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Old Town Types No.1 - The Old Town

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



Fierce on the wheat-sown Mallee plain
The ruthless summer suns burned down,
And dust-storms, heralding the rain,
Swept thro' the street and on again
While tradesfolk cursed in the old white town.
Of sand and line-stone stoutly built,
She'd lived to prosper and to wilt,
Because, as all wiseacres knew,
'They went and brought the railway thro'.'

Deep-voiced, bewhiskered townsfolk these,
Remnant of pioneering days,
Full of high tales and memories
Of wild, rough work and wilder sprees,
  When coach and teamster went their ways;
When men pushed out to newer land
And cash came easy to the hand
And went: The golden days men knew
'Before that put that railway thro'.'

Yet even in those days of stress -
Or seeming stress - the old town knew
Nothing of wnat or wretchedness;
For wealth was there and work to bless
All men who sought them work to do.
To me, a child in those far years,
Now as a time-dimmed dream appears
The olden life that once I knew
After the railway wandered thro'.

Like myths in some long-fabled tale -
Figures and scenes to conjure with
They seem. Yet 'spite the deepening veil,
Their memories grow never stales;
Big George, the lumper; Toll, the smith;
Long John, the snob - long have they slept
While suns burned down and dustorm swept
Across the Mallee plains they knew
Before men brought the railway thro'.

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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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