So we forget? The streets bloom gay
With festive garments, many hued;
And man and maid laugh down the way
With all the joy of life imbued.
Respite from toil, surcease from care
Lend gladness to a merry voice,
As brother cries to brother there,
'Let us rejoice.'
Do we forget? The garden blooms;
Joy beckons from the sunlit hill,
Where now no triple shadow looms
To cast o'er all the earth a chill.
This day is made for carefree souls!
For holiday! For Eastertide! ...
Yet, thro' it all a bell still tolls
For One Who died.
When we went singing down the road,
In days when want was not a goad,
Dull care behind us flinging,
No step we stayed, no joy we missed,
To hearken to the pessimist,
But gaily went on singing.
We'd faith in this great country then;
We'd hope in her great, stalwart men,
Who built a worthy nation.
Hope? Hope was ever in our hearts,
For we seemed cast for Builders' parts
And there was our salvation.
But what has changed our outlook now?
With weary eyes and furrowed brow
The uphill road we're facing.
But why? This land is still aflame
With promise of great hope and fame.
Must age be youth disgracing?
Oh, let's go singing up the road,
Although we bear a heavy load.
What good is grieving bringing?
Still, just beneath this happy ground
Is wondrous fortune to be found.
So let us go on singing.
Born to the sun and smiling skies,
And bird-songs to the morning flung,
To joyousness that never dies
In hearts that stay for ever young
'Twas here, beneath the shining trees,
She paused to learn the magic rune
Of those unlaboured ecstasies
That keep a weary world in tune.
The grey thrush fluting by the nest,
The golden whistler trilling high
Their gifts she captured and expressed
In magic notes that may not die.
Then to the old, grey world she gave,
Exultingly, at Art's command,
In songs that live beyond the grave,
Her message from a bright, young land.
With sheer exuberance of Art,
Won from that happy, feathered throng,
She poured our sunshine from her heart,
Translated into magic song.
And tho', alas. the singer dies,
Who bade old continents rejoice,
Not ever from our sunlit skies
Departs the memory of her voice.
The Golden Whistler
Golden bird whose golden voice,
When the summer days wax long
Cheery optimist from choice
Bids the feathered world rejoice
With full many a varied song
From the tree-tops flinging free
Golden bursts of melody.
Golden notes for golden hours
Where the sunlit waters gleam,
And the fragrant wattle flow'rs
Swoon in scented golden show'rs
To the bosom of the stream,
Singing, swinging, fluting high
None so gay, so glad as I.
Golden in the dawn's first hush
Sounds my matin, loud and long,
With a sweet, spontaneous rush,
Vying with harmonious thrush
For the bushlands Crown of Song
As the golden eye grows dim,
Sounds my joyous vesper hymn.
Golden minstrel, justly framed,
Greeted ere with grateful words
Long ere this my song has shamed
Him who fatuously named
This a land of songless birds
Seek you solace, seek you balm,
Hearken to my golden psalm.
The Heritage Of Ease
Are we so flabby, and are we so soft?
I have pondered the question long and oft;
And happy-go-lucky we may appear
When the fat and easy days are here,
When it's easy come and it's easy go,
And there's never a long, hard row to hoe.
But exceedingly hard and remarkably tough
Are the terms that fit when the days grow rough,
And Australia faces the jobs ahead
That fall in the seasons of stress and dread.
And the sturdier stuff of the pioneers
Has not all gone with the old, stern years.
And the tasks we faced and the loads we bore,
When the folly of nations brought us war,
Were not too many and not too great
To bend our backs or to halt our gait.
For the same old metal they tried anew,
And then, as ever, the stuff rang true.
But the soft times came; and the seed we sowed
On the days we travelled the easy road,
We must harvest now, as we all repent
Of a flabbiness passed to a Government
And nurtured there, while we rage and rear
To be up and waging the fight once more.
Happy Heathen: (With Limited Apologies To G.K.C.)
The heathen's not efficient;
He sits down in the sun
And doesn't care a tuppn'y dump
When the day's work's begun.
He works to eat and eats to live,
All day he'll dance and sing;
And if you mention overtime
He laughs like anything.
But we are most efficient!
And, goodness! Look at us!
Our nights are filled with restless dreams,
Our days with fret and fuss.
And we can have depressions
And modern things like that,
And monoplanes and motor cars
And trousers and a hat.
The heathen's not efficient;
He does not value gold;
And when we'd teach him of its worth
He simply won't be told.
He'll hang gold coins about his neck
For foolish ornament,
While half a bread-fruit or a ham
Bring him complete content.
Oh, we are most efficient;
We'd pile up heaps of gold
And leave it to ungrateful heirs
When we descend to mould.
But the heathen's not efficient;
He is lazy, free, unkempt,
And from the highly civilized
Earns nothing but contempt.
The League Of Youth
There was never a hint, when I was a boy,
That the joy of the wilds might bring man joy;
Never a thought that a wild thing slain
Might wake in the slayer pain for pain.
We were savages all, with the hunter's thrill
In the lure of the chase and the lust of the kill;
And the bud on the bough, and the bird in the nest
Were beautiful things to be possessed.
But a worthier thing comes now to the earth,
Since pity in minds of the young has birth.
'Tis the glorious gift, that wisdom brings,
Of knowing and loving all lovely things:
Of loving and sharing with all the boon
Of the glad free things that may teach us soon
The gift of living, as glad and free,
As bird and blossom in Arcady.
'Oh, youth is heedless,' the elders say,
'Youth is callous and cruel in play,'
Say they, forgetting that all youth heeds
Comes down through lauding of elders' deeds.
But the law of savage - of fang and claw
Gives what was in the end to a worthier law;
And man, emerging from ways uncouth,
Sees visions anew in the League of Youth.
Where the sunlight, burning down,
Lights her luscious orange groves,
Lights the river and the town;
Where the placid Murray roves;
Where each shining summer gives
Life to loveliness serene;
Here the tropic lady lives
'Mid her almost tropic scene.
Palm trees spreading to the sun,
Dusk of lemon, sheen of vine;
Vitamin and vigour won
And imprisoned, till the wine,
Gushing from the purple grape
In the press, allows again
Golden sunlight to escape
These the dower of her domain.
Gay and glad and vigorous,
Winning wealth from summertime,
Glorious gifts she gleans for us
Dwellers in a colder clime;
Conjuring from her kindly earth
Golden fruits to give men joy
Well this lady knows the worth
Of her Arcadian employ.
Tropic lady! Well she knows
Whence her brave abundance comes.
Wealth, where her broad river flows,
Bordered by its spreading gums;
Comes with waters winding down
From the cold lands of the east,
Suffering her sun-kissed town
To spread for us a kingly feast.
One Happy Man
Today I met a happy man
Greeting the glad new year.
About his face the sunbeams ran
And danced, as straightaway he began
To laugh with right good cheer.
His garb was mean, tho' neat and clean;
No scarf, no hat had he.
He seemed indeed to be in need
And touched by poverty.
'Good friend,' said I, 'why do you laugh
And chortle in the sun,
When we've a bitter cut to quaff.
With profits down to less than half
And gloom for every one?
Know you that these are troublous days,
And life a stern affair,
And all must tread uncertain ways,
Haunted by grim despair?'
The merry rogue looked up at me,
And grinned from ear to ear.
'Why should I not be glad?' said he,
'And strive to greet right merrily
The birth of this glad year?'
'Because,' said I - and frowned again
'Of losses grave and great
That you and I and other men
Have had to bear of late.
'Think well,' I said; 'the times are grave,
And we may lose yet more.
We must give thought on how to save . . . '
He lifted up his head and gave
A long, loud, merry roar.
'I'd like,' said he, when he had pause,
'To share your gloomy views.
But I don't care a whit, because
I've not a thing to lose!'
A lady plump and pleasing
And generous and free,
Her life is spent in sleek content
Beside her inland sea;
And, round its pleasant waters,
Her pastures, rich and green,
Their treasures yield from many a field
To make her way serene.
A placid, laughing lady,
And prone to placid ways;
But yet, withal, she heeds the call
0f labor all her days
Of kind, congenial labor,
That holds nor fret nor stress
A farmer's wife whose busy life
Brings full, free happiness.
Men say the ocean covered
These fields in some dim age;
And seas, long fled, vast riches spread
To be the heritage
Of this plump Aphrodite,
Now risen from the wave
To thrive apace and wax in grace
On all the wealth they gave.
A happy, hearty lady,
She turns the gift to good,
And wins in toil from this rich soil
A fine fat livelihood.
Now, where seas long since thundered,
Her cars ply up and down
To evidence sound thrift and sense
In Colac's smiling town.
Her land of lakes and pastures
Could never harbor here,
In this lush place, a dour, hard race
Wed to an outlook drear.
And so she smiles and prospers,
A happy, hearty wife,
Whose ample charms, whose thriving farms
Reveal her zest in life.
To-day I took old rhymes that I had written.
And read them through, each one unto the end:
When with a swift nostalgia was I smitten,
As with sad memories of some old friend
Some happy, wayward man I used to know
Long since. Alas! (And, by the way, heigh-ho!)
All his, it seemed, these sudden, cheerful spasms
Of humor poured from an untroubled mind,
These old ambitions, old enthusiasms,
When all the world seemed true, and men most kind:
When roseate skies were never tinged with grey.
Ah woe! (And, so to speak, alack-a-day!)
All his these views so unsophisticated.
These thoughts so innocent and yet so wise.
Such minds as mine have never contemplated
A world so free of guile, so free of lies,
A world of woe and wickedness so free,
Of misery! (And, as it were, ah me!)
Not mine this intricate, yet careless weaving
Of joyous rhymes? Not mine this happy twist?
Surely not mine? 'Tis far beyond believing!
Such songs come from some youthful optimist
Who gaily danced along life's primrose way,
And yet - (Well, once again, alack-a-day!)
Yet they are mine, these merry, lilting phrases.
Never again shall I pen such sweet lays!
Never again shall I...But why the blazes
Shouldn't I? (Odds fish! and spare me days!)
Why shouldn't I? The time is surely ripe
For verses far surpassing this old tripe!
Winter has come; and tardily
Now little nipping winds are rife
Where laggard leaves, on many a tree,
Still cling tenaciously to life.
Spent Autumn with a myriad hues
Had laughed at death and mocked the worm.
And now bluff Winter shouts glad news
Of Winter joys, which I refuse,
I simply sit and squirm.
For Winter, too, holds many joys,
Pert flappers, furred to ears and chin,
With painted lips, to lure the boys,
And hose that lets the breezes in
Go laughing by . . . A gladness cleaves
E'en to yon toiler, who with firm,
Swift strokes, sweeps up the fallen leaves
And, working, whistles. . . . No Man grieves
Save I who sit and squirm.
He whistles on in merry mood,
And sweeps, and sweeps along the street.
'How like all futile life,' I brood.
Nought but frustration, death, defeat.
For as he sweeps, poor toiling hack
Sweeps up dead leaf and deadly germ,
Rude winds arise and sweep them back,
And all's to do again! Alack!
I sit, and sneer, and squirm.
I squirm to hear the football fans'
Impassioned cry of 'On the ball!'
Lure of the links, the punter's plans
I squirm, I squirm, and scorn them all,
I squirm while thrushes, fluting free,
Shout triumph over clammy care....
Ah, laggard leaf upon the tree,
Squirm on, and join my thenody;
For Winter's only gift to me
Is woollen underwear.
On With The Dance!
Hi, Cockalorum! But - Misery me!
What is the aftermath going to be?
With joy at its zenith and sorrow its least,
I am the skeleton come to the feast.
Now the centenary swells over all,
I am the writing aglow on the wall:
Eat, drink and make merry. Eat, drink and make merry.
Hip, hip. Cockahoop! And alack-a-day derry!
