Australia is a land that loves its poets. Among the country’s best-known bards is Clarence Michael James Dennis, better known as C. J. Dennis, who was born in Auburn, SA, in 1876. He worked as a journalist but is remembered (and revered) for his generally humorous verse, and most particularly the charming book-length poem The Sentimental Bloke, which relates the life and love of a simple but solid working-class chap. It’s written in the working-class language of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, so one occasionally need to turn to the glossary, which happily recent versions include. The spelling is as if the not particularly well educated hero was writing the poem–for example, cruel fortune is rendered “crool forchin,” but reading the poem aloud often helps.
This may not seem like much of a recommendation, but it actually is. It’s a delightful look at the heart and heartaches of a quite decent fellow. I love the whole poem, but particularly cherish the conclusion.
An’ I am rich, because me eyes ‘ave seen
The lovelight in the eyes of my Doreen;
An’ I am blest, becos me feet ‘ave trod
A land ‘oo’s fields reflect the smile of God.
So for those who might be interested in Australian classics, this is definitely one of them. And if you’d like to know a bit more about C. J. Dennis, you can find his biography here, at the Australian Dictionary of Biography.
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