The Fool And The Fire
A fool and a bag in a belt of scrub,
Cloudless skies and the still hot days,
And the countryside's in a mad hubbub;
Terror is here and the world's ablaze.
Five thousand sheep went West today,
Bell's home at the crossing and Casey's pub;
And the cause of it all is a world away;
A fool with a bag who passed the scrub.
An oaf with a match in a mile of grass,
Where yesterday the skies shone clear;
But fury leapt where he came to pass;
And now, ten miles away, comes fear.
Men toil and sweat in the reeking smoke
That curling drifts to a sky of brass.
And now black ruin and homeless folk
Are toll to an oaf in a mile of grass.
If the fool be caught can the fool repay?
What is to do but build again,
And hope for the dawn of a better day,
When folly is shorn from the ways of men;
What is to do but hope and pray.
While the scars heal slow in a blackened land,
That the fool shall no more pass this way
With the seeds of terror in his hand.
The Grey Goshawk
There is a flutter in the trees,
And now a sudden, dread unease
Stills all the bushland melodies
Amid the gums;
Stills now the song of wren and thrush,
Robin and honeyeater hush.
Now, with a swoop, a whistling rush,
Grey goshawk comes.
I am the threat: the dread king.
Grim Azrael, is on the wing,
And every little living thing
Dares scarce a breath.
And now a parrot, shrill with fear,
Flies dodging there and doubling here
Thro' inlaced limbs, in mad career
From lusting death.
Grey ghost, grey death, I work my will
O'er forest dense, o'er wood hill,
And on some tree-top rend my kill
With reddened beak.
There is no have in the tree,
There is no habor safe from me;
In many a singing sanctuary
My meat I seek.
Beware! The swift grey ghost is out!
Be still! Grey death lurks near about!
Crouch close! Shrink low! ... But have no doubt
I've marked my kill.
Grim nemesis. I never fail;
Gaint hunger is my spur, my flail.
I feast. And now away I sail
O'er the far hill.
Mr Fitzmickle Has A Test Match Fright
Mr Fitzmickle, the martinet,
Stern lord of his house and kin,
Is a small, bald man, and a cricket fan
Since the night he listened in
On his young son's set one winter morn.
Now his Test complex grows tireless;
But his small, meek wife tends a lonely life,
And the small son mourns his wireless.
Mr Fitzmickle, the martinet,
Was met at his door last night
By the low-voiced maid whose eye betrayed
A state of chronic fright,
And Mary stammered in nervous tones
'Mum-Madam's took a chill, sir.'
Fitzmickle gasped, 'What's that?' he asked,
Said Mary, 'Madam's ill, sir.'
Mr Fitzmickle, the martinet,
Clutched at his brow and groaned,
His face grew white in the evening light,
'Oh, this is the end!' he moaned.
'All hope has gone!' But Mary said,
'Please, sir; don't look so sad, sir.
A 'eadache's wot the missus got.
Don't fret. She ain't that bad, sir.'
Mr Fitzmickle, the martinet,
Glared, as his voice came back
Glared at the maid, 'You mumbling jade!
Wretch! You deserve the sack!'
'But, sir -' 'Enough! Can't you speak plain?
'Madam?'' He raved like a madman,
'Out of my sight! . . . Lord! What a fright!
I thought that you said 'Bradman'!'
An Appeal To End Appeals
Sir, - I try to do my duty as a patriotic man
With sane views about the science of gastronomy;
And I'd ask the promulgators of each food consuming plan
To consider man's interior economy.
I shall not go into details. But I merely wish to say
My observance hitherto has been meticulous
Of the many noble slogans: but I fear the scheme today
Has at last begun to merge with the ridiculous.
Very nobly I responded to the urge to 'Eat More Fruit';
I bought it and consumed it with avidity.
I was keen to serve my country; and the diet seemd to suit
(If we waive a tendency to slight acidity)
Then the ringing slogan sounded thro' the contry: 'Eat More Wheat!'
I assimilated faithfully that cereal
Then we were asked to eat more eggs, to eat more oats, more meat;
While tissue waxed - both moral and material.
And now, sir, to my horror, 'Eat more butter' is the plan.
But I ask you: Can I hope to rise superior?
There are symptoms. And I fear the patriotic outer man
Is at issue, so to speak, with the interior,
On, I long to do my gastronomic duty; yet I shrink
I shudder - tho' I swear I am no sceptic
But butter! Slabs of butter! There are limits, don't you think?
Sir, I remain,
Dinner And Dinty
He dreaded not dark, nor the lonely road,
For the world, as he knew it, was kind.
Nor threat of the risk, nor necessity's goad
Gave fear to his innocent mind.
He was merely abroad for a country stroll:
And where lay the peril in that?
While themes so engaging delighted his mind
As dinner and Dinty the cat.
Then the summons went out and the search was on:
For the danger was clear to all.
Dread death was abroad where the child had gone,
But he answered to never a call.
He harked to the birds, and he dreamed his dreams,
As deep in the forest he sat;
And his mind went back to those two great themes:
Dinner, and Dinty the cat.
They found him at last with a smile on his face,
As he prattled of important things;
And, in thankfulness for the heavenly grace,
Men gave to their faith wings.
They pondered in fear what might have-been,
And on terrors thro' fear begat,
But he prattled away, in a mood serene,
Of dinner and Dinty the cat.
Dinner and Dinty. How much we lost
When our joy in the simple things waned.
We have learned of evil - at what a cost?
With our wisdom, what have we gained?
For how much weariness wisdom brings
As the world grows dreary and flat,
Since we lost out joy in the innocent things,
Like dinner and Dinty the cat.
Wisdom After Victory
Now comes to an end all our dolorous drifting;
Clouds pass away and depression is lifting.
Because we were wise in our planning and sought
The lesser of ills that the greater be fought
Hope springs again in the heart of the nation;
Because we were brave and accepted oblation
Of sharp sacrifice, now comes recompense near
With the dawn of our glorious Centenary year.
For the good of our souls have we borne the dark sorrows
Of that gloomy day which buys many bright morrows;
For the good of our land have we chosen to shun
The glittering sand, that real treasure be won.
And we who were counted the prodigal nation
Have won new renown by our self-immolation
And the lands of the earth now in wonder behold
This youngest of lands in grave wisdom grown old.
And now we return with new heart to our labor,
And, where gloom was rife, neighbor smiles upon neighbor;
And now comes, to light our Centenary year
Not the dawn of false hope ever followed by fear
But a dawn that shall last and wax ever in brightness,
Bringing strength to the weak: to the heavy heart, lightness.
Bringing hope to the fearful and ending dismay.
Because we have chosen the fighter's hard way.
Then let us not squander our hardly-won treasure
In pursuit of false joys and enfeebling leisure.
Tried in the fire, we have proven our worth:
We have proven our strength to the peoples of earth.
If courage in ill days has won us salvation,
So wisdom in good days shall flee the temptation
To seek prosperity vain, foolish things.
Let us husband the gifts our Centenary brings.
The Hidden City
It was the schooner Desperate
That sailed the southern sea,
And the skipper had brought his little daughter
To our centenary.
Blue were her eyes and plucked her brow,
Where she wore a golden curl.
Yet, 'spite her looks, she was somehow
A shrewd, observant girl.
But and spake an old sailor
Who had been that way before
'I pray don't land at yonder port
Lest your girl count it a bore.
Last year the town had a handsome street,
This year no street we see.'
'Why?' asked the skipper. 'Poles,' said the tar.
And a sneering laugh laughed he.
For an alderman had spoken,
Who had known the ropes long since,
And he said, 'Where are them sticks an' rag
We had for that other Prince.
Let's stick 'em up in the street again.'
Said the mayor, 'Don't be a quince.
We'll have some new bright painted ones;
And let the aesthetes wince.'
'Father,' the skipper's daughter cried
'No fair city I see.'
'It is behind them decorations, lass
Them candy sticks you see.'
'But, father, why do they stand there,
All orange smeared and red,
Like garish clowns in a stately street?'
'Search me,' the skipper said.
'Oh, father! What are those nightmare things,
Those gadgets brightly lit?
Let us away on urgent wings,
Or I fear I'll have a fit.'
'Courage, my child,' the skipper said.
Curb your aesthetic sense,
And close your eyes and cover your head,
And I shall bear you hence.
'Come hither, come hither, my little daughter,
And do not tremble so.'
He wrapped her up in his seaman's coat.
'Come,' said he, 'let us go
Out where no poles or pylons are,
And no centenary,
To a scene that no man's hand may mar.'
And he steered for the open sea.
A Message: Armistice Day 1936
I got dreamin' that a message come in some mysterious way
From one ole pal of mine, gone West this many an' many a day,
A bloke the name of Ginger Mick, a fightin' cove I knoo.
(But 'e's Digger Corporal Mick Esquire, late A.I.F., to you)
'E got 'is on Gallipoli, an' sleeps there with the best,
Not leavin' very much be'ind, excep' one small request.
'Look after things,' was all 'e said, when 'e was mortal 'urt.
Dead sure 'is mates - that's me an' you - would never do 'im dirt.
(Think of it in the Silence, with yer 'eads bowed low:
Do we keep the unspoke compact with the men we used to know?)
For I dreams it in the silence of a dark Remembrance Eve;
An' the message seems to tell me it is gettin' late to grieve.
'But if you seem to miss us still, then get the sob-stuff o'er,
An' think about the things wot we went an' fought a war.
Send up a pray`r an' dropp a tear an' bend a reverent knee -
(Says Digger Corporal Ginger Mick, A.I.F., says 'e)
But is them things we fought for still the things most dear to you:
The honor an' the glory an' the mateship that we knew?'
(Think of it in the Silence, when the Last Post plays -
The splendid glimpse of Truth we 'ad, once, in the bitter days)
'Grief is a passin' compliment,' the message seems to say;
But tears don't carry on the job for men that drift away.
We 'ad small time or taste for such where guns was raisin' 'ell,
When we got busy plantin' blokes an' wishin' 'em farewell.
We blowed sad music over 'em - plain Digs, or Brass 'at Knuts -
But we played a quick-step comin' back, to show we 'ad the guts.
Our speech was rough, our ways was tough - tough as our bloody game.
Are the rough, tough, lads still honored, like when the Terror came?'
(Think of it, in the Silence, when their spirits hover near:
The vision and the vows that held while still the land knew fear.)
'E's sleepin' on Gallipoli. At least, 'is bones is there:
Bones worth a ton of livin' flesh that won't play fair -
Not till the Terror comes again. 'An' when it does,' says 'e,
If gods you've worshipped let you down, well, don't blame me.'
'E's seen a lot, an' learned a lot most like, where 'e 'as gone;
An' 'eaven 'elp us when we meet if we ain't carried on.
A vulgar person, Ginger Mick, a fightin' cove I knoo -
(But Digger Corporal Ginger Mick, if you please, to you.)
(Think of it in the Silence; an', if you pray, pray deep
That all we 'ave an' all we are old loyalties shall keep.
The unsoiled hand, the sleek, black coat,
The senile, ledger-haunted hours,
The knowledge that my freeman's vote
Is humbly cast to please 'the powers,'
A futile spite against the mass,
A small, weak hate of Labor's side,
These privileges of Our Class
I cherish with a puny pride.
