Things To Come
When you have gone and I have gone
Beyond the ken of earthly things,
Yet watch the old race carry on
As to precarious life it clings,
Gazing together from afar,
Perched on some fixed or unfixed star,
We may find cause to meditate
Full thankfully upon our fate.
And you shall say - or I shall say:
Those were man's great days, yours and mine,
Before his glories passed away,
His kingship fell into decline,
When he walked proudly o'er the earth
Questing his joy at its broad girth
Ere fear and folly claimed his soul
And bade him emulate the mole.
And you shall gaze and I shall gaze
In pity from our distant star
And witness, thro' the cosmic haze
Earth's bosom scored by many a scar
Where in and out, in furtive haste
Strange, pallid little creatures raced,
Short-limbed, large-pawed, with small weak eyes
That feared to look up to the skies.
We'll watch the timid little gnomes,
So altered now in shape from us,
Peer from their subterranean homes
Half vengefully, half curious;
Then, at the barking of a gun,
Back to their holes we'll watch them run.
And I shall say - or you shall say:
'These were earth's masters in our day.'
Galloping, galloping, galloping horses
Weave thro' our dreaming in burgeoning Spring;
There's sun in our hearts and there's sun on the courses,
And paeans of hope Winter's threnody forces
Over the hill-tops; for joy is a-wing.
Joy is a-wing, and the galloping rhythm
Mingles, alack, with a ruefuller rune,
For winners may rug but the losers run with 'em,
On the galloping, galloping tune.
Galloping, galloping, galloping gladly
Round the white railing and on to the turn,
While keeping in time to it, urgently madly,
Pulses are racing, ecstatic'ly, sadly;
Eyes to the thundering eagerly yearn,
Voice, upraising, are praising, are pleading,
Mid rackets gay jackets flash by and are gone.
Then the field in the sunlight, retreating, receding,
Goes galloping, galloping, galloping on.
Galloping, galloping, galloping; streaming
Now in green distances, seeming to crawl,
Like miniatures moving, like manikins seeming,
While o'er hedge and hollow a bland sun is beaming
Casting a benison over it all.
They run to the 'Distance.' The horses! The horses!
They gallop! They gallop! They turn for the 'Straight!'
They gallop, the hoses! Who nurses remorse is
A runagate cringer to galloping Fate.
Galloping, galloping, galloping ever,
Tho' cheering is over, they gallop amain;
Tho' fact and fond fancy reluctantly sever,
The round of that ultimate, straining endeavor
Still buffets and bludgeons and beats on the brain.
They gallop - Wake up, man! What profits regaining?
Luck lurks in the offing. On, on with the dance.
Aw, tear up your ticket! The sun is still shining.
The next race is starting. Who foots it with Chance?
Old Town Types No. 6 - Flash Phil
Still I've the picture of him - Flash Phil Galloway;
In a shining dog-cart driving down the road;
Spanking ponies dashing by,
Running tandem, stepping high;
Silver-plated harness where the sunlight glowed.
Everybody waved to him - Kind Phil Galloway
Bright eye, curling hair, big blond moustache.
No man, in those feckless days,
Thought to curb his reckless ways:
'Right man for the district, sir; tho' just a trifle rash.'
Flash Phil Galloway owned a station property
Left him by his father, back in sixty-nine;
Owned a stretch of sheepland, too,
Left him by his Uncle Lou;
Owned his mother's big estate along the Ballantyne
Three tidy fortunes: and Phil upon a race day
Standing for a luncheon - frills and fancy grub.
'Champagne and caviar,
Every toff a big cigar,
All the tucker packed in ice! Oysters in a tub!'
Flash Phil Galloway, loaded down with mortgages,
Deep in mining ventures 'to make another rise.'
Debonair and reckless still
Generous - the same old Phil,
While kindly bankers were ready with supplies.
Bluff Phil Galloway chatting with the manager:
'Where do I sign this one? Read it? Haw, what rot!'
The banker, as he folds the deed:
'And how much, this time, will you need?'
Laughs Flash Phil Galloway, 'Gad! How much have you got?'
Old Phil Galloway, grey haired and garrulous,
Stopping old acquaintances along the city ways,
Hanging round the leading pub
Lounging by the Squatters' Club
Half-crowns changing hands 'for sake of olden days . . . .'
But I keep my picture of him - Flash Phil Galloway
In a shining dog-cart - I can see him still:
Spanking ponies dashing by,
Running tandem, stepping high;
Silver plated harness - 'Hey! Happy days, Phil!'
An Apt Pupil
Knockin' about (said Benny, the Tough)
By the Rocks an' Woolloomooloo,
Oh, I was a low-brow, right enough,
And a bit of a bounder, too.
Kickin' about with me larrikin band,
I was always gittin' in bad;
Till the kindly cops took me in hand,
An', lissen, I've been glad.
I was a tough when life begun,
An' me ideels was not high
Doin' the things that 'are not done,'
Disgracin' me old school tie.
Me feet was set on the downward road,
A crook I was, an' a cad,
Till the genteel cops taught me a Code
An', lissen, I was glad.
Doin' sich things as I never had ort,
Soilin' the family name,
With never a notion of good, clean sport
Or the pride of playin' the game.
The dirtiest fighter in all the Rocks,
That's the sort of name I had,
Till the manly cops taught me to box;
An', lissen, I was glad.
Playin' the game with a good straight bat,
Scornin' the bottle an' boot;
Turnin' meself from a wharfside rat
To a reel nice-livin' coot.
Learnin' to battle without 'arf-bricks
Or with pickets, as once I had
For the good cops taught me their rastlin' tricks
An', lissen, I was glad.
