The Modern Cherub
'Give me a dad who knows his place
And never gives me cheek,
And a mother mild who treats her child
In a docile way, and meek.
Give me a house where a little lad
Is recognised as head,
And home-life's not too beastly bad,'
The little darling said.
'Give me the right to rule to roost
And I'll stay in at night,
And seldom go to the picture show
Or patronise the fight.
But I'll treat complaints with a lordly sniff
If they humbly mention bed.
Precocious parents bore me stiff,'
The sweet young cherub said.
Matriarchy's coming fast,
Man's supremacy at last
Finds the end is near.
Since the days of troglodytes,
Man, the lord and master,
Sees his olden cherished rights,
Slipping fast and faster.
Daddy has no time to roam,
The household bills he's clearing,
Mummy's left four kids at home
And gone electioneering.
Mummy holds a sacred trust
To talk the public dizzy,
Daddy has to earn a crust,
And, gosh! it keeps him busy.
Once a chattel and a slave,
We grabbed her by her hair
And flung her in our private cave
To do our cooking there.
But, since her olden bonds were loosed,
More liberty she's craving,
And lovely woman rules the roost,
While mankind does the slaving.
Marriage is a full-time job
For Daddy, ever toiling:
He has to work, the poor old swab,
To keep the pot a-boiling.
But Mummy has the time to spare
To right a stricken nation.
Oh, cares! Oh, clubs! Oh, flowing hair!
This is emancipation!
A country lass with rosy cheeks,
A healthy maid with merry ways;
Labor 'mid loveliness she seeks,
And strives to crowd with joy her days.
For she was raised upon a farm;
Upon a farm she grew in grace,
And in that clear air won this charm,
This sweet allure of form and face.
Where she had won the art to grow,
About her house, about her door,
Such loveliness as these days show,
Ask of the years that went before.
But learn she did, as scenes attest
By tree-girt lawn and flowery way,
Even her bridge-heads flank some nest
Of nodding roses, richly gay.
Beyond her home the wheatlands roll,
To yield their tithes upon her dower;
Yet, 'spite her soft, aesthetic soul,
She gives not all to field and flower.
For, show the lass a well-set horse;
Show her a dog with grace or speed;
Set her upon some sunlit course,
And she knows full content indeed.
A country lass with rosy cheeks,
Deft and delightful, who can be
A hostess rare to one who seeks
Her kindly hospitality.
And here she reigns, a queen indeed,
About her flowery realm to ride,
Mounted upon a well-bred steed,
A good hound trotting by her side.
The Fall Of Fitzmickle
Mr Fitzmickle, the martinet,
Rules with an iron rod
His house and home; 'neath its red-tiled dome
He struts like a little tin god.
When Popper says stay, the family stay;
When Popper says go, they go;
And early and late, like the trumpet of Fate,
Sounds the fierce Fitzmicklean 'No!'
Mr Fitzmickle, the martinet,
Came on his small son when
There, listening in to the cricketing din,
He sat as the clock struck ten.
'What? Sporting rubbish? At this hour, too!'
Said he: and his brow grew black.
'Things that I wouldn't do my son musn't do.
Bed, sir! And don't answer me back!'
Mr Fitzmickle, the martinet,
His hand on the wireless switch,
Listened a wile, and a ghost of a smile
His stern face seemed to twitch.
'Another man out!' He paused in doubt,
As he noted the latest score.
'Well, I might as well sit and listen a bit;
But a bare half hour, no more.'
Mr Fitzmickle, the martinet,
Just as the clock struck four,
Weary and worn in the cold, bleak morn
Crept by his small son's door.
And out of the stygian darkness there,
Swift to discover his sin,
A small voice cried from the gloom inside:
'Please Popper. Did our side win?'
Bill? Oh, him ... Well, he's taken a knock.
Real sad when I spoke to him last;
Sufferin' like from a nasty shock.
Just drivin' a wee bit fast
Round a corner - no chance to halt
Skittles a kid on the road.
An' they're tellin' him now it's all his fault,
'Case he didn't observe the Code.
Code? Wot Code? Why, Bill can drive!
An' they're tellin' him now he was rash.
It's his skill at the wheel kept him alive
And out of many a smash.
And now, this luck. Yes; the youngster died,
But the evidence plainly showed
That Bill was fair on the proper side,
What more could he do with the Code?
Why, I've seen Bill drive on just two wheels,
Miss trees by a coat of paint.
An' now, it's rotten the way he feels
Broke up when they made complaint:
Callin' him careless. Careless? Him?
Why, I've seen him motor a load
At eighty an hour, an' the light all dim.
He didn't learn that from a Code.
But there you are ... One accident more,
One more kid, chancin' to roam,
Knocked stiff in sight of his own house door
One more grief-stricken home
An' poor Bill, eyes still fixed ahead
On that small, still form by the road,
Sayin' over an' over, 'He's dead! He's dead! . . .'
