Introduction [to The Moods of Ginger Mick, poem by C. J. Dennis]

[Editor: This poem by C. J. Dennis was published in The Moods of Ginger Mick (1916).]

Introduction

Jist to intrajuice me cobber, an’ ’is name is Ginger Mick —
A rorty boy, a naughty boy, wiv rude ixpressions thick
In ’is casu’l conversation, an’ the wicked sort o’ face
That gives the sudden shudders to the lor-abidin’ race.

’Is name is on the records at the Melbourne City Court,
Fer doin’ things an’ sayin’ things no reel nice feller ort;
An’ ’is name is on the records uv the Army, over there,
Fer doin’ things — same sort o’ things that rose the Bench’s ’air.

They never rung no joy-bells when ’e made ’is first de-boo;
But ’e got free edjication, w’ich they fondly shoved ’im thro’;
Then turned ’im loose in Spadger’s Lane to ’ang around the street
An’ ’elp the cop to re-erlize the ’ardness uv ’is beat.

Then ’e quickly dropped ’is aitches, so as not to be mistook
Fer an edjicated person, ’oo ’is cobbers reckoned crook;
But ’e ’ad a trick wiv figgers that ud make a clerk look sick;
So ’e pencilled fer a bookie; an’ ’e ’awked a bit, did Mick.

A bloke can’t be partic’lar ’oo must battle fer a crust;
An’ some, they pinch fer preference, an’ some, becos they must.
When times is ’ard, an’ some swell coves is richer than they ort;
Well, it’s just a little gamble fer a rise, agin the Court.

Now, Mick wus never in it as a reel perfeshnal crook,
But sometimes cops ’as slabs uv luck, so sometimes ’e wus took,
An’ ’e got a repitation, thro’ ’im bein’ twice interned;
But ’e didn’t skite about it, ’cos ’e felt it wasn’t earned.

I reckerlect one time a Beak slings Mick a slab uv guff,
Wiv “Thirty days or forty bob” (Mick couldn’t raise the stuff) —
An’ arsts ’im where ’is conshuns is, an’ w’y ’e can’t be good,
An’ Mick jist grins, an’ takes it out, an’ never understood.

An’ that is orl there wus to Mick, wiv orl ’is leery ways.
If I wus up among the ’eads, wiv right to blame or praise,
Whenever some sich bloke as ’im wus tucked away fer good
I’d chalk them words above ’is ’ead: “’E never understood.”

If I wus up among the ’eads, wiv right to judge the game,
I’d look around fer chance to praise, an’ sling the flamin’ blame;
Fer findin’ things in blokes to praise pays divvies either way;
An’ wot they’re blamed fer yesterd’y brings ’early cheers to-day.

Yes, ’earty cheers frum thortless coots ’oo feel dead sure their God
Would never ’ave no time fer crooks ’oo does a stretch in quod;
’Oo reckon ’eaven is a place where orl folk tork correck,
An’ Judgment, where the “vulgar” gits it solid in the neck.

An’ Ginger Mick wus vulgar. ’Struth! When things wus gettin’ slow
’E took to ’awkin’ rabbits, w’ich is very, very low —
’E wus the sort o’ bloke to watch when ’e come in yer gate:
’E ’ad a narsty fightin’ face that orl nice people ’ate.

’E ’ad that narsty fightin’ face that peaceful folk call grim;
But I ’ave seen it grow reel soft when kiddies spoke to ’im.
’E ’ad them narsty sullen eyes that nice folk can’t enjure;
But I ’ave seen a smile in ’em that made our frien’ship sure.

There’s men ’oo never knoo ole Mick, an’ passed ’im in the street,
An’ looks away an’ sez, “See ’im? A narsty chap to meet!
’E’d be an ugly customer alone an’ after dark!”
An’ Mick, ’e’d twitch ’is jor at ’em, ’arf earnest, ’arf a lark.

That wus the sort o’ character that Mick earned be ’is looks.
The talk uv ’im, the walk uv ’im, put ’im among the crooks.
An’ Mick, ’e looks on swank an’ style as jist a lot o’ flam,
An’ snouted them that snouted ’im, an’ never give a dam.

But spite uv orl ’is ’ulkin’ frame, an’ langwidge flowin’ free,
I seen the thing inside uv Mick that made ’im good to me.
An’ spite uv orl the sneerin’ ways that leery blokes imploy,
I knoo ’im jist fer wot ’e wus — a big, soft-’earted boy.

Fer when a bloke ’as come to be reel cobbers wiv a bloke,
They sorter swap good fellership wivout words bein’ spoke.
I never slung no guff to Mick, ’e never smooged to me,
But we could smoke, an’ ’old our jor, an’ be reel company.

There ’as bin times that ’e would curse to ’ave recalled by me,
When I ’ave seen ’im doin’ things that coves calls charity;
An’ there’s been times, an’ frequent times, in spite uv orl ’is looks,
When I ’ave ’eard ’im sayin’ things that blokes shoves inter books.

But Ginger Mick wus Ginger Mick — a leery boy, fer keeps,
’Oo ’owled “Wile Rabbee!” in the streets, in tones that give yeh creeps.
’E never planned ’is mode uv life, nor chose the Lane fer lair,
No more than ’e designed ’is chiv or colour uv ’is ’air.

So Ginger ’awked, an’ Ginger pinched, an’ Ginger went to quod,
An’ never thort to waste ’is time in blamin’ man or God —
An’ then there came the Call uv Stoush, or Jooty — wot’s a name?
An’ Ginger cocked ’is ear to it, an’ found ’is flamin’ game.

I intrajuice me cobber ’ere; an’ don’t make no ixcuse
To any culchered click that it’s a peb I intrajuice.
I dunno wot ’is ratin’ wus in this ’ere soshul plan;
I only know, inside o’ me, I intrajuice a man.

The Sentimental Bloke.

Melbourne,
April 25th, 1916.



Source:
C. J. Dennis, The Moods of Ginger Mick, Sydney: Angus & Robertson, 1916, pages ix-xii

Editor’s notes:
beak = judge, magistrate

chiv = face (derived from “Chevy Chase”, the name of a popular song, which was used as rhyming slang for “face”, which then became “chivvy”, then “chiv”)
See: 1) “Rhyming slang ”, Maryborough Chronicle, Wide Bay and Burnett Advertiser (Maryborough, Qld.), 18 January 1895, p. 3
2) Eric Partridge (editor: Paul Beale), A Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English, 8th edition, Routledge, 2006, [p. 211] [see entry: “chiv”]

quod = a slang term for jail (gaol) or prison; from a reference to the prison quadrangle, or quad (also spelt as “quod”), where prisoners are exercised

smooge = flatter; to act in a fawning or ingratiating manner

stoush = fight, brawl (stoush may also mean to hit or punch)

’struth = an oath, a contraction of “God’s truth” (also rendered as “Gawstruth” or “Gorstruth”)

Vernacular spelling in the original text:
jooty (duty)
rabbee (rabbit)
wile (wild)

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