My Poor Relation [poem by C. J. Dennis]

[Editor: This poem by C. J. Dennis was published in Backblock Ballads and Other Verses (1913) and Backblock Ballads and Later Verses (1918).]

My Poor Relation

I have a poor relation, but
He never troubles me.
He’s bowed with care; he wears an air
Of abject misery.
Yet, I am happy to relate,
He never is importunate.

I meet him often in the street;
Sometimes he speaks with me;
I know, indeed, he is in need —
That’s very plain to see.
Yet, though he is in want, I own
He never asks me for a loan.

His cuffs are frayed around the edge;
His hat’s a sight to see;
His coat is torn; his pants are worn,
And baggy at the knee.
Yet, though his need is manifest,
He never brings me one request.

I know he often wants for food,
His tradesmen are unpaid,
His life’s accurst with one large thirst
That never is allayed.
Yet, ne’er by hint or sign does he
Suggest that it is “up to me.”

Is he too proud? Well, truly, no;
To beg he’s not ashamed.
Yet, his neglect in that respect,
Is scarcely to be blamed.
In fact he knows full well, you see,
That I am just as poor as he.

C. J. Dennis, Backblock Ballads and Later Verses, Sydney: Angus & Robertson, 1918, pages 97-98

Previously published in:
C. J. Dennis, Backblock Ballads and Other Verses, Melbourne: E. W. Cole, [1913], page 113

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