The sycophancy of the snob,
The day-long cringe, the life-long fear
That I may lose a steady job
That 'job genteel' I hold so dear
These be the splendid attributes
Of one who yearns to emulate
His master; and all work-soiled brutes
Regards with mean, reflected hate.
Not mine the arrogance of wealth,
No pride in honest labor mine;
But while I still hold life and health
My pet ambition is to shine
A small, pale star that faintly glows
In Fat's impressive firmament,
The while I earn mere food and clothes,
And help the boss to cent. per cent.
Ambition? E'en my timid soul
Dreams of a day when I shall rule;
When I may heckle and control
The trembling slaves of desk and stool;
When I shall be of Fat myself
Who now but dangles at his skirt.
A magnate! Armed with pow'r and pelf.
Meet recompense for eating dirt.
I mark the lowly toiler rage.
'Resist!' he cries. 'Resist! Unite!'
The while I sue for patronage -
A deferential parasite.
Then to my aid comes Pride of Class,
I take my stand beside the Boss.
I earn his praise! .... Although, alas,
His gain, mayhap, will be my loss.
For who would risk a master's ire
That deity who rules my life,
That god who may, in vengeance dire,
Snatch happiness from 'child' and wife?
'Rights!' shout the horny-handed. 'Rights!'
The dolts defy the pow'rs that be.
While I watch through the restless nights
And tremble for my salary.
Oh. what rash madness moves these clods?
E'en my own fellow serfs, alas,
Speak treason 'gainst the money-gods
And turn black traitors to Our Class.
Our Class! That genteel, cultured band,
Well-dressed, respectable, elite
The servile mind, the soft white hand
Patrician class of Collins~street!
Cohorts of Collins-street, arise!
O legions, wake in Finders-land!
Let each pale hero rcognise
His class, and fight with might and mian.
Fight for the master sturdily!
What though his profit be our loss?
And let our watchword ever be,
Or Class! OUR BILLET, and OUR BOSS!
The sleek, black coat, the unsoiled hand,
The proud assertion of the worm.
Behold the Class! Oh, noble band!
Mild, desk-worn yoemen of 'The Firm.'
With swagger of the over-dressed.
With meekness of the underpaid,
They flout the plaint of the oppressed,
And stare at Liberty, afraid.
The Corpse That Won'T Lie Still
Aye, call it murder is ye will!
'Tis not the crime I fear.
If his cold curse would but lie still
And silent in its bier,
Then would I be indeed content,
And count it folly to repent.
With these two hands I've slain the knave;
I've watched the red blood drop;
I've rammed him tight into his grave,
And piled the clods atop,
And tramped them down exultingly....
Now back he comes to grin at me.
Once have I slain him in his bed,
Twice by the midnight blaze;
Thrice have I looked upon him dead
All in these seven days.
Yet here, this night, I've seen him stand
And pluck the pen from out my hand.
Nay, never spook nor sprite is he,
But solid flesh and blood,
Who schemes with deep malignity
To stint my livelihood.
And he had vowed a vow my name
Shall never grace the scroll of fame.
My name he bears, my garb he wears,
My pipes he idly smokes;
And, friend-like, he but rarely cares
To praise my sorry jokes.
He spends my money lavishly
With ne'er a thrifty thought for me.
And when my ready cash is gone
He runs me into debt.
Stern duty he will harp upon
When I would fain forget.
But when, through toil, I would be free
He soothes me with rank sophistry.
Whene'er with resolutions stern
I sit me down to work,
And mighty thoughts within me burn,
Then forth comes he to lurk
Here at my elbow, where he clings
And whispers of forbidden things.
So when I woo some lofty theme
Of deep religious tone,
He lures me on to idly dream,
As we sit there alone.
Of girls I have and have not kissed,
Of favors won and chances missed.
He whispers of that tempting book
I have no time to read;
'One peep,' he pleads: 'one hasty look!
Where is the harm, indeed?'
And when I speak of work, and sigh,
''Twill do to-morrow!' is his cry.
And oft - too well I know how oft
Beneath his subtle spell
I fall, and dream of living soft
Who know - aye, none so well
That living soft is but for him
Who earns his ease with labor grim.
Dreams, dreams, and ever idle dreams!
His glowing art I hate!
Yet pleasant for the hour it seems,
His soothing opiate.
And, though I slay him, this I dread:
He oftener alive than dead.
Oh, I have to be so very sure,
No later than last night,
That I had pinned the knave secure,
And I was free to write
Those mighty masterpieces which
To pen my fingers ever itch.
But, with his slouch and lazy leer,
Lo, came back he to-day:
With wheedling lips against mine ear
He tempted me to play
At tennis all the afternoon.
Work and resolve forgot so soon!
Yet, spite his faults, he is, I swear,
A merry knave withal;
And when I have the time to spare
That's seldom, if at all
I'd roam with him 'mid fields and flow'rs
If he'd be still in business hours.
Each morn I bash him on the head
And hide him out of sight.
Full, sure, indeed, that he is dead;
But back he comes each night,
And on the lotus buds we feed
When bread and butter is my need.
Though many ways his death I've planned
And slain him, as I've said,
He takes a lot of killing and
He'll never stay long dead.
And, though, each day i cause his death,
I know he'll live while I have breath.
But let me vow the vow again
The vow I know by heart
And, here and now, with hasty pen,
Stab to some vital part.
And, mocked by his departing laugh,
Rewrite his oft-writ epitaph.
'Here lies the man I should not be
By all stern rules of life.
The man who's plagued and hampered me
All through this mundane strife.
A lazy, loafing knave was he....
But, sooth, he was fine company.'
''Oo is that girl,' sez Digger Smith,
That never seems to bother with
No blokes: the bint with curly 'air?
I've often seen 'er over there
Talkin' to Missus Flood, an' she
Seems like a reel ripe peach to me.
'Not that I'm askin'' ... 'Ere 'is eyes
Goes sort uv swiv'ly, an' 'e sighs.
'Not that I'm askin' with idears
Uv love an' marridge; 'ave no fears.
I've chucked the matrimony plan,'
'E sez. 'I'm only 'arf a man.'
This Digger Smith 'as fairly got
Me rampin' with 'is ''arf a man' rot.
'E 'as a timber leg, it's true;
But 'e can do the work uv two.
Besides, the things 'e's done Out There
Makes 'im one man an' some to spare.
I knoo 'is question was jist kid.
'E'd met this girl; I know 'e did.
'E knoo Jim Flood an' 'er was booked
For double when the 'Un was cooked.
But, seein' 'er, it used to start
'Im thinkin' of another tart.
'Oh, 'er?' sez I. 'She is a pearl.
I've 'eard she used to be Jim's girl;
But she was jist a child when Jim
Got out. She 'as forgotten 'im.'
I knows jist wot is in 'is mind,
An' sez, 'Wade in, if you're inclined.'
'E give me such a narsty look
I thought 'e meant to answer crook;
But, 'I ain't out for jokes,' sez 'e
'Yeh needn't sling that stuff to me.
I only was jist thinkin' - p'r'aps...
There's some,' 'e sez, 'that sticks to chaps.
'Some girls,' sez 'e, 'keeps true to chaps,
An' wed 'em when they've done with scraps,
An' come 'ome whole. Yeh don't ixpec'
No tart to tie up with a wreck?
Besides,' 'e sez ... 'Well, any'ow,
That girl's all right; I know it now.
'I know,' sez Smith. 'I got it right.
Jim used to talk to me at night
About a little girl 'e tracked.
Er name is Flo. Ain't that a fact?
That's 'er. I know she writes to 'im
Each mail. She ain't forgotten Jim.
'I'd like to swap my luck for Jim's
If 'e comes 'ome with all 'is limbs.
An' if 'e don't - well, I dunno.
I've taken notice uv this Flo,
An' wonder if' - 'e stares at me
'If there is more like 'er' sez 'e.
Now, Digger Smith as learned a lot
Out fightin' there, but 'e ain't got
The cunnin' for to 'ide 'is 'eart.
'E's too damn honest, for a start;
'Is mind's dead simple to a friend.
I've read 'im through from end to end.
I've learned from things 'e 'asn't said
Jist wot's been running in 'is 'ead.
I know there is a girl, somewhere:
Some one 'oo 'ad the 'eart to care
For 'im when 'e went to the war.
I know all that, an' somethin' more.
I know that since 'e came back 'ere
'E 'asn't seen that girl for fear
She'd turn 'im down - give 'im the bird,
An' 'and 'im out the frozen word,
Because 'e's left a leg in France;
An' 'e's afraid to take the chance.
Well, not afraid, p'r'aps, but - shook.
It's jist the form 'is nerves 'ave took.
Now 'e's been watchin' Flo an' seen
'Er style, an' 'ow she's always keen
For news uv Jim. Then 'e starts out
To 'ope, an' 'esitate, an' doubt.
'E wonders if 'is own girl spoke
Jist this same way about 'er bloke.
'E wonders if in 'is girl's eyes
That same look came; an' then 'e sighs,
An' dulls 'is senses with that dope
That 'arf a man ain't got no 'ope.
'E makes me tired. But, all the same,
I tries to work a little game.
'Look 'ere,' I sez. 'About this Flo.
Jim mightn't come back 'ome, yeh know.
You 'ave a fly; yeh're sure to score;
Besides, all's fair in love an'war.'
'Sling that!' 'e sez; but I goes on:
'Ole Jim won't blame yeh when she's gone.
'E knows, the same as me an' you,
These silly tarts, they can't keep true.'
I piles it on, until I've got
'Im where I want 'im - jumpin' 'ot.
An' then 'e says, ''Ere, sling that talk!
I might be groggy in me walk;
But if yeh say them things to me
I'm man enough to crack yeh; see?'
'Righto,' sez I. 'That was me plan.
Now wot about this 'arf a man?'
'E stares at me, an' then sez, slow,
'Wot is yer game? Wot do yeh know?'
'Nothin',' I tells 'im, 'only this:
When there's a waitin' tart to kiss
Yeh're only 'arf a man; but when
There's blokes to fight, yeh're twenty men.'
'Wot tart?' 'e asks. 'Yeh mean this Flo?'
'P'r'aps not,' I sez. 'You ought to know.'...
I waits an' lets me words sink in.
An' then- 'e beats me with that grin.
'Match-makin', Bill?' 'e laughs. 'Oh, 'Ell!
You take up knittin' for a spell.'
Sym, Son Of Joy
Now Joi, the rebel, he had a son
In far, far Gosh where the tall trees wave.
Said Joi: 'In Gosh there shall yet be one
To scorn this life of a self-made slave;
To spurn the law of the Knight, Sir Stodge,
And end the rule of the great King Splosh;
Who shall warn the Glugs of their crafty dodge,
And at last bring peace, sweet peace, to Gosh.'
Said he: 'Whenever the kind sun showers
His golden treasure on grateful flowers,
With upturned faces and hearts bowed low,
The Glugs shall know what the wild things know.'
Said he: 'Wherever the broad fields smile,
They shall walk with clean minds, free of guile;
They shall scoff aloud at the call of Greed,
And turn to their labours and never heed.'
So Joi had a son, and his name was Sym;
And his eyes were wide as the eyes of Truth;
And there came to the wondering mind of him
Long thoughts of the riddle that vexes youth.
And, 'Father,' he said, 'in the mart's loud din
Is there aught of pleasure? Do some find joy?'
But his father tilted the beardless chin,
And looked in the eyes of the questing boy.
