The Pallid Cuckoo
Dolefully and drearily
Come I with the spring;
Wearily and cerily
My threnody I sing.
Hear my drear, discordant note
Sobbing, sobbing in my throat,
Weaving, wailing thro' the wattles
Where the builders are a-wing.
Outcast and ostracized,
By the feathered world despised,
Chased from tree to tree.
Nought to do the summer thro',
My woeful weird a dree;
Singing, 'Pity, ah, pity,
I'm the menace and the warning,
In the harmony of morning
Out of tune am I-
Out of tune and out of work,
Meanly 'mid the leaves I lurk,
Fretfully to sing my sorrow,
Furtively to spy.
Outcast and desolate,
Earning ever scorn and hate
For my treachery.
Shiftless drone, I grieve alone,
To a mournful key
Singing, 'Sorrow, ah, sorrow!
Tho we seem to reach the turning
And the Government is yearning
To brings us swift releif, and make a cut
In the burden of the taxes,
As fond hope within us waxes
Sounds, like the knell of doom, the fatal 'but.'
Oh, that stultifying 'but'!
Every avenue is shut
That leads to that Nirvana that men must believe in still;
And a tantalising star
Gleams as ever yet afar,
As we trudge the weary, winding road that ever goes uphill.
Who can doubt the skies are clearing?
Who can doubt good days are nearing?
We are climbing from depression's gloomy rut.
Now from tax relief we'll borrow
Gladness, and, today, tomorrow
At the latest, end our sorrow surely - but -
Oh, the aggravating 'but'!
When the poor tax-paying mutt
Builds his pretty house of dreams where gold becomes a glut,
Some prosaic politician
Coldly lights the whole position
With the cold, hard light of truth, and dreams go phut!
The Farmer's Lament
'The backbone of the country and the salt of all the earth'
That was how they styled us when the farmer had his worth.
But what's his valuation now, when times are pretty thin?
Two bob a dozen, an' the garments given in.
We made the country's money an' we paid the country's way,
We raised the wealth for cities from the farm thro' many a day;
But what's the price of farmers now the profits disappeared?
Two bob a dozen, an' a bonus on the beard.
They'll pay to patch machinery or cure old Dobbin's sprain;
But they cannot spare a stiver when the farmer gets a pain;
For what's the use o' mendin' him when all he's valued at
Is two bob a dozen, if he's nice an' prime an' fat.
But the farmer ain't repinin', tho' his price is down an' out.
There's a good time comin' soon without the smallest doubt;
But, till the world wins sanity, he's got to be content
With two bob a dozen, cash with order ten per cent.
The Little Black Cormorant
By inlet and islet and wide river reaches,
By lake and lagoon I'm at home,
Yet oft' the far forests of blue-gum and beeches
About the broad ranges I roam,
'There's a strange, sombre bird with a hook in his beak.'
'Tis the little black cormorant raiding your creek.
And woe to the fisher and woe to the fishes
A gourmand I freely confess
When I come a-searching for succulent dishes,
Arrayed in my funeral dress,
Then the fishermen rave, and in anger they speak:
'There's a little black cormorant coming up creek!'
But I'm quick and I'm cunning, as many a greyling,
A blackfish, a trout or a bream
Has known to his sorrow when down I go sailing
To hunt him beneath the dark stream.
To my cavernous maw then they all come alike,
And 'tis death should the little black cormorant strike.
But I am an outlaw. I'm hunted and harried,
I'm banned from the havens of men.
And woe is to me if to long I have tarried
A shot o'er the waters - and then,
There is reason indeed for my funeral dress,
For, alas, here's a little black cormorant less.
A New Year Thought
Brother, who on some near morrow
Makes a pledge conceived in sorrow
Makes a New Year resolution
Seeking plenary ablution.
Makes a vow to cease from sinning
With this New Year's beginning
Here's a thought to give you gladness,
Here's relief from old year sadness.
Brother, you and I are men.
We have sinned; and yet again
Shall we sin. An old year's dying
Still shall find us ever trying.
Yet here is a thought worth knowing,
While our wild oats we are sowing,
Sowing where we may not reap
Here's a thought to have and keep.
Why waste effort in our sinning,
For no goodlier grace we're winning?
Let our failings serve an end
That shall stand us as a friend.
But when we make resolutions
Bets of New Year institutions
Let us heed the later breaking
In an effort of their making.
Thus, philosophy is giving
Some excuse for our loose living.
For, while these resolves we make
Now to hold, and now to break,
We are in our misbehaving
Helping greatly with the paving
Built of potsherd, scrap and shred
That we'll some day have to tread.
There's a moral in this: tho' I own that the preaching
Of moral and maxim in season and out
Grows stale; yet these days of depressions far-reaching
Demand any means to put worry to rout.
So in that menagerie now populated
By home-coming chickens and wolves upon mats
Consider, when finally doubt's dissipated
How often our tigers turn out to be cats.
Three-fourths of our troubles some Frenchman has told us,
But seldom occur. Tho' the ills of the mind
Loom forth as fierce tigers while doubts yet unfold us,
They turn into cats once we've put them behind.
How often the dread of some darkened tomorrow
Has ruined today; till, at Time's urgent call,
Tomorrow's false fears become yester's small sorrow
Innocuous cats, and not tigers at all.
So, here is the moral - just take it or leave it.
It doesn't much matter, you'll scorn it, no doubt.
Yet here is a truth and, if men don't receive it
I've still done my duty in pointing it out.
False troubles, false tigers engender false fearing;
So use the grey matter close under your hat
And, as you fare forth thro' life's dark forests peering,
Go armed against tigers - but still expect cats.
The Alternative - 1908
If, some day, you should find me, cold and stark
If you should stumble o'er my lifeless clay
In some still thoroughfare or public park
And sadly say:
'Alack, and had he lived, as like as not
He'd reigned with Bent!' I should not care a jot.
If I should die in some by-way obscure,
And you should come across my silent corse
In its last sleep, my spirit would - be sure
Know no remorse.
'Twere better that I thus had ceased to live
If life with Bent were the alternative.
I say, if I should die, and all alone;
And, dying thus, escape the wiles of Bent;
O'er my remains I'd have you make no moan,
Nor yet lament.
But let relief be mingled with your woe;
And murmur o'er my clay, ''Twere better so.'
Nay, if you came, as in my bier I lay,
And sald, 'Who knows? If this had not occurred'
I should arise in my grave-clothes and say,
'Don't be absurd!'
And, being safely out of Tommy's reach,
I'd probably get out and make a speech.
I'd tell you, 'Better have a monument
Above my head and, coffined, lie at rest
Than live in some Cabinet with Bent
Upon my chest.'
And, having said all that was to he said,
I should continue being very dead.
Armistice Day 1933
This we have said: 'We shall remember them.'
And deep our sorrow while the deed was young.
Even as David mourned for Absolem
Mourned we, with aching heart and grievous tongue.
Yet, what man grieves for long? Time hastens by
And ageing memory, clutching at its hem,
Harks back, as silence falls, to gaze and sigh;
For we have said, 'We shall remember them.'
'Age shall not wither...' So the world runs on.
We grieve, and sleep, and wake to laugh again;
And babes, untouched by pain of days long gone,
Untaught by sacrifice, grow into men.
What should these know of darkness and despair,
Of glory, now seen dimly, like a gem
Glowing thro' dust, that we let gather there?-
We who have said, 'We shall remember them.'
Grey men go marching down this street today:
Grave men, whose ranks grow pitifully spare.
Into the West each year they drift away
From silence into silence over there.
Unsung, unnoticed, quietly they go,
Mayhap to rest; mayhap a diadem
To claim, that was denied them here below
By those who vowed, 'We shall remember them.'
