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Old Town Types No.17- Mr Bodge the Banker

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

Mr Bodge, the banker, was a power in the land;
His city bank had granted him an autocratic hand;
For our town was most remote from commerce centres then,
And only Mr Bodge could know who were our solid men.
So Mr Bodge within his bank reigned with a pride immense,
And rich men and poor men, they paid him deference;
For who could know when droughts would come to jeopardise some plan?
And one word from Mr Bodge might save or sink a man.

He shone among the 'silvertails,' a leading social light,
Well dressed, well groomed and painfully polite.
He entertained the Governor, when he was in our town,
Magistrates and M.P.'s and others of renown.
In full beards and top hats, with such a fancy spread
That the fat cook at Flynn's pub went nearly off her head
Cold collations, caviare, foods till then unknown,
And all were sure that Mr Bodge had money of his own.

He beamed on Peter Connor when he came into the bank,
For Connor was our squatter and a man of social rank.
He beamed on all the 'silvertails' of his exclusive set;
He frowned on cocky farmers who were over-long in debt.
'My bank considers character,' he'd sternly say to those.
'If you can't pay the fifty pounds, I fear we must foreclose.'
And, tho' small men called him a snob, most of the town agreed
That Mr Bodge, tho' hard at times, was very just indeed.

He once went on extended leave, and all the town's elect
Gave him a champagne send-off. 'Twas the least one might expect.
But when he overstayed his leave there was a mighty din,
The bank sent its inspectors up and called its money in
Or tried to. But old Connor failed, and Collins at the store,
The chemist and the auctioneer and half a dozen more.
And men long talked with bated breath of that depression dire
When Mr Bodge, the banker, left the old town in the mire.

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

1:43 min read

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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