The Stoush o’ Day [poem by C.J. Dennis]

[Editor: This poem by C.J. Dennis was published in The Songs of a Sentimental Bloke. 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.]


The Stoush o’ Day

Ar, these is ’appy days! An’ ’ow they’ve flown —
Flown like the smoke of some inchanted fag;
Since dear Doreen, the sweetest tart I’ve known,
Passed me the jolt that made me sky the rag.
An’ ev’ry golding day floats o’er a chap
Like a glad dream of some celeschil scrap.

Refreshed wiv sleep Day to the mornin’ mill
Comes jauntily to out the nigger, Night.
Trained to the minute, confident in skill,
’E swaggers in the East, chock-full o’ skite;
Then spars a bit, an’ plugs Night on the point.
Out go the stars; an’ Day ’as jumped the joint.

The sun looks up, an’ wiv a cautious stare,
Like some crook keekin’ o’er a winder sill
To make dead cert’in everythink is square,
’E shoves ’is boko o’er an Eastern ’ill,
Then rises, wiv ’is dial all a-grin,
An’ sez, “’Ooray! I knoo that we could win!”

Sure of ’is title then, the champeen Day
Begins to put on dawg among ’is push,
An’, as he mooches on ’is gaudy way,
Drors tribute from each tree an’ flow’r an’ bush.
An’, w’ile ’e swigs the dew in sylvan bars,
The sun shouts insults at the sneakin’ stars.

Then, lo! the push o’ Day rise to applaud;
An’ all ’is creatures clamour at ’is feet
Until ’e thinks ’imself a little gawd,
An’ swaggers on an’ kids ’imself a treat.
The w’ile the lurkin’ barrackers o’ Night
Sneak in retreat an’ plan another fight.

On thro’ the hours, triumphant, proud an’ fit,
The champeen marches on ’is up’ard way,
Till, at the zenith, bli’me! ’E — is — IT!
And all the world bows to the Boshter Day.
The jealous Night speeds messidges thro’ space
’Otly demandin’ terms, an’ time, an’ place.

A w’ile the champeen scorns to make reply;
’E’s taken tickets on ’is own ’igh worth;
Puffed up wiv pride, an’ livin’ mighty ’igh,
’E don’t admit that Night is on the earth.
But as the hours creep on ’e deigns to state
’E’ll fight for all the earth an’ ’arf the gate.

Late afternoon . . . Day feels ’is flabby arms,
An’ tells ’imself ’e don’t seem quite the thing.
The ’omin’ birds shriek clamorous alarms;
An’ Night creeps stealthily to gain the ring.
But see! The champeen backs an’ fills, becos
’E doesn’t feel the Boshter Bloke ’e was.

Time does a bunk as us-u-al, nor stays
A single instant, e’en at Day’s be’est.
Alas, the ’eavy-weight’s ’igh-livin’ ways
’As made ’im soft, an’ large around the vest.
’E sez ’e’s fat inside; ’e starts to whine;
’E sez ’e wants to dror the colour line.

Relentless nigger Night crawls thro’ the ropes,
Advancin’ grimly on the quakin’ Day,
Whose noisy push, shorn of their ’igh-noon ’opes,
Wait, ’ushed an’ anxious, fer the comin’ fray.
An’ many lusty barrackers uv noon
Desert ’im one by one — traitors so soon!

’E’s out uv form! ’E ’asn’t trained enough!
They mark their sickly champeen on the stage,
An’ narked, the sun, ’is backer, in a huff,
Sneaks outer sight, red in the face wiv rage.
W’ile gloomy roosters, they ’oo made the morn
Ring wiv ’is praises, creep to bed forlorn.

All faint an’ groggy grows the beaten Day;
’E staggers drunkenly about the ring;
An owl ‘’oots jeerin’ly across the way,
An’ bats come out to mock the fallin’ King.
Now, wiv a jolt, Night spreads ’im on the floor,
An’ all the west grows ruddy wiv ’is gore.

A single, vulgar star leers from the sky
An’ in derision, rudely mutters, “Yah!”
The moon, Night’s conkerbine, comes glidin’ by
An’ laughs a ’eartless, silvery “Ha-ha!”
Scorned, beaten, Day gives up the ’opeless fight,
An’ drops ’is bundle in the lap o’ Night.

So goes each day, like some celeschil mill,
E’er since I met that shyin’ little peach.
’Er bonzer voice! I ’ear its music still,
As when she guv that promise fer the beach.
An’, square an’ all, no matter ’ow yeh start,
The common end of most of us is — Tart.

C. J. Dennis. The Songs of a Sentimental Bloke, Angus & Robertson, Sydney, 1917 [first published 1915], pages 29-34

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