The Sentimental Bloke

C.J. Dennis, born 7 September 1876

He lived in an age when you could get away with writing in dialect (like Robbie Burns or Walter Scott before him) and his most famous work, The Songs of a Sentimental Bloke makes one cringe nowadays. Although we love one of his titles; The Glugs of Gosh.

The ‘Laureate of the Larrikin’ was born in Auburn in the Clare Valley of South Australia, and spent most of his life in Melbourne.  He’s buried in the cemetery at Box Hill.

Here’s “At the Play” from Sentimental Bloke, where Doreen and Bill (the Bloke) take in a performance of Romeo and Juliet:

"Wot's in a name? -- she sez . . . An' then she sighs, 
An' clasps 'er little 'ands, an' rolls 'er eyes. 
"A rose," she sez, "be any other name 
Would smell the same.
Oh, w'erefore art you Romeo, young sir? 
Chuck yer ole pot, an' change yer moniker!"
Doreen an' me, we bin to see a show -- 
The swell two-dollar touch. Bong tong, yeh know. 
A chair apiece wiv velvit on the seat; 
A slap-up treat. 
The drarmer's writ be Shakespeare, years ago, 
About a barmy goat called Romeo.
"Lady, be yonder moon I swear!" sez 'e. 
An' then 'e climbs up on the balkiney; 
An' there they smooge a treat, wiv pretty words 
Like two love-birds. 
I nudge Doreen. She whispers, "Ain't it grand!" 
'Er eyes is shining an' I squeeze 'er 'and.
'Wot's in a name?" she sez. 'Struth, I dunno. 
Billo is just as good as Romeo. 
She may be Juli-er or Juli-et -- 
'E loves 'er yet. 
If she's the tart 'e wants, then she's 'is queen, 
Names never count ... But ar, I like "Doreen!"
A sweeter, dearer sound I never 'eard; 
Ther's music 'angs around that little word, 
Doreen! ... But wot was this I starts to say 
About the play? 
I'm off me beat. But when a bloke's in love 
'Is thorts turns 'er way, like a 'omin' dove.
This Romeo 'e's lurkin' wiv a crew -- 
A dead tough crowd o' crooks -- called Montague. 
'Is cliner's push -- wot's nicknamed Capulet -- 
They 'as 'em set. 
Fair narks they are, jist like them back-street clicks, 
Ixcep' they fights wiv skewers 'stid o' bricks.
Wot's in a name? Wot's in a string o' words? 
They scraps in ole Verona wiv the'r swords, 
An' never give a bloke a stray dog's chance, 
An' that's Romance. 
But when they deals it out wiv bricks an' boots 
In Little Lon., they're low, degraded broots.
Wot's jist plain stoush wiv us, right 'ere to-day, 
Is "valler" if yer fur enough away. 
Some time, some writer bloke will do the trick 
Wiv Ginger Mick, 
Of Spadger's Lane. 
'E'll be a Romeo, 
When 'e's bin dead five 'undred years or so.
Fair Juli-et, she gives 'er boy the tip. 
Sez she: "Don't sling that crowd o' mine no lip; 
An' if you run agin a Capulet, 
Jist do a get." 
'E swears 'e's done wiv lash; 'e'll chuck it clean. 
(Same as I done when I first met Doreen.)
They smooge some more at that. Ar, strike me blue! 
It gimme Joes to sit an' watch them two! '
E'd break away an' start to say good-bye, 
An' then she'd sigh 
"Ow, Ro-me-o!" an' git a strangle-holt, 
An' 'ang around 'im like she feared 'e'd bolt.
Nex' day 'e words a gorspil cove about 
A secret weddin'; an' they plan it out.
'E spouts a piece about 'ow 'e's bewitched: 
Then they git 'itched ... 
Now, 'ere's the place where I fair git the pip! 
She's 'is for keeps, an' yet 'e lets 'er slip!
Ar! but 'e makes me sick! A fair gazob! 
E's jist the glarsey on the soulful sob, 
'E'll sigh and spruik, a' 'owl a love-sick vow --
(The silly cow!) 
But when 'e's got 'er, spliced an' on the straight 
'E crools the pitch, an' tries to kid it's Fate.
Aw! Fate me foot! Instid of slopin' soon 
As 'e was wed, off on 'is 'oneymoon, 
'Im an' 'is cobber, called Mick Curio, 
They 'ave to go 
An' mix it wiv that push o' Capulets. 
They look fer trouble; an' it's wot they gets.
A tug named Tyball (cousin to the skirt) 
Sprags 'em an' makes a start to sling off dirt. 
Nex' minnit there's a reel ole ding-dong go -— 
'Arf round or so. 
Mick Curio, 'e gets it in the neck, 
"Ar rats!" 'e sez, an' passes in 'is check.
Quite natchril, Romeo gits wet as 'ell. 
"It's me or you!" 'e 'owls, an' wiv a yell, 
Plunks Tyball through the gizzard wiv 'is sword, 
'Ow I ongcored! 
"Put in the boot!" I sez. "Put in the boot!" 
"'Ush!" sez Doreen ... "Shame!" sez some silly coot.
Then Romeo, 'e dunno wot to do. 
The cops gits busy, like they allwiz do, 
An' nose around until 'e gits blue funk 
An' does a bunk. 
They wants 'is tart to wed some other guy. 
"Ah, strike!" she sez. "I wish that I could die!"
Now, this 'ere gorspil bloke's a fair shrewd 'ead. 
Sez 'e "I'll dope yeh, so they'll think yer dead." 
(I tips 'e was a cunnin' sort, wot knoo 
A thing or two.) 
She takes 'is knock-out drops, up in 'er room: 
They think she's snuffed, an' plant 'er in 'er tomb.
Then things gits mixed a treat an' starts to whirl. 
'Ere's Romeo comes back an' finds 'is girl 
Tucked in 'er little coffing, cold an' stiff, 
An' in a jiff, 
'E swallows lysol, throws a fancy fit, 
'Ead over turkey, an' 'is soul 'as flit.
Then Juli-et wakes up an' sees 'im there, 
Turns on the water-works an' tears 'er 'air, 
"Dear love," she sez, "I cannot live alone!" 
An' wiv a moan, 
She grabs 'is pockit knife, an' ends 'er cares ... 
"Peanuts or lollies!" sez a boy upstairs."


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