I am the spoil-sport a-gnawing his nails,
Boding disaster when merriment fails.
Dance, little lady; oh, dance while you may,
Shout ye, good gentlemen. Merry's the day!
Sorrow is looming.
Hear the far booming.
The ghouls and the ghosts are a-groaning and glooming.
Today for the dancing, the love and the laughter,
But what of the morning after? Aye!
Happy-go-lucky! But - Misery me.
What is the aftermath going to be?
Away with the skeleton! Deep in his grave
Ram him and cram him and make him behave.
We are the merry men, born of the sun;
And this second century, fitly begun
Shall never mark back to follies of eld -
To ills and to errors past centuries held
This is our century, shining and splendid,
When spectres are banished and ill dreams are ended.
Never false fear, as of old, shall bedim it.
There isn't an ending, there isn't a limit
To joy in our gifts that are rained from above.
There isn't a finish to friendship and love -
Love of good laughter, good friends and good living.
There isn't an end to the gain from free giving.
A fig for the pessimist, moaning mumchance!
There isn't an aftermath. On with the dance!
The Homeward Track
Once a year we lumber southward with the clip from Yarradee;
Spell the bullocks in the township while we run our yearly spree.
What's a bullocky to live for? Days of toil are hard and long;
And you'd not begrudge him yearly one short week of wine and song.
While it lasts he asks no better. When it's over 'Yoke 'em up,'
And we'll make another promise for to shun the brimming cup.
When we've done our little cheque in, and the township's at our back;
Then we start to think of mending - out along the Homeward Track.
For there comes a time of reck'ning when we're trudging by the team;
Back again to work an' worry; kind of waking from a dream;
We begin to see the folly of a week of wicked fun,
Bought with months of weary slaving, punching bullocks on the run.
But our views are somewhat tempered when we've done a twelve months' drouth;
And our thoughts ain't so religious when the team is heading south.
When the pleasure is before us, work and worry at our back,
We forget the grim reformers out along the Homeward Track.
What's the odds? It's got to happen. What we've done we'll do again;
And we know it while we make 'em, resolutions are in vain.
Life's a weary track to travel, mostly full of ruts and stumps:
Them that spends their days in drudging have to take their joy in lumps.
Yoke 'em up an' get a move on! Gayest times must have an end,
There's a weary track to travel when we've nothing left to spend.
If there's still a bob we'll wet it, and a last glad joke we'll crack,
Time enough for vain regretting when we're on the Homeward Track.
A Hymn Of Heat
When Summer comes
To silence the retreating drums
Of stubborn Winter, when content
Shall salve my chill predicament.
And I shall loll beneath the sun
And dream of duties to be done;
While Phyllis my tall beaker fills
And Strephon dances on the hills
And pipes a lay, I'll take my ease
And listen to the labouring bees.
And mock their dull industrious hums
When Summer comes.
When Summer's here
And labourers look upon their beer
Most lovingly, while winking foam
Lisps, 'Send me home! Ah, send me home!'
And they, intoning briefly, ''Sluck!'
Its gladness 'neath their pinnies tuck,
I, too, mayhap, shall send a pot,
Spurlos versunken, to that spot
Its magic warms; lest that stern man
Who rules my dietetic plan
Burbles, 'Verboten!' as I fear
When Summer's here.
When Summer shines,
Then to blue seas my choice inclines
Where nymphs upon the golden sands
Hold out Nirvana in glad hands,
Or run to greet the languorous sea
And, with mer-maiden modesty,
Frisk in foam. Then would I seize
Despite my ageing arteries
Joy by the beard! Unless, alack,
A flock of olden ills come back,
As come they will, by all the signs,
When Summer shines.
When Summer comes
Oh, let me loll 'neath sunlit gums
Yet, I don't know. A man must eat,
Come winter hail or summer heat;
And, that he eat, a man must toil.
Aye, tho' arterial systems boil.
Wherefore, 'twill likely be my lot,
As hitherto when days wax hot,
To yearn again in longing lays
For brisk, crisp, Winter's bracing days
To earn a few poor meagre crumbs
When Summer comes.
To this green place the tourists troop,
By twos, by threes, and group by group,
Lads in bright blazers, girls in slacks,
Hikers with rucksack on their backs.
And bush ways, till their advent stilled,
With joyous shouting now is filled
'Cooee!' each gay town-dweller cries,
And counts himself full forest wise.
An old grey bushman lounging by
Marks the sophisticated cry
And smiles a little as he says,
'The city folk got real queer ways.
What's this here 'cooee' mean at all?
Seems like a kind of mating call.
Childish they seem.' He smiles again,
The wise one in his own domain.
Here's his revenge for all he meets
Of stares and smiles in city streets,
For ridicule and laughing snubs
By city paths and city pubs.
He deems it now the crowning joke
To 'pull the legs' of city folk.
'What? Snakes?' says he. 'By gosh, you're right.
It's days like this they're apt to fight.'
So moves the pageantry today
By many a pleasant bushland way,
And laughing crowds wake merriment
Where once, mid silences there went
Some wandering band of blacks, to seek,
Their scanty fare by hill and creek,
Less than ten score of years ago.
And of the future? Who may know.
Content amid this Christmas scene
Of gleaming sky and glowing green
And happy shouts, one well might pray
For even yet some happier day
When, growing saner, kindlier still,
May devise, by wooded hill
And shaded vale, some scene of mirth
As yet unvisioned on our eath.
Is it for this our feet are set,
While war and folly men forget?
Orm ust this land drift back again
To primal silence, making vain
All that our vaunted progress won?
Who knows? Who cares? Here is the sun!
Glad youth calls youth by hill and creek. . . .
These are no thoughts for Christmas week.
Old Town Types No.11
As first I remember him: A red man, and tall,
Great Toll, the blacksmith, filled my childish eye.
At its first crisp, clamorous stroke,
Every morning I awoke
To the ringing of his anvil as the years lagged by.
And, when the season came for them, he made us iron hoops
And iron hooks to trundle them: for children were his joy,
And then down the village street we raced with joyous whoops;
For little things contented us when I was a boy.
A glad giant toiling in his little tin shop
The great swelling arms he had, the great rugged head
There he loomed beside the forge
Calling to his striker, george,
'Smite it, laddie! Smite it while the iron glows red!'
So simply joyous in his strength, he made of life a song;
A straight man, a proper man, on no swift fortune bent,
He went about his heavy tasks humming the whole day long,
Accepting, simply as it came, his great gift of content.
The boasting tales his townsmen told he feigned were half untrue,
And blushed to find his feats of strength had won him wide renown;
Of how, long since, he flung his sledge
Fron Grogan's to the river's edge,
And bore two bags of wheat a-back the whole length of the town;
Of how he raised a mighty beam to save a child from fire
When Simpson's store was gutted in the blaze of 'eighty-six.
'They talk,' said he; 'and tales will grow. But, Lord, 'tain't my desire
For to figure as a hero thro' a brace of silly tricks.'
As last I remember him: A grey man and spare,
Sitting in his sons' garage, now from toil withdrawn,
Calling with a mighty roar,
Startling in a man so hoar,
'Smite it, laddie! Smite it! Lord, the young 'uns lack the brawn!'
But, as the cool of even comes to oust the day-long heat,
He is mindful of 'the missus.' ''Tis the rheumatiz,' he owns.
Then, shoulders back, grey head erect, he toddles down the street
Old Toll, the ex-smith, a brave old bag of bones.
The Spotted Heifers
Mr Jeremiah Jeffers
Owned a pair of spotted heifers
These he sold for two pounds ten
To Mr Robert Raymond Wren
Who reared them in the lucerne paddocks
Owned by Mr Martin Maddox,
And sold them, when they grew to cows,
To Mr Donald David Dowse.
A grazier, Mr Egbert Innes,
Bought them then for twenty guineas,
Milked the cows, and sold the milk
To Mr Stephen Evan Silk.
Who rents a butter factory
From Mr Laurence Lampard-Lee.
Here, once a week, come for his butter
The grocer, Mr Roland Rutter,
Who keeps a shop in Sunny Street
Next door to Mr Peter Peat.
He every afternoon at two
Sent his fair daughter, Lucy Loo,
To Mr Rutter's shop to buy
Such things as were not priced too high,
Especially a shilling tin
Of "Fuller's Food for Folk Too Thin."
This food was bought for Lucy Loo -
A girl of charming manners, who
Was much too pale and much too slight
To be a very pleasant sight.
When Lucy Loo beheld the butter
Stocked by Mr Roland Rutter,
She said, "I'll have a pound of that."
She had it, and thenceforth grew fat.
We now we go back to Mr Jeffers,
Who sold the pair of spotted heifers.
He had a son, James Edgar John,
A handsome lad to gaze upon,
Who had now reached that time of life
When young men feel they need a wife;
But no young girl about the place
Exactly had the kind of face
That seemed to suit James Edgar John -
A saddening thing to think upon,
For he grew sad and sick of life
Because he could not find a wife.
One day young James was passing by
(A look of sorrow in his eye)
The shop of Mr Roland Rutter,
When Lucy Loo came out with butter.
At once James Edgar John said, "That
Is just the girl for me! She's fat."
He offered her his heart and hand
And prospects of his father's land.
The Reverend Saul Sylvester Slight
Performed the simple marriage rite.
The happy couple went their way,
And lived and loved unto this day.
Events cannot be far foreseen;
And all ths joy might not have been
If Mr Jeremiah Jeffers
Had kept his pair of spotted heifers.
The Mountain Laboured
A patriot spake thus to an eager throng:
'Give me the power and I shall right each wrong.
And Fortune, smiling, on our land shall look'
His name was COOK.
Lo, I beheld, throughout a continent,
A nation wrestle with affairs of State,
And patriotic cries, wher'er I went,
Poured forth alike from groundlings and the great.
I heard man reason with his fellow man;
From shore to shore rang out one mighty screech,
As, daily, from a thousand platforms ran
Rivers of speech.
Consul and Senator keen combat waged.
Doctor and Saint joined hotly in the fray;
North, South and West and East the battle raged;
And ev'ry citizen had much to say;
Bland politicians talked incessantly
It seemed a very battle of the gods;
Though much they said appeared to me to be
Over the odds.
Then lo, upon the great Election Day,
The day appointed for the mighty test,
Cab, jinker, motor-car and humble dray
Hither and thither sped at the behest
Of rival statesmen whose bold streamers flared
On wall and hoarding....You can guess the rest
'Twere easy spared.
My wife remained at home to mend my socks;
But forth went I to claim my sovereign right,
To win my freedom at the ballot-box....
I got back home at twelve o'clock that night.
Or was it two next morning? I forget.
But I had done my duty like a man:
Helped in the noblest scheme man's fashioned yet
The Party Plan.
And then a solemn hush fell on the land
(I was content, considering my head,
Next Morning). And behold, on ev'ry hand,
Expectancy and hope one plainly read,
Till through the land rang out the herald's voice
Telling the upshot of that mighty fray:
'Joseph is consul! Citizens, rejoice!
'Ip, 'ip, 'ooray!'
Rejoice I did; and my prophetic soul
Saw for my country happiness and peace.
For he had reached at last the longed-for goal.
Now would our corn and oil and beer increase!
What would it profit else, this strike, this pain
A mighty Nation shaken to its soul?
Sans good result, all hope ('twas very plain)
Was up the pole.
Into the Hall of State I blithely went,
Eager to hear the dignified debate
Grave, reverend seigneurs in grave argument
Engaged, discussing great affairs of State,
Wise counsellors....But stay! What's here amiss?
Are these the honoured makers of the Law?
Now Heav'n defend our Party Plan! for this
Is what I saw:
A yelping, clamorous, unruly clan;
A small bald, agitated, snapping man;
And, as they raved, his fist he fiercely shook
His name was COOK.