'We shall remember them.' This have we said.
Nor sighs, nor silences devoutly planned
Alone shall satisfy the proud young dead;
But all things that we do to this their land
Aye, theirs; not ours; of this be very sure;
Theirs, too, the right to credit or condemn.
And, if the soul they gave it shall endure,
Well may we say, 'We have remembered them.'
On With The Dance!
Hi, Cockalorum! But - Misery me!
What is the aftermath going to be?
With joy at its zenith and sorrow its least,
I am the skeleton come to the feast.
Now the centenary swells over all,
I am the writing aglow on the wall:
Eat, drink and make merry. Eat, drink and make merry.
Hip, hip. Cockahoop! And alack-a-day derry!
I am the spoil-sport a-gnawing his nails,
Boding disaster when merriment fails.
Dance, little lady; oh, dance while you may,
Shout ye, good gentlemen. Merry's the day!
Sorrow is looming.
Hear the far booming.
The ghouls and the ghosts are a-groaning and glooming.
Today for the dancing, the love and the laughter,
But what of the morning after? Aye!
Happy-go-lucky! But - Misery me.
What is the aftermath going to be?
Away with the skeleton! Deep in his grave
Ram him and cram him and make him behave.
We are the merry men, born of the sun;
And this second century, fitly begun
Shall never mark back to follies of eld -
To ills and to errors past centuries held
This is our century, shining and splendid,
When spectres are banished and ill dreams are ended.
Never false fear, as of old, shall bedim it.
There isn't an ending, there isn't a limit
To joy in our gifts that are rained from above.
There isn't a finish to friendship and love -
Love of good laughter, good friends and good living.
There isn't an end to the gain from free giving.
A fig for the pessimist, moaning mumchance!
There isn't an aftermath. On with the dance!
Fruits Of Victory
These be the fruits, O man who would out-loom
The proudest Caesar of Rome's proudest story,
When legion after legion marched to doom
That one man might be clothed in briefest glory;
Torn bodies, bloody fields and the rank lees
Of Conquest's maddening draft, and so a nation,
Fat with much spoil and many victories,
Drifted into decay and desolation.
These be the fruits: Dead men who die in vain,
Maimed broken men, to living death surrendered,
A myriad stricken homes to mourn the slain
Men? Cannon-fodder to the War God tendered,
Deluded boys, primed with vainglorious dreams
Of flashing steel, romance - war's outworn story
Sent forth to gasp young lives out in foul streams
Of fetid gas - meet attributes of glory!
These be the fruits: This tortured shred of flesh,
Lately a youth, with youth's bright gifts scarce tasted
Sent to the shambles, while, still clear and fresh
In minds of men, the Lesson lingers, wasted
The Lesson tought but lately; and so plain,
That even fools its wisdom here might borrow;
For victor and for vanquished, war's sole gain
Lies in long after years of pain and sorrow.
Fruits? Dead-sea fruits, most bitter with the taste
Of all war's grim bequest of worse confusion.
God and men's bodies, fruitful earth laid waste
Not in dire need, but for a vain delusion,
And, in the end, a tinsel god who prates
Of hollow victories, crying, 'Tomorrow
Shall we triumphant rise!' While at the gates
Lurks a land's heritage - relentless Sorrow.
The Creed Of Old George Jones
A little of fretting, a little of getting,
A little of slaving and saving, may be;
A little of spending, a little of lending
And giving up living be easy and free:
But a man gathers, and all a man owns
Goes out at the finish (said old George Jones)
Like a spark in the dark, and the sum of his trying,
A name and a memory drifting and dying.
A little of blund'ring, a little of wond'ring,
A little of scheming and dreaming when young;
A little of grieving; a little believing,
In secret, strange things that come slow to the tongue;
For every man is a being apart,
And none may look deep in his fellow-man's heart
Scholars and strangers, chance met in life's college;
But tolerance grows with the sum of our knowledge.
And I, who have tarried o'er long with the living,
Have come to a creed that gives hope of content;
In getting and spending is grief; but in giving
Is all that this riddle of life ever meant.
For life is a riddle; an, tho' I grow old,
Still fit as a fiddle, to one creed I hold:
'Tis getting moves man while to life he is cleaving;
But giving looms large when it comes to his leaving.
A little of sorrow, of plans for tomorrow,
A little of helping the weak and the fool;
A little of laughter, and all that comes after
Is one lesson learned in life's arduous school,
For all a man gathers, and all a man owns
But ends in a heartache (said old George Jones),
Like a spark in the dark comes an end to his living,
And all that live after, the sum of his giving.
I said goodbye to the bees last Friday week,
To blooms, and to things like these, for Winter bleak
Was shouting loud from the hills, and flinging high
His gossamer net that fills frail Autumn's sky.
So I said goodbye to the bees; for I knew that soon
I should bask no more 'neath the trees on some high noon
And hark to the drowsy hum close overhead.
For the cold and rain must come, now Summer's dead.
So I wallowed a while in woe and wooed unease;
And I rather liked it so; for it seemed to please
Some clamoring inner urge - some need apart,
And I felt self-pity surge, here, in my heart
As I said goodbye to the bees, my tireless friends
Who toil mid the flowers and the trees till daylight ends
Who toil in the sun, yet seem to find no irk,
While I loll in the shade and dream; for I do love work.
Ah, fate and the falling leaf! How dear is woe.
How subtly sweet is grief (Synthetic). So
I said goodbye to the bees; and then I wrote
This crown of threhodies, while in my throat
I choked back many a sob and salt tears spent.
But I felt I'd done my job, and was content.
For I'd penned my piece to the bees - the poet's tosh
Of the Autumn's drear unease. Ah, me! Oh, gosh!
I said goodbye to the bees last Friday week....
Then the tempest shook the trees, the swollen creek
Went thundering down to the plain, the wind shrieked past,
And the cold, and the wet, wet rain were here at last....
Then, a hot sun, scorning rules, shone forth, alack!
And those blundering, blithering fools, the bees came back,
Humming a song inance in the rain-washed trees. . . .
Now it's all to do again. . . . Oh, blast the bees!
The Gloomy Victorian
Where is this glum Victorian
This man of mien forlorn
Fit but for some historian
To heap with heavy scorn?
I've sought him up an down the street
Thro' labyrinthine ways,
Wherever men and maidens meet;
By road or rail, or on two feet
I've searched for him for days.
I've looked for him where business cares
Weigh down on every rank,
Seeking to catch him unawares
In tears upon the office stairs;
Yet ever drew a blank
I've sought him in the hinterland
On Sunny Saturdays.
He smiled a while and waved his hand
Amid his draughts and drays,
And said, 'Excuse me: I must catch
This bus to see a football match,'
And gaily went his ways.
In palaces and picture shows
Where e'er a soul for solace goes
I've hunted him; and goodness knows
He seemed too gay by half;
And neither consciousness of sin
Nor sorrow kept his gladness in;
For, truth to tell, his silly grin
Fled only for a laugh.
Where is this glum Victorian
Man of the brooding eye?
His story, tho' a hoary 'un
I've failed to verify.
I've sought him on the sandy beach,
Mid shining sheik and perfect peach;
But he was never there.
I've sought him in the gleaming bush
Mid many a merry hiking push,
And moaned in my despair.
I've sought him him on the sunlit course
Doing his dough on some slow horse,
And glimpsed a gloomy note.
But swiftly, moved by some queer force,
He grinned, and backed without remorse
Another hairy goat ....
Then hopeless, haggard and distraught,
I met a ragged man
And pitifullyhim besought
To tell me where he might be caught,
This glum Victorian.
