The Artist and the Alderman

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



'Give us gardens!' said the artist,
'Blatant brick and soulless stone,
Never built a noble city.
 Man lives not by bread alone,
Beauty brings, for our enrichment,
Smiling lawn and spreading tree.'
'Bricks and mortar,' said the alderman,
'Bring in more £.s.d.'

As acid and alkali,
Water and fire,
The good and the evil,
Discension inspire;
As the cat and the dog,
And the axe and the tree,
 So artists and aldermen
 Never agree.

Said the artist: 'Give us gardens!
So to save the civic soul,
Draw aesthetic men about you
Ere base ideals take control.
Let artistic minds advise you,
Lest you pay a shameful price.'
'And who,' inquired the alderman,
 'Needs any such advice?'
  
As the cop and the crook,
As the fool and the sage,
As light and the darkness,
Hot youth and old age
As the lamb and the lion,
The ant and the bee,
So artists and aldermen,
Never agree.

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

Modified on March 14, 2023

47 sec read
124

Quick analysis:

Scheme abcbxcda xxxxxcEC xfgfghdh xixidcEC
Closest metre Iambic trimeter
Characters 837
Words 166
Stanzas 4
Stanza Lengths 8, 8, 8, 8

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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