I'd like to be a sailor - a sailor bold and bluff
Calling out, 'Ship ahoy!' in manly tones and gruff.
I'd learn to box the compass, and to reef and tack and luff;
I'd sniff and snifff the briny breeze and never get enough.
Perhaps I'd chew tobacco, or an old black pipe I'd puff,
But I wouldn't be a sailor if ...
The sea was very rough.
The Music Of Your Voice
A vase upon the mantelpiece,
A ship upon the sea,
A goat upon a mountain-top
Are much the same to me;
But when you mention melon jam,
Or picnics by the creek,
Or apple pies, or pantomimes,
I love to hear you speak.
The date of Magna Charta or
The doings of the Dutch,
Or capes, or towns, or verbs, or nouns
Do not excite me much;
But when you mention motor rides -
Down by the sea for choice
Or chasing games, or chocolates,
I love to hear your voice.
Mad, But Not So Mad
Though our eye in recent seasons
Has a wild and glassy glare,
And we fail to offer reasons
For the straws that deck our hair;
There are certain consolations
That are unction for the soul
When we view the older nations
Gone completely up the pole.
We may be mad, but not so mad
As others quite bereft
Of reason. Though our case is sad,
We've sparks of gumption left.
For, while we have the art to see
From this our island raft,
How mad the other nations be
That sail the economic sea,
We're not completely daft.
In regard to hops and butter,
Wheat and sugar, things like these
Our insanity is utter
As evinced by subsidies.
In regard to other matters,
As events have proved today,
We're not quite as mad as haters
Or not so far anyway.
And tho' our land's a troubled land,
But few of us are found
Making insane attempts to stand
'With ears upon the ground.'
Contortionists might very well
Attempt it without fear;
But it must come of stuff they sell
When Breweries, as judges tell,
Are standing on their ears.
A civic lady, peerly proud
Of excellences that here crowd
About her trim, well-ordered streets:
The visitor she warmly greets
E'er with a bland and kindly smile,
Full conscious of her grace the while
A grace that comes of duty done
Thro' long years in her grateful sun.
Fit cause for pride lies in her past:
Her solid buildings, reared to last,
And all her old-world atmosphere
Hinting at Holland quaintly here,
With windmills turning in the breeze
Wafted from her historic seas
That knew the sails of venturers
Long ere this pleasant land was hers.
The stone man's footprints, graved in stone,
About her ancient rocks are known;
Here, too, the Spaniard, 'neath her wave,
Found with his stately ship a grave.
And thus, thro' hist'ry, can she show
How men may wax and men may grow
By wisely planned development
To an estate of proud content.
So, 'mid her rich lands of the south
Cast from a burning mountain's mouth
She grows her fruits and lives her life
Remote from hectic city strife.
And who shall come to her wide sea,
Seeking her hospitality,
In this contented dame shall find
A gracious lady, calm and kind.
'Outgoing: the Ooonah for Burnie'....
How often the radio spoke;
Till the stout little ship and her journey
Grew into a mild sort of joke.
But no longer her donkeyman grapples
His slings by the sweet island shore
For a cargo of timber or apples.
The Oonah goes sailing no more.
No more; save the landfall she's making,
The last, on her funeral trip
To the land where she goes for her breaking
Grim graveyard of many a ship.
And a few, it may be, will go grieving
To know of that busy craft's fate,
Who many times hooved with her heaving
As Oonah rolled over the strait.
There many proud, tall-masted schooners
She passed in the night, ships o' sail;
While stars winked o'er fond honeymooners
Who whispered soft words by her rail.
And tourists and grave politicians,
Who knew the old Oonah full well,
In all sorts of weather conditions,
Have had many a story to tell.
And many a soul who sailed with her,
Since Oonah first breasted the foam,
Has taken the long voyage thither,
To every man's ultimate home.
Who knows now what mystical journey
Those sail, to the sounds of high mirth
As a ghost-ships heads hull-down for Burnie,
With a complement not of the earth.
I nigh drops dead (the bo'sun said)
When the gist of things I grip
In the land by these 'ere Southern seas
As I seen on my long last trip.
They seems a joke, them curious folk
Wot bides at the blue sea's lip,
Whose wealth is made in a world-wide trade -
Landlubbers all wot seems afraid,
For they ain't got a deep-sea ship.
No, they ain't got a deep-sea ship, they ain't,
For their 'earts ain't with the blue,
Tho' they claims the seed of the tough sea breed,
Like Drake, an' me an' you.
On their isle sea-girt they farms the dirt
Of a fertile coastal strip;
But they seems afraid of a sea-borne trade
An' the hauls their British fathers made,
For they ain't got a deep-sea ship.
Sea born an' bred (the bo'sun said)
As man an' boy I been
Nigh every place on earth's broad face,
An' all the seas atween;
But I ne'er 'ave spoke such curious folk
As I seen on this 'ere trip,
Who seeks for marts in furrin parts,
Yet for blue water have no hearts;
For they ain't got a deep-sea ship.
No, they ain't got a deep-sea ship, they ain't;
An' it don't seem like they care,
For they 'ands the job to any ole yob
Wot makes a landfall there.
In tramp an' tub they ships their grub -
Aw, it fair gives me the pip!
They've wool an' wine, an' corn an' kine,
An' the carryin' trade would suit 'em, fine,
But they ain't got a deep-sea ship!
