The Fly in the Ointment [poem by Joseph Furphy]

[Editor: This poem by Joseph Furphy was published in The Poems of Joseph Furphy (1916).]

The Fly in the Ointment.

(“Bulletin,” March, 1900.)

When the great Creator fashion’d us, and saw that we were good,
He commission’d us to dominate the planet as it stood.
But His ordinance meets denial still, and peace remains unknown,
For the Boer is always with us, calling certain lands his own.

Yet the Lord has given us grace to scent a Good Thing from afar —
Are we not our brother’s keeper? Most assuredly we are!
So we seek to bear his burden, and benignly take him in,
Though he fight like forty devils in his ignorance and sin.

Once the Boers of Athens met us on the veldt of Marathon,
Where they fired upon our ambulance, and consequently won.
And the Maccabean Dutchmen, by their sniping tactics mean,
Smote our absent-minded beggars round Jerusalemfontein.

The commandos of Arminius denied us land or loot;
Not to speak of that old Dopper, Oom Bruce of Bannockspruit.
At Sempachstrom, at Gransonkop, we met the laager’s Swiss,
And they mowed us by the acre, through their white flag artifice.

O the countless tons of swaddies, O the money worth of tools,
We have spent to prove our doctrine — that the Big Battalion rules!
Yet the stolid Boer confronts us still, in dirt and Scripture strong,
While our dividends evaporate — How long? O Lord! how long?

Let us beg the workman’s shilling, let us smell our hats in prayer,
For the swift and lasting triumph of the multi-millionaire.
Let us reap the fields we sowed not, gather where we have not strawed
Since your wily operator is the noblest work of God.

Bravely sings the long-hair’d Alfred, “Forward, forward let us range,
Let the great world spin for ever down the ringing grooves of “Change,”
O be sure the Good Time Coming shall attain its glorious birth
When the patriot owns his blunder, and the boodler owns the earth!



Source:
K. B. [Kate Baker] (editor), The Poems of Joseph Furphy, Melbourne: Lothian Book Publishing Co., 1916, page 35

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