He looked me up, he looked me down
And, tho' he seemed a sorry clown,
A merry smile replaced his frown
As thus to me he spoke:
'So far, I ain't met such 'tis true,'
Said he; 'but, by the looks of you,
I reckon you're the bloke.'
Old Town Types No. 26 - Dr. Andy Deveraux
Some saw in him a Scottish wreck; some said that he was mad;
A few proclaimed his genius, but all agreed 'twas sad
That Doctor Andy Deveraux had let things slide so far.
'A mighty clever cove,' they said, 'but weak, and - there you are.'
For down at Paddy Clancy's bar you find him night or day,
A silent and sardonic man, who went his bitter way.
'Last night,' some housewife would exclaim, 'I thought I'd seen a ghost;
'Twas that awful Doctor Deveraux, going home by post.'
'Going home by post,' they said. A sorry township jest;
Long since had Clancy tackled him, and had to give him best.
''Tis under this 'Blackfeller's Act' I'll put yeh! Not a sup!'
But the bitter tongue had lashed him till he gladly gave it up.
So Deveraux would drink alone, brooding, till wits grew dense,
Then sought his own home, late at night, along the three-wire fence;
From post to post, in staggering spurts, he made his shameful way.
'Doc's going home by post,' men sneered. 'Broke out again today.'
None knew his story in the town nor, clearly, whence he came;
Nor yet what foul thing rode him - what sorrow or what shame -
To cause a once fine, brilliant mind (as his degrees inferred),
Its urge to brief forgetfulness. And Deveraux spoke no word.
Long since, kind Doctor Littlejohn had sought to play the friend,
To meet a wall of fierce reserve, and get snubbed in the end.
So age and drink took Deveraux, and he sank down and down,
To be a thing for men's contempt, the butt of half the town.
Some say it was a drunken freak; some say a hero's act,
An epic of self-sacrifice. Yet there remains the fact
That there's a tale in that old town men tell until today,
And I have gained thro' hearsay, for I'd been long away.
The details are a little vague - a garbled tale and wild,
Of how the drunken Deveraux died to save a stricken child.
And whether by the truth or by tradition 'twas devised,
I only know that there today he has been canonised.
The Spotted Heifers
Mr Jeremiah Jeffers
Owned a pair of spotted heifers
These he sold for two pounds ten
To Mr Robert Raymond Wren
Who reared them in the lucerne paddocks
Owned by Mr Martin Maddox,
And sold them, when they grew to cows,
To Mr Donald David Dowse.
A grazier, Mr Egbert Innes,
Bought them then for twenty guineas,
Milked the cows, and sold the milk
To Mr Stephen Evan Silk.
Who rents a butter factory
From Mr Laurence Lampard-Lee.
Here, once a week, come for his butter
The grocer, Mr Roland Rutter,
Who keeps a shop in Sunny Street
Next door to Mr Peter Peat.
He every afternoon at two
Sent his fair daughter, Lucy Loo,
To Mr Rutter's shop to buy
Such things as were not priced too high,
Especially a shilling tin
Of "Fuller's Food for Folk Too Thin."
This food was bought for Lucy Loo -
A girl of charming manners, who
Was much too pale and much too slight
To be a very pleasant sight.
When Lucy Loo beheld the butter
Stocked by Mr Roland Rutter,
She said, "I'll have a pound of that."
She had it, and thenceforth grew fat.
We now we go back to Mr Jeffers,
Who sold the pair of spotted heifers.
He had a son, James Edgar John,
A handsome lad to gaze upon,
Who had now reached that time of life
When young men feel they need a wife;
But no young girl about the place
Exactly had the kind of face
That seemed to suit James Edgar John -
A saddening thing to think upon,
For he grew sad and sick of life
Because he could not find a wife.
One day young James was passing by
(A look of sorrow in his eye)
The shop of Mr Roland Rutter,
When Lucy Loo came out with butter.
At once James Edgar John said, "That
Is just the girl for me! She's fat."
He offered her his heart and hand
And prospects of his father's land.
The Reverend Saul Sylvester Slight
Performed the simple marriage rite.
The happy couple went their way,
And lived and loved unto this day.
Events cannot be far foreseen;
And all ths joy might not have been
If Mr Jeremiah Jeffers
Had kept his pair of spotted heifers.
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.
Ladies and gentlemen: I take this opportunity
To introduce myself and mention that, much as we may deplore the fact, we are
essentially an agricultural community
Altho' in our metropolitan centres, millions may live and toil.
Most of us, directly or indirectly, exist by, thro', on and for the soil;
Our outlook is largely directed upon crops, prices, profits and 'The Main Chance,'
So that we rarely discover time or opportunity to glance
At the fine arts and higher culture of this and older lands, and gather unto
ourselves the satisfaction such contemplation lends
Therefore our guides, philosophers, mentors, leaders, teachers, and friends
Declare that, amongst the toilers of our race,
Such contemplation is utterly out of place.
And (altho' this may seem rather funny)
One cannot definitely enjoy 'culchaw' unless one is - now - possessed of
leisure and money.
To encourage it in the Common People is a vain and profitless thing.
Wherefore, I sing:-
The plough's in the furrow,
The cow's at the bail;
We delve and we burrow,
For nought may avail
Save toil thro' the seasons,
These, these be the reasons
For all our employ.
The mute Mona Lisa,
Such trifles as these are
Things quite, quite apart.
On, on with life's battle;
Wring sweat from the brow.
What's culture to cattle?
What's art to a cow?
To resume, ladies and gentlemen, the more comprehensible form of discourse I
had temporarily forsaken,
Is it not possible that our mentors, censors et al. may be sadly mistaken?
Or, stay, is it conceivable that they would lock and bar our halls of art and
culture at night
Lest the Common People might,
By some strange chance, absorb so much of the capacity for appreciation that
they would, in time, be able to patronise us?
Nay, even to advise us?
On certain aesthetic matters which - Perish the thought! For who would have
To vulgarise all Art?
For, consider; how were it possible to feel superior
When none remains any longer who, as one comfortably recognises, is inferior.
And so, for evermore,
Bar, bar and bolt the door
Of our Temple which enshrines works for the edification only of superior
Lock, lock and double lock those portals!
Hide from vulgar gaze the treasures that therein lurk -
Except, of course, during those hours when the toilers are at work.
Melbourne, my Melbourne! Never let the souls of thy earthbound people into
the rarer regions take wing!
Wherefore, again, I sing:-
The swine's in his wallow,
Fat porkers are prime;
Then follow, come, follow,
'Tis lamb-tailin' time!
All golden the butter,
There's market for meat;
Tho' Mallee men mutter
Of smut in the wheat.
But 'paintin'' and pitcher'?
(Franz Hals, he was Dutch)
Ah, who grows the richer
For gawping at such?
A 'pitcher' by Carot?
A 'statcher' - all 'nood'?
One fills you with sorrow;
The other is 'rood.'
We toil for men's bodies,
Our minds all a-fog.
What's paintin' to poddies?
What's art to a hog?
A New Damon And Pythias
So, brother, I am out and yu are in.
Farewell, farewell, to all my splendor bright!
Yet, just to know 'tis you, dear Agar Wynne,
Tinges my melancholy with delight.
Indeed, I find it very hard to go;
Yet pleasure surely mingles with my woe.
Ay, you are in, and I am in - the soup!
For me the shades; for you the favored place.
Yet doth it cheer me when my spirits droop
Just to behold yur ever welcome face.
Aside. (But by the gods, just give me half a show,
The merest chance to kick, and out you go!)
Sweet Frazer, though I ill disguise my joy
In winning thus to fame, despite my foes;
It pains me to the heart, my dear old boy,
To think 'tis you whom I must so depose.