But flesh is weak; an' I fell from grace,
An' I goes an' I drifts right back,
An' burgled a bit of a jeweller's place;
An' a cop gets on me track,
But I meets his rush with a good straight right,
An' I reckon he got reel mad
To think that the cops taught me to fight.
But, lissen, I was glad.
Then a crowd of his pals come off their beats;
But I takes to me heels an' clears,
An' I leads 'em a marathon thro' the streets
While they lumbers and puffs in the rear.
Then I loses 'em all when I'd had me fun,
An' I sprints like a race-course prad.
For me cobbers the cops taught me to run,
An', lissen, was I glad?
Old Town Types No. 25 - Black Peter Myloh
A man was Peter Myloh, strong-browed and black of face,
Australian Aboriginal, son of a dark doomed race.
And even I, an urchin then, read grief in his soft eye
Deep grief, that came with knowledge for a people who must die,
For he was 'educated.' But he came of no meek race
Whining, 'Gibbit tickpen', mister,' with a shamed averted face.
And he was proud, quick with a blow for some fool's sneering slight,
And how I grinned and hugged myself. For, lordy! Could he fight!
Old Connors took him as a boy from some wild Murray tribe
And thought to educate him as a scholar and a scribe,
First at school, and then at college. 'Twas a venture ill begun,
For Connors soon grew tired of it; and left him on the run,
A sort of favoured hanger-on, whom every breed forsook,
To be the butt of shearers there, less than the Chinese cook.
And after he'd half-killed a man, and seemed hell-bound for doom,
'Twas my father gave him sanctu'ry as handyman and groom.
Black Myloh loved my father; but the service of a slave
Was nought beside the hero-worship I, a stripling, gave
This lithe, dark-skinned Ulysses with the low, soft school-bred voice
And proudly then I would have changed my colour, had I choice.
For we were mates as men were mates on some forgotten day
Ere 'progress' came with all its care, and life was mostly play.
He taught me then the wise bush-lore learned centuries ago
By a simple, carefree people versed in arts no 'white' may know.
I learned how souls 'go walkabout', of dreams that are no dreams;
We ranged the plains, the scrub-clad hills, we fished the gum-lined streams,
And much I gained that served me well when from that home I ran,
And chose to act the prodigal, and learned to be a man…
And then, the white-scourge took him. Well do I mind my grief -
Fierce, childish grief, the questionings, the shaking of belief…
But that was very long ago; yet, even now, much truth
I winnow from Black Myloh's lore, the real friend of my youth.
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 Long Road Home
When I go back from Billy's place I always have to roam
The mazy road, the crazy road that leads the long way home.
Ma always says, "Why don't you come through Mr Donkin's land?
The footbridge track will bring you back." Ma doesn't understand.
I cannot go that way, you know, because of Donkin's dog;
So I set forth and travel north,, and cross the fallen log.
Last week, when I was coming by, that log had lizards in it;
And you can't say I stop to play if I just search a minute.
I look around upon the ground and, if there are no lizards,
I go right on and reach the turn in front of Mrs Blizzard's.
I do not seek to cross the creek, because it's deep and floody,
And Ma would be annoyed with me if I came home all muddy.
Perhaps I throw a stone or so at Mrs Blizzard's tank,
Because it's great when I aim straight to hear the stone go "Plank
Then west I wend from Blizzard's Bend, and not a moment wait,
Except, perhaps, at Mr Knapp's, to swing upon his gate.
So up the hill I go, until I reach the little paddock
That Mr Jones at present owns and rents to Mr Craddock.
For boys my size the sudden rise is quite a heavy pull,
And yet I fear a short-cut here because of Craddock's bull;
So I just tease the bull till he's as mad as he can get,
And then I face the corner place that's been so long to let.
It's very well for Ma to tell about my dawdling habits.
What would you do, suppose you knew the place was thick with rabbits?
I do not stay for half a day, as Ma declares I do,.
No, not for more than half-an-hour - perhaps an hour - or two.
Then down the drop I run, slip-slop, where all the road is slithy.
And have to go quite close, you know, to Mr Horner's smithy.
A moment I might tarry by the fence to watch them hammer,
And, I must say, learn more that way than doing sums and grammar.
And, if I do sometimes climb through, I do not mean to linger'.
Though I did stay awhile the day Bill Homer burst his finger.
I just stand there to see the pair bang some hot iron thing
And watch Bill Horner swing the sledge and hit the anvil - Bing!
(For Mr Horner and his son are great big brawny fellows:
Both splendid chaps!) And then, perhaps, they let me blow the bellows.
A while I stop beside the shop, and talk to Mr Horner;
Then off I run, and race like fun around by Duggan's Corner.
It's getting late, and I don't wait beside the creek a minute,
Except to stop, maybe, and drop a few old pebbles in it.
A few yards more, and here's the store that's kept by Mr Whittle-
And you can't say I waste the day if I 'ust wait ... a little.
One day, you know, a year ago, a man gave me a penny,
And Mr Whittle sold me sweets (but not so very many).
You never know your luck, and so I look to see what's new
In Mr Whittle's window. There's a peppermint or two,
Some buttons and tobacco (Mr Whittle calls it "baccy"),
And fish in tins, and tape, and pins.... And then a voice calls, "Jacky!"
"I'm coming, Ma. I've been so far-around by Duggan's Corner.
I had to stay awhile to say 'Good day' to Mr Horner.
I feel so fagged; I've tramped and dragged through mud and over logs, Ma -
I could not go short-cuts, you know, because of bulls and dogs, Ma.
The creek, Ma? Why, it's very high ! You don't call that a gutter?
Bill Horner chews tobacco, Ma .... I'd like some bread and butter."