Said he: 'Whenever the fields are green,
Lie still, where the wild rose fashions a screen,
While the brown thrush calls to his love-wise mate,
And know what they profit who trade with Hate.'
Said he: 'Whenever the great skies spread,
In the beckoning vastness overhead,
A tent for the blue wren building a nest,
Then, down in the heart of you, learn what's best.'
And there came to Sym as he walked afield
Deep thoughts of the world and the folk of Gosh.
He saw the idols to which they kneeled;
He marked them cringe to the name of Splosli.
Is it meet,' he asked, 'that a soul should crawl
To a purple robe or a gilded chair?'
But his father walked to the garden's wall
And stooped to a rose-bush flowering there.
Said he: 'Whenever a bursting bloom
Looks up to the sun, may a soul find room
For a measure of awe at the wondrous birth
Of one more treasure to this glad earth.'
Said he: 'Whenever a dewdropp clings
To a gossamer thread, and glitters and swings,
Deep in humility bow your head
To a thing for a blundering rnortal's dread.'
And there came to Sym in his later youth,
With the first clear glance in the face of guile,
Thirst for knowledge and thoughts of truth,
Of gilded baubles, and things worth while.
And he said, 'There is much that a Glug should know;
But his mind is clouded, his years are few.'
Then joi, the father, he answered low
As his thoughts ran back to the youth he knew.
Said he: 'Whenever the West wind stirs,
And birds in feathers and beasts in furs
Steal out to dance in the glade, lie still:
Let your heart teach you what it will.'
Said he: 'Whenever the moonlight creeps
Thro' inlaced boughs, a'nd a shy star peeps
Adown from its crib in the cradling sky,
Know of their folly who fear to die.'
New interest came to the mind of Sym,
As 'midst his fellows he lived and toiled.
But the ways of the Glug folk puzzled him;
For some won honour, while some were foiled;
Yet all were filled with a vague unrest
As they climbed their trees in an endless search.
But joi, the father, he mocked their quest,
When he marked a Glug on his hard-won perch.
Said he: 'Whenever these tales are heard
Of the Feasible Dog or the Guffer Bird,
Then laugh and laugh till the fat tears roll
To the roots of the joy-bush deep in your soul.
When you see them squat on the tree-tops high,
Scanning for ever that heedless sky,
Lie flat on your back on the good, green earth
And roar till the great vault echoes your mirth.'
As he walked in the city, to Sym there came
Sounds envenomed with fear and hate,
Shouts of anger and words of shame,
As Glug blamed Glug for his woeful state.
This blame?' said Sym, 'Is it mortal's right
To blame his fellow for aught he be?'
But the father said, 'Do we blame the night
When darkness gathers and none can see?'
Said he: 'Whenever there springs from earth
A plant all crooked and marred at birth,
Shall we, unlearned in the Gardener's scheme,
Blame plant or earth for the faults that seem?'
Said he: 'Whenever your wondering eyes
Look out on the glory of earth and skies,
Shall you, 'mid the blessing of fields a-bloom,
Fling blame at the blind man, prisoned in gloom?'
So Joi had a son, and his name was Sym;
Far from the ken of the great King Splosh.
And small was the Glugs' regard of him,
Mooning along in the streets of Gosh.
But many a creature by field and ford
Shared in the schooling of that strange boy,
Dreaming and planning to gather and hoard
Knowledge of all things precious to Joi.
The Singing Soldiers
'When I'm sittin' in me dug-out wiv me rifle on me knees,
An' a yowlin', 'owlin' chorus comes a-floatin' up the breeze
Jist a bit o' 'Bonnie Mary' or 'Long Way to Tipperary'
Then I know I'm in Australia, took an' planted overseas.
They've bin up agin it solid since we crossed the flamin' foam;
But they're singin' - alwiz singin' - since we left the wharf at 'ome.
'O, it's 'On the Mississippi' or 'Me Grey 'Ome in the West.'
If it's death an' 'ell nex' minute they must git it orf their chest.
'Ere's a snatch o' 'When yer Roamin' - When yer Roamin' in the Gloamin'.'
'Struth! The first time that I 'eard it, wiv me 'ead on Rosie's breast,
We wus comin' frum a picnic in a Ferntree Gully train . . .
But the shrapnel made the music when I 'eard it sung again.'
So I gits it straight frum Ginger in 'is letter 'ome to me,
On a dirty scrap o' paper wiv the writin' 'ard to see.
'Strike!' sez 'e. 'It sounds like skitin'; but they're singin' while
An' they socks it into Abdul to the toon o' 'Nancy Lee'.
An' I seen a bloke this mornin' wiv 'is arm blown to a rag,
'Ummin' 'Break the Noos to Mother', w'ile 'e sucked a soothin' fag.
'Now, the British Tommy curses, an' the French does fancy stunts,
An' the Turk 'e 'owls to Aller, an' the Gurkha grins an' grunts;
But our boys is singin', singin', while the blinded shells is flingin'
Mud an' death inter the trenches in them 'eavens called the Fronts.
An' I guess their souls keep singin' when they gits the tip to go . . .'
So I gits it, straight frum Ginger; an', Gawstruth! 'e ort to know.
An' 'is letter gits me thinkin' when I read sich tales as these,
An' I takes a look around me at the paddicks an' the trees;
When I 'ears the thrushes trillin', when I 'ear the magpies fillin'
All the air frum earth to 'eaven wiv their careless melerdies
It's the sunshine uv the country, caught an' turned to bonzer notes;
It's the sunbeams changed to music pourin' frum a thousand throats.
Can a soljer 'elp 'is singin' when 'e's born in sich a land?
Wiv the sunshine an' the music pourin' out on ev'ry 'and;
Where the very air is singin', an' each breeze that blows is bringin'
'Armony an' mirth an' music fit to beat the 'blazin' band.
On the march, an' in the trenches, when a swingin' chorus starts,
They are pourin' bottled sunshine of their 'Omeland frum their 'earts.
O I've 'eard it, Lord, I've 'eard it since the days when I wus young,
On the beach an' in the bar-room, in the bush I've 'eard it sung;
'Belle Mahone' an' 'Annie Laurie,' 'Sweet Marie' to 'Tobermory,'
Common toons and common voices, but I've 'eard 'em when they rung
Wiv full, 'appy 'earts be'ind 'em, careless as a thrush's song
Wiv me arm around me cliner, an' me notions fur frum wrong.
So they growed wiv 'earts a-singin' since the days uv careless kids;
Beefin' out an 'appy chorus jist when Mother Nacher bids;
Singin', wiv their notes a-quiver, 'Down upon the Swanee River,'
Them's sich times I'd not be sellin' fer a stack uv golden quids.
An' they're singin', still they're singin', to the sound uv guns an' drums,
As they sung one golden Springtime underneath the wavin' gums.
When they socked it to the Southland wiv our sunny boys aboard
Them that stopped a dam torpeder, an' a knock-out punch wus scored;
Tho' their 'ope o' life grew murky, wiv the ship 'ead over turkey,
Dread o' death an' fear o' drownin' wus jist trifles they ignored.
They spat out the blarsted ocean, an' they filled 'emselves wiv air,
An' they passed along the chorus of 'Australia will be There'.
Yes, they sung it in the water; an' a bloke aboard a ship
Sez 'e knoo they wus Australians be the way thev give it lip
Sung it to the soothin' motion of the dam devourin' ocean
Like a crowd o' seaside trippers in to 'ave a little dip.
When I 'card that tale, I tell yeh, straight, I sort o' felt a choke;
Fer I seemed to 'ear 'em singin', an' I know that sort o' bloke.
Yes, I know 'im; so I seen 'im, barrackin' Eternity.
An' the land that 'e wus born in is the land that mothered me.
Strike! I ain't no sniv'lin' blighter; but I own me eyes git brighter
When I see 'em pokin' mullock at the everlastin' sea:
When I 'ear 'em mockin' terror wiv a merry slab o' mirth,
'Ell! I'm proud I bin to gaol^ in sich a land as give 'em birth!
'When I'm sittin' in me dug-out wiv the bullets droppin' near,'
Writes ole Ginger; 'an' a chorus smacks me in the flamin' ear:
P'raps a song that Rickards billed, or p'raps a line o' Waltz Matilder',
Then I feel I'm in Australia, took an' shifted over 'ere.
Till the music sort o' gits me, an' I lets me top notes roam
While I treats the gentle foeman to a chunk uv 'Ome, Sweet 'Ome'.'
They wus singin' on the troopship, they wus singin' in the train;
When they left their land be'ind 'em they wus shoutin' a refrain,
An' I'll bet they 'ave a chorus, gay an' glad in greetin' for us,
When their bit uv scappin's over, an' they lob back 'ome again. . .
An' the blokes that ain't returnin' - blokes that's paid the biggest price,
They go singin', singin', singin' to the Gates uv Paradise.
Joi, The Glug
The Glugs abide in a far, far land
That is partly pebbles and stones and sand,
But mainly earth of a chocolate hue,
When it isn't purple or slightly blue.
And the Glugs live there with their aunts and their wives,
In draughty tenements built like hives.
And they climb the trees when the weather is wet,
To see how high they can really get.
Pray, don't forget,
This is chiefly done when the weather is wet.
And every shadow that flits and hides,
And every stream that glistens and glides
And laughs its way from a highland height,
All know the Glugs quite well by sight.
And they say, 'Our test is the best by far;
For a Glug is a Glug; so there you are!
And they climb the trees when it drizzles or hails
To get electricity into their nails;
And the Glug that fails
Is a luckless Glug, if it drizzles or hails.'
Now, the Glugs abide in the Land of Gosh;
And they work all day for the sake of Splosh.
For Splosh the First is the Nation's pride,
And King of the Glugs, on his uncle's side.
And they sleep at night, for the sake of rest;
For their doctors say this suits them best.
And they climb the trees, as a general rule,
For exercise, when the weather is cool.
They're taught at school
To climb the trees when the weather is cool.
And the whispering grass on the gay, green hills
And every cricket that skirls and shrills,
And every moonbeam, gleaming white,
All know the Glugs quite well by sight.
And they say, 'It is safe, the text we bring;
For a Glug is an awfully Glug-like thng.
And they climb the trees when there's sign of fog,
To scan the land for a feasible dog.
They love to jog
Through dells in quest of the feasible dog.'
Now the Glugs eat meals three times a day
Because their fathers ate that way.
And their grandpas said the scheme was good
To help the Glugs digest their food.
And it's wholesome food the Glugs have got,
For it says so plain on the tin and pot.
And they climb the trees when the weather is dry
To get a glimpse of the pale green sky.
We don't know why,
But they love to gaze on the pale green sky.
And every cloud that sails aloft,
And every breeze that blows so soft,
And every star that shines at night,
All know the Glugs quite well by sight.
For they say, 'Our text is safe and true;
What one Glug does, the other Glugs do;
And they climb the trees when the weather is hot,
For a birds'-eye view of the garden plot.
Of course, it's rot,
But they love that view of the garden plot.'
At half-past two on a Wednesday morn
A most peculiar Glug was born;
And later on, when he grew a man,
He scoffed and sneered at the Chosen Plan.
'It's wrong!' said this Glug, whose name was Joi.
'Bah!' said the Glugs. 'He's a crazy boy!'
And they climbed the trees, as the West wind stirred,
To hark to the note of the guffer bird.