Nay, but it brings the hot tears to mine eyes,
To know that you must sink that I may rise.
Agar is in, and Charles is out, you say.
Tis sure a cruel fortune wills it so.
My joy is clouded o'er with grief to-day.
Because, my dear old friend, you have to go.
Aside. (But, give me strength, and I shall scheme and plan
To keep you out for ever, if I can!)
Dear Agar, when I gaze into your eyes,
Those kindly orbs whose depths so well I know,
Nay, I am filled with wonder and surprise
That I did not resign long years ago.
For who is Charles, to hold a place on high,
When such a man as Agar Wynne is by?
Indeed, the sorrow I so lately felt
Has given place to purest joy alone:
For now, at last, discerning Fate has dealt
Bare justice, and you sit upon my throne.
Aside. (But give me half a chance, that's all I crave;
I'll dig with joy your Legislative grave!)
Nay, rare Charles Edward, 'tis your blind regard
For him you love prompts that unselfish speech.
Ah, would that Fate - blind Fate, so doubly hard
Had never placed these sweets within my reach!
If 'twere not for my Party, friend, I'd say,
'Cleave you to office, Charles; I will away.'
Forgive these tears; for mow my joy has flown.
And in its stead comepangs of dull despair.
Ah, could I but contrive, my friend, mine own!
To yield you of my triumph en'en a share!
Aside. (Now, by the Sacred Fuse, you've got the sack
And I'll raise Cain to stop your gettingback.)
Agar! These tears are tears of sorrow rare!
My past neglect of you brings keen regret.
Dear Charles, if you've s kerchief you could spare,
Pray lend it me. Mine own is sopping wet.
Both, aside. (Now, having pulled his leg, I shall retire
And, to confound him, with my friends conspire.)
Exit both, apparently in tears, but eyeing each other furtively from
behind their respective handkerchiefs.
UNIMPORTANT CLERK (Advancing):
Well, spare my days! Of all the blessed guff!
And if, next week, Wynne's out and Frazer's in.
They'll probably dish up the same old stuff,
While honest men can only stand and grin.
More change! More toil! More worry for our sins!
A plague on all their childish Outs and INs!
Now must we shed the Labor livery,
And learn new manners in the Lib'ral school.
And, mayhap, in a twelve-month we shall be
Once more returned unto the Labor rule.
Oh, that the gods would blast such tricks as these,
And send this land Elective Ministries!
Bell rings. Exit.
The Disillusioned Fuse
Beneath a lamp in Spring-street, on a recent calm spring night,
I came unwittingly upon a most pathetic sight;
A sorry spectacle of woe - a limp, despondent Bloke
Who leaned against a post and sobbed and said his heart was broke!
'I've lorst me trust in 'uman men; I've done me dash ter-day;
Fer my own cobber's done me in, and guv me game away!'
'Nay, nay,' said I, 'cheer up, good Bloke. The prospect may look blue;
But Fate is wont to deal hard knocks to folk like me and you.
Remember, men have fought and won an uphill fight before,
Pray, tell me what's befallen you that you should grieve so sore.
Say, has your wife deserted you, or have you lost your tin?'
But still the Bloke said bitterly: 'Me cobber's done me in!'
'Me moniker's Deakook,' he said, 'but blokes calls me 'The Fuse.'
(Oh, 'struth! I nearly dropped me bundle when I 'eard the noos!)
I gets a job o' work to do - a real soft cop it wus,
With no foreman over me ter see 'ow much I does,
Excep' some coves they calls the Press - a noisy sorter crew
Thet allus nags an' growls at yer no matter watcher do.
'Some wanted this, some wanted that, an' uvers wanted bofe.
Thinks I, 'Between 'em all it's up ter me ter do a loaf.'
So I jus' took ter sittin' round all day an' crackin' jokes,
An' dealin' out a bit o' stoush ter Opposition blokes.
There wus a press cove called the HAGE took ter me frum the first;
But blimey' - (Here the poor Bloke sobbed as though his heart would burst.)
'Yuss, frum the first 'e took ter me, an' we wus goin' fine,
Until I come ter look on 'im as quite a pal o' mine.
Fer when 'e sez, 'You'll 'ave ter graft on this 'ere job, yer know,'
I winks an' murmurs 'Dicken,' an' 'e winks an' sez 'Righto!'
An' when I jus' perten's ter graft 'e cracks 'e doesn't see;
So I jus' grins an' winks at 'im, an' 'e jus' winks at me.
'O, blimey! Them was golding days, wif not a stroke ter do
Excep' ter line up ev'ry week an' dror me bloomin' screw.
O' course, ther's some thet chips at me an' bellers in a rage;
But I jus' grins an' tips the wink ter 'im they calls the HAGE.
An' 'e speaks up quite serious: ''Ow kin I work,' sez 'e,
'When these 'ere Opposition blokes are all obstructin' me?'
'My oath, it wus an orlright cop! I thort I'd struck it rich.
'Ow could I know' (again he sobbed) 'thet 'e would crool me pitch?
One day 'e sez, quite sudding like, 'This job must be put thro','
An' I jus' winks an' murmurs, 'Dicken,' like I useter do.
But strike! You could 'ave outed me in one, when, 'fore I knowed,
'E turns around on me and sez, quite narsty, 'You be blowed!'
''You'll 'ave ter get ter work,' 'e sez, 'on this 'ere job, or leave.
Fer w'y,' 'e sez, 'I'm sick o' this 'ere game o' make-believe.
Yer jus' perten' ter work,' 'e sez. 'Yer're loafin' day an' night.
Don't grin an' wink at me,' 'e sez, 'yer blanky hippercryte!
Wot are yer 'ere fer anny way? Wot did we pay yer for?
We wants more solid graft,' 'e sez, 'an' less infernal jore!'
'An' that wus 'im I called me pal - me cobber staunch an' true!
'E turns around on me like that an' gives me graft ter do!
Graft, w'ich was the mean sorter thing I allays 'ad despised.
Oh, 'ow wus I ter know 'e wus a sorter John disguised?
'E let me loaf fer munce and munce, an' sets me workin' now.
An', blimey, Mister, I would work, but, 'struth, I dunno 'ow!
'I dunno 'ow ter do the work; an' spare me, if I did,
I couldn't go ter do it, 'cos me doctor 'as forbid.
'E sez that I'm worn out in ev'ry part excep' me cheek;
An' if I start ter graft I'll go ter pieces in a week.
An' if I lose me job I'll 'ave no tucker, bed or roof.
For w'y? Me cobber's done me in! 'E's gone and told the troof.'
I tried to soothe the stricken Bloke, and still his mournful din;
But yet he murmured brokenly, 'Me cobber's done me in!'
And if you roam in Spring-street when the House adjourns at night,
You'll probably encounter this most pitiable sight.
He leans against his post and sobs, prostrated by the news
The Bloke whose cobber did him in, the disillusioned Fuse.
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
'A Gallant Gentleman'
A month ago the world grew grey fer me;
A month ago the light went out fer Rose.
To 'er they broke it gentle as might be;
But fer 'is pal 'twus one uv them swift blows
That stops the 'eart-beat; fer to me it came
Jist, 'Killed in Action,' an' beneath 'is name.
'Ow many times 'ave I sat dreamin' 'ere
An' seen the boys returnin', gay an' proud.
I've seen the greetin's, 'eard 'is rousin' cheer,
An' watched ole Mick come stridin' thro' the crowd.
'Ow many times 'ave I sat in this chair
An' seen 'is 'ard chiv grinnin' over there.
'E's laughed, an' told me stories uv the war.
