Suburbia — A Yearn [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.]

Suburbia — A Yearn.

O man with a Position, prithee tell,
How is’t you mould your sal’ried life so well;
Holding in lofty scorn that lowly mob
Of “blokes” who earn mere “wages” at a “job”.

Knights of Suburbia, whose only care
Is to be counted ’mid the “naicest” there,
Teach me how I, some day, may learn to be
Clothed in drab Respectability.

I cannot muster due respect for those
Who wear the very nicest kind of clothes;
Nor does the Upper House sufficiently
Impress the dull, “right-thinking” part o’ me.

Fain would I garb my meekness in a coat
Whose very blackness struck a pious note,
And crease my pants, and aye, with tender care,
Arrange becomingly my plebian hair.

A “Something in the City” would I be,
With due respect for men of Propputy.
Or sooth, if such ambition be too rash,
I’d, as a godlike grocer, groce for cash.

Ah, lead me to some suburb grey and calm!
My very soul craves for a potted palm
In my front porch. Nay, but it were sublime
To stalk the stealthy slug o’ summer-time.

Then would I take some proper girl to wife,
And know the joys of a “well-ordered” life,
Beget suburban daughters who would be
Models of drawing-room propriety.

Ah me, that drawing-room! — my lady’s pride.
With products of Chow-labor side by side,
An upright grand by Bubblestein and Bohrs,
And framed enlargements of our ancestors.

Our arms — a “what not” rampant on a ground
Of pious drab. There would we sit around
While Bertha thumped the keys o’ balmy eves,
And caterpillars chewed the fuchsia leaves.

There would we offer incense, highly toned,
And worship, nightly, FURNITURE enthroned.
There would we — nay, I may not even hope,
Whose only wash-hand bowl is plugged with soap.

With yellow soap, to caulk a leak obscene —
Whose writing-table once held kerosene.
What does he wot of over-mantels, he
Who keeps tobacco where he should keep tea?

Knight of Suburbia, your daily round,
Treading to morning trains the same old ground,
Is not for me; though I would gladly be
A champion at passing cakes and tea.

O, that the stars had willed it were my fate
To be immoderately moderate;
To sit at eve, ’mid fans and photo. frames,
And play at sundry senseless parlor games;

Then, having bathed my soul in revelry,
Put out the cat, and turned the front door key,
Away to rest, by one dim taper’s gleam,
To court the vague, unnecessary dream.



Source:
C.J. Dennis. Backblock Ballads and Other Verses, E. W. Cole, Melbourne, [1913], pages 178-179

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