[Editor: This poem by C. J. Dennis was published in Backblock Ballads and Other Verses (1913) and Backblock Ballads and Later Verses (1918).]
The Joy Ride
Ah Gawd! It makes me sick to think
Of what I ’eard an’ seen;
Poor ’Arry like a wet rag flung
Across the wrecked machine;
An’ Rose, ’er face all chiner-white
Against the gory green.
Now ’Arry Cox ’e drives a car
For Doctor Percy Gray.
Sez ’e to me: “On Sund’y nex’
The Doc. will be away.
’Ow is it for a little trip
To Fernville for the day?
“I know two bonzer girls,” ’e sez;
“Fair stuners, both, they are.
There’s Rose who serves behind the joint
In Mudge’s privit bar,
An’ Lena Crump who jerks the pump
Down at the Southern Star.”
Now, who’d refuse a Sund’y trip
With girls an’ all give in?
The car was there an’ oil to spare.
To rat would be a sin!
An’ who’d refuse a drop o’ booze
When pals is flush o’ tin?
Wot all the courts an’ papers say
Can’t add to my distress. . . .
Rose, with the blood upon ’er face
An’ on ’er crumpled dress!
An’ that poor champ who got the bump —
Ah, Gawd! ’E was a mess!
The girls ’ad stout at ten mile out,
An’ we was drinkin’ beer.
I swear they lies like ’ell who sez
That we was on our ear!
For, or we was both, I take me oath,
As sober as me here.
Now, Lena was a dashin’ piece,
’Igh-spirited an’ flash.
’Twas plain enough to me that day
That ’Arry’d done ’is dash.
An’ Rose — (Ah! how ’er eyes did stare)
Rose was my speshul mash.
It’s easy now fer folks to talk
Who might have done the same.
We meant no ’arm to anyone,
An’ ’Arry knew ’is game.
’Twas like a flash, the skid — the crash.
An’ we was not to blame.
I wisht I could shut out that sight;
Fergit that awful row!
Poor Rose! ’Er face all chiner-white,
Like I can see it now;
An’ ’Arry like a heap o’ clothes
Jist chucked there any’ow.
They sez we painted Fernville red;
They sez that we was gay;
But wot come after dulls me mind
To wot them liars say.
We never dreamed of death an’ ’ell
When we set out that day.
’Twas ev’nin’ when we turned for ’ome:
The moon shone full that night;
An’ for a mile or more ahead
The road lay gleamin’ white;
An’ Rose sat close aside o’ me,
’Er face turned to the light.
Wot if we sung a song or two?
Wot it they ’eard us shout?
Is song an’ laughter things to curse
An’ make a fuss about?
“Go faster! faster!” Lena screams.
An’ ’Arry let ’er out.
I’d give me soul jist to ferget.
Gawd! how ’er eyes did stare!
’Er kisses warm upon me lips,
I seen ’er lyin’ there.
Blood on ’er face, all chiner-white,
An’ on ’er yeller ’air.
I never took no ’eed o’ pace
(I’ve been on twenty trips),
An’ Rose was restin’ in me arms,
’Er cheek against my lips.
A precious lot I dreamed of skids,
A lot I thought o’slips.
I only know we never thinks —
I know we never dreams
Of folk walkin’ on that road;
Till, sudden, Lena screams. . . .
An’, after that, the sights I saw
I’ve seen again in dreams.
We never seen the bloke ahead!
’Ow can they call us rash?
I jist seen ’Arry move to shove
’Is arm around ’is mash;
I seen ’er jump to grab the wheel,
Then, Lord! . . . there came the smash!
Aw, they can blame an’ cry their shame!
It ain’t for that I care.
I held ’er in my arms an’ laughed . . . .
Then seen ’er lyin’ there,
The moonlight streamin’ on ’er face,
An’ on ’er yeller ’air.
C. J. Dennis, Backblock Ballads and Later Verses, Sydney: Angus & Robertson, 1918, pages 52-56
Previously published in:
C. J. Dennis, Backblock Ballads and Other Verses, Melbourne: E. W. Cole, , pages 102-105
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