[Editor: This poem by Henry Lawson was published in Verses Popular and Humorous, 1900.]
The God-Forgotten Election
Pat M‘Durmer brought the tidings to the town of God-Forgotten:
‘There are lively days before ye — commin Parlymint’s dissolved!’
And the boys were all excited, for the State, of course, was ‘rotten,’
And, in subsequent elections, God-Forgotten was involved.
There was little there to live for save in drinking beer and eating;
But we rose on this occasion ere the news appeared in print,
For the boys of God-Forgotten, at a wild, uproarious meeting,
Nominated Billy Blazes for the commin Parlymint.
Other towns had other favourites, but the day before the battle
Bushmen flocked to God-Forgotten, and the distant sheds were still;
Sheep were left to go to glory, and neglected mobs of cattle
Went a-straying down the river at their sweet bucolic will.
William Spouter stood for Freetrade (and his votes were split by Nottin),
He had influence behind him and he also had the tin,
But across the lonely flatlands came the cry of God-Forgotten,
‘Vote for Blazes and Protection, and the land you’re living in!’
Pat M`Durmer said, ‘Ye schaymers, please to shut yer ugly faces,
‘Lend yer dirty ears a momint while I give ye all a hint:
‘Keep ye sober till to-morrow and record yer vote for Blazes
‘If ye want to send a ringer to the commin Parlymint.
‘As a young and growin’ township God-Forgotten’s been neglected,
‘And, if we’d be ripresinted, now’s the moment to begin —
‘Have the local towns encouraged, local industries purtected:
‘Vote for Blazes, and Protection, and the land ye’re livin’ in.
‘I don’t say that William Blazes is a perfect out-an’ outer,
‘I don’t say he have the larnin’, for he never had the luck;
‘I don’t say he have the logic, or the gift of gab, like Spouter,
‘I don’t say he have the practice — BUT I SAY HE HAVE THE PLUCK!
‘Now the country’s gone to ruin, and the Governments are rotten,
‘But he’ll save the public credit and purtect the public tin;
‘To the iverlastin’ glory of the name of God-Forgotten
‘Vote for Blazes and Protection, and the land ye’re livin’ in!’
Pat M‘D. went on the war-path, and he worked like salts and senna,
For he organised committees full of energy and push;
And those wild committees riding through the whisky-fed Gehenna
Routed out astonished voter s from their humpies in the bush.
Everything on wheels was ‘rinted,’ and half-sobered drunks were shot in;
Said M‘Durmer to the driver, ‘If ye want to save yer skin,
‘Never stop to wet yer whistles — drive like hell to God-Forgotten,
‘Make the villains plump for Blazes, and the land they’re livin’ in.’
Half the local long-departed (for the purpose resurrected)
Plumped for Blazes and Protection, and the country where they died;
So he topped the poll by sixty, and when Blazes was elected
There was victory and triumph on the God-Forgotten side.
Then the boys got up a banquet, and our chairman, Pat M‘Durmer,
Was next day discovered sleeping in the local baker’s bin —
All the dough had risen round him, but we heard a smothered murmur,
‘Vote for Blazes — and Protection — and the land ye’re livin’ in.’
Now the great Sir William Blazes lives in London, ’cross the waters
And they say his city mansion is the swellest in West End,
But I very often wonder if his toney sons and daughters
Ever heard of Billy Blazes who was once the ‘people’s friend.’
Does his biassed memory linger round that wild electioneering
When the men of God-Forgotten stuck to him through thick and thin?
Does he ever, in his dreaming, hear the cry above the cheering:
‘Vote for Blazes and Protection, and the land you’re livin’ in?’
* * * * * *
Ah, the bush was grand in those days, and the Western boys were daisies,
And their scheming and their dodging would outdo the wildest print;
Still my recollection lingers round the time when Billy Blazes
Was returned by God-Forgotten to the ‘Commin Parlymint’:
Still I keep a sign of canvas — ’twas a mate of mine that made it —
And its paint is cracked and powdered, and its threads are bare and thin,
Yet upon its grimy surface you can read in letters faded:
‘Vote for Blazes and Protection, and the Land you’re livin’ in.’
Henry Lawson. Verses Popular and Humorous, Angus and Robertson, Sydney, 1900, pages 162-167
biassed = an alternative spelling of biased
Gehenna = a place or state of torment or suffering, hell; a Latin word, from the Greek Geenna, which came from the Hebrew Gē’ Hinnōm, a reference to the valley of Hinnom (a valley south of Jerusalem) which had gained a fearsome and evil reputation among Jews because of barbarous events that took place there (by the time of the New Testament, it had come to mean a reference to Hell, e.g. Matthew 5:22, 5:29; Mark 9:43)
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