The Knight's Return
The conq'rin' 'ero! Me? Yes, I don't think.
This mornin' when I catch the train fer 'ome,
It's far more like a walloped pup I slink
To kennel, with resolves no more to roam.
Crusades is orf. I'm fer the simple life,
'Ome with me trustin' wife
All safe frum strife.
I've read uv knights returnin' full uv gyp,
Back to the bewchus lady in the tower.
They never seemed to git dumestic pip
In them brave days when knighthood was in flower.
But times is changed; an' 'usbands 'as to leed;
Fer knight'ood's run to seed;
It 'as indeed.
Snowy, the parson, came to say farewell
'Young friend,' 'e sez, 'You've did a Christian ack
A noble deed that you'll be glad to tell
An' boast uv to yer wife when you git back.'
'Too true,' I sez, reel chirpy. 'She'll be proud,
I'll blab it to the crowd -
If I'm allowed.'
'Good-bye! Good Luck!' 'e sez. 'I'll see to Rose,
Make yer mind easy. Ierdine yer face.
Bless yeh! Good luck, young friend!' An' orf we goes
Me an' me conscience arguin' the case.
An', as we pick up speed an' race along,
The rails make up a song:
'Yer in all wrong!'
'Yer in all wrong! Yer in all wrong! Yeh blob!
Why did yeh want to go an' 'unt fer Spike?
Yer in all wrong! Becoz yeh liked the job.
That's wot. An' don't pretend yeh didn't like.
Yer in all wrong! Wot will yeh tell Doreen?
Yeh'll 'ate to 'ave a scene.
Don't yeh feel mean?'
Two stations on, a w'iskered coot gits in
I seem to sort uv rekernise, some'ow.
But all at once I place 'im, an' I grin.
But 'e don't jerry; 'e's stone sober now.
It's 'im I scragged in Spadgers - number one -
The late suspected gun.
It's Danny Dunn.
'Sold that watch yet, ole cobber?' I remarks.
'E grabs 'is bag, an' views me battered dile,
With sudden fears uv spielers an' their larks.
But I ixplain,'an' 'e digs up a smile.
'Ah, yes,' 'e drawls. 'We met two nights ago
But I was - well, you know
Well - jist so-so.'
'E pipes me dile again, then stammers out,
'I'm sorry, sonny. Stone the crows! It's sad
To see yer face so orful cut about.
I never thort I walloped you so bad.
I'm sorry, lad, that we should come to blows.
Black eye? An' wot a nose!
Oh, stone the crows!'
I ease 'is guilty mind about me phiz,
An' we're good cobbers in a 'arf a tick.
Then 'e wades in an' tells me 'oo 'e is -
('E ain't a bad ole coot when 'e ain't shick) -
'I ain't dead broke,' 'e sez. 'That night, yeh know,
I was cleaned out uv dough,
An' - well - so-so.'
Lookin' fer land 'e is; an' 'as 'is eye
Upon a little farm jist close to me.
If 'e decides to take it by-an'-by,
'Why, stone the crows! I'll look yous up,' sez 'e.
'I need some friends: I ain't got wife nor chick;
An' yous will like me quick
When I ain't shick.'
I leaves 'im tork. Me own affairs won't let
Me pay much 'eed to all 'e 'as to say.
But, while 'e's spoutin', sudden like I get
A bright idear that brings one 'opeful ray.
One thing I 'eard pertickler while 'e spoke;
'E is a single bloke.
I lets that soak.
But later on I wished 'e'd sling 'is mag.
The nearer 'ome I get the worse I feel;
The worse I feel, the more I chew the rag;
The more I chew the rag, this crooked deal
I've served Doreen looks black an' blacker yet.
I worry till I get
All one cold sweat.
I walk 'ome frum the station, thinkin' 'ard.
Wot can I tell me wife? Gawstruth! I been
Eight long years wed, an' never 'ad to guard
Me tongue before. Wot can I tell Doreen?
An' there she's waitin' 'arf ways down our hill…
She takes one look… 'Why! Bill!'
I stands stock still.
'Oh, yes, me face,' I larfs. 'O' course. Me face.
I clean fergot. I - well - to tell the truth,
I - Don't look scared - I - 0h, it's no disgrace.
That dentist. Yes, yes! Pullin' out me tooth.
Reel butcher. Nearly frachered both me jors.
Yes, dear, let's go indoors.'
(Wow! 'Oly wars!)
'Poor Bill! Poor Dear! 'E must 'ave been a brute.'
She kisses me fair on me busted lip;
An' all me fears is stilled be that serloot.
Ar, wot a fool I was to 'ave the pip.
The game is mine before I 'ardly tried.
Dead easy, 'ow I lied!
I'm 'ome an' dried.
Yet .. . I dunno. Me triump' don't last long.'
Twuz low down, some way, 'ow I took 'er in
Like pinchin' frum a kid. I feel dead wrong.
The parson calls it 'conshusniss uv sin.'
I might be; but it's got me worried now:
An' conshuns is a cow,
That I'll allow.
Take it frum me. To 'ave a lovin' wife
Fussin' an' pettin' you, jist through a lie
Like 'er this ev'nin' - crools all married life.
If you can't look 'er fair bang in the eye
An' feel you've earned that trust frum first to last.
You're 'eadin' downward fast…
But Rose - Oh, blast!
The End Of Joi
They climbed the trees . . . As was told before,
The Glugs climbed trees in the days of yore,
When the oldes tree in the land to-day
Was a tender little seedling - Nay,
This climbing habit was old, so old
That even the cheeses could not have told
When the past Glug people first began
To give their lives to the climbing plan.
