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The Drought King's Trumpeter

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



Said old Pete, the Pensioner:
'I met him down the road
Where, twixt the shadders of the gums,
The silver moonlight flowed.
His skin was white like shrivelled grass,
His eyes was eyes o' flame.
He was the Drought King's trumpeter,
An' tooted as he came.
He tooted on a holler bone, of some thing dead o' thirst,
Like dry winds a-moanin' low. Then into song he burst:

'Ho! The Drought King's a-comin, as he came to men afore,
Out of his home within the sun. They're flingin' wide the door.
Then shall Folly flee before him an' Destruction spread behind.
He comes to purify the earth an' chasten humankind. . . .,'
I saw the Drought King's trumpeter as plain as I see you.
An' not a dropp inside o' me - save, maybe, one or two.'

Said old Pete, 'I saw him there
Underneath the moon,
He tooted on his holler bone
An' danced a rigadoon.
I took one look into his face
Then fled into the night;
I fell in thro' my old hut door
An' banged an' barred it tight.
But thro' the night I heard him there; the way he keened an' cried,
The callin' of the curlew was sweet melody beside.

'Ho! The Drought King's a-comin' from his home within the sun
To lay his curse upon the earth for sins that men have done.
Grace ye had an' gifts ye had, but gambled 'em away
An' schemed to make a mockery of many a fruitful day. . . .'
I tell yeh, man, 'twas not the wind! I heard him at my door.
An' ne'er a dropp inside o' me - save maybe, three or four.'

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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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