Black Kate [poem by Henry Kendall]

[Editor: This poem by Henry Kendall was published in Songs from the Mountains (1880).]

Black Kate.

Kate, they say, is seventeen —
Do not count her sweet, you know.
Arms of her are rather lean —
Ditto, calves and feet, you know.
Features of Hellenic type
Are not patent here, you see.
Katie loves a black clay pipe —
Doesn’t hate her beer, you see.

Spartan Helen used to wear
Tresses in a plat, perhaps:
Kate has ochre in her hair —
Nose is rather flat, perhaps.
Rose Lorraine’s surpassing dress
Glitters at the ball, you see:
Daughter of the wilderness
Has no dress at all, you see.

Laura’s lovers every day
In sweet verse embody her:
Katie’s have a different way,
Being frank, they “waddy” her.
Amy by her suitor kissed,
Every nightfall looks for him:
Kitty’s sweetheart isn’t missed —
Kitty “humps” and cooks for him.

Smith, and Brown, and Jenkins, bring
Roses to the fair, you know:
Darkies at their Katie fling
Hunks of native bear, you know.
English girls examine well
All the food they take, you twig:
Kate is hardly keen of smell —
Kate will eat a snake, you twig.

Yonder lady’s sitting room —
Clean and cool and dark it is:
Kitty’s chamber needs no broom —
Just a sheet of bark it is.
You may find a pipe or two
If you poke and grope about:
Not a bit of starch or blue —
Not a sign of soap about.

Girl I know reads Lalla Rookh
Poem of the “heady” sort:
Kate is better as a cook
Of the rough and ready sort.
Byron’s verse on Waterloo,
Makes my darling glad, you see:
Kate prefers a kangaroo —
Which is very sad, you see.

Other ladies wear a hat
Fit to write a sonnet on:
Kitty has — the naughty cat —
Neither hat nor bonnet on!
Fifty silks has Madame Tate —
She who loves to spank it on:
All her clothes are worn by Kate
When she has her blanket on.

Let her rip! the Phrygian boy
Bolted with a brighter one;
And the girl who ruined Troy
Was a rather whiter one.
Katie’s mouth is hardly Greek —
Hardly like a rose it is:
Katie’s nose is not antique —
Not the classic nose it is.

Dryad in the grand old day,
Though she walked the woods about,
Didn’t smoke a penny clay —
Didn’t “hump” her goods about.
Daphne by the fairy lake,
Far away from din and all,
Never ate a yard of snake,
Head and tail and skin and all.

Henry Kendall, Songs from the Mountains, Sydney: William Maddock, 1880, pages 200-204

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