Grey thrush was in the wattle tree, an', 'Oh, you pretty dear!'
He says in his allurin' way; an' I remarks, 'Hear, hear!
That does me nicely for a start; but what do I say next?'
But then the Jacks take up the song, an' I get very vexed.
The thrush was in the wattle tree, an' I was underneath.
I'd put a clean white collar on, I'd picked a bunch of heath;
For I was cleaned an' clobbered up to meet my Nell that day.
But now my awful trouble comes: What is a man to say?
I mean to tell her all I've thought since first I saw her there,
On the bark-heap by the mill-shed, with the sunlight in her hair.
I mean to tell her all I've done an' what I'll do with life;
An', when I've said all that an' more, I'll ask her for my wife.
I mean to tell her she's too good, by far, for such as me,
An' how with lonely forest life she never may agree.
I mean to tell her lots of things, an' be reel straight an' fine;
And, after she's considered that, I'll ask her to be mine.
I seen her by the sassafras, the sun was on her hair;
An' I don't know what come to me to see her standin' there.
I never even lifts my hat, I never says 'Good day'
To her that should be treated in a reel respectful way.
I only know the girl I want is standin' smilin' there
Right underneath the sassafras. I never thought I'd dare,
But I holds out my arms to her, an' says, as I come near
Not one word of that speech of mine—but, 'Oh, you pretty dear !'
It was enough. Lord save a man! It's simple if he knew,
There's one way with a woman if she loves you good an' true.
Next moment she is in my arms; an' me? I don't know where.
If Heaven can compare with it I won't fret much up there.
'Why, Mister Jim,' she says to me. 'You're very bold,' says she.
'Yes, miss,' I says. Then she looks up—an' that's the end of me….
'O man !' she cries. 'O modest man, if you go on like this—'
But I interrupt a lady, an' I do it with a kiss.
'Jim, do you know what heroes are?' says she, when I'd 'behaved.'
'Why, yes,' says I. 'They're blokes that save fair maids that won't be saved.'
'You're mine,' says she, an' smiles at me, 'an' will be all my life
That is, if it occurs to you to ask me for your wife.'
Grey thrush is in the wattle tree when I get home that day
Back to my silent, lonely house—an' still he sings away.
There is no other voice about, no step upon the floor;
An' none to come an' welcome me as I get to the door.
Yet in the happy heart of me I play at make-believe:
I hear one singin' in the room where once I used to grieve;
I hear a light step on the path, an', as I reach the gate,
A happy voice, that makes me glad, tells me I'm awful late.
Now what's a man to think of that, an' what's a man to say,
Who's been out workin' in the bush, tree-fallin', all the day?
An' how's a man to greet his wife, if she should meet him here ?
But Grey Thrush in the wattle tree says, 'Oh, you pretty dear !'
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.
A Song Of Rain
Because a little vagrant wind veered south from China Sea;
Or else, because a sun-spot stirred; and yet again, maybe
Because some idle god in play breathed on an errant cloud,
The heads of twice two million folk in gratitude are bowed.
Patter, patter… Boolconmatta,
Adelaide and Oodnadatta,
Pepegoona, parched and dry
Laugh beneath a dripping sky.
Riverina's thirsting plain
Knows the benison of rain.
Ararat and Arkaroola
Render thanks with Tantanoola
For the blessings they are gaining,
And it's raining - raining - raining!
Because a heaven-sent monsoon the mists before it drove;
Because things happened in the moon; or else, because High Jove,
Unbending, played at waterman to please a laughing boy,
The hearts through all a continent are raised in grateful joy.
Weeps the sky at Wipipee
Far Farina's folk are dippy
With sheer joy, while Ballarat
Shouts and flings aloft its hat.
Thirsty Thackaringa yells;
Taltabooka gladly tells
Of a season wet and windy;
Men rejoice on Murrindindie;
Kalioota's ceased complaining;
For it's raining - raining - raining!
Because a poor bush parson prayed an altruistic prayer,
Rich with unselfish fellow-love that Heaven counted rare;
And yet, mayhap, because one night a meteor was hurled
Across the everlasting blue, the luck was with our world.
On the wilds of Winininnie
Cattle low and horses whinny,
Frolicking with sheer delight.
From Beltana to The Bight,
In the Mallee's sun-scorched towns,
In the sheds on Darling Downs,
In the huts at Yudnapinna,
Tents on Tidnacoordininna,
To the sky all heads are craning
For it's raining - raining - raining!
Because some strange, cyclonic thing has happened - God knows where
Men dream again of easy days, of cash to spend and spare.
The ring fair Clara coveted, Belinda's furs are nigh,
As clerklings watch their increments fall shining from the sky.
Rolls the thunder at Eudunda;
Leongatha, Boort, Kapunda
Send a joyous message down;
Sorrows, flooded, sink and drown.
Ninkerloo and Nerim South
Hail the breaking of the drouth;
From Toolangi's wooded mountains
Sounds the song of plashing fountains;
Sovereign Summer's might is waning;
It is raining - raining - raining!
Because the breeze blew sou'-by-east across the China Sea;
Or else, because the thing was willed through all eternity
By gods that rule the rushing stars, or gods long aeons dead,
The earth is made to smile again, and living things are fed.
Mile on mile from Mallacoota
Runs the news, and far Baroota
Speeds it over hill and plain,
Till the slogan of the rain
Rolls afar to Yankalilla;
Wallaroo and Wirrawilla
Shout it o'er the leagues between,
Telling of the dawning green.
Frogs at Cocoroc are croaking,
Booboorowie soil is soaking,
Oodla Wirra, Orroroo
Breathe relief and hope anew.
Wycheproof and Wollongong
Catch the burden of the song
That is rolling, rolling ever
O'er the plains of Never Never,
Sounding in each mountain rill,
Echoing from hill to hill…
In the lonely, silent places
Men lift up their glad, wet faces,
And their thanks ask no explaining
It is raining - raining - raining!
Ai've just obteened a pension for mai Paw.
And you should hev seen the people that were theah.
Re-ally, it was surpraising!
Maind, Ai am not criticaising,
But it was embarrassing, Ai do decleah.
Ai met the Snobson-Smythes and Toady-Browns, and many moah
Belonging to ouah set; and wondahed what they came theah foah.
And, of course, Ai didn't say a word of Paw.
Ai rather think they've nevah heard of Paw.
But Ai thought it well to mention
That Ai came to get the pension
For an aged person who had worked for Maw.
The Snobson-Smythes said, 'Fancy! That is just why we came dahn.'
But Ai've heard they hev a mothah hidden somewheah out of tahn.
Ai do deserve some gratitude from Paw.
To think what Ai've gone thro' foah him to-day!
Mixing with the lowah classes-
And Ai never saw such masses
Of disreputable creatuahs, Ai must say.
Imposters, Ai've no doubt, if most of them were but unmasked.
And then, the most humiliating questions Ai was asked!
Yes, he forced me to admit it was foah Paw.
Asked me, brutally, if it was foah mai Paw.
Some low-bred official fellow,
Who conversed in quaite a bellow,
And he patronised me laike a high Bashaw.
And his questions, rudely personal, Ai hardly could enduah.
The Government should teach its people mannahs, Ai am suah!
Ai'm glad we've got the pension foah Pooah Paw.
His maintenance has been - O, such a strain.
Ouah establishment's extensive
And exceedingly expensive,
As mai husband has remawked taime and again.
It's quaite a miracle how Ai contrive to dress at all.
He cut me dahn to twenty guineas for last Mayoral Ball!
And it's such a boah to hev to think of Paw
To hev a secret skeleton laike Paw.
Paw, you know, was once a diggah,
And he cuts no social figgah.
And his mannahs! O, they touch us on the raw.
Of course, we're very fond of him, and all thet sort of thing;
But we couldn't hev him - could we? - when theah's naice folk visiting.
It's cost us pawnds and pawnds to care foah Paw.
And then, it is so hard to keep him dawk.
Why, no later then last Mond'y,
Ai was out with Lady Grundy,
When we ran raight into him outsaide the Pawk.
Goodness knows! Ai managed, somehow, to elude him with a nod,
And Ai said he was a tradesman; but she must hev thought it odd.
You can't picture the ubiquity of Paw,
And he's really very obstinate, is Paw.
Why, he held to the contention
That this most convenient pension
Was a thing he hadn't any raight to draw!
He said we'd kept him eighteen months, and ought to keep him yet.
But mai husband soon convinced him that he couldn't count on thet.
He was a pioneah, you know, mai Paw.
But of mai early laife Ai never tell.
Paw worked, as Ai hev stated;
And he had us educated;
And, later on, Ai married rather well.
And then, you know, deah Paw became - er - well, embarrassing.
For he is so unconventional and - all thet sort of thing.
But the Government has taken ovah Paw.
We are happy now we've aisolated Paw.
And a bettah era's dawning,
For mai husband said this mawning
Thet the money saved would buy a motah-caw.
Paw was so good to us when we were young, that, you'll allow,
It's really taime the Government did something foah him now.
March Of Memories
Left, right - left, right . . .
We march today for memories (the grizzled Digger said)
Memories of lost dreams and comrades gone ahead
Comrades bloody war took, dreams that men have slain
(Left, right - left, right . . .) Not ours to dream again.
There was Shorty Hall and Len Pratt, Long Joe and Blue,
Skeet and Brolga Houlihan, and Fat and me and you:
Bright lads, the old bunch; eager lads and keen
That first day we marched down thro' this familiar scene.
Dreams were ours, and high hopes went with us overseas.
(Left, right - left, right . . . ) And now 'tis memories.
We march again for memories (the grizzled Digger sighed)
Memories of lost mates, of foolish hopes that died.
First, Shorty got his issue on the beach at Sari Bair.
(Left, right - left, right . . .) The vision of him there
Brought the dawn of disillusion. I needed little more
To blood me to the butchery, the filthiness called war.
Shorty, like a limp rag, slung there anyhow,
Sprawling on the warm sand like I can see him now.
Always was a merry mate, a rare lad for fun.
(Left, right - left, right . . .) And Shorty, that was one.
We march today for memories; and they come crowding fast
As each year adds another page to the story of the past.
Pratt went west at Mena Base; raved of home and peace.
(Left, right - left, right . . . ) His was a kind release.
For a Lone Pine shell-burst got him; and he was less than man.
'Twas a sniper's bullet bore the name of Brolga Houlihan.
We called him Happy Houlihan, the man who took a chance.
Then the Reaper paused and plotted for the rest of them in France -
Except Long Joe, the luckless, a youth ill-shaped for war.
(Left, right - left, right . . .) And Long Joe was four.
We march today for memories. Little else had we
When we marched home as veterans. Blue and you and me.
For Skeet went with a night raid, and none came back alive.
(Left, right - left, right . . .) So Skeet, he tallied five.
Five gone and four to fight; us and Blue and Fat,
Who vowed he was too big to hit; but a whizz-bang settled that.
Yet Fat was lucky to the end - an end that held no pain.
All hell erupted where he stood; and none saw him again.
And Blue marched, and you marched, and I, a war-torn three.
(Left. right - left, right . . . ) Marched with memory.
We march again with memories (the grizzled Digger spake)
One year? Ten years? How soon shall we awake
To glorious reality? For lately it would seem -
(Left, right - left, right . . .) - we march within a dream.
Where Shorty is, and Blue is, and Happy Houlihan,
That seems the only real land, with rest for weary man.
For Blue went out three years ago; and cruel slow to kill
Was the war-god, the grim god who claims victims still.
But you and I, old Digger friend, will soon march with the rest.
(Left, right - left, right . . .) In the Army of the West!
Today we march with memories, and years dull the pain.
