Gimme the Ground [poem by “Dryblower” Murphy, 1926]

[Editor: This poem by “Dryblower” Murphy was published in Dryblower’s Verses (1926).]

Gimme the Ground.

The more that I see about science —
Flyin’ and spinnin’ in space —
The more I am placin’ reliance
Where caution comes into the case.
I never was shook on this sky stuff —
This climbin’ away in the clouds;
The praise an’ the silly good-bye stuff
The coo-ees and cheers from the crowds.
I dunno what object they’re gainin’;
The machine may be dinkum and sound,
But whenever they start aeroplanin’
Gimme the ground!

I’m a bloke that’s not given to grumble,
Though when I am roared I can rouse;
Gimme the ground, though it’s ’umble,
Though I don’t mind a two story ’ouse.
Us yoomans was made for the terra
(That’s Latin for dinkum ’ard dirt),
And I don’t think I’m makin’ an error
When I tell ’em its safety’s a cert.
I don’t want a lingerin’ dyin’,
Or a crash on a tree or a mound;
So when you start flutin’ on flyin’
Gimme the ground!

There’s danger above and below us;
There’s risks that you ortent to run.
There’s dynamite waitin’ to blow us
To slumber we all want to shun.
There’s gold mines an’ coal mines an’ rivers;
There’s chimney pots blown orf a roof;
There’s steeples that give you the shivers;
There’s death from the ’orn and the ’oof.
To the cattle-rush I ain’t no stranger,
I’ve bin where the roughies abound,
But whenever I donkey with danger
Gimme the ground!

I don’t say there shouldn’t be flyers
Well paid from the Government purse,
For speedin’ to faraway fires,
Or takin a doctor or nurse.
If a farm was surrounded by niggers,
Or a baby was likely to be,
If some joker would teach me the jiggers —
Spare me days, they could call upon me!
But when it is just for the show-off,
Or sprintin’ a swanker around;
If on joy-rides they’re dyin’ to go off,
Gimme the ground!

They skite about airways an’ skyways,
Figure-eights, volplanes and stalls;
Well, me for macadamised highways
Where the honest ole blucher-boot falls.
If yore slung from a buggy or saddle —
Well, you do ’ave a charnce for yore neck
But when from the sky you skedaddle
Yore somethin’ the crows ’ave to peck.
A bloke ain’t much good to ’ees missus
When ’ees head with a halo is crowned,
An’, as I love comfort an’ kisses —
Gimme the ground!

Edwin Greenslade Murphy, Dryblower’s Verses, Perth, W.A.: E. G. Murphy, 1926, pages 12-13

Previously published (with some differences) in:
The Sunday Times (Perth, WA), 11 December 1921, p. 4

Editor’s notes:
blucher-boots = (also known as “bluchers”) dress shoes for men, distinguished by open lacing; or a high shoe or half boot; named after the Prussian military leader Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher, who fought against Napoleon at Waterloo

cert = a certain bet, very sure

dinkum = genuine, authentic, on the level

jigger = a thing; something the name of which has been forgotten or is not known (a thingamajig, a whosamawhatsit); also, someone who dances a jig, a machine with a bit which jigs (jerks or rocks to and fro); a small metal container used for measuring alcoholic drinks (or the amount of alcohol that such a container holds, usually 1 to 2 ounces, i.e. 30 to 60 milliliters); a small sail situated at the stern of a ship

macadamise = to make a road surface with madacam, i.e. by laying and compressing successive layers of broken stones, usually bound together with asphalt or hot tar; named after John McAdam (1756–1836), the Scottish engineer who invented the process

nigger = a black person; in an historical Australian context, most likely used to refer to an Australian Aborigine

rouse = (slang) get angry, lose one’s temper; rebuke, scold, tell off

skedaddle = flee, run away, retreat

skite = boast; boasting

swanker = someone who behaves or dresses in such a way as to impress people; someone who shows off, swaggers, or is pretentious in style

terra = (Latin) land; especially used in the phrase “terra firma”, meaning “firm land” (i.e. solid earth), also used to refer to dry land in a nautical context

volplane = to glide in an aeroplane, with no engine or with the engine turned off (from the French “vol plané”, meaning “glided flight”)

Vernacular spellings:
an’ (and)
’ard (hard)
’ave (have)
dunno (don’t know)
’ees (his)
’em (them)
gimme (give me)
ole (old)
orf (off)
ortent (oughtn’t)
yoomans (humans)
yore (your, you’re)

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