Old Black Jacko
Old Black Jacko
In his little pipe of clay.
Puff, puff, puff,
He never has enough
Though he smokes it all day.
But his lubra says, "Mine tink dat Jacky
Him shmoke plenty too much baccy."
At the beginning of the week
A strictly rigid path I seek,
And vow the only state for me,
In finance, is stability;
I sternly view all borrowing
As an absurd and evil thing.
But, as old Time slips by on skids,
And, with him sundry 'bobs' and 'quids,'
And my financial state gets low,
With pay-day still some laps to go,
I have to own - twixt me and you
It is inevitable, too.
Old Farmer Jack
Old farmer Jack gazed on his wheat,
And feared the frost would nip it.
Said he, "it's nearly seven feet -
I must begin to strip 'it.
He stripped it with a stripper and
He bagged it with a bagger;
The bags were all so lumpy that
They made the bumper stagger.
The lumper staggered up the stack
Where he was told to stack it;
And Jack was paid and put the cash
Inside his linen jacket.
Cherchez La Femme
The Chinese are an old, old race,
In mystic lore exceeding wise.
Accustomed thro' the year to trace
Their nation's fortunes in the skies.
No mere male deity can shake
Their stolid and celestial calm.
Saturn nor Jupiter can wake
Their fear or cause the slightest qualm.
But now in trembling fear they go,
Such is their knowledge of the stars.
When Venus threatens well they know
She's far more dangerous than Mars.
Preface: Old Gosh Rhyme
Let him who is minded to meet with a Glug
Pluck three hardy hairs from a rabbit-skin rug;
Blow one to the South, and one to the West,
Then burn another and swallow the rest.
And who shall explain 'tis the talk of a fool,
He's a Glug! He's a Glug of the old Gosh school!
And he'll climb a tree, if the East wind blows,
In a casual way, just to show he knows . . .
Now, tickle his toes!
Oh, tickle his toes!
And don't blame me if you come to blows.
I love you, dear, o' morn and moon.
I love your ev'ry mood and guise;
But, neath the soft, enchanting moon,
Such loveliness the gods must prize.
'Tis then I long to dare and fight
The world for you, my queen o' night.
We wander in a jewelled bower;
And, tho' I be your humble slave,
Within that brief, enchanted hour
I know that I am strong and brave.
'Tis then red war I yearn to make
And conquer worlds for your sweet sake.
And old romance in splendour comes
From out the hills to linger nigh;
And in our cause the brave old gums
Stand sentinel against the sky.
'Tis then I would outrival Mars
For you - the sovereign of the stars!
In our street, the main street
Running thro' the town,
You see a lot of busy folk
Going up and down:
Bag men and basket men,
Men with loads of hay,
Buying things and selling things
And carting things away.
The butcher is a funny man,
He calls me Dandy Dick;
The baker is a cross man,
I think he's often sick;
The fruiterer's a nice man,
He gives me apples, too;
The grocer says, "Good morning, boy,
What can I do for you?"
Of all the men in our street
I like the cobbler best,
Tapping, tapping at his last
Without a minute's rest;
Talking all the time he taps,
Driving in the nails,
Smiling with his old grey eyes -
(Hush) ... telling fairy tales.
The Mercenary View
I knew a poor remittance man,
A decent chap, but funny,
In days when my ideas began
To be controlled by money
He wore a swank, patrician air;
But, oh, his life was filled with care,
For he had seldom cash to spare;
His mien was far from sunny.
I fear I was a snobbish youth
Who led a prig's existence.
I snubbed the chap, to tell the truth,
And kept him at a distance.
His clothes, well cut, were often worn
Threadbare. Tho' he was gently born
His friendship I refused with scorn
Despite his soft insistence.
But now the whirligig of time
Sees fit to elevate him.
While, lo, the money that was mine
Is shrinking, seriatim;
And faced by serious mishap.
While he reclines in Fortune's lap.
I'd like to find the dear old chap
I'd want to cultivate him.
How many have you broken up till now?