Well - Maybe there is good in a Code.
Why A Picnic, Jane?
But, why a picnic, Jane? We went last year,
And missed the Cup; and you know how you grieved
Because we lost - Oh! yes, you did, my dear.
I had the tip, but I was not believed.
It's just sheer nonsense to deny it all.
And when he won, you said, if you recall,
You'd never miss a chance like that again.
Well, cut the Cup. But why a picnic, Jane?
You know how I hate picnics - sticky things
The grizzling children and the dusty road,
The flies and all those crawlywigs with stings
My dear, I'm not selfish! But that load
Of baskets - Eh? Back him at starting price?
That's an idea. And then I could remain
To take you and the children? - M'yes. Quite nice.
Jolly, of course. But, why a picnic, Jane?
Wait! Have you thought of burglars? There you are!
The empty house. Remember that last case
Near here? ... Bright thought, my dear! You take the car.
You've solved it. I'll stay at home and mind the place.
Lonely? Not I. You take the car, of course.
I've a good book; I'll be all right alone.
That's settled then ... And now, about the horse.
Wait here, and while I think of it, I'll phone.
'Lo! That you, Sam? All set! I can't talk loud.
'Lo! can you hear me? Listen, lad. It's on.
Tomorrow, yes. Count me in the crowd.
Your car - about eleven. They'll be gone.
Great stunt, that picnic! If we make the pace
We ought to get there for the second race.
Well, Jane, that's all fixed up. I've backed our horse.
Eh? Help cut sandwiches? Why, dear, of course.
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.
Mr Fitzmickle, the martinet,
Still with an iron hand
Rules house and home. Like a peevish gnome
He barks each curt command.
And he packs the family off to bed
Since a wireless 'fan' he's grown
And each obeys, while Papa stays
And harks to the Test alone.
Mr Fitzmickle, the martinet,
Sat, last Saturday night,
Glowing with pride as Australia's side
Rose to the loftiest height.
Then, just as the fun grew furious
And the batsmen forged ahead,
Came a horrible shriek, a click and a squeak;
And the speaker went stone dead!
Mr Fitzmickle, the martinet,
Fiddled, with urgent thumb,
At many a screw, in a terrible stew;
But ever the set stayed dumb.
So up the stairs in his stocking feet,
He stole to his small son there,
Whose expert hand now took command;
And the Test was again on the air.
Mr Fitzmickle, the martinet,
Frowned at his small, meek heir.
'You'll wait,' said he, 'lest the thing won't gee.
Quiet, sir! Sit over there!'
And his small son; hugging himself in glee
As the game went merrily on
Sat listening in with a rapturous grin
To the triumphs of 'Billy' and 'Don.'
Mr Fitzmickle, the martinet,
Seized with a strange wild joy,
As the centuries came, with his eye aflame,
Clutched at the startled boy . . . .
And Mrs Fitzmickle, roused from sleep,
Saw a sight to wonder at;
Fitzmickle and son, at half-past one,
Dancing a jig on the mat.
Mr Fitzmickle, the martinet,
Said with a sheepish grin,
'Why, Mother's here! Sit down, my dear,
Sit down and listen in!' . . .
And the small son whispered - when all was o'er,
And the winter dawn began
In his mother's ear: 'Ma, ain't it queer.
Pappas's just like a man!'
(I address myself to that chosen few - which includes you,
My dear reader - who
Are men of understanding, bright intellect and horse-sense, and to no others).
There comes one little period in the day
When each of us may say,
Away with care and thoughts of toil and stress and pain!'
And, as we journey home in car or tram or train,
Let us leave office worries far behind,
Banish domestic troubles from the mind,
And just go gay.
Once a day,
For just a few brief minutes let us play.
Let us be joyous, and, with quip and quirk,
Forget the drudgery of daily work,
And, from this daily column
Banish the somnolent, the sad, the solemn.
Let us foregather, brothers, and discuss
Eliminating all the fume and fuss
The vagaries of our uncertain weather,
Let us commune together
Upon the steadfastness of politicians,
The fate of nations, and the strange conditions
Imposed on us in this, our daily life . . .
Mayhap, indeed, the wife
Waits home to greet our coming with a tale
Of household woes to turn a strong man pale;
Mayhap, forsooth, our business affairs
Have loaded us all day with heavy cares.
Leave all behind.
Shed, for a while, all trouble from the mind.
The hot sock
And the short frock:
Of men and modes and manners let us talk,
Giving dull care a cunning miss in baulk.
We WILL be gay!
Just once a day!
We shall consider strikes in merry mood
And even joke about the price of food,
And all that sort of thing.
So it may bring
Joy to our hearts and to our worn minds ease.
I shall do all the talking, if you please,
And if, perchance, you cry, 'How bright!
Why, then, of course - However,
The thread of my discourse is somewhat broken,
But, brothers, I have spoken!
