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The Battler

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

'Could you give me a bite to eat?' said he,
 As he tarried by my back door.
And I thought of the dull, lean days that be
 As I glanced at the clothes he wore:
Patched in places, and worn and old,
Yet cosy enough to fend the cold.
And I caught the glint of his gay blue eye,
Sure sign of his slogan: 'Never say die'.

'Could you spare me a trifle to eat?' said he;
'For it's tough on a man these days.'
Then, somehow or other it seemed to me,
Some trick of his voice, or ways,
Stirred half lost thought. But I let it go,
As he said that his tea was 'pretty low':
And his sugar-bag, too, was 'well-nigh out'.
'Tho' I'd hate', he added, 'to put you about.'

'Could you do with a couple of chops?' said I.
'Some eggs and a ration of bread?'
'Why, mister, that would be comin' it high!
It's a feed for a king!' he said.
So with this, and a trifle of sugar and tea,
Tucked under his arm: 'Thanks, boss', said he.
'It's hard on the roads when yer out of a job . . .
D'yeh think yeh'd be missin' a couple o' bob?'

'One minute!' I bade him, as memory stirred.
'Have I ever seen you before?'
'Seen me?' said he. 'Why, upon my word!
For the half o' my life or more,
I been comin' round nigh every year.
An' I never yet drawed a blank - not 'ere.
An' I'll say this for yeh: you ain't too bad
As a regular customer - best I've 'ad.'

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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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