Masefield, Poet And Man
He comes as a man who has lived 'mid men
With the gloss and the polish off;
And truth flows free from his ready pen
For he looked on life with a keen eye then,
And he found small cause to scoff.
And he loved the sea and its ships of sail
And a sailor's way and a sailor's tale;
And he looked on the world as an epoch's close
And found what none but the venturer knows.
He comes as a poet that the gods adopt
With songs of the wild and the free
Shorn of the snivelling cadence dropped
From the lips of the sophist snugly propped
On the throne of a pink settee.
And he loves the land and the flowering wealds,
The west wind's song and the daffodil fields
As he loves the song of a howling gale
Caught in the cup of a bellying sail.
And what shall he say of us who comes here
This man who has lived as a man?
He shall follow the way of the pioneer
And our own high venturers, blind to fear,
Who strove when the race began;
And the digger's way and the drover's way
And the rough, rude life of an olden day
And the track of the lonely Overland
He shall follow them all - and understand.
And his keen mind's eye shall pierce the gilt
That would cover the old, rough life:
He shall sense the soul of a young land built
In the days when life had a strong, rude lilt
And a rhythm tuned to strife.
He shall trace again in the Anzac's soul
The spirit that made this young land whole.
And so, as he sees, shall he blame or praise
By a standard won in the world's highways.
Bones, A.B. Is Reminded
Men of the sea (said Bones, A.B.)
Is touchy coves and curious,
They stands a lot, till some dark plot
Gets 'em all hot an' furious.
Tricks with their food brings on a mood
That's apt to be real shirty.
That's how come we once struck at sea
In days when ways was dirty
Them blastin', blazin', hazin' days
When ships an' seas was dirty.
We was 'Frisco bound in a ship ill-found
An' scarce a sound plank in 'er,
Wheh cook speaks free, an' he says, says he:
'There's no plum-duff for dinner!'
'Wot? No plum-duff?' we answers gruff
An' snarky like, an' surly.
'Avast!' says we. 'We'll strike at sea
Till we gets it, late or early
Down marlinspikes! The whole crew strikes!
For we likes duff late an' early.'
The old man, he don't seem to be
No ways put out about it.
'Plum-duff?' he purrs. 'Why, sure, good sirs,
You'll get some, never doubt it.'
An', cold an' hot, 'twas duff we got
An' nothin' else thereafter.
'Wot? Had enough? You swabs, you stuff!'
The skipper roars wi' laughter.
Nought else will come. Eat some, you scum!
Wot? Sick? Excuse my laughter!'
Men of the sea (said Bones, A.B.)
Is proud an' supercilious.
But that don't do, not when a crew
Grows pasty-faced an' bilious.
Whe we bore down on 'Frisco town
A sick crew 'twas wot landed
An' skipper says: 'Now, go yer ways,
An' say I ain't free-'anded!
You strikin', bluffin', puddin'-stuffin' sweeps,
Say I'm mean-'anded!
You loafin', leerin', mutineerin' mutts,
I 'opes yer stranded!'
A Chantey Of Labor's Lost
There on the quay sobbed Bones, A.B.,
And he took me by the hand.
Says he to me, 'I've quit the sea
An' I'm huntin' a berth on land.
‘Er doom ‘as come; an' the days o' rum,
Salt-‘orse an' tar is over;
For these is the days of the popinjays
An' the end of the deep-sea rover
Them tough ole, rough ole, rollicking lads
The shell-back, deep-sea rover.
'They've finished with me,' says Bones, A.B.,
'For they've finished with seamanship.
What they're shippin' of late is a milliner's mate
With a housemaid's mop on the ‘ip.
But ask ‘im the rig of a barque or a brig,
Or the toons of the chanteys sung
By a buck he-male in the days of sail
When me an' me mates was young
Them mad ole, bad ole, rollicking days
When mates an' the world was young.
'Before ‘e was born I'd rounded the Horn
Ten times in ships o' sail,
Close-reefed an' fast in the bellerin' blast
Of the mother-in-law of a gale.
Bare-decked I been, an' wrecked I been,
Mate-hazed, marooned, shanghai-ed.
But shiver me gob, I knoo me job
In the days when the seas was wide
Them reckless, feckless, rollicking days
When faith and the seas was wide.
'So I'm leavin' the sea,' says Bones, A.B.,
'For the sea don't need me now.
An' I'm shapin' a course to valet a ‘orse
Or coddle a milkin' cow.
All that they asks of shipboard tasks
Is a dood of a doll's-eye weaver;
An' I'm missin' ‘em bad; them mates I ‘ad
So lovin' the sea they leave ‘er
Them tearin', swearin', devil-may-carin',
Lovable lads wot leave ‘er.'
A Deep Sea Chantey
We didn't like the bo'sun's mate
(Yo, 'eave ho! an' a bottle o' lemonade or somethin' soft, Miss).
Becos 'is dile filled us wiv 'ate
(Yo, 'eave ho! An' a bottle o' near-beer, or somethin' that's real easy scoffed,
We ain't the crowd for gettin' shick
Becos we've joined the Bolshevik.
An' we reckon Jack's as good as - Hic!
(Schuse me! 'Tain't the likker. I'ah the sense of injush-tish an' wash the right
thing to be dealt out ter seamen's sorter sent me aloft, Miss).