Changed some 'e looked, but still the same ole Mick,
Keener an' cleaner than 'e wus before;
'E's took me 'and, an' said 'e's in great nick.
Sich wus the dreamin's uv a fool 'oo tried
To jist crack 'ardy, an' 'old gloom aside.
An' now - well, wot's the odds? I'm only one:
One out uv many 'oo 'as lost a friend.
Manlike, I'll bounce again, an' find me fun;
But fer Poor Rose it seems the bitter end.
Fer Rose, an' sich as Rose, when one man dies
It seems the world goes black before their eyes.
Ar, well; if Mick could 'ear me blither now,
I know jist wot 'e'd say an' 'ow 'e'd look:
'Aw, cut it out, mate; chuck that silly row!
There ain't so sense in takin' sich things crook.
I've took me gamble; an' there's none to blame
Becos I drew a blank; it's in the game.'
A parson cove he broke the noos to Rose
A friend uv mine, a bloke wiv snowy 'air,
An' gentle, soothin' sort o'ways, 'oo goes
Thro' life jist 'umpin' others' loads uv care.
Instid uv Mick - jist one rough soljer lad -
Yeh'd think 'e'd lost the dearest friend 'e 'ad.
But 'ow kin blows be sof'n'd sich as that?
Rose took it as 'er sort must take sich things.
An' if the jolt uv it 'as knocked me flat,
Well, 'oo is there to blame 'er if it brings
Black thorts that comes to women when they frets,
An' makes 'er tork wild tork an' foolish threats.
An' then there comes the letter that wus sent
To give the strength uv Ginger's passin' out
A long, straight letter frum a bloke called Trent;
'Tain't no use tellin' wot it's orl about:
There's things that's in it I kin see quite clear
Ole Ginger Mick ud be ashamed to 'ear.
Things praisin 'im, that pore ole Mick ud say
Wus comin' it too 'ot; fer, spare me days!
I well remember that 'e 'ad a way
Uv curlin' up when 'e wus slung bokays.
An' Trent 'e seems to think that in some way
'E owes Mick somethin' that 'e can't repay.
Well, p'raps 'e does,- an' in the note 'e sends
'E arsts if Mick 'as people 'e kin find.
Fer Trent's an English toff wiv swanky friends,
An' wants to 'elp wot Ginger's left be'ind.
'E sez strange things in this 'ere note 'e sends:
'He was a gallant gentleman,' it ends.
A gallant gentleman! Well, I dunno.
I 'ardly think that Mick ud like that name.
But this 'ere Trent's a toff, an' ort to know
The breedin' uv the stock frum which 'e came.
Gallant an' game Mick might 'a' bin; but then
Lord! Fancy 'im among the gentlemen!
'E wus a man; that's good enough fer me,
'Oo wus 'is cobber many years before
'E writ it plain fer other blokes to see,
An' proved it good an' pleny at the war.
'E wus a man; an', by the way 'e died,
'E wus a man 'is friend can claim wiv pride.
The way 'e died… Gawd! but it makes me proud
I ever 'eld 'is 'and, to read that tale.
An' Trent is one uv that 'igh-steppin' crowd
That don't sling pral'se around be ev'ry mail.
To 'im it seemed some great 'eroic lurk;
But Mick, I know, jist took it wiv 'is work.
No matter wot 'e done. It's jist a thing
I knoo 'e'd do if once 'e got the show.
An' it would never please 'im fer to sling
Tall tork at 'im jist cos 'e acted so.
'Don't make a song uv it!' I 'ear 'im growl,
'I've done me limit, an' tossed in the tow'l.'
This little job, 'e knoo - an' I know well
A thousand uv 'is cobbers would 'ave done.
Fer they are soljers; an' it's crook to tell
A tale that marks fer praise a single one.
An' that's 'ow Mick wopuold 'ave it, as I kow;
An', as 'e'd 'ave it, so we'll let it go.
Trent tells 'ow, when they found 'im, near the end,
'E starts a fag an' grins orl bright an' gay.
An' when they arsts fer messages to send
To friends, 'is look goes dreamin' far away.
'Look after Rose,' 'e sez, 'when I move on.
Look after… Rose… Mafeesh!' An' 'e wus gone.
'We buried 'im,' sez Trent, 'down by the beach.
We put mimosa on the mound uv sand
Above 'im. 'Twus the nearest thing in reach
To golden wattle uv 'is native land.
But never wus the fairest wattle wreath
More golden than the 'eart uv 'im beneath.'
An' so - Mafeesh! as Mick 'ad learned to say.
'E's finished; an' there's few 'as marked 'im go.
Only one soljer, outed in the fray,
'Oo took 'is gamble, an' 'oo 'a 'is show.
There's few to mourn 'im: an' the less they leave,
The less uv sorrer, fewer 'earts to grieve.
An' when I'm feelin' blue, an' mopin' 'ere
About h epal I've lorst; Doreen, my wifem
She come an' takes my 'and, an' tells me, 'Dear,
Ther's be more cause to mourn a wasted life.
'E proved 'imself a man, an' 'e's at rest.'
An' so, I tries to think sich things is best.
A gallant gentleman… Well, let it go.
They sez they've put them words above 'is 'ead,
Out there where lonely graves stretch in a row;
But Mick 'ell never mind it now 'e's dead.
An' where 'e's gone, when they weigh praise an' blame,
P'raps gentlemen an' men is much the same.
They fights; an' orl the land is filled wiv cheers.
They dies; an' 'ere an' there a 'eart is broke.
An' when I weighs it orl - the shouts, the tears -
I sees it's well Mick wus a lonely bloke.
'E found a game 'e knoo, an' played it well;
An' now 'e's gone. Wot more is there to tell?
A month ago, fer me the world grew grey;
A month ago the light went out fer Rose;
Becos one common soljer crossed the way,
Leavin' a common message as 'e goes.
But ev'ry dyin' soljer's 'ope lies there:
'Look after Rose. Mafeesh!' Gawd! It's a pray'r!
That's wot it is; an' when yeh sort it out,
Shuttin' yer ears to orl the sounds o' strife
The shouts, the cheers, the curses - 'oo kin doubt
The claims uv women; mother, sweet'eart, wife?
An' 'oos to 'ear our soljers' dyin' wish?
An' 'oo's to 'eed? . . . 'Look after Rose . . . Mafeesh!'
Thus it happened .... Let me mention, lest I raise an unsought quarrel,
This occurred in times long vanished, in the land of Git-yer-gun.
'Tis a quaint, unlikely story; some folk say it has a moral;
But that's a little matter you may settle when I'm done.
Mr. Foodle led a party that was strongly democratic,
And it represented people with the Christian name of Bill.
And in all his hustings speeches Mr. Foodle was emphatic
That his crowd existed solely to uphold the people's will.
Mr. Boodle led a party that was Liberal - or Tory
(Just according to your view-point) - and it represented those
Christened (by immersion) Percy, whose hot socks proclaimed their glory;
And its policy was such as you may readily supose.
So they strove in an election .... (Now, I wish it noted plainly
That this happened years ago, and in the land of Git-yer-gun) ....
And each side employed its talent to upbraid the other mainly,
While the voters cheered them madly, and the crowd enjoyed the fun.
The Democratic Party (Bill by name) supported Foodle
For such was the convention with this quaint old Party Plan
While the Tories fought like fury to promote the cause of Boodle,
And, of course, the crowd named Percy voted for him to a man.
And the others of the nation - all the Johns and Jeremiahs,
All the Peters, Pauls and Paddys, all the Colins and Carews,
All the Richards and the Roberts, and the Hanks and Hezekiahs
Voted for some bloque or other, each according to his views.
