Out West

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

'I've seen so much uv dirt an' grime
I'm mad to 'ave things clean.
I've seen so much uv death,' 'e said
'So many cobbers lyin' dead
You won't know wot I mean;
But, lad, I've 'ad so much uv strife
I want things straightened in my life.

'I've seen so much uv 'ate,' 'e said
'Mad 'ate an' silly rage
I'm yearnin' for clear thoughts,' said 'e.
'Kindness an' love seem good to me.
I want a new, white page
To start all over, clean an' good,
An' live me life as reel men should.'

We're sittin' talkin' by the fence,
The sun's jist going' down,
Paintin' the sky all gold an' pink.
Said 'e, 'When it's like that, I think -'
An' then 'e stops to frown.
Said 'e, 'I think, when it's jist so,
Uv… God or somethin': I dunno.

'I ain't seen much uv God,' said 'e;
'Not here nor Over There;
But, partly wot I've seen an' read,
An' partly wot the padre said,
It gits me when I stare
Out West when it's like that is now.
There must be somethin' else - some'ow.

'I've thought a lot,' said Digger Smith
'Out There I thought a lot.
I thought uv death, an' all the rest,
An' uv me mates, good mates gone West;
An' it ain't much I've got;
But things get movin' in me 'ead
When I look over there,' 'e said.

'E's got me beat, 'as little Smith.
I knoo 'im years ago:
I knoo 'im as a reel tough boy
'Oo roughed it up with 'oly joy;
But now, well, I dunno.
An' when I ask Mar Flood she sighs
An' sez 'e's got the Anzac eyes.

She sez 'e's got them soldier's eyes,
That makes 'er own eyes wet.
An' we must give 'im wholesome food
An' lead 'is thoughts to somethin' good
An' never let 'im fret.
But 'e ain't frettin', seems to me;
More - puzzled, fur as I can see.

The clouds above the hills was tore
Apart, until some'ow,
It seemed like some big shinin' gate.
Said 'e, 'Why, lad, I tell yeh straight,
I feel like startin' now,
An' walking on, an' on, an' thro',
Dead game an' - ain't it so to you?

'I've seen enough uv pain,' 'e said,
'An' cursin', killin' 'ordes.
I ain't the man to smooge with God
To get to 'Eaven on the nod,
Or 'owl 'ymns for rewards.
But this believin'? Why - Oh, 'Struth!
This never 'it me in me youth.

'They talk uv love 'twixt men,' said 'e.
'That sounds dead crook to you.
But lately I 'ave come to see.'…
''Old on,' I said; 'it seems to me
There's love uv women too.
An' you?' 'E turns away 'is 'ead.
'I'm only 'alf a man,' 'e said.

'I've seen so much uv death,' said 'e,
'Me mind is in a whirl.
I've 'ad so many thoughts uv late.'…
Said I, 'Now tell me, tell me straight,
Own up; ain't there a girl?'
Said 'e, 'I've done the best I can.
Wot does she want with 'arf a man?'

It weren't no use. 'E wouldn't talk
Uv nothin' but that sky.
Said 'e, 'Now, dinkum, talking square,
When you git gazin' over there
Don't you 'arf want to cry?
I wouldn't be surprised to see
An angel comin' out,' said 'e.

'Gone West!' said Digger Smith. 'Ah, lad,
I've seen them goin' West,
An' often wonder, when I look,
If they 'ave 'ad it dealt 'em crook,
Or if they've got the rest
They earned twice over by the spell
They spent down in that dinkum 'Ell.'

The gold was creepin' up, the sun
Was 'arf be'ind the range.
It don't seem strange a man should cry
To see that glory in the sky
To me it don't seem strange.
'Digger!' said 'e. 'Look at it now!
There must be somethin' else - some 'ow.'

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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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    "Out West" Poetry.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2020. Web. 27 Sep. 2020. <https://www.poetry.net/poem/6515/out-west>.

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