It seems absurd,
But they're awfully fond of the guffer bird.
And every reed that rustles and sways
By the gurgling river that plashes and plays,
And the beasts of the dread, neurotic night,
All know the Glugs quite well by sight.
And, 'Why,' say they; 'it is easily done;
For a dexter Glug's like a sinister one!
And they climb the trees when the thunder rolls,
To soddenly salve their small, pale souls,
For they fear the coals
That threaten to frizzle their pale, pink souls.'
Said the Glug called Joi: 'This climbing trees
Is a foolish art, and things like these
Cause much distress in the land of Gosh.
Let's stay on the ground and kill King Splosh!'
But Splosh, the King, he smiled a smile,
And beckoned once to his hangman, Guile,
Who climbed a tree when the weather was calm;
And they hanged poor Joi on a snufflebust palm:
Then sang a psalm.
Did those pious Glugs 'neath the sufflebust palm.
And every bee that kisses a flower,
And every blossom, born for an hour,
And ever bird on its gladsome flight,
All know the Glugs quite well by sight.
For they say: ''Tis a simple text we've got:
If you know one Glug, why you know the lot!
So they climbed a tree in the burgeoning Spring,
And they hanged poor Joi with some second-hand string.
It's a horrible thing
To be hanged by Glugs with second-hand string.
Then Splosh, the king, rose up and said:
'It's not polite; but he safer dead.
And there's not much room in th eland of Gosh
For a Glug named Joi and a king named Splosh!'
And ever Glug flung high his hat,
And cried, 'We're Glugs! And you can't change that!'
So they climbed the trees, since the weather was cold,
As their great-grandmothers climbed of old.
We are not told
Why Grandma climbed when the weather was cold.
And every cloud that sails the blue,
And every dancing sunbeam too,
And every spakling dewdropp bright,
All know the Glugs quite well by sight.
'We tell,' say they, 'by a simple test;
For any old Glug is like the rest.
And they climb the trees when there's weather about,
In a general way, as a cure for gout.
Though some folk doubt
If the climbing of trees is good for gout.'
The Martyred Democrat
In Lady Lusher's drawing-room, where float the strains of Brahms,
While cultured caterpillars chew the leaves of potted palms
In Lady Lusher's drawing-room, upon a summer's day,
The democrats of Toorak met to pass an hour away.
They hearkened to a long address by Grabbit, M.L.C.,
While Senator O'Sweatem passed around the cakes and tea;
And all the brains and beauty of the suburb gathered there,
In Lady Lusher's drawing-room - Miss Fibwell in the chair.
(With increasing interest):
Ay, all the fair and brave were there - the fair in fetching hats;
The brave in pale mauve pantaloons and shiny boots, with spats.
But pride of all that gathering, a giant 'mid the rest,
Was Mr Percy Puttipate, in fancy socks and vest.
Despite his bout of brain-fag, plainly showing in his eyes,
Contracted while inventing something new in nobby ties,
He braved the ills and draughts and chills, damp tablecloths and mats,
Of Lady Lusher's drawing-room: this prince of Democrats.
(Resume the breeze):
Upon a silken ottoman sat Willie Dawdlerich,
Who spoke of democratic things to Mabel Bandersnitch.
And likewise there, on couch and chair, with keen, attentive ears,
Sat many sons and daughters of our sturdy pioneers;
Seed of our noble squatter-lords, those democrats of old,
Who held of this fair land of ours as much as each can hold;
Whose motto is, and ever was, despite the traitor's gab:
'Australia for Australians - as much as each can grab.'
(In cultured tones):
'Deah friends,' began Miss Fibwell, 'you - haw - understand ouah league
Is formed to stand against that band of schemers who intrigue -
That horrid band of Socialists who seek to wrest ouah raights,
And, with class legislation, straive to plague ouah days and naights.
They claim to be the workers of the land; but Ai maintain
That, tho' they stand for horny hands, we represent the bwain.
Are not bwain-workers toilers too, who labah without feah?'
(The fashioner of fancy ties: 'Heah, heah! Quaite raight! Heah, heah!')
'They arrogate unto themselves the sacred name of Work.
But still, Ai ask, where is the task that we've been known to shirk?
We're toilahs, ev'ry one of us, altho' they claim we're not.'
(The toiler on the ottoman: 'Bai jove, I've heard thet rot!')
'Moahovah, friends, to serve theah ends, they're straiving, maight and main,
To drag down to theah level folk who work with mind and bwain.
They claim we do not earn ouah share, but, Ai maintain we do!'
(The grafter in the fancy socks: 'The'ah beastly rottahs, too!')
(With rising inflexion):
'Yes, friends, they'll drag us down and down, compelling us to live
Just laike themselves - the selfish class, on what they choose to give.
Nay, moah, they'll make us weah theah clothes - plain working - clothes, forsooth!
Blue dungarees in place of these.' . . . 'Mai Gahd! Is this the trooth?'
(With fine dramatic force):
A gurgling groan; a sick'ning thud; a flash of fancy socks,
And Mr Percy Puttipate fell like a stricken ox.
Crashed down, through cakes and crockery, and lay, 'mid plate and spoon,
In Lady Lusher's drawing-room one summer afternoon.
(With a rush of emotion):
A scream from Mabel Bandersnitch pierced thro' the ev'ning calm
(The cultured grubs, alone unmoved, still chewed the potted palm).
Strong men turned white with sudden fright; girls fell in faint and swoon
In Lady Lusher's drawing-room that fateful afternoon.
(With tears in the voice):
But Puttipate? ... Ah, what of him - that noble Democrat,
As he lay there with glassy stare, upon the Persian mat?
What recks he now for nobby ties, and what for fancy socks,
As he lies prone, with cake and cream smeared on his sunny locks?
Good Mr Grabbit took his head, O'Sweatem seized his feet;
They bore him to an ambulance that waited in the street.
Poor Mabel Bandersnitch sobbed loud on Dawdlerich's vest;
A pall of woefell over all - Miss Fibwell and the rest.
A mournful gloom o'erspread the room, as shades of ev'ning fell,
And, one by one, they left the place till none was left to tell
The tale of that dire tragedy that wrecked the summer calm -
Except the apathetic grubs, who went on eating palm.
(Suggestive pause; then, with fresh interest):
There still be men - low common men - who sneer at Toorak's ways,
And e'en upon poor Puttipate bestow but grudging praise.
But when you hear the vulgar sneer of some low Labor bore
(With fine dramatic intensity):
Point to that pallid patriot on Lady Lusher's floor!
Point to that daring Democrat, that hero of Toorak,
Who lifeless lay, that fateful day, upon his noble back!
Point to that hero, stricken down for our great Party's sake,
His sunny locks, his fiery socks o'er-smeared with cream and cake.
(In scathing tones):
Then lash with scorn the base poltoon who sullies his fair fame.
Who, moved by fear, attempts to smear the lustre of that name.
Great Puttipate! The Democrat! Who perished, all too soon,
In Lady Lusher's drawing-room, one summer afternoon.
Brothers; even those of you who are already in the sear and yellow leaf, and full of years and iniquity,
Sometimes, I doubt not, let your thoughts go back to those days of antiquity
When mother tucked you into your little bed.
After your little prayers were said;
And, having said goodnight,
She most inconsiderately took away the light.
Then came, my brothers, that dread half-hour in the day of a child;
When your mind was filled with weird imaginings and fancies wild
Of Bogey-men and Hobgoblins, Ogres and Demons; so that, for a space, you lay
Filled with a child's vague fear of the dark, and longing for the day.
Then, to comfort you, there came the thought
That guardian angels, as you had been taught,
Hovered ever near
To watch over timid little boys and girls and still their fear.
Is not that what other said?
And, in your childish mind you pictured a feathered friend roosting benevolently
at the foot of your bed.
Then were you filled with solace deep;
You sighed contentedly and went to sleep.
I would speak to you of another kind of mother;
Of our political mamma or historical mater:
Mrs. Britannia, to wit, who lives on the other side of the equator.
You have doubtless seen her pictured upon certain coins of the realm,
Sitting on the sharp edge of a shield, holding a picthfork, and wearing an absurd
and elaborate helm.
That is the lady; our dear old mum;
Mother of a large and parti-colored family that has given her much trouble and
promises more in the years to come.
Hitherto she has tucked us into bed.
And, for a trifling cash consideration, to allay our dread,
Has, so to speak, left us the light
In the shape of a few more or less efficient warships that might or might not be
of use in a fight;
But that was neither here nor there
So long as they served their purpose, and, like a candle of childhood's days,
dissipated the shadows and the attendant thoughts that scare.
But, behold, my brother, we are no longer an infant nation.
We have doffed our swaddling clothes, and have gone into pants, and top-hats,
and motor-coats, and split-skirts, and other habilments of adult
We are no longer young enough to pet and fondle, to nurse and bounce and dandle;
And, behold, mother has taken away the candle!
This is well enough;
And nobody would be complaining if the dear old lady didn't try to fill us up with
That was designed alone for infant ears,
And to allay imaginery fears.
She forgets, the poor old worried mum, that we have, so to speak, arrived now
at years of discretion,
And (if you pardon the expression)
Endeavors to pull her trusting offsping's leg with the old, old tale
Of the beautiful and ever watchful guardian angel that will never fail
To banish the naughty, nasty bogeys, the wicked ogres that lurk
Around our little bed.... Brother, that guardian angel gag won't work!
We happen to know a little about this saffron-colored seraph, this Mongolian
cherub to whose tender care our doting parent would leave us;
And, unless our eyes deceive us,
He bears a most remarkable reseblance to the ogre that we fear!
We have not the least doubt that he will most obligingly hover near
Our little cot.
But we are very, very anxious concerning certain little childish possessions
we have got.
We have out own private opinions about the sort of watch he will keep;
And we have wisely, if rebelliously, decided that WE WILL NOT GO TO SLEEP!!
Speaking of guardian angels and other birds,
I should just like to say a few words
In reference to this guardian angel illusion.
It will be remebered that mother herself, when she was young, and not so
handy with the flatiron of war as she is to-day,
Had a little experience of her own in that way.
It was a Saxon guardian angel, with fierce whiskers and a spear,
That poor mother put her maiden trust in: and it would appear
That he treated her in a very shameful and ungentlemanly style;
For, after he had expelled the Scot burglar or the Pict fowl-thief or whoever it was,
he remarked, with a sinister smile:
'Well, not that I am here,
I think I'll stay for a while.'
And that's how mother got married....he did marry her in the end, or so I
And made an honest woman of her, and in time they built up a very respectable home
in the land.
But, after all, despite his morals, he was a white man, and a decent sort of fellow.
And things miht have been very different if his color had happened to be yellow.
Since then, if any reliance can be placed on the histories that adorn my shelf,
Mother has gone in rather largely for the guardian business herself.
And this she has done, I must confess,
With considerable success.
She has played the benign guardian angel, at one time and another, to quite a
number of simple and unsophisticated folk,
Who, when her guardianship has become too insistent, have not always appeared to
appreciate the joke.
But, my brother, this is what I should vey much like to know:
Since the old girl knows so much about this thing through personal experience,
why does she want to go
And put up that rusty old bluff on her innocent and confiding little son?
In the circumstances there is only one thing for him to do, and the lesson cannot be
learned too soon: The only reliable guardian angel for children of his age
IS A GUN!