City Of Dreams
Oh, we might have a marvellous city
Were we only less keen on cash
Less avid for things - more's the pity
That fade and are gone in a flash,
A city where duffers in my line
In wrapt adoration fall flat
To behold its superlative skyline
But there isn't much money in that.
Oh, we might have a city most splendid
Were sordid self-seeking denied.
Were good taste and culture attended
By pride that transcends money-pride.
Then, urged by more glorious dreaming
Than moved beneath Pericles' hat,
We would out-Athens Athens in scheming
But - there isn't much money in that.
So let's build our city according
To canons commercial and sane.
Where every house is a hoarding
And every 'palace' a pain.
Let us mingle the Gothic and Moorish
In the nice neo-Georgian flat.
What odds, tho' they blither it's boorish?
Who cares? For there's money in that.
Oh, let's have a conglomeration
Of all architectural ills.
We build for ouselves, not th enation,
And to advertise somebody's pills
With piles that are proud and pretentious
And styles that are 'pretty' and fat.
And a fig for their strictures sententious!
There's not a brass farthing in that.
And so we'll grow richer and richer
While curleywigs crawl the facade
Of the home of the sur-super-picture
Or pubs where the profits are made.
Yet - We might have a marvellous city
If we only knew how to grow fat
At the game. But we don't - more's the pity.
So there isn't much money in that.
And when we have piled up the riches,
And pass, and leave never a trace,
A grave-digger, with clay on his breeches,
Will come and pitch dirt on our face.
And our passing may serve to remind him,
As he gives the grave-mound a last pat:
'Well, he's gone; and he's left nought behind him,
And there isn't much honor in that.'
In the everlasting summer, when the town is limp with heat,
and the asphalt of the footpath curls your boots and burns your feet:
When you're creased and crabbed and sodden, and can hardly raise a crawl,
And the persperation's drippin' in a constant waterfall;
There's a penetratin' odor gets abroad and fairly roars;
It will creep in through the keyholes and it sneaks beneath the doors;
And it fills your happy home up from the cellar to the roof,
Until ev'ry other odour holds its breath and stands aloof.
That's Mutton! Mutton!
All-pervadin', never-fadin' smell of cookin' sheep.
Into ev'ry room 'twill roam, chasin' you from house and home,
Mutton flaunted, mutton-haunted, even in your sleep.
You can smell it in the parlour, you can feel it in the hall,
you can HEAR it in the kitchen, where it hugs you like a pall,
Hov'ring o'er your couch at midnight, wafting thro' your troubled sleep:
First to greet you in the mornin' when the day begins to peep.
Seek you vainly to evade it in an open-air retreat,
It will rise and upper-cut you, from the gratin's in the street.
Vain are all your disinfectants, for they fail the woes to drown
Of a mutton-ridden people in a mutton-scented town.
Oh, the irony of hearin' songs about the home, sweet home;
When you swelter in an oven where the kitchen odours roam.
When each kindly word is wafted on a mutton-scented breeze,
And each sigh stirs up remembrance of a week of hashed-up teas;
Where endearing terms are flavoured with a touch of mutton raw,
And you sample last week's dinner, ev'ry tender breath you draw.
Do you wonder that our home-life isn't what it ought to be?
Do you know what sets us drinkin', in our abject misery?
It's Mutton! Mutton!
Over-cloudin', odour-shroudin' all in life that's bright;
By a thoughtless movement stirred, chokin' down a kindly word,
Ever-present, effervescent, mornin', noon and night.
Come Ye Home
Listening (said the old, grey Digger) . . .
With my finger on the trigger
I was listening in the trenches on a dark night long ago,
And a lull came in the fighting,
Save a sudden gun-flash lighting
Some black verge. And I fell thinking of lost mates I used to know.
Listening, waiting, stern watch keeping,
I heard little whispers creeping
In from where, 'mid fair fields tortured, No-man's land loomed out before.
And well I knew good mates were lying
There, grim-faced and death-defying,
In that filth and noisome litter and the horror that was war.
List'ning so, a mood came o'er me;
And 'twas like a vision bore me
To a deeper, lonelier darkness where the souls of dead men roam;
Where they wander, strife unheading;
And I heard a wistful pleading
Down the lanes where lost men journey: 'Come ye home! Ah, come ye home!'
'Ye who fail, yet triumph failing'
Ye who fall, yet falling soar
Into realms where, brother hailing
Brother, bids farewell to war;
Ye for whom this red hell ended,
With the last great, shuddering breath.
In the mute, uncomprehended,
Dreamful dignity of death;
Back to your own land's sweet breast
Come ye home, lads - home to rest.'
Listening in my old bush shanty
(Said grey Digger) living's scanty
These dark days for won-out soldiers and I'd not the luck of some
But from out the ether coming
I could hear a vast crowd's humming
Hear the singing, then - the Silence. And I knew the Hour had come.
Listening, silent as I waited,
And the picture recreated,
I could see the kneeling thousands by the Shrine's approaches there.