And the legend ran
That the art was old as the mind of man.
And even the mountains old and hoar,
And the billows that broke on Gosh's shore
Since the far-off neolithic night,
All knew the Glugs quite well by sight.
And they tell of a perfectly easy way:
For yesterday's Glug is the Glug of to-day.
And they climb the trees when the thunder rolls,
To solemnly salve their shop-worn souls.
For they fear the coals
That threaten to frizzle their shop-worn souls.
They climbed the trees. 'Tis a bootless task
To say so over again, or ask
The cause of it all, or the reason why
They never felt happier up on high.
For Joi asked why; and Joi was a fool,
And never a Glug of the fine old school
With fixed opinions and Sunday clothes,
And the habit of looking beyond its nose,
And treating foes
With the calm contempt of the One Who Knows.
And every spider who heaves a line
And trusts to his luck when the day is fine,
Or reckless swings from an awful height,
He knows the Glugs quite well by sight.
'You can never mistake them,' he will say;
'For they always act in a Gluglike way.
And they climb the trees when the glass points fair,
With circumspection and proper care,
For they fear to tear
The very expensive clothes they wear.'
But Joi was a Glug with a twisted mind
Of the nasty, meditative kind.
He'd meditate on the modes of Gosh,
And dared to muse on the acts of Splosh;
He dared to speak, and, worse than that,
He spoke out loud, and he said it flat.
'Why climb?' said he. 'When you reach the top
There's nowhere to go, and you have to stop,
Unless you drop.
And the higher you are the worse you flop.'
And every cricket that chirps at eve,
And scoffs at the folly of fools who grieve,
And the furtive mice who revel at night,
All know the Glugs quite well by sight.
For, 'Why,' they say, ' in the land of Gosh
There is no one else who will bow to Splosh.
And they climb the trees when the rain pelts down
And feeds the gutters that thread the town;
For they fear to drown,
When floods are frothy and waters brown.'
Said the Glug called Joi, 'This climbing trees
Is a foolish art, and things like these
Cause much distress in the land of Gosh.
Let's stay on the ground and kill King Splosh!'
But Splosh, the king, he smiled a smile,
And beckoned once to his hangman, Guile,
Who climbed a tree when the weather was calm;
And they hanged poor Joi on a Snufflebust Palm;
Then they sang a psalm,
Did those pious Glugs 'neath the Snufflebust Palm.
And every bee that kisses a flow'r,
And every blossom, born for an hour,
And every bird on its gladsome flight,
All know the Glugs quite well by sight.
For they say, ''Tis a simple test we've got:
If you know one Glug, why, you know the lot!'
So, they climbed a tree in the bourgeoning Spring,
And they hanged poor Joi with some second-hand string.
'Tis a horrible thing
To be hanged by Glugs with second-hand string.
Then Splosh, the king, rose up and said,
'It's not polite; but he's safer dead.
And there's not much room in the land of Gosh
For a Glug named Joi and a king called Splosh!'
And every Glug flung high his hat,
And cried, 'We're Glugs! and you can't change that!'
So they climbed the trees, since the weather was cold,
While the brazen bell of the city tolled
And tolled, and told
The fate of a Glug who was over-bold.
And every cloud that sails the blue,
And every dancing sunbeam too,
And every sparkling dewdropp bright
All know the Glugs quite well by sight.
'We tell,' say they, 'by a simple test;
For any old Glug is like the rest.
And they climb the trees when there's weather about,
In a general way, as a cure for gout;
Tho' some folks doubt
If the climbing habit is good for gout.'
So Joi was hanged, and his race was run,
And the Glugs were tickled with what they'd done.
And, after that, if a day should come
When a Glug felt extra specially glum,
He'd call his children around his knee,
And tell that tale with a chuckle of glee.
And should a little Glug girl or boy
See naught of a joke in the fate of Joi,
Then he'd employ
Stern measures with such little girl or boy.
But every dawn that paints the sky,
And every splendid noontide high,
All know the Glugs so well, so well.
'Tis an easy matter, and plain to tell.
For, lacking wit, with a candour smug,
A Glug will boast that he is a Glug.
And they climb the trees, if it shines or rains,
To settle the squirming in their brains,
And the darting pains
That are caused by rushing and catching trains
'Now, be the Hokey Fly!' sez Peter Begg.
'Suppose 'e comes 'ome with a wooden leg.
Suppose 'e isn't fit to darnce at all,
Then, ain't we 'asty fixin' up this ball?
A little tournament at Bridge is my
Idear,' sez Peter. 'Be the Hokey Fly!'
Ole Peter Begg is gettin' on in years.
'E owns a reel good farm; an' all 'e fears
Is that some girl will land 'im, by an' by,
An' shar it with 'im - be the Hokey Fly.
That's 'is pet swear-word, an' I dunno wot
'E's meanin', but 'e uses it a lot.
'Darncin'!' growls Begg. We're fixin' up the 'all
With bits uv green stuff for a little ball
To welcome Jim, 'oo's comin' 'ome nex' day.
We're 'angin' flags around to make things gay,
An' shiftin' chairs, an' candle-greasin' floors,
As is our way when blokes comes 'ome from wars.
'A little game uv Bridge,' sez Peter Begg.
'Would be more decent like, an' p'r'aps a keg
Uv somethin' if the 'ero's feelin' dry.
But this 'ere darncin'! Be the Hokey Fly,
These selfish women never thinks at all
About the guest; they only wants the ball.
'Now, cards,' sez Begg, 'amuses ev'ry one.
An' then our soldier guest could 'ave 'is fun
If 'e'd lost both 'is legs. It makes me sick
'Ere! Don't spread that candle-grease too thick
Yeh're wastin' it; an' us men 'as to buy
Enough for nonsense, be the Hokey Fly!'