But God help the young 'uns, mate, if they must march again,
(Left, right - left, right . . .) For the young must ever dream.
But we march with memories, and ghosts go at our side -
Len Pratt and Long Joe, whom men say have died.
And you walk like a ghost, mate; you do not turn to hear.
Or is it - Did the boys say you passed last year?
Out of this tangled dreaming has your troubled spirit flown?
(Left, right - left, right . . .) And I march alone.
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.
The Mooch O' Life
This ev'nin' I was sittin' wiv Doreen,
Peaceful an' 'appy wiv the day's work done,
Watchin', be'ind the orchard's bonzer green,
The flamin' wonder of the settin' sun.
Another day gone by; another night
Creepin' along to douse Day's golden light;
Another dawning when the night is gone,
To live an' love - an' so life mooches on.
Times I 'ave thought, when things was goin' crook,
When 'Ope turned nark an' Love forgot to smile,
Of somethin' I once seen in some old book
Where an ole sorehead arsts, 'Is life worf w'ile? '
But in that stillness, as the day grows dim,
An' I am sittin' there wiv 'er an' 'im-
My wife, my son! an' strength in me to strive,
I only know - it's good to be alive!
Yeh live, yeh love, yeh learn; an' when yeh come
To square the ledger in some thortful hour,
The everlastin' answer to the sum
Must allus be, 'Where's sense in gittin' sour? '
Fer when yeh've come to weigh the good an' bad -
The gladness wiv the sadness you 'ave 'ad -
Then 'im 'oo's faith in 'uman goodness fails
Fergits to put 'is liver in the scales.
Livin' an' loving learnin' day be day;
Pausin' a minute in the barmy strife
To find that 'elpin' others on the way
Is gold coined fer your profit - sich is life.
I've studied books wiv yearnings to improve,
To 'eave meself out of me lowly groove,
An' 'ere is orl the change I ever got:
''Ark at yer 'eart, an' you kin learn the lot.'
I gives it in - that wisdom o' the mind -
I wasn't built to play no lofty part.
Orl such is welkim to the joys they find;
I only know the wisdom o' the 'eart.
An' ever it 'as taught me, day be day,
The one same lesson in the same ole way:
'Look fer yer profits in the 'earts o' friends,
Fer 'atin' never paid no dividends.'
Life's wot yeh make it; an' the bloke 'oo tries
To grab the shinin' stars frum out the skies
Goes crook on life, an' calls the world a cheat,
An' tramples on the daisies at 'is feet.
But when the moon comes creepin' o'er the hill,
An' when the mopoke calls along the creek,
I takes me cup o' joy an' drinks me fill,
An' arsts meself wot better could I seek.
An' ev'ry song I 'ear the thrushes sing
That everlastin' message seems to bring;
An' ev'ry wind that whispers in the trees
Gives me the tip there ain't no joys like these:
Livin' an' loving wand'rin' on yeh way;
Reapin' the 'arvest of a kind deed done;
An' watching in the sundown of yer day,
Yerself again, grown nobler in yer son.
Knowin' that ev'ry coin o' kindness spent
Bears interest in yer 'eart at cent per cent;
Measurin' wisdom by the peace it brings
To simple minds that values simple things.
An' when I take a look along the way
That I 'ave trod, it seems the man knows best,
Who's met wiv slabs of sorrer in 'is day,
When 'e is truly rich an' truly blest.
An' I am rich, becos me eyes 'ave seen
The lovelight in the eyes of my Doreen;
An' I am blest, becos me feet 'ave trod
A land 'oo's fields reflect the smile o' God.
Livin' an' lovin'; learnin' to fergive
The deeds an' words of some un'appy bloke
Who's missed the bus - so 'ave I come to live,
An' take the 'ole mad world as 'arf a joke.
Sittin' at ev'nin' in this sunset-land,
Wiv 'Er in all the World to 'old me 'and,
A son, to bear me name when I am gone....
Livin' an' lovin' - so life mooches on.
'My sort,' she sez, 'don't meet no fairy prince.'
I can't 'elp 'earin' part uv wot was said
While I am sortin' taters in the shed.
They've 'ad these secret confabs ever since
Rose came. 'Er an' Doreen's been 'eart to 'eart,
'Oldin' pow-wows in which I got no part.
'My sort,' sez Rose, 'don't meet no fairy prince.'
'Er voice seems sort uv lonely like an' sad.
'Ah well,' she sez, 'there's jobs still to be 'ad
Down in the fact'ries. I ain't one to wince
Frum all the knocks I've 'ad - an' will 'ave. Still,
Sometimes I git fed-up against me will.
'Some women 'ave the luck,' she sez; 'like you.
Their lives seem made fer love an' joy an' sport,
But I'm jist one uv the unlucky sort.
I've give up dreamin' dreams: they don't come true.
There ain't no love or joy or sport fer me.
Life's made me 'ard; an' 'ard I got to be.'
'Oh, rubbidge!' sez Doreen. 'You've got the blues,
We all 'ave bad luck some times, but it mends.
An' you're still young, my dear; you 'ave your friends.
Why should you think that you must alwiz lose?
The sun's still shinin'; birds still sing, an' court;
An' men still marry.' Rose sez, 'Not my sort.
An' then - Aw, well, I thort I knoo me wife,
'Ow she can be so gentle an' so kind,
An' all the tenderness that's in 'er mind;
As I've 'ad cause to know through married life.
But never 'ave I 'Eard 'er wisdom speak
Sich words before. It left me wond'rin' - meek.
Yes, meek I felt - an' proud, all in the one:
Proud fer to know 'ow fine my wife can be;
Meek fer to think she cares fer sich as me.
''Ope lasts,' I 'ear 'er say, 'till life is done.
An' life can bring us joy, I know it can.
I know; fer I've been lucky in my man.'
There's a wife for yeh! Green! Think in the 'ead!
To think she'd go an' tork be'ind me back,
Gossip, an' paint me character that black!
I'm glad I can't 'ear more uv wot was said.
They wander off, down by the creek somewhere.
Green! Well, I said that women talk 'ot air.
I thinks uv Danny Dunn, an' wot I've planned.
Doreen don't know wot I got up me sleeve;
An' Rose don't know that she won't 'ave to leave,
Not once I come to light an' take a 'and.
Block'ead won't be the name they'll call me then.
Women can tork; but action needs us men.
Yet, I dunno. Some ways it ain't so fine.
Spite uv 'is money, Danny ain't much catch.
It seems a pity Rose can't make a match
That's reel romantic, like Doreen's an' mine;
But then again, although 'e's old an' plain,
Danny's a kinder fate than Spadgers Lane.
Bit later on I see Rose standin' by
That bridge frum where Mick waved 'is last farewell
When 'e went smilin' to the war, an' fell.
'Ow diffrint if 'e 'ad n't come to die,
I thinks. Life's orful sad, some ways.
Though it's 'ard to be sad on these Spring days.
Doreen 'as left, fer reasons uv 'er own;
An' Rose is gazin' down into the stream,
Lost, like it seems, in some un'appy dream.
She looks perthetic standin' there alone.
Wis'ful she looks. But when I've turned away
I git a shock to 'ear 'er larfin' gay.
It's that coot Wally Free; 'e's with 'er now.
Funny 'ow 'is fool chatter makes 'er smile,
An' shove 'er troubles under fer a while.
(Pity 'e don't pay more 'eed to 'is cow
Instid uv loafin' there. 'E's got no sense.
I'm sick uv tellin' 'im to mend that fence.)
'Er sort don't meet no fairy prince… Ar, well.
Fairy gawdfathers, p'raps, wot once was knights,
Might take a turn at puttin' things to rights.
Green? Block'ead, am I? You can't alwiz tell.
Wait till I wave me magic mit at Rose,
An' turn 'er into 'Mrs. Stone-the-crows.'
Hymn Of Futility
Lord, Thou hast given unto us a land.
In Thy beneficence Thou has ordained
That we should hold a country great and grand,
Such as no race of old has ever gained.
A favoured people, basking in Thy smile:
So dost Thou leave us to work out our fate;
But, Lord, be patient yet a little while.
The shade is pleasing and our task is great.
Lo, Thou hast said: 'This land I give to you
To be the cradle of a mighty race,
Who shall take up the White Man's task anew,
And all the nations of the world outpace.
No heritage for cowards or for slaves,
Here is a mission for the brave, the strong.
Then see ye to it, lest dishonoured graves
Bear witness that he tarried overlong.'
Lo, Thou hast said: 'When ye have toiled and tilled,
When ye have borne the heat, and wisely sown,
And every corner of the vineyard filled
With goodly growth, the land shall be your own.
Then shall your sons and your sons' sons rejoice.
Then shall the race speak with a conqueror's mouth;
And all the world shall hearken to its voice,
And heed the great White Nation of the South.'
And Thou hast said: 'This, striving, shall ye do.
Be diligent to tend and guard the soil.
If this great heritage I trust to you
Be worth the purchase of a meed of toil,
Then shall ye not, at call of game or mart,
Forgo the labour of a single day.
They spurn the gift who treasure but a part.
Guard ye the whole, lest all be cast away!
'Say, is My bounty worth the winning?' (Lord,
So hast thou spoken. Humbly have we heard.)
'No son of man is born who can afford
To pay Me tribute with an empty word.
Guard ye the treasure if the gift be meet.
Win ye to strength and wisdom while ye may.
For he who fears the burden and the heat
Shall gain the wages of a squandered day!'
Lord, we have heard….Loud our Hosannas rang!
Voices of glad thanksgiving did we lift.
From out the fullness of our hearts we sang
Sweet hymns of praise for this Thy gracious gift.
Here, in one corner of the land, we found
A goodly garden, where abundant food
We won, with scanty labor, from the ground.
Here did we rest. And, Lord, we found it good!
Great cities have we builded here, 0 Lord;
And corn and kine full plenty for our need
We have; and cloth the wondrous land afford
Treasure beyond the wildest dreams of greed.
Even this tiny portion of Thy gift,
One corner of our mightly continent,
Doth please us well. A voice in prayer we lift:
'Lord, give us peace! For we are well content.'
Lord, give us peace; for Thou has sent a sign:
Smoke of a raider's ships athwart the sky!
Nay, suffer us to hold this gift of Thine!
The burden, Lord! The burden-by and by!
The sun is hot, Lord, and the way is long!
'Tis pleasant in this corner Thou has blest.
Leave us to tarry here with wine and song.
Our little corner, Lord! Guard Thou the rest!
But yesterday our fathers hither came,
Rovers and strangers on a foreign strand.
Must we, for their neglect, bear all the blame?
Nay, Master, we have come to love our land!
But see, the task Thou givest us is great;
The load is heavy and the way is long!
Hold Thou our enemy without the gate;
When we have rested then shall we be strong.
Lord, Thou hast spoken… And, with hands to ears,
We would shut out the thunder of Thy voice
That in the nightwatch wakes our sudden fears
'The day is here, and yours must be the choice.
Will ye be slaves and shun the task of men?
Will ye be weak who may be brave and strong?'
We wave our banners boastfully, and then,
Weakly we answer, 'Lord, the way is long!'
'Time tarries not, but here ye tarry yet,
The futile masters of a continent,
Guard ye the gift I gave? Do ye forget?'
And still we answer, 'Lord, we are content.
Fat have we grown upon this goodly soil,
A little while he patient, Lord, and wait.
To-morrow and to-morrow will we toil.
The shade is pleasing, Lord! Our task is great!'
But ever through the clamour of the mart,
And ever on the playground through the cheers:
'He spurns the gift who guardeth but a part'
So cloth the warning fall on heedless cars.
'Guard ye the treasure if the gift be meet'
(Loudly we call the odds, we cheer the play.)
'For he who fears the burden and the heat
Shall glean the harvest of a squandered day.'
