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City of Dreams

Clarence Michael James Stanislaus Dennis 1876 (Auburn) – 1938 (Melbourne)

Oh, we might have a marvellous city
Were we only less keen on cash
Less avid for things - more's the pity
That fade and are gone in a flash,
A city where duffers in my line
In wrapt adoration fall flat
To behold its superlative skyline
But there isn't much money in that.

Oh, we might have a city most splendid
Were sordid self-seeking denied.
Were good taste and culture attended
By pride that transcends money-pride.
Then, urged by more glorious dreaming
Than moved beneath Pericles' hat,
We would out-Athens Athens in scheming
But - there isn't much money in that.

So let's build our city according
To canons commercial and sane.
Where every house is a hoarding
And every 'palace' a pain.
Let us mingle the Gothic and Moorish
In the nice neo-Georgian flat.
What odds, tho' they blither it's boorish?
Who cares? For there's money in that.

Oh, let's have a conglomeration
Of all architectural ills.
We build for ouselves, not th enation,
And to advertise somebody's pills
With piles that are proud and pretentious
And styles that are 'pretty' and fat.
And a fig for their strictures sententious!
There's not a brass farthing in that.

And so we'll grow richer and richer
While curleywigs crawl the facade
Of the home of the sur-super-picture
Or pubs where the profits are made.
Yet - We might have a marvellous city
If we only knew how to grow fat
At the game. But we don't - more's the pity.
So there isn't much money in that.

And when we have piled up the riches,
And pass, and leave never a trace,
A grave-digger, with clay on his breeches,
Will come and pitch dirt on our face.
And our passing may serve to remind him,
As he gives the grave-mound a last pat:
'Well, he's gone; and he's left nought behind him,
And there isn't much honor in that.'

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

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Clarence Michael James Stanislaus Dennis

Clarence Michael James Stanislaus Dennis, better known as C. J. Dennis, was an Australian poet known for his humorous poems, especially "The Songs of a Sentimental Bloke", published in the early 20th century. Though Dennis's work is less well known today, his 1915 publication of The Sentimental Bloke sold 65,000 copies in its first year, and by 1917 he was the most prosperous poet in Australian history. Together with Banjo Paterson and Henry Lawson, both of whom he had collaborated with, he is often considered among Australia's three most famous poets. While attributed to Lawson by 1911, Dennis later claimed he himself was the 'laureate of the larrikin'. When he died at the age of 61, the Prime Minister of Australia Joseph Lyons suggested he was destined to be remembered as the 'Australian Robert Burns'. more…

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