I don't know what you think about it, brother;
But, speaking privately and strictly between ourselves, I think it's pretty crook
on the part of mother.
'Peter the 'Ermit was a 'oly bloke,'
The parson sez, 'wot chivvied coves to war.'
'Too right,' I chips. 'I've 'eard that yarn before.'
'Brave knights sprung straight to arms where'er 'e spoke.'
'Sure thing,' sez I. 'It muster been no joke
Tinnin' yer frame in them dead days uv yore
Before yeh starts to tap a foeman's gore.'
'Peter the 'Ermit was a man inspired,'
The parson sez. We're moochin' up the Lane,
Snoopin' around for news we might obtain
Uv this Spike Wegg, the man 'oo I am 'ired
To snatch by 'ook or crook, jist as required
By circs, frum out the sev'ril sins wot stain
'Is wicked soul. I 'ope me meanin's plain.
'Peter the 'Ermit,' sez the parson, 'saw
No 'arm in vi'lince when the cause was just.
While 'e deplored, no doubt, the fightin' lust,
'E preached-' ''Old on,' I sez. ''Ere comes the Law:
'Ere's Brannigan, the cop. Pos'pone the jaw
Till we confer. I got idears 'e must
Keep track uv Spike; if 'e toils fer 'is crust.'
'Spike Wegg?' growls Brannigan. 'I know that bloke;
An' 'e's the one sweet soul I long to see.
That shrinkin' vi'lit 'ates publicity
Jist now,' sez Brannigan. 'Spike Wegg's in smoke.
Oh, jist concerns a cove 'e tried to croak.
'E's snug in some joint round about, maybe.
If you should meet, remember 'im to me.'
The cop passed on. 'Peter the 'Ermit was
A ri'chus man,' the parson sez, 'wot knoo -'
''Old 'ard!' I begs. 'Jist for a hour or two
I wouldn't go an' nurse sich thorts, becoz
Too much soul-ferritin' might put the moz
On this 'ere expedition. I'll 'elp you
To search our conscience when the job is through.
'I know yer doubts,' I sez, 'an' 'ow you 'ate
The thorts uv stoush, an' 'old 'ard blows in dread.
But Pete the 'Ermit's been a long time dead.
'E'll keep. But we are in the 'ands uv Fate,
An' 'oly spruikers uv a ancient date
Don't 'elp. I quite agrees with all you've said
But-' 'Say no more,' 'e answers. 'Lead ahead.'
'But, all the same,' 'e sez, 'I want no fight.'
'Right 'ere, be'ind this 'oardin',' I replies,
'A two-up school's in session. If we spies
About a bit, there is a chance we might
Git news -' Jist then the spotter comes to light.
I word 'im gentle, with some 'asty lies:
I'm seekin' Spike. See? Can 'e put me wise?
'Spike Wegg?' (At first 'e only twigs meself)
''E's gone-' ('E spots the parson standin' by)
A cold, 'ard glimmer comes in 'is fish eye:
''Ere! Wot's the game?' 'e yelps. 'Are you a shelf?'
''Ave sense!' I larfs. 'I got a bit uv pelf,
An' thort I'd like to take a little fly -'
'Buzz orfl' 'e orders. So we done a guy.
'Blank number one,' I sez. The parson sighed.
'Joshuer fought, an' never seemed to shrink -'
'Now, look,' I tells 'im. 'Honest. Don't you think
Them Bible blokes 'oo've 'ad their day an' died
Is best fergot until we're 'ome an' dried?
Now, up the street 'ere, is a little sink
Uv sin that does a traffic in strong drink.'
'Sly grog?' 'e arsts. But I sez, ''Ush! This place
Is kep' by Mother Weems, 'oo's sof', blue eye
An' snow-white 'air would make yeh 'shamed an' shy
To brand 'er name with any sich disgrace.
'Er kind, sweet smile, 'er innercint ole face.
Beams like a blessin'. Still, we'll 'ave a try
To word the dear ole dame, an' pump 'er dry.
'Is nibs stands in the shadders while I knock.
Mother unlocks the door, an' smiles, an' peers
Into me face. She wears 'er three score years
Reel sweet, in lacy cap an' neat black frock.
Then: 'Bill,' she cries. 'You've give me quite a shock!
Why, dearie, I ain't seen you for long years.
Come in.' 'Er kind ole eyes seem close to tears.
'Dearie, come in,' she chirps. But I pretend
I'm on reel urgent biz; I got to 'aste
'Jist for ole times,' she pleads. 'One little taste.'
'I can't,' I sez. 'I'm lookin' for a friend,
Spike Wegg, for 'oo I've certin news no end
Important; an' I got no time to waste.'
'Wot? Spike?' she sez. 'I 'ear 'e's bein' chased.
''E's bein' chased,' she sez, 'by D's, I've 'eard.'
'Too true,' I owns. ''E's got no time to lose.'
'Well, maybe, if you was to try Ah Foo's
The privit room -' Then, as 'is rev'rince stirred,
She seen 'is choker. ''Oo the 'ell's this bird?
Is this a frame?' she shrieks… Without adoos,
We slap the pavemint with four 'asty shoes.
But, as along the sloppy lane we race,
'Er 'or words tumble after in a flood:
'You pimps! You dirty swine! I'll 'ave yer blood!'
''Eavings!' the parson gasps. 'With that sweet face!'
''Er words,' I answer, 'do seem outer place.'
'Vile words, that I 'ave scarce 'arf understud.'
Sez Snowy, shoshin' in a pool uv mud.
We reach Ah Foo's. 'Now, 'ere,' I sez, 'is where
You stop outside. Twice you 'ave put me queer
It's a lone 'and I mean to play in 'ere.
You 'ang around an' breathe the 'olesome air.'
'Young friend,' 'e sez, 'I go with you in there.
I've led you into this. Why should I fear
The danger? 'Tis me jooty to be near.'
Snowy's a game un! I lob in the shop,
The parson paddin' after on the floor.
Ah Foo looks up. 'Not there!' 'e squeaks. 'Wha' for?'
But we sail past the Chow without a stop,
Straight for the little crib up near the top
That I knoo well in sinful days uv yore…
I turn the knob; an' sling aside the door.
Beside a table, fearin' 'arm from none,
Spike an' another bloke is teet-ah-teet.
Quick on the knock, Spike Wegg jumps to 'is feet
An' jerks a 'and be'ind 'im for 'is gun.
I rush 'im, grab a chair up as I run,
An' swing it with a aim that ain't too neat.
Spike ducks aside; an', with a bump, we meet.
An' then we mix it. Strife an' merry 'ell
Breaks loose a treat, an' things git movin' fast.
An', as a Chinese jar goes crashin' past,
'Igh o'er the din I 'ears the parson's yell:
'Hit! Hit 'im 'ard young friend. Chastise 'im well!
'Hit 'im!' . . . The 'oly war is in full blast;
An' Pete the 'Ermit's come to light at last.
My son! . . . Them words, jist like a blessed song,
Is singin' in me 'eart the 'ole day long;
Over an' over; while I'm scared I'll wake
Out of a dream, to find it all a fake.
My son! Two little words, that, yesterdee,
Wus jist two simple, senseless words to me;
An'now—no man, not since the world begun,
Made any better pray'r than that…. My son!
My son an' bloomin' 'eir . . . Ours! . . . 'Ers an' mine!
The finest kid in—Aw, the sun don't shine
Ther' ain't no joy fer me beneath the blue
Unless I'm gazin' lovin' at them two.
A little while ago it was jist 'me'
A lonely, longin' streak o' misery.
An' then 'twas ''er an' me'—Doreen, my wife!
An' now it's ''im an' us' an'—sich is life.
But 'struth! 'E is king-pin! The 'ead serang!
I mustn't tramp about, or talk no slang;
I mustn't pinch 'is nose, or make a face,
I mustn't—Strike! 'E seems to own the place!
Cunning? Yeh'd think, to look into 'is eyes,
'E knoo the game clean thro'; 'e seems that wise.
Wiv 'er 'an nurse 'e is the leadin' man,
An' poor ole dad's amongst the 'also ran.'
'Goog, goo,' 'e sez, and curls 'is cunnin' toes.
Yeh'd be su'prised the 'eaps o' things 'e knows.
I'll swear 'e tumbles I'm 'is father, too;
The way 'e squints at me, an' sez 'Goog, goo.'
Why! 'smornin' 'ere 'is lordship gits a grip
Fair on me finger—give it quite a nip!
An' when I tugs, 'e won't let go 'is hold!
'Angs on like that! An' 'im not three weeks old!
'Goog, goo,' 'e sez. I'll swear yeh never did
In all yer natcheril, see sich a kid.
The cunnin' ways 'e's got; the knowin' stare
Ther' ain't a youngster like 'im anywhere!
An', when 'e gits a little pain inside,
'Is dead straight griffin ain't to be denied.
I'm sent to talk sweet nuffin's to the fowls;
While nurse turns 'and-springs ev'ry time 'e 'owls.
But say, I tell yeh straight . . . I been thro'ell!
The things I thort I wouldn't dare to tell
Lest, in the tellin' I might feel again
One little part of all that fear an' pain.
It come so sudden that I lorst me block.
First, it was, 'Ell-fer-leather to the doc.,
'Oo took it all so calm 'e made me curse
An' then I sprints like mad to get the nurse.
By gum; that woman! But she beat me flat!
A man's jist putty in a game like that.
She owned me 'appy 'ome almost before
She fairly got 'er nose inside me door.
Sweatin' I was! but cold wiv fear inside
An' then, to think a man could be denied
'Is wife an' 'ome an' told to fade away
By jist one fat ole nurse 'oo's in 'is pay!
I wus too weak wiv funk to start an' rouse.
'Struth! Ain't a man the boss in 'is own 'ouse?
'You go an' chase yerself!' she tips me straight.
There's nothin' now fer you to do but—wait.'
Wait? . . . Gawd! . . . I never knoo wot waitin' meant.
In all me life till that day I was sent
To loaf around, while there inside—Aw, strike!
I couldn't tell yeh wot that hour was like!
Three times I comes to listen at the door;
Three times I drags meself away once more;
Arf dead wiv fear; 'arf dead wiv tremblin' joy . . .
An' then she beckons me, an' sez—'A boy!'
'A boy!' she sez. 'An' bofe is doin' well!'
I drops into a chair, an' jist sez—''Ell!'
It was a pray'r. I feels bofe crook an' glad….
An' that's the strength of bein' made a dad.
I thinks of church, when in that room I goes,
'Oldin' me breaf an' walkin' on me toes.
Fer 'arf a mo' I feared me nerve 'ud fail
To see 'er Iying there so still an' pale.
She looks so frail, at first, I dursn't stir.
An' then, I leans acrost an' kisses 'er;
An' all the room gits sorter blurred an' dim . . .
She smiles, an' moves 'er 'ead. 'Dear lad! Kiss 'im.'
Near smothered in a ton of snowy clothes,
First thing, I sees a bunch o' stubby toes,
Bald 'ead, termater face, an' two big eyes.
'Look, Kid,' she smiles at me. 'Ain't 'e a size?'
'E didn't seem no sorter size to me;
But yet, I speak no lie when I agree;
''E is,' I sez, an' smiles back at Doreen,
'The biggest nipper fer 'is age I've seen.'