'Sowin' things an' growin' things, an' watchin' of 'em grow;
That's the game,' my father said, an' father ought to know.
'Settin' things an' gettin' things to grow for folks to eat:
That's the life,' my father said, 'that's very hard to beat.'
For my father was a farmer, as his father was before,
Just sowin' things an' growin' things in far-off days of yore,
In the far-off land of England, till my father found his feet
In the new land, in the true land, where he took to growin' wheat.
Wheat, Wheat, Wheat! Oh, the sound of it is sweet!
I've been praisin' it an' raisin' it in rain an' wind an' heat
Since the time I learned to toddle, till it's beatin' in my noddle,
Is the little song I'm singin' you of Wheat, Wheat, Wheat.
Plantin' things —- an' grantin' things is goin' as they should,
An' the weather altogether is behavin' pretty good —-
Is a pleasure in a measure for a man that likes the game,
An' my father he would rather raise a crop than make a name.
For my father was a farmer, an' 'All fame,' he said, 'ain't reel;
An' the same it isn't fillin' when you're wantin' for a meal.'
So I'm followin' his footsteps, an' a-keepin' of my feet,
While I cater for the nation with my Wheat, Wheat, Wheat.
Wheat, Wheat, Wheat! When the poets all are beat
By the reason that the season for the verse crop is a cheat,
Then I comes up bright an' grinnin' with the knowledge that I'm winnin',
With the rhythm of my harvester an' Wheat, Wheat, Wheat.
Readin' things an' heedin' things that clever fellers give,
An' ponderin' an' wonderin' why we was meant to live —-
Muddlin' through an' fuddlin' through philosophy an' such
Is a game I never took to, an' it doesn't matter much.
For my father was a farmer, as I might 'a' said before,
An' the sum of his philosophy was, 'Grow a little more.
For growin' things,' my father said, 'it makes life sort o' sweet
An' your conscience never swats you if your game is growin' wheat.'
Wheat, Wheat, Wheat! Oh, the people have to eat!
An' you're servin', an' deservin' of a velvet-cushion seat
In the cocky-farmers' heaven when you come to throw a seven;
An' your password at the portal will be, 'Wheat, Wheat, Wheat.'
Now, the preacher an' the teacher have a callin' that is high
While they're spoutin' to the doubtin' of the happy by an' by;
But I'm sayin' that the prayin' it is better for their souls
When they've plenty wheat inside 'em in the shape of penny rolls.
For my father was a farmer, an' he used to sit an' grieve
When he thought about the apple that old Adam got from Eve.
It was foolin' with an orchard where the serpent got 'em beat,
An' they might 'a' kept the homestead if they'd simply stuck to wheat.
Wheat, Wheat, Wheat! If you're seekin' to defeat
Care an' worry in the hurry of the crowded city street,
Leave the hustle all behind you; come an' let contentment find you
In a cosy little cabin lyin' snug among the wheat.
In the city, more's the pity, thousands live an' thousands die
Never carin', never sparin' pains that fruits may multiply;
Breathin', livin', never givin'; greedy but to have an' take,
Dyin' with no day behind 'em lived for fellow-mortals' sake.
Now my father was a farmer, an' he used to sit and laugh
At the 'fools o' life,' he called 'em, livin' on the other half.
Dyin' lonely, missin' only that one joy that makes life sweet —-
Just the joy of useful labour, such as comes of growin' wheat.
Wheat, Wheat, Wheat! Let the foolish scheme an' cheat;
But I'd rather, like my father, when viv span o' life's complete,
Feel I'd lived by helpid others; earned the right to call 'em brothers
Who had gained while I was gainin' from God's earth His gift of wheat.
When the settin' sun is gettin' low above the western hills,
When the creepin' shadows deepen, and a peace the whole land fills,
Then I often sort o' soften with a feelin' like content,
An' I feel like thankin' Heaven for a day in labour spent.
For my father was a farmer, an' he used to sit an' smile,
Realizin' he was wealthy in what makes a life worth while.
Smilin', he has told me often, 'After all the toil an' heat,
Lad, he's paid in more than silver who has grown one field of wheat.'
Wheat, Wheat, Wheat! When it comes my turn to meet
Death the Reaper, an' the Keeper of the Judgment Book I greet,
Then I'll face 'em sort o' calmer with the solace of the farmer
That he's fed a million brothers with his Wheat, Wheat, Wheat.
The Call Of Stoush
Wot price ole Ginger Mick? 'E's done a break -
Gone to the flamin' war to stoush the foe.
Wus it fer glory, or a woman's sake?
Ar, arst me somethin' easy! I dunno.
'Is Kharki clobber set 'im off a treat,
That's all I know; 'is motive's got me beat.
Ole Mick 'e's trainin' up in Cairo now;
An' all the cops in Spadger's Lane is sad.
They miss 'is music in the midnight row
Wot time the pushes mix it good an' glad.
Fer 'e wus one o' them, you understand,
Wot 'soils the soshul life uv this fair land.'
A peb wus Mick; a leery bloke wus 'e,
Low down, an' given to the brinnin' cup;
The sort o' chap that coves like you an' me
Don't mix wiv, 'cos of our strick bringin's-up.
An' 'e wus sich becos unseein' Fate
Lobbed 'im in life a 'undred years too late.
'E wus a man uv vierlence, wus Mick,
Coarse wiv 'is speech an' in 'is manner low,
Slick wiv 'is 'ands, an' 'andy wiv a brick
When bricks wus needful to defeat a foe.
An' now 'e's gone an' mizzled to the war,
An' some blokes 'as the nerve to arst 'Wot for? '
Wot for? gawstruth! 'E wus no patriot
That sits an' brays advice in days uv strife;
'E never flapped no flags nor sich like rot;
'E never sung 'Gawsave' in all 'is life.
'E wus dispised be them that make sicg noise:
But now - O strike! - 'e's 'one uv our brave boys.'
'E's one uv our brave boys, all right, all right.
'Is early trainin' down in Spadgers Lane
Done 'im no 'arm fer this 'ere orl-in fight:
'Is loss o' culcher is 'is country's gain.
'Im wiv 'is carst-ir'n chiv an' leery ways -
An' swell tarts 'eavin' 'im sweet words o' praise.
Why did 'e go? 'E 'ad a decent job,
'Is tart an' 'im they could 'a' made it right.
Why does a wild bull fight to guard the mob?
Why does a bloomin' bull-ant look fer fight?
Why does a rooster scrap an' flap an' crow?
'E went becos 'e dam well 'ad to go.
'E never spouted no 'igh-soundin' stuff
About stern jooty an' 'is country's call;
But, in 'is way, 'e 'eard it right enough
A-callin' like the shout uv 'On the Ball! '
Wot time the footer brings the clicks great joy,
An' Saints or Carlton roughs it up wiv 'Roy.
The call wot came to cave-men in the days
When rocks wus stylish in the scrappin' line;
The call wot knights 'eard in the minstrel's lays,
That sent 'em in tin soots to Palerstine;
The call wot draws all fighters to the fray
It come to Mick, an' Mick 'e must obey.
The Call uv Stoush! ... It's older than the 'ills.
Lovin' an' fightin' - there's no more to tell
Concernin' men. an' when that feelin' thrills
The blood uv them 'oo's fathers mixed it well,
They 'ave to 'eed it - bein' 'ow they're built -
As traders 'ave to 'eed the clink uv gilt.
An' them whose gilt 'as stuffed 'em stiff wiv pride
An' 'aughty scorn uv blokes like Ginger Mick -
I sez to them, put sich crook thorts aside,
An' don't lay on the patronage too think.
Orl men is brothers when it comes to lash
An' 'aughty scorn an' Culcher does their lash.
War ain't no giddy garden feete - it's war:
A game that calls up love an' 'atred both.
An' them that shudders at the sight o' gore,
An' shrinks to 'ear a drunken soljer's oath,
Must 'ide be'ind the man wot 'eaves the bricks,
An' thank their Gawd for all their Ginger Micks.
Becos 'e never 'ad the chance to find
The glory o' the world by land an' sea,
Becos the beauty 'idin' in 'is mind
Wus not writ plain fer blokes like you an' me,
They calls 'im crook; but in 'im I 'ave found
Wot makes a man a man the world around.
Be'ind that dile uv 'is, as 'ard as sin,
Wus strange, soft thorts that never yet showed out;
An' down in Spadger's Lane, in dirt an' din,
'E dreamed sich dreams as poits sing about.
'E's 'ad 'is visions uv the Bonzer Tart;
An' stoushed some coot to ease 'is swellin' 'eart.
Lovin' an' fightin'... when the tale is told,
That's all there is to it; an' in their way
Them brave an' noble 'ero blokes uv old
Wus Ginger Micks - the crook 'uns uv their day.
Jist let the Call uv Stoush give 'im 'is chance
An' Ginger Mick's the 'ero of Romance.
So Ginger Mick 'e's mizzled to the war;
Joy in 'is 'eart, an' wild dreams in 'is brain;
Gawd 'elp the foe that 'e goes gunnin' for
If tales is true they tell in Spadger's Lane -
Tales that ud fairly freeze the gentle 'earts
Uv them 'oo knits 'is socks - the Culchered Tarts.
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.
A man's a mug. I've worked the 'ole thing out
To-day, down in the orchard where I sat
Runnin' the wheels red-'ot beneath me 'at,
An' wras'lin' fervud with a sudden doubt
A doubt wot's plugged me fair bang on the point
An' jolted all me glad dreams out uv joint.
It's been a pearlin' day. The birds above
Up in the trees sung fit to break their 'earts.
It seemed, some'ow, the 'ole world's makin' love,
Ixceptin' me. An' then an' there I starts
To think things out an' git me bearin's straight,
Becoz - Well, I ain't been meself uv late.
I've flopped. It was the parson put me wise,
Before 'e left. I 'ad been full uv skite.
I was the 'ero uv the piece all right.
Me chest was out, me 'ead was twice the size
It used to be. I felt I was king-pin.
Did n't the papers 'ave me photer in?
I was that puffed with pride I never stopped
To search me soul fer signs uv wear an' tear.
I loved meself so much I never dropped
To any blot or blemish anywhere.
The Lord 'Igh Muck-a-muck, wot done the trick,
An' dug the Murray with 'is little pick.
When I think back on it I go all 'ot.
I was that blind I never even seen,
Nor looked to see no changes in Doreen.
I was content to 'ave 'er on the spot
Dodgin' about the 'ouse in 'er calm way,
To chirp, 'Yes, Bill,' to everything I say.
The parson punchered me. 'E's alwiz 'ad
A trick uv callin' me by fancy names.
In town 'e christened me 'Sir Gally'ad,'
'Oo was, it seems, a knight wot rescued dames,
But never spoke out uv 'is turn to none,
Becoz 'is 'eart was pure. 'E took the bun.
But now 'Narcissy' is the moniker
'E wishes on me; an' I arst fer light.
'Narcissy?' I remarks. 'Don't sound perlite.
'Oo was this bird? There looks to be a slur
Or somethin' sly about that cissy touch.'
'A bloke,' 'e sez, ''oo liked 'imself too much.'
I looks quick fer that twinkle in 'is eye
Wot tells me if 'e's kiddin' me or not.
But it ain't there. 'Fair dinkum,' I reply,
'You don't mean - You ain't 'intin' that I've got -'
'I mean,' 'e sez, 'you should give thanks through life
That you 'ave been so lucky in your wife.'
'E don't 'arp on the toon; but turns away.
'Your daffydils,' 'e sez, 'makes quite a show.'
An' latter, when it came 'is time to go,
'E shakes me 'and reel arty, twinklin' gay…
But, 'lucky in me wife?' Where did I 'ear
Somethin' like that before? It sounds dead queer.
