Cobbers and Quids

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

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.'

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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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