She turns away; 'er eyes is brimmin' wet.
'Our little son!' she sez. 'Our precious pet!'
An' then, I seen a great big dropp roll down
An' fall—kersplosh!—fair on 'is nibs's crown.
An' still she smiles. 'A lucky sign,' she said.
'Somewhere, in some ole book, one time I read,
'The child will sure be blest all thro' the years
Who's christened wiv 'is mother's 'appy tears.''
'Kiss 'im,' she sez. I was afraid to take
Too big a mouthful of 'im, fear 'e'd break.
An' when 'e gits a fair look at me phiz
'E puckers up 'is nose, an' then—Geewhizz!
'Ow did 'e 'owl! In 'arf a second more
Nurse 'ad me 'ustled clean outside the door.
Scarce knowin' 'ow, I gits out in the yard,
An' leans agen the fence an' thinks reel 'ard.
A long, long time I looks at my two lands.
'They're all I got,' I thinks, 'they're all that stands
Twixt this 'ard world an' them I calls me own.
An' fer their sakes I'll work 'em to the bone.'
Them vows an' things sounds like a lot o' guff.
Maybe, it's foolish thinkin' all this stuff
Maybe, it's childish-like to scheme an' plan;
But—I dunno—it's that way wiv a man.
I only know that kid belongs to me!
We ain't decided yet wot 'e's to be.
Doreen, she sez 'e's got a poit's eyes;
But I ain't got much use fer them soft guys.
I think we ort to make 'im something great
A bookie, or a champeen 'eavy-weight:
Some callin' that'll give 'im room to spread.
A fool could see 'e's got a clever 'ead.
I know 'e's good an' honest; for 'is eyes
Is jist like 'ers; so big an' lovin'-wise;
They carries peace an' trust where e'er they goes
An', say, the nurse she sez 'e's got my nose!
Dead ring fer me ole conk, she sez it is.
More like a blob of putty on 'is phiz,
I think. But 'e's a fair 'ard case, all right.
I'll swear I thort 'e wunk at me last night!
My wife an' fam'ly! Don't it sound all right!
That's wot I whispers to meself at night.
Some day, I s'pose, I'll learn to say it loud
An' careless; kiddin' that I don't feel proud.
My son! . . . If there's a Gawd 'Oos leanin' near
To watch our dilly little lives down 'ere,
'E smiles, I guess, if 'E's a lovin' one
Smiles, friendly-like, to 'ear them words—My son.
Government muddles, departments dazed,
Fear and confusion wherever he gazed;
Order insulted, authority spurned,
Dread and distraction wherever he turned
Oh, the great King Splosh was a sad, sore king,
With never a statesman to straighten the thing.
Glus all importunate urging their claims,
With selfish intent and ulterior aims,
Glugs with petitions for this and for that,
Standing ten-deep on the royal door-mat,
Raging when nobody answered their ring -
Oh, the great King Splosh was a careworn king.
And he looked to the right, and he glanced to the left,
And he glared at the roof like a monarch bereft
Of his wisdom and wits and his wealth all in one;
And, at least once a minute, asked, 'What's to be done?'
But the Swanks stood around him and answered, with groans,
'Your majesty, Gosh is half buried in stones!'
'How now?' cried the King. 'Is there not in my land
One Glug who can cope with this dreadful demand:
A rich man, a poor man, a beggar man, thief
I reck not his rank so he lessen my grief
A soldier, a sailor, a - ' Raising his head,
With relief in his eye, 'Now, I mind me!' he said.
'I mind me a Tinker, and what once befel,
When I think, on the whole, he was treated not well.
But he shall be honoured, and he shall be famed
If he read me this riddle. But how is he named?
Some commonplace title, like-Simon?-No-Sym!
Go, send out my riders, and scour Gosh for him.'
They rode for a day to the sea in the South,
Calling the name of him, hand to the mouth.
They rode for a day to the hills in the East,
But signs of a tinker saw never the least.
Then they rode to the North thro' a whole day long,
And paused in the even to hark to a song.
'Kettles and pans! Kettles and pans!
Oh, who can show tresses like Emily Ann's?
Brown in the shadow and gold at the tips,
Bright as the smile on her beckoning lips.
Bring out your kettle! 0 kettle or pan!
So I buy me a ribband for Emily Ann.'
With his feet in the grass, and his back to a tree,
Merry as only a tinker can be,
Busily tinkering, mending a pan,
Singing as only a merry man can . . .
'Sym!' cried the riders. ' 'Tis thus you are styled?'
And he paused in his singing, and nodded and smiled.
Said he: 'Last eve, when the sun was low,
Down thro' the bracken I watched her go
Down thro' the bracken, with simple grace
And the glory of eve shone full on her face;
And there on the sky-line it lingered a span,
So loth to be leaving my Emily Arm.'
With hands to their faces the riders smiled.
'Sym,' they said - 'be it so you're styled
Behold, great Splosh, our sorrowing King,
Has sent us hither, that we may bring
To the palace in Gosh a Glug so named,
That he may be honoured and justly famed.'
'Yet,' said Sym, as he tinkered his can,
'What should you know of her, Emily Ann?
Early as cock-crow yester morn
I watched young sunbeams, newly born,
As out of the East they frolicked and ran,
Eager to greet her, my Emily Arm.'
'King Splosh,' said the riders, 'is bowed with grief;
And the glory of Gosh is a yellowing leaf.
Up with you, Tinker! There's work ahead.
With a King forsaken, and Swanks in dread,
To whom may we turn for the salving of man?'
And Sym, he answered them, 'Emily Ann.'
Said he: 'Whenever I watch her pass,
With her skirts so high o'er the dew-wet grass,
I envy every blade the bruise
It earns in the cause of her twinkling shoes.
Oh, the dew-wet grass, where this morn she ran,
Was doubly jewelled for Emily Ann.'
'But haste!' they cried. 'By the palace gates
A sorrowing king for a tinker waits.
And what shall we answer our Lord the King
If never a tinker hence we bring,
To tinker a kingdom so sore amiss?'
But Sym, he said to them, 'Answer him this:
'Every eve, when the clock chimes eight,
I kiss her fair, by her mother's gate:
Twice, all reverent, on the brow-
Once for a pray'r, and once for a vow;
Twice on her eyes that they may shine,
Then, full on the mouth because she's mine.''
'Calf!' sneered the riders. 'O Tinker, heed!
Mount and away with us, we must speed.
All Gosh is agog for the coming of Sym.
Garlands and greatness are waiting for him:
Garlands of roses, and garments of red
And a chaplet for crowning a conqueror's head.'
'Listen,' quoth Sym, as he stirred his fire.
'Once in my life have I known desire.
Then, Oh, but the touch of her kindled a flame
That burns as a sun by the candle of fame.
And a blessing and boon for a poor tinker man
Looks out from the eyes of my Emily Ann.'
Then they said to him, 'Fool! Do you cast aside
Promise of honour, and place, and pride,
Gold for the asking, and power o'er men
Working your will with the stroke of a pen?
Vexed were the King if you ride not with us.'
But Sym, he said to them, 'Answer him thus:
'Ease and honour and leave to live
These are the gifts that a king may give
'Twas over the meadow I saw her first;
And my lips grew parched like a man athirst
Oh, my treasure was ne'er in the gift of man;
For the gods have given me Emily Ann.'
'Listen,' said they, 'O you crazy Sym.
Roses perish, and eyes grow dim.
Lustre fades from the fairest hair.
Who weds a woman links arms with care.
But women there are in the city of Gosh -
Ay, even the daughters of good King Splosh. . .'
'Care,' said Sym, 'is a weed that springs
Even to-day in the gardens of kings.
And I, who have lived 'neath the tent of the skies,
Know of the flowers, and which to prize . . .
Give you good even! For now I must jog.'
And he whistled him once to his little red dog.
Into the meadow and over the stile,
Off went the tinker man, singing the while;
Down by the bracken patch, over the hill,
With the little red dog at the heel of him still.
And back, as he soberly sauntered along,
There came to the riders the tail of his song.
'Kettles and pots! Kettles and pans!
Strong is my arm if the cause it be man's.
But a fig for the cause of a cunning old king;
For Emily Ann will be mine in the Spring.
Then nought shall I labour for Splosh or his plans;
Tho' I'll mend him a kettle. Ho, kettles and pans!'
'Ave A 'Eart!
''Ere! 'Ave a 'eart!' 'e sez. 'Why, love a duck!
A 'uman bein' ain't a choppin' block!
There ain't no call fer you to go an' chuck
A man about when 'e 'as took the knock.
Gaw! Do yeh want to bust 'im all apart!
'Ere! 'Ave a 'eart!
'Aw, 'ave a 'eart!' 'e weeps. 'A fight's a fight;
But, strike me bandy, this is bloody war!
It's murder! An' you got no blasted right
To arst a 'uman man to come fer more.
'E 'ad no chance with you right frum the start.
Aw, 'ave a 'eart!
'Yeh've pulped 'is dile,' 'e whines; 'yeh've pinched 'is gun;
Yeh've bunged 'is eye 'an bashed in 'arf 'is teeth.
'Struth! Ain't yeh satisfied with wot yeh've done?
Or are you out to fit 'im fer a wreath?
The man's 'arf dead a'ready! Wot's yer dart?
Say, 'ave a 'eart!'
I never did 'ear sich a bloke to squeal
About a trifle. This 'ere pal uv Spike's
Don't seem to 'ave the stummick fer a deal
Uv solid stoush: rough work don't soot 'is likes.
'E ain't done much but blather frum the start,
''Ere 'ave a 'eart!'
A rat-face coot 'e is, with rat-like nerves
That's got all jangled with ixceedin' fright,
While I am 'andin' Spike wot 'e deserves.
But twice 'e tried to trip me in the fight,
The little skunk, now sobbin' like a tart,
'Aw, 'ave a 'eart!'
This 'ere's the pretty pitcher in Ah Foo's
Back privit room: Spite Wegg, well on the floor,
Is bleedin' pretty, with a bonzer bruise
Paintin' one eye, an' 'arf 'is clobber tore.
While me, the conq'rin' 'ero, stan's above
'Owlin' me love.
The rat-face mutt is dancin' up an' down;
Ah Foo is singin' jazz in raw Chinee;
The parson's starin' at me with a frown,
As if 'e thort sich things could never be;
An' I'm some bloke 'e's but 'arf rekernised
Foo's furniture is scattered any'ow,
Artisic like, in bits about the floor.
An' 'arf a dozen blokes, drawn by the row,
Nosey but nervis, 'overs near the door.
I ain't no pitcher orf no chocklit box.
I've took some knocks.
I ain't no pitcher. But - 0 Glory! - But
Ther's dicky-birds awarblin' in me soul!
To think that I ain't lost that upper-cut!
An' my left-'ook's still with me, good an' whole.
I feared me punch was dead; but I was wrong.
Me 'eart's all song!
Then, as Spike makes a move, I raised me mits
Fearin' a foul; an' Rat-face does 'is block.
'E loosens up a string uv epi-tits
That seem to jolt the parson with a shock.
Filthy an' free they was, make no mistakes.
Then Snowy wakes.
All through the fight 'e 'ad seemed kind uv dazed,
Ubsorbin' it like some saint in a dream.
But now 'e straightened up, 'is ole eyes blazed
An', as the filth flowed in a red-'ot stream,
'Is voice blew in like cool winds frum the south:
'Shut that foul mouth!'
