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.
Down by the slipralls stands our cow
Chewing, chewing, chewing,
She does not care what folks out there
In the great, big world are doing.
She sees the small cloud-shadows pass
And green grass shining under.
If she does think, what does she think
About it all, I wonder?
She sees the swallows skimming by
Above the sweet young clover,
The light reeds swaying in the wind
And tall trees bending over.
Far down the track she hears the crack
of bullock-whips, and raving
Of angry men where, in the sun,
Her fellow-beasts are slaving.
Girls, we are told, can scratch and scold,
And boys will fight and wrangle,
And big, grown men, just now and then,
Fret o'er some fingle-fangle,
Vexing the earth with grief or mirth,
Longing, rejoicing, rueing -
But by the slipralls stands our cow,
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 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.
What (said the poet) should we care
For all this mad world's phantasies,
For rumours rife upon the air
Of terrors looming overseas?
If so, the soul were plagued alway
With far-fetched grieving, what of mirth?
For somewhere sorror broods all day;
Yet laughter, too, inhabits earth.
For the sun shines and the grass grows,
And the ferns nod above the stream
That down this placid valley flows;
Then let us rest a while, and dream.
For the grass grows as the sun shines,
And the stream flows and sings a song
To chide the sad heart that repines
Ah, summer, summer, linger long!
What (I gave answer) badgers me
Are not the tragedies of earth.
Despite your gay philosophy
Of seeking joy and claiming mirth
For boon companions as you go,
Oft times these very joys oppress
And suns that shine and streams that flow
May be a source of weariness.
For the grass grows and the sun gleams
To sear the grass and, where they flow,
I must bring water from the streams
To make the blinking grass to grow.
And the sun gleams and the grass grows -
Indeed I know it well enough;
For as it springs where water flows
I've got to cut the blasted stuff.
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!'
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.
Behold the undergraduate
A most amusing fellow
In all his jesting up-to-date
His sense of humor is so great,
His modern wit so mellow,
That no quip serves him lest it be
Rich in originality.
Assured of overwhelming odds,
Seizing the freshmen's persons,
Indelibly he daubs these clods,
To waken mirth in men and gods.
(Saving a few McPhersons
And other members of their race
Who have of humor, not a trace.)
The softier sort of joke that serves
Dull age - the quaint or quizzical
Gains his contempt, as it deserves;
Mere wordy wit gets on his nerves;
His jokes are ever physical,
And richer qualities attain
The more they hold of cosmic pain.
To torture victims till they squeal
Is mirthfully effectual;
Humor lacks pith unless these feel
Fierce torments: wit has no appeal
That's solely intellectual.
The quirk, the paradox outworn,
The epigram but earn his scorn.
No milder jest may give him joy
Strange, adolescent creature,
Suspended 'twixt the man and boy
No rag's worth while lest it employ
Some quaintly painful feature;
But jokes, that moved the stone-age man
To shrieks of mirth, he'll gladly plan.
Behold the undergraduate
And pity him a little,
Remembering 'twas once our fate
To linger in that loutish state
That holds of grace no tittle,
But comes alike to boy and pup
The penalty of growing up.
George Jones Reflects
It's up an' down, as me father said,
An' his as went before him
Good days could never turn his head
Nor the worst of seasons floor him.
(Said old george Jones). I've heard him say
Full many a time an' often,
'The man who knows no evil day
Ain't toughened so he can out-stay
Good times, in which men soften.'
See-saw. 'Tis the older law
That's ruled the world since Adam.
If men ain't sipped the bitter cup,
How can the good days cheer 'em up?
They never know they had 'em.
So, by-an'-large, I'm sorter glad
I've had a chance to share 'em
These long, lean years we've lately had.
Now good years come we've got the bad
With which we can compare 'em.
I've heard men say the land is done
Because the hard times fool 'em.
Poor simple loons, they ain't begun
To know the laws wot rule 'em.
'Men ain't learned yet to live on air,'
I've hard my ole dad chuckle.
'Stick to the land. All wealth lies where
Earth bids all men to seek it, e'er
When life gets near the knuckle.'
See-saw. 'Tis the olden law;
An' laws help them as learned 'em.
An' us ole stagers wot held fast
To earth, now clear days down at last,
Why, praise the Lord, we've earned 'em.
Hard earned (said old George Jones) most ways
High prized. New loads is lighter,
Us, who held fast can well spare praise,
Aye, even for then strengthenin' days
That makes these good days brighter.
A Quest For Tophet
'Twas a hell of a Hell they glimpsed, my son,
In superstitious days
When cultured man had scarce begun
To shed barbaric ways:
With gridirons set above the flame
For naughty gentlemen.
Who uttered lies that earned them blame
And righteous folk condemn.
'Twas a terrible sort of a Hell, my son,
That crude man pictured then.
But picture a land laid waste, my lad,
In scientific style,
While supermen of a world gone mad
Plan forms of torture vile;
While innocent children fight for breath
In a gas-filled city's street,
And mothers of men call on kind Death
As a friend whose kiss is sweet.
If you're looking about for a Hell, my lad,
You will find this hard to beat.
'Twas the deuce of a Devil they raised, my son,
To rule in their ancient Hells
Horns and a tail, yet a figure of fun,
With a hint of the cap and bells.
With a fork for weapon, he roamed the earth
To garner the souls of men,
Who had slipped from grace: and, with shouts of mirth,
He pitched them into his Pen.