I seeks the orchard, with a sickly grin,
To sort meself out straight an' git a grip.
Them 'ints the parson drops give me the pip.
I don't quite see where daffvdils comes in;
But, 'lucky in me wife!' Why, spare me days,
Yeh'd think I beat 'er, by the things 'e says!
I tries to kid meself: to back me skite,
An' 'old that wad uv self-content I 'ad.
It ain't no use. I know the parson's right:
Clean through the piece I 'ave been actin' bad.
I've been so full uv Me, I've treated 'er
Like she was - well, a bit uv furnicher.
Yet, 'furnicher' don't seem to put it good.
Nothin' so wooden don't describe Doreen.
All through the game, some'ow, she's alwiz been
Well, somewhere 'andy, 'elpin' where she could,
An' manidgin', an'… Bli'me! Now I see!
Wot she did manidge was the block'ead - me!…
Well, I'm the goat. I s'pose I should 'ave seen
I was n't 'ead an' tail uv all the show.
A bit uv putty in 'er 'ands I been!
An' so bullheaded that I did n't know.
Only fer 'er things might 'ave - Spare me days!
I never will git used to women's ways.
Only fer 'er Rose might… But wot's the use?
Shakespeare 'as said it right: the world's a stage;
An' all us 'uman ducks an' dames ingage
In actin' parts. Mostly the men cut loose,
An' fights, an' throws their weight about a lot.
But, listen. It's the women weave the plot.
The women… Well, it's been a bonnie day.
Blue-bonnets, dodgin' in an' out the ferns,
Looks like blue chips uv sky come down to play.
An' down the valley, where the creek track turns,
I see Rose, arm-in-arm with Wally Free.
The 'ole world's makin' love, ixceptin' me.
Huh! Women!… Yes; a man's a mug, all right…
I sees the sof' clouds sailin' in the sky,
An' bits uv thistledown go driftin' by.
'Jist like men's lives,' I think. An' then I sight,
Fair in me cabbages, ole Wally's cow.
That fence - But them plants ain't worth savin', now.
Women… I wonder 'oo Narcissy was…
Green trees agin blue 'ills don't look 'arf bad…
I s'pose 'e got the cissy part becoz
'Is ways was womanish. Well, serve 'im glad
That cow uv Wally's ort to milk a treat
With plenty good young cabbage plants to cat.
Women is often 'elpful - in a sense…
Lord, it's a lazy day! Before it fails,
I better git a 'ammer an' some nails
An' dodge acrost an' mend that bit uv fence.
It's up to me to try an' put things right,
An' - well, I'll 'elp Doreen wash up tonight.
A Freak Of Spring
At any other time of year
It might have passed, but Spring is queer.
He says somethin' - I dunno
Somethin' nasty. I says, 'Ho!'
'Ho, yourself!' he says, an' glares.
I says nothin' - only stares.
'Coot!' says he . . . Then up she goes!
An' I land him on the nose.
It was Spring, Spring, Spring! Just to hear the thrushes sing
Would make a fellow laugh, or love, or fight like anything.
Which mood called I wasn't carin'; I was feelin' fine an' darin';
So I fetches him a beauty with a lovely left-arm swing.
Ben Murray staggered back a bit an' howled a wicked word
Which gave me feelin's of great joy . . . An' that's how it occurred.
'On the sawdust!' yells old Pike,
Gloatin' and bloodthirsty-like.
'On the sawdust with yeh both!
Truth to tell, I'm nothin' loth.
I peel off my coat an' vest.
Murray, with his rage suppressed,
Comes up eager, pale with spite.
'Glory!' shouts old Pike. 'A fight!'
It was Spring, glad Spring, an' the swallows on the wing
Made a man feel kind an' peaceful with their cheery twittering.
As I watched their graceful wheelin' with a pleasant sort of feelin'
Old man Pike pulled out his ticker, an' the mill-hands made a ring.
There was gold upon the wattle an' the blackwood was in bud,
An' I felt the call for action fairly sizzin' in my blood.
Murray comes on like a bull;
Both his eyes with spleen are full.
Let him have it - left an' right. . . .
Pike is bustin' with delight. . . .
Right eye once and left eye twice
Then he grabs me like a vice. . . .
Down into the dust we go
Bull-dog grip and short-arm blow.
It was Spring! Mad Spring! Just to feel him clutch an' cling
Told me plain that life was pelendid an' my strength a precious thing.
On the sawdust heap we scrambled, while the fellows yelled an' gambled
On the fight; an' Ben loosed curse-words in a never-endin' string.
Oh, I glimpsed the soft sky shinin' and I smelled the fresh-cut wood;
An' as we rolled I pummelled him, an' knew the world was good.
''Tain't a dog-fight!' shouts Bob Blair.
'Stand up straight an' fight it fair.'
I get end-up with a grin.
'Time!' yells Pike, an' bangs a tin.
'Corners, boys. A minute's spell.'
'Good lad, Jim! You're doin' well,'
Says the little Dusty, Dick. . . .
Murray's eye is closin' quick.
It was Spring, sweet Spring, an' a man must have his fling:
Healthy men must be respondin' to the moods the seasons bring.
That sweet air, with scrub scents laden, all my body was invadin',
Till each breath I drew within me made me feel I was king.
'Twas the season to be doin' - fondlin' maids, or fightin' men -
An' I felt my spirit yearnin' for another crack at Ben.
Pike bangs on his tin again.
'Time!' he roars. 'Get to it, men!'
I come eager, fit to dance;
Ben spars cautious for a chance.
With a laugh I flick him light;
Then - like lightin' comes his right
Full an' fair upon the jaw
Lord, the purple stars I saw!
It was Spring, wild Spring! When I felt the sudden sting
Of a clout all unexpected, I was just a maddened thing -
Just a savage male thing ragin'; battle all my wits engagin'.
Instant I was up an' at him, an' I punched him round the ring.
I forgot the scents an' season; I lost count of time an' place;
An' my only aim an' object was to batter Murray's face.
Pike is dancin' wild with joy;
Dusty Dick howls, 'At him, boy!'
I am at him, fast an' hard.
Then, as Murray drops his guard,
I get in one, strong an' straight,
Full of emnity an' weight.
Down he goes; the fellows shout.
'One!' starts Pike, then. . . 'Ten - an' out!'
It was Spring, gay Spring. Still were swallows on the wing,
An', on a sudden, once again I heard the thrushes sing.
There was gold upon the wattle, an' my recent wish to throttle
Murray, as he lay there groain', was a far-forgotten thing.
In the soft blue sky were sailin' little clouds as fine as fluff.
'Wantin' more?' I asked him gently; but Ben Murray said, 'Enough.'
'Well done, Jim,' says old Bob Blair.
''Tis the brave deserves the fair.'
An' he laughs an' winks at Pike
In a way that I don't like.
Widders,' grins young Dusty Dick,
'Likes a bloke whose hands is quick.
Now poor Ben can take the sack.'
But I frowns, an' turns my back.
It was Spring, the fickle Spring; an' a most amazin' thing
Came upon me sudden-like an' set me marvellin'.
For no longer was I lookin' for a wife to do my cookin',
But for somethin' sweet and tender of the kind that kiss an' cling.
Oh, for such a one I'd battle, an' I'd win by hook or crook;
But it did seem sort of foolish to go fightin' for a cook.
Standin' on the sawdust heap
I feel mean an' rather cheap,
Widows? Let the widow go!
What we fought for I don't know.
Murray offers me his hand:
'Jim, you've won; so understand,
I don't mean to block your road . . .'
But I answer, 'That be blowed!'
'Why, it's Spring, man, Spring!' (An' I gave his fist a wring)
'If you reckoned me your rival, give up thinkin' such a thing.
I just fought for fun an' frolic, so don't you get melancholic;
An', if you have notions yonder, why, buck up an' buy the ring!
Put some beefsteak on your eye, lad, an' learn how to keep your guard.'
Then I put my coat an' vest on, an' walked homeward . . . thinkin' hard.
'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.
Blokes ~ 'Erb
Do you know 'Erb? Now, there's a dinkum sport.
If football's on your mind, why, 'Erb's the sort
To put you wise. It's his whole end and' aim.
Keen? He's as keen as mustard on the game.
Football is in his blood. He thinks an' schemes
All through the season; talks of it an' dreams
An' eats an' sleeps with football on his mind.
Yes: 'Erb's a sport - the reel whole-hearted kind.
'A healthy, manly sport.' That's wot 'Erb says.
You ought to see his form on football days:
Keyed up, reel eager, eyes alight with joy,
Full of wise schemes for his team to employ.
Knows all about it - how to kick a goal,
An' wot to do if they get in a hole.
Enthusiasm? Why, when 'Erb gets set
He is a sight you couldn't well forget.
There ain't a point about it he don't know
All of the teams and players, top to toe.
The rules, the tricks - it's marvellous the way
He follers - Wot? Good Lord, no, he don't play.
'Erb? Playin' football? Blimey! have a heart!
Aw, don't be silly. 'Erb don't have to play;
He knows more than them players any day.
He's never had a football in his hand,
'Cept once, when it was kicked up in the stand.
No, 'Erb ain't never played; he only sits
An' watches 'em, an' yells, an' hoots and splits
His sides with givin' mugs some sound advice
An' tellin' umpires things wot ain't too nice.
Aw, look; your ejication ain't complete
Till you know 'Erb. You reely ought to meet.
Blokes ~ Fred
Do you know Fred? Now there's a man to know
These days when politics are in the air,
An' argument is bargin' to an' fro
Without a feller gittin' anywhere.
Fred never argues; he's too shrewd for that.
He's wise. He knows the game from A to Z.
All politics is talkin' thro' the hat;
An' everyone is wrong - exceptin' Fred.
Fred says there ain't no sense in politics;
Says he can't waste his time on all that rot.
Trust him. He's up to all their little tricks,
You'd be surprised the cunnin' schemes he's got.
Fred says compulsory voting is a cow.
He has to vote, or else he would be fined,
But he just spoils his paper anyhow,
An' laughs at' em with his superior mind.
But when a law comes in that hits Fred's purse,
You ought to hear him then. Say, he does rouse;
Kicks up an awful row an' hurls his curse
On every bloomin' member in the House.
He gives 'em nothin'; says they all are crook,
All waitin' for a chance to turn their coats;
Says they are traitors; proves it by the book.
An' can you wonder that he never votes?
Aw, say, you must know Fred. You'll hear his skite
Upon street corners all about the place.
An' if you up an' say it serves him right,
He answers that it only proves his case:
Them politicians wouldn't tax him so
Unless they were all crooked, like he said,
Where is the sense in votin' when they go
An' rob a man like that. Hurray for Fred!
Blokes ~ Gus
Do you know Gus? Now, he should interest you.
The girls adore him - or he thinks they do.
He owns a motor bike, not of the sort
That merely cough a little bit, or snort.
His is a fiery, detonating steed
That makes the town sit up and take some heed
A thunderous thing, that booms and roars a treat,
With repercussions that awake the street.
That's Gus. Dead flash. One of the rorty boys,
Whose urge is to express themselves with noise,
He wakes the midnight echoes, when to sleep
We vainly strive, with detonations deep.
And Gus has visions, as he thunders by,
Of maidens who sit up in bed, and sigh,
'It's Gus! It's Gus, the he-man. What a thrill!
'Mid Jovian thunders riding up the hill!'
You can't blame Gus. He has to make a row.
He's got to get publicity somehow.
How else could he stir consciousness in us
That in this world there really is a Gus?
You can't blame Gus. But oft I long, in bed,
That some kind man would bash him on the head -
A hard, swift blow to give him pain for pain.
It would be quite safe. It couldn't hurt his brain.
Blokes ~ Bert
Did you ever meet Bert? 'E's all over the town,
In offices, shops an' in various places,
Cocky an' all; an' you can't keep 'im down.
