A Psalm Of Councel

Joseph Furphy 1843 (Yering, Victoria) – 1912 (Claremont)

Though some good folks may take it ill,
As trifling with parsonic frill,
Thus saith the Lord to Jim and Bill,
In admonition stern and straight:—
Ye hold from Me the brightest zones,
The fairest realm this planet owns,
Guarded on every side by Jones,
And standing yet inviolate.
So far, so good. And all the rest,
Amounting to a racial test,
May be compendiously express'd
In four short words — Be Up To Date.

Australia is the unit. There!
This Commonwealth denotes your share;
Ye have no loyalty to spare,
In spite of all your Empire prate.
For though the Motherland be good,
Yet may some oddities intrude,
Which it would be extremely rude
On your poor part to imitate.
For instance, if she should be lame,
It's not included in the game
That you should limp behind the dame,
By way of keeping Up To Date.

With bounds unchangeably defin'd;
A continent to you assign'd —
That is the primary postulate.
One 'angry cloth' to call your own;
One scorn for every brand of drone;
One slant-eyed menaceyours alone! —
Involving each ingredient State.
The Commonwealth is paramount;
City or province merely count
As streamlets from that central fount —
Provided you are Up To Date.

If you should fail, with such a start,
To lead the world in Thought and Art,
You're only fit to draw a cart,
Which probably would be your fate.
Now take the tip of Holy Writ —
You won't survive unless you're fit;
And something more than honest grit
Must go to make a people great.
An Asiatic boundary fence
Is little better than pretence
Unless you're white in every sense —
Unless, in fact, you're Up To Date.

Ye have an old-man job on hand,
One that will tax your sense and sand;
The building of a nation grand
Is not accomplish'd while you wait.
Put not your trust in men of girth,
Who should have left this waken'd earth
About the period of their birth,
And lived in times appropriate.
For well-a-day! their date is fled;
Unearned Prerogative is dead,
And Decency may reign instead —
But only if you're Up To Date.

Touching your own forefathers' case,
Ask History what has taken place
Since Dago legions made the pace —
Say, Anno Domini 78.
Thrice has the Motherland been lost —
Three separate times has she been boss'd
By enterprising foes who crossed
The German Sea or Dover Strait;
While Bulldog Boys, with clods and sticks,
Fail'd to frustrate their knavish tricks;
Hence Freedom's show was simply nix —
Which came of not being Up To Date.

Till torn with feud, or sick with rot,
Or reconciled to Slavery's lot,
And ripe for wiping off the slate.
A parcel of anointed skunks;
A crowd that views its work, and funks;
A push of despots, scabs, and drunks,
I will by no means tolerate.
Assyria therefore had to go,
The Roman, Greek, and Ikey Mo.
Gehenna gapes — and rightly so —
For nations drifting Out Of Date.

Look out for snakes among the grass
The noisy parish-minded ass;
The paltry devotee of Class;
The preacher of sectarian hate.
To give such pests an honest deal,
With justice to the public weal,
You may respect their narrow zeal,
But count them foes within the gate.
Should they as candidates appear,
Dispose them in their proper sphere,
That is to say, upon their ear
Your statesmen must be Up To Date.

Beware of Thrift's insidious creed,
That gospel of the moral weed;
For when a race professes Greed,
True aspiration must stagnate.
But don't denounce, with censure rash,
The helpful medium known as cash,
Nor swamp it in a futile splash,
Blind to what may eventuate.
Don't underrate what gonce can do,
Yet always keep in easy view
The unpretentious six-by-two,
Which places Mammon Out Of Date.

You can't do better than apply
The Reverend Hervey's rousing cry,
Who bids you Set Your Standards High,
And never pause nor deviate.
This also you must realize
However high those standards rise,
In ethic or artistic guise,
Your potencies are adequate.
By all-round worth success is won;
And though you have no soft thing on,
Be sure distinction waits upon
The nation that is Up To Date.

The point of honour is your crux;
Run always straight, and chance the ducks;
For in this world of constant flux,
The higher type must dominate.
All fetish forms you may neglect,
But vices th
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Submitted on May 13, 2011

Modified on March 14, 2023

3:54 min read

Quick analysis:

Closest metre Iambic tetrameter
Characters 4,228
Words 759
Stanzas 11
Stanza Lengths 12, 12, 12, 12, 12, 12, 11, 12, 12, 12, 6

Joseph Furphy

Joseph Furphy is widely regarded as the "Father of the Australian novel". He mostly wrote under the pseudonym Tom Collins and is best known for his novel Such Is Life (1903), regarded as an Australian classic. more…

All Joseph Furphy poems | Joseph Furphy Books

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