The Idle Son

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

Young Benjamin left school this year
And stepped right in a job;
And he starts in hope of a life career,
Like his eldest brother, Bob.
But Sam, the lad who came between,
Born in the fateful year 'thirteen,
Still vainly seeks a place;
And the mark of his fate, too plainly seen,
Dawns in his listless face.

For Sam was born in a black year,
In the year of the world's black rage
To rob his youth of childish mirth;
And another curse was on the earth
In the year he came of age.
War and depression, this grim twain,
Have clouded life for a bright young brain.

Life smiles for Benjamin and Bob,
Each lucky in his age;
But the count of years falls ill to rob
Same of his heritage:
Too old for a youth's apprenticeship,
Untrained, too young for a man's firm grip,
Tho' a man in stature grown,
He lives to see his chances slip,
Thro' no fault of his own.

For Sam was born in a black year,
In a black year came from school.
But we who know past years of ease
Hold stern responsibilities
Ere his youthful ardours cool.
Ours is the duty, ours the task
To yield what youth has right to ask.

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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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