Begg, 'e ain't never keen on wastin' much.
'Peter,' I sez, 'it's you that needs a crutch.
Why don't yeh get a wife, an' settle down?'
'E looks reel fierce, an' answers, with a frown,
'Do you think I am goin' to be rooked
For 'arf me tucker, jist to get it cooked?'
I lets it go at that, an' does me job;
An' when a little later on I lob
Along the 'omeward track, down by Flood's gate
I meet ole Digger Smith, an' stops to state
Me views about the weather an' the war…
'E tells me Jim gets 'ere nex' day, at four.
An' as we talk, I sees along the road
A strange bloke 'umpin' some queer sort uv load.
I points 'im out to Smith an' sez, 'Oo's that?
Looks like a soldier, don't 'e, be 'is 'at?'
'Stranger,' sez Digger, 'be the cut uv 'im.'
But, trust a mother's eyes…'It's Jim! My Jim!
My Jim!' I 'ears; an' scootin' up the track
Come Missus Flood, with Flo close at 'er back.
It was a race, for lover an' for son;
They finished neck an' neck; but mother won,
For it was 'er that got the first big 'ug.
(I'm so took back I stands there like a mug.)
Then come Flo's turn; an' Jim an' Digger they
Shake 'ands without no fancy, gran'-stand play.
Yeh'd think they parted yesterd'y them two.
For all the wild 'eroics that they do.
'Yeh done it, lad' sez Jim. 'I knoo yeh would.'
'You bet,' sez Smith; 'but I'm all to the good.'
Then, uv a sudden, all their tongues is loosed.
They finds me there, an' I am intrajuiced;
An' Jim tells 'ow it was 'e came to land
So soon, while Mar an' Flo each 'olds a 'and.
But, jist as sudden, they all stop an' stare
Down to the 'ouse, at Dad Flood standin' there.
'E's got 'is 'and up shadin' off the sun.
Then 'e starts up to them; but Dad don't run:
'E isn't 'owlin' for 'is lost boy's kiss;
'E's got 'is own sweet way in things like this.
'E wanders up, and' stands an' looks at Jim.
An', spare me days, that look was extra grim!
I seen the mother pluckin' at 'er dress;
I seen the girl's white face an' 'er distress.
An' Digger Smith, 'e looks reel queer to me:
Grinnin' inside 'imself 'e seemed to be.
At last Dad sez - oh, 'e's a tough ole gun! -
'Well, are yeh sorry now for what yeh done?'
Jim gives a start; but answers with a grin,
'Well, Dad, I 'ave been learnin' discipline.
An' tho' I ain't quite sure wot did occur
Way back' - 'e's grinnin' worse - 'I'm sorry, sir.'
(It beats me, that, about these soldier blokes:
They're always grinnin', like all things was jokes.)
P'r'aps Dad is gettin' dull in 'is ole age;
But 'e don't seem to see Jim's cammyflage.
P'r'aps 'e don't want to; for, in 'is ole eye,
I seen a twinkle as 'e give reply.
'Nex' week,' 'e sez, 'we will begin to cart
The taters. Yeh can make another start.'
But then 'e grabs Jim's 'and. I seen the joy
In mother's eyes. 'Now, welcome 'ome, me boy,'
Sez Dad; an' then 'e adds, 'Yeh've made me proud;'
That's all. An' 'e don't add it none too loud.
Dad don't express 'is feelin's in a shout;
It cost 'im somethin' to git that much out.
We 'ad the darnce. An', spite uv all Begg's fears,
Jim darnced like 'e could keep it up for years;
Mostly with Flo. We don't let up till three;
An' then ole Peter Begg, Doreen an' me
We walk together 'ome, an' on the way,
Doreen 'as quite a lot uv things to say.
'Did you see Flo?' sez she. 'Don't she look grand?
That Jim's the luckiest in all the land
An' little Smith - that girl uv is, I'm sure,
She'll bring 'im 'appiness that will endure.'
She 'ugs my arm, then sez ''Usband or wife,
If it's the right one, is the wealth uv life.'
I sneaks a look at Begg, an' answers, 'Yes,
Yeh're right, ole girl; that's the reel 'appiness.
An' if ole, lonely growlers was to know
The worth uv 'appy marridge 'ere below,
They'd swap their bank-books for a wife,' sez I.
Sez Peter Begg, 'Well! Be the - Hokey - Fly!'
A War March
Ow! Wow! Wow!
(Funeral note sustained by flutes, suggesting a long-bodied,
short-legged, large-headed dog in anguish.)
We are the people who make the row;
We are the nation that skites and brags;
Marching the goose-step; waving the falgs.
We talk too much, and we lose our block,
We scheme and spy; we plot, we lie
To blow the whoe world into the sky.
The Kaiser spouts, and the Junkers rave.
Hoch! for the Superman, strong and brave!
But what is the use of a Superman,
With 'frightfulness' for his darling plan,
If he has no cities to burn and loot,
No women to ravish, no babies to shoot?
Shall treaties bind us against our wish?
(Violins: Tearing noise as of scraps of paper being destroyed.)
Now at last shall the whole world learn
Of the cult of the Teuton, strong and stern!
Ho! for the Superman running amok!
Um - ta, um - ta, tiddley - um - tum!
(Uncertain note, as of a German band that has been told to move on.)
Pompety - pom pom - tiddeley - um - tum!
Way for the 'blond beasts!' Here they come!
While big guns thunder the nations' doom.
Room for the German! A place in the sun!
He'll play the Devil now he's begun!
(Drums: Noise of an exploding cathedral.)
