Barley Grass [poem by C.J. Dennis]

[Editor: This poem by C.J. Dennis was published in Backblock Ballads and Other Verses (1913). Most of the poetry of C.J. Dennis is written in the style of the Australian vernacular. See the Glossary for explanations of words and phrases.]

Barley Grass.

Wavin’ corn upon the hillside,
Twinklin’ daisies on the rise,
Mystic bushes across the ranges,
Wattle in its spring-time guise,
Stately gums that mark the twinin’s
Of the ole creek — let ’em pass.
Leave me here to lie, a-lazin’
In the noddin’ barley grass.

Barley grass was noddin’, noddin’
’Long the dear ole township track
Where, in school days, we were ploddin’:
Four mile there an’ four mile back.
Teacher, on the summer mornin’s,
Called us, scoldin’, from the class,
An’ we wasted precious moments
Pickin’ out the barley grass.

Barley grass insinuatin’,
In a summer long ago,
Gained a girl maternal ratin’,
Made a chap a holy show.
“Some one’s been to walk with some one —
Down the creek-side with a lass.
Fie, it ain’t no use denyin’
Tell-tale seeds of barley grass.”

Came a time, when fortune frownin’
Sent a spring in cruel guise:
Wilted corn upon the hillside,
Brown soil barren on the rise,
Droopin’ gums along the ole creek
Dry beneath a sky of brass;
An’ we longed for just the sight of
One green tuft of barley grass.

But we battled on together,
Her an’ me that mockin’ spring,
Never losin’ faith or doubting’
What the future was to bring.
Watchin’, waitin’ for the dawnin’,
For the time of trial to pass;
An’ ’twas her that found one mornin’
That first peep of barley grass.

We don’t want no wreath of roses,
We don’t want no immortelles,
When the last of us reposes
In the last of earthly spells.
Plant above — we ain’t presumin’
To be writ on stone or brass —
Just a modest, unassumin’,
Simple bit of barley grass.



Source:
C.J. Dennis. Backblock Ballads and Other Verses, E. W. Cole, Melbourne, [1913], pages 40-41

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