[Editor: This poem by C.J. Dennis was published in Backblock Ballads and Other Verses (1913). Most of the poetry of C.J. Dennis is written in the style of the Australian vernacular. See the Glossary for explanations of words and phrases.]
A city clerk was Henry Brown,
Whose suburb knew nor tram nor train;
And ev’ry morn he walked to town.
From nine till five, with busy brain,
He labored in an office dim.
Each eve he walked out home again.
And all this tramping seemed to him
A waste of time, for, ’mid the strife,
He could not keep his lawn in trim.
It clouded his domestic life —
This going early, coming late —
And much distressed his little wife.
Then some wise man declared the State
Should put in trams, and for this scheme
Brown was a red-hot advocate.
At last he realised his dream;
And daily in and out of town
He trammed it with content supreme.
For, though it cost him half-a-crown
A week in fares, the time he saved
Meant much to him and Mrs. Brown.
And so they lived and pinched and slaved;
And their suburban happiness
Seemed all that they had ever craved.
The little wife began to bless
The trams; nor grieved their meagre dole
Was weekly two and sixpence less.
Then Brown’s employer, kindly soul,
Learned of this tram-car luxury,
And promptly rose to take his toll.
He sent for Brown and said that he
Should now contrive to come at eight,
Since trams blessed his vicinity.
He also deemed it wise to state
That idleness begat much ill,
And it was wrong to sleep in late.
Yet Brown contrived to tram it still,
And trim his lawn with tender care,
And pay his rent and baker’s bill.
His little wife vowed it unfair;
But bowed to stern, relentless fate,
And smiled and sewed and worked her share.
Just here, the landlord wrote to state,
Since trams improved his property,
He’d raise the rent as from that date.
“Three shillings weekly will not be
Too much — an equitable rise,
Considering the trams,” wrote he.
What profit oaths or women’s sighs?
His “sacred rights,” of wealth the fount,
A landlord has to recognise.
To what do poor clerks’ lives amount?
An extra hour of slavery
Swells an employer’s bank account.
The wealthy boss thanks God that he
Has saved some money out of Brown.
The landlord smiles contentedly.
The trams run gaily up and down,
A sight Brown sadly notes as he
Plods daily in and out of town.
C.J. Dennis. Backblock Ballads and Other Verses, E. W. Cole, Melbourne, , pages 187-189