'Twas a humorous sort of a Devil, my son,
That dull folk fled from then.
But picture a Devil at work, my boy,
In his foetid chemical lair.
As he brews Hell broths with a ghoulish joy
To foul god's clean sweet air.
Picture a Devil with bombs on high -
Mass murderer, reeking sin,
As he rains gaunt death from a smiling sky,
And goes, with a maniac grin.
If you're seeking a Devil sans mercy, boy,
He is here, 'neath your Brother's skin.
The Hundredth Year
Not that I'd quarrel with the way
They celebrates their hundredth year
In town (said old Pete Parraday),
But that don't suit us bush blokes here.
So let bells ring and whistles blare
And fill the town with mighty sound,
Let motor noises tear the air
An' bonfires light the hills around.
When I'm five score I want some say
In things (said old Peter Parraday).
I've lived me life here in the bush
(Said Pete) since I was but a boy;
An' all this city noise an' push
Ain't my idea of showin' joy.
Me ears ain't tooned to sich like noise,
And fire is like to wake our fear.
Them ain't the things that we enjoys
When celebratin' birthdays here;
So, if I live so long, I pray
For peace (said old Peter Parraday).
A hundred year's a long, long spell
To hang about this mad ole earth,
And when man nears his century - well
He don't crave much of noisy mirth -
Not for himself, with life near run
Its length, such comes for others yet;
Not for himself; for he is done,
With all life's hectic fuss an' fret.
So let me have my foolish way
In this (said old Pete Parraday).
I ask but this, an' nothin' more,
When comes my hundredth natal day;
Let me sit here beside my door
And dream (said old Pete Parraday).
While bush birds sing the songs I know,
And bush sounds that I love the best,
Wake memories of the long ago,
Let me sit here a while and rest.
Aye, rest, and sleep and, who shall say?
Sleep sound (said old Pete Parraday).
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.
Hundreds And Thousands
But a scant 2000 folk, no more,
Sitting solemn-faced within the pews,
While the parsons preach and outward pour,
In divers tones, their own peculiar views.
Folk of sobriety,
'Proddies' and 'Pats,'
Breathing their piety
Into their hats;
Glowing with holiness,
Stern and austere;
Kneeling in lowliness,
Meek and sincere.
Gaily 50,000 folk or so
Travel to and fro in tram and train;
Godless Jeremiah, Jim and Joe,
Giddy Gerty, Gwendoline and Jane.
Bent on frivolity,
Eager for fun,
Sinful in jollity
Off for a run.
Taking a peach along
Out for the day,
Walking the beach along,
Godless but gay.
What's three hundred pounds a year to him
Of Scotchbyterian mould and visage stern,
Who'll go each dinner-time, with purpose grim,
And teach those folk what they refuse to learn?
Is it o'er muckle to
Gi'e to a mon,
One that will buckle to
Creeds ev'ry dinner-time,
Praying with zest,
Giving each sinner time
Texts to digest?
About 10,000 working men, or less,
With dinner pail and pasty at their lunch,
All list'ning to a clergyman's address,
And solemnly reflecting as they munch.
With due propriety
Blinking their eyes,
With their hot pies;
Glad that they will have their
Church with their bun.
And they can still have their
Sunday for fun.
'Tis now 2000 years ago, or near,
Since parsons 'gan to roam this troubled earth;
The sects increase and multiply each year
Which moves the pagan to loud, godless mirth).
Yet do they battle on
Fighting the Deevil,
Still do they rattle on
Girding at evil;
Pleading with tears
Is it futility?
Wait a few years.
'Tis but 2000.
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.
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!
A New Damon And Pythias
So, brother, I am out and yu are in.
Farewell, farewell, to all my splendor bright!
Yet, just to know 'tis you, dear Agar Wynne,
Tinges my melancholy with delight.
Indeed, I find it very hard to go;
Yet pleasure surely mingles with my woe.
Ay, you are in, and I am in - the soup!
For me the shades; for you the favored place.
Yet doth it cheer me when my spirits droop
Just to behold yur ever welcome face.
Aside. (But by the gods, just give me half a show,
The merest chance to kick, and out you go!)
Sweet Frazer, though I ill disguise my joy
In winning thus to fame, despite my foes;
It pains me to the heart, my dear old boy,
To think 'tis you whom I must so depose.
Nay, but it brings the hot tears to mine eyes,
To know that you must sink that I may rise.
Agar is in, and Charles is out, you say.
Tis sure a cruel fortune wills it so.
My joy is clouded o'er with grief to-day.
Because, my dear old friend, you have to go.
Aside. (But, give me strength, and I shall scheme and plan
To keep you out for ever, if I can!)
Dear Agar, when I gaze into your eyes,
Those kindly orbs whose depths so well I know,
Nay, I am filled with wonder and surprise
That I did not resign long years ago.
For who is Charles, to hold a place on high,
When such a man as Agar Wynne is by?
Indeed, the sorrow I so lately felt
Has given place to purest joy alone:
For now, at last, discerning Fate has dealt
Bare justice, and you sit upon my throne.
Aside. (But give me half a chance, that's all I crave;
I'll dig with joy your Legislative grave!)
Nay, rare Charles Edward, 'tis your blind regard
For him you love prompts that unselfish speech.
Ah, would that Fate - blind Fate, so doubly hard
Had never placed these sweets within my reach!