We didn't like 'is kind o' face
(Yo, 'eave ho! An' a bot'l Soviet Sarsparliler - or anythin' the comrades drink,
Ses 'e, 'Yeh lubbers! Splice mai brace!'
(Yo, 'eave, Hic! . . . . Sheems ter me these Bolsh'vik ..... make yeh skicker'n yeh
'E wash a reel two-fisted bloke.
One o' them coves 'oo made a joke
O' swillin' rum - like the ole sea folk.
(You know shailors? - Ole shilly shellbacks - .... - dis'plin - all that short 'er
ole fash'n talk? Makes the service stink, Miss).
Eh? Wash at, Miss? It's af'er six?
An' yeh won't sherve drinksh?
We've done our tricks?
A'right! (Yo, 'eave ho, for a bot'ler) . . . Blast!
Bill, cut that song! It 'urts! Avast!
She's goin' out?? Hey, jump abroad!
Struth! Nearly missed! 'Eave up! Oh, Lord! . . .
Ah! Gimme a ship as a ship should be,
An' a sailor man as loves the sea!
Gimme a sight o' the sheelin' gull,
An' the wash a widenin' aft 'er hull.
An' - 'ere's a sign I'm findin' grace
I LIKES the look o' that bos'un's face!
Ah! Smell them breezes! Come on, Bill!
'Twas longshore dope. We're sailors still!
You And I
They say the eagle is a bird
That sees some splendid sights
When he soars high into the sky
Upon his dizzy flights:
He sees the ground for miles around
Our house, and Billy Johnson's;
But we can not be Eagles, for
That would, of course, be nonsense.
But you and I, some summer day,
Providing we're allowed,
Will go up in an aeroplane
And sail right through a cloud.
But, if they say we may not go,
We'll stay upon the ground
With other things that have no wings,
And watch them walk around.
They say the bottom of the sea
Is beautiful to view;
They say the fish, whene'er they wish,
Can sail and see 'it, too,.
The shining pearls, the coral curls,
The sharks, the squids, the schnappers,
And fish with fins (though not in tins)
And fish with funny flappers.
But you and I, some sunny day,
When weather's in condition,
Will go there in a submarine,
Providing we've permission.
But if they say we may not go
We must respect their wishes;
And you and I will just keep dry
Because we are not fishes.
They say to fly so very high
Is not exactly pleasant.
They say to go deep down below
Is not quite safe at present.
But you and I don't care for that,
And, if there's time for spending,
When work is done, we'll have our fun
By simply just pretending.
The earth is quite a jolly place,
And we don't care for flying;
And things that creep down in the deep
Are sometimes rather trying.
So, if they'll grant a holiday
Or even only half,
We'll lie upon some grassy place,
And think of things, and laugh.
The Hidden City
It was the schooner Desperate
That sailed the southern sea,
And the skipper had brought his little daughter
To our centenary.
Blue were her eyes and plucked her brow,
Where she wore a golden curl.
Yet, 'spite her looks, she was somehow
A shrewd, observant girl.
But and spake an old sailor
Who had been that way before
'I pray don't land at yonder port
Lest your girl count it a bore.
Last year the town had a handsome street,
This year no street we see.'
'Why?' asked the skipper. 'Poles,' said the tar.
And a sneering laugh laughed he.
For an alderman had spoken,
Who had known the ropes long since,
And he said, 'Where are them sticks an' rag
We had for that other Prince.
Let's stick 'em up in the street again.'
Said the mayor, 'Don't be a quince.
We'll have some new bright painted ones;
And let the aesthetes wince.'
'Father,' the skipper's daughter cried
'No fair city I see.'
'It is behind them decorations, lass
Them candy sticks you see.'
'But, father, why do they stand there,
All orange smeared and red,
Like garish clowns in a stately street?'
'Search me,' the skipper said.
'Oh, father! What are those nightmare things,
Those gadgets brightly lit?
Let us away on urgent wings,
Or I fear I'll have a fit.'
'Courage, my child,' the skipper said.
Curb your aesthetic sense,
And close your eyes and cover your head,
And I shall bear you hence.
'Come hither, come hither, my little daughter,
And do not tremble so.'
He wrapped her up in his seaman's coat.
'Come,' said he, 'let us go
Out where no poles or pylons are,
And no centenary,
To a scene that no man's hand may mar.'
And he steered for the open sea.
Fust Mate Joe
'E's a tough ole salt,
With a 'ide well tanned,
An' it ain't 'is fault
If the craft is manned
With a motley sort er crew.
An' it is a mixed-up crew.
But 'e's sailed, 'as 'e, on many a sea,
An' e's journeyed nigh an' fur;
'E's a tough ole, rough ole - not to mention gruff ole,
Bluff ole mar-i-ner
Fer 'e sailed among
The Labor Seas
When 'e wus young;
An' since that 'e's
Been on all sorts o' craft
And 'fore the mast 'o craft.
Fer ther ain't no boat that's bin afloat
As 'e don't know ev'ry spar;
This sly ole, fly ole, mind-yer-weather-eye ole,
Spry ole deep-sea tar.
Once in the ship
'E took a trip
As a 'fore-mast man,
An' e transhipped in mid-sea,
Went overside at sea.
Frum a Freetrade raft to a 'Tection craft
'E knows 'em stem to starn.
