trust.'
An' so I reckon that it's up to me
To make a bloomin' do of it or bust.
I got to take the back-ache wiv the rest,
An' plug along, an' do me little best.
Luck ain't no steady visitor, I know;
But now an' then it calls—fer look at me!
You wouldn't take me, 'bout a year ago,
Free gratis wiv a shillin' pound o' tea;
Then, in a blessed leap, ole Forchin lands
A missus an' a farm fair in me 'ands.
'Ar! Gimme fights wiv foeman I kin see,
To upper-cut an' wallop on the jor.
Life in a burrer ain't no good to me.
'Struth! This ain't war!
Gimme a ding-dong go fer 'arf a round,
An' you kin 'ave this crawlin' underground.
'Gimme a ragin', 'owlin', tearin', scrap,
Wiv room to swing me left, an' feel it land.
This 'idin', sneakin' racket makes a chap
Stuck in me dug-out 'ere, down in a 'ole,
I'm feelin' like I've growed a rabbit's soul.'
Ole Ginger's left the 'orspital, it seems;
'E's back at Anzac, cursin' at the game;
Fer this 'ere ain't the fightin' uv 'is dreams;
It's too dead tame.
'E's got the oopizootics reely bad,
An' 'idin' in a burrer makes 'im mad.
'E sort o' takes it personal, yeh see.
'E used to 'awk 'em fer a crust, did Mick.
Now, makin' 'im play rabbits seems to be
A narsty trick.
To shove 'im like a bunny down a 'ole
It looks like chuckin' orf, an' sours 'is soul.
'Fair doos,' 'e sez, 'I joined the bloomin' ranks
To git away frum rabbits: thinks I'm done
Wiv them Australian pests, an' 'ere's their thanks:
They makes me one!
An' 'ere I'm squattin', scared to shift about;
Jist waitin' fer me little tail to sprout.
'Ar, strike me up a wattle! but it's tough!
But 'ere's the dizzy limit, fer a cert
To live this bunny's life is bad enough,
But 'ere's reel dirt:
Some tart at 'ome 'as sent, wiv lovin' care,
A coat uv rabbit-skins fer me to wear!
'That's done it! Now I'm nibblin' at the food,
An' if a dawg shows up I'll start to squeal;
I s'pose I orter melt wiv gratichude:
'Tain't 'ow I feel.
She might 'a' fixed a note on wiv a pin:
'Please, Mister Rabbit, yeh fergot yer skin!'
'I sees me finish!… War? Why, this ain't war!
It's ferritin'! An' I'm the bloomin' game.
Me skin alone is worth the 'untin' for
That tart's to blame!
Before we're done, I've got a silly scare,
Some trappin' Turk will catch me in snare.
''E'll skin me, wiv the others 'c 'as there,
An' shove us on a truck, an' bung us 'round
Constantinople at a bob a pair
Orl fresh an' sound!
'Eads down, 'eels up, 'e'll 'awk us in a row
Around the 'arems, 'owlin 'Rabbee-oh!'
'But, dead in earnest, it's a job I 'ate.
We've got to do it, an' it's gittin' done;
But this soul-dopin' game uv sit-an'-wait,
It ain't no fun.
There's times I wish, if we weren't short uv men,
That I wus back in 'orspital again.
'Ar, 'orspital! There is the place to git.
If I thort Paradise wus 'arf so snug
I'd shove me 'ead above the parapit
An' stop a slug;
But one thing blocks me playin' sich a joke;
I want another scrap before I croak.
'I want it bad. I want to git right out
An' plug some josser in the briskit-'ard.
I want to 'owl an' chuck me arms about,
An' jab, an' guard.
An' swing, an' upper-cut, an' crool some pitch,
Or git passed out meself - I don't care w'ich.
'There's some blokes 'ere they've tumbled to a stunt
Fer gittin' 'eni the spell that they deserves.
They chews some cordite when life at the front
Gits on their nerves.
