'A Gallant Gentleman'

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

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 l
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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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    "'A Gallant Gentleman'" Poetry.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2020. Web. 27 Sep. 2020. <https://www.poetry.net/poem/6141/'a-gallant-gentleman'>.

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