A Psalm of Fortitude [poem by Joseph Furphy]

[Editor: This poem by Joseph Furphy was published in The Poems of Joseph Furphy (1916).]

A Psalm of Fortitude.

Are you, like me, a peevish brat,
With feelings extra-fine?
Are you disposed to whip the cat
When misadventure lays you flat?
Then paste this memo in your hat —
A Man Should Never Whine.

The axiom is no safeguard rare,
Nor talisman divine;
For, deaf to bounce as well as prayer,
Grim Fate will never turn a hair.
But still the principle is there —
A Man Should Never Whine.

When “Answers” spurns your doggerel lay
(He often baskets mine)
And balks you of renown and pay,
Squirm not, but laugh, and darkly say,
“Ha! tyrant! there will come a day!”
A Bard Should Never Whine.

Should Gladys freeze you from her sight,
Don’t languish or repine;
But let her know, in terms polite,
That she has made your future bright;
Then marry Ermyntrude for spite —
A Bloque Should Never Whine.

A killing frost may nip your buds
(There’s Wolsey as a sign);
You may forego your stylish duds,
And trade away your pin and studs,
To live on bandicooted spuds;
But you Must Never Whine.

Religiously, your cake is dough —
You haven’t walk’d the line.
Peter won’t know you from a crow;
So your address must be “Below,”
Where Socialists and such-like go;
Still You Must Never Whine.

But even should Repentance come,
Don’t supplicate and pine.
Seek out the corybantic scrum,
And caper round the mighty drum,
And make Salvation fairly hum —
A Saint Should Never Whine.

Beneath such petty details lies
Calm Nature’s great design,
That we on stepping-stones should rise;
And any decent chap who tries
To score some points before he dies
Can Surely Never Whine.

Things standing thus, it is not nice
To rate yourself a swine;
Just let this argument suffice:
An abject whimper cuts no ice,
But only tends to lower your price —
A Man Should Never Whine.

K. B. [Kate Baker] (editor), The Poems of Joseph Furphy, Melbourne: Lothian Book Publishing Co., 1916, pages 15-16

Editor’s notes:
Answers = the “Answers” section in a newspaper, where an editor answers correspondence; in early newspapers the “Answers” section often contained criticisms and rejections of submitted poetry

axiom = a proposition, principle or rule which is commonly accepted as true; a self-evident truth

basket = throw into a waste paper basket, put into a rubbish bin

Below = Hell (in the context of death)

bloque = bloke; man, chap, fellow

corybantic = frenzied, unrestrained, wild (in Greek mythology, the Corybants were nine dancers who danced and played music around the goddess Cybele; the priests of Cybele were also known as Corybants)

lay = song, tune; ballad

Peter = in a religious context, Saint Peter, traditionally regarded as the Saint who stands at the Gates of Heaven, determining whether or not those who present themselves should be allowed to enter

whip the cat = to drink alcohol (may also refer to: vomiting, especially from imbibing too much alcoholic drink); may also refer to: a) itinerant tradesmen, especially tailors, working in private homes; b) crying over spilt milk, i.e. “to whip the cat who spilt the milk”; c) a specific practical joke whereby a man is pulled through a pond
See: 1) Eric Partridge, A Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English, Milton Park (Abingdon, Oxford): Routledge, 2006, p. 1329
2) Terry Breverton, The Pirate Dictionary, Gretna (Louisiana): Pelican Publishing, 2007, p.185

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