Then they counted up the numbers, when at last the fight was over,
And both Democrats and Tories - Bills and Percys - looked quite sour
When the numbers showed them clearly neither party stood in clover;
For a few odd Independents held the balance of the power.
Mr. Foodle called his Caucus .... And he put it to them plainly:
'Never mind the Bills,' said Foodle; 'we have got them in the box.
If we would escape extinction 'tis our plan to pander mainly
But with caution - to the Percys and the cause of fancy socks.
'For,' said Mr. Foodle gravely, 'understand me, votes are needed!
How to catch and how to keep them is the question of the hour.
Never mind your Public Questions; let the Big Things go unheeded;
We must compromise a little if we mean to hold the power.'
Mr. Boodle called his Caucus ... And he put it to them clearly'
'Gentlemen, ignore the Percys! We have got them in the bag!
But the Bills, we must remember, have the votes we covet dearly;
And till we contrive to get them we must let the Big Things lag.'
So began the op'ning session, with both sides electioneering;
Boodle grew more democratic; Foodle watered down his views;
Bit by bit they drew together, more and more alike appearing,
Till the voters, looking at them, vowed there wasn't much to choose.
Sometimes Foodle reigned in office, sometimes it was Mr. Boodle.
'Twas the Grand Old Party System, for the shibboleth held still.
And they vowed that ev'ry voter - (as was plain to any noodle)
Must most palpably be Percy if he wasn't christened Bill.
Meantime all the Dicks and Davids, all the Johns and Jeremiahs,
All the Mats and Pats and Peters, surnamed Smith or Brown or Burke,
Shouted with the Ned and Normans and the Hanks and Hezekiahs,
'What of those Big Public Questions? When do you begin to work?'
Still the factions went on fighting - ('Tis a right that factions cherish)
But on one important matter both the parties were agreed;
In this world of sin and sorrow Bills may die and Percys perish,
But the votes to hold his billet are a politician's need.
Boodle battled strenuously, on his rival's ground encroaching;
Fearlessly the Foodle faction sneaked the other Party's views;
Full of fight were both opponents; the elections were approaching;
And upon mere Public Business none had any time to lose.
With the public patience straining, and quite half the nation scoffing
At the Bill and Percy parties, and the voters in despair.
Lo, a party led by Doodle rose serenely in the offing;
And it said it represented folk who sported Ginger Hair.
Doodle soon became the fashion: thousands flocked aronud his banner;
Scores of Antonys and Arthurs, Joes and Jacobs, Mats and Micks,
(Even some stray Bills and Percys renegaded). In like manner
Flocked the Hanks and Hezekiahs, and the Davids and the Dicks.
All the Red-haired of the nation joined the mighty Doodle party;
And the Brown-haired and the Black-haired and the Grey-haired sought him too;
For, they said, 'What does it matter? He has our support most hearty.
Never mind what shade your hair is. He will see the Big Things through!'
Then, when that great Doodle Party swept the polls at next election,
What a great rejoicing followed! Heavens, how the people cheered!
And the Boodle-Foodle party - (fused for general protection)
Was so absolutely routed that it almost disappeared.
How the Dicks and Davids shouted with the Johns and Jeremiahs:
'We don't care what shade his hair is - black or brown or pink or blue!'
'Glory!' cried the Mats and Michaels with the Hals and Hezekiahs.
'Hail to Doodle! Red-haired Doodle! He will see the Big Things through!'
Mr. Dooddle called his Caucus .... And he put it to them tersely:
'Gentlemen, it now behoves us, seeing all the votes we've got,
To be very, very careful lest we're criticised adversely.
Never mind the Red-haired voters; we have got them in the pot.
'But,' continued Mr. Doodle, 'there are others - perfect snorters.
There's this new Bald-headed Party led by Snoodle! Statesmanship
Now demands we do our utmost to win over his supporters.
Meantime, gentlemen, I'm thinking we must let the Big Things rip.
'Or, if we must tackle something to allay the public clamor,
Let us not be over-zealous and this alientate support
From our Party when the...Gracious!!!!'
I should like to go on telling how they fared; but foreign raiders
At this very hour descended on the land of Git-yer-gun;
And the Red-heads and the Bald-heads fell beneath the fierce invaders
Men who bore aloft a banner blazoned with a Rising Sun.
And they smote the Pats and Percys, and the Jims and Jeremiahs.
Bashed the Doodles, smashed the Snoodles, left the Mats and Micks for dead.
Thrust cold steel into the vitals of the Hanks and Hezekiahs,
And plugged all the Johns and Jacobs and the Josephs full of lead.
Thus it happened .... As I've mentioned, some folk think it has a moral.
You may judge that little matter, as I said when I began.
'Tis to me the simple story of a very ancient quarrel
'Mid the Git-yer-gun debaters with their quait old Party Plan.
The Swanks Of Gosh
Come mourn with me for the land of Gosh,
Oh, weep with me for the luckless Glugs
Of the land of Gosh, where the sad seas wash
The patient shores, and the great King Splosh
His sodden sorrow hugs;
Where the fair Queen Tush weeps all the day,
And the Swank, the Swank, the naughty Swank,
The haughty Swank holds sway
The most mendacious, ostentatious,
Spacious Swank holds sway.
'Tis sorrow-swathed, as I know full well,
And garbed in gloom and the weeds of woe,
And vague, so far, is the tale I tell;
But bear with me for the briefest spell,
And surely shall ye know
Of the land of Gosh, and Tush, and Splosh,
And Stodge, the Swank, the foolish Swank,
The mulish Swank of Gosh-
The meretricious, avaricious,
Vicious Swank of Gosh.
Oh, the tall trees bend, and green trees send
A chuckle round the earth,
And the soft winds croon a jeering tune,
And the harsh winds shriek with mirth,
And the wee small birds chirp ribald words
When the Swank walks down the street;
But every Glug takes off his hat,
And whispers humbly, 'Look at that!
Hats off! Hats off to the Glug of rank!
Sir Stodge, the Swank, the Lord High Swank!'
Then the East wind roars a loud guffaw,
And the haughty Swank says, 'Haw!'
His brain is dull, and his mind is dense,
And his lack of saving wit complete;
But most amazingly immense
Is his inane self-confidence
And his innate conceit.
But every Glug, and great King Splosh
Bowed to Sir Stodge, the fuddled Swank,
The muddled Swank of Gosh
The engineering, peeping, peering,
Sneering Swank of Gosh.
In Gosh, sad Gosh, where the Lord Swank lives,
He holds high rank, and he has much pelf;
And all the well-paid posts he gives
Unto his fawning relatives,
As foolish as himself.
In offices and courts and boards
Are Swanks, and Swanks, ten dozen Swanks,
And cousin Swanks in hordes
Inept and musty, dry and dusty,
Rusty Swanks in hordes.
The clouds so soft, that sail aloft,
Weep laughing tears of rain;
The blue sky spread high overhead
Peeps thro' in mild disdain.
All nature laughs and jeers and chaffs
When the Swank goes out to walk;
But every Glug bows low his head,
And says in tones surcharged with dread,
'Bow low, bow low, Glugs lean, Glugs fat!'
But the North wind snatches off his hat,
And flings it high, and shrieks to see
His ruffled dignity.
They lurk in every Gov'ment lair,
'Mid docket dull and dusty file,
Solemnly squat in an easy chair,
Penning a minute of rare hot air
In departmental style.
In every office, on every floor
Are Swanks, and Swanks, distracting Swanks,
And Acting-Swanks a score,
And coldly distant, sub-assistant
In peaceful days when the countryside
Poured wealth to Gosh, and the skies were blue,
The great King Splosh no fault espied,
And seemed entirely satisfied
With Swanks who muddled thro'.