I know that yesterday you made a vow,
And most solemnly 'twas spoken;
But how many have you broken?
Oh, you kept 'em for an hour or two - But How?
You swore at twelve o'clock or thereabouts,
Most resolutely, scorning any doubts,
That the glad New Year would find you
With your vices all behind you.
And you'd be the very best of good boy scouts.
But you fell. And, oh, how quickly did you fall!
And now you're feeling low, and mean, and small;
For, despite all your devising,
You have come to realising
That you're really only human after all.
Ah, well, at least you had the will to try;
And you may reform some day before you die,
And there's this small consolation
On the road to reformation:
There's another New Year coming by and by.
Oh, what a pleasant game is life
When we are bravely batting
And glorying in skill and strife.
We scorn defensive patting
As Fate sends down the easy ones
We set the ball a-soaring
Straight to the fence and pile up runs
And go on scoring, scoring.
A week it lasts, a month, a year
Ten years if luck holds steady
No crafty trick may wake our fear,
For every move we're ready
No matter how the ball is bumped.
We are so sure, so clever
We can't be caught or bowled or stumped
We're set! We're in forever!
But comes a time, as I have found,
When in our carefree playing,
Life's game in this vast cricket ground
Grows suddenly dismaying.
Just as we think we're set to peg
Away, thro' centuries rolling,
Fate shifts his fieldsmen to the leg
And starts in body bowling!
All Fools' Day
Now is the day when arrant fools
Play outworn tricks on sober men!
But, for the thoughtful soul that schools
His mind to conning o'er again
Past folly, that he may see clear
Faults of commission and neglect,
This is the day in all the year
For help-inducing retrospect!
Myself, when young and confident,
Walked ever proudly on my way;
With eyes set onward as I went
I gave small heed to yesterday.
But, growing old, the once bright star
Waned to a faint and sickly flame;
So faint I'd turn and gaze afar
For help along the way I came.
A chastening exercise for me
This yearly task of harking back;
For what a piteous fool I see
Comes tumbling up that thorny track!
I would cast ashes on my head
Did consolation not recall
That in the end, when all is said,
Both young and old, well - aren't we all?
When we went singing down the road,
In days when want was not a goad,
Dull care behind us flinging,
No step we stayed, no joy we missed,
To hearken to the pessimist,
But gaily went on singing.
We'd faith in this great country then;
We'd hope in her great, stalwart men,
Who built a worthy nation.
Hope? Hope was ever in our hearts,
For we seemed cast for Builders' parts
And there was our salvation.
But what has changed our outlook now?
With weary eyes and furrowed brow
The uphill road we're facing.
But why? This land is still aflame
With promise of great hope and fame.
Must age be youth disgracing?
Oh, let's go singing up the road,
Although we bear a heavy load.
What good is grieving bringing?
Still, just beneath this happy ground
Is wondrous fortune to be found.
So let us go on singing.
Yes!!! So we will
Throw care away,
If for no other reason than that 'twill
Delight our brother.
We'll gaily 'mooch' along in tram and train,
And ever one of us will look in vain
For weary laborers of brawn or brain.
There will not be
Papers to go around. Oh yes, you'll see!...
Husbands will hurry home as if for life
Gladly to read to each delighted wife
The little things
That C.J.D. so humorously sings
All discord and all gloom we'll strive to smother,
Rejoicing that we have so bright a brother.
To which we reply:-
Spurred by such praise we shall endeavour
To some day write a thing that's really clever
But, at the same time, don't forget my brother,
Even a scribe grows dull some time or other
And if, at times, this column waxes dreary
Please realise that we, sometimes, grow weary.
Even old Homer nods, they say
We're in a rather nodding mood today.
The digger's cultured daughter:
Her youth was wildly free.
Now by the placid water
Of tree-girt Wendouree
She walks, a gracious lady,
Where sculptured beauty gleams
By verdant paths and shady,
And dreams her golden dreams.
Her father was a digger,
Bearded and blunt and crude,
His hand quick to the trigger
Should tyranny intrude.
