Mornin’ Magpies [poem by C.J. Dennis]

[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.]

Mornin’ Magpies.

There’s a dismal fowl and dreary
Haunts me thro’ the night-watch weary,
When the task of livin’s wearin’, and the world is lookin’ blue;
When my daytime hopes are fallin’,
I can hear the mopoke callin’
I can hear his mournful callin’ down the creek the whole night thro’.

Then I feel my spirit sinkin’,
And I lie a-thinkin’ — thinkin’
Of the good intentions stifled, and the resolutions broke;
Of the things I’ve done I shouldn’t,
And the times I said I wouldn’t;
Then he strikes the note I’m chantin’ with his sepulchral “Mo-poke!”

When I feel the world has beat me,
And the black thoughts come to greet me,
And I find myself a-doubtin’ if the sun will shine again;
When the ghosts of old sins haunt me,
And the fear of hell fires daunt me;
Then the croakin’ bird of Satan comes to chant his dismal strain.

Oh, there ain’t no joy in livin’,
And there ain’t no hope of heaven,
And the world is cold and barren — hope is dead and spirit broke.
Call again, you dismal croaker!
Rub it in, you ghoulish joker!
I am ripe for hellish banter. Call again! Mo-poke! . . . Mo-poke!

No, there ain’t no use in strivin’;
Needs must with the devil drivin’;
And there ain’t no manhood in me, and there ain’t no chance to mend.
All my chances are behind me,
And despair has come to find me:
Come to find me — cowed and broken: come to stay until THE END.

* * * * *

There’s the least faint streak out eastward,
And I’m catchin’ just the least word
Of the bird talk in the gum-tops — just a sleepy, timid “tweek.”
Hark! From yonder forest giant,
Hear it ring out, proud, defiant!
Hear the joyous mornin’ magpies carolin’ along the creek!

Hope awake, and spirit lighter!
Was there ever mornin’ brighter?
Where is now the broken blighter who would play a craven’s part?
Who’s the one to sigh and rue things?
I’m a man to dare and do things!
The mornin’ magpie’s callin’ — carolin’ within my heart.

C.J. Dennis. Backblock Ballads and Other Verses, E. W. Cole, Melbourne, [1913], pages 45-46

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