Old Town Types No27 - Sergeant Mat McGillicuddy

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

King of all the old town, gaoler, censor, too,
Bane of heavy sinners doing things they shouldn't do,
Terror of the cattle-duffers in the northern scrubs,
Keeping watch on criminals, cautioning the pubs
On those brief hours, in old days, when laws forbade their beer,
Looming forth on court-days, a Nemesis severe
Of a martinet and master in the art of keeping peace
Was Matthew Mark McGillicuddy, Sergeant of Police.

How the gleaming metal jingled, how the polished leather shone
When Sergeant Mat. McGillicuddy put his war-paint on:
Skin-tight corded riding breeches, spur and soldier-strap,
Cartridge case, revolver, and a smart, peaked cap,
A black 'imperial' that wagged beneath his stiff moustache
Authority personified - he cut a heavy dash
With his boots and buttons shining and his coat without a crease
Matthew Mark McGillicuddy, Sergeant of Police.

On race-days and show-days, when strangers sought the town,
The Sergeant was a stern man, and terrible his frown.
But he had scant use on off-days for his little goal of tin,
Save when, to keep the town's repute, he ran some roysterer in;
To come the 'morning after' with a foaming pot of beer:
''Tis agin the regulations; but I want no corpses here.
You perishing with heat an' thirst to but a spot of grease.
An' me firewood there needs splittin',' said the Sergeant of Police.

Then they made him an inspector in the city one sad day;
But he had a glorious 'send off' before he went away
One night of wild carousal that gave scandal for a week,
But the man sent to replace him was a truckler and a sneak,
A plague to petty sinners, a peeping Tom in pubs;
But a jest among the cattle-duffers in the northern scrubs.
  So we missed the human touch that lurked beneath the bluster

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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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