Ho, the gaping wound and the bleeding stump!
Watch the little ones how they jump!
While we shoot and stab, and plunder and grab,
Spurred by a Kaiser's arrogant gab;
While the Glorious Junker
And drunker, on blood.
Sword or cannon or fire or flood,
Never shall stay our conquering feet -
On through city and village street -
Feet that savagely, madly tread,
Over the living; over the dead.
Burn and pillage and slay and loot!
To the sound of our guns shall the whole world rock!
(Flutes, piccolos and trombones render, respectively, the cries of
children, shrieks of women and groans of tortured non-cambatants.
Violins wail mournfully.)
Hoch der Kaiser! The whole land reeks
With tales of torture and savage rape,
Of fiends and satyrs in human shape;
Fat hands grabbing where white flesh shrinks;
And murdered age to the red earth sinks.
Now at length shall we gorge our fill,
And all shall bow to the German will!
By the maids we ravish our lust to slake,
By the smoking ruin that mark our wake,
By the blood we spill,and the hearths we blast....
This is The Day! The Day at last!....
Praise to God! On our bended knees,
We render thaks for boons like these.
For God and the Kaiser our cohorts flock!
(Scrap of German hymn-tune interpolated here.)
Ach! Donnerwelter! Himmel! Ach!
(Medley of indescribable noises rendered by full orchestra, symbolic,
partly of a German band that is being severely kicked by an irate householder,
and partly innumerable blutwursts suddenly arrested in mid-career.)
'Dot vos not fair to shoot in der back!'
Who is this that as dared to face
Our hosts unconquered, and, pace by pace,
Presses us backward, and ever back.
Over the blasted, desolate rack?
What of the plans we planned so well?
We looked for victory - this is Hell!
Mark the heaps of our comrades bold;
Look on the corpses of Culture's sons -
Martyrs slain by a savage's guns.
Respite now, in this feast of death!
Time! An Armistice! Give us breath!
Nay? Then we cry to the whole wide world,
Shame on our foe for a plea denied!
Savages! Brutes! Barbarians all!
Here shall we fight with our backs to the wall!
Boom! Boom! Boom!
(Ten more thousands gone to their doom.)
(Bass drums only, for 679,358 bars, symbolising a prolonged artillery war.
Into this there breaks suddenly the frenzied howl of the long-bodied,
short-legged, large-deaded dog already mentioned.)
Hate! Hate! Hate! Hate!
We spit on the British here at our gate!
Foe of humanity! Curst of the world!
On him alone let our hate be hurled!
For his smiling sneers at the Junkers' creed,
For his cold rebuke to a Kaiser's greed;
For his calm disdain of our noble race,
We fling our spite in his scornful face.
Under the sea and high in the air,
Death shall seek for him everywhere;
The lurking death in the submarine,
The swooping death in the air machine,
Alone of them all he had sealed our fate!
Hate! Hate! HATE!
(Prolonged discord, followed by deep, mysterious silence - imposed by censor -
for 793 bars.)
(Deep staccato note as of a bursting blutwurst.)
Ow! Wow! Wow!
(Dying howl of a stricken hound. Silence again for an indefinite number of
bars. Then, in countless bars, saloons, tea-shops, coffee-houses, cafes and
restaurants throughout the British Empire and most of Europe, a sudden, loud,
triumphant chorus, toned by a note of relief, and dominated by 'The Marseillaise'
and 'Tipperary.' A somewhat uncertain but distinctly nasal cheer is heard from
the direction of New York.)
At last the sounds of the big guns cease;
At last the beast is chased to his lair,
And we breathe again of the good, clean air.
The gates have fallen! The Allies win!
And the boys are macrhing about Berlin!
The Kaiser's down; and the story goes
A British Tommy has pulled his nose.
The German eagle has got the pip:
Vive les Allies!...Hooroo!...Hip! Hip!...
Before The War
'Before the war,' she sighs. 'Before the war.'
Then blinks 'er eyes, an' tries to work a smile.
'Ole scenes,' she sez, 'don't look the same no more.
Ole ways,' she sez, 'seems to 'ave changed their style.
The pleasures that we had don't seem worth while
Them simple joys that passed an hour away
An' troubles, that we used to so revile,
'Ow small they look', she sez. ''Ow small today.
'This war!' sighs ole Mar Flood. An' when I seen
The ole girl sittin' in our parlour there,
Tellin' 'er troubles to my wife Doreen.
As though the talkin' eased 'er load 'uv care,
I thinks uv mothers, 'ere and everywhere,
Smilin' a bit while they are grievin' sore
For grown-up babies, fightin' Over There;
An' then I 'ears 'em sigh, 'Before the war.'
My wife 'as took the social 'abit bad.
I ain't averse - one more new word I've learned
Averse to tea, when tea is to be 'ad;
An' when it comes I reckon that it's earned.
It's jist a drink, as fur as I'm concerned,
Good for a bloke that toilin' on the land;
But when a caller comes, 'ere am I turned
Into a social butterfly, off-'and.
Then drinkin' tea becomes a 'oly rite.
So's I won't bring the family to disgrace
I guts a bit 'uv coachin' overnight
On ridin' winners in this bun-fed race.
I 'ave to change me shirt, an' wash me face,
An' look reel neat, from me waist up at least,
An sling remarks in at the proper place,
An' not makes noises drinkin', like a beast.
''Ave some more cake. Another slice, now do.
An' won't yeh 'ave a second cup uv tea?
'Ow is the children?' Ar, it makes me blue!
This boodoor 'abit ain't no good to me.
I likes to take me tucker plain an' free:
Tea an' a chunk out on the job for choice,
So I can stoke with no one there to see.
