The Mirror

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

'Alas!' said the devil, said he to me
And his swart face drooped with care
'Life is a liar, a cheat,' said he
 'And the end of it all - despair.
Why mourn you here, poor pawn of the Fates?
The way lies ready: the hemlock waits.
And I'll give you a toast ere you seek release:
'To Death, the gentleman, crowned with peace'!'

'Have done, smart devil!' I made reply.
'Have done with your air of gloom.
The world seemed dreary for such as I
Ere you came into the room.
I was ready, I own, for the crowning sin,
But your foolish babbling makes me grin.
Yet the poisoned cup might I e'en now quaff;
But how can I drink when I want to laugh?

'Poor fool!' moaned the devil. 'Vain words you lisp,
Dull dupe of an ancient lie.
What seek you here but a will-o'-the-wisp,
Mocking you till you die?
For the world's gone mad and the nations rave.
Choose! An ugly dream, or a peaceful grave.
You shall thirst, you shall starve while the earth you roam.
Ah, pick up the dagger and drive it home.'

'Oh, foolish devil!' I made reply.
'Thus to defeat you end,
With your woeful visage and wistful eye:
I could greet you now as a friend.
For, as in a mirror, I now have seen
The fear-crazed fool that I might have been.
Come; tell me some more of this cheerless earth.'
But the devil was gone; and I shrieked with mirth.

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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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"The Mirror" Poetry.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2020. Web. 7 Aug. 2020. <https://www.poetry.net/poem/6730/the-mirror>.

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