The Kookaburra [poem by C. J. Dennis]

[Editor: This poem by C. J. Dennis was published in The Singing Garden (1935).]

The Kookaburra

I am cursed with a cackle whenever I tackle
A soulful and lilting refrain;
But a frivolous snicker, like some fool in liquor,
Is not what I seek to attain.
For I have, on the whole, quite a musical soul
Which I seek to express as I may.
And it’s simply absurd to suppose that a bird,
Such as I, makes a laugh of his lay.

In early October I’m specially sober
And loaded with household affairs;
And myself and my wife lead no trivial life
That inclines us to laugh at our cares,
So, if you should suppose that our song is jocose,
You’re entitled of course, to your views,
But to us, her and me, it’s a sweet symphony
And inspired by our mutual muse.

When I soulfully sing in the bourgeoning spring
With true poetry bursting my heart,
It is hard if I seem to express in my theme
Some coarse phase of the comical art.
And yet, what’s the good? Since I’m misunderstood
I’m content to submit to the wrong.
And tho’ “Ock, ock, oo, hoo” may seem funny to you,
’Tis to me a delectable song.

C. J. Dennis, The Singing Garden, Sydney: Angus & Robertson, 1935, pages 77-78

Editor’s notes:
lay = song, tune; ballad (may also refer to ballads or narrative poems, as sung by medieval minstrels or bards)

muse = a source of artistic inspiration; a person, especially a woman, or a force personified as a woman, who is the source of inspiration for an artist (derived from the Muses of Greek and Roman mythology, who were said to provide inspiration for artists and writers)

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