With lifts of sudden riches
He heaped his hoyden lass,
Whose flowering new bewitches
With beauty all who pass.
For she has sown her gardens
To hide the scars of greed,
And, where the old dump hardens,
Springs many a fruitful seed.
And, as she gathers graces
In loveliness to last,
A turbulence long past.
Her father was a miner,
Great in his day and age;
But here to ideals finer
She shapes her heritage.
Until it spreads in glamor,
A wonder to behold
Of peace come after clamor,
Of grace that followed gold.
The Artist And The Alderman
'Give us gardens!' said the artist,
'Blatant brick and soulless stone,
Never built a noble city.
Man lives not by bread alone,
Beauty brings, for our enrichment,
Smiling lawn and spreading tree.'
'Bricks and mortar,' said the alderman,
'Bring in more £.s.d.'
As acid and alkali,
Water and fire,
The good and the evil,
As the cat and the dog,
And the axe and the tree,
So artists and aldermen
Said the artist: 'Give us gardens!
So to save the civic soul,
Draw aesthetic men about you
Ere base ideals take control.
Let artistic minds advise you,
Lest you pay a shameful price.'
'And who,' inquired the alderman,
'Needs any such advice?'
As the cop and the crook,
As the fool and the sage,
As light and the darkness,
Hot youth and old age
As the lamb and the lion,
The ant and the bee,
So artists and aldermen,
You are as young, O lady mine,
As ere you were in olden days,
Your lips are red, your blue eyes shine,
And still you have your girlish ways.
I hate to think what years have flown
Since first I praised these things, mine own.
Your frocks still have that youthful cut,
Garbing a svelte form, slim and flat.
You should be spreading, darling but
Your middle-age has brought no fat.
Indeed, you sometimes seem at nights
A flapper, seen in certain lights.
My fond eyes have surveyed you, sweet,
Thro' all these years and found no fault.
Your lustrous hair, your tiny feet
Are still perfection. Yet a halt
In my high praise wakes sudden fears:
You're growing old behind the ears!
Yet, even then, I'd not repine
If that grey matter which should fill
That pretty head, O lady mine,
Gained age, 'twere compensation still;
And I'd forgive the ravening years,
If you'd mature above the ears.
Hoch Der Hausfrau!
Back to the kicthen, mein Gretchen!
Back to the scullery, frau!
You have dreamed your brief hour of a matriarch's pow'r:
But it's dishes and drudgery now.
Your head bent in humble submission,
Your back for the masculine flail,
Speak softly, and know your position,
Meek slave of the dominant male.
Back to the kicthen, mein fraulein!
Back to the post and the pans.
To that menial place marked for you in the race.
This earth and its glories are Man's
Seek you a strong master, my daughter,
And serve him; yet be not appalled:
But give him stout sons for the slaughter
When more cannon fodder is called.
Hausfrau! Hark you back to the kitchen!
Your visions of glory are vain.
The old Teuton gods count you chattels and clods,
And the Blond Beast has risen again.
Your masters, with arrogance drunken,
Have brought your ambitions to wreck;
Your glories are spurlos versunken.
Ach! Woman! Our heel on her neck.
The Ground Thrush
I'm a business man; and I can't spare time
For this fluting and fussing and frilling.
The song of my cousin may be sublime,
But I never have found it filling.
So I run and I dig and I dig and I run,
And I'm at it soon as the day's begun,
And I never knock off till the light is done
Over the garden and lawn and tilling.
I'm a business man on my business bent,
And I've never an hour of leisure.
I have little regard for sentiment,
And I fritter no time in pleasure.
But I dig and I run and I run and I dig;
And you never see me at my ease on a twig,
Prinking and posing in holiday rig
Or trilling a tuneful measure.
I'm a business man, and I've much to do;
So the day's work must be speeded.
For time is fleeting and worms are few-
I've never had all I needed.
So I run and I dig and I dig and I run
From sun to shadow, from shadow to sun,
I'm a business man, and the world I shun;
So I live and I die unheeded.
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.
Matriarchy's coming fast,
Man's supremacy at last
Finds the end is near.
