A Different Meaning

Clarence Michael James Stanislaus Dennis 1876 (Auburn) – 1938 (Melbourne)

It is truly as lucid as lucid can be;
It is plain as the nose on your face
Though the tactics may be a disgrace, don't you see,
The tactician is not a disgrace.
He may wobble and swerve and crayfish and curve
It is all of it part of the game
But you mustn't say 'Wobbler,' for, prithee, observe
That the meaning is not quite the same.

One might carry this argument ever so far
There is not the least good in denying
That though a man's talk may be lies you must baulk
At describing the talker as 'lying.'
His work may be slow, but it's nonsense, you know.
To declare that the man's a 'slow worker.'
And it he should shirk in the House all his work
'Twould be foolish to call him a 'shirker.'

In quoting such things one could fill up a ream;
It is so to the end of the chatter.
A man who adapts his adversary's scheme,
He need never be called an 'adapter.'
And if he should fuse, it is not the least use
To describe him as being a 'Fuser.'
Such a use of the word is distinctly absurd,
And would earn but contempt for the user.

For a statesman's a statesman right on to the end,
Never mind what his actions resemble;
He may bargain and palter and stumble and falter
And wheedle and scheme and dissemble.
But, observe, these are acts, and though probably facts
That would earn for the mere politician
A horrible name, it is not quite the same
When applied to a master tactician.

And so, you electors, when chewing the ended
Of reflection, attend to this study.
And observe, though a member may meddle with mud
He in not, of necessity, muddy.
Though he turns like a weathercock ten ways at once,
Till you never know which way he's leaning,
To call him a weathercock proves you a dunce,
For it has quite a different meaning.

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

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Clarence Michael James Stanislaus Dennis

Clarence Michael James Stanislaus Dennis, better known as C. J. Dennis, was an Australian poet known for his humorous poems, especially "The Songs of a Sentimental Bloke", published in the early 20th century. Though Dennis's work is less well known today, his 1915 publication of The Sentimental Bloke sold 65,000 copies in its first year, and by 1917 he was the most prosperous poet in Australian history. Together with Banjo Paterson and Henry Lawson, both of whom he had collaborated with, he is often considered among Australia's three most famous poets. While attributed to Lawson by 1911, Dennis later claimed he himself was the 'laureate of the larrikin'. When he died at the age of 61, the Prime Minister of Australia Joseph Lyons suggested he was destined to be remembered as the 'Australian Robert Burns'. more…

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