Sore Throat [poem by C. J. Dennis]

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

Sore Throat

The pale young man he comes to me,
An’ chats me good an’ fair;
“That langwidge that you use,” sez he
“Pollutes the good clean air.
Why don’t you chuck sich silly rot,
An’ line-up with our ‘Clean-Lipped Lot?’”

Well, ’abit’s ’abit; there you are,
An’ since I was a kid,
In school an’ shop an’ street an’ bar,
I picked up words, I did.
To use the fancy swears I hear
Comes natural as sinkin’ beer.

An’, square an’ all, I got no use
For them poor, shrinkin’ guys
Who, at the sound of choice abuse,
Turn pale, an’ rolls their eyes.
Who fades and wilts an’ calls for nurse,
To hear a blithered soldier’s curse.

Beef an’ blood gravy’s fightin’ food,
Not milk — but, all the same,
I came to see there ain’t no good
In this crook langwidge game.
An’ so, a little vow I made,
An’ joined their swell “Clean-Lip Brigade.”

’Twas ’ard! But sternly I pursoo’d
Me course; an’ wore a frown
Thro’ swallerin’ me speech unchewed,
An’ chokin’ curse-words down.
Oh dear! It was a dreadful stunt!
Then, Gracious me! I hit the Front!

A feller in the firin’ line,
Tied up with sich a gag,
Who has to curse by look an’ sign,
He fair gets out the rag.
An’ so, I sez, each time I shoots,
“I’ll take it out of you, you —— broots!”

I don’t care what them goodies say,
It’s cruel, fightin’ dumb!
To curse a bit, once in a way,
Relieves your feelin’s some.
I kills four men in fair, clean fight,
An’ seven extra out uv spite.

An’ then there come the bay’nit charge;
The blokes to left an’ right
They all was cursin’ fine an’ large,
But I keep mum, an’ fight.
I plunks a Square-’ead in the wind,
“Annoying fellow! There!” I grinned.

With that, a great, big ’ulkin’ chap,
Comes at me with a sword —
(The thing I needed in that scrap
Was just one little word).
“Haw! You — you person — ” I begun,
But, while I talks, he gets in one.

Fair in the neck I got that swipe,
An’ crumbles in a heap;
An’ starts to think the time is ripe
To ’ave a long, deep sleep.
“You are intensely rude,” I said.
An’ so, they leaves me there fer dead.

They invaleeds me ’ome, although
The wound gives me no cares.
The cause of my complaint, I know,
Was bottlin’ up me swears —
Congestion of them “Damns” denied;
It made me feel all swelled inside.

The pale young man he comes to me,
“Ah friend,” he says, “How now?
Your lips are clean, I’m pleased to see,
An’ you ’ave kep’ yer vow?”
“Me lips is bonzer,” I replied,
“But, ’Struth, me throat is scarified!”

C. J. Dennis, Backblock Ballads and Later Verses, Sydney: Angus & Robertson, 1918, pages 59-62

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