The Town of God-Forgotten [poem by Grant Hervey]

[Editor: This poem by Grant Hervey was published in Australians Yet and Other Verses, 1913.]

The Town Of God-Forgotten

There’s a town I know that slumbers in a sort of dumb despair,
Where the Chow who grows cucumbers cries “Whaffor ?” within his lair !
For the Christian and the heathen hear the Door of Progress slam,
Whilst in cities large and seethin’ no one cares a single damn !
In that hamlet things are lifeless, and no mills and foundries roar
In that village calm and strifeless, which in sleep exclaims “Whaffor ?”
’Tis the town of God-forgotten,
Where all things are slumber-sotten,
And the jackass on the gable seems to groan the word “Whaffor ?”

There’s a town out west where farmers curse the uselessness of farms ;
Where the mortgage leaps and clamours and the interest-bill alarms ;
There the people, tired and scopeless, seem to wait the Judgment Day —
They are jaded, sad and hopeless, so they drift the time away !
There they do not drain the flagon, for the pub is tired as well ;
And the wheat rots on the wagon, and all things resemble Hell !
’Tis the town of No-One-Knows-It,
Where no hearty voice says “Prosit !
Where the landscape quakes in mirage, and all things resemble Hell !

There’s a town out there where Sunday seems the ghost of Saturday,
And where Thursday looks like Monday, and all earthly things decay !
’Tis a place where weary Woman cooks the meals for shabby Man —
Yea, a place accurst, inhuman, and it lives beneath a ban.
There the children sit reflective, tired and vimless on the floor ;
And the earth with voice collective seems to ask the stars “Whaffor ?”
That’s the town of God-forgotten,
Where the heart of things is rotten,
And the universal spirit seems to shout aloud “Whaffor ?”

There’s a town where nothing alters, where the world looks dull and mean —
Where the Younger Manhood falters as it dreams of Might-Have-Been !
There the girls each year grow older, but the marriage-trade is done ;
And the church roofs sag and moulder, and there is not any fun !
One by one the young men, drifting, leave that broken town behind —
’Tis the Younger Manhood shifting with a vexed, uneasy mind !
From the town of Given-Over
Drifts the hopeless, jobless lover,
And the devil Disappointment stokes Gehenna in his mind !

There’s a town that groans and ponders as it leans beside the plough —
“Jones and Smith both promised wonders, but will Smith Do Something now ?”
Thus the elders sadly question, but no answer echoes there ;
or the Party of Congestion holds its member by the hair !
Jones and Smith in dull succession walk the legislative floor —
Yea, they maunder through each session whilst electors groan “Whaffor ?”
In the town of God-forgotten,
Jones and Smith seem sloth-besotten.
And the man behind the wheat stack asks his perished grain “Whaffor ?”

There’s a town where Death is weary, where the tombstones seldom rise —
And the undertakers query, “Tell to us why no one dies ?”
There the hearse begins to crumble, and the plumes droop in despair ;
Whilst the coffin-makers grumble and accuse the healthy air !
“Somethin’s wrong,” they groan together — which, indeed, is very true ;
But the blame is tied a-tether with the Great Congestion Crew !
’Tis the distant Traffic-Fakir
Who destroys the coffin-maker —
All are tied in dreary bondage to the Great Congestion Crew !
There’s a town — ah, well, it slumbers by its wheat stacks in despair ;
And the Chow who vends cucumbers yells “Whaffor ?” each summer there !

Nothing moves and nothing matters — Sydney’s deaf and far away ;
So the population scatters, and the pleasant girls grow grey !
In that village Love seems worthless, and each woman at her door
Hears the landscape’s echo mirthless to her heart’s refrain: “Whaffor ?”
Joyless town of God-forgotten —
What a crime is here begotten,
When the women’s hearts are broken, and their dead hopes cry “Whaffor ?”

Grant Hervey. Australians Yet and Other Verses, Thomas C. Lothian, Melbourne, 1913, pages 139-143

Speak Your Mind