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The Grey Fantail

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



The bushmen call me 'Cranky Fan,'
Because my strange erratic flight
Seems to uncomprehending man
Sign of a wit not over-bright;
But nimble wit and nimble wing
Uphold me in the trade I ply
Of ever-restless foraging
Excuse me - there's another fly!

A tireless ball of buff and grey;
White-shafted, my important tail
Guides me on my unstable way
When stronger aviators fail;
Now right rise up, now upside down,
Now tumbling crazily from high,
I ape the antics of a clown
Whoop! - and that's another fly!

'Tis thus my daily fare I earn
By nimble trick of wit and wing;
And, when my nestlings so would learn,
A clothes-line is a handy thing.
And that is why we're sitting now,
Tho' not for long, my brood and I,
That they may be instructed how
Whoop! - and that's another fly!

I loop the loop with careless ease,
Now in a tail-spin watch me fall;
Yet, spite these eccentricities
I am the friendliest bird of all.
Upon your shoulder, lordly man,
I pause as I go flitting by.
Spare a kind word for Cranky Fan
Whoop! - and that's another fly!

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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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