Since the days of troglodytes,
Man, the lord and master,
Sees his olden cherished rights,
Slipping fast and faster.
Daddy has no time to roam,
The household bills he's clearing,
Mummy's left four kids at home
And gone electioneering.
Mummy holds a sacred trust
To talk the public dizzy,
Daddy has to earn a crust,
And, gosh! it keeps him busy.
Once a chattel and a slave,
We grabbed her by her hair
And flung her in our private cave
To do our cooking there.
But, since her olden bonds were loosed,
More liberty she's craving,
And lovely woman rules the roost,
While mankind does the slaving.
Marriage is a full-time job
For Daddy, ever toiling:
He has to work, the poor old swab,
To keep the pot a-boiling.
But Mummy has the time to spare
To right a stricken nation.
Oh, cares! Oh, clubs! Oh, flowing hair!
This is emancipation!
A Cricket Casualty
My dear, I'm awful shorry
'Bout gettin' home sho late.
I orra been in hoursh ago;
But you know how I hate
To biss a crit of micket
(Shuse me) I mean to say,
To criss a mit of bicket
Cricket! Ash right. Hooray!
Just need a lirrle rest.
I shush been round to Johnson's place
Lish'nin' to the Test.
Great game! It's nervish teshion
Has made me feel like thish.
You know how I like cricket
I wouldn't bit a mish.
Hooray for Misher Bra'man!
Anurraa fourer hit!
Hoo - what? Don't be inshultin'!
I'm norra leash bit lit!
Not even s'ightly shrozzled.
Jush had a lirrle spot
Each time they hirra fourer
Mean to call tharra - lot?
My dear, don't get - hic - cited,
I wouldn't hissa mit.
Three sheers for good old Washaname!
Anurra boun'ry hit! ...
Hic! Struse me, love. Per-haps you're right,
I berra gessum rest.
Jush beein - Hum! You know, Jolson's place
Lish'nin' to - the Test.
The Heritage Of Ease
Are we so flabby, and are we so soft?
I have pondered the question long and oft;
And happy-go-lucky we may appear
When the fat and easy days are here,
When it's easy come and it's easy go,
And there's never a long, hard row to hoe.
But exceedingly hard and remarkably tough
Are the terms that fit when the days grow rough,
And Australia faces the jobs ahead
That fall in the seasons of stress and dread.
And the sturdier stuff of the pioneers
Has not all gone with the old, stern years.
And the tasks we faced and the loads we bore,
When the folly of nations brought us war,
Were not too many and not too great
To bend our backs or to halt our gait.
For the same old metal they tried anew,
And then, as ever, the stuff rang true.
But the soft times came; and the seed we sowed
On the days we travelled the easy road,
We must harvest now, as we all repent
Of a flabbiness passed to a Government
And nurtured there, while we rage and rear
To be up and waging the fight once more.
Cobbers And Quids
Is youth not less pedantic, less absurd,
Less prone to value things of little worth
In failing to wax wrath about a word
That bears suspicion of a lowly birth?
All words have known their low and vulgar days
Known grime and poverty when they were young;
And many a proud and pompous modern phrase
Was once the plaything of a common tongue.
But as we grow respectable and staid
Mere sound, to middle-age, parades as sense.
Grey slaves of precedent, we grow afraid
Of youth and all its sane inconsequence.
Forgetting words are no god-given things,
With queer intolerance we would insist
In terms to which the mould of ages clings
On purity that never did exist.
Language is not the gift of any god;
Rude tribesmen made it when the race was young;
And as around the weary earth we plod
Still the illiterate enrich the tongue;
And still while careless youth goes gaily rid
Of age's caution, precedent and pence,
Better a cobber who'll lend half a quid
Than all the thrifty pedant's 'commonsense.'
The Old Shanty
Look at 'em! Toffs with their big cigars,
Drivin' along in their motor cars.
Nothin' at all like the olden days
When the blokes came by in their bullock drays,
When a cut o' the joint and a hunk o' bread
Was a meal for a king; an' a man was fed.
