Langwidge [poem by C. J. Dennis]

[Editor: This poem by C. J. Dennis was published in Backblock Ballads and Other Verses (1913) and Backblock Ballads and Later Verses (1918).]


“The flamin’ cows!” ’e sez; ’e did, an’ worse;
’Twas ’orrible the langwidge that ’e used.
It made me blood run cold to ’ear ’im curse;
An’ me that taken-back-like an’ confused;
W’ile them poor beasts ’e belted an’ abused.
“They couldn’t shift,” ’e sez, “a blanky ’earse!
The flamin’ cows!”

“The flamin’ cows!” You oughter ’eard ’im curse.
You would ’a’ bin that shocked. . . . An’ the idear!
’Im usin’ such remarks about a ’earse;
An’ ’is own brother buried not a year.
“Not move a blanky ’earse!” ’e sez. My dear,
You ’ardly could imagine langwidge worse.
“The flamin’ cows!”

“The flamin’ cows!” Wot would the parson say?
An’ ’im so friendly-like with ’im an’ ’er.
I pity ’er; I do, ’cos, in ’er way.
She is respectable. But ’im! It’s fur
From me, as you well know, to cast a slur,
On anyone; but wot I ’eard that day. . . .
“The flamin’ cows!”

“The flamin’ cows!” I know quite well that we
Ain’t wot you’d call thin-skinned; and nasty pride
Is wot I never ’ad. . . . But ’er! . . . W’y she —
She’s allus that stuck-up an’ full o’ side;
A sort o’ thing I never could abide.
An’ all the time ’er ’usband . . . . Goodness me!
“The flamin’ cows!”

“The flamin’ cows!” O’ course ’e never knowed
That I was list’nin’ to ’im all the w’ile.
’E muster bin a full hour on the road;
An’, Lord, you could ’a’ ’eard ’im for a mile.
Jes’ ’cos they stuck ’im in that boggy sile:
“If they ain’t blanky swine,” ’e sez, “I’m blowed!
The flamin’ cows!”

“The flamin’ cows!” W’y, if it ’ad occurred,
An’ me not ’eard, I’d ’ardly think it true.
An’, you know well, I wouldn’t breathe a word
Against a livin’ soul, I don’t care ’oo;
Not if the Queen of Hingland arst me to.
But, oh! that langwidge! If you only ’eard!
“The flamin’ cows!”

“The flamin’ cows!” ’e sez, an’ more besides.
An’ fancy! ’Im! To think that ’e would swear!
W’y “Blarst!” ’e sez. . . . Yes! “Blarst the’r blanky ’ides!”
(Oh, you may well throw up your ’ands an’ stare!)
Yes — “Blarst,” ’e sez, “the’r blanky ’ides an’ ’air!
I’ll cut the blanky skin off the’r sides!
The flamin’ cows!”

C. J. Dennis, Backblock Ballads and Later Verses, Sydney: Angus & Robertson, 1918, pages 49-51

Previously published in:
C. J. Dennis, Backblock Ballads and Other Verses, Melbourne: E. W. Cole, [1913], pages 15-16

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