I never seen no one so lucky at races.
Backs all the winners or very near all;
Tells you nex' day when the races are over.
'E makes quite a pot, for 'is wagers ain't small;
An' by rights 'e 'ad ought to be livin' in clover.
But, some'ow or other - aw, well, I dunno.
You got to admit that some fellers is funny.
'E don't dress too well an' 'is spendin' is low.
I can't understand wot 'e does with 'is money.
'E ought to be sockin' a pretty fair share;
An' tho' 'e will own 'e's a big money-maker,
'E don't seem to save an' 'e don't seem to care
If 'e owes a big wad to 'is butcher an' baker.
'E don't tell you much if you meet on the course;
But after it's over 'e comes to you grinnin',
Shows you 'is card where 'e's marked the first 'orse,
An' spins you a wonderful tale of 'is winnin'.
Can't make 'im out, 'e's so lucky an' that.
Knows ev'ry owner an' trainer an' jockey:
But all of 'is wagerin's done on 'is pat.
Won't spill a thing, even tho' 'e's so cocky.
Oyster, that's Bert. 'E's as close as a book.
But sometimes I've come on 'im sudden an' saw 'im
Lip 'angin' down an' a reel 'aggard look,
Like all the woes in the world come to gnaw 'im.
But, soon as 'e sees you, 'e brightens right up.
'Picked it again, lad!' 'e sez to you, grinnin'.
'A fiver at sevens I 'ad in the Cup!
That's very near sixty odd quid that I'm winnin'.'
Mystery man - that's 'is style for a cert,
Picks the 'ole card, yet 'e's shabby and seedy;
'E must 'ave some sorrer in secrit, ole Bert
Some drain on 'is purse wot is keepin' 'im needy.
A terrible pity. Some woman, no doubt.
No wonder 'e worries in secrit an' souses.
If I 'ad 'is winnin's, year in an' year out,
Why I'd own a Rolls Royce an' a terris of 'ouses.
The Stror 'At Coot
Ar, wimmin! Wot a blinded fool I've been!
I arsts meself, wot else could I ixpeck?
I done me block complete on this Doreen,
An' now me 'eart is broke, me life's a wreck!
The dreams I dreamed, the dilly thorts I thunk
Is up the pole, an' joy 'as done a bunk.
Wimmin! O strike! I orter known the game!
Their tricks is crook, their arts is all dead snide.
The 'ole world over tarts is all the same;
All soft an' smilin' wiv no 'eart inside.
But she fair doped me wiv 'er winnin' ways,
Then crooled me pitch fer all me mortal days.
They're all the same! A man 'as got to be
Stric' master if 'e wants to snare 'em sure.
'E 'as to take a stand an' let 'em see
That triflin' is a thing'e won't indure.
'E wants to show 'em that 'e 'olds command,
So they will smooge an' feed out of 'is 'and.
'E needs to make 'em feel 'e is the boss,
An' kid 'e's careless uv the joys they give.
'E 'as to make 'em think 'e'll feel no loss
To part wiv any tart 'e's trackin' wiv.
That all their pretty ways is crook pretence
Is plain to any bloke wiv common-sense.
But when the birds is nestin' in the spring,
An' when the soft green leaves is in the bud,
'E drops 'is bundle to some fluffy thing.
'E pays 'er 'omage—an' 'is name is Mud.
She plays wiv'im an' kids 'im on a treat,
Until she 'as 'im crawlin' at 'er feet.
An' then, when 'e's fair orf 'is top wiv love,
When she 'as got 'im good an' 'ad 'er fun,
She slings 'im over like a carst-orf glove,
To let the other tarts see wot she's done.
All vanity, deceit an' 'eartless kid!
I orter known; an', spare me days, I did!
I knoo. But when I looked into 'er eyes
Them shinin' eyes o' blue all soft wiv love
Wiv MIMIC love—they seemed to 'ipnertize.
I wus content to place 'er 'igh above.
I wus content to make of 'er a queen;
An' so she seemed them days…O, 'struth!…Doreen!
I knoo. But when I stroked 'er glossy 'air
Wiv rev'rint 'ands, 'er cheek pressed close to mine,
Me lonely life seemed robbed of all its care;
I dreams me dreams, an' 'ope begun to shine.
An' when she 'eld 'er lips fer me to kiss…
Ar, wot's the use? I'm done wiv all o' this!
Wimmin!…Oh, I ain't jealous! Spare me days!
Me? Jealous uv a knock-kneed coot like that!
'Im! Wiv 'is cute stror 'at an' pretty ways!
I'd be a mug to squeal or whip the cat.
I'm glad, I am—glad 'cos I know I'm free!
There ain't no call to tork o' jealousy.
I tells meself I'm well out o' the game;
Fer look, I mighter married 'er-an' then….
Ar strike! 'Er voice wus music when my name
Wus on 'er lips on them glad ev'nin's when
We useter meet. An' then to think she'd go…
No, I ain't jealous—but—Ar, I dunno!
I took a derry on this stror 'at coot
First time I seen 'im dodgin' round Doreen.
'Im, wiv 'is giddy tie an' Yankee soot,
Ferever yappin' like a tork-machine
About 'The Hoffis' where 'e 'ad a grip….
The way 'e smiled at 'er give me the pip!
She sez I stoushed 'im, when I promised fair
To chuck it, even to a friendly spar.
Stoushed 'im! I never roughed 'is pretty 'air!
I only spanked 'im gentle, fer 'is mar.
If I'd 'a' jabbed 'im once, there would 'a' been
An inquest; an' I sez so to Doreen.
I mighter took an' cracked 'im in the street,
When she was wiv 'im there lars' Fridee night.
But don't I keep me temper when we met?
An' don't I raise me lid an' act perlite?
I only jerks me elbow in 'is ribs,
To give the gentle office to 'is nibs.
Stoushed 'im! I owns I met 'im on the quiet,
An' worded 'im about a small affair;
An' when 'e won't put up 'is 'ands to fight
('E sez, 'Fer public brawls 'e didn't care')
I lays 'im 'cross me knee, the mother's joy,
An' smacks 'im 'earty, like a naughty boy.
An' now Doreen she sez I've broke me vow,
An' mags about this coot's pore, 'wounded pride.'
An' then, o' course, we 'as a ding-dong row,
Wiv 'ot an' stormy words on either side.
She sez I done it outer jealousy,
An' so, we parts fer ever—'er an' me.
Me jealous? Jealous of that cross-eyed cow!
I set 'im 'cos I couldn't sight 'is face.
'Is yappin' fair got on me nerves, some'ow.
I couldn't stand 'im 'angin' round 'er place.
A coot like that!…But it don't matter much,
She's welkim to 'im if she fancies such.
I swear I'll never track wiv 'er no more;
I'll never look on 'er side o' the street
Unless she comes an' begs me pardin for
Them things she said to me in angry 'eat.
She can't ixpeck fer me to smooge an' crawl.
I ain't at ANY woman's beck an' call.
Wimmin! I've took a tumble to their game.
I've got the 'ole bang tribe o' cliners set!
The 'ole world over they are all the same:
Crook to the core the bunch of 'em—an' yet
We could 'a' been that 'appy, 'er an' me…
But, wot's it matter? Ain't I glad I'm free?
A bloke wiv commin-sense 'as got to own
There's little 'appiness in married life.
The smoogin' game is better left alone,
Fer tarts is few that makes the ideel wife.
An' them's the sort that loves wivout disguise,
An' thinks the sun shines in their 'usban's' eyes.
But when the birds is matin' in the spring,
An' when the tender leaves begin to bud,
A feelin' comes—a dilly sorter thing
That seems to sorter swamp 'im like a flood.
An' when the fever 'ere inside 'im burns,
Then freedom ain't the thing fer wot 'e yearns.
But I 'ave chucked it all. An' yet—I own
I dreams me dreams when soft Spring breezes stirs;
An' often, when I'm moonin' 'ere alone,
A lispin' maid, wiv 'air an' eyes like 'ers,
'Oo calls me 'dad,' she climbs upon me knee,
An' yaps 'er pretty baby tork to me.
I sorter see a little 'ouse, it seems,
Wiv someone waitin' for me at the gate…
Ar, where's the sense in dreamin' barmy dreams,
I've dreamed before, and nearly woke too late.
Sich 'appiness could never last fer long,
We're strangers—'less she owns that she was wrong.
To call 'er back I'll never lift a 'and;
She'll never 'ear frum me by word or sign.
Per'aps, some day, she'll come to understand
The mess she's made o' this 'ere life o' mine.
Oh, I ain't much to look at, I admit.
But'im! The knock-kneed, swivel-eyed misfit?…
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.
''E wears perjarmer soots an' cleans 'is teeth,'
That's wot I reads. It fairly knocked me flat,
'Me soljer cobber, be the name o' Keith.'
Well, if that ain't the limit, strike me fat!
The sort that Ginger Mick would think beneath
'Is notice once. Perjarmers! Cleans 'is teeth?
Ole Ginger Mick 'as sent a billy-doo
Frum somew'ere on the earth where fightin' thick.
The Censor wus a sport to let it thro',
Considerin' the choice remarks o' Mick.
It wus that 'ot, I'm wond'rin' since it came
It didn't set the bloomin' mail aflame.
I'd love to let yeh 'ave it word fer word;
But, strickly, it's a bit above the odds;
An' there's remarks that's 'ardly ever 'eard
Amongst the company to w'ich we nods.
It seems they use the style in Ginger's trench
Wot's written out an' 'anded to the Bench.
I tones the langwidge down to soot the ears
Of sich as me an' you resorts wiv now.
If I should give it jist as it appears
Partic'lar folk might want ter make a row.
But say, yeh'd think ole Ginger wus a pote
If yeh could read some juicy bits 'e's wrote.
It's this noo pal uv 'is that tickles me;
'E's got a mumma, an' 'is name is Keith.
A knut upon the Block le used to be,
'Ome 'ere; the sort that flashes golden teeth,
An' wears 'or socks, an' torks a lot o' guff;
But Ginger sez they're cobbers till they snuff.
It come about like this: Mick spragged 'im first
Fer swankin' it too much abroad the ship.
'E 'ad nice manners an' 'e never cursed;
Which set Mick's teeth on edge, as you may tip.
Likewise, 'e 'ad two silver brushes, w'ich
'Is mumma give 'im, 'cos 'e fancied sich.
Mick pinched 'em. Not, as you will understand,
Becos uv any base desire fer loot,
But jist becos, in that rough soljer band,
Them silver-backed arrangements didn't soot:
An' etiket must be observed always.
(They fetched ten drinks in Cairo, Ginger says.)
That satisfied Mick's honour fer a bit,
But still 'e picks at Keith fer exercise,
An' all the other blokes near 'as a fit
To see Mick squirm at Keith's perlite replies,
Till one day Keith 'owls back 'You flamin' cow!'
Then Mick permotes 'im, an' they 'as a row.
I sez 'permotes 'im,' fer, yeh'll understand
Ole Ginger 'as 'is pride o' class orl right;
'E's not the bloke to go an' soil 'is 'and
Be stoushin' any coot that wants to fight.
'Im, that 'as 'ad 'is chances more'n once
Up at the Stajum, ain't no bloomin' dunce.
Yeh'll 'ave to guess wot sort o' fight took place.
Keith learnt 'is boxin' at a 'culcher' school.
The first three rounds, to save 'im frum disgrace,
Mick kids 'im on an' plays the gentle fool.
An' then 'e outs 'im wiv a little tap,
An' tells 'im 'e's a reg'lar plucky chap.
They likes each other better after that,
Fer Ginger alwus 'ad a reel soft spot
Fer blokes 'oo 'ad some man beneath their 'at,
An' never whined about the jolts they got.
