Confidential Canberra

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

Nay, Mr Speaker, let the ideal stay,
The picture that voters have in mind
Of Solons in debate far leagues away
Deep in the problems of poor humankind.
Here where the Cotter wends by verdant banks,
Let them imagine eloquence sublime
And for those blessings offer grateful thanks,
And vote for us again when comes the time.

Never the real! Ah, let no listening 'mike'
Whose ear ubiquitous within the house,
Gathers too truly what debates are like
When Ministers grow hot and members rouse,
When shouts across the floor fly back and forth
And loose tongues wag with little thought for care,
When words released in unconsidered wrath
Are flung regardless to the ambient air.

Think, Mr Speaker. All that Canberra means
All that it typifies is here at stake.
Must Cairns be privy to unlovely scenes,
The Leeuwin learn of all the bulls we make?
Must the unguarded phrase the tart retort
From Darwin down to Derwent and beyond
Borne on the trembling ether be a sport
Where'er loud speakers mockingly respond.

Why have we set these legislative halls
Midst sylvan scenes within the distant bush
If, broadcast, all the clamor but recalls
Forgotten pictures of a noisy push
That once in other cities held debate
Too publicly to let our words run free.
Condemn us not again to that sad fate.
Preserve our prestige! Spare our dignity.

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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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"Confidential Canberra" Poetry.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2020. Web. 10 Aug. 2020. <https://www.poetry.net/poem/6264/confidential-canberra>.

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