If 'twere not for my Party, friend, I'd say,
'Cleave you to office, Charles; I will away.'
Forgive these tears; for mow my joy has flown.
And in its stead comepangs of dull despair.
Ah, could I but contrive, my friend, mine own!
To yield you of my triumph en'en a share!
Aside. (Now, by the Sacred Fuse, you've got the sack
And I'll raise Cain to stop your gettingback.)
Agar! These tears are tears of sorrow rare!
My past neglect of you brings keen regret.
Dear Charles, if you've s kerchief you could spare,
Pray lend it me. Mine own is sopping wet.
Both, aside. (Now, having pulled his leg, I shall retire
And, to confound him, with my friends conspire.)
Exit both, apparently in tears, but eyeing each other furtively from
behind their respective handkerchiefs.
UNIMPORTANT CLERK (Advancing):
Well, spare my days! Of all the blessed guff!
And if, next week, Wynne's out and Frazer's in.
They'll probably dish up the same old stuff,
While honest men can only stand and grin.
More change! More toil! More worry for our sins!
A plague on all their childish Outs and INs!
Now must we shed the Labor livery,
And learn new manners in the Lib'ral school.
And, mayhap, in a twelve-month we shall be
Once more returned unto the Labor rule.
Oh, that the gods would blast such tricks as these,
And send this land Elective Ministries!
Bell rings. Exit.
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.'
Oh, my brothers do not wrangle.
When the sweets of office dangle
At a most inviting angle
In the legislative struggle,
When in office safe you snuggle,
Then to jangle or to juggle
And, O never, never niggle!
Though the vulgar people giggle
When they see a statesman wriggle
To a place.
And, I prithee, never niggle;
With the man who stops to peddle,
For the act upon his head'll
And we ought to take a broad, strong view.
What's the matter if the prospect isn't new?
There is virtue in the viewing.
When it comes to merely doing,
Well, it's really not important what you do.
It's the view
Never let the doing part embarrass you.
When in politics you dabble
Then of course you'll have to babble,
To the vote-possessing rabble
'Tis the game.
When you engineer a shuffle
The ensuing party scuffle
Somebody is sure to ruffl
All the same.
Then be wary; do not temble;
Smile politely and dissemble,
Though your actions do resemble
When your legislative symbol
Is the tricky pea and thimble
Your manipulations nimble
Are not faults.
But, I charge you, take a strong, broad view.
It is most entrancing when you have the screw.
There's no need to be exacting
In the manner of your acting;
'Tis the statesman's motto when dissensions brew
Watch the view
And your story of the sight will see you through.
When a banquet you've to tackle
Where the ancient chestnuts crackle,
And you have to rise and cackle
To your kind.
Mayhap some hiccoughing freak'll
Rise and, venturing to speak, 'll
Mention you as 'Misher Deakle,
Let your honeyed phrases trickle,
And defend the Fusion pickle;
Show them that you are not fickle
In the least.
Say that, why we do not muzzle
Labor members is a puzzle;
And they'll cheer you as they guzzle
At the feast.
And bid them take a broad, strong view.
Bid them see around both corners, same as you.
You're the saviour of the nation
At a mayoral celebration
If you do not harp too much upon the 'do.'
Praise the view
And they vow you are a stateman strong and true.
With this popular preamble
You may then adroitly amble
To the shocking party scramble.
Voice your fears.
Tell them Labor's sure to stumble
If it does not cease to grumble;
And each alderman will mumble
Glad 'Hear, hears.'
While the nuts they calmly nibble
Let vague phrases gently dribble;
Give them any quip or quibble.
But, ah prithee! do not trifle
With a hint of acts; and stifle
Any mention of a rifle
For there's safety in the strong, brod view.
The suppression of the hard, strong 'do'
Is a matter most essential
When the Tory consequential
Is the man you reckon on to see you thro'.
Boost the view
And they'll all begin to think they see it too.
Budding statesmen, there is muckle
In the View when you've to truckle
To the crowd that will not buckle
When your policy's a muddle,
And you're sailing in a puddle
With a Fusion crowd that huddle
On a raft;
Talk in vague, unmeaning jingle;
For the crowd with which you mingle
Holds within it scarce a single
One who'll work.
Here, where HANSARD's pages rustle,
Three a show of rush and bustle,
But there's ne'er a chance to hustle;
You must shirk.
Keep your eye upon the broad, strong view.
Call the crowd's attention to it till you're blue.
Keep them watching intently,
And you can con-ven-i-ently
Hate the fact that you hvae nothing much to do.
Praise the view
And they may forget to keep an eye on you.
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.'
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.
A Woman's Way
Women is strange. You take my tip; I'm wise.
I know enough to know I'll never know
The 'uman female mind, or wot su'prise
They 'as in store to bring yer boastin' low.
They keep yeh guessin' wot they're up to nex',
An' then, odds on, it's wot yeh least expecks.
Take me. I know me wife can twist me round
'Er little finger. I don't mind that none.
Wot worries me is that I've never found
Which way I'm gittin' twisted, till it's done.
Women is strange. An' yet, I've got to own
I'd make a orful 'ash uv it, alone.
There's this affair uv Rose. I tells yeh straight,
Suspicious don't describe me state uv mind.
The calm way that Doreen 'as fixed the date
An' all, looks like there's somethin' else be'ind.