Besides, I 'aven't got no comp'ny voice.
Uv course, I've 'ad it all out with the wife.
I argues that there's work that must be done.
An' tells 'er that I 'ates this tony life.
She sez there's jooties that we must not shun.
You bet that ends it; so I joins the fun,
An' puts 'em all at ease with silly grins
Slings bits uv repartee like ''Ave a bun,'
An' passes bread an' butter, for my sins.
Since I've been marri'd, say, I've chucked some things,
An' learned a whole lot more to fill the space.
I've slung all slang; crook words 'ave taken wings,
An' I 'ave learned to entertain with grace.
But when ole Missus Flood comes round our place
I don't object to 'er, for all 'er sighs;
Becos I likes 'er ways, I likes 'er face,
An', most uv all, she 'as them mother's eyes.
'Before the war,' she sighs, the poor ole girl.
'Er talk it gets me thinkin' in between,
While I'm assistin' at this social whirl. . . .
She comes across for comfort to Doreen,
To talk about the things that might 'ave been
If Syd 'ad not been killed at Suvla Bay,
Or Jim had not done a bunk at seventeen,
An' not been heard uv since 'e went away.
They 'ave a little farm right next to us
'Er and 'er husband - where they live alone.
Spite uv 'er cares, she ain't the sort to fuss
Or serve up sudden tears an' sob an' moan,
An' since I've known 'er some'ow I 'ave grown
To see in 'er, an' all the grief she's bore,
A million brave ole mothers 'oo 'ave known
Deep sorrer since them days before the war.
'Before the war,' she sez. 'Yeh mind our Syd?
Poor lad. . . . But then, yeh never met young Jim
'Im 'oo was charged with things 'e never did.
Ah, both uv you'd 'ave been reel chums with 'im.
'Igh-spirited 'e was, a perfect limb.
It's six long years now since 'e went away
Ay, drove away.' 'Er poor ole eyes git dim.
'That was,' she sighs, 'that was me blackest day.
'Me blackest day! Wot am I sayin' now?
That was the day the parson came to tell
The news about our Syd. . . . An', yet, some'ow . . . .
My little Jim!' She pauses for a spell. . . .
'Your 'olly'ocks is doin' reely well,'
She sez, an' battles 'ard to brighten up.
'An' them there pinks uv yours, 'ow sweet they smell.
An' - Thanks! I think I will 'ave one more cup.'
As fur as I can get the strength uv it,
Them Floods 'ave 'ad a reel tough row to how.
First off, young Jim, 'oo plays it high a bit,
Narks the ole man a treat, an' slings the show.
The come the war, an' Syd 'e 'as to go.
'E run 'is final up at Suvla Bay
One uv the Aussies I was proud to know.
An' Jim's cracked 'ardy since 'e went away.
'Er Jim! These mothers! Lord, they're all the same.
I wonders if Doreen will be that kind.
Syd was the son 'oo played the reel man's game;
But Jim 'oo sloped an' left no word be'ind,
His is the picter shinin' in 'er mind.
'Igh-spirited! I've 'eard that tale before.
I sometimes think she'd take it rather kind
To 'ear that 'is 'igh spirits run to war.
'Before the war,' she sez. 'Ah, times was good.
The little farm out there, an' jist us four
Workin' to make a decent liveli'ood.
Our Syd an' Jim! . . . Poor Jim! I grieves me sore;
For Dad won't 'ave 'im mentioned 'ome no more.
'E's 'urt, I know, cos 'e thinks Jim 'urt me.
As if 'e could, the bonny boy I bore. . . .
But I must off 'ome now, an' git Dad's tea.'
I seen 'er to the gate. (Take it frum me,
I'm some perlite.) She sez, 'Yeh mustn't mind
Me talkin' uv Jim, but when I see
Your face it brings 'im back; 'e's jist your kind.
Not quite so 'an'some, p'r'aps, nor so refined.
I've got some toys uv 'is,' she sez. 'But there
This is ole woman's talk, an' you be'ind
With all yer work, an' little time to spare.
She gives me 'and a squeeze an' turns away,
Sobbin', I thort; but then she looks be'ind,
Smilin', an' wavin', like she felt reel gay,
I wonders 'ow the women work that blind,
An' jist waves back; then goes inside to find
A lookin'-glass, an' takes a reel good look. . . .
''Not quite so 'an'some, p'r'aps, nor so refined!'
Gawd 'elp yeh, Jim,' I thinks. 'Yeh must be crook.'
'Peter the 'Ermit was a 'oly bloke,'
The parson sez, 'wot chivvied coves to war.'
'Too right,' I chips. 'I've 'eard that yarn before.'
'Brave knights sprung straight to arms where'er 'e spoke.'
'Sure thing,' sez I. 'It muster been no joke
Tinnin' yer frame in them dead days uv yore
Before yeh starts to tap a foeman's gore.'
'Peter the 'Ermit was a man inspired,'
The parson sez. We're moochin' up the Lane,
Snoopin' around for news we might obtain
Uv this Spike Wegg, the man 'oo I am 'ired
To snatch by 'ook or crook, jist as required
By circs, frum out the sev'ril sins wot stain
'Is wicked soul. I 'ope me meanin's plain.
'Peter the 'Ermit,' sez the parson, 'saw
No 'arm in vi'lince when the cause was just.
While 'e deplored, no doubt, the fightin' lust,
'E preached-' ''Old on,' I sez. ''Ere comes the Law:
'Ere's Brannigan, the cop. Pos'pone the jaw
Till we confer. I got idears 'e must
Keep track uv Spike; if 'e toils fer 'is crust.'