Still, pride o' class kept 'em frum gettin' thick.
It's 'ard to git right next to Ginger Mick.
Then comes Gallipoli an' wot Mick calls
'An orl-in push fight multerplied be ten,'
An' one be one the orfficers they falls,
Until there's no one left to lead the men.
Fer 'arf a mo' they 'esitates stock still;
Fer 'oo's to lead 'em up the flamin' 'ill?
'Oo is to lead 'em if it ain't the bloke
'0o's 'eaded pushes down in Spadger's Lane,
Since 'e first learnt to walk an' swear an' smoke,
An' mixed it willin' both fer fun an' gain -
That narsty, ugly, vi'lent man, 'oo's got
Grip on the minds uv men when blood runs 'ot?
Mick led 'em; an' be'ind 'im up the rise,
'Owlin' an' cursin', comes that mumma's boy,
'Is cobber, Keith, with that look in 'is eyes
To give the 'cart uv any leader joy.
An' langwidge! If 'is mar at 'ome 'ad 'eard
She would 'a' threw a fit at ev'ry word.
Mick dunno much about wot 'appened then,
Excep' 'e felt 'is Dream uv Stoush come true;
Fer 'im an' Keith they fought like fifty men,
An' felt like gawds wiv ev'ry breath they drew.
Then Ginger gits it solid in the neck,
An' flops; an' counts on passin' in 'is check.
When 'e come to, the light wus gettin' dim,
The ground wus cold an' sodden underneath,
Someone is lyin' right 'longside uv 'im.
Groanin' wiv pain, 'e turns, an' sees it's Keith
Keith, wiv 'is rifle cocked, an' starin' 'ard
Ahead. An' now 'e sez ''Ow is it, pard?'
Mick gently lifts 'is 'ead an' looks around.
There ain't another flamin' soul in sight,
They're covered be a bit o' risin' ground,
An' rifle-fire is cracklin' to the right.
'Down!' sez the mumma's joy. 'Don't show yer 'ead!
Unless yeh want it loaded full o' lead.'
Then, bit be bit, Mick gits the strength uv it.
They wus so occupied wiv privit scraps,
They never noticed 'ow they come to git
Right out ahead uv orl the other chaps.
They've bin cut orf, wiv jist one little chance
Uv gittin' back. Mick seen it at a glance.
''Ere, Kid,' 'e sez, 'you sneak around that 'ill.
I'm down an' out; an' you kin tell the boys;'
Keith don't reply to 'im but jist lies still,
An' signs to Ginger not to make a noise.
''Ere, you!' sez Mick, 'I ain't the man to funk
I won't feel 'ome-sick. Imshee! Do a bunk!'
Keith bites 'is lips; 'e never turns 'is 'ead.
'Wot in the 'ell;' sez Mick, ''ere, wot's yer game?'
'I'm an Australian,' that wus all 'e said,
An' pride took 'old o' Mick to 'ear that name
A noo, glad pride that ain't the pride o' class -
An' Mick's contempt, it took the count at lars'!
All night they stayed there, Mick near mad wiv pain,
An' Keith jist lettin' up 'is watchful eye
To ease Mick's wounds an' bind 'em up again,
An' give 'im water, w'ile 'imself went dry.
Brothers they wus, 'oo found their brotherhood
That night on Sari Bair, an' found it good.
Brothers they wus. I'm wond'rin', as I read
This scrawl uv Mick's, an' git its meanin' plain,
If you, 'oo never give these things no 'eed,
Ain't got some brothers down in Spadger's Lane
Brothers you never 'ad the chance to meet
Becos they got no time fer Collins Street.
'I'm an Australian.' Well, it takes the bun!
It's got that soft spot in the 'eart o' Mick.
But don't make no mistake; 'e don't gush none,
Or come them 'brother'ood' remarks too thick.
'E only writes, 'This Keith's a decent coot,
Cobber o' mine, an' white from cap to boot.'
''E wears perjarmers an' 'e cleans 'is teeth,'
The sort o' bloke that Ginger once dispised!
But once a man shows metal underneath,
Cobbers is found, an' brothers reckernised.
Fer, when a bloke's soul-clobber's shed in war,
'E looks the sort o' man Gawd meant 'im for.
Becos a crook done in a prince, an' narked an Emperor,
An' struck a light that set the world aflame;
Becos the bugles East an' West sooled on the dawgs o' war,
A bloke called Ginger Mick 'as found 'is game
Found 'is game an' found 'is brothers, 'oo wus strangers in 'is sight,
Till they shed their silly clobber an' put on the duds fer fight.
Yes, they've shed their silly clobber an' the other stuff they wore
Fer to 'ide the man beneath it in the past;
An' each man is the clean, straight man 'is Maker meant 'im for,
An' each man knows 'is brother man at last.
Shy strangers, till a bugle blast preached 'oly brother'ood;
But mateship they 'ave found at last; an' they 'ave found it good.
So the lumper, an' the lawyer, an' the chap 'oo shifted sand,
They are cobbers wiv the cove 'oo drove a quill;
They knut 'oo swung a cane upon the Block, 'e takes the 'and
Uv the coot 'oo swung a pick on Broken 'Ill;
An' Privit Clord Augustus drills wiv Privit Snarky Jim
They are both Australian soljers, w'ich is good enough fer 'im.
It's good enough fer orl uv 'em, as orl uv 'em 'ave seen
Since they got the same glad clobber next their skins;
An' the bloke 'oo 'olds the boodle an' the coot wivout a bean,
Why, they knock around like little Kharki twins.
An' they got a common lingo, w'ich is growin' mighty thick
Wiv ixpressive contributions frum the stock uv Ginger Mick.
'E 'as struck it fer a moral. Ginger's found 'is game at last,
An' 'e's took to it like ducklin's take to drink;
An' 'is slouchin' an' 'is grouchin' an' 'is loafin' uv the past
'E's done wiv 'em, an' dumped 'em down the sink.
'E's a bright an' shinin' sample uv a the'ry that I 'old:
That ev'ry 'eart that ever pumped is good fer chunks o' gold.
Ev'ry feller is a gold mine if yeh take an' work 'im right:
It is shinin' on the surface now an' then;
An' there's some is easy sinkin', but there's some wants dynermite,
Fer they looks a 'opeless prospect - yet they're men.
An' Ginger - 'ard-shell Ginger's showin' signs that 'e will pay;
But it took a flamin' world-war fer to blarst 'is crust away.
But they took 'im an' they drilled 'im an' they shipped 'im overseas
Wiv a crowd uv blokes 'e never met before.
'E rowed wiv 'em, an' scrapped wiv 'em, an' done some tall C.B.'s,
An' 'e lobbed wiv 'em on Egyp's sandy shore.
Then Pride o' Race lay 'olt on 'im, an' Mick shoves out 'is chest
To find 'imself Australian an' blood brothers wiv the rest.
So I gits some reel good readin' in the letter wot 'e sent
Tho' the spellin's pretty rotten now an' then.
'I 'ad the joes at first,' 'e sez; 'but now I'm glad I went,
Fer it's fine to be among reel, livin' men.
An' it's grand to be Australian, an' to say it good an' loud
When yeh bump a forrin country wiv sich fellers as our crowd.
''Struth! I've 'ung around me native land fer close on thirty year,
An' I never knoo wot men me cobbers were:
Never knoo that toffs wus white men till I met 'em over 'ere
Blokes an' coves I sort o' snouted over there.
Yes, I loafed aroun' me country; an' I never knoo 'er then;
But the reel, ribuck Australia's 'ere, among the fightin' men.
'We've slung the swank fer good an' all; it don't fit in our plan;
To skite uv birth an' boodle is a crime.
A man wiv us, why, 'e's a man becos 'e is a man,
An' a reel red-'ot Australian ev'ry time.
Fer dawg an' side an' snobbery is down an' out fer keeps.
It's grit an' reel good fellership that gits yeh friends in 'caps.
'There's a bloke 'oo shipped when I did; 'e wus lately frum 'is ma.
'Oo 'ad filled 'im full uv notions uv 'is birth;
An' 'e overworked 'is aitches till 'e got the loud 'Ha-ha'
Frum the fellers, but 'e wouldn't come to earth.
I bumped 'is lordship, name o' Keith, an' 'ad a little row,
An' 'e lost some chunks uv beauty; but 'e's good Australian now.
'There is Privit Snifty Thompson, 'oo wus once a Sydney rat,
An' 'e 'ung around the Rocks when 'e wus young.
There's little Smith uv Collin'wood, wiv fags stuck in 'is 'at,
An' a string uv dirty insults on 'is tongue.
A corperil took them in 'and - a lad frum Lameroo.
Now both is nearly gentlemen, an' good Australians too.
'There's one, 'e doesn't tork a lot, 'e sez 'is name is Trent,
Jist a privit, but 'e knows 'is drill a treat;
A stand-orf bloke, but reel good pals wiv fellers in 'is tent,
But 'is 'ome an' 'istoree 'as got 'em beat.
They reckon when 'e starts to bleed 'e'll stain 'is Kharki blue;
An' 'is lingo smells uv Oxford - but 'e's good Australian too.
'Then there's Lofty Craig uv Queensland, 'oo's a special pal uv mine;
Slow an' shy, an' kind o' nervous uv 'is height;
An' Jupp, 'oo owns a copper show, an' arsts us out to dine
When we're doo fer leave in Cairo uv a night.
An' there's Bills an' Jims an' Bennos, an' there's Roys an' 'Arolds too,
An' they're cobbers, an' they're brothers, an' Australians thro' an' thro'.
'There is farmers frum the Mallec, there is bushmen down frum Bourke,
There's college men wiv letters to their name;
There is grafters, an' there's blokes 'oo never done a 'ard day's work
Till they tumbled, wiv the rest, into the game
An' they're drillin' 'ere together, men uv ev'ry creed an' kind
It's Australia! Solid! Dinkum! that 'as left the land be'ind.
'An' if yeh want a slushy, or a station overseer,
Or a tinker, or a tailor, or a snob,
Or a 'andy bloke wiv 'orses, or a minin' ingineer,
Why, we've got the very man to do yer job.
Butcher, baker, undertaker, or a Caf' de Pary chef,
'E is waitin', keen an' ready, in the little A.I.F.
'An' they've drilled us. Strike me lucky! but they've drilled us fer a cert!
We 'ave trod around ole Egyp's burnin' sand
Till I tells meself at evenin', when I'm wringin' out me shirt,
That we're built uv wire an' green-'ide in our land.
Strike! I thort I knoo 'ard yakker, w'ish I've tackled many ways,
But uv late I've took a tumble I bin dozin' orl me days.
'It's a game, lad,' writes ole Ginger, 'it's a game I'm likin' grand,
An' I'm tryin' fer a stripe to fill in time;
I 'ave took a pull on shicker fer the honour uv me land,
An' I'm umpty round the chest an' feelin' prime.
Yeh kin tell Rose, if yeh see 'er, I serloots 'er o'er the foam,
An' we'll 'ave a cray fer supper when I comes a'marchin' 'ome.'
So ole Ginger sends a letter, an' 'is letter's good to read,
Fer the things 'e sez, an' some things 'e leaves out;
An' when a bloke like 'im wakes up an' starts to take a 'eed,
Well, it's sort o' worth the writin' 'ome about.
'E's one uv many little things Australia chanced to find
She never knoo she 'ad around till bugles cleared 'er mind.
Becos ole Europe lost 'er block an' started 'eavin' bricks,
Becos the bugles wailed a song uv war,
We found reel gold down in the 'earts uv orl our Ginger Micks
We never thort worth minin' fer before.
An' so, I'm tippin' we will pray, before our win is scored:
'Thank God for Mick, an' Bill an' Jim, an' little brother Clord.'