Somethin' - not spite or meanness; don't think that.
Me wife purrs sometimes, but she ain't a cat.
But somethin'. I've got far too wise a nob
To be took in by 'er airs uv repose.
I know I said I'd chuck the 'ole darn job
An' leave 'er an' the parson deal with Rose.
But now me mind's uneasy, that's a fack.
I've got to manage things with speshul tack.
That's 'ow I feel - uneasy - when I drive
Down to the train. I'm thinkin' as I goes,
There ain't two women, that I know, alive
More difrint than them two - Doreen an' Rose.
'Ow they will mix together I dunno.
It all depends on 'ow I run the show.
Rose looks dead pale. She ain't got much to say
('Er few poor bits uv luggage make no load)
She smiles when we shake 'ands, an' sez Goodday
Shy like an' strange; an' as we take the road
Back to the farm, I see 'er look around
Big-eyed, like it's some queer new land she's found.
I springs a joke or two. I'm none too bright
Meself; but it's a slap-up sort uv day.
Spring's workin' overtime; to left an' right
Blackwood an' wattle trees is bloomin' gay,
Botchin' the bonzer green with golden dust;
An' magpies in 'em singin' fit to bust.
I sneak a glance at Rose. I can't look long.
'Er lips is trem'lin'; tears is in 'er eye.
Then, glad with life, a thrush beefs out a song
'Longside the road as we go drivin' by.
'Oh, Gawd A'mighty! 'Ark!' I 'ear 'er say,
'An' Spadgers Lane not fifty mile away!'
Not fifty mile away: the frowsy Lane,
Where only dirt an' dreariness 'as sway,
Where every second tale's a tale uv pain,
An' devil's doin's blots the night an' day.
But 'ere is thrushes tootin' songs uv praise.
An' golden blossoms lightin' up our ways.
I speaks a piece to boost this bonzer spot;
Tellin' 'er 'ow the neighbourhood 'as grown,
An' 'ow Dave Brown, jist up the road, 'as got
Ten ton uv spuds per acre, usin' bone.
She don't seem to be list'nin'. She jist stares,
Like someone dreamin' dreams, or thinkin' pray'rs.
Me yap's a dud. No matter 'ow I try,
Me conversation ain't the dinkum brand.
I'm 'opin' that she don't bust out an' cry:
It makes me nervis. But I understand.
Over an' over I can 'ear 'er say,
'An' Spadgers less than fifty mile away!'
We're 'ome at last. Doreen is at the gate.
I hitch the reins, an' quite the eager pup;
Then 'elp Rose down, an' stand aside an' wait
To see 'ow them two size each other up.
But quick - like that - two arms 'as greeted warm
The sobbin' girl… Doreen's run true to form.
''Ome on the bit!' I thinks. But as I turn,
'Ere's Wally Free 'as got to poke 'is dile
Above the fence, where 'e's been cuttin' fern.
The missus spots 'im, an' I seen 'er smile.
An' then she calls to 'im: 'Oh, Mister Free,
Come in,' she sez, 'an' 'ave a cup uv tea.'
There's tack! A woman dunno wot it means.
What does that blighter want with cups uv tea?
A privit, fambly meet - an' 'ere Doreen's
Muckin' it all by draggin' in this Free.
She might 'ave knowed that Rose ain't feelin' prime,
An' don't want no strange comp'ny at the time.
Free an' 'is thievin' cow! But, all the same,
'Is yap did seem to cheer Rose up a lot.
An' after, when 'e'd bunged 'is lanky frame
Back to 'is job, Doreen sez, 'Ain't you got
No work at all to do outside to-day?
Us two must 'ave a tork; so run away.'
I went… I went becoz, if I 'ad stayed,
Me few remarks might 'ave been pretty 'or.
Gawbli'me! 'Oo is 'ead uv this parade?
Did I plan out the scheme, or did I not?
I've worked fer this, I've worried night an' day;
An' now it's fixed, I'm tole to 'run away.'
Women is strange. I s'pose I oughter be
Contented; though I never understands.
But when I score, it 'urts me dignerty
To 'ave the credit grabbed out uv me 'ands.
I shouldn't look fer credit, p'raps; an' then,
Women is strange. But bli'me! So is men!
Sym, Son Of Joy
Now Joi, the rebel, he had a son
In far, far Gosh where the tall trees wave.
Said Joi: 'In Gosh there shall yet be one
To scorn this life of a self-made slave;
To spurn the law of the Knight, Sir Stodge,
And end the rule of the great King Splosh;
Who shall warn the Glugs of their crafty dodge,
And at last bring peace, sweet peace, to Gosh.'
Said he: 'Whenever the kind sun showers
His golden treasure on grateful flowers,
With upturned faces and hearts bowed low,
The Glugs shall know what the wild things know.'
Said he: 'Wherever the broad fields smile,
They shall walk with clean minds, free of guile;
They shall scoff aloud at the call of Greed,
And turn to their labours and never heed.'
So Joi had a son, and his name was Sym;
And his eyes were wide as the eyes of Truth;
And there came to the wondering mind of him
Long thoughts of the riddle that vexes youth.
And, 'Father,' he said, 'in the mart's loud din
Is there aught of pleasure? Do some find joy?'
But his father tilted the beardless chin,
And looked in the eyes of the questing boy.