Then, above those heads low-bending,
Like an orison ascending,
Saw a multitude's great yearning rise into the quivering air.
Listening so, again the seeming
Of a vision came; and dreaming
There, I saw from out high Heaven spread above the great Shrine's dome,
From the wide skies overarching
I beheld battalions marching -
Mates of mine! My comrades, singing: Coming home! Coming home!
'We who bore the cost of glory,
We who paid the price of peace,
Now that, from this earth, war's story
Shall, please God, for ever cease,
To this Shrine that you have lifted
For a symbol and a sign
Of men's hearts, come we who drifted
Thro' long years, oh, mates of mine!
To earth, my brothers' grieving blest
Now come we home, lads - home to rest.'
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 !'
A Morning Song
The thrush is in the wattle tree, an', 'O, you pretty dear!'
He's callin' to his little wife for all the bush to hear.
He's wantin' all the bush to know about his charmin' hen;
He sings it over fifty times, an' then begins again.
For it's Mornin'! Mornin'! The world is wet with dew,
With tiny drops a-twinkle where the sun comes shinin' thro'.
The thrush is in the wattle tree, red robin's underneath,
The little blue-cap's dodgin' in an' out amongst the heath;
An' they're singin', boy, they're singin' like they'd bust 'emselves to bits;
While, up above, old Laughin' Jack is having forty fits.
For it's Mornin'! Mornin'! The leaves are all ashine:
There's treasure all about the place; an' all of it is mine.
Oh, it's good to be a wealthy man, it's grand to be a king
With mornin' on the forest-land an' joy in everything.
It's fine to be a healthy man with healthy work to do
In the singin' land, the clean land, washed again with dew.
When sunlight slants across the trees, an' birds begin to sing,
Then kings may snore in palaces, but I'm awake - and king.
But the king must cook his breakfast, an' the king must sweep the floor;
Then out with axe on shoulder to his kingdom at the door,
His old dog sportin' on ahead, his troubles all behind,
An' joy mixed in the blood of him because the world is kind.
For it's Mornin'! Mornin'! Time to out an' strive!
Oh, there's not a thing I'm askin' else but just to be alive!
It's cranky moods a man will get an' funny ways of mind;
For I've a memory of one whose thoughts were all unkind:
Who sat an' brooded thro' the night beside the blazin' log,
His home a mirthless, silent house, his only pal a dog.
But it's Mornin'! Mornin'! I nurse no thought but praise,
I've more good friends than I could count, tho' I should count for days.
My friends are in the underbrush, my friends are in the trees,
An' merrily they welcome me with mornin' melodies.
Above, below, from bush an' bough each calls his tuneful part;
An' best of all, one trusty friend is callin' in my heart.
For it's Mornin'! Mornin'! When night's black troubles end.
An' never man was friendless yet who stayed his own good friend.
Ben Murray, he's no friend of mine, an' well I know the same;
But why should I be thinkin' hate, an' nursin' thoughts of blame?
Last evenin' I'd no friend within, but troubles all around,
An' madly thought to fight a man for ten or twenty pound.
But it's Mornin'! Mornin'! my friend within's alive,
An' he'd never risk a twenty - tho' he might consider five.
But where's the call to think of strife with such good things about?
The gum-leaves are a-twinkle as the sun comes peepin' out.
The blue-cap's in an' out the fern, red robin's on the gate,
An' who could hear the song of them a hold a thought of hate?
Oh, it's Mornin'! Mornin'! No time for thinkin' wrong.
An' I'd be scared to strike a man, I feel so awful strong.
Grey thrush is in the wattle, an' it's, 'O, you pretty dear!'
He's callin' to his little wife, an' don't care who should hear
In the great bush, the fresh bush, washed again with dew.
An' my axe is on my shoulder, an' there's work ahead to do.
Oh, it's Mornin'! Singin' Mornin'! in the land I count the best,
An' with the heart an' mind of me I'm singin' with the rest.
The Long Road Home
When I go back from Billy's place I always have to roam
The mazy road, the crazy road that leads the long way home.
Ma always says, "Why don't you come through Mr Donkin's land?
The footbridge track will bring you back." Ma doesn't understand.
I cannot go that way, you know, because of Donkin's dog;
So I set forth and travel north,, and cross the fallen log.
Last week, when I was coming by, that log had lizards in it;
And you can't say I stop to play if I just search a minute.
I look around upon the ground and, if there are no lizards,
I go right on and reach the turn in front of Mrs Blizzard's.
I do not seek to cross the creek, because it's deep and floody,
And Ma would be annoyed with me if I came home all muddy.
Perhaps I throw a stone or so at Mrs Blizzard's tank,
Because it's great when I aim straight to hear the stone go "Plank
Then west I wend from Blizzard's Bend, and not a moment wait,
Except, perhaps, at Mr Knapp's, to swing upon his gate.