But when they fell on seasons bad,
Oh, then the Swanks, the bustled Swanks,
The hustled Swanks went mad
The minute-writing, nation-blighting,
Skiting Swanks went mad.
The tall trees sway like boys at play,
And mock him when he grieves,
As one by one, in laughing fun,
They pelt him with their leaves.
And the gay green trees joke to the breeze,
As the Swank struts proudly by;
But every Glug, with reverence,
Pays homage to his pride immense
A homage deep to lofty rank
The Swank! The Swank! The pompous Swank!
But the wind-borne leaves await their chance
And round him gaily dance.
Now, trouble came to the land of Gosh:
The fear of battle, and anxious days;
And the Swanks were called to the great King Splosh,
Who said that their system would not wash,
And ordered other ways.
Then the Lord High Swank stretched forth a paw,
And penned a minute re the law,
And the Swanks, the Swanks, the other Swanks,
The brother Swanks said, 'Haw!'
These keen, resourceful, unremorseful,
Forceful Swanks said, 'Haw!'
Then Splosh, the king, in a royal rage,
He smote his throne as he thundered, 'Bosh!
In the whole wide land is there not one sage
With a cool, clear brain, who'll straight engage
To sweep the Swanks from Gosh?'
But the Lord High Stodge, from where he stood,
Cried, 'Barley! . . . Guard your livelihood!'
And, quick as light, the teeming Swanks,
The scheming Swanks touched wood.
Sages, plainly, labour vainly
When the Swanks touch wood.
The stealthy cats that grace the mats
Before the doors of Gosh,
Smile wide with scorn each sunny morn;
And, as they take their wash,
A sly grimace o'erspreads each face
As the Swank struts forth to court.
But every Glug casts down his eyes,
And mutters, 'Ain't 'is 'at a size!
For such a sight our gods we thank.
Sir Stodge, the Swank! The noble Swank!'
But the West wind tweaks his nose in sport;
And the Swank struts into court.
Then roared the King with a rage intense,
'Oh, who can cope with their magic tricks?'
But the Lord High Swank skipped nimbly hence,
And hid him safe behind the fence
Of Regulation VI.
And under Section Four Eight 0
The Swanks, the Swanks, dim forms of Swanks,
The swarms of Swanks lay low
These most tenacious, perspicacious,
Spacious Swanks lay low.
Cried the King of Gosh, 'They shall not escape!
Am I set at naught by a crazed buffoon?'
But in fifty fathoms of thin red tape
The Lord Swank swaddled his portly shape,
Like a large, insane cocoon.
Then round and round and round and round.
The Swanks, the Swanks, the whirling Swanks,
The twirling Swanks they wound
The swathed and swaddled, molly-coddled
Swanks inanely wound.
Each insect thing that comes in Spring
To gladden this sad earth,
It flits and whirls and pipes and skirls,
It chirps in mocking mirth
A merry song the whole day long
To see the Swank abroad.
But every Glug, whoe'er he be,
Salutes, with grave humility
And deference to noble rank,
The Swank, the Swank, the swollen Swank;
But the South wind blows his clothes awry,
And flings dust in his eye.
So trouble stayed in the land of Gosh;
And the futile Glugs could only gape,
While the Lord High Swank still ruled King Splosh
With laws of blither and rules of bosh,
From out his lair of tape.
And in cocoons that mocked the Glug
The Swanks, the Swanks, the under-Swanks,
The dunder Swanks lay snug.
These most politic, parasitic,
Critic Swanks lay snug.
Then mourn with me for a luckless land,
Oh, weep with me for the slaves of tape!
Where the Lord High Swank still held command,
And wrote new rules in a fair round hand,
And the Glugs saw no escape;
Where tape entwined all Gluggish things,
And the Swank, the Swank, the grievous Swank,
The devious Swank pulled strings
The perspicacious, contumacious
Swank held all the strings.
The blooms that grow, and, in a row,
Peep o'er each garden fence,
They nod and smile to note his style
Of ponderous pretence;
Each roving bee has fits of glee
When the Swank goes by that way.
But every Glug, he makes his bow,
And says, 'Just watch him! Watch him now!
He must have thousands in the bank!
The Swank! The Swank! The holy Swank!'
But the wild winds snatch his kerchief out,
And buffet him about.
The Rhymes Of Sym
Nobody knew why it should be so;
Nobody knew or wanted to know.
It might have been checked had but someone dared
To trace its beginnings; but nobody cared.
But 'twas clear to the wise that the Glugs of those days
Were crazed beyond reason concerning a craze.
They would pass a thing by for a week or a year,
With an air apathetic, or maybe a sneer:
Some ev'ryday thing, like a crime or a creed,
A mode or a movement, and pay it small heed,
Till Somebody started to laud it aloud;
Then all but the Nobodies followed the crowd.
Thus, Sym was a craze; tho', to give him his due,
He would rather have strayed from the popular view.
But once the Glugs had him they held him so tight
That he could not be nobody, try as he might.
He had to be Somebody, so they decreed.
For Craze is an appetite, governed by Greed.
So on Saturday week to the Great Market Square
Came every Glug who could rake up his fare.
They came from the suburbs, they came from the town,
There came from the country Glugs bearded and brown,
Rich Glugs, with cigars, all well-tailored and stout,
Jostled commonplace Glugs who dropped aitches about.
There were gushing Glug maids, well aware of their charms,
And stern, massive matrons with babes in their arms.
There were querulous dames who complained of the 'squash,'
The pushing and squeezing; for, briefly, all Gosh,
With its aunt and its wife, stood agape in the ranks
Excepting Sir Stodge and his satellite Swanks.
The Mayor of Quog took the chair for the day;
And he made them a speech, and he ventured to say
That a Glug was a Glug, and the Cause they held dear
Was a very dear Cause. And the Glugs said, 'Hear, hear.'
Then Sym took the stage to a round of applause
From thousands who suddenly found they'd a Cause.
We strive together in life's crowded mart,
Keen-eyed, with clutching hands to over-reach.
We scheme, we lie, we play the selfish part,
Masking our lust for gain with gentle speech;
And masking too - O pity ignorance!
Our very selves behind a careless glance.
Ah, foolish brothers, seeking e'er in vain
The one dear gift that liesso near at hand;
Hoping to barter gold we meanly gain
For that the poorest beggar in the land
Holds for his own, to hoard while yet he spends;
Seeking fresh treasure in the hearts of friends.
We preach; yet do we deem it worldly-wise
To count unbounded brother-love a shame,
So, ban the brother-look from out our eyes,
Lest sparks of sympathy be fanned to flame.
We smile; and yet withhold, in secret fear,
The word so hard to speak, so sweet to hear -
The Open Sesame to meanest hearts,
The magic word, to which stern eyes grow soft,
And crafty faces, that the cruel marts
Have seared and scored, turn gentle - Nay, how oft
It trembles on the lip to die unppoke,
And dawning love is stifled with a joke.
Nay, brothers, look about your world to-day:
A world to you so drab, so commonplace
The flowers still are blooming by the way,
As blossom smiles upon the sternest face.
In everv hour is born some thought of love;
In every heart is hid some treasure-trove.
With a modified clapping and stamping of feet
The Glugs mildly cheered him, as Sym took his seat.
But some said 'twas clever, and some said 'twas grand
More especially those who did not understand.
And some said, with frowns, tho' the words sounded plain,
Yet it had a deep meaning they craved to explain.
But the Mayor said: Silence! He wished to observe
That a Glug was a Glug; and in wishing to serve
This glorious Cause, which they'd asked him to lead,
They had proved they were Glugs of the noble old breed
That made Gosh what it was . . . and he'd ask the police
To remove that small boy while they heard the next piece.