Said he: 'Whenever the fields are green,
Lie still, where the wild rose fashions a screen,
While the brown thrush calls to his love-wise mate,
And know what they profit who trade with Hate.'
Said he: 'Whenever the great skies spread,
In the beckoning vastness overhead,
A tent for the blue wren building a nest,
Then, down in the heart of you, learn what's best.'
And there came to Sym as he walked afield
Deep thoughts of the world and the folk of Gosh.
He saw the idols to which they kneeled;
He marked them cringe to the name of Splosli.
Is it meet,' he asked, 'that a soul should crawl
To a purple robe or a gilded chair?'
But his father walked to the garden's wall
And stooped to a rose-bush flowering there.
Said he: 'Whenever a bursting bloom
Looks up to the sun, may a soul find room
For a measure of awe at the wondrous birth
Of one more treasure to this glad earth.'
Said he: 'Whenever a dewdropp clings
To a gossamer thread, and glitters and swings,
Deep in humility bow your head
To a thing for a blundering rnortal's dread.'
And there came to Sym in his later youth,
With the first clear glance in the face of guile,
Thirst for knowledge and thoughts of truth,
Of gilded baubles, and things worth while.
And he said, 'There is much that a Glug should know;
But his mind is clouded, his years are few.'
Then joi, the father, he answered low
As his thoughts ran back to the youth he knew.
Said he: 'Whenever the West wind stirs,
And birds in feathers and beasts in furs
Steal out to dance in the glade, lie still:
Let your heart teach you what it will.'
Said he: 'Whenever the moonlight creeps
Thro' inlaced boughs, a'nd a shy star peeps
Adown from its crib in the cradling sky,
Know of their folly who fear to die.'
New interest came to the mind of Sym,
As 'midst his fellows he lived and toiled.
But the ways of the Glug folk puzzled him;
For some won honour, while some were foiled;
Yet all were filled with a vague unrest
As they climbed their trees in an endless search.
But joi, the father, he mocked their quest,
When he marked a Glug on his hard-won perch.
Said he: 'Whenever these tales are heard
Of the Feasible Dog or the Guffer Bird,
Then laugh and laugh till the fat tears roll
To the roots of the joy-bush deep in your soul.
When you see them squat on the tree-tops high,
Scanning for ever that heedless sky,
Lie flat on your back on the good, green earth
And roar till the great vault echoes your mirth.'
As he walked in the city, to Sym there came
Sounds envenomed with fear and hate,
Shouts of anger and words of shame,
As Glug blamed Glug for his woeful state.
This blame?' said Sym, 'Is it mortal's right
To blame his fellow for aught he be?'
But the father said, 'Do we blame the night
When darkness gathers and none can see?'
Said he: 'Whenever there springs from earth
A plant all crooked and marred at birth,
Shall we, unlearned in the Gardener's scheme,
Blame plant or earth for the faults that seem?'
Said he: 'Whenever your wondering eyes
Look out on the glory of earth and skies,
Shall you, 'mid the blessing of fields a-bloom,
Fling blame at the blind man, prisoned in gloom?'
So Joi had a son, and his name was Sym;
Far from the ken of the great King Splosh.
And small was the Glugs' regard of him,
Mooning along in the streets of Gosh.
But many a creature by field and ford
Shared in the schooling of that strange boy,
Dreaming and planning to gather and hoard
Knowledge of all things precious to Joi.
The Singing Soldiers
'When I'm sittin' in me dug-out wiv me rifle on me knees,
An' a yowlin', 'owlin' chorus comes a-floatin' up the breeze
Jist a bit o' 'Bonnie Mary' or 'Long Way to Tipperary'
Then I know I'm in Australia, took an' planted overseas.
They've bin up agin it solid since we crossed the flamin' foam;
But they're singin' - alwiz singin' - since we left the wharf at 'ome.
'O, it's 'On the Mississippi' or 'Me Grey 'Ome in the West.'
If it's death an' 'ell nex' minute they must git it orf their chest.
'Ere's a snatch o' 'When yer Roamin' - When yer Roamin' in the Gloamin'.'
'Struth! The first time that I 'eard it, wiv me 'ead on Rosie's breast,
We wus comin' frum a picnic in a Ferntree Gully train . . .
But the shrapnel made the music when I 'eard it sung again.'
So I gits it straight frum Ginger in 'is letter 'ome to me,
On a dirty scrap o' paper wiv the writin' 'ard to see.
'Strike!' sez 'e. 'It sounds like skitin'; but they're singin' while
An' they socks it into Abdul to the toon o' 'Nancy Lee'.
An' I seen a bloke this mornin' wiv 'is arm blown to a rag,
'Ummin' 'Break the Noos to Mother', w'ile 'e sucked a soothin' fag.
'Now, the British Tommy curses, an' the French does fancy stunts,
An' the Turk 'e 'owls to Aller, an' the Gurkha grins an' grunts;
But our boys is singin', singin', while the blinded shells is flingin'
Mud an' death inter the trenches in them 'eavens called the Fronts.
An' I guess their souls keep singin' when they gits the tip to go . . .'
So I gits it, straight frum Ginger; an', Gawstruth! 'e ort to know.
An' 'is letter gits me thinkin' when I read sich tales as these,
An' I takes a look around me at the paddicks an' the trees;
When I 'ears the thrushes trillin', when I 'ear the magpies fillin'
All the air frum earth to 'eaven wiv their careless melerdies
It's the sunshine uv the country, caught an' turned to bonzer notes;
It's the sunbeams changed to music pourin' frum a thousand throats.