'E's ratin' as a great un at the art of navigatin',
An' 'e ain't got much to larn.
To watch 'im skip,
On 's nimble feet,
Frum ship to ship
Is a 'igh ole treat.
Fer 'e don't stop long on none.
A fair, long cruise on none.
But 'e's larned a lot from the points 'e got
Since 'is cruisin' fust began,
This saine old smarty, sail-with-any-party,
Now 'e's signed fust mate
Fer another trip,
Fer to naviprate
The Fusion ship;
An' a crazy craft she is.
An' a frail ole tub she is.
With a crew o' sorts from all the ports,
An' a chance o' mutinee.
But 'e'll see the vessel thro' it, if there's any man kin do it,
Fer a hard ole salt is 'e.
Fer the best o' mates
Is 'im thet's got
From the 'ole darn lot,
When the stormy winds do blow.
When the windy storms do blow.
On a Tory tramp 'is callin' damp
'E 'as managed to pursoo.
Now 'e 'as to larn twin-screw ways - with 'er nose a-pointin' two ways,
An' a fair ole rorty crew.
But 'is eye's glued tight
On the compass face,
An' 'e'll make a fight
Fer the anch'rin' place,
Fer the Harbor o' Recess.
There's a harbor at Recess.
An' 'e'll do it yet, with luck, you bet,
Fer 'e' allus bin at sea.
An' there ain't no glummer salt, lightly-go-an'-comer salt,
Rummer sort o'somer-salt than 'e.
Now, 'ere's my tip
Fer the Fusion ship,
An' I tells it straight an' square.
I'm a rare old tar
As nigh an' far
You'll not meet ev'rywhere.
I've seen 'er sail
In many a gale,
But she's done 'er final trip;
So I 'itches me breeches, an' a simple tale I pitches
O' this good ole Fusion ship.
'Twas Alf an' Joe,
Long years ago,
They built 'er any 'ow.
Twas a strange ole skiff
With 'er keel skew-wiff,
An' a double-ended bow.
Yus, a nose each end,
An' a grecian bend
Amidships, quaint an' queer.
When I seen 'er take the water, 'Ho!' ses I, 'she is a snorter!'
An' I gives a 'earty cheer.
An' sail she did.
But I'l lay ten quid
No ship, befor enor since,
Done 'ark 'er tricks;
'Er darned ole fix
'Ud make longshoremen wince.
She'd bob and bow,
The blamed old scow,
Like a wet an' foolish 'en;
An' 'er subsekint behav'er an' the effects fer to save 'er
Was a treat fer sialor-men.
An' Alf 'e was
'Er skipper, 'cos
No other could be got
To sail that craft!
An' fore an' aft
They was a rare ole lot.
So queer a crew
I never knew
An' Joe, 'e was fust mate.
An' to 'ear 'im scold and rate 'er, when 'e tried to navigate 'er -
Well, I tell yeh, it was great!
Fer some they said
To point 'er 'ead
Fer nor'-nor'-east by east,
Fer Tory Bay,
An' some said 'Nay,'
An' the langwidge never eased.
An' some they pressed
To sail doo west,
Fer the ole Freetection port.
An' the way she waltzed an' wobbled, while they 'owled an' fought an' squabbled.
Ho, I never seen sich sport!
An' poor ole Joe!
'Is watch below
Was mostly short an' sweet;
Fer 'e never knew
Wot time that crew
Might up an' change 'er beat.
But Alf, the boss,
'E took 'is doss,
An' 'e let 'er sail or stop;
Fer in days when seas was finer 'e was skipper of a liner,
An' 'e sorter felt the drop.
Now, she dropped at last
'Er anchor fast
In the 'arbor of Recess.
'Er sheets is tore,
An' 'er plates is wore,
An' she'll sail no more, I guess.
Alf got the pip
On 'er final trip,
An' there's some as said 'e swore
'E was sickened of 'er capers; so 'e 'anded in 'id papers,
An' she'll put to sea no more.
But it's 'ip, 'ip, 'ip!
fer the Fusion ship,
Fer the navigatin' 'en!
Since 'er cruise begun
She 'as give great fun
To us 'eart sailor-men.
We 'ave cheered an' laughed
An' joked an' chaffed
Since the day she put to sea;
So I takes a pull and 'itches (as our 'abit is) my breeches,
An' I give 'er three times three.
A Song Of Anzac
'When I'm sittin' in me dug-out, with me rifle on me knees,
An' a yowlin', 'owlin' chorus comes a-floatin' up the breeze
Just a bit o' 'Bonnie Mary'
Or 'Long Way to Tipperary'
Then I know I'm in Australia took an' planted overseas...'
So we sang in days remembered - fateful days of pain and war
When the young lads went forth singing, ship-bound for an unknown shore.
They were singing, ever singing, careless lads in careworn days,
Sturdy youths, but yet unblooded to red war's unholy ways.
From a land untouched by slaughter
Fared they forth across the water:
Some to Destiny's grim gateway where the scarlet poppy sways.
* * * *
'They were singin' on the troopship, they were singin' in the train;
When they left their land behind them they were shoutin' a refrain.
An' I'll bet they have a chorus
Gay an' glad in greetin' for us
When their bit of scrappin's over an' they sail back home again...'
So we sang to dull the aching that was looming even then
When the boys went out to battle, to come back stern fighting men.
