The Town of God-Forgotten [poem by Grant Hervey]

[Editor: This poem by Grant Hervey was published in Australians Yet and Other Verses, 1913.]

The Town Of God-Forgotten

There’s a town I know that slumbers in a sort of dumb despair,
Where the Chow who grows cucumbers cries “Whaffor ?” within his lair !
For the Christian and the heathen hear the Door of Progress slam,
Whilst in cities large and seethin’ no one cares a single damn !
In that hamlet things are lifeless, and no mills and foundries roar
In that village calm and strifeless, which in sleep exclaims “Whaffor ?”
’Tis the town of God-forgotten,
Where all things are slumber-sotten,
And the jackass on the gable seems to groan the word “Whaffor ?”

There’s a town out west where farmers curse the uselessness of farms ;
Where the mortgage leaps and clamours and the interest-bill alarms ;
There the people, tired and scopeless, seem to wait the Judgment Day —
They are jaded, sad and hopeless, so they drift the time away !
There they do not drain the flagon, for the pub is tired as well ;
And the wheat rots on the wagon, and all things resemble Hell !
’Tis the town of No-One-Knows-It,
Where no hearty voice says “Prosit !
Where the landscape quakes in mirage, and all things resemble Hell !

There’s a town out there where Sunday seems the ghost of Saturday,
And where Thursday looks like Monday, and all earthly things decay !
’Tis a place where weary Woman cooks the meals for shabby Man —
Yea, a place accurst, inhuman, and it lives beneath a ban.
There the children sit reflective, tired and vimless on the floor ;
And the earth with voice collective seems to ask the stars “Whaffor ?”
That’s the town of God-forgotten,
Where the heart of things is rotten,
And the universal spirit seems to shout aloud “Whaffor ?”

There’s a town where nothing alters, where the world looks dull and mean —
Where the Younger Manhood falters as it dreams of Might-Have-Been !
There the girls each year grow older, but the marriage-trade is done ;
And the church roofs sag and moulder, and there is not any fun !
One by one the young men, drifting, leave that broken town behind —
’Tis the Younger Manhood shifting with a vexed, uneasy mind !
From the town of Given-Over
Drifts the hopeless, jobless lover,
And the devil Disappointment stokes Gehenna in his mind !

There’s a town that groans and ponders as it leans beside the plough —
“Jones and Smith both promised wonders, but will Smith Do Something now ?”
Thus the elders sadly question, but no answer echoes there ;
or the Party of Congestion holds its member by the hair !
Jones and Smith in dull succession walk the legislative floor —
Yea, they maunder through each session whilst electors groan “Whaffor ?”
In the town of God-forgotten,
Jones and Smith seem sloth-besotten.
And the man behind the wheat stack asks his perished grain “Whaffor ?”

There’s a town where Death is weary, where the tombstones seldom rise —
And the undertakers query, “Tell to us why no one dies ?”
There the hearse begins to crumble, and the plumes droop in despair ;
Whilst the coffin-makers grumble and accuse the healthy air !
“Somethin’s wrong,” they groan together — which, indeed, is very true ;
But the blame is tied a-tether with the Great Congestion Crew !
’Tis the distant Traffic-Fakir
Who destroys the coffin-maker —
All are tied in dreary bondage to the Great Congestion Crew !
There’s a town — ah, well, it slumbers by its wheat stacks in despair ;
And the Chow who vends cucumbers yells “Whaffor ?” each summer there !

Nothing moves and nothing matters — Sydney’s deaf and far away ;
So the population scatters, and the pleasant girls grow grey !
In that village Love seems worthless, and each woman at her door
Hears the landscape’s echo mirthless to her heart’s refrain: “Whaffor ?”
Joyless town of God-forgotten —
What a crime is here begotten,
When the women’s hearts are broken, and their dead hopes cry “Whaffor ?”




Source:
Grant Hervey. Australians Yet and Other Verses, Thomas C. Lothian, Melbourne, 1913, pages 139-143

Speak Your Mind

*