The Straight Griffin [poem by C. J. Dennis]

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

The Straight Griffin

“’Eroes? Orright. You ’ave it ’ow yeh like.
Throw up yer little ’at an’ come the glad;
But not too much ‘Three-’Earty-Cheers’ fer Mike;
There’s other things that ’e’ll be wantin’ bad.
The boys won’t ’ave them kid-stakes on their mind
Wivout there’s somethin’ solider be’ind.”

Now that’s the dinkum oil frum Ginger Mick,
In ’orspital, somew’ere be’ind the front;
Plugged in the neck, an’ lately pretty sick,
But now right on the converlescent stunt.
“I’m on the mend,” ’e writes, “an’ nearly doo
To come the ’ero act agen — Scene two.”

I’d sent some papers, knowin’ ’ow time drags
Wiv blokes in blankits, waitin’ fer a cure.
“An’ ’Struth!” Mick writes, “the way they et them rags
Yeh’d think that they’d bin weaned on litrachure.
They wrestled thro’ frum ‘Births’ to ‘Lost and Found’;
They even give the Leaders ’arf a round.”

Mick spent a bonzer day propped up in bed,
Soothin’ ’is soul wiv ev’ry sportin’ page;
But in the football noos the things ’e read
Near sent ’im orf ’is top wiv ’oly rage;
The way ’is team ’as mucked it earned ’is curse;
But ’e jist swallered it — becos uv nurse.

An’ then this ’eadline ’it ’im wiv bokays;
Australian Heroes!” is the song it makes.
Mick reads the boys them ringin’ words o’ praise;
But they jist grins a bit an’ sez “Kid stakes!”
Sez Mick to nurse, “You tumble wot I am?
A bloomin’ little ’ero. Pass the jam!”

Mick don’t say much uv nurse; but ’tween the lines —
(’Im bein’ not too strong on gushin’ speech) —
I seem to see some tell-tale sort o’ signs.
Sez ’e, “Me nurse-girl is a bonzer peach.”
An’ then ’e ’as a line: “’Er sad, sweet look.”
’Struth! Ginger must ’a’ got it frum a book.

Say, I can see ole Ginger, plain as plain,
Purrin’ to feel the touch uv ’er cool ’and,
Grinnin’ a bit to kid ’is wound don’t pain,
An’ yappin’ tork she don’t ’arf understand,
That makes ’er wonder if, back where she lives,
They’re all reel men be’ind them ugly chivs.

But that’s orright. Ole Ginger ain’t no flirt.
“You tell my Rose,” ’e writes, “she’s still the sweet.
An’ if Long Jim gits messin’ round that skirt,
When I come back I’ll do ’im up a treat.
Tell ’im, if all me arms an’ legs is lame
I’ll bite the blighter if ’e comes that game!”

There’s jealousy! But Ginger needn’t fret.
Rose is fer ’im, an’ Jim ain’t on ’er card;
An’ since she spragged ’im last time that they met —
Jim ain’t inlisted — but ’e’s thinkin’ ’ard.
Mick wus ’er ’ero long before the war,
An’ now ’e’s sort o’ chalked a double score.

That’s all Sir Garneo. But Mick, ’e’s vowed
This “’Ail the ’Ero” stunt gits on ’is nerves,
An’ makes ’im peevish; tho’ ’e owns ’is crowd
Can mop up all the praises they deserves.
“But don’t yeh spread the ’ero on too thick
If it’s exhaustin’ yeh,” sez Ginger Mick.

“We ain’t got no objections to the cheers;
We’re good an’ tough, an’ we can stand the noise;
But three ’oorays and five or six long beers
An’ loud remarks about ‘Our Gallant Boys’
Sounds kind o’ weak — if you’ll ixcuse the word —
Beside the fightin’ sounds we’ve lately ’eard.

“If you’ll fergive our blushes, we can stand
The ’earty cheerin’ an’ the songs o’ praise.
The loud ’Osannas uv our native land
Makes us feel good an’ glad in many ways.
An’ later, when we land back in a mob,
Per’aps we might be arstin’ fer a job.

“I’d ’ate,” sez Mick, “to ’ave you think us rude,
Or take these few remarks as reel bad taste;
’Twould ’urt to ’ave it seem ingratichude,
Wiv all them ’earty praises gone to waste.
We’ll take yer word fer it, an’ jist remark
This ’ero racket is a reel good lark.

“Once, when they caught me toppin’ off a John,
The Bench wus stern, an’ torked uv dirty work;
But, ’Struth! it’s bonzer ’ow me fame’s come on
Since when I took to toppin’ off the Turk.
So, if it pleases, shout yer loud ‘Bravoes,’
An’ later — don’t fergit there’s me, an’ Rose.”

So Ginger writes. I gives it word fer word;
An’ if it ain’t the nice perlite reply
That nice, perlite old gents would liked to’ve ’eard
’Oo’ve been ’ip-’ippin’ ’im up to the sky —
Well, I dunno, I s’pose ’e’s gotter learn
It’s rude fer ’im to speak out uv ’is turn.

’Eroes. It sounds a bit of reel orl-right —
“Our Gallant ’Eroes of Gallipoli.”
But Ginger, when ’e’s thinkin’ there at night,
Uv Rose, an’ wot their luck is like to be
After the echo dies uv all this praise,
Well — ’e ain’t dazzled wiv three loud ’oorays.



Source:
C. J. Dennis, The Moods of Ginger Mick, Sydney: Angus & Robertson, 1916, pages 77-81

Editor’s notes:
bonzer = (Australian slang) excellent (can also be spelt as “bonza”)

chiv = face (derived from “Chevy Chase”, the name of a popular song, which was used as rhyming slang for “face”, which then became “chivvy”, then “chiv”)

John = police, policeman, derived from “John Hopper” (or “Johnny Hopper”), rhyming slang for copper, i.e. cop (policeman)

own = confess; admit or affirm that something is true

straight griffin = truth

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

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