So we strove to keep hope buoyant while they lived untouched by war,
But they came back, not with singing, when those anxious days were o'er
Disillusioned and war-weary,
And, for all their smiles were cheery,
Some came bitter, some came broken, some, they came back nevermore.
And today again they're marching, rugged veterans, grey and grave
These, who joined the carefree chorus, shouting many an olden stave
To the tramping cohorts' motion;
To the rolling of the ocean;
In their singing seeking kinship that high youth must ever crave.
Aye, today again they're marching with old faith and fellowship;
Grave and grey, with memory marching, but no song lifts to the lip.
Year by year the Boys are gathered; year by year the count grows fewer;
But the flame, new-lit on Anzac, goes before them burning pure;
And the Song of Anzac ringing
High above them, sounding, swinging,
Tells that memory of Anzac shall endure while these endure.
* * * *
They are marching with the old days, with the singing in their hearts,
With the memory of mateship that for not one hour departs:
Silent men, with sober faces,
Marking now the vacant places
Yearly growing, yearly showing where life ends and hope re-starts.
That trimphant Song of Anzac that the living Anzac hears -
Hears imperfectly and dimly,
As he tramps on gravely, grimly
Haunts the old familiar roadway he has trodden thro' the years.
Done are these with youth's vain dreaming who have yet to pay earth's price,
These who harked to young mates singing,
These who saw their young souls winging,
Ever singing, blithely singing, to the gates of Paradise.
The I'D Like To Be........ Series
I'd like to be a sailor - a sailor bold and bluff -
Calling out, "Ship ahoy!" in manly tones and gruff.
I'd learn to box the compass, and to reef and tack and luff;
I'd sniff and sniff the briny breeze and never get enough.
Perhaps I'd chew tobacco, or an old black pipe I'd puff,
But I wouldn't be a sailor if ...
The sea was very rough.
I'd like to be a porter, and always on the run,
Calling out, "Stand aside!" and asking leave of none.
Shoving trucks on people's toes, and having splendid fun,
Slamming all the carriage doors and locking every one -
And, when they asked to be let in, I'd say, "It can't be done."
But I wouldn't be a porter if ...
The luggage weighed a ton.
I'd like to be a Pieman, and ring a little bell,
Calling out, "Hot pies! Hot pies to sell!"
Apple-pies and Meat-pies, Cherry-pies as well,
Lots and lots and lots of pies - more than you can tell.
Big, rich Pork-pies! Oh, the lovely smell!
But I wouldn't be a Pieman if ...
I wasn't very well.
I'd like to be a barber, and learn to shave and clip,
Calling out, "Next please! and pocketing my tip."
All day I'd hear my scissors going, "Snip, Snip, Snip;"
I'd lather people's faces, and their noses I would grip
While I shaved most carefully along the upper lip.
But I wouldn't be a barber if ...
The razor was to slip.
I'd like to be a teacher, and have a clever brain,
Calling out, "Attention, please!" and "Must I speak in vain?"
I'd be quite strict with boys and girls whose minds I had to train,
And all the books and maps and things I'd carefully explain;
I'd make then learn the dates of kings, and all the capes of Spain;
But I wouldn't be a teacher if ...
I couldn't use the cane.
I'd like to be a postman, and walk along the street,
Calling out, "Good Morning, Sir," to gentlemen I meet,
Ringing every door-bell all along my beat,
In my cap and uniform so very nice and neat.
Perhaps I'd have a parasol in case of rain or heat;
But I wouldn't be a postman if ...
The walking hurt my feet.
I'd like to be a baker, and come when morning breaks,
Calling out, "Beeay-ko!" (that's the sound he makes) -
Riding in a rattle-cart that jogs and jolts and shakes,
Selling all the sweetest things a baker ever bakes;
Currant-buns and brandy-snaps, pastry all in flakes;
But I wouldn't be a baker if ...
I couldn't eat the cakes.
A sight that gives me much distress
Is George without his trousers,
Garbed, scantily, in bathing dress
Proscribed by saintly Wowsers,
And Gerty, gay and forward flirt,
Without the regulation shirt.
Though 'tis a fearsome sight, I ween,
When jam tins strew the shingle,
It is a far more shocking scene
When Bert and Benjy mingle
With Maude and Winnie in the wave;
It hurts to see them so behave.
The melancholy dead marine
Sown thick along the beaches,
The can that held the late sardine,
Or potted prawn, or peaches,
Are things of innocence beside
Gay Tom and Topsy in the tide.
I hold by stern morality,
Depite the worldings' scoffing,
And though it pains my soul to see
A fish tin in the offing,
'Tis naught beside the things I feel
Whene'er I hear Belinda squeal.
Indeed, this tin that held sardine
My sad soul sorely vexes.
The fish it harbored might have been
Unwed, and mixed in sexes!
Good brothers, can you wonder then,
That seaside damsels mix with men?
A pile of picnic scraps, 'tis true,
Can raise a mild commotion.
But what of John and Jane and Sue
Mixed in a single ocean?
A sight that stabs me to the heart
Is Billo smoodging with his tart.
But hark, my brothers, yester eve
I had a wondrous vision.
The sun was just about to leave,
With his well-known precision,
When I espied upon the sand
A tin with a familiar brand.