But beer! Why, man, they could lap a lot.
There was thousands made on this very spot;
Forchins taken behind this bar
An' never the sight of a motor car,
Or a dolled-up mug with 'is bag o' tricks
Lookin' for tucker at 'arf past six!
Struth! I ain't running no resterong
With food on the table the 'ole day long.
This is a pub - or it used to be,
An' the bar-room takin's is wot suits me.
But 'the food ain't 'ot!' and 'the rooms ain't clean!'
An' they spen's on likker - not one brass bean.
A bed an' a blanket was good enough
When thirsts was 'earty an' men was tough.
But the 'ole darn country has gone to pot
With their Licensin' Court an' all that rot!
A ladies' boardin' 'ouse, that's their lurk.
Aw, I'm goin' to chuck it an' look for work.
The League Of Youth
There was never a hint, when I was a boy,
That the joy of the wilds might bring man joy;
Never a thought that a wild thing slain
Might wake in the slayer pain for pain.
We were savages all, with the hunter's thrill
In the lure of the chase and the lust of the kill;
And the bud on the bough, and the bird in the nest
Were beautiful things to be possessed.
But a worthier thing comes now to the earth,
Since pity in minds of the young has birth.
'Tis the glorious gift, that wisdom brings,
Of knowing and loving all lovely things:
Of loving and sharing with all the boon
Of the glad free things that may teach us soon
The gift of living, as glad and free,
As bird and blossom in Arcady.
'Oh, youth is heedless,' the elders say,
'Youth is callous and cruel in play,'
Say they, forgetting that all youth heeds
Comes down through lauding of elders' deeds.
But the law of savage - of fang and claw
Gives what was in the end to a worthier law;
And man, emerging from ways uncouth,
Sees visions anew in the League of Youth.
I love all gum-trees well. But, best of all,
I love the tough old warriors that tower
About these lawns, to make a great green wall
And guard, like sentries, this exotic bower
Of shrub and fern and flower.
These are my land's own sons, lean, straight and tall,
Where crimson parrots and grey gang-gangs call
Thro' many a sunlit hour.
My friends, these grave old veterans, scarred and stem,
Changeless throughout the changing seasons they.
But at their knees their tall sons lift and yearn -
Slim spars and saplings - prone to sport and sway
Like carefree boys at play;
Waxing in beauty when their young locks turn
To crimson, and, like beaconfires burn
To deck Spring's holiday.
I think of Anzacs when the dusk comes down
Upon the gums - of Anzacs tough and tall.
Guarding this gateway, Diggers strong and brown.
And when, thro' Winter's thunderings, sounds their call,
Like Anzacs, too, they fall…
Their ranks grow thin upon the hill's high crown:
My sentinels! But, where those ramparts frown,
Their stout sons mend the wall.
'E 'ad spragged me before for the loan of a quid.
But I told 'im straight out I was broke.
Still 'e would 'ang around me, wotever I did.
'E's a regiler obstinit bloke.
'E'd tapped me for dollars an' bit me for bobs;
An' I ain't too finanshil meself.
Wot with times like they are an' not too many jobs;
So a bloke 'as to 'ang to 'is pelf.
But this Mister Theodore give me a lead
'E's a genius all on 'is own
'E put me wise yestidy - jist wot I need,
When a bloke comes along for a loan.
I rekin this Theodore's out on 'is pat
As a shrewd an' a far-seein' bloke,
Wot can 'and out the patter an' deal with a flat,
'Fore 'e's time to make up to the joke.
So today, when this cove puts the 'ard word on me,
I tells 'im straight out I'm 'is friend,
An' I'm goin' to 'elp 'im from sheer sympathy
With a few quid I'm goin' to lend.
It 'urts me, I tells 'im, to ark at 'im moan,
An' I 'aven't the 'eart to refuse.
So I gives the poor coot a fidoosary loan
In the shape of some nice I.0.U.'s.
Now is the healing, quiet hour that fills
This gay, green world with peace and grateful rest.
