The High Priest

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

Nay, why do foolish politicians strive
To win a fleeting popularity?
In vain, in vain, they jealously contrive
To turn the doting Public Eye from Me.
What was this land, this nation, destined for?
For Art, Trade, Politics? All out of place.
Behold, I am the Sporting Editor!
I call the race!

Reviewers, leader writers - what are they?
Subs., poets, novelists? Scribes of a sort
Mere puny scribbling creatures of a day;
While I, the people's idol, stand for Sport!
For mark, when inspiration falls on me,
What recks the public of that nameless band?
I ope' my lips, and wisdom, gushing free,
O'erflows the land.

I lift my voice, and, lo! an army wakes
A mighty host, a hundred thousand strong
To spread the message; while the nation quakes
And thunders with the burden of my song:
'Ten lengths from home 'Gray Lad' outstripped 'The Witch,'
And passed the post by just a short neck, first.'
These are the words, the pregnant words, for which
The land's athirst.

They are the children of my brain, mine own!
These mighty words for which the people yearn;
The product of my genius alone!
Would you begrudge the laurels that I earn?
Mark you, yon sturdy native, strong o' limb,
That leans against the lamp-post o'er the way
Approach, and learn of my great fame from him.
Approach and say:

'Awake! Arise! A curse on him who waits!
Behold, young man, thy country needs thy like;
The yellow hordes are panting at our gates.
Arouse, young patriot, go forth and strike!
Awake, and cast they reeking 'fag' away!
Arise, and take the white man's burden up!'
'I'll lay you ten to one, in 'quids,'' he'll say:
'Wot's won the Cup?'

Behold, the High Priest of the people's creed!
Proclaim his genius! The bays! The bays!
Come, crown the Sporting Editor - indeed,
He is familiar with bays - with grays.
'Ten lengths from home!' How exquisite! How chaste!
''Gray Lad' outstripped 'The Witch'!' What style! What grace!
Come, beauty, twine a laurel wreath. Nay, haste!
He calls the race!

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Submitted on May 13, 2011


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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