And, as I gazed, my limbs grew limp
And giddiness came o'er me;
For from it stepped a fish-like imp
That smirked and bowed before me!
His puckered features seemed to be
Awry with spite and devilry.
'Young man,' he said, 'You're wasting time.
Why do you sit there mooning?
So brave a youth, just in his prime,
Should find more joy in spooning.
For see! the ocean hath its pearls.
Go forth and mingle with the girls!'
And from the tins that lay about
Upon the silver shingle
I heard a wee shrill chorus shout,
'Young man, go forth and mingle!'
And then I knew each empty tin
Concealed its special imp within.
I know my eye grew wide and bright,
Despite a life ascetic,
And from the narrow path of right
I felt a tug magnetic,
That sought to draw me o'er the sand
Out to the siren-haunted strand.
I felt the red blood course anew,
I felt my pulses tingle;
And still the tiny chorus grew:
'Young man, go forth and mingle!' ....
Then, from the old, bashed can I saw
A lordly lobster wave a calw.
'Good fellow, have a care!' he said,
'Stray not from pathways upper!
I am the ghost of one long dead,
Slain for a sinful supper.
But once good works were done by me
Amongst the sinners of the sea.
'In life I roamed the vasty deep
Engaged upon a mission
Which was my fellow-fish to keep
From swimming to perdition.
Now I am dead' (his voice grew thin)
'Alas! they mingle in the tin!
'Beware the blood that bounds and leaps!
Your sinful feelings throttle.
Beware the imp that leers and peeps
From out each tin and bottle!
A submarine Chapzander speaks.
Beware when gay Belinda squeaks!'
Lo, as he spoke my blood grew chill,
The spell no longer bound me,
The impish chorus now was still
And silence reigned around me.
The ghostly lobster disappeared;
My heart of base desire was cleared.
But, like a man inspired, I saw
His cause for intervening.
His sad, sweet face, his waving claw
To me were full of meaning.
Indeed, a sainted fish was he,
A very Wowser of the sea.
You smile, good friend? But ah, be sure
'Tis not a theme for scoffing;
For well, too well, I know the lure
of fish tins in the offing.
A devil lurks inside each tine
To tempt unwary souls to sin.
And, top this day, I fell a thrill
'Mid tins upon the shingle;
I seem to hear that chorus shrill:
'Young man, go forth and mingle!'
And yet, 'tis naught to what I feel
Whene'er I hear Belinda squeal.
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.
Government muddles, departments dazed,
Fear and confusion wherever he gazed;
Order insulted, authority spurned,
Dread and distraction wherever he turned
Oh, the great King Splosh was a sad, sore king,
With never a statesman to straighten the thing.
Glus all importunate urging their claims,
With selfish intent and ulterior aims,
Glugs with petitions for this and for that,
Standing ten-deep on the royal door-mat,
Raging when nobody answered their ring -
Oh, the great King Splosh was a careworn king.
And he looked to the right, and he glanced to the left,
And he glared at the roof like a monarch bereft
Of his wisdom and wits and his wealth all in one;
And, at least once a minute, asked, 'What's to be done?'
But the Swanks stood around him and answered, with groans,
'Your majesty, Gosh is half buried in stones!'
'How now?' cried the King. 'Is there not in my land
One Glug who can cope with this dreadful demand:
A rich man, a poor man, a beggar man, thief
I reck not his rank so he lessen my grief
A soldier, a sailor, a - ' Raising his head,
With relief in his eye, 'Now, I mind me!' he said.
'I mind me a Tinker, and what once befel,
When I think, on the whole, he was treated not well.
But he shall be honoured, and he shall be famed
If he read me this riddle. But how is he named?
Some commonplace title, like-Simon?-No-Sym!
Go, send out my riders, and scour Gosh for him.'
They rode for a day to the sea in the South,
Calling the name of him, hand to the mouth.
They rode for a day to the hills in the East,
But signs of a tinker saw never the least.
Then they rode to the North thro' a whole day long,
And paused in the even to hark to a song.
'Kettles and pans! Kettles and pans!
Oh, who can show tresses like Emily Ann's?
Brown in the shadow and gold at the tips,
Bright as the smile on her beckoning lips.
Bring out your kettle! 0 kettle or pan!
So I buy me a ribband for Emily Ann.'
With his feet in the grass, and his back to a tree,
Merry as only a tinker can be,
Busily tinkering, mending a pan,
Singing as only a merry man can . . .
'Sym!' cried the riders. ' 'Tis thus you are styled?'
And he paused in his singing, and nodded and smiled.
Said he: 'Last eve, when the sun was low,
Down thro' the bracken I watched her go
Down thro' the bracken, with simple grace
And the glory of eve shone full on her face;
And there on the sky-line it lingered a span,
So loth to be leaving my Emily Arm.'
With hands to their faces the riders smiled.
'Sym,' they said - 'be it so you're styled
Behold, great Splosh, our sorrowing King,
Has sent us hither, that we may bring
To the palace in Gosh a Glug so named,
That he may be honoured and justly famed.'
'Yet,' said Sym, as he tinkered his can,
'What should you know of her, Emily Ann?
Early as cock-crow yester morn
I watched young sunbeams, newly born,
As out of the East they frolicked and ran,
Eager to greet her, my Emily Arm.'
'King Splosh,' said the riders, 'is bowed with grief;
And the glory of Gosh is a yellowing leaf.
