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Mud

Edward George Dyson 1865 (Ballarat, Victoria) – 1931 (Saint Kilda, Melbourne, Victoria)



This war's a waste of slurry, and its at-
mosphere is mud,
All is bog from here to sunset. Wadin'
through
We're the victims of a thicker sort of universal
flood,
With discomforts that old Noah never knew.

We have dubbed our trench The Cecil.
There's a brass-plate and a dome,
And a quagmire where the doormat used
to be,
If you're calling, second Tuesday is our reg'-
lar day at home,
So delighted if you'll toddle in to tea!

There is mud along the corridors enough to
bog a cow;
In the air there hangs a musty kind of
woof;
There's a frog-pond in the parlour, and the
kitchen is a slough.
She has neither doors nor windows, nor a
roof.

When they post our bald somnambulist as
missing from his flat
We take soundings for the digger with a
prop.
By the day the board is gratis, by the week
it's half of that;
For the season there's a corresponding drop.

Opening off the spacious hallway is my natty
little suite,
A commodious and accessible abode.
By judicious disposition, with exclusion of
my feet,
There is sleeping room for Oliver the toad.

Though the ventilation's gusty, and in gobs
the ceiling falls—
Which with oral respiration disagrees—
Though there comes a certain quantity of
seepage from the walls,
There are some I knew in diggings worse
than these.

On my right is Cobber Carkeek. There's a
spring above his head,
And his mattress is a special kind of clay.
He's a most punctilious bloke about the
fashion of his bed,
And he makes it with a shovel every day.

Man is dust. If so, the Cobber has been
puddled up a treat.
On domestic sanitation he's a toff,
For he lights a fire on Sunday, bakes his sur-
face in the heat,
Then he takes a little maul, and cracks it
off.

After hanging out a winter in this Cimmerian
hole
We're forgetting sheets, and baths, and
tidy skins.
In the dark and deadly calm last night they
took us on patrol.
Seven, little fellows, thinking of their sins.

It was ours like blinded snails to prowl the
soggy, slimy night,
With a feeler pricking out at every pore
For the death that stalks in darkness, or the
blinking stab of light,
And the other trifling matters that are war.

That's the stuff to get your liver, that's the
acid on a man,
For it tries his hones, and seeks his marrow
throngh.
You have got the thought to comfort you that
life is but a span,
If Fritz squirts his loathly limelight over
you.

We got back again at daybreak. Cobber
ducked to doss and said,
From the soft, embracing mud: “No more
I'll roam.
“Oh, thank Heaven, blokes,” he murmured,
“for the comforts of a bed!
Gorstruth, but ain't it good to have a
home!”

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

2:30 min read
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Edward George Dyson

Edward George Dyson, or 'Ted' Dyson, was an Australian journalist, poet, playwright and short story writer. He was the elder brother of illustrators Will Dyson (1880–1938) and Ambrose Dyson (1876–1913), with three sisters also of artistic and literary praise. Dyson wrote under several – some say many – nom-de-plumes, including Silas Snell. In his day, the period of Australia's federation, the poet and writer was 'ranked very closely to Australia's greatest short-story writer, Henry Lawson'. With Lawson known as the 'swagman poet', Ogilvie the 'horseman poet', Dyson was the 'mining poet'. Although known as a freelance writer, he was also considered part of The Bulletin writer group. more…

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