To the Boys Who Took the Count [poem by C. J. Dennis]

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

To the Boys Who Took the Count

See, I’m writin’ to Mick as a bloke to a bloke —
To a cobber o’ mine at the front —
An’ I’m gittin’ full up uv the mullock they poke
At the cove that is bearin’ the brunt.
Fer ’e mus’n’t do this an’ ’e shouldn’t do that,
An’ ’e’s crook if ’e looks a bit shick,
An’ ’e’s gittin’ too uppish, an’ don’t touch ’is ’at —
But ’ere’s ’ow I puts it to Mick.

Now, it’s dickin to style if yer playin’ the game,
If it’s marbles, or shinty, or war;
I’ve seen ’em lob ’ome ’ere, the ’alt an’ the lame,
That wus fine ’efty fellers before.
They wus toughs, they wus crooks, they wus ev’ry bad thing,
But they mixed it as gentlemen should.
So ’ere’s to the coot wiv ’is eye in a sling,
An’ a smile in the one that is good.

It wus playin’ the game in the oval an’ ring —
An’ playin’ fer orl it wus worth —
That give ’em the knack uv a punch wiv a sting
When they fought fer the land uv their birth.
They wus pebs, they wus narks, they wus reel naughty boys,
But they didn’t need no second ’int,
So ere’s to the bloke wiv ’is swearin’ an’ noise,
An’ ’is foot in a fathom uv lint.

There wus fellers I knoo in the soft days uv peace;
An’ I didn’t know much to their good;
An’ they give more ’ard graft to the overworked p’leece
Than a reel puffick gentleman should.
They wus lookin’ fer lash long before it wus doo;
When it come, they wus into it, straight.
So ’ere’s to the bloke wiv ’is shoulder shot thro’
’Oo is cursin’ the days ’e’s to wait.

Ar, dickin to swank! when it comes to a mill,
It’s the bloke wiv a punch ’oo’s yer friend.
An’ a coarse, narsty man wiv the moniker Bill
Earns the thanks uv the crowd in the end.
(An’ when I sez “earns” I am ’opin’ no stint
Will be charged agin us by-an’-bye.)
So, ’ere’s to the boy wiv ’is arm in a splint
An’ a “don’t-care-a-dam” in ’is eye.

’Cos the fightin’s too far fer to give us a grip
Of the ’ell full uv slaughter an’ noise,
There’s a breed that gives me the partic’lar pip
Be the way that they torks uv the boys.
O, they’re coarse, an’ they’re rude, an’ it’s awful to live
Wiv their cursin’ an’ shoutin’ an’ fuss.
Dam it! ’Ere’s to the bloke wiv the bad-lookin’ chiv
That ’e poked inter trouble fer us!

O, it’s dead agin etikit, dead agin style
Fer to swear an’ to swagger an’ skite;
But a battle ain’t won wiv a drorin’-room smile,
An’ yeh ’ave to be rude in a fight.
An’ it’s bein’ reel rude to enemy blokes
That’ll earn yeh that ’ero-like touch,
So ’ere’s to the boy wiv ’is curses an’ jokes
’Oo is ’oppin’ about on a crutch.

Now, the Turk is a gent, an’ they greets ’im as such,
An’ they gives doo respect to ’is Nibs;
But ’e never ’eld orf to apolergise much
When ’e slid ’is cold steel in their ribs.
An’ our boys won the name that they give ’em of late
’Cos they fought like a jugful uv crooks,
So ’ere’s to the bloke wiv the swaggerin’ gait
An’ a bullet mark spoilin’ ’is looks.

So, the bloke wiv the scoff, an’ the bloke wiv the sneer,
An’ the coot wiv the sensitive soul,
’E ’as got to sit back, an’ jist change ’is idear
Uv the stuffin’ that makes a man whole.
Fer the polish an’ gilt that’s a win wiv the skirts
It wears thin wiv the friction uv war.
So, ’ere’s to the cove ’oo is nursin’ ’is ’urts
Wiv an oath in the set uv ’is jor.

When yeh’ve stripped a cove clean an’ got down to the buff
Yeh come to the meat that’s the man.
If yeh want to find grit an’ sich similar stuff,
Yeh’ve to strip on a similar plan.
Fer there’s nothin’ like scrappin’ to bare a man’s soul,
If it’s Billo, or Percy, or Gus.
So ’ere’s to the bloke ’oo ’ops round on a pole
An’ ’owls songs goin’ ’ome on the bus.

Spare me days! When a bloke takes the count in a scrap
That ’e’s fightin’ fer you an’ fer me,
Is it fair that a snob ’as the nerve fer to snout
Any swad ’cos ’is manners is free?
They’re deservin’ our thanks, frum the best to the worst —
An’ there’s some is reel rorty, I own —
But ’ere’s to the coot wiv the ’ang-over thirst
’Oo sprags a stray toff fer a loan.

So I’m writin’ to Mick; an’ I’m feelin’ reel wet
Wiv the sort o’ superior nark,
’Oo tilts up ’is conk an’ gits orl the boys set,
’Oo are out fer a bit uv a lark.
So I puts it to Mick, as I sez when I starts,
An’ I ends wiv the solemest toast:
’Ere’s to ’im — (raise yer glass) — ’oo left pride in our ’earts
An’ ’is bones on Gallipoli coast.

C. J. Dennis, The Moods of Ginger Mick, Sydney: Angus & Robertson, 1916, pages 101-105

Editor’s notes:
buff = naked, nude, in a state of undress (used in the phrase “in the buff”, meaning “in the nude”)

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”)

cove = man, chap, fellow

lash = (slang) violence, fighting

mill = fight; possibly an allusion to the arms of windmills, as an exaggerated comparison to arms flailing about in a fight

mix = fight (as in the phrase “mix it up”, meaning to have a fight)

mullock = rubbish, nonsense; something of little or no value; can also mean to ridicule, tease, make fun of, as in the phrase “poke mullock at” (from “mullock”, referring to mining refuse, rubbish)

nark = someone who is annoying, irritating, impolite; a whinger, a spoil-sport

Nibs = (commonly used in the phrase “His Nibs”) a mock title used to refer to someone in a position of authority a person in authority, or who acts as someone holding a position of authority (especially used to refer to someone who is self-important or demanding)

own = confess; admit or affirm that something is true

peb = a pebble; a larrikin, a flash fellow; an animal or a person who is hard to control

scrap = fight, brawl

shick = shickered (drunk)

skirt = (slang) woman

swad = swaddie (also spelt swaddy): a private soldier (from 1800s British dialect “swad”, a country bumpkin)

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

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

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