Farewell Cable Tram
Now a sad farewell to the cable-tram,
Staunch friend of the quieter days,
That glided down thro' a leisured town
Ere the urge for speed was a craze.
We'd time to spare and we took the air
On a sociable seat outside
Calm charioteers of those peaceful years
When 'the trams' were a city's pride.
Clash! Clang! The twin bells rang,
And the grip went smoothly in.
Then we floated along to a muted song
And a dearth of hustle and din.
Untouched by the need for racketting speed
That frazzles the moderns' nerves,
Scarce heeding at all the warning call:
'Sit tight! Hold on at the curve!'
Unhurried, serene, we viewed the scene,
Or chatted with Charlie or Sam.
Oh, in spite of the rage of a jazz-mad age,
I'm still for the cable-tram, I am,
The jolly old cable-tram.
But they're rooting them out, the cable-trams,
Like all earth's pleasanter things;
To oblivion brought by a Juggernaut
That needs no leading strings
And they'll serve when dead, for a shelter shed
By some shrill suburban road.
Or a garden 'nook,' unbelievably crook,
At a philistine's abode.
Clash! Clang! . . . How the breezes sang
On a sunny Sabbath Day.
And away we go with Fanny or Flo
For a tram trip down the Bay.
'What O! There's class!' Proud ponies pass
With their shining jinkers there,
And joy's complete, we've a front-row seat,
And the sea-wind's in our hair.
And never a car snorts by to mar
That peace with its swank and sham.
You may keep your noise and your clattering toys!
I'm for the cable-tram, I am!
Idyllic old cable-tram.
In The Doldrums
Have you, too, noticed that calm which descends
Upon affairs today?
Search as we may,
The papers have few things indeed to say
Of even world affairs, and, as to local,
Why, they are hardly vocal.
They even lack news of diverting crimes.
These be dull times.
Even the seething world of politics
Where factions mix,
And cause, most days, at least some mild commotion,
Seem like a placid ocean -
Like some blue tropic sea, peaceful and calm.
Floored with pink coral, fringed by wavy palm,
Where all is gentleness and holy calm...
Talking of topics, even Mister Hughes
Seems, in these days, steadfastly to refuse
To air his views.
Nay, he will not
Even refer to Mister Watt.
Eh, he is far too mild.
And, friends, I fear me that we are beguiled
By this strange calm, this seeming peace, this bliss.
My friends, I - don't - like - this!
In the not too greatly distant yore
I've seen it all before.
And I, my friends,
Know well what it portends.
The silent politicians, friends, are scheming
While we are dozing, dreaming.
Seeming to rest from labour, they are busy
Thinking until their mighty brains grow dizzy
For why, my friends, elections darkly loom
Large in the middle-distance, and gaunt Doom
Looks down upon them, poised to spring like winking
Unless they do some stern and solid thinking . . .
And does the politician think these days of us,
Who seem so precious to him when the fuss
And fret of mad campaigning wring his withers
What time he blathers
Loud of intelligent electors? Yes;
I must confess
He thinks of us; but never quite
As sentient beings yearning for the light;
For, friends, he dotes
Ever on votes.
And, truly, as it was in the beginning
(No matter which side happens to be winning)
'Tis now, and ever will be just the same.
And we shall still be mere pawns in the game . . .
Voters! For goodness sake,
It's up to you
Some really serious thinking too.
I don't care on which side you mean to vote
Peel off the coat!
You may do wonders if you will take heed)
Or else - I say it with reluctant lips
Remain, as hitherto, just poker chips.
The Little Homes
We have heard the cheering, brothers,
We have heard the martial peal;
We have seen the soldiers marching
And the glint of sun and steel.
We have heard the songs, the shouting;
But, while forth the soldier roams,
Who has heard the weeping, brothers,
In the Little Homes?
We have seen the gay processions
And the careless, laughing crowds.;
We have seen the banners waving
Out against the peaceful clouds;
Yet, while colors proudly flutter
Over noble spires and domes,
Who has seen the mourning, brothers,
In the Little Homes?
From the Little Homes that nestle
Where the smiling fields sweep wide,
From the Little Homes that huddle
In the city, side by side,
They have called the eager fighters
Men who went with smiles and cheers;
Pride of wives and pride of mothers,
Choking back the tears!
Women of the little homesteads,
Women of the city slums,
They are waiting, ever waiting;
And the sound of muffled drums
In some stricken Home is echoed,
Where grey Grief is guest to-day.
And to-morrow? Nay, the others
Still must wait - and pray.
What the Little Homes shall suffer,
What the Little Homes shall pay
Must be more than sturdy fighters,
More than women's grief to-day.
In the years that follow after,
Be our battles won or lost,
In the Little Homes, my brothers,
They shall pay the cost.
