[Editor: This poem by Grant Hervey was published in Australians Yet and Other Verses, 1913.]
A Song of Men and Women
Just a song of men and women, very mixed and very human :
Some are good and some are wicked, some are drunk and on the spree ;
Some are rich and some are beggars, some are cripples — wooden-leggers —
But the state of their finances doesn’t matter much to me !
’Tis a motley crowd that passes ; some are wise and some are asses,
Some are thieves and some are bishops ; some abhor the name of Beer ;
Some are proud and some are humble, some were born to whine and grumble —
All the same, they’re Men and Women, and I lift their anthem here !
What is sin, and who are sinners ? Give us all six-shilling dinners,
Give us motors and we’re moral — yea, the bishops will not frown ;
It is righteous to be wealthy, but ’tis sinful to be healthy,
And the saddest kind of sinner is the man without a “brown.”
As for woman, sister woman, she, alas ! is all too human,
And her sins are coloured scarlet, and are dreadful as can be ;
Yet the harridan that curses and the dames with golden purses
Have a likeness, now and always, which indeed impresses me.
And the longer I am living finds me more and more forgiving —
I forgive mine own offences with the sins of other men ;
Why be nasty, sour and snappy ? Even kings are sometimes happy,
And I’m pleased when shovelling language with a large, persistent pen !
Sin infests the empty pocket ; life’s a kind of whizzing rocket —
Some may slump and some may fizzle, others soar across the sky ;
Why be cross with one for failing, when the other’s star-ward sailing ?
Blame the erring Powder-mixer ; do not ask the rocket Why ?
God, who loads each human rocket, fits the stick unto the socket —
Skilled is He in pyrotechnics, so the worthy bishops say;
And the statesman, proudly soaring, whilst the drunk is loudly snoring,
Thinks himself no common fire-work, as he whizzes on his way ;
Yet the drunk who’s damped his powder might have been a rocket prouder
Might have whizzed yards nearer Heaven, knocking fragments off the stars ;
As it is, he claws the pewter — God, the Master Rocket-shooter,
Hath appointed him to fizzle, so he slumps through many bars !
Hence it is that man must suffer, while we spurn him as a duffer ;
We would all be sucking Csesars, were we shaped that special way ;
And each wrangling sect or schism simply loads its precious ’ism
With the tons of perished figments in Creation’s rubbish-dray !
Critics snarl and parsons wrangle, Kate is pleased with brooch or bangle,
Beer for Bill and port for baron, so the world of humans goes ;
Groan no more, O frail repenter — God’s the Chief Experimenter,
And the Hand that paints the sunset also paints the drunkard’s nose !
Here’s a song of men and women — very mixed, this song, and human,
But in moments philosophic this is how things seem to me ;
God, who makes the rich and beggars, also shapes the wooden-leggers,
And the Hand that builds the bishop sets the drunk upon the spree !
So this motley crowd that passes, with its tangled creeds and classes,
Seems to me a thing of wonder, as I lift my vesper Beer;
You are proud and I am humble, motors hoot and hearses rumble —
All the same, we’re Men and Women, and I’m mighty glad we’re Here !
Grant Hervey. Australians Yet and Other Verses, Thomas C. Lothian, Melbourne, 1913, pages 123-126
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