Up with you, Tinker! There's work ahead.
With a King forsaken, and Swanks in dread,
To whom may we turn for the salving of man?'
And Sym, he answered them, 'Emily Ann.'
Said he: 'Whenever I watch her pass,
With her skirts so high o'er the dew-wet grass,
I envy every blade the bruise
It earns in the cause of her twinkling shoes.
Oh, the dew-wet grass, where this morn she ran,
Was doubly jewelled for Emily Ann.'
'But haste!' they cried. 'By the palace gates
A sorrowing king for a tinker waits.
And what shall we answer our Lord the King
If never a tinker hence we bring,
To tinker a kingdom so sore amiss?'
But Sym, he said to them, 'Answer him this:
'Every eve, when the clock chimes eight,
I kiss her fair, by her mother's gate:
Twice, all reverent, on the brow-
Once for a pray'r, and once for a vow;
Twice on her eyes that they may shine,
Then, full on the mouth because she's mine.''
'Calf!' sneered the riders. 'O Tinker, heed!
Mount and away with us, we must speed.
All Gosh is agog for the coming of Sym.
Garlands and greatness are waiting for him:
Garlands of roses, and garments of red
And a chaplet for crowning a conqueror's head.'
'Listen,' quoth Sym, as he stirred his fire.
'Once in my life have I known desire.
Then, Oh, but the touch of her kindled a flame
That burns as a sun by the candle of fame.
And a blessing and boon for a poor tinker man
Looks out from the eyes of my Emily Ann.'
Then they said to him, 'Fool! Do you cast aside
Promise of honour, and place, and pride,
Gold for the asking, and power o'er men
Working your will with the stroke of a pen?
Vexed were the King if you ride not with us.'
But Sym, he said to them, 'Answer him thus:
'Ease and honour and leave to live
These are the gifts that a king may give
'Twas over the meadow I saw her first;
And my lips grew parched like a man athirst
Oh, my treasure was ne'er in the gift of man;
For the gods have given me Emily Ann.'
'Listen,' said they, 'O you crazy Sym.
Roses perish, and eyes grow dim.
Lustre fades from the fairest hair.
Who weds a woman links arms with care.
But women there are in the city of Gosh -
Ay, even the daughters of good King Splosh. . .'
'Care,' said Sym, 'is a weed that springs
Even to-day in the gardens of kings.
And I, who have lived 'neath the tent of the skies,
Know of the flowers, and which to prize . . .
Give you good even! For now I must jog.'
And he whistled him once to his little red dog.
Into the meadow and over the stile,
Off went the tinker man, singing the while;
Down by the bracken patch, over the hill,
With the little red dog at the heel of him still.
And back, as he soberly sauntered along,
There came to the riders the tail of his song.
'Kettles and pots! Kettles and pans!
Strong is my arm if the cause it be man's.
But a fig for the cause of a cunning old king;
For Emily Ann will be mine in the Spring.
Then nought shall I labour for Splosh or his plans;
Tho' I'll mend him a kettle. Ho, kettles and pans!'
He was a Glug of simple charm;
He wished no living creature harm.
His kindly smile like sunlight fell
On all about, and wished them well.
Yet, 'spite the cheerful soul of Sym,
The great Sir Stodge detested him.
The stern Sir Stodge and all his Swanks -
Proud Glugs of divers grades and ranks,
With learning and attainments great
Had never learned to conquer hate.
And, failing in their A. B. C.,
Were whipt by Master Destiny.
'Twas thus that Gosh's famous schools
Turned out great hordes of learned fools:
Turned out the ship without a sail,
Turned out the kite with leaden tail,
Turned out the mind that could not soar
Because of foolish weights it bore.
Because there'd been no father Joi
To guide the quick mind of a boy
Away from thoughts of hate and blame,
Wisdom in these was but a name.
But 'mid the Glugs they count him wise
Who walks with cunning in his eyes.
His task well done, his three rhymes writ,
Sym rose at morn, and packed his kit.
'At last!' he cried. 'Off and away
To meet again the spendthrift Day,
As he comes climbing in the East,
To bless with largesse man and beast.
'Again the fields where wild things run!
And trees, all spreading to the sun,
Run not, because, of all things blest,
Their chosen place contents them best.
0 come, my little prick-eared dog!' . . .
But, 'Halt!' exclaimed his Nibs of Quog.
'Nay,' said the Mayor. 'Not so fast!
The day climbs high, but sinks at last.
And trees, all spreading to the sun,
Are slain because they cannot run.
The great Sir Stodge, filled full of hate,
Has challenged you to hold debate.
'On Monday, in the Market Square,
He and his Swanks will all be there,
Sharp to the tick at half-past two,
To knock the stuffing out of you.
And if your stuffing so be spread,
Then is the Cause of Quog stone dead.
'In this debate I'd have you find,
With all the cunning of your mind,
Sure victory for Quog's great Cause,
And swift defeat for Stodge's laws.'
'But cunning I have none,' quoth Sym.
The Mayor slowly winked at him.
'Ah!' cried his Worship. 'Sly; so sly!'
(Again he drooped his dexter eye)
'I've read you thro'; I've marked you well.
You're cunning as an imp from Hell . . .
Nay, keep your temper; for I can
Withal admire a clever man.