Where lately over opalescent hills
The blood of slain Day reddened all the west,
Now comes at Night's behest,
A glow that over all the forest spills,
As with the gold of promised daffodils.
Of all hours this is best.
It is time for thoughts of holy things,
Of half-forgotten friends and one's own folk.
O'er all, the garden-scented sweetness clings
To mingle with the wood fire's drifting smoke.
A bull-frog's startled croak
Sounds from the gully where the last bird sings
His laggard vesper hymn, with folded wings;
And night spreads forth her cloak.
Keeping their vigil where the great range yearns,
Like rigid sentries stand the wise old gums.
On blundering wings a night-moth wheels and turns
And lumbers on, mingling its drowsy hums
With that far roll of drums,
Where the swift creek goes tumbling amidst the ferns...
Now, as the first star in the zenith burns,
The dear, soft darkness comes.
A Duty Done - 1933
A duty done ... What else was there to do?
A simple matter; and as simply solved.
His straight young mind worked straightly - worked as true
As ever youth's clean mind. Here no involved
And weighty pondering of faith or fact.
Duty demanded; and he leapt to act.
He leapt and died . . . Could he but tell it now,
There would, be sure, come no heroic tale.
'What else would any man do, any how?'
This thing cried to be done. How could he fail?
The cry; the danger; Duty's sudden call;
Then - well, a bit of bad luck. That was all.
They say that youth grows cynical: too prone
To weigh advantage; thro' some modern plan
Changed from the clear-eyed youth old days had known:
More of a crafty huckster, less a man.
They say - and they are answered by one youth,
Proving again one wholesome human truth.
A duty done; and valiantly done.
Tho' death came in the doing, yet, who knows
At what wise ordering? No living one
May say how kind death be to such as those
Youth, unjustified, triumphing on his way,
Quiet hero of this world of work-a-day.
Borrowin' over the water; I've seen it all before
Raisin' loans (said Old George Jones)
Was a trick we learned of yore.
Borrowin' over the water
In the old Australian way
Splash the cash an' cut a dash
An' leave the kids to pay.
Steel rails an' sausage skins, cotton goods an' fal-de-rals,
Drapery an' rollin'-stock an' pocket knives an' sich;
That was how we took it out
When we was but a growin' lout;
But sich-like habits calls for doubt
Now we are grown an' rich.
Borrowin' over the water for reproductive works
That ain't produced; sich habits used
To mark the crowd that shirks.
That's why we're heaped with taxes
In this sad year A.D.
Thro' the ancient tricks of politics
In borrowin' overseas.
Airyplanes an' motor-cars, guns an' bombs an' bayonits
The cash is here to buy the things an' meet the whole expense.
But seems we'll never mend our ways;
An' habits learned in olden days
Sticks hard; so we keep up the craze
An' borrow for defence.
Advance Australia! Pile the loans.
The kids'll pay (said Old George Jones).
The Rose And The Bee
'Well, what tidings today?' said the bee
To the burgeoning rose.
'You are young, yet already you see
Much of life, I suppose.'
Said the rose, 'Oh, this life is so filled
With astonishing things
That I think I could not be more thrilled
E'en if roses had wings.
Three lupins have bloomed by the pond
Since last you were here;
In the nest of the blue-wrens beyond
Three nestlings appear.
A gay butterfly slept by my side
All yesternight thro'
Till dawn, when a thrush hymned his pride.
But how goes it with you?'
'There are great things at hand,' said the bee.
'Change comes to my life.
In my hive in the woollybutt tree
Strange rumors are rife.
The old queen grows restless, I fear,
She is planning to roam;
And I must adventure this year
From the old, safe home.
'Old Black Wallaby's limping, I see,
Trap again, I suppose.
Life is full of mischance,' said the bee.
'Ah, no,' sighed the rose.
'Despite all the folly and sin
And the gala and the strife,
It's a wonderful world we live in,
It's a wonderful life.'
The Faith Of Old George Jones
War raged around this troubled world,
When I was but a lad,
And into battle men were hurled,
As some ambition mad
Moved kings on their unstable thrones
To bring the world unease.