They shall pay the cost of glory,
They shall pay the price of peace,
Years and many long years after
All the sounds of battle cease.
When the sword is sheathed - or broken
When the battle flag is furled,
Still the Little Homes must suffer
Over all the World.
Have you seen the old grey mothers
Smiling to the ringing cheers?
Have you seen the young wives striving
Bravely to hold back the tears?
Have you seen the young girl marching
By her soldier-lover's side?
Have you, seen our country's women
All aglow with pride?
Then, shall we think shame, my brothers,
To give thanks upon our knees
That the land we love should hold them
Wives and mothers such as these?
Women who still hide their sorrow
As their soldiers march away,
Turning brave and steadfast faces
To the light of day?
Oh, the Little Homes are Cheerful
Little Homes that know no pride
But the pride of sacrificing
Loved ones to the battle tide!
They are many, many brothers,
And their sacrifice is great.
Shrines are they and sacred places,
Where the women wait.
Aye, the Little Homes are holy
At the closing of the day,
When young wives must face their sorrow,
When grey mothers kneel to pray,
Facing, all alone, dread visions
Of the land the soldier roams,
Then God heed the sobbing, brothers,
In the Little Homes.
Peace, perfect peace. . . . Come, lay aside your gun.
The danger zone is past; the gauntlet run.
The bark of Scylla ceases on her shore,
And grim Charybdis threatens us no more.
Respite, Nepenthe, leaning-posts and beer!
Football and horses! Breathing time is here!
O witless fools, who, with your cry, 'To Arms!'
Your warnings venomous, and false alarms,
Sought to estrange us from our yellow friends,
Thus all your potter and your bunkum ends!
We are secure once more; we breathe again.
No further need is there for ships or men.
'The Treaty is renewed!' Hip, Hip, Hooray! . . .
Now let us dream the happy hours away.
One pen-stroke! and our liberty appears
Secure again, for ten long, blissful years.
A diplomat or two, a little ink,
Some paper, and, Hi Presto! in a wink,
The Yellow Peril vanishes from sight,
Like vague dream shadows of a restless night.
Let gentleness and peace overspread the land;
And bid our infant warriors disband.
The War-god broods o'er Europe even yet?
What matter? We've a decade to forget
That e'er we dreamed we heard the grim dogs bark.
What child at noon is fearful of the dark?
The forges of the nations still are lit?
Their anvils ring? What do we reek of it?
With ten long years of peace and joy and light,
We laugh at our vague terrors of the night.
Are truces ever broken? Treaties scorned?
Statesmen corrupted? Diplomats suborned?
Perish the thought! What if, in some far day,
Some foreswom nation flung its bond away?
Shall we, for such as that, forego our joy,
And start at shadows, like a frightened boy?
Shall croaking pessimists, with mild alarms,
Force us, all needlessly, to fly to arms?
Down with the dolts who prate of ships and guns!
Stern Mars shall not enslave Australia's sons.
Come, gag the fools who urge us to defend
Our ports against our harmless yellow friend!
Their words are insults; their aggressiveness
May give him pain, and cause us much distress.
Ab, gaze on him! as he steps forth to sign -
Say, is his smile not peaceful and benign?
Ten years to hoard the gold in shop and mart;
Ten peaceful years to play the trader's part;
To tend the sheep; to watch the green corn sprout
To cheer the race; to gaily clap and shout
At sports of children, played by heedless men.
Ten years of sweet Areadia - and then? . . .
Heed not the voice that thunders the alarm:
'Ten years to play the man! Ten years to arm!'
(O God of Battles, who, thus long, hath spared
A heedless nation, grant we be prepared!
Ten pregnant years! Tens canty years of grace,
To make or mar the fortune of a race.
Grim years of strenuous and unceasing toil,
That all may not become a foeman's spoil -
That it may not be told, some fateful day:
'Ten years they had; ten years they fooled away.')
Peace, perfect peace. . . Ho, let the fun begin,
And split the welkin with a joyous din!
Charybdis grim has ceased to roar and rave,
And Scylla sits demurely in her cave.
Ho! clash the cymbals, and begin the race!
And thank the gods we have a breathing-space.
The 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.
Culture And Cops
Five nights agone I lay at rest
On my suburban couch.
My trousers on the bedpost hung,
Red gold within their pouch.
The twin-gods Law and Order seemed
To me all powerful as I dreamed.
My life was staid, my rates were paid,
And peace was in my mind.
Nor recked I of unruly men
To evil deeds inclined
Strange, primal atavistic men
Who shock the peaceful citizen.
But all the same by stealth he came,
A man of vile intent.
What cared he that my life was pure,
Or that I paid my rent?
He willed to violate my shrine
For household treasures that were mine.