It sends yer tempracher clean out uv sight,
An', if yeh strike a simple doc, yer right.
'I tries it once. Me soul 'ad got the sinks,
Me thorts annoyed me, an' I 'ad the joes,
I feels like no one loves me, so I thinks,
Well, Mick, 'ere goes!
I breaks a cartridge open, chews a bit,
Reports I'm sick, an' throws a fancy fit.
'Me lovin' sargint spreads the gloomy noos,
I gits paraded; but, aw, 'Struth! me luck!
It weren't no baby doc I interviews,
But some ole buck
Wiv gimblet eyes. 'Put out yer tongue!' 'e 'owls.
Then takes me temp, an' stares at me, an' growls.
''Well, well,' 'e sez. 'Wot is yer trouble, lad?'
I grabs me tummy 'ard, an' sez I'm ill.
'You are,' sez 'e. 'Yeh got corditis, bad.
Yeh need a pill.
Before yeh go to sleep,' 'e sez, 'to-night,
Swaller the bullet, son, an' you'll be right.'
''0w's that fer rotten luck? But orl the same,
I ain't complainin' when I thinks it out.
I seen it weren't no way to play the game,
This pullin' out.
We're orl uv us in this to see it thro',
An' bli'me, wot we've got to do, we'll do.
'But 'oles an' burrers! Strike! An' this is war!
This is the bonzer scrappin' uv me dreams!
A willin' go is wot I bargained for,
But 'ere it seems
I've died, someway, an' bin condemned to be
Me own Wile Rabbee fer eternity.
'But 'orspital! I tell yeh, square an' all,
If I could meet the murderin' ole Turk
'0o's bullet sent me there to loaf an' sprawl,
An' dodge me work,
Lord! I'd shake 'an's wiv 'im, an' thank 'im well
Fer givin' me a reel ole bonzer spell.
''E might 'a' tnade it jist a wee bit worse.
I'd stand a lot uv that before I'd scream.
The grub wus jist the thing; an', say, me nurse I
She wus a dream!
I used to treat them tony tarts wiv mirth;
But now I know why they wus put on earth.
'It treated me reel mean, that wound uv mine;
It 'ealed too quick, considerin' me state.
An' 'ere I am, back in the firin' line
Gamblin' wiv Fate.
It's like two-up: I'm 'eadin' 'em this trip;
But Iookin', day be day, to pass the kip.
'You tell Doreen, yer wife, 'ow I am chock
Full to the neck wiv thanks fer things she sends.
Each time I shoves me foot inside a sock
I bless sich friends.
I'm bustin' wiv glad thorts fer things she did;
So tell 'er I serloots 'er, an' the kid.
'Make 'im a soljer, chum, when 'c gits old.
Teach 'im the tale uv wot the Anzacs did.
Teach 'im 'e's got a land to love an' hold.
Gawd bless the kid!
But I'm in 'opes when 'is turn comes around
They'll chuck this style uv rootin' underground.
'We're up agin it, mate; we know that well.
There ain't a man among us wouldn't lob
Over the parapit an' charge like 'ell
To end the job.
But this is war; an' discipline - well, lad,
We sez we 'ates it; but we ain't too bad.
'Glory an' gallant scraps is wot I dreamed,
Ragin' around an' smashin' foeman flat;
But war, like other thngs, ain't wot it seems.
So 'stid uv that,
I'm sittin; in me dug-out scrawlin' this,
An' thankin' Gawd when shells go by - an' miss.
'I'm sittin' in me dug-out day be day -
It narks us; but Australia's got a name
Fer doin' little jobs like blokes 'oo play
A clean straight game.
Wiv luck I might see scrappin' 'fore I'm done,
Or go where Craig 'as gone, an' miss the fun.
'But if I dodge, an' keep out uv the rain,
An' don't toss in me alley 'fore we wins;
An' if I lobs back 'ome an' meets the Jane
'Oo sent the skins
These bunnies' overcoats I lives inside -
I'll squeal at 'er, an' run away an' 'ide.
