The Push [poem by C. J. Dennis]

[Editor: This poem by C. J. Dennis was published in The Moods of Ginger Mick (1916).]

The Push

Becos a crook done in a prince, an’ narked an Emperor,
An’ struck a light that set the world aflame;
Becos the bugles East an’ West sooled on the dawgs o’ war,
A bloke called Ginger Mick ‘as found ’is game —
Found ’is game an’ found ’is brothers, ’oo wus strangers in ’is sight,
Till they shed their silly clobber an’ put on the duds fer fight.

Yes, they’ve shed their silly clobber an’ the other stuff they wore
Fer to ’ide the man beneath it in the past;
An’ each man is the clean, straight man ‘is Maker meant ‘im for,
An’ each man knows ’is brother man at last.
Shy strangers, till a bugle blast preached ’oly brother’ood;
But mateship they ’ave found at last; an’ they ’ave found it good.

So the lumper, an’ the lawyer, an’ the chap ’oo shifted sand,
They are cobbers wiv the cove ’oo drove a quill;
The knut ’oo swung a cane upon the Block, ’e takes the ’and
Uv the coot ’oo swung a pick on Broken ’Ill;
An’ Privit Clord Augustus drills wiv Privit Snarky Jim —
They are both Australian soljers, w’ich is good enough fer ’im.

It’s good enough fer orl uv ’em, as orl uv ’em ’ave seen
Since they got the same glad clobber next their skins;
An’ the bloke ’oo ’olds the boodle an’ the coot wivout a bean,
Why, they knock around like little Kharki twins.
An’ they got a common lingo, w’ich is growin’ mighty thick
Wiv ixpressive contributions frum the stock uv Ginger Mick.

’E ’as struck it fer a moral. Ginger’s found ’is game at last,
An’ ’e’s took to it like ducklin’s take to drink;
An’ ’is slouchin’ an’ ’is grouchin’ an’ ’is loafin’ uv the past —
’E’s done wiv ’em, an’ dumped ’em down the sink.
’E’s a bright an’ shinin’ sample uv a the’ry that I ’old:
That ev’ry ’eart that ever pumped is good fer chunks o’ gold.

Ev’ry feller is a gold mine if yeh take an’ work ’im right:
It is shinin’ on the surface now an’ then;
An’ there’s some is easy sinkin’, but there’s some wants dynermite,
Fer they looks a ’opeless prospect — yet they’re men.
An’ Ginger — ’ard-shell Ginger’s showin’ signs that ’e will pay;
But it took a flamin’ world-war fer to blarst ’is crust away.

But they took ’im an’ they drilled ’im an’ they shipped ’im overseas
Wiv a crowd uv blokes ’e never met before.
’E rowed wiv ’em, an’ scrapped wiv ’em, an’ done some tall C.B.’s,
An’ ’e lobbed wiv ’em on Egyp’s sandy shore.
Then Pride o’ Race lay ’olt on ’im, an’ Mick shoves out ’is chest
To find ’imself Australian an’ blood brothers wiv the rest.

So I gits some reel good readin’ in the letter wot ’e sent —
Tho’ the spellin’s pretty rotten now an’ then.
“I ’ad the joes at first,” ’e sez; “but now I’m glad I went,
Fer it’s shine to be among reel, livin’ men.
An’ it’s grand to be Australian, an’ to say it good an’ loud
When yeh bump a forrin country wiv sich fellers as our crowd.

“’Struth! I’ve ’ung around me native land fer close on thirty year,
An’ I never knoo wot men me cobbers were:
Never knoo that toffs wus white men till I met ’em over ’ere —
Blokes an’ coves I sort o’ snouted over there.
Yes, I loafed aroun’ me country; an’ I never knoo ’er then;
But the reel, ribuck Australia’s ’ere, among the fightin’ men.

“We’ve slung the swank fer good an’ all; it don’t fit in our plan;
To skite uv birth an’ boodle is a crime.
A man wiv us, why, ’e’s a man becos ’e is a man,
An’ a reel red-’ot Australian ev’ry time.
Fer dawg an’ side an’ snobbery is down an’ out fer keeps.
It’s grit an’ reel good fellership that gits yeh friends in ’eaps.

“There’s a bloke ’oo shipped when I did; ’e wus lately frum ’is ma,
’Oo ’ad filled ’im full uv notions uv ’is birth;
An’ ’e overworked ’is aitches till ’e got the loud ‘Ha-ha’
Frum the fellers, but ’e wouldn’t come to earth.
I bumped ’is lordship, name o’ Keith, an’ ’ad a little row,
An’ ’e lost some chunks uv beauty; but ’e’s good Australian now.

“There is Privit Snifty Thompson, ’oo wus once a Sydney rat,
An’ ’e ’ung around the Rocks when ’e wus young.
There’s little Smith uv Collin’wood, wiv fags stuck in ’is ’at,
An’ a string uv dirty insults on ’is tongue.
A corperil took them in ’and — a lad frum Lameroo.
Now both is nearly gentlemen, an’ good Australians too.

“There’s one, ’e doesn’t tork a lot, ’e sez ’is name is Trent,
Jist a privit, but ’e knows ’is drill a treat;
A stand-orf bloke, but reel good pals wiv fellers in ’is tent;
But ’is ’ome an’ ’istoree ’as got ’em beat.
They reckon when ’e starts to bleed ’e’ll stain ’is Kharki blue;
An’ ’is lingo smells uv Oxford — but ’e’s good Australian too.