'Shut your vile mouth, or, by the Lord! - ''Is 'and
Went up, an' there was anger on 'is face.
But Rat-face ducked. 'E weren't the man to stand
Agin that figger uv avengin' grace.
Ducked, or 'e might uv stopped one 'oly smite
Frum Snowy's right.
'Young friend,' 'E turns to me. An' then I 'ear
A yell: 'The cops! The cops is in the Lane!
'Parson,' I sez, 'we are de tropp, I fear.
Mid 'appier scenes I'll vencher to ixplain.
'Ang to me 'and, an' wave no fond farewell;
But run like 'ell!'
Some say wrong livin' reaps no good reward.
Well, I dunno. If I 'ad not cut loose
In Spadgers, in them days long, long deplored,
'Ow could I knowed the run uv Foo's caboose?
That back-way entrance, used fer Chiner's friends'
Out by a green door; down a flight uv stairs;
Along a passige; up another flight;
Through 'arf a dozen rooms, broadcastin' scares
To twenty yellow men, pea-green with fright;
Me an' the parson, through that 'eathen land,
Trips 'and in 'and.
Out uv dark corners, voices 'ere an' there
Break sudden with a jabberin' sing-song,
Like magpies flutin' on the mornin' air.
We pays no 'eed to them, but plug along,
Twistin' an' turnin' through them secret ways,
Like in a maze.
I bust a bolted door. The parson gasps:
The air inside is 'eavy with the drug.
A fat Chow goggles at the broken hasps;
Another dreams un'eedin' on a rug.
Out by the other door-past piles uv fruit
'Ow we did scoot!
Red lanterns - lacquer-work - brass pots - strange smells
Silk curtains - slippers - baskets - ginger jars
A squealin' Chinee fiddle-tinklin' bells
Queer works uv art - filth - fowls - ducks - iron bars
To winders - All pass by us in a stream,
Like 'twuz a dream.
Down to a cellar; up agen, an' out
Bananers - brandy jars - we rush pell-mell,
Turnin' to left, to right, then round about
(The parson, after, said it seemed like 'ell)
Through one last orful pong, then up a stair
Into clean air.
We're in a little yard; no thing to stop
Our flight to freedom but a fence. 'Now, jump!'
I grabs 'is rev'rince, 'eaves 'im to the top,
An' bungs me own frame over with a bump.
'Dam!' sez the parson - or it sounded so
But I dunno.
Seems that 'is coat got 'itched up on a nail.
'E jerks it free an' gently comes to earth.
'Peter the 'ermit's 'ome!' I sez. 'All 'ail!'
An' makes punk noises indicatin' mirth.
The parson, 'e walks on, as still as death.
Seems out o' breath.
I walk beside 'im; but 'e sez no word.
To put it straight, I'm feelin' pretty mean
Feelin' a bit ashamed uv wot's occurred
But still, I never planned to 'ave no scene
With Spike. I didn't start the flamin' row,
I tells 'im so. But still 'e never spoke.
I arsts 'im 'ow else could the thing be done.
I tells 'im straight I'd let no flamin' bloke
Take pot shots at me with no flamin' gun.
'E stops, an' pats me shoulder with 'is 'and:
'Young friend.' 'Is face is orful stern an' grave.
'The brawl was not your seekin', we'll suppose.
But does it 'elp this girL we wish to save?
'Ow can sich mad brutality serve Rose?
May be, in anger, you fergot, young friend,
Our Christian end?'
'Not on yer life!' I tells 'im. 'Spike's in soak,
Whether the cops 'ave got 'im now or not.
An' that removes one interferin' bloke
Wot 'ad a mind to queer our 'oly plot.
Tomorrer we'll find Rose, an' work good works
With gentler lurks.'
'Gentler?' 'e sez. 'I 'ope so.' Still 'e's grave.'The ways uv 'Eaven's strange,' 'e sez, 'an' yours
Is stranger still. Yet all may work to save
One strugglin' soul, if 'Eaven's grace endures.'
'E's dreadful solemn.
'I must own I feel
Grieved a great deal.
'Your face,' 'e sez, 'is very badly cut -'
'Now, look,' I chips. ''Old on. Let's git this right.
'Oo was it tried to stoush that rat-face mutt?
'Oo was it barracked for me in the fight?
'Oo was it used that word uv evul sense
Up on that fence?'
'Young friend!' . . . Indignant? 'Struth! I see 'im try
To keep reel stern. But soon I rekernise
The little twinkle stealin' in 'is eye,
That won't keep out, no matter 'ow 'e tries.
An' then - 'is twitchin' lips smile wide apart:
'Aw, 'ave a 'eart!'
The Swanks Of Gosh
Come mourn with me for the land of Gosh,
Oh, weep with me for the luckless Glugs
Of the land of Gosh, where the sad seas wash
The patient shores, and the great King Splosh
His sodden sorrow hugs;
Where the fair Queen Tush weeps all the day,
And the Swank, the Swank, the naughty Swank,
The haughty Swank holds sway
The most mendacious, ostentatious,
Spacious Swank holds sway.
'Tis sorrow-swathed, as I know full well,
And garbed in gloom and the weeds of woe,
And vague, so far, is the tale I tell;
But bear with me for the briefest spell,
And surely shall ye know
Of the land of Gosh, and Tush, and Splosh,
And Stodge, the Swank, the foolish Swank,
The mulish Swank of Gosh-
The meretricious, avaricious,
Vicious Swank of Gosh.
Oh, the tall trees bend, and green trees send
A chuckle round the earth,
And the soft winds croon a jeering tune,
And the harsh winds shriek with mirth,
And the wee small birds chirp ribald words
When the Swank walks down the street;
But every Glug takes off his hat,
And whispers humbly, 'Look at that!
Hats off! Hats off to the Glug of rank!
Sir Stodge, the Swank, the Lord High Swank!'
Then the East wind roars a loud guffaw,
And the haughty Swank says, 'Haw!'
His brain is dull, and his mind is dense,
And his lack of saving wit complete;
But most amazingly immense
Is his inane self-confidence
And his innate conceit.
But every Glug, and great King Splosh
Bowed to Sir Stodge, the fuddled Swank,
The muddled Swank of Gosh
The engineering, peeping, peering,
Sneering Swank of Gosh.
In Gosh, sad Gosh, where the Lord Swank lives,
He holds high rank, and he has much pelf;
And all the well-paid posts he gives
Unto his fawning relatives,
As foolish as himself.
In offices and courts and boards
Are Swanks, and Swanks, ten dozen Swanks,
And cousin Swanks in hordes
Inept and musty, dry and dusty,
Rusty Swanks in hordes.
The clouds so soft, that sail aloft,
Weep laughing tears of rain;
The blue sky spread high overhead
Peeps thro' in mild disdain.
All nature laughs and jeers and chaffs
When the Swank goes out to walk;
But every Glug bows low his head,
And says in tones surcharged with dread,
'Bow low, bow low, Glugs lean, Glugs fat!'
But the North wind snatches off his hat,
And flings it high, and shrieks to see
His ruffled dignity.
They lurk in every Gov'ment lair,
'Mid docket dull and dusty file,
Solemnly squat in an easy chair,
Penning a minute of rare hot air
In departmental style.
In every office, on every floor
Are Swanks, and Swanks, distracting Swanks,
And Acting-Swanks a score,
And coldly distant, sub-assistant
In peaceful days when the countryside
Poured wealth to Gosh, and the skies were blue,
The great King Splosh no fault espied,
And seemed entirely satisfied
With Swanks who muddled thro'.
But when they fell on seasons bad,
Oh, then the Swanks, the bustled Swanks,
The hustled Swanks went mad
The minute-writing, nation-blighting,
Skiting Swanks went mad.
The tall trees sway like boys at play,
And mock him when he grieves,
As one by one, in laughing fun,
They pelt him with their leaves.
And the gay green trees joke to the breeze,
As the Swank struts proudly by;
But every Glug, with reverence,
Pays homage to his pride immense
A homage deep to lofty rank
The Swank! The Swank! The pompous Swank!
But the wind-borne leaves await their chance
And round him gaily dance.
Now, trouble came to the land of Gosh:
The fear of battle, and anxious days;
And the Swanks were called to the great King Splosh,
Who said that their system would not wash,
And ordered other ways.
Then the Lord High Swank stretched forth a paw,
And penned a minute re the law,
And the Swanks, the Swanks, the other Swanks,
The brother Swanks said, 'Haw!'
These keen, resourceful, unremorseful,
Forceful Swanks said, 'Haw!'
Then Splosh, the king, in a royal rage,
He smote his throne as he thundered, 'Bosh!
In the whole wide land is there not one sage
With a cool, clear brain, who'll straight engage
To sweep the Swanks from Gosh?'
But the Lord High Stodge, from where he stood,
Cried, 'Barley! . . . Guard your livelihood!'
And, quick as light, the teeming Swanks,
The scheming Swanks touched wood.
Sages, plainly, labour vainly
When the Swanks touch wood.
The stealthy cats that grace the mats
Before the doors of Gosh,
Smile wide with scorn each sunny morn;
And, as they take their wash,
A sly grimace o'erspreads each face
As the Swank struts forth to court.
But every Glug casts down his eyes,
And mutters, 'Ain't 'is 'at a size!
For such a sight our gods we thank.
Sir Stodge, the Swank! The noble Swank!'
But the West wind tweaks his nose in sport;
And the Swank struts into court.
Then roared the King with a rage intense,
'Oh, who can cope with their magic tricks?'
But the Lord High Swank skipped nimbly hence,
And hid him safe behind the fence
Of Regulation VI.
And under Section Four Eight 0
The Swanks, the Swanks, dim forms of Swanks,
The swarms of Swanks lay low
These most tenacious, perspicacious,
Spacious Swanks lay low.
Cried the King of Gosh, 'They shall not escape!
Am I set at naught by a crazed buffoon?'
But in fifty fathoms of thin red tape
The Lord Swank swaddled his portly shape,
Like a large, insane cocoon.
Then round and round and round and round.
The Swanks, the Swanks, the whirling Swanks,
The twirling Swanks they wound
The swathed and swaddled, molly-coddled
Swanks inanely wound.
Each insect thing that comes in Spring
To gladden this sad earth,
It flits and whirls and pipes and skirls,
It chirps in mocking mirth
A merry song the whole day long
To see the Swank abroad.
But every Glug, whoe'er he be,
Salutes, with grave humility
And deference to noble rank,
The Swank, the Swank, the swollen Swank;
But the South wind blows his clothes awry,
And flings dust in his eye.
So trouble stayed in the land of Gosh;
And the futile Glugs could only gape,
While the Lord High Swank still ruled King Splosh
With laws of blither and rules of bosh,
From out his lair of tape.
And in cocoons that mocked the Glug
The Swanks, the Swanks, the under-Swanks,
The dunder Swanks lay snug.
These most politic, parasitic,
Critic Swanks lay snug.
Then mourn with me for a luckless land,
Oh, weep with me for the slaves of tape!
Where the Lord High Swank still held command,
And wrote new rules in a fair round hand,
And the Glugs saw no escape;
Where tape entwined all Gluggish things,
And the Swank, the Swank, the grievous Swank,
The devious Swank pulled strings
The perspicacious, contumacious
Swank held all the strings.
