[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.]
Reginald Alphonsus Bungey had a scientific mind.
From his early childhood was he taxidermic’ly inclined.
Birds and beasts of many species gathered he from far and wide —
Crawlywigs and crows and spiders — goodness knows what else beside.
Reggie stuffed, preserved and mounted, beetles, butterflies, and bees;
Guinea pigs and great “goanners,” fishes, finches, frogs and fleas.
He would roam by stream and scrubland with his rod and gun and net,
Stalking, killing, skinning, stuffing, every creature he could get,
In the noble cause of science — tho’ his heart was far from hard —
Transfixed he poor dumb cockroaches, thro’ the vitals, to a card.
Dawned at last the day when Reggie, specimens of all near home
Had within his vast collection. Then did he resolve to roam
Far afield; for stranger creatures — painted parrot, grov’ling grub —
Where the sportive bunyip gambols, in the distant Wild Dog Scrub.
* * * * *
Wayback William was reflective, as he trudged along the track,
With his blackened billy swinging and his swag upon his back.
He was thinking deeply, sadly, man was prone to actions rash,
And deplored the tantalizing slippiness of hard-earned cash.
Suddenly, with exclamations that I’d rather not repeat,
William stopped, and, with a clatter, dropped his billy at his feet.
“Spare me days!” said he, with other exclamations I’ll omit.
“Is this ’ere a man afore me? Or ’ave I another fit?”
“Pardon me,” said Reggie Bungey, for ’twas none more strange than he.
“Pardon me? From your appearance, you’re a native here I see.
May I glean some information of the fauna that abound
In this wild delightful woodland and the countryside around?
“For I am a taxidermist.” “Taxey whatsey?” murmured Bill.
“Taxidermist,” answered Reggie. “I’ll be grateful if you will
Tell me of some bird or reptile roaming in these parts, you see?
And I’ll gladly pay for any information tendered me.”
“Reptiles,” pondered William, “Reptiles? Snakes, I s’pose, and lizards, too?
Look ’ere, mister; I ken put ye on t’a squirmin’, bloomin’ zoo!
Reptiles! Blime! Why, I’ve seen ’em be the thousand lately, mate —
Pink ’uns, blue ’uns, spotted red ’uns. Sorts ye’d never dream of, straight!
“Purple snakes with crinkled stockin’s, yaller frogs with scarlet bands,
Crimson rats, an’ cock-a-roaches standin’ on ther’ bloomin’ ’ands;
Why, I’ve seen a blue goanner playin’ circus with a ant;
Spotted spiders chewin’ damper, with their whiskers all aslant.
“Red-’aired toads with greenish eyeballs an’ the’r weskits inside-out;
Blue-necked mice an’ pink deaf-adders chasin’ catterworms about.
I ’ave seen bald-headed ringworms drinkin’ hoss-shoes be the pint;
Whip snakes kickin’ crippled beetles till the’r toes wus out o’ jint.
“Why, I’ve — “Stop!” cried Reggie, wildly. “Have you met them in the scrub?”
“No,” said Bill, “about a mile on. Up at Paddy Casey’s pub.”
“Then,” said Reggie, “I will call there when I come this way again.
Now, I really must be leaving. Don’t you think it looks like rain?”
Handing Wayback Will a sovereign, wildly down the track he tore.
“Struth!” said William, turning pubwards, “think I’ll go an’ see some more.”
C.J. Dennis. Backblock Ballads and Other Verses, E. W. Cole, Melbourne, , pages 42-44
be = by
straight = straight up (truthful)