So up the hill I go, until I reach the little paddock
That Mr Jones at present owns and rents to Mr Craddock.
For boys my size the sudden rise is quite a heavy pull,
And yet I fear a short-cut here because of Craddock's bull;
So I just tease the bull till he's as mad as he can get,
And then I face the corner place that's been so long to let.
It's very well for Ma to tell about my dawdling habits.
What would you do, suppose you knew the place was thick with rabbits?
I do not stay for half a day, as Ma declares I do,.
No, not for more than half-an-hour - perhaps an hour - or two.
Then down the drop I run, slip-slop, where all the road is slithy.
And have to go quite close, you know, to Mr Horner's smithy.
A moment I might tarry by the fence to watch them hammer,
And, I must say, learn more that way than doing sums and grammar.
And, if I do sometimes climb through, I do not mean to linger'.
Though I did stay awhile the day Bill Homer burst his finger.
I just stand there to see the pair bang some hot iron thing
And watch Bill Horner swing the sledge and hit the anvil - Bing!
(For Mr Horner and his son are great big brawny fellows:
Both splendid chaps!) And then, perhaps, they let me blow the bellows.
A while I stop beside the shop, and talk to Mr Horner;
Then off I run, and race like fun around by Duggan's Corner.
It's getting late, and I don't wait beside the creek a minute,
Except to stop, maybe, and drop a few old pebbles in it.
A few yards more, and here's the store that's kept by Mr Whittle-
And you can't say I waste the day if I 'ust wait ... a little.
One day, you know, a year ago, a man gave me a penny,
And Mr Whittle sold me sweets (but not so very many).
You never know your luck, and so I look to see what's new
In Mr Whittle's window. There's a peppermint or two,
Some buttons and tobacco (Mr Whittle calls it "baccy"),
And fish in tins, and tape, and pins.... And then a voice calls, "Jacky!"
"I'm coming, Ma. I've been so far-around by Duggan's Corner.
I had to stay awhile to say 'Good day' to Mr Horner.
I feel so fagged; I've tramped and dragged through mud and over logs, Ma -
I could not go short-cuts, you know, because of bulls and dogs, Ma.
The creek, Ma? Why, it's very high ! You don't call that a gutter?
Bill Horner chews tobacco, Ma .... I'd like some bread and butter."
An individualistic cock
Proclaims the fact.
The dissipated cat sneaks home forlorn.
'Tis time to get up and act!
'Tis eight o'clock!
The stern and stalwart anti-Socialist,
And independent citizen, whose fist
Is raised against all Socialistic schemes,
Wakes from the land o' dreams;
(Nightmares of Sosh)
Gets up, and has a wash
In water from the Socialistic main;
Empties it down the Socialistic drain,
And, giving his moustache the proper twist,
Breakfasts upon an egg,
Laid by some anti-Socialistic
And, as he chews,
Endeavours to peruse
In some wise publication, printing views
That no right-thinking man could grumble at;
And, having scoffed the egg,
He reaches from its peg;
Perambulates the Socialistic path
Annoys him just as little as the bath.
Tho' both essentially are Sosh's works,
He never shirks
But much abuse
Of Socialistic ideas, without excuse,
Flavors his conversation in the train
The Socialistic train.
But, here again,
He is not heard to murmur or complain
Against the train.
At length the hour
Strikes the Socialistic tower;
His office and enquires
For letters and for wires.
Nor e'en complains
They reach him thro' a Socialistic post.
There are a host
Of letters - quite a pile
Some from his friends
(Ah! See him smile),
Cursing the Labor party's aims and ends.
Here is a note
Bidding him be content and of good cheer,
For, in the House last night, the Fusion vote
Defeated Labor on the Telephone
Discussion. Wherefore charges won't be near
As he has cause to fear.
And that reminds him. He rings on the 'phone,
And tells a friend
At t'other end
That Socialism's better left alone.
Says it emphatically thro' the 'phone
The Socialistic 'phone
The Government is running at a loss
Of very much per cent.
He knows that it is so.
But is he cross?
He's quite content...
So, through the day
He goes his anti-Socialistic way.
Round and about
Wearing the Socialistic pavement out;
Riding in Socialistic trams
And damning damns
When Socialism's mentioned - with a frown...
As night comes down,
He scorns the Socialistic atmosphere
Of a plain pub
And seeks his club.
And tells his fellow members what he thinks
About the 'Labah pawty' and its claims
And visionary aims.
They languidly remark 'Hear, hear.'...
Then out once more
And, in a Socialistic tram and train,
On to suburbia, and home again
To his own door.
Then to his bed;
Laying his wise and proper-thinking head
In downy pillow-deep.
He is about to dropp
When - 'Flop... Flop...
Chasing an individualistic rat?
Nay, 'tis the footfall of the midnight cop,
The stilly night,
Telling that I and you
Are guarded in our right;
He guards the persons and the propertee
Of you and me.