'But, torkin' straight, the Janes 'as done their bit.
I'd like to 'ug the lot, orl on me pat!
They warms us well, the things they've sewed an' knit:
An' more than that
I'd like to tell them dear Australian tarts
The spirit uv it warms Australian 'earts.'
It wasn't kid stakes. I 'ad no crook lurk
To act deceivin', or to treat 'er mean.
I'm old enough to know them games don't work
Not with Doreen.
Besides, deceit ain't in me bag uv tricks.
I got a few; but there is some that sticks.
Sticks in me gizzard. Some blokes sees no wrong
In workin' points, an' thinks it bonzer sport
To trifle with a wife's belief, so long
As they ain't cort.
But, when yeh play the game on dead straight lines,
It 'urts to be accused uv base designs.
It starts this mornin'. I wake with a tooth
That's squirmin' like a basketful uv snakes.
Per'aps I groan a bit, to tell the truth;
An' then she wakes,
An' arsts me wot I'm makin' faces for.
I glare at 'er, an' nurse me achin' jor.
That was no very 'appy mornin' song.
I ain't excusin' my end uv the joke;
But, after that, things seem to go all wrong.
She never spoke
One narsty word; but, while the chops she serves,
'Er shrieks uv silence fair got on me nerves.
She might 'ave arst wot ailed me. Spare me days I
She seen that I was crook. She seen me face
Swelled like a poisoned pup's. She only says,
'Please to say grace.'
I mumbles ... Then, in tones that wakes brute force,
She twitters, 'Will yeh take termarter sorce?'
I could n't eat no breakfast. Just the sight
Uv sweet things give me tooth a new, worse ache.
Sez she: 'You seem to lost yer apetite.
'Ave some seed cake.'
Seed cake! Gawstruth! I'm there in agerny,
An' she, 'oo swore to love, sits mockin' me.
At last, when our small son gits orf to school,
I goes an' sits down sulkin' on a couch.
''Ave you a toothache, Bill?' sez she, quite cool,
'Or jist plain grouch?
Yer face looks funny. P'raps yer gittin' fat.'
I glare at 'er an' answer, 'Huh!' . . like that.
That one word, 'Huh,' said in a certain way,
'Eart-felt an' with intention-it can well
Make the beginnin's uv a perfick day
A perfick 'ell.
So I sez 'Huh! ...... an' then done my ole trick
(A low-down lurk) uv gittin' orf-stage quick.
It was a slap-up day. The wattle's gold
'Ad jist began to peep among the green;
An' dafferdils, commencin' to unfold,
They make the scene
A pitcher that - 'Struth! 'Ow that tooth did ache!
An', cravin' symperthy, I git - seed cake!
It was a bonzer day! The thrush's song
Rose like a nymn. A touch uv queer remorse
Gits me fer 'arf-a-mo', then goes all wrong.
Women don't understand, it's all too plain.
Termarter sorce, she sez, an' me in pain!
I dunno 'ow the mornin' muddled through.
That naggin' tooth was gittin' reel red-'ot.
I 'ad a 'arf a dozen things to do,
An' slummed the lot.
Then, jist before I goes fer mornin' tea,
I start another row with Wally Free.
I tells 'im if that fence ain't mended - now
I'll summons 'im. But 'e jist stands an' grins.
'E's always grinnin'. Silly lookin' cow I
An' fer two pins
I'd go acrost an' give 'is eye a poke.
'E's far too 'appy - fer a single bloke.
While I am boilin' 'ot, Doreen conies out
To call me fer me mornin' cup o' tea.
I turn an' answer with a savage shout.
'Dear me!' sez she.
'You seem to be put out this mornin', Bill.
'E'll mend the fence, all right. I'm sure 'e will.'
'Aw! It ain't that,' I sez .... Then I let go,
When once we git inside, an' ease me mind
By tellin' 'er some things she ought to know.