Can a soljer 'elp 'is singin' when 'e's born in sich a land?
Wiv the sunshine an' the music pourin' out on ev'ry 'and;
Where the very air is singin', an' each breeze that blows is bringin'
'Armony an' mirth an' music fit to beat the 'blazin' band.
On the march, an' in the trenches, when a swingin' chorus starts,
They are pourin' bottled sunshine of their 'Omeland frum their 'earts.
O I've 'eard it, Lord, I've 'eard it since the days when I wus young,
On the beach an' in the bar-room, in the bush I've 'eard it sung;
'Belle Mahone' an' 'Annie Laurie,' 'Sweet Marie' to 'Tobermory,'
Common toons and common voices, but I've 'eard 'em when they rung
Wiv full, 'appy 'earts be'ind 'em, careless as a thrush's song
Wiv me arm around me cliner, an' me notions fur frum wrong.
So they growed wiv 'earts a-singin' since the days uv careless kids;
Beefin' out an 'appy chorus jist when Mother Nacher bids;
Singin', wiv their notes a-quiver, 'Down upon the Swanee River,'
Them's sich times I'd not be sellin' fer a stack uv golden quids.
An' they're singin', still they're singin', to the sound uv guns an' drums,
As they sung one golden Springtime underneath the wavin' gums.
When they socked it to the Southland wiv our sunny boys aboard
Them that stopped a dam torpeder, an' a knock-out punch wus scored;
Tho' their 'ope o' life grew murky, wiv the ship 'ead over turkey,
Dread o' death an' fear o' drownin' wus jist trifles they ignored.
They spat out the blarsted ocean, an' they filled 'emselves wiv air,
An' they passed along the chorus of 'Australia will be There'.
Yes, they sung it in the water; an' a bloke aboard a ship
Sez 'e knoo they wus Australians be the way thev give it lip
Sung it to the soothin' motion of the dam devourin' ocean
Like a crowd o' seaside trippers in to 'ave a little dip.
When I 'card that tale, I tell yeh, straight, I sort o' felt a choke;
Fer I seemed to 'ear 'em singin', an' I know that sort o' bloke.
Yes, I know 'im; so I seen 'im, barrackin' Eternity.
An' the land that 'e wus born in is the land that mothered me.
Strike! I ain't no sniv'lin' blighter; but I own me eyes git brighter
When I see 'em pokin' mullock at the everlastin' sea:
When I 'ear 'em mockin' terror wiv a merry slab o' mirth,
'Ell! I'm proud I bin to gaol^ in sich a land as give 'em birth!
'When I'm sittin' in me dug-out wiv the bullets droppin' near,'
Writes ole Ginger; 'an' a chorus smacks me in the flamin' ear:
P'raps a song that Rickards billed, or p'raps a line o' Waltz Matilder',
Then I feel I'm in Australia, took an' shifted over 'ere.
Till the music sort o' gits me, an' I lets me top notes roam
While I treats the gentle foeman to a chunk uv 'Ome, Sweet 'Ome'.'
They wus singin' on the troopship, they wus singin' in the train;
When they left their land be'ind 'em they wus shoutin' a refrain,
An' I'll bet they 'ave a chorus, gay an' glad in greetin' for us,
When their bit uv scappin's over, an' they lob back 'ome again. . .
An' the blokes that ain't returnin' - blokes that's paid the biggest price,
They go singin', singin', singin' to the Gates uv Paradise.
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.
The Little Red Dog
The Glugs still live in the land of Gosh,
Under the rule of the great King Splosh.
And they climb the trees in the Summer and Spring,
Because it is reckoned the regular thing.
Down in the valley they live their lives,
Taking the air with their aunts and wives.
And they climb the trees in the Winter and Fall,
And count it improper to climb not at all.
And they name their trees with a thousand names,
Calling them after their Arts and Aims;
And some, they climb for the fun of the thing,
But most go up at the call of the King.
Some scale a tree that they fear to name,
For it bears great blossoms of scarlet shame.
But they eat of the fruit of the nameless tree,
Because they are Glugs, and their choice is free.
But every eve, when the sun goes West,
Over the mountain they call The Blest,
Whose summit looks down on the city of Gosh,
Far from the reach of the great King Splosh,
The Glugs gaze up at the heights above,
And feel vague promptings to wondrous love.
And they whisper a tale of a tinker man,
Who lives in the mount with his Emily Ann.
A great mother mountain, and kindly is she,
Who nurses young rivers and sends them to sea.
And, nestled high up on her sheltering lap,
Is a little red house with a little straw cap
That bears a blue feather of smoke, curling high,
And a bunch of red roses cocked over one eye.
And the eyes of it glisten and shine in the sun,
As they look down on Gosh with a twinkle of fun.
There's a gay little garden, a tidy white gate,
And a narrow brown pathway that will not run straight;
For it turns and it twists and it wanders about
To the left and the right, as in humorous doubt.
'Tis a humorous path, and a joke from its birth
Till it ends at the door with a wriggle of mirth.
And here in the mount lives the queer tinker man
With his little red dog and his Emily Arm.
And, once in a while, when the weather is clear,
When the work is all over, and even is near,
They walk in the garden and gaze down below
On the Valley of Gosh, where the young rivers go;
Where the houses of Gosh seem so paltry and vain,
Like a handful of pebbles strewn over the plain;
Where tiny black forms crawl about in the vale,
And stare at the mountain they fear them to scale.