He's a Socialistic institution too
The man in blue.
No wonder WILLIAM SIKES
The whole blue Socialistic crew....
I wish he'd keep
Still, that cop,
I want to go to sleep...
Why does he keep
Flop, flop, flop!
With his big feet
Along the street?
Why can't he stop?...
His Socialistic feet....
Why don't he change his beat?...
Of all the rows I ever heard
Upon my word!
When you stop to think of it
This Socialistic business is absurd!
I nearly fell fair in my tracks.
I'm trudgin' homeward with my axe
When I come on her suddenly.
'I wonder if I'm lost?' says she.
'It's risky on such roads as this.'
I lifts my hat an' says, 'Yes, miss.'
I knew 'twas rude for me to stare,
But, oh, that sunlight in her hair!
'I wonder if I'm lost? says she,
An' gives a smile that staggers me.
'An' yet, it wouldn't matter much
Supposing that I was, with such
A glorious green world about,
With bits of blue sky peepin' out.
Do you think there will be a fog?'
'No, miss,' says I, an' pats my dog.
'Oh, what a dear old dog!' says she.
'Most dogs are pretty fond of me.'
She calls him to her, an' he goes.
(He didn't find it hard, I s'pose;
I know I wouldn't if she called.)
'It's wondrous how the tracks are walled
With these great trees that touch the sky
On either side.' 'Yes, miss,' says I.
She fondles my old dog a bit;
I wait to make a bolt for it.
(There ain't no call to stand an' talk
With one who'd be too proud to walk
A half-a-yard with such as me.)
'The wind keeps workin' up,' says she.
'Yes, miss,' says I, an' lifts me hat.
An' she just let's it go at that.
She let me reach the dribblin' ford -
That day to me it fairly roared.
(At least, that's how the thing appears;
But blood was poundin' in my ears.)
She waits till I ahve fairly crossed:
'I thought I told I was lost?'
She cries. 'An' you go walkin' off,
Quite scornful, like some proud bush toff!'
She got me thinkin' hard with that.
'Yes, miss,' I says, an' lifts my hat.
But she just waits there on the track,
An' lets me walk the whole way back.
'An' are you reely lost?' says I.
'Yes, sir,' says she an' drops her eye. . .
I wait, an' wait for what seems days;
But not another word she says.
I pats my dog, an' lifts my hat;
But she don't seem to notice that.
I looks up trees an' stares at logs,
An' long for twenty hats an' dogs.
'The weather's kept reel good to-day,'
I blurts at last. Say she, 'Hurray!'
'Hurray!' she says, an' then, 'Encore!'
An' gets me wonderin' what for.
'Is this the right road to 'The Height?''
I tell her it's the road, all right,
But that the way she's walkin' ain't.
At that she looked like she would faint.
'Then I was lost if I had gone
Along this road an' walked right on
An unfrequented bush track, too!
How fortunate that I met you!'
'Yes, miss,' I says. 'Yes - what?' says she.
Says I, 'Most fortunate . . . for me.'
I don't know where I found the pluck
To blurt that out an' chance my luck.
'You'll walk,' she says, 'a short way back,
So you can put me on the track?'
'I'll take you all the way,' says I,
An' looks her fair bang in the eye.
Later, I let myself right out,
An' talked: an' told her all about
The things I've done, an' what I do,
An' nearly all I'm hopin' to.
Told why I chose the game I'm at
Because my folks were poor, an' that.
She seemed reel pleased to hear me talk,
An' sort of steadied up the walk.
An' when I'd spoke my little bit,
She just takes up the thread of it;
An' later on, near knocks me down
By tellin' me she works - in town.
Works? her? I thought, the way she dressed,
She was quite rich; but she confessed
That makin' dresses was her game,
An' she was dead sick of the same.
When Good bye came, I lifts my hat;
But she holds out her hand at that.
I looked at mine, all stained with sap,
An' told her I'm a reel rough chap.
'A worker's hand,' says she, reel fine,
'An' marked with toil; but so is mine.
We're just two toilers; let us shake,
An' be good friends - for labour's sake.'
I didn't care to say no more,
For fear of what she'd take me for
But just Good bye, an' turns away,
Bustin' with things I had to say.
I don't know how I got right home.
The wonder was I didn't roam
Off in the scrub, an' dream out there
Of her with sunlight in her hair.
At home I looks around the place,
An' sees the dirt a fair disgrace;
So takes an' tidies up a bit,
An' has a shave; an' then I sit
Beside my fire to have a think.
But my old dog won't sleep a wink;
He fools, an' whines, an' nudges me,
Then all at once I thinks of tea.
I beg his pardon wiht a smile,
An'. talkin' to him all the while,
I get it ready, tellin' him
About that girl; but, 'Shut up, Jim!'
he says to me as plain as plain.
'First have some food, an' then explain.'
(I don't know how she came to tell,
But I found out her name is Nell.)
We gets our bit to eat at last.
