What the Heart of the Poet Said to the “Bulletin” [poem by Joseph Furphy]

[Editor: This poem by Joseph Furphy was published in The Poems of Joseph Furphy (1916).]

What the Heart of the Poet Said to the “Bulletin.”

Tell me not in future numbers
That our thought becomes inane,
That our metre halts and lumbers,
When the Wattle blooms again.

Lies of great men all remind us
We can challenge and restrain
Such attempts to bluff and blind us,
When the Wattle blooms again.

Therefore take our gage of battle!
Freedom reasserts her reign:
We are not dumb, driven, cattle
When the Wattle blooms again.

Doubtless ANSWERS, weekly, daily,
Adding to his heap of slain,
Feels a jar, when Nature gaily
Bids the Wattle bloom again.

Nocent censor! time thou learnest
All this contract may contain —
Dust thou art, to dust returnest,
But the Wattle blooms again.

Time may change this loyal jernal
From religious to profane,
But a rhythmic law eternal
Makes the Wattle bloom again.

Trust no Flossie, howe’er pleasant,
Sweeps are treacherous, totes are vain;
Banks and scrip are evanescent,
But the Wattle blooms again.

Cultivate no fair ideal;
Own no country-seat in Spain;
All these things must go to Sheol,
Whil’st the Wattle blooms again.

Czar, and Pope, and Dei Gratia
Pass like phantoms of the brain
Never so our bright acacia,
For the Wattle blooms again.

Thus you see, austere and lonely,
Sailing o’er Life’s solemn main,
One great fact is certain only —
That the Wattle blooms again.

K. B. [Kate Baker] (editor), The Poems of Joseph Furphy, Melbourne: Lothian Book Publishing Co., 1916, pages 39-40

Editor’s notes:
acacia = a tree or shrub belonging to the genus Acacia, bearing clusters of small white or yellow flower clusters; in Australia, Acacia trees are known as Wattle trees

Dei Gratia = (Latin) “by the grace of God”

Flossie = (also spelt “Flossy”) young woman, from the female name “Florence”; may also refer to a woman of loose sexual morals, or a prostitute (may also mean: dressed up, fancy, frilly, showy, slick, stylish; or superficially stylish)

nocent = causing harm or injury (archaic meaning: guilty, criminal)

Sheol = a term commonly used as a substitute for saying “hell” (as “hell” was regarded as bad language, when used outside of its proper context); sheol was a term, used in the Old Testament of the Bible, which is translated as “grave”, “pit”, or “abode of the dead”

sweep = sweepstakes: a competition, contest, lottery, race, or other gambling event in which each gambler contributes an amount (a “stake”), with the total prize money (usually minus an organizing fee) being awarded in a “full sweep” (a clearance of everything present) to one winner or to several winners in different categories

tote = short for totalisator (US spelling, totalizator), a form of betting on horse races, where those who bet on the winners divide the bets or stakes, less a percentage which goes to those who run the operation (who “keep the tote”)

Vernacular spelling in the original text:
jernal (journal)

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