And Sym sits him down by his little wife's knee,
With his feet in the grass and his back to a tree;
And he looks on the Valley and dreams of old years,
As he strokes his red dog with the funny prick ears.
And he says, 'Still they climb in their whimsical way,
While we stand on earth, yet are higher than they.
Oh, who trusts to a tree is a fool of a man!
For the wise seek the mountains, my Emily Ann.'
So lives the queer tinker, nor deems it a wrong,
When the spirit so moves him, to burst into song.
'Tis a comical song about kettles and pans,
And the graces and charms that are Emily Ann's.
'Tis a mad, freakish song, but he sings it with zest,
And his little wife vows it of all songs the best.
And he sings quite a lot, as the Summer days pass,
With his back to a tree and his feet in the grass.
And the little red dog, who is wise as dogs go,
He will hark to that song for a minute or so,
'With his head on one side, and a serious air.
Then he makes no remark; but he wanders elsewhere.
And he trots down the garden to gaze now and then
At the curious pranks of a certain blue wren:
Not a commonplace wren, but a bird marked for fame
Thro' a grievance in life and a definite aim.
Now, they never fly far and they never fly high,
And they probably couldn't, suppose they should try.
So the common blue wren is content with his lot:
He will eat when there's food, and he fasts when there's not.
He flirts and he flutters, his wife by his side,
With his share of content and forgiveable pride.
And he keeps to the earth, 'mid the bushes and shrubs,
And he dines very well upon corpulent grubs.
But the little blue wren with a grievance in life,
He was rude to his neighbours and short with his wife.
For, up in the apple-tree over his nest,
There dwelt a fat spider who gave him no rest:
A spider so fat, so abnormally stout
That he seemed hardly fitted to waddle about.
But his eyes were so sharp, and his legs were so spry,
That he could not be caught; and 'twas folly to try.
Said the wren, as his loud lamentations he hurled
At the little red dog, 'It's a rotten old world!
But my heart would be glad, and my life would be blest
If I had that fat spider well under my vest.
Then I'd call back my youth, and be seeking to live,
And to taste of the pleasures the world has to give.
But the world is all wrong, and my mind's in a fog!'
'Aw, don't be a Glug!' said the little red dog.
Then, up from the grass, where he sat by his tree,
The voice of the Tinker rose fearless and free.
The little dog listened, his head on one side;
Then sought him a spot where a bored dog could hide.
'Kettles and pans! Ho, kettles and pans!
The stars are the gods' but the earth, it is man's!
Yet down in the shadow dull mortals there are
Who climb in the tree-tops to snatch at a star:
Seeking content and a surcease of care,
Finding but emptiness everywhere.
Then make for the mountain, importunate man!
With a kettle to mend . . . and your Emily Ann.
As he cocked a sad eye o'er a sheltering log,
'Oh, a Glug is a Glug!' sighed the little red dog.
'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.
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.
'Ar! Gimme fights wiv foeman I kin see,
To upper-cut an' wallop on the jor.
Life in a burrer ain't no good to me.
'Struth! This ain't war!
Gimme a ding-dong go fer 'arf a round,
An' you kin 'ave this crawlin' underground.
'Gimme a ragin', 'owlin', tearin', scrap,
Wiv room to swing me left, an' feel it land.
This 'idin', sneakin' racket makes a chap
Stuck in me dug-out 'ere, down in a 'ole,
I'm feelin' like I've growed a rabbit's soul.'
Ole Ginger's left the 'orspital, it seems;
'E's back at Anzac, cursin' at the game;
Fer this 'ere ain't the fightin' uv 'is dreams;
It's too dead tame.
'E's got the oopizootics reely bad,
An' 'idin' in a burrer makes 'im mad.
'E sort o' takes it personal, yeh see.
'E used to 'awk 'em fer a crust, did Mick.
Now, makin' 'im play rabbits seems to be
A narsty trick.
To shove 'im like a bunny down a 'ole
It looks like chuckin' orf, an' sours 'is soul.
'Fair doos,' 'e sez, 'I joined the bloomin' ranks
To git away frum rabbits: thinks I'm done
Wiv them Australian pests, an' 'ere's their thanks:
They makes me one!
An' 'ere I'm squattin', scared to shift about;
Jist waitin' fer me little tail to sprout.
'Ar, strike me up a wattle! but it's tough!
But 'ere's the dizzy limit, fer a cert
To live this bunny's life is bad enough,
But 'ere's reel dirt:
Some tart at 'ome 'as sent, wiv lovin' care,
A coat uv rabbit-skins fer me to wear!
'That's done it! Now I'm nibblin' at the food,
An' if a dawg shows up I'll start to squeal;
I s'pose I orter melt wiv gratichude:
'Tain't 'ow I feel.
She might 'a' fixed a note on wiv a pin:
'Please, Mister Rabbit, yeh fergot yer skin!'
'I sees me finish!… War? Why, this ain't war!
It's ferritin'! An' I'm the bloomin' game.
Me skin alone is worth the 'untin' for
That tart's to blame!
Before we're done, I've got a silly scare,
Some trappin' Turk will catch me in snare.
''E'll skin me, wiv the others 'c 'as there,
An' shove us on a truck, an' bung us 'round
Constantinople at a bob a pair
Orl fresh an' sound!