Mad days, I'll grant (said old George Jones),
But not as mad as these.
They fought for power, fought for gain,
For land and plunder then;
They fought for ends that they made plain
And understood of men.
But in this strangely restless age,
And this world's changing scene,
Men fight and die while nations rage,
For visions half unseen.
They fight for theories untried,
Ideals, untested creeds,
And seek their ends thro' fratricide,
While hate's rank passion breeds.
On this red soil . . . Must I, a man
Unlettered, pierce the mist,
And bind myself so to some strange plan
Fascist or Socialist?
I am a man. It is enough.
I ply a peaceful trade.
What should I know of this queer stuff
Of which their dreams are made?
Small is the wisdom mankind owns,
But, as his knowledge grows,
It seems to me (said old George Jones),
His hard-won wisdom goes.
As Between Pensioners
''Tis precious stuff,' said old George Jones
'When men sore needs a fall;
Tho' how or why it comes, I owns
I ain't got clear at all.
Some sez that in the sun, a spot
Controls it in some way.'
'It's this 'ere wireless, like as not,'
Said old Pete Parraday.
'Wireless,' scoffed grey-haired Joey Park.
'Wot wireless did they use
When ole man Noah sailed the ark?
It's them black cockytoos.
Last week I seen more than a few,
An' then wot did I say '
''Tis wireless - I'm tellin' you!'
Said old Pete Parraday.
'Cockies? Sun-spots?' said Daddy Shore,
'Jist foolish talk an' vain.
It's this 'ere Abbysinian war
An' guns as causes rain.
Ain't it been proved by natcharil laws
Time an' again, the way '
'It's this 'ere wireless is the cause,'
Said old Pete Parraday.
Said old George Jones, 'Ain't you ashamed
To talk the way you do?
It's providence gits mostly blamed
When things is lookin' blue.
Ain't the rain now due? For ain't we got
O'er all this world full sway?'
'Too right. But wireless helps a lot,'
Said old Pete Parraday.
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.
The Old White Horse
In olden days the Old White Horse
Stood brave against the sky;
And ne'er a teamster shaped his course
To pass the good inn by.
Far shone its lights o' winter nights
To beckon weary men;
By the long road where calm life flowed
It loomed a landmark then.
And many a good right yarn was spun
Mid pewter-pots agleam;
And mnay a friendship here begun
Grew riper as the team
Drew down the road its precious load
Of merchandise or mail,
And faced the ills of long, steep hills
To far-off Lilydale.
The tap-room rang to many a song,
While patient teams stood there;
And talk and laughter loud and long
Held nothing of despair;
For spoke they then, those bearded men,
Of fortunes shining near
Spoke with a grand faith in their land,
A faith that laughed at fear.
Gone are the days and gone the ways
Of easy, calm content;
Yet few supposed an epoch closed
The day the old inn went.
Now, past brick homes trim and cold,
The swift cars, speeding by,
Shall see no beacon as of old,
Shall see no brave White Horse stand bold
Against a hopeful sky.
Side by side near the road they stand
Like grave old men grown wise with years,
Veterans twain in this forest land,
Marching together, hand to hand,
Sober as ancient seers.
Gnarled and bitten and scarred and bent,
Sap run sluggish and youth all spent,
They lift spare limbs to the heartening sky,
World-worn and weary, yet loth to die.
They had known the bite of the blunt stone axe
(Wounds like warrior's long healed scars)
When they hid the quarry of hunting blacks,
Ranging the forest with eyes on the tracks
That led to these lusty spare
Spars grown old ere the spoilers came
To give this forest to blade and flame;
Too old to profit that ruthless greed
Which their likelier kinsmen went to feed.
For eight score summers the winds that blow
Down thro' the forest have worked their will;
For eight score winters storm and snow,
Frost and fury have bowed them low;
Yet stand the veterans still,
By the side of the road where the cars run down
With their transient freights to the mushroom town;
And they lift spare limbs to the deathless sky,
World-worn and weary, yet loth to die.