(An', just for spite, he et his fast) . . .
I think that Nell's a reel nice name . . .
'All right, old dog, I ain't to blame
If you' . . . Just as I go to sup
My tea I stop dead, with my cup
Half up, an' . . . By the Holy Frost!
I wonder was Nell reely lost?
Culture And Cops
Five nights agone I lay at rest
On my suburban couch.
My trousers on the bedpost hung,
Red gold within their pouch.
The twin-gods Law and Order seemed
To me all powerful as I dreamed.
My life was staid, my rates were paid,
And peace was in my mind.
Nor recked I of unruly men
To evil deeds inclined
Strange, primal atavistic men
Who shock the peaceful citizen.
But all the same by stealth he came,
A man of vile intent.
What cared he that my life was pure,
Or that I paid my rent?
He willed to violate my shrine
For household treasures that were mine.
He planned to thieve my household goods,
Heirlooms of divers kinds.
(I cannot understand such men,
Nor fathom their dark minds.
Why cannot they abjure all vice,
And be respectable and nice?)
With purpose vile and with a file
My window he attacked.
A stealthy scratch upon the catch
Awoke me to the fact.
Softly, with sudden fear amazed,
A corner of the blind I raised.
I saw his face!...Oh, what a man
His manhood should degrade,
And seek to rob (I checked a so
Except in honest trade!
A predatory face I saw
That showed no reverence for Law.
With whirring head I slid from bed,
Crept from my peaceful couch;
Forsook my trousers hanging there,
Red gold within their pouch.
Out through my chamber door I fled
And up the hallway softly sped.
Into the murky night I stole
To see a certain cop,
Whose forthright feet patrol the beat
A stone's throw from my shop.
In my pyjama suit went I....
Across the moon dark clouds swept by.
I saw him draped upon a post,
Like someone in a swoon.
His buttons gleamed what time the clouds
Released the troubled moon.
He gazed upon the changing sky,
A strange light in his dreamy eye.
'Now, haste thee cop!' I called aloud,
And seized him by the arm.
'There is a wretch without my house
Who bodes my treasure harm' ....
Toward the sky he waved a hand
And answered, 'Ain't that background grand?'
'Nay, gentle John,' said I, 'attend
A thief my goods and gold
Seeks to purloin. Go, seize the man
Before the trail is cold!'
'Those spires against the sky,' said he,
'Surcharged with beauty are to me.'
'I give the man in charge!' I cried,
'He is on evil bent!
He seeks of all its treasured art
To strip my tenement!'
He answered, as one in a dream,
'Ain't that a bonzer colour-scheme?
'Them tortured clouds agen the moon,'
The foolish cop pursued,
'Remind me of some Whistler thing;
But I prefer the nood.'
Said I, 'Arrest this man of vice!'
Said he, 'The nood is very nice.'
'My pants,' cried I, 'unguarded lie
Beside my peaceful couch
My second-best pair, with the stripes,
Red gold within their pouch!
Thieves! Murder! Burglars! FIRE!' cried I.
Sighed he, 'Oh, spires against the sky!'
Then, in my pink pyjamas clad,
I danced before his eyes.
In anger impotent I sought
His car with savage cries.
He pushed me from him with a moan.
'Go 'way!' he said. 'You're out of tone.'
'Why do I pay my rates?' I yelled -
'What are policemen for?
Come, I demand, good cop, demand
Protection from the law!'
'You're out of drorin', too,' said he.
'Still, s'pose I better go an' see.'
I guided him a-down the street;
And now he stayed to view
The changing sky, and now he paused
Before some aspect new.
And thus, at length, we gained my gate.
'Too late!' I cried. 'Alas, too late!'
Too late to save my household gods,
My treasures rich and rare.
My ransacked cupboards yawned agape,
My sideboard, too, was bare.
And there, beside my tumbled couch,
My trousers lay with rifled pouch.
'Now, haste thee, cop!' I called again,
'Let not thy footsteps lag!
The thief can not be far away.
Haste to regain the swag!' ...
His arms I saw him outward fling.
He moaned, 'Where did you get that thing?'
With startled state I looked to where
His anguished gaze was bent,
And, hanging by my wardrobe, was
A Christmas Supplement
A thing I'd got for little price
And framed because I thought it nice.
It was a Coloured Supplement
(The frame, I thought, was neat).
It showed a dog, a little maid
Whose face was very sweet
A kitten, and some odds and ends.
The title, rather apt, was 'Friends.'
'Accursed Philistine!' I heard
The strange policeman hiss
Between his teeth. 'O wretched man,
Was I hired here for this?
O Goth! Suburbanite! Repent!
Tear down that Christmas Supplement!'
And, as athwart my burgled pane
The tortured storm-wrack raced,
He bowed his head upon his hands,
And wept and wept and wept....
So, on the whole, it seems to me,
Art and policemen don't agree.