'Eads down, 'eels up, 'e'll 'awk us in a row
Around the 'arems, 'owlin 'Rabbee-oh!'
'But, dead in earnest, it's a job I 'ate.
We've got to do it, an' it's gittin' done;
But this soul-dopin' game uv sit-an'-wait,
It ain't no fun.
There's times I wish, if we weren't short uv men,
That I wus back in 'orspital again.
'Ar, 'orspital! There is the place to git.
If I thort Paradise wus 'arf so snug
I'd shove me 'ead above the parapit
An' stop a slug;
But one thing blocks me playin' sich a joke;
I want another scrap before I croak.
'I want it bad. I want to git right out
An' plug some josser in the briskit-'ard.
I want to 'owl an' chuck me arms about,
An' jab, an' guard.
An' swing, an' upper-cut, an' crool some pitch,
Or git passed out meself - I don't care w'ich.
'There's some blokes 'ere they've tumbled to a stunt
Fer gittin' 'eni the spell that they deserves.
They chews some cordite when life at the front
Gits on their nerves.
It sends yer tempracher clean out uv sight,
An', if yeh strike a simple doc, yer right.
'I tries it once. Me soul 'ad got the sinks,
Me thorts annoyed me, an' I 'ad the joes,
I feels like no one loves me, so I thinks,
Well, Mick, 'ere goes!
I breaks a cartridge open, chews a bit,
Reports I'm sick, an' throws a fancy fit.
'Me lovin' sargint spreads the gloomy noos,
I gits paraded; but, aw, 'Struth! me luck!
It weren't no baby doc I interviews,
But some ole buck
Wiv gimblet eyes. 'Put out yer tongue!' 'e 'owls.
Then takes me temp, an' stares at me, an' growls.
''Well, well,' 'e sez. 'Wot is yer trouble, lad?'
I grabs me tummy 'ard, an' sez I'm ill.
'You are,' sez 'e. 'Yeh got corditis, bad.
Yeh need a pill.
Before yeh go to sleep,' 'e sez, 'to-night,
Swaller the bullet, son, an' you'll be right.'
''0w's that fer rotten luck? But orl the same,
I ain't complainin' when I thinks it out.
I seen it weren't no way to play the game,
This pullin' out.
We're orl uv us in this to see it thro',
An' bli'me, wot we've got to do, we'll do.
'But 'oles an' burrers! Strike! An' this is war!
This is the bonzer scrappin' uv me dreams!
A willin' go is wot I bargained for,
But 'ere it seems
I've died, someway, an' bin condemned to be
Me own Wile Rabbee fer eternity.
'But 'orspital! I tell yeh, square an' all,
If I could meet the murderin' ole Turk
'0o's bullet sent me there to loaf an' sprawl,
An' dodge me work,
Lord! I'd shake 'an's wiv 'im, an' thank 'im well
Fer givin' me a reel ole bonzer spell.
''E might 'a' tnade it jist a wee bit worse.
I'd stand a lot uv that before I'd scream.
The grub wus jist the thing; an', say, me nurse I
She wus a dream!
I used to treat them tony tarts wiv mirth;
But now I know why they wus put on earth.
'It treated me reel mean, that wound uv mine;
It 'ealed too quick, considerin' me state.
An' 'ere I am, back in the firin' line
Gamblin' wiv Fate.
It's like two-up: I'm 'eadin' 'em this trip;
But Iookin', day be day, to pass the kip.
'You tell Doreen, yer wife, 'ow I am chock
Full to the neck wiv thanks fer things she sends.
Each time I shoves me foot inside a sock
I bless sich friends.
I'm bustin' wiv glad thorts fer things she did;
So tell 'er I serloots 'er, an' the kid.
'Make 'im a soljer, chum, when 'c gits old.
Teach 'im the tale uv wot the Anzacs did.
Teach 'im 'e's got a land to love an' hold.
Gawd bless the kid!
But I'm in 'opes when 'is turn comes around
They'll chuck this style uv rootin' underground.
'We're up agin it, mate; we know that well.
There ain't a man among us wouldn't lob
Over the parapit an' charge like 'ell
To end the job.
But this is war; an' discipline - well, lad,
We sez we 'ates it; but we ain't too bad.
'Glory an' gallant scraps is wot I dreamed,
Ragin' around an' smashin' foeman flat;
But war, like other thngs, ain't wot it seems.
So 'stid uv that,
I'm sittin; in me dug-out scrawlin' this,
An' thankin' Gawd when shells go by - an' miss.
'I'm sittin' in me dug-out day be day -
It narks us; but Australia's got a name
Fer doin' little jobs like blokes 'oo play
A clean straight game.
Wiv luck I might see scrappin' 'fore I'm done,
Or go where Craig 'as gone, an' miss the fun.
'But if I dodge, an' keep out uv the rain,
An' don't toss in me alley 'fore we wins;
An' if I lobs back 'ome an' meets the Jane
'Oo sent the skins
These bunnies' overcoats I lives inside -
I'll squeal at 'er, an' run away an' 'ide.
'But, torkin' straight, the Janes 'as done their bit.
I'd like to 'ug the lot, orl on me pat!
They warms us well, the things they've sewed an' knit:
An' more than that
I'd like to tell them dear Australian tarts
The spirit uv it warms Australian 'earts.'