He planned to thieve my household goods,
Heirlooms of divers kinds.
(I cannot understand such men,
Nor fathom their dark minds.
Why cannot they abjure all vice,
And be respectable and nice?)
With purpose vile and with a file
My window he attacked.
A stealthy scratch upon the catch
Awoke me to the fact.
Softly, with sudden fear amazed,
A corner of the blind I raised.
I saw his face!...Oh, what a man
His manhood should degrade,
And seek to rob (I checked a so
Except in honest trade!
A predatory face I saw
That showed no reverence for Law.
With whirring head I slid from bed,
Crept from my peaceful couch;
Forsook my trousers hanging there,
Red gold within their pouch.
Out through my chamber door I fled
And up the hallway softly sped.
Into the murky night I stole
To see a certain cop,
Whose forthright feet patrol the beat
A stone's throw from my shop.
In my pyjama suit went I....
Across the moon dark clouds swept by.
I saw him draped upon a post,
Like someone in a swoon.
His buttons gleamed what time the clouds
Released the troubled moon.
He gazed upon the changing sky,
A strange light in his dreamy eye.
'Now, haste thee cop!' I called aloud,
And seized him by the arm.
'There is a wretch without my house
Who bodes my treasure harm' ....
Toward the sky he waved a hand
And answered, 'Ain't that background grand?'
'Nay, gentle John,' said I, 'attend
A thief my goods and gold
Seeks to purloin. Go, seize the man
Before the trail is cold!'
'Those spires against the sky,' said he,
'Surcharged with beauty are to me.'
'I give the man in charge!' I cried,
'He is on evil bent!
He seeks of all its treasured art
To strip my tenement!'
He answered, as one in a dream,
'Ain't that a bonzer colour-scheme?
'Them tortured clouds agen the moon,'
The foolish cop pursued,
'Remind me of some Whistler thing;
But I prefer the nood.'
Said I, 'Arrest this man of vice!'
Said he, 'The nood is very nice.'
'My pants,' cried I, 'unguarded lie
Beside my peaceful couch
My second-best pair, with the stripes,
Red gold within their pouch!
Thieves! Murder! Burglars! FIRE!' cried I.
Sighed he, 'Oh, spires against the sky!'
Then, in my pink pyjamas clad,
I danced before his eyes.
In anger impotent I sought
His car with savage cries.
He pushed me from him with a moan.
'Go 'way!' he said. 'You're out of tone.'
'Why do I pay my rates?' I yelled -
'What are policemen for?
Come, I demand, good cop, demand
Protection from the law!'
'You're out of drorin', too,' said he.
'Still, s'pose I better go an' see.'
I guided him a-down the street;
And now he stayed to view
The changing sky, and now he paused
Before some aspect new.
And thus, at length, we gained my gate.
'Too late!' I cried. 'Alas, too late!'
Too late to save my household gods,
My treasures rich and rare.
My ransacked cupboards yawned agape,
My sideboard, too, was bare.
And there, beside my tumbled couch,
My trousers lay with rifled pouch.
'Now, haste thee, cop!' I called again,
'Let not thy footsteps lag!
The thief can not be far away.
Haste to regain the swag!' ...
His arms I saw him outward fling.
He moaned, 'Where did you get that thing?'
With startled state I looked to where
His anguished gaze was bent,
And, hanging by my wardrobe, was
A Christmas Supplement
A thing I'd got for little price
And framed because I thought it nice.
It was a Coloured Supplement
(The frame, I thought, was neat).
It showed a dog, a little maid
Whose face was very sweet
A kitten, and some odds and ends.
The title, rather apt, was 'Friends.'
'Accursed Philistine!' I heard
The strange policeman hiss
Between his teeth. 'O wretched man,
Was I hired here for this?
O Goth! Suburbanite! Repent!
Tear down that Christmas Supplement!'
And, as athwart my burgled pane
The tortured storm-wrack raced,
He bowed his head upon his hands,
And wept and wept and wept....
So, on the whole, it seems to me,
Art and policemen don't agree.
The Woes Of Bill
Once upon a recent even, as I lay in fitful slumber,
Weaving dreams and seeing visions vague and utterly absurd,
Suddenly I seemed to waken, somewhat scared and rather shaken,
For I thought my name was mentioned, coupled with - 'a certain word.'
'Twas the Adjective that roused me, sanguinary and familiar,
That embellishes the diction of my fellow countrymen,
When they do commune together in regard to crops or weather -
Such a word as never, never shall defile this pious pen.
Sitting, upright on my pillow, filled with weird, uncanny feelings,
Once again I heard, distinctly someone calling on my name.
And I gazed around me vainly as a voice exclaimed quite plainly:
'Strike me up a blessed wattle if it ain't a blessed shame!'
