[Editor: This poem by C. J. Dennis was published in Backblock Ballads and Other Verses (1913) and Backblock Ballads and Later Verses (1918). “Paw” is written from the viewpoint of a female socialite.]
Ai’ve just obteened a pension for mai Paw.
And you should hev seen the people that were theah.
Re-ally, it was surpraising!
Maind, Ai am not criticaising,
But it was embarrassing, Ai do decleah.
Ai met the Snobson-Smythes and Toady-Browns, and many moah
Belonging to ouah set; and wondahed what they came theah foah.
And, of course, Ai didn’t say a word of Paw.
Ai rather think they’ve nevah heard of Paw.
But Ai thought it well to mention
That Ai came to get the pension
For an agéd person who had worked for Maw.
The Snobson-Smythes said, “Fancy! That is just why we came dahn.”
But Ai’ve heard they hev a mothah hidden somewheah out of tahn.
Ai do deserve some gratitude from Paw.
To think what Ai’ve gone thro’ foah him to-day!
Mixing with the lowah classes —
And Ai never saw such masses
Of disreputable creatuahs, Ai must say.
Imposters, Ai’ve no doubt, if most of them were but unmasked.
And then, the most humiliating questions Ai was asked!
Yes, he forced me to admit it was foah Paw.
Asked me, brutally, if it was foah mai Paw.
Some low-bred official fellow,
Who conversed in quaite a bellow,
And he patronised me laike a high Bashaw.
And his questions, rudely personal, Ai hardly could enduah.
The Government should teach its people mannahs, Ai am suah!
Ai’m glad we’ve got the pension foah pooah Paw.
His maintenance has been — O, such a strain.
Ouah establishment’s extensive
And exceedingly expensive,
As mai husband has remawked taime and again.
It’s quaite a miracle how Ai contrive to dress at all.
He cut me dahn to twenty guineas for last Mayoral Ball!
And it’s such a boah to hev to think of Paw —
To hev a secret skeleton laike Paw.
Paw, you know, was once a diggah,
And he cuts no social figgah.
And his mannahs! O, they touch us on the raw.
Of course, we’re very fond of him, and all thet sort of thing;
But we couldn’t hev him — could we? — when theah’s naice folk visiting.
It’s cost us pawnds and pawnds to care foah Paw.
And then, it is so hard to keep him dawk.
Why, no later then last Mond’y,
Ai was out with Lady Grundy,
When we ran raight into him outsaide the Pawk.
Goodness knows! Ai managed, somehow, to elude him with a nod,
And Ai said he was a tradesman; but she must hev thought it odd.
You can’t picture the ubiquity of Paw,
And he’s really very obstinate, is Paw.
Why, he held to the contention
That this most convenient pension
Was a thing he hadn’t any raight to draw!
He said we’d kept him eighteen months, and ought to keep him yet.
But mai husband soon convinced him that he couldn’t count on thet.
He was a pioneah, you know, mai Paw.
But of mai early laife Ai never tell.
Paw worked, as Ai hev stated;
And he had us educated;
And, later on, Ai married rather well.
And then, you know, deah Paw became — er — well, embarrassing.
For he is so unconventional and — all thet sort of thing.
But the Government has taken ovah Paw.
We are happy now we’ve aisolated Paw.
And a bettah era’s dawning,
For mai husband said this mawning
Thet the money saved would buy a motah-caw.
Paw was so good to us when we were young, that, you’ll allow,
It’s really taime the Government did something foah him now.
C. J. Dennis, Backblock Ballads and Later Verses, Sydney: Angus & Robertson, 1918, pages 15-18
Previously published in:
C. J. Dennis, Backblock Ballads and Other Verses, Melbourne: E. W. Cole, , pages 182-184