[Editor: This poem by Cecil Poole was published in The Bulletin Reciter, 1901.]
When I was digging in the hills— ’way up on Wattle Flat,
A parson came to straighten us — a little one at that.
He told us we should sling the cards, and give the liquor best —
And oh ! ’t was grand to hear the way he ’d chuck it off his chest !
Said he : “My friends, you ’re going to hell — damnation ’s very near.
You are a shocking godless lot — you wretched slaves of beer!
Give up your Sunday football now — avoid the flaming pub —
And let’s improve our minds and start a Parlyment’ry Club.”
We reckoned that he’d struck a patch — if none would act the goat ;
And met the follerin’ Friday to decide “Should Women Vote?”
The chaps rolled up to see the fun — and girls! Each brought his own.
A bit of skirt, the parson said, would give the thing a tone.
He would n’t take the chair — he thought ’t was best for one of us ; —
So we elected Ratty Bill — who took it with a cuss.
He always sunk a duffer when he tried to talk — but, still,
He’d stoush a blooming bullock; so we all respected Bill.
And then the parson pitched it strong about our sisters’ rights ;
But Bli-me Joe, he reckoned only them should vote as fights.
“That bars you, then!” was my remark — which terminated Joe’s.
(It ain’t the chaps as flash their dukes that fight the willing goes !)
Then Mick the Giant started with, “The man ’s a rotten fool”
“You must n’t swear,” the Speaker said — “You ’ll break the blanky rule.”
“When I’m wanting information,” said Mick, “of any sort —
Of course, I’ll take it from a man that’s got a shingle short !”
“I’m boss,” said Bill ; “they ’ve put me here to carry out the law —
Sit down, and put yer flute away — or else I ’ll break yer jaw.”
Mick started poking it again — but ere he ’d said it all —
The pair of them, in willing holts, were rastling for the fall.
It was a lively argument, and, long before its close,
A dozen keen debaters were a-dressin’ ayes and noes ;
The little devil-dodger was a-yellin’ for the p’lice ;
But we were holding down the trap to let ’em fight in peace.
* * * * * *
There’s whips of self-improvement in a Parlyment, no doubt ;
But members find it rough when half the House is counted out ;
We drifted into sin again — bein’ all inclined to think
Debating far more dangerous than football, cards, or drink.
A.G. Stephens (editor). The Bulletin Reciter: A Collection of Verses for Recitation from “The Bulletin” [1880-1901], The Bulletin Newspaper Company, Sydney, 1902 [first published 1901], pages 78-80
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