“——!”: The Great Australian Adjective [poem by “The Colonel” (W. T. Goodge), 11 December 1897]

[Editor: This poem by W. T. Goodge was published in The Bulletin (Sydney), 11 December 1897. It’s authorship was originally credited to Goodge’s pseudonym of “The Colonel”. The missing word in this poem, one not spoken in polite society at that time, was “bloody”.]


(The Great Australian Adjective.)

[For The Bulletin.]

The sunburnt —— stockman stood
And, in a dismal —— mood,
Apostrophised his —— cuddy;
“The —— nag’s no —— good,
He couldn’t earn his —— food —
A regular —— brumby,

He jumped across the —— horse
And cantered off, of —— course!
The roads were bad and —— muddy!
Said he: “Well, spare me —— days
The —— Government’s —— ways
Are screamin’ —— funny,

He rode up hill, down —— dale,
The wind it blew a —— gale,
The creek was high and —— floody,
Said he: “The —— horse must swim,
The same for —— me and him,
It something —— sickenin’,

He plunged into the —— creek,
The —— horse was —— weak,
The stockman’s face a —— study!
And though the —— horse was drowned
The —— rider reached the ground
Ejaculating: “——!”


The Bulletin (Sydney), 11 December 1897, p. 26

Also published in:
W. T. Goodge, Hits! Skits! and Jingles!, Sydney: Bulletin Newspaper Company, 1899
Truth (Sydney, NSW), 11 June 1899, p. 7 (as part of a review of Hits! Skits! and Jingles!)
The Clipper (Hobart, Tas.), 5 August 1899, p. 8
The Geraldton Advertiser (Geraldton, WA), 15 March 1905, p. 4

Editor’s notes:
The missing word in “The Great Australian Adjective” is “bloody”; this was the most common expletive used at that time, but it was regarded as so rude and uncouth that it could not be printed.

“The Great Australian Adjective” influenced the creation of “The Australaise”, by C. J. Dennis, who gave due credit when his poem was published in The Bulletin (12 November 1908), when he wrote “With some acknowledgements to W.T. Goodge.”

brumby = wild horse, feral horse; can also have a negative meaning, referring to a horse which is regarded as inferior or worthless

cuddy = horse; can also refer to a pit pony or to a small strong horse; can also refer to a donkey (also spelt “cuddie”)

nag = horse; can also have a negative meaning, referring to a horse which is regarded as inferior or worthless

An American version of “The Great Australian Adjective” later appeared:

The —— sunburnt cowboy sat
Beneath his —— Stetson hat,
An inde——pendent guy,
Who watched the —— sunset sky,
His —— daydreams only of
His —— half-breed greaser love.

He vaulted on his —— horse,
And galloped off, of —— course;
The —— roads were full of mud,
As thick as —— spit and blood.
Said he, “Well, damn my —— eyes,
Ain’t this a —— fine surprise.”

Sid Baker, “Lismore: what’s the —— use?”, The Daily Telegraph (Sydney, NSW), 26 December 1944, p. 6

Sidney J. Baker, “Splendours of Australian profanity”, The Sydney Morning Herald (Sydney, NSW), 22 August 1953, p. 7

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