[Editor: This poem by P. Luftig (Peter Airey) was published in The Bulletin Reciter, 1901.]
Strange ! the man who works the hardest never makes a pile of pelf,
And the flirt who flirts most madly sometimes falls in love herself ;
Strange ! the bogus banks have buildings in the very finest style,
And the simpler the Celestial looks the deeper is his guile ;
And the wight who wades in wickedness feels not the direst woes,
And the man who drinks the deepest does n’t have the reddest nose.
Strange ! that when the man who owes us leaves, we ’re all with anguish torn,
But when the man who pays departs there ’s not a soul to mourn ;
Strange ! the rooster on the steeple, though he ’s only made of tin,
Is more famous than the live one with his merry morning din ;
And the fool who boasts a title (like the steeple-cock on high)
Is looked up to and respected when a sage is hustled by.
Strange ! the man who stoops the lowest nearly always rises high,
And the parson says we only live, to learn the way to die ;
Strange ! we hail the badge of slav’ry as the banner of the free,
And we nail the thieves and prophets side by side upon the tree ;
Strange ! the heathen throng the thickest where the clergy tithe the sod.
And a thousand temples rise to Man for one that ’s built to God.
A.G. Stephens (editor). The Bulletin Reciter: A Collection of Verses for Recitation from “The Bulletin” [1880-1901], The Bulletin Newspaper Company, Sydney, 1902 [first published 1901], pages 101-102