I seemed to find
A lot uv things that 'elped to make me sore;
An' they remind me uv a 'ole lot more.
I tells 'er that no wife, 'oo was n't blind,
Would treat 'er 'usban' like a block uv wood.
I sez I could n't understand 'er mind
Blowed if I could!
I tells 'er that no woman with a brain
An' 'eart would smile to see a man in pain.
I sez some wives - some sorts uv wives, uv course,
If you was lyin' dead, no more to wake,
Would arst yeh if yeh liked termarter sorse,
Or else seed cake.
I sez I don't look for no fond caress,
But symperthy, an' un'erstandin'? Yes!
I sez, sarcastic, that I 'ave no doubt
Some wives might think termarters an' seed cake
Was 'andy sorts uv things to 'ave about
To stop toothache.
But wot I liked in wives, once in a while,
Was commin-sense. (An' 'ere, I seen 'er smile).
An' then I sez: 'Gorbli' me! Ain't I worked
Me fingers to the bone, an' toiled an' slaved?
Some fellers, if their wives 'ad smiled an' sn-drked
An' so be'aved' ......
(She pours the tea, an' 'ands acrost my cup)
'Would lose their tempers, yes, an' smash things up!'
I sez - 0h, other things in that same strain.
I ain't got any fancy to recall.
(That tooth jist 'ad me jumpin' mad with pain)
But through it all,
With them fool speeches bubblin' in me throat,
I saw meself a bleatin', babblin' goat.
I gulps me tea; already 'arf ashamed
Uv more than 'arf I'd said. But is me wife
All 'umble, like a woman 'oo's been blamed?
Not on yer life!
She answers me as if she was me mar.
'There, there,' she sez. 'Wot a big kid you are!'
I gulps more tea; an' tells 'er, anyway,
Me toothache ain't a thing to joke about;
An' I will 'ave to go to town to-day
An' 'ave it out.
At that, she looks at me with 'er calm eyes
Searchin' me through an' through 'fore she replies.
Then, 'Bill,' sez she, 'tell me the honest truth:
Does your tooth ache, or is this an excuse?
Why, yesterd'y you 'ad no achin' tooth .......
Aw, wot's the use!
'Excuse! Wot for?' I yells. But she sez, 'Oh,
If it's that bad I s'pose you'll 'aye to go.'
'Excuse!' I sez. 'I know wot's in yer mind.
Yeh think I can't read wonien's thoughts, I s'pose.
Yeh think that I planned this so I could find
Wot's 'appened Rose.
Yeh think I've come the double, lied an' schemed
About a thing I never even dreamed!
'Yeh think -' 'There, there!' she sez to me again,
Soothin' an' soft, still like a patient mar.
'It's plain you'll never understand, you men,
Wot women are,
Their thorts, their feelin's, 'ow they fear an' doubt.
Why, Bill, it's only you I think about.'
I knoo. Somewhere inside me silly nob
I knoo wot thort it is she won't explain.
She feared, if I got with the old, crook mob
In Spadgers Lane
That I might miss the step. I've never queered
The pitch in eight long years; an' yet she feared.
'I'll promise you - ' I starts. But she sez, 'Don't!
Don't promise wot you might regret some day.
I trust you, Bill; an' well I know you won't
Choose the wrong way.
Women are silly sometimes. Let's ferget
All that was said .... Is that tooth achin' yet?'
I gives it up! ... It's fairly got me beat,
The twists an' turin' uv a wonian's mind.
Nex' thing, she's smilin' up at me so sweet,
So soft an' kind
That I - with things still in me mind to tell -
I melts - jist like I always do. Ah, well!
It was a snodger day! . . . The apple trees
Was white with bloom. All things seemed good to me
(Except that tooth). Then by the fence I sees
Poor Wally Free,
Pretendin' to be happy with 'is plough.
Poor lonely coot! I pity 'im, some'ow.