“Then there’s Lofty Craig uv Queensland, ’oo’s a special pal uv mine;
Slow an’ shy, an’ kind o’ nervous uv ‘is height;
An’ Jupp, ’oo owns a copper show, an’ arsts us out to dine
When we’re doo fer leave in Cairo uv a night.
An’ there’s Bills an’ Jims an’ Bennos, an’ there’s Roys an’ ’Arolds too,
An’ they’re cobbers, an’ they’re brothers, an’ Australians thro’ an’ thro’.

“There is farmers frum the Mallee, there is bushmen down frum Bourke,
There’s college men wiv letters to their name;
There is grafters, an’ there’s blokes ’oo never done a ’ard day’s work
Till they tumbled, wiv the rest, into the game —
An’ they’re drillin’ ’ere together, men uv ev’ry creed an’ kind.
It’s Australia! Solid! Dinkum! that ’as left the land be’ind.

“An’ if yeh want a slushy, or a station overseer,
Or a tinker, or a tailor, or a snob,
Or a ’andy bloke wiv ’orses, or a minin’ ingineer,
Why, we’ve got the very man to do yer job.
Butcher, baker, undertaker, or a Caf’ de Pary chef,
’E is waitin’, keen an’ ready, in the little A.I.F.

“An’ they’ve drilled us. Strike me lucky! but they’ve drilled us fer a cert!
We ’ave trod around ole Egyp’s burnin’ sand
Till I tells meself at evenin’, when I’m wringin’ out me shirt,
That we’re built uv wire an’ green-’ide in our land.
Strike! I thort I knoo ’ard yakker, w’ich I’ve tackled many ways,
But uv late I’ve took a tumble I bin dozin’ orl me days.

“It’s a game, lad,” writes ole Ginger, “It’s a game I’m likin’ grand.
An’ I’m tryin’ fer a stripe to fill in time.
I ’ave took a pull on shicker fer the honour uv me land,
An’ I’m umpty round the chest an’ feelin’ prime.
Yeh kin tell Rose, if yeh see ’er, I serloots ’er o’er the foam,
An’ we’ll ’ave a cray fer supper when I comes a-marchin’ ’ome.”

So ole Ginger sends a letter, an’ ’is letter’s good to read,
Fer the things ’e sez, an’ some things ’e leaves out;
An’ when a bloke like ’im wakes up an’ starts to take a heed,
Well, it’s sort o’ worth the writin’ ’ome about.
’E’s one uv many little things Australia chanced to find
She never knoo she ’ad around till bugles cleared ’er mind.

Becos ole Europe lost ’er block an’ started ’eavin’ bricks,
Becos the bugles wailed a song uv war,
We found reel gold down in the ’earts uv orl our Ginger Micks
We never thort worth minin’ fer before.
An’ so, I’m tippin’ we will pray, before our win is scored:
“Thank God fer Mick, an’ Bill an’ Jim, an’ little brother Clord.”



Source:
C. J. Dennis, The Moods of Ginger Mick, Sydney: Angus & Robertson, 1916, pages 37-42

Editor’s notes:
A.I.F. = Australian Imperial Force; the First Australian Imperial Force was created in 1914 to fight in World War One, the Second Australian Imperial Force was created in 1939 to fight in World War Two

boodle = money

C.B. = Confined to Barracks

clobber = clothes; accessories, equipment, personal belongings, or supplies (can also mean to strike someone severely; beat, criticize, defeat, or treat harshly)

cobber = friend, mate

cove = man, chap, fellow

fag = cigarette

joes, the = feeling sad, low in spirit, depressed (“the joes” are also known as “the blues”)

nark = annoy, irritate, upset (can also refer to: an informer, especially a police informer; stool pigeon, spy; an annoying person; to thwart or upset someone’s plans)

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

ribuck = (also spelt “ryebuck”) very good, first-rate, top-shelf; genuine (can also be used as an exclamation of agreement or assent; yes, alright) (possibly from the German “reibach”, meaning “profit”, “to make a killing”)

Rocks, The = an area of inner Sydney (New South Wales)

shicker = alcoholic drink (can also mean: drunk)

shine = good, nice

sool = attack; a word used to incite or urge on to attack, especially used to urge a dog to attack (similar to “sic”, e.g. “sic him”) (possibly from the British dialect “sowl”, meaning to handle roughly or attack fiercely)

strike = an exclamatory oath, used to express astonishment, shock, or surprise; an abbreviation of “Strike me lucky”, “Strike me pink”, “Strike a light”, or similar

strike me lucky = an exclamatory oath, used to express astonishment, shock, or surprise

’struth = an oath, a contraction of “God’s truth” (also rendered as “Gawstruth” or “Gorstruth”)

toff = someone who is rich or upper-class, a term usually used in a somewhat derogatory manner

swank = to behave or dress in such a way as to impress people; pretentious in style; to show off, swagger

took a pull = pulled up, stopped, discontinued

tumble = become aware of, discover, notice, realise, understand

umpty = (also rendered as “umpteen”) a considerable or large number (from military Morse code operators of the early 20th Century, who used “umpty” to denote a dash, and “iddy” to denote a dot, subsequently “umpty” was associated with large numbers, which used a dash, e.g. twenty-one, eighty-six, etc.; also used in the phrase “iddy umpty”)

white = a good person, someone who is honourable or generous; in the glossary for The Songs of a Sentimental Bloke, C. J. Dennis gives the following definition, “White (white man). — A true, sterling fellow”

yakker = work (also spelt “yacka”, “yacker”, “yakka”)

Vernacular spelling in the original text:
Broken ’Ill (Broken Hill)
’eavin’ (heaving)
’istoree (his story)

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