A Visit from the Zoo [poem by Grant Hervey]

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

A Visit from the Zoo

The Parliamentary visit to the Zoological Gardens has been postponed. — News item.

The elephant said gloomily, “What are we coming to?
A plague of coves in Parliament is threatening the Zoo!
For years we’ve been respectable — I think we’re falling low
When disrespected Fusionists invade our decent show !
Why should these noisy animals come here to look at me ?
I think we’re all superior to Wilks and Smith, M.P. !
I vote that we investigate. Let’s plainly see who’s who” —
The tiger roared : “I advocate a visit from the Zoo !”

“I think your scheme is excellent,” the Polar bear replied ;
“We’re all agreed — unanimous,” the lion promptly cried ;
“Let’s go and look at Parliament before it looks at us” —
“That’s right !” observed the apteryx and solemn platypus.
The leopard yawned, and lazily he said : “I think we’ll go.
My dear,” he purred to Mrs. L., “let’s see this talking show !”
“I’ll lead the way,” said cheerfully the cynic kangaroo.
“Line up, you blokes — we’re starting on a visit from the Zoo !”

And so the gloomy elephant lined up beside the bear ;
And all the apes and monkey folk likewise assembled there !
The tall giraffe disdainfully stepped out beside the gnu —
The lynx lamenting tearfully, “He’ll spoil the blessed view !”
“Shut up !” replied the antelope. “I’m sure you’ll see it all ;
It ain’t his fault he’s angular and very lean and tall !”
“Keep quiet there, you blatherskites !” exclaimed the angry ’roo,
“Or else the cops will spiflicate this visit from the Zoo !”

’Twas thus the folks zoological stepped softly side by side,
Until the doors of Parliament they saw before them wide !
The bobby at the orifice fell down and took a fit.
The elephant said gloomily, “He isn’t hurt a bit.
We’re here, young man, as visitors, to see the talking-show ;
We’re peaceful and respectable — direct us where to go !”
“Amen ! Just stir and shift yourself,” observed the kangaroo ;
“This way,” the pale attendant said, “Er — Persons from the Zoo !”

Within the House a hurricane of jaw was raging loud ;
So, unobserved, the visitors sat down — a peaceful crowd !
The elephant, astonished, said, “There is a pal of mine !”
“Shut up,” the ’roo said, solemnly ; “that’s only old Bill Lyne !”
“What is that substance circular ?” the tiger whispered low ;
“That’s Reid,” replied the platypus ; “I know him — old Yes-No !”
“Ah, yes,” the lynx said, plaintively, “he had a Tiger, too.”
“That Tiger’s burst,” the leopard said ; “he’s left this blooming Zoo !”

The elephant said, wearily : “Who’s that who snarls so loud ?”
“It’s Joseph Cook,” replied the ’roo ; “he runs the Fusion crowd !”
“And who’s the noble orator who talks so large and fine ?”
“That’s Deakin,” said the kangaroo, “the man without a spine !”
“Gee-whiz !” exclaimed the blue-tailed ape, “a miracle is he ;
I guess it’s out along with us that fellow ought to be!”
Remember ! We’re respectable,” protested then the gnu ;
“We want no Deakins raising dust around our decent Zoo.”

“There’s something here,” the tiger said, “that rather puzzles me ;
It’s like a monstrous icicle that looms portentously,”
“That’s Iceberg Irvine, don’t you know ?” the kangaroo replied ;
“Observe that sad catastrophe upon the other side !
’Tis Mister Johnson — fearsomely his tongue is prone to wag ;
A most perfervid waver of the blessed Hempire flag !”
“I’ve heard of him,” the tiger said. “Now, blimey, tell us who
Has captured all these quadrupeds that rage within this Zoo ?”

The elephant said gloomily, “I think we’ve had enough :
Our Zoo contains no quadrupeds with hides one half as tough” ;
“The noise they make is horrible,” the lion sadly moaned ;
The Polar bear said, dismally, “I vote they be disowned ;
We cannot have such animals out there disturbing us.”
“However do they catch such things ?” inquired the platypus.
“They snare them with the ballot box,” replied the kangaroo.
“Look out !” exclaimed the pelican, “let’s leave this turbid Zoo !”

The elephant rose hastily and hustled for the door ;
For lo ! the anguished HANSARD man had fainted on the floor !
“He’s overworked,” the tiger said. “Hi ! let’s get out of this ;
I do not like these biped folk who howl and jump and hiss !”
“The fat man makes me weary,” so the humped-up camel cried ;
And then the thoughtful visitors arose and cleared outside !
“What is your verdict, gentlemen ?” inquired the kangaroo.
Get home,” all hands said fearfully — “get home and lock the Zoo !

Grant Hervey. Australians Yet and Other Verses, Thomas C. Lothian, Melbourne, 1913, pages 166-171

Editor’s notes:
As a pro-Labor writer, Grant Hervey attacks various non-Labor politicians in this poem.

Bill Lyne = Sir William Lyne, Premier of New South Wales (1899–1901)

Deakin = Alfred Deakin, Victorian parliamentarian 1879-1900, federal parliamentarian 1901-1913, and the second Prime Minister of Australia (he served for three separate terms as Prime Minister, 1903-1904, 1905-1908, and 1909-1910)

Fusionists = an alliance of Australian federal parliamentarians established in 1909 between the non-Labor parties (mainly the Free Traders and the Protectionists)

Hansard = the official record of parliamentary proceedings

“Hansard man” = this would be a person taking notes for Hansards (the official record of parliamentary proceedings)

Hempire = Empire, from an English pronunciation of the word

House = the House of Representatives

Joseph Cook = Sir Joseph Cook, New South Wales parliamentarian 1891-1901 (and NSW Premier, 1894–1899), federal parliamentarian 1901-1921, and the sixth Prime Minister of Australia (1913-1914)

Reid = Sir George Reid, New South Wales parliamentarian 1880-1901, federal parliamentarian 1901-1909, and the fourth Prime Minister of Australia (1904-1905); he was referred to as “Yes-No Reid” as he had been a supporter of the movement pushing for the federation of the Australian colonies, but when it came to the first referendum for federation he took an equivocal stance, neither supporting or opposing the vote, although he later campaigned for a “Yes” vote at the second referendum for federation

spiflicate = to destroy, annihilate

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