'Who rhymes with such a subtle art
May never claim a simple part.
I'll make of you a Glug of rank,
With something handy in the bank,
And fixed opinions, which, you know,
With fixed deposits always go.
'I'll give you anything you crave:
A great, high headstone to your grave,
A salary, a scarlet coat,
A handsome wife, a house, a vote,
A title, or a humbled foe.'
But Sym said, 'No,' and ever, 'No.'
'Then,' shouted Quog, 'your aid I claim
For Gosh, and in your country's name
I bid you fight the Cause of Quog,
Or be for ever named a dog!
The Cause of Quog, the weal of Gosh
Are one! Amen. Down with King Splosh!'
Sym looked his Worship in the eye,
As solemnly he made reply:
'If 'tis to serve my native land,
On Monday I shall be at hand.
But what am I 'mid such great men?'
His Worship winked his eye again . . .
'Twas Monday in the Market Square;
Sir Stodge and all his Swanks were there.
And almost every Glug in Gosh
Had bolted lunch and had a wash
And cleaned his boots, and sallied out
To gloat upon Sir Stodge's rout.
And certain sly and knowing Glugs,
With sundry nudges, winks and shrugs,
Passed round the hint that up on high,
Behind some window near the sky,
Where he could see yet not be seen,
King Splosh was present with his Queen.
'Glugs,' said the chairman. 'Glugs of Gosh;
By order of our good King Splosh,
The Tinker and Sir Stodge shall meet,
And here, without unseemly heat,
Debate the question of the day,
Which is - However, let me say -
'I do not wish to waste your time.
So, first shall speak this man of rhyme;
And, when Sir Stodge has voiced his view,
The Glugs shall judge between the two.
This verdict from the folk of Gosh
Will be accepted by King Splosh.'
As when, like teasing vagabonds,
The sly winds buffet sullen ponds,
The face of Stodge grew dark with rage,
When Sym stepped forth upon the stage.
But all the Glugs, with one accord,
A chorus of approval roared.
Said Sym: 'Kind friends, and fellow Glugs;
My trade is mending pots and mugs.
I tinker kettles, and I rhyme
To please myself and pass the time,
Just as my fancy wandereth.'
('He's minel' quoth Stodge, below his breath.)
Said Sym: 'Why I am here to-day
I know not; tho' I've heard them say
That strife and hatred play some part
In this great meeting at the Mart.
Nay, brothers, why should hatred lodge . . .
'That's ultra vires!' thundered Stodge.
''Tis ultra vires!' cried the Knight.
'Besides, it isn't half polite.
And e'en the dullest Glug should know,
'Tis not pro bono publico.
Nay, Glugs, this fellow is no class.
Remember! Vincit veritas!'
With sidelong looks and sheepish grins,
Like men found out in secret sins,
Glug gazed at Glug in nervous dread;
Till one with claims to learning said,
'Sir Stodge is talking Greek, you know.
He may be bad, but never low.'
Then those who had no word of Greek
Felt lifted up to hear him speak.
'Ah, learning, learning,' others said.
'Tis fine to have a clever head.'
And here and there a nervous cheer
Was heard, and someone growled, 'Hear, hear.'
'Kind friends,' said Sym . . . But, at a glance,
The 'cute Sir Stodge had seen his chance.
'Quid nuncl' he cried. 'O noble Glugs,
This fellow takes you all for mugs.
I ask him, where's his quid pro quo?
I ask again, quo warranto?
'Shall this man filch our wits from us
With his furor poeticus?
Nay!' cried Sir Stodge. 'You must agree,
If you will hark a while to me
And at the Glugs' collective head
He flung strange language, ages dead.
With mystic phrases from the Law,
With many an old and rusty saw,
With well-worn mottoes, which he took
Haphazard from the copy-book,
For half an hour the learned Knight
Belaboured them with all his might.
And, as they wakened from their daze,
Their murmurs grew to shouts of praise.
Glugs who'd reviled him overnight
All in a moment saw the light.
'O learned man! 0 seer!' cried they. . . .
And education won the day.
Then, quickly to Sir Stodge's side
There bounded, in a single stride,
His Nibs of Quog; and flinging wide
His arms, 'O victory!' he cried.
'I'm with Sir Stodge, 0 Glugs of Gosh!
And we have won! Long live King Splosh!'
Then pointing angrily at Sym,
Cried Quog, 'This is the end of him!
For months I've marked his crafty dodge,
To bring dishonour to Sir Stodge.
I've lured him here, the traitrous dog,
And shamed him!' quoth his Nibs of Quog.
Hoots for the Tinker tore the air,
As Sym went, wisely, otherwhere.
Cheers for Sir Stodge were long and loud;
And, as amid his Swanks he bowed,
To mark his thanks and honest pride,
His Nibs of Quog bowed by his side.
The Thursday after that, at three,
The King invited Quog to tea.
Quoth Quog, 'It was a task to bilk . . .
(I thank you; sugar, please, and milk) . . .
To bilk this Tinker and his pranks.
A scurvy rogue! . . . (Ah, two lumps, thanks.)
'A scurvy rogue!' continued Quog.
'Twas easy to outwit the dog.
Altho', perhaps, I risked my life
I've heard he's handy with a knife.
Ah, well, 'twas for my country's sake . . .
(Thanks; just one slice of currant cake.)'