Old Bob Blair
I got so down to it last night,
With longin' for what could not be,
That nothin' in the world seemed right
Or everything was wrong with me.
My house was just a lonely hole,
An' I had blisters on my soul.
Top of my other worries now
The boys are talkin' strike, an' say
If we put up a sudden row
We're sure of forcin' up our pay.
I'm right enough with what I get;
But some wants more, an' then more yet.
Ben Murray's put it up to me:
He says I got some influence
Amongst them, if I agree
'Which I will do if I have sense'
We'll make the boss cough up a bit.
That's how Ben Murray looks at it.
I don't know that the old boss can.
I've heard he's pushed to make ends meet.
To me he's been a fair, straight man
That pays up well an' works a treat.
But if I don't get in this game,
Well, 'blackleg' ain't a pretty name.
This thing has got me thinkin' hard,
But there is worse upon my mind.
What sort of luck has broke my guard
That I should be the man to find
A girl like that? . . . The whole world's wrong!
Why was I born to live and long?
I get so down to it last night
With broodin' over things like this,
I said 'There's not a thing in sight
Worth havin' but I seem to miss.'
So I go out and get some air
An' have a word with old Bob Blair.
Bob's livin' lonely, same as me;
But he don't take to frettin' so
An' gettin' megrims after tea.
He reads a lot at night, I know;
His hut has books half up the wall
That I don't tumble to at all.
Books all about them ancient blokes
That lived a thousand years ago:
Philosophers an' funny folk
What he sees in them I don't know.
There ain't much fun, when all is said,
In chap that is so awful dead.
He put his book down when I came,
He took his specs off, patient-like.
He's been in Rome; an' who can blame
The old man if he gets the spike
To be jerked back so suddenly
By some glum-lookin' coot like me.
At first he looks at me quite dazed,
As tho' 'twas hard to recognize
The silly fool at which he gazed;
An' then a smile come in his eyes:
'Why, Jim,' he says. 'Still feelin' blue?
Kiss her, an' laugh!' . . . But I says, 'Who?'
'Why, who, if not the widow, lad?'
But I says, 'Widows ain't no go.'
'What woman, then, makes you so sad?'
I coughs a bit an' says, 'Dunno.'
He looked at me, then old Bob Blair
He ran his fingers through his hair.
'God help us, but the case is bad!
An' men below, an; saints above
Look with mixed feelin's, sour an' sad,
Upon a fool in love with love.
Go, find her, lad, an' be again,
Fit to associate with men.
'Don't leave yourself upon the shelf:
It's bad for man to live alone.'
'Hold on,' says I. 'What ails yourself?
What are you doin' on your own?'
Quickly he turned away his head.
'That's neither here nor there,' he said.
I saw I'd made a clumsy break;
An' tied to cover it with talk
Of anything, for old Blair's sake.
He don't reply; but when I'd walk
Outside he says, 'What's this I hear
About the mill boys actin' queer?'
So then we yarns about the strike,
An' old Bob Brown frowns an' shakes his head.
'There's something there I hardly like;
The boss has acted fair,' he said.
'Eight years I've toiled here constantly,
An' boss an' friend he's been to me.
'I know he's up against it bad;
Stintin' himself to pay the men.
Don't listen to this tattle, lad,
An' leave that dirty work to Ben.
He tries to play on others need;
It's partly devil, partly greed.
'Ben's not a reel bad lot at heart,
But ignorant an' dull of sight,
An' crazed by these new creeds that start
An' grow like mushrooms, overnight;
An' this strange greed that's spread the more
Since the great sacrifice of war.
'Greed everywhere!' sighed old man Blair.
'Master an' man have caught the craze;
An' those who yesterday would share
Like brothers, now spend all their days
Snatchin' for gain - the great, the small.
And, of, folly of it all!'
He tapped the small book by his hand.
'Two thousand years ago they knew
That those who think an' understand
Can make their wants but very few.
Two thousand years they taught
That happiness can not be bought.'
'Progress?' he shouted. 'Bah! A Fig!
Where are the things that count or last
In buildin' something very big
Or goin' somewhere very fast?
We put the horse behind the cart;
For where's your progress of the heart?
'Great wisdom lived long years ago,
An' yet we say that we progress.
The paint an' tinsel of our show
Are men more generous, or kind?
Then where's your progress of the mind?'
(I think Bob Blair's a trifle mad;
They say so, too, around these parts;
An' he can be, when he's reel bad,
A holy terror once he starts.
dare say it's readin' books an' such.
Thank God I never read too much!)
I says I'm sure I don't know
Where all this progress gets to now.
He smiles a bit an' answers low,
'Maybe you'll find out, lad, somehow.
But talkin' makes my old head whirl;
So you be off, an' - find that girl.'
I says Good night, an' out I goes;
But I was hardly at the door
When his old specs is on his nose,
An' his book in his hand once more;
An', as I take the track for home,
Bob Blair goes back to Ancient Rome.