The Indian Myna [poem by C. J. Dennis]

[Editor: This poem by C. J. Dennis was published in The Singing Garden (1935).]

The Indian Myna

Gimme the town an’ its clamour an’ clutter;
I ain’t very fond of the bush;
For my cobbers are coves of the gardens and gutter —
A tough metropolitan push.
I ain’t never too keen on the countryfied life;
It’s the hustle an’ bustle for me an’ me wife.

So I swagger an’ strut an’ I cuss an’ I swagger;
I’m wise to the city’s hard way.
A bit of a bloke an’ a bit of a bragger;
I’ve always got plenty to say.
Learned thro’ knockin’ about since my people came out
From the land at the back of Bombay.

When out in the bush I am never a ranger;
There never ain’t nothin’ to see.
Besides, them bush birds got no time for a stranger;
So town an’ the traffic for me.
I sleep in the gardens an’ loaf in the street,
An’ sling off all day at the fellers I meet.

An’ I swagger an’ scold an’ strut an’ I swagger,
An’ pick up me fun where I can,
Or tell off me wife, who’s a bit of a nagger,
Or scrap with the sparrers for scran.
A bonzer at bluffin’, I give you my word,
For, between you an’ me, I’m a pretty tough bird.

C. J. Dennis, The Singing Garden, Sydney: Angus & Robertson, 1935, pages 139-140

Editor’s notes:
bonzer = (Australian slang) excellent

cobber = friend, mate

cuss = curse, swear, use offensive words

knocking about = staying around or travelling around, especially with no specific purpose; to spend time in an area or with a group of people

loaf = laze about, idle away time

push = a gang; historically, the term refers to a street gang; may also be used to refer to a group

scran = food; provisions

sling off = jeer, laugh at; criticize

Vernacular spelling in the original text:
ain’t (am not)
an’ (and)
feller (fellow)
gimme (give me)
knockin’ (knocking)
me (my)
sparrer (sparrow)
thro’ (through)

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