The blooms that grow, and, in a row,
Peep o'er each garden fence,
They nod and smile to note his style
Of ponderous pretence;
Each roving bee has fits of glee
When the Swank goes by that way.
But every Glug, he makes his bow,
And says, 'Just watch him! Watch him now!
He must have thousands in the bank!
The Swank! The Swank! The holy Swank!'
But the wild winds snatch his kerchief out,
And buffet him about.
The Rhymes Of Sym
Nobody knew why it should be so;
Nobody knew or wanted to know.
It might have been checked had but someone dared
To trace its beginnings; but nobody cared.
But 'twas clear to the wise that the Glugs of those days
Were crazed beyond reason concerning a craze.
They would pass a thing by for a week or a year,
With an air apathetic, or maybe a sneer:
Some ev'ryday thing, like a crime or a creed,
A mode or a movement, and pay it small heed,
Till Somebody started to laud it aloud;
Then all but the Nobodies followed the crowd.
Thus, Sym was a craze; tho', to give him his due,
He would rather have strayed from the popular view.
But once the Glugs had him they held him so tight
That he could not be nobody, try as he might.
He had to be Somebody, so they decreed.
For Craze is an appetite, governed by Greed.
So on Saturday week to the Great Market Square
Came every Glug who could rake up his fare.
They came from the suburbs, they came from the town,
There came from the country Glugs bearded and brown,
Rich Glugs, with cigars, all well-tailored and stout,
Jostled commonplace Glugs who dropped aitches about.
There were gushing Glug maids, well aware of their charms,
And stern, massive matrons with babes in their arms.
There were querulous dames who complained of the 'squash,'
The pushing and squeezing; for, briefly, all Gosh,
With its aunt and its wife, stood agape in the ranks
Excepting Sir Stodge and his satellite Swanks.
The Mayor of Quog took the chair for the day;
And he made them a speech, and he ventured to say
That a Glug was a Glug, and the Cause they held dear
Was a very dear Cause. And the Glugs said, 'Hear, hear.'
Then Sym took the stage to a round of applause
From thousands who suddenly found they'd a Cause.
We strive together in life's crowded mart,
Keen-eyed, with clutching hands to over-reach.
We scheme, we lie, we play the selfish part,
Masking our lust for gain with gentle speech;
And masking too - O pity ignorance!
Our very selves behind a careless glance.
Ah, foolish brothers, seeking e'er in vain
The one dear gift that liesso near at hand;
Hoping to barter gold we meanly gain
For that the poorest beggar in the land
Holds for his own, to hoard while yet he spends;
Seeking fresh treasure in the hearts of friends.
We preach; yet do we deem it worldly-wise
To count unbounded brother-love a shame,
So, ban the brother-look from out our eyes,
Lest sparks of sympathy be fanned to flame.
We smile; and yet withhold, in secret fear,
The word so hard to speak, so sweet to hear -
The Open Sesame to meanest hearts,
The magic word, to which stern eyes grow soft,
And crafty faces, that the cruel marts
Have seared and scored, turn gentle - Nay, how oft
It trembles on the lip to die unppoke,
And dawning love is stifled with a joke.
Nay, brothers, look about your world to-day:
A world to you so drab, so commonplace
The flowers still are blooming by the way,
As blossom smiles upon the sternest face.
In everv hour is born some thought of love;
In every heart is hid some treasure-trove.
With a modified clapping and stamping of feet
The Glugs mildly cheered him, as Sym took his seat.
But some said 'twas clever, and some said 'twas grand
More especially those who did not understand.
And some said, with frowns, tho' the words sounded plain,
Yet it had a deep meaning they craved to explain.
But the Mayor said: Silence! He wished to observe
That a Glug was a Glug; and in wishing to serve
This glorious Cause, which they'd asked him to lead,
They had proved they were Glugs of the noble old breed
That made Gosh what it was . . . and he'd ask the police
To remove that small boy while they heard the next piece.
'Now come,' said the Devil, he said to me,
With his swart face all a-grin,
'This day, ere ever the clock strikes three,
Shall you sin your darling sin.
For I've wagered a crown with Beelzebub,
Down there at the Gentlemen's Brimstone Club,
I shall tempt you once, I shall tempt you twice,
Yet thrice shall you fall ere I tempt you thrice.'
'Begone, base Devil!' I made reply -
'Begone with your fiendish grin!
How hope you to profit by such as I?
For I have no darling sin.
But many there be, and I know them well,
All foul with sinning and ripe for Hell.
And I name no names, but the whole world knows
That I am never of such as those.'
'How nowt' said the Devil. 'I'll spread my net,
And I vow I'll gather you in!
By this and by that shall I win my bet,
And you shall sin the sin!
Come, fill up a bumper of good red wine,
Your heart shall sing, and your eye shall shine,
You shall know such joy as you never have known.
For the salving of men was the good vine grown.'
'Begone, red Devil!' I made reply.
'Parch shall these lips of mine,
And my tongue shall shrink, and my throat go dry,
Ere ever I taste your wine!
But greet you shall, as I know full well,
A tipsy score of my friends in Hell.
And I name no names, but the whole world wots
Most of my fellows are drunken sots.'
'Ah, ha!' said the Devil. 'You scorn the wine!
Thrice shall you sin, I say,
To win me a crown from a friend of mine,
Ere three o' the clock this day.
Are you calling to mind some lady fair?
And is she a wife or a maiden rare?
'Twere folly to shackle young love, hot Youth;
And stolen kisses are sweet, forsooth!'
'Begone, foul Devil!' I made reply;
'For never in all my life
Have I looked on a woman with lustful eye,
Be she maid, or widow, or wife.
But my brothers! Alas! I am scandalized
By their evil passions so ill disguised.
And I name no names, but my thanks I give
That I loathe the lives my fellow-men live.'
'Ho, ho!' roared the Devil in fiendish glee.
''Tis a silver crown I win!
Thrice have you fallen! 0 Pharisee,
You have sinned your darling sin!'
'But, nay,' said I; 'and I scorn your lure.
I have sinned no sin, and my heart is pure.
Come, show me a sign of the sin you see!'
But the Devil was gone . . . and the clock struck three.
With an increase of cheering and waving of hats
While the little boys squealed, and made noises like cats
The Glugs gave approval to Sym's second rhyme.
And some said 'twas thoughtful, and some said 'twas prime;
And some said 'twas witty, and had a fine end:
More especially those who did not comprehend.
And some said with leers and with nudges and shrugs
That, they mentioned no names, but it hit certain Glugs.
And others remarked, with superior smiles,
While dividing the metrical feet into miles,
That the thing seemed quite simple, without any doubt,
But the anagrams in it would need thinking out.
But the Mayor said, Hush! And he wished to explain
That in leading this Movement he'd nothing to gain.
He was ready to lead, since they trusted him so;
And, wherever he led he was sure Glugs would go.
And he thanked them again, and craved peace for a time,
While this gifted young man read his third and last rhyme.
(To sing you a song and a sensible song is a worthy and excellent thing;
But how could I sing you that sort of a song, if there's never a song to sing?)
At ten to the tick, by the kitchen clock, I marked him blundering by,
With his eyes astare, and his rumpled hair, and his hat cocked over his eye.
Blind, in his pride, to his shoes untied, he went with a swift jig-jog,
Off on the quest, with a strange unrest, hunting the Feasible Dog.
And this is the song, as he dashed along, that he sang with a swaggering swing
(Now how had I heard him singing a song if he hadn't a song to sing?)
'I've found the authentic, identical beast!
The Feasible Dog, and the terror of Gosh!
I know by the prowl of him.
Hark to the growl of him!
Heralding death to the subjects of Splosh.
Oh, look at him glaring and staring, by thunder!
Now each for himself, and the weakest goes under!
'Beware this injurious, furious brute;
He's ready to rend you with tooth and with claw.
Tho' 'tis incredible,
Disappears suddenly into his maw:
Into his cavernous inner interior
Vanishes evrything strictly superior.'
He calls it 'Woman,' he calls it 'Wine,' he calls it 'Devils' and 'Dice';
He calls it 'Surfing' and 'Sunday Golf' and names that are not so nice.
But whatever he calls it-'Morals' or 'Mirth'-he is on with the hunt right quick
For his sorrow he'd hug like a gloomy Gllig if he hadn't a dog to kick.
So any old night, if the stars are right, vou will find him, hot on the trail
Of a feasible dog and a teasable dog, with a can to tie to his tail.
And the song that he roars to the shuddering stars is a worthy and excellent thing.
(Yet how could you hear him singing a song if there wasn't a song to sing?)
'I've watched his abdominous, ominous shape
Abroad in the land while the nation has slept,
Marked his satanical
Rigorous, vigorous vigil I kept.
Good gracious! Voracious is hardly the name for it!
Yet we have only our blindness to blame for it.
'My dear, I've autoptical, optical proof
That he's prowling and growling at large in the land.
Hear his pestiferous
Gurgles and groans of the beastliest brand.
Some may regard his contortions as comical.
But I've the proof that his game's gastronomical.
'Beware this obstreperous, leprous beast -
A treacherous wretch, for I know him of old.
I'm on the track of him,
Close at the back of him,
And I'm aware his ambitions are bold;
For he's yearning and burning to snare the superior
Into his roomy and gloomy interior.'
Such a shouting and yelling of hearty Bravoes,
Such a craning of necks and a standing on toes
Seemed to leave ne'er a doubt that the Tinker's last rhyme
Had now won him repute 'mid the Glugs for all time.
And they all said the rhyme was the grandest they'd heard:
More especially those who had not caught a word.
But the Mayor said: Peace! And he stood, without fear,
As the leader of all to whom Justice was dear.
For the Tinker had rhymed, as the Prophet foretold,
And a light was let in on the errors of old.
For in every line, and in every verse
Was the proof that Sir Stodge was a traitor, and worse!
Sir Stodge (said the Mayor), must go from his place;
And the Swanks, one and all, were a standing disgrace!
For the influence won o'er a weak, foolish king
Was a menace to Gosh, and a scandalous thing!
'And now,' said the Mayor, 'I stand here to-day
As your leader and friend.' And the Glugs said, 'Hooray!'
Then they went to their homes in the suburbs and town;
To their farms went the Glugs who were bearded and brown.
Portly Glugs with cigars went to dine at their clubs,
While illiterate Glugs had one more at the pubs.
And each household in Gosh sat and talked half the night
Of the wonderful day, and the imminent fight.
Forgetting the rhymer, forgetting his rhymes,
They talked of Sir Stodge and his numerous crimes.
There was hardly a C3lug in the whole land of Gosh
Who'd a lenient word to put in for King Splosh.
One and all, to the mangiest, surliest dog,
Were quite eager to bark for his Worship of Quog.
Forgotten, unnoticed, Sym wended his way
To his lodging in Gosh at the close of the day.
And 'twas there, to his friend and companion of years
To his little red dog with the funny prick ears
That he poured out his woe; seeking nothing to hide;
And the little dog listened, his head on one side.
'O you little red dog, you are weary as I.
It is days, it is months since we saw the blue sky.
And it seems weary years since we sniffed at the breeze
As it hms thro' the hedges and sings in the trees.
These we know and we love. But this city holds fears,
O my friend of the road, with the funny prick ears.
And for what me we hope from his Worship of Quog?'
'Oh, and a bone, and a kick,' said the little red dog.