''Tis some idiotic joker, 't's some festive friend,' I muttered,
Gazing toward my chamber window where the moonlight faintly gleamed
Then, before my bedroom curtain, I beheld a shape uncertain,
Something vague and dim and doubtful, slowly taking form it seemed.
Then, all obvious before me stood a figure most familiar,
Clad in bushman's boots and breeches and a colored cotton shirt.
Said he: 'No, yer eyes don't fail yer: Here's yer cobber, BILL AUSTRALIER,
An' I've come to ask you plainly if this game ain't blessed dirt!'
'Pardon. BILL,' said I politely; 'but I hardly get your meaning.'
'Strewth!' said BILL. 'Dead crook, I call it!' But I stayed him with a smile.
'By your leave, my worthy bloke, we'll dropp these oaths and terms colloquial,
And just talk the matter over in a peaceful, friendly style.'
BILL choked back a warm expletive - for my smile was most engaging -
And, upon my invitation, sat beside me on the bed.
And, omitting decorations - fancy oaths and execrations
That his woeful story garnished, I shall tell you what he said.
'Now my name is BILL AUSTRALIER, just plain BILL without no trimmin's,
And you'll tumble that I'm ownin' quite a tidy bit o' land;
Land that needs a bit o' workin'; an' there ain't no time for shirkin',
An' there ain't no call for loafers on the job I got on hand.
'My selection is extensive; right from sea to sea it stretches;
An' I'm needin' willin' grafters for the toil there is to do:
So some blokes called politicians speaks for overseers' positions,
An' I hands 'em out the billets, thinkin' they would see things through.
''Strewth! They ain't signed on 10 minutes 'fore they downs their tools in anger,
An', without no word o' warnin', started fightin' tooth an' nail.
An' I yelled till I grew husky, an' me face with rage went dusky,
But me most expensive language wasn't of the least avail.
'Tell yeh, I was fair bewildered till a bloke gives me the office,
Puts me wise about them factions an' this Party Guv'ment lurk.
Seems, if one side takes to toilin', then the other aims at spoilin'
Ev'ry blessed job they tackle. An' the blighters calls it WORK!
'So I puts it to 'em plainly. Sez I: 'This here Party scrappin'
In the time for which I'm payin' ain't a fair thing, anyway!'
An, I calmly asks 'em whether they can't work in peace together,
An' consider me a trifle, seein' as I find the pay.
'But it weren't no use o' torkin', they just howls and fights the harder,
Leaves me pressin' jobs to languish while they plays their party games;
Till one push turns out the stronger; then I don't chip in no longer,
For they done a bit o' graftin' while the others calls 'em names.
'Now, this year their contracts finished, so I gives 'em all the bullet,
Sacks the lot an' advertises for fresh men; an' when they came,
With near even sides, by Heaven! 38 to 37.
They remarks: 'The job be jiggered! We're too close to play the Game.'
'Game! What game? Of all the blighters!' - (Here BILL'S language grew tremendous.
I have never heard a vision curse so much in all my life.)
'Five an' seventy I'm payin' for to work, an' here's them sayin'
That the sides is too near equal an' 'twould only lead to strife!
'Strike me - !' (BILL again, in anger, aired his vast vocabulary,
Using words against his 'workmen' stronger than the law allows;
And his ultimate expletive! - Fain would I remain secretive,
But I may not. In his anger. BILL described them as FAIR COWS!)
'Fair dashed Cows! That's wot I call 'em. An' I want your straight opinion.
Am I boss of this selection that extends from sea to sea?
Here's these blinded politicians hangin' on to them positions!
An' I want the dead, straight griffen: Are they workin' points on me?'
'BILL,' said I - and tears were streaming down my whiskers as I answered -
'Precedent, and rule, and custom cannot be ignored, you know.
This Great System was imported by our fathers' (Here BILL snorted)
'From the dear old Mother Country, and we cannot let it go.'
'Wot!' yelled BILL. 'Still more imported pests upon the job to plague me!
Like the rabbits an' the foxes, burrs an' thistles, an' the rest.
Must I ever curse in anguish? Must my Big Jobs ever languish?
Can't I clear me blamed selection of this Party Guv'ment pest?'
'BILL!' I sobbed, choked with emotion - then in wonder gazed about me;
Marked the moonlight, white and ghostly, faintly gleaming through the pane:
Saw mine old familiar trousers - (Pardon this allusion, Wowsers) -
Hanging on the bedpost sadly. But I searched for BILL - in vain.
Gone had he from out my chamber. Yet I sat and pondered deeply
Through that chilly winter even; and I ponder deeply still.
Evidence I've none to show men; but, I ask, was it an omen?
Did it presage good or evil, that strange vanishing of BILL?