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

A spectral film that came and went,
In its elusive way gave vent
In some unreal words which meant;
'I think therefore I am.'
That phantasm only thought it thought;
A vain conception crudely wrought;
An egotistic sham.
Which brings us up against the fact
By Chunder's attestation backed —
There is no Substance, Thought, nor Act
Nothing exists but Brahm.

This quaint contraption here below
Is not a magic shadow show
Where phantom figures come and go,
As held by old Khayyam.
A show has time and space enough,
But here we only have such stuff
As dreams are made of — mental fluff
And visionary flam,
Throughout the universal scheme,
Be sure things tare not what they seem,
(To quote a well-known psalm)
They're only whimsies of a dream
A transient dream of Brahm.

All through the cycles of the Past
At which Notation stands aghast
He has subsisted, first and last,
Lone, functionless and calm.
Nothing extraneous can obtrude
Upon his Sabbath quietude,
Or discompose his tranquil mood,
For nothing is but Brahm.
'The Past and Present here unite
Beneath Time's flowing tide' (to cite
A Bard of Uncle Sam)
For Time stretched out in aeons dim
To Apprehension's very rim,
Is insignificant to him
A Bagetelle to Brahm.

For once in his negation deep,
He somehow chanced to drop asleep;
And through that forty-wings there ran
A flitting dream. So time began
He dreamed this stellar lens of ours,
Which mocks at telescopic powers
Innumerable suns sublime,
At furious speed yet keeping time!
And so remote that to the eye,
They look like fixtures in the sky,
But that's a trifle. Round about
A million light-years further out,
The wisps of nebular portend.
Sidereal schemes without an end
And this is no poetic flight
Nor idiotic blatherskite,
Nor what is termed a cram.
However vast these plans may seem,
They're only figments of a dream
A trifling dream of Brahm.

He dreamed our System's fiery gas
Condensing into solid mass;
And during several billion years,
Evolving planetary spheres.
But take this globe, alone, to prove
How things have moved — or seemed to move.
He dreamed some pulpy form of life:
Mutation slow; and savage strife:
With Nature's forces all in play,
And Darwin's system under way;
While bits of hide and tufts of hair
For countless centuries fill'd the air;
And only those were left alive
Whose fitness caused them to survive.

Monsters that lived in Gulfs of slime
With names that balk and baffle rhyme
Prodigious sloths, whose daily food
Was half a ton of leaves and wood —
Grim saurians of terrific strength,
A quarter of a mile in length,
Unsightly bats, with twelve-foot wings,
And endless tribes of fearsome things
Cull'd down, in point of fact, so fit
That they should thrive in Sheol's pit
And breathe its exhalations thick,
Holding their own with Ancient Nick.

And so, while ocean bottoms rose
To stand awhile as high plateaus
And mountains sank beneath the main,
To rise time after time again:
And rocks were formed, and strata rent
And Polar ice-caps came and went;
And geological ages pass'd
Each an improvement on the last;
And on the wrinkled crust of earth
More decent forms of life had birth;

Man was evolved a product queer;
A breed that it would pay to sheer;
And which it might be safe to say,
Has reached a higher stage to-day
Since restless generations gone
Have passed a few ideas on.
But, bear in mind, this human race
Diverse in colour, smell, and face;
These off-shoots from the simian stem
The Sons of Japheth and of Shem,
The progeny of Ham.
With mongrel races that infest
The isles and mainlands, east and west,
From Chili to Siam,
Are less than ripples in a stream,
They're only ripples on a dream
Namely the dream of BRAHM.

Even that race, divinely nursed,
Which for its virtues has been cursed
And booted into seven times seven
By every nation under Heaven
The seed of Abraham;
And those brave lions in their den
Each one a match for aliens ten,
With fist or rifle, bat or pen
I mean God's modest Englishmen,
Whose very fog is balm;
These are less tangible withal
Than shadowy rabbits on the wall
Nothing exists but BRAHM.

Our swarming brethren of the North
Whatever you may judge them worth
Sling Muck and Soogoo Ram,
Are fanto
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Submitted on May 13, 2011

3:46 min read

Quick analysis:

Scheme Text too long
Closest metre Iambic tetrameter
Characters 4,182
Words 741
Stanzas 10
Stanza Lengths 11, 13, 15, 20, 14, 12, 10, 17, 13, 4

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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