'Now come,' said the Devil, he said to me,
With his swart face all a-grin,
'This day, ere ever the clock strikes three,
Shall you sin your darling sin.
For I've wagered a crown with Beelzebub,
Down there at the Gentlemen's Brimstone Club,
I shall tempt you once, I shall tempt you twice,
Yet thrice shall you fall ere I tempt you thrice.'
'Begone, base Devil!' I made reply -
'Begone with your fiendish grin!
How hope you to profit by such as I?
For I have no darling sin.
But many there be, and I know them well,
All foul with sinning and ripe for Hell.
And I name no names, but the whole world knows
That I am never of such as those.'
'How nowt' said the Devil. 'I'll spread my net,
And I vow I'll gather you in!
By this and by that shall I win my bet,
And you shall sin the sin!
Come, fill up a bumper of good red wine,
Your heart shall sing, and your eye shall shine,
You shall know such joy as you never have known.
For the salving of men was the good vine grown.'
'Begone, red Devil!' I made reply.
'Parch shall these lips of mine,
And my tongue shall shrink, and my throat go dry,
Ere ever I taste your wine!
But greet you shall, as I know full well,
A tipsy score of my friends in Hell.
And I name no names, but the whole world wots
Most of my fellows are drunken sots.'
'Ah, ha!' said the Devil. 'You scorn the wine!
Thrice shall you sin, I say,
To win me a crown from a friend of mine,
Ere three o' the clock this day.
Are you calling to mind some lady fair?
And is she a wife or a maiden rare?
'Twere folly to shackle young love, hot Youth;
And stolen kisses are sweet, forsooth!'
'Begone, foul Devil!' I made reply;
'For never in all my life
Have I looked on a woman with lustful eye,
Be she maid, or widow, or wife.
But my brothers! Alas! I am scandalized
By their evil passions so ill disguised.
And I name no names, but my thanks I give
That I loathe the lives my fellow-men live.'
'Ho, ho!' roared the Devil in fiendish glee.
''Tis a silver crown I win!
Thrice have you fallen! 0 Pharisee,
You have sinned your darling sin!'
'But, nay,' said I; 'and I scorn your lure.
I have sinned no sin, and my heart is pure.
Come, show me a sign of the sin you see!'
But the Devil was gone . . . and the clock struck three.
With an increase of cheering and waving of hats
While the little boys squealed, and made noises like cats
The Glugs gave approval to Sym's second rhyme.
And some said 'twas thoughtful, and some said 'twas prime;
And some said 'twas witty, and had a fine end:
More especially those who did not comprehend.
And some said with leers and with nudges and shrugs
That, they mentioned no names, but it hit certain Glugs.
And others remarked, with superior smiles,
While dividing the metrical feet into miles,
That the thing seemed quite simple, without any doubt,
But the anagrams in it would need thinking out.
But the Mayor said, Hush! And he wished to explain
That in leading this Movement he'd nothing to gain.
He was ready to lead, since they trusted him so;
And, wherever he led he was sure Glugs would go.
And he thanked them again, and craved peace for a time,
While this gifted young man read his third and last rhyme.
(To sing you a song and a sensible song is a worthy and excellent thing;
But how could I sing you that sort of a song, if there's never a song to sing?)
At ten to the tick, by the kitchen clock, I marked him blundering by,
With his eyes astare, and his rumpled hair, and his hat cocked over his eye.
Blind, in his pride, to his shoes untied, he went with a swift jig-jog,
Off on the quest, with a strange unrest, hunting the Feasible Dog.
And this is the song, as he dashed along, that he sang with a swaggering swing
(Now how had I heard him singing a song if he hadn't a song to sing?)
'I've found the authentic, identical beast!
The Feasible Dog, and the terror of Gosh!
I know by the prowl of him.
Hark to the growl of him!
Heralding death to the subjects of Splosh.
Oh, look at him glaring and staring, by thunder!
Now each for himself, and the weakest goes under!
'Beware this injurious, furious brute;
He's ready to rend you with tooth and with claw.
Tho' 'tis incredible,
Disappears suddenly into his maw:
Into his cavernous inner interior
Vanishes evrything strictly superior.'
He calls it 'Woman,' he calls it 'Wine,' he calls it 'Devils' and 'Dice';
He calls it 'Surfing' and 'Sunday Golf' and names that are not so nice.
But whatever he calls it-'Morals' or 'Mirth'-he is on with the hunt right quick
For his sorrow he'd hug like a gloomy Gllig if he hadn't a dog to kick.
So any old night, if the stars are right, vou will find him, hot on the trail
Of a feasible dog and a teasable dog, with a can to tie to his tail.
And the song that he roars to the shuddering stars is a worthy and excellent thing.
(Yet how could you hear him singing a song if there wasn't a song to sing?)
'I've watched his abdominous, ominous shape
Abroad in the land while the nation has slept,
Marked his satanical
Rigorous, vigorous vigil I kept.
Good gracious! Voracious is hardly the name for it!
Yet we have only our blindness to blame for it.
'My dear, I've autoptical, optical proof
That he's prowling and growling at large in the land.
Hear his pestiferous
Gurgles and groans of the beastliest brand.
Some may regard his contortions as comical.
But I've the proof that his game's gastronomical.
'Beware this obstreperous, leprous beast -
A treacherous wretch, for I know him of old.
I'm on the track of him,
Close at the back of him,
And I'm aware his ambitions are bold;
For he's yearning and burning to snare the superior
Into his roomy and gloomy interior.'
Such a shouting and yelling of hearty Bravoes,
Such a craning of necks and a standing on toes
Seemed to leave ne'er a doubt that the Tinker's last rhyme
Had now won him repute 'mid the Glugs for all time.
And they all said the rhyme was the grandest they'd heard:
More especially those who had not caught a word.
But the Mayor said: Peace! And he stood, without fear,
As the leader of all to whom Justice was dear.
For the Tinker had rhymed, as the Prophet foretold,
And a light was let in on the errors of old.
For in every line, and in every verse
Was the proof that Sir Stodge was a traitor, and worse!
Sir Stodge (said the Mayor), must go from his place;
And the Swanks, one and all, were a standing disgrace!
For the influence won o'er a weak, foolish king
Was a menace to Gosh, and a scandalous thing!
'And now,' said the Mayor, 'I stand here to-day
As your leader and friend.' And the Glugs said, 'Hooray!'
Then they went to their homes in the suburbs and town;
To their farms went the Glugs who were bearded and brown.
Portly Glugs with cigars went to dine at their clubs,
While illiterate Glugs had one more at the pubs.
And each household in Gosh sat and talked half the night
Of the wonderful day, and the imminent fight.
Forgetting the rhymer, forgetting his rhymes,
They talked of Sir Stodge and his numerous crimes.
There was hardly a C3lug in the whole land of Gosh
Who'd a lenient word to put in for King Splosh.
One and all, to the mangiest, surliest dog,
Were quite eager to bark for his Worship of Quog.
Forgotten, unnoticed, Sym wended his way
To his lodging in Gosh at the close of the day.
And 'twas there, to his friend and companion of years
To his little red dog with the funny prick ears
That he poured out his woe; seeking nothing to hide;
And the little dog listened, his head on one side.
'O you little red dog, you are weary as I.
It is days, it is months since we saw the blue sky.
And it seems weary years since we sniffed at the breeze
As it hms thro' the hedges and sings in the trees.
These we know and we love. But this city holds fears,
O my friend of the road, with the funny prick ears.
And for what me we hope from his Worship of Quog?'
'Oh, and a bone, and a kick,' said the little red dog.