'Spike Wegg?' growls Brannigan. 'I know that bloke;
An' 'e's the one sweet soul I long to see.
That shrinkin' vi'lit 'ates publicity
Jist now,' sez Brannigan. 'Spike Wegg's in smoke.
Oh, jist concerns a cove 'e tried to croak.
'E's snug in some joint round about, maybe.
If you should meet, remember 'im to me.'
The cop passed on. 'Peter the 'Ermit was
A ri'chus man,' the parson sez, 'wot knoo -'
''Old 'ard!' I begs. 'Jist for a hour or two
I wouldn't go an' nurse sich thorts, becoz
Too much soul-ferritin' might put the moz
On this 'ere expedition. I'll 'elp you
To search our conscience when the job is through.
'I know yer doubts,' I sez, 'an' 'ow you 'ate
The thorts uv stoush, an' 'old 'ard blows in dread.
But Pete the 'Ermit's been a long time dead.
'E'll keep. But we are in the 'ands uv Fate,
An' 'oly spruikers uv a ancient date
Don't 'elp. I quite agrees with all you've said
But-' 'Say no more,' 'e answers. 'Lead ahead.'
'But, all the same,' 'e sez, 'I want no fight.'
'Right 'ere, be'ind this 'oardin',' I replies,
'A two-up school's in session. If we spies
About a bit, there is a chance we might
Git news -' Jist then the spotter comes to light.
I word 'im gentle, with some 'asty lies:
I'm seekin' Spike. See? Can 'e put me wise?
'Spike Wegg?' (At first 'e only twigs meself)
''E's gone-' ('E spots the parson standin' by)
A cold, 'ard glimmer comes in 'is fish eye:
''Ere! Wot's the game?' 'e yelps. 'Are you a shelf?'
''Ave sense!' I larfs. 'I got a bit uv pelf,
An' thort I'd like to take a little fly -'
'Buzz orfl' 'e orders. So we done a guy.
'Blank number one,' I sez. The parson sighed.
'Joshuer fought, an' never seemed to shrink -'
'Now, look,' I tells 'im. 'Honest. Don't you think
Them Bible blokes 'oo've 'ad their day an' died
Is best fergot until we're 'ome an' dried?
Now, up the street 'ere, is a little sink
Uv sin that does a traffic in strong drink.'
'Sly grog?' 'e arsts. But I sez, ''Ush! This place
Is kep' by Mother Weems, 'oo's sof', blue eye
An' snow-white 'air would make yeh 'shamed an' shy
To brand 'er name with any sich disgrace.
'Er kind, sweet smile, 'er innercint ole face.
Beams like a blessin'. Still, we'll 'ave a try
To word the dear ole dame, an' pump 'er dry.
'Is nibs stands in the shadders while I knock.
Mother unlocks the door, an' smiles, an' peers
Into me face. She wears 'er three score years
Reel sweet, in lacy cap an' neat black frock.
Then: 'Bill,' she cries. 'You've give me quite a shock!
Why, dearie, I ain't seen you for long years.
Come in.' 'Er kind ole eyes seem close to tears.
'Dearie, come in,' she chirps. But I pretend
I'm on reel urgent biz; I got to 'aste
'Jist for ole times,' she pleads. 'One little taste.'
'I can't,' I sez. 'I'm lookin' for a friend,
Spike Wegg, for 'oo I've certin news no end
Important; an' I got no time to waste.'
'Wot? Spike?' she sez. 'I 'ear 'e's bein' chased.
''E's bein' chased,' she sez, 'by D's, I've 'eard.'
'Too true,' I owns. ''E's got no time to lose.'
'Well, maybe, if you was to try Ah Foo's
The privit room -' Then, as 'is rev'rince stirred,
She seen 'is choker. ''Oo the 'ell's this bird?
Is this a frame?' she shrieks… Without adoos,
We slap the pavemint with four 'asty shoes.
But, as along the sloppy lane we race,
'Er 'or words tumble after in a flood:
'You pimps! You dirty swine! I'll 'ave yer blood!'
''Eavings!' the parson gasps. 'With that sweet face!'
''Er words,' I answer, 'do seem outer place.'
'Vile words, that I 'ave scarce 'arf understud.'
Sez Snowy, shoshin' in a pool uv mud.
We reach Ah Foo's. 'Now, 'ere,' I sez, 'is where
You stop outside. Twice you 'ave put me queer
It's a lone 'and I mean to play in 'ere.
You 'ang around an' breathe the 'olesome air.'
'Young friend,' 'e sez, 'I go with you in there.
I've led you into this. Why should I fear
The danger? 'Tis me jooty to be near.'
Snowy's a game un! I lob in the shop,
The parson paddin' after on the floor.
Ah Foo looks up. 'Not there!' 'e squeaks. 'Wha' for?'
But we sail past the Chow without a stop,
Straight for the little crib up near the top
That I knoo well in sinful days uv yore…
I turn the knob; an' sling aside the door.
Beside a table, fearin' 'arm from none,
Spike an' another bloke is teet-ah-teet.
Quick on the knock, Spike Wegg jumps to 'is feet
An' jerks a 'and be'ind 'im for 'is gun.
I rush 'im, grab a chair up as I run,
An' swing it with a aim that ain't too neat.
Spike ducks aside; an', with a bump, we meet.
An' then we mix it. Strife an' merry 'ell
Breaks loose a treat, an' things git movin' fast.
An', as a Chinese jar goes crashin' past,
'Igh o'er the din I 'ears the parson's yell:
'Hit! Hit 'im 'ard young friend. Chastise 'im well!
'Hit 'im!' . . . The 'oly war is in full blast;
An' Pete the 'Ermit's come to light at last.