Pints That I’ve Refused [poem by “Dryblower” Murphy, 1926]

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

Pints That I’ve Refused.

The gaunt earth gasps beneath the sun
That breathes hot Hades down,
The scrub is burnt a dreary dun,
The spinifex is brown.
The track is lonely, hard and long,
The soaks are far between,
With not a shade of currajong
To break the swelt’ring sheen,
But still, as on I lonely lope
Beyond the wide world’s ken,
I storm not at my star of hope
Or envy merrier men.
I do not whine as others may
Of money I’ve misused;
Ah, no, I only think to-day,
Of pints that I’ve refused!

In long seductive rows they stand
Their metal all a-shine,
As when I lorded in the land,
Neglecting them for wine.
I clutch them now in midnight dreams,
I hear them ring and clink;
I gulp their brown ambrosial streams,
But waken as I drink.
At noon, as I spell underneath
My hot arboreal home
I feel them lap against my teeth,
I see them froth and foam.
Alack, alas, in far-off space
I find my wits have cruised,
And luke-warm water takes the place
Of pints that I’ve refused!

From out the mulga shade I look
Across the grave of years,
To days where I unwilling took
Small shandy-gaffs and beers,
And when the stars upon me stare
From out the dusky vault,
There steals along the heated air
The scent of hops and malt.
I conjure up the liquid feast
In brewery cellars cool,
Where oft I’ve played amid the yeast
The dashed teetotal fool.
My punishment is that of Cain
My soul is self-accused,
As hour by hour I count again
The pints that I’ve refused.

At dusk I do not weep or curse
As on my swag I sit,
And vote this world a trifle worse
Than deep Gehenna’s pit.
I do not sigh for rippling rills,
That babble through the ferns,
Ah, no, for flowing frothy swills
My thirsty thorax yearns
I recollect the sprees that irked,
When shanties ran with schick;
And as I think of drinks I’ve shirked,
My mental self I kick.
Yea, here amidst a beerless drought
My heart with grief is bruised,
When I in fancy figure out
The pints that I’ve refused.

I envy not the coaching crowd
For whom aside I’m thrust,
I care not though with laughter loud
They spatter me with dust.
No burning envy saps my soul
Though penniless I tramp,
As down the golden ounces roll
From every mining camp.
And when I’m dead, O bury me
Afar from any pub,
Lest I should haunt the crowd who spree
Within the mulga scrub.
For I’d emerge from where I’m graved
Nor beg to be excused,
While I my ghostly larynx laved
In pints that I’ve refused!

Hot Sheol must consist, I think,
Of long and pintless years,
Where no poor sinful soul may drink
His fill of cooling beers.
The burning brimstone and the torch
May be for mulga men,
But grant, O Satan, as I scorch,
A tiddley now and then.
Still, if Gehenna will not give
What I’m on earth denied,
I may at last decide to live
Wherein no souls are fried;
And when Saint Peter at the door
My passport has perused,
He’ll put me, p’raps, where I may score,
The pints that I’ve refused!

Edwin Greenslade Murphy, Dryblower’s Verses, Perth, W.A.: E. G. Murphy, 1926, pages 58-60

Previously published in:
Dryblower, Jarrahland Jingles: A Volume of Westralian Verse, Perth (W.A.): R.S. Sampson for Sunday Times, 1908, pages 75-80

Editor’s notes:
Cain = the oldest of the two sons of Adam and Eve (according to the Bible, in the Book of Genesis); Cain murdered Abel, and thus the word Cain became associated with murder

currajong = (also spelt “kurrajong”) various trees and large shrubs of the genus Brachychiton, predominantly found in Australia

Gehenna = a place or state of torment or suffering, hell; a Latin word, from the Greek Geenna, which came from the Hebrew Gē’ Hinnōm, a reference to the valley of Hinnom (a valley south of Jerusalem) which had gained a fearsome and evil reputation among Jews because of barbarous events that took place there (by the time of the New Testament, it had come to mean a reference to Hell, e.g. Matthew 5:22, 5:29; Mark 9:43)

Hades = Hell; in Greek mythology, the underworld home of the dead

ken = knowledge, perception, understanding (also means “know”, as particularly used in Scotland)

larynx = the upper part of the trachea, where the vocal cords are located

lave = to lap up against or wash up against

mulga = in a geographic context “mulga” refers to an area where mulga grows, i.e. an unsettled area

schick = alcohol; may also refer to a state of drunkenness (as an abbreviation of “schickered”, meaning to being drunk)

shandy-gaff = a drink made of beer and soft drink, especially ginger beer or lemonade (also spelt “shandygaff”); also known as a “shandy”

Sheol = a term commonly used as a substitute for saying “hell” (as “hell” was regarded as bad language, when used outside of its proper context); sheol was a term, used in the Old Testament of the Bible, which is translated as “grave”, “pit”, or “abode of the dead”

spree = a drinking spree; in general terms, a “spree” refers to an outburst of, or period of, an activity or indulgence (e.g. a crime spree, a spending spree)

swag = a swagman’s bundle, being a number of personal belongings rolled up in a blanket, and hung from the shoulder; also known as a “bluey”, “drum”, or “Matilda”

teetotal = avoidance of alcoholic drinks by a person or institution; a teetotaller is someone who does not drink alcoholic beverages (also spelt “teetotaler”)

thorax = the part of the body between the neck and abdomen, containing the cavity in which the heart and lungs are located; the chest

tiddley = (also spelt “tiddly”) an alcoholic drink; also may refer to being slightly drunk, tipsy (possibly derived from “tiddlywink”, a slang term for an unlicensed public house, or pub)

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