To His Dead Cobber
from The Sentimental Bloke

C.J. Dennis

I'm sittin' 'ere, Mick - sittin' 'ere today,
Feelin' 'arf glum, 'arf sorter - reverent,
Thinkin' strange, crooked thorts of 'ow they say:
"The 'eads is bowed thro' all a continent";
An' wond'rin - wond'rin 'in a kind of doubt
If other coves is feelin' like I do,
Tryin' to figure wot it's all about,
An' - if it's meanin' anythin' to you.

Silence... The hour strikes soon thro' all the land
An 'eads bend low. Old mate, give me your 'and.
Silence - for you, Mick, an' for blokes like you
To mark the Day - the Day you never knoo.

The Day you never knoo, nor we forget...
I can't tell why I'm sittin' 'ere this way,
Scrawlin' a message that you'll never get -
Or will you? I dunno. It's 'ard to say.
P'raps you'll know all about it, where you are,
An' think, "Ah, well, they ain't too bad a lot."
An' tell them other digs up on your star
That now, or nevermore, they ain't fergot.

Silence... Not ere alone, Mick - everywhere -
In city an' in country 'eads are bare.
An', in this room, it seems as if l knoo
Some friend 'oo came -- Ole cobber! Is it you?

Me 'eart is full,
Mick... 'Struth! I ain't the bloke,
As you well know, to go all soft an' wet.
Fair's fair, lad. Times I've known when you 'ave spoke
Like you was tough an' 'ard as 'ell - an' yet
Somethin' be'ind your bluff an' swagger bold
Showed all them narsty sentiments was kid.

It was that thing inside yeh, lad, wot told.
It made you go an' do the thing you did.

Silence... There's mothers, Mick. You never knoo
No mother. But they're prayin' for you too.
In every heart - The Boys! The Boys are there,
The Boys... That very name, lad, is a pray'r.

The Boys! Old cobber, I can see 'em still:
The drums are rollin' an' the sunlight gleams
On bay'nits. Men are marchin' with a will
On to the glory of their boy'ood's dreams.
Glory? You never found it that, too much.
But, lad, you stuck it - stuck it with the rest,
An' if your bearin' 'ad no soulful touch,
'Twas for OUR souls that you went marchin' - West.

Silence... The children too, Mick - little kids,
Are standin'. Not becos their teacher bids:
They've knoo no war; but they 'ave stopped their play
Becos they know, they feel it is The Day.

So may it be thro' all the comin' years.
But sorrow's gone, lad. It's not that we know.
The sobbin's passed, 'ole cobber, an' the tears,
An' well we un'erstand you'd 'ave it so.

But somethin' deeper far than that 'as come,
Somethin' a mind can't get within its bound,
Somethin' l can't explain. A man is dumb
When 'e thinks... Listen! 'Ear the bugles sound!


* * * *

Well, Mick, ole cock, I dunno why I've wrote,
It's just to ease a thing inside wot says
"Sit down, you sloppy coot, an' write a note
To that ole cobber of the olden days.
'E'll know - for sure 'e'll know". "So, lad, it's done,
Work's waitin', an' a man can't get in wrong:
Our goal is still ahead. But yours is won:
That's the one thing we know, lad, an - So long.

Silence... It's over, Mick; so there you are.
I know you're 'appy up there on yer star.
Believe us, lad; that star shall never fall
While one is left to say, "Gawd keep 'em all!"

Fire of the Southern Cross: A Collection of Poetry for Australian Nationalists

Australian Nationalism Information Database -