The Listening Week
This is the listening week of the year
A-cock and alert is the national ear
All over the land in the country towns,
From the back of the Leeuwin to Darling Downs,
Layers of 'quids' or the odd half-crowns,
They are listening-in.
On the far-flung farms they are round each set,
The work and the worry they all forget,
Wherever an aerial soars in space
To the Cup, or the Oaks or the Steeplechase,
To the roar of the ring and the lure of the race
They are listening-in.
In the far outback there are sun-tanned men,
Where the woolshed stands by the drafting pen
Old Dad's come in from the Ninety Mile;
He scored on the Cup and he wears a smile,
And he 'reckons this game is well worth while'
So he's listening in.
To the edge of the desert the sound-waves go;
Ned of the Overland, Saltbush Joe
Recall the giants of years long past,
And the loneliness of these spaces vast;
But they reckon that life's worth living at last
With this listening-in.
The Idle Son
Young Benjamin left school this year
And stepped right in a job;
And he starts in hope of a life career,
Like his eldest brother, Bob.
But Sam, the lad who came between,
Born in the fateful year 'thirteen,
Still vainly seeks a place;
And the mark of his fate, too plainly seen,
Dawns in his listless face.
For Sam was born in a black year,
In the year of the world's black rage
To rob his youth of childish mirth;
And another curse was on the earth
In the year he came of age.
War and depression, this grim twain,
Have clouded life for a bright young brain.
Life smiles for Benjamin and Bob,
Each lucky in his age;
But the count of years falls ill to rob
Same of his heritage:
Too old for a youth's apprenticeship,
Untrained, too young for a man's firm grip,
Tho' a man in stature grown,
He lives to see his chances slip,
Thro' no fault of his own.
For Sam was born in a black year,
In a black year came from school.
But we who know past years of ease
Hold stern responsibilities
Ere his youthful ardours cool.
Ours is the duty, ours the task
To yield what youth has right to ask.
The Old Brass Rail
Foot on the rail in the olden days,
For all the world to see,
A jolly old lot, they took their pot
All unashamed and free,
Passing their jest from lip to lip,
Puffing away the foam,
Till a small voice cried from the path outside:
'Ma says, you're to come on home.'
Foot on the rail they faced the world
And cared not who should know;
And many they went, thro' a life mis-spent
As man a man must go
Straight to the dogs from the old brass rail,
Lost and ruined and wrecked:
But he went to his fate with the game played straight:
And he went with his head erect.
Then came the camel, with his lip adroop,
Calling an end to fun.
Tho' his cause was strong, his way was wrong,
And his task was most ill done.
Turning a man to a furtive sneak,
Stealing by ways obscure,
Bad if you will was the old, old ill;
But worse by far was the cure.
Oh, man will sin as his fathers sinned
Since ever this world was made;
But, if he must sin, then let him sin
In the open, unafraid;
Foot on the old brass rail again
For all the world to see.
A jolly old lot who takes his tot
All unashamed and free.
Oh, I've ridden 'em rough an' I've ridden 'em kind,
Brumbies and prads well-bred.
Of every colour and every kind
(The old stock-rider said).
I've broken the wild Blanchwater colts
An' Walers from down Noo South,
An' every sort that bucks or bolts,
With every sort of mouth.
An' I thought I knew the musterin' game
Right thro' from A to Z.
An' every sort of nag you'd name
(The old stock-rider said).
I've wheeled 'em up in the Queensland scrub,
An' tailed 'em back o' Bourke,
To skite in many an old bush pub
I was master of all bush work.
But musterin' cattle be aeroplanes?
What profit does it bring?
An' I don't see how a bushman gains,
For it ain't a natural thing.
Soaring' and roarin' an' rampin' round
In a rackety tin machine,
When a natural horse on natural ground
Beats all yer keraseen.
I suppose it's progress as they say,
But the thing's against all laws.
So I'm saddlin' up an' I'm off away
Where they ain't got them gee-gaws.
For I got no time for aeroplanes;
But a prad with a good, kind eye,
An' the press o' the knee and the feel of the reins
Is my game till I die.