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Youth Revisited

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

Can this be the old town of wheat-teams and saddle-hacks,
Of Ted Toll's smithy, with the anvil ringing clear,
Of stacks in the station yard, and stockmen, and farming hands,
Of bow-legged bound'ry riders coming in for beer
This strange, new, brisk town of sweet-shops and petrol pumps
Petrol pumps with motor cars dashing up and down?
Yet there stands the old church, the bluestone baker's shop,
And the queer, shrunken houses of my old home town.

What has become of him - Little Johnny Parkinson?
Little Johnny Parkinson out upon a bust
The long red beard of him, the red-rimmed eyes of him;
Red from the harvest field and winnower dust.
Five foot two of him - Little Johnny Parkinson,
Driving in his wheat team, down the dusty street;
Red beard, red eyes, red bandana neckerchief
Little Johnny Parkinson, who took his whiskey neat.

What has become of him - Big Jack Herringford?
Big Jack Herringford, champion of the stacks,
Where the lumpers, laboring, climbed the crazy wooden ways
One, two, three hundred pounds upon their backs.
Big Jack Herringford, soft-hearted Hercules,
Went to the West land and won a fortune there.
Was the gold a bension to Big Jack Herringford?
Does anybody know, or does anybody care?

What has become of him - Black Tom Boliver?
Black Tom, Dude Tom, of the shearing shed
The bold, black eyes of him, the well-oiled curls of him,
The cabbage-tree hat well back upon his head.
What has become of them, all the men I used to know?
Only one I recognise of all men there;
But one has a smile for me - schoolmate Jimmy Tomlinson
Laughing Jimmy Tomlinson, with snow-white hair.

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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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