Extract from CJ Dennis
Clarence Michael James Stanislaus Dennis, better known as C. J. Dennis, was an Australian poet and journalist known for his best-selling verse novel The Songs of a Sentimental Bloke (1915). Alongside his contemporaries and occasional collaborators Henry Lawson and Banjo Paterson, Dennis helped popularise Australian slang in literature, earning him the title 'the laureate of the larrikin'.
Clarence Dennis spent most of his professional life in Victoria where he created The Sentimental Bloke
, who first appeared in The Bulletin
in 1909. Dennis was a prolific writer of both verse and prose, contributing more than 3000 items over 16 years to a daily column in the Melbourne Herald
as well as creating Ben Bowyang in Letters from the Bush
and other feature series. But his verse novel, The Songs of a Sentimental Bloke, with its vernacular celebration of Bill and Doreen's everyday love story, was his most enduring success, selling more than 60,000 copies within a year of its first publication in 1915.
You'll never read turn of the 20th century Australian dialect any more real than in the Sentimental Bloke by CJ Dennis. Here's an excerpt from near the start, when he's just met Doreen.
'Er name's Doreen ...Well spare me bloomin' days!
You could er knocked me down wiv 'arf a brick!
Yes, me, that kids meself I know their ways,
An' 'as a name for smoogin' in our click!
I just lines up an' tips the saucy wink.
But strike! The way she piled on dawg! Yer'd think
A bloke was givin' back-chat to the Queen....
'Er name's Doreen.
I seen 'er in the markit first uv all,
Inspectin' brums at Steeny Isaacs' stall.
I backs me barrer in--the same ole way--
An' sez, "Wot O!It's been a bonzer day.
'Ow is it fer a walk?"...Oh, 'oly wars!
The sorter look she gimme!Jest becors
I tried to chat 'er, like you'd make a start
Wiv ANY tart.
An' I kin take me oaf I wus perlite.
An' never said no word that wasn't right,
An' never tried to maul 'er, or to do
A thing yeh might call crook.Ter tell yeh true,
I didn't seem to 'ave the nerve--wiv 'er.
I felt as if I couldn't go that fur,
An' start to sling off chiack like I used...
Nex' time I sighted 'er in Little Bourke,
Where she was in a job. I found'er lurk
Wus pastin' labels in a pickle joint,
A game that--any'ow, that ain't the point.
Once more I tried ter chat 'er in the street,
But, bli'me!Did she turn me down a treat!
The way she tossed 'er 'cad an' swished 'er skirt!
Oh, it wus dirt!
A squarer tom, I swear, I never seen,
In all me natchril, than this 'ere Doreen.
It wer'n't no guyver neither; fer I knoo
That any other bloke 'ad Buckley's 'oo
Tried fer to pick 'er up. Yes, she was square.
She jist sailed by an' lef' me standin' there
Like any mug. Thinks I, "I'm out er luck,"
An' done a duck
Well, I dunno.It's that way wiv a bloke.
If she'd ha' breasted up ter me an' spoke,
I'd thort 'er jist a commin bit er fluff,
An' then fergot about 'er, like enough.
It's jest like this.The tarts that's 'ard ter get
Makes you all 'ot to chase 'em, an' to let
The cove called Cupid get an 'ammer-lock;
An' lose yer block.
I know a bloke 'oo knows a bloke 'oo toils
In that same pickle found-ery. ('E boils
The cabbitch storks or somethink.)Anyway,
I gives me pal the orfis fer to say
'E 'as a sister in the trade 'oo's been
Out uv a jorb, an' wants ter meet Doreen;
Then we kin get an intro, if we've luck.
'E sez, "Ribuck."
O' course we worked the oricle; you bet!
But, 'struth, I ain't recovered frum it yet!
'Twas on a Saturdee, in Colluns Street,
An'--quite by accident, o' course--we meet.
Me pal 'e trots 'er up an' does the toff
'E allus wus a bloke fer showin' off.
"This 'ere's Doreen," 'e sez. "This 'ere's the Kid."
I dips me lid.
"This 'ere's Doreen," 'e sez.I sez "Good day."
An', bli'me, I 'ad nothin' more ter say!
I couldn't speak a word, or meet 'er eye.
Clean done me block!I never been so shy.
Not since I was a tiny little cub,
An' run the rabbit to the corner pub--
Wot time the Summer days wus dry an' 'ot--
Fer me ole pot.
Me! that 'as barracked tarts, an' torked an' larft,
An' chucked orf at 'em like a phonergraft!
Gorstrooth! I seemed to lose me pow'r o' speech.
But, 'er!Oh, strike me pink!She is a peach!
The sweetest in the barrer!Spare me days,
I carn't describe that cliner's winnin' ways.
The way she torks!'Er lips!'Er eyes!'Er hair!...
Oh, gimme air!
I dunno 'ow I done it in the end.
I reckerlect I arst ter be 'er friend;
An' tried ter play at 'andies in the park,
A thing she wouldn't sight. Aw, it's a nark!
I gotter swear when I think wot a mug
I must 'a' seemed to 'er. But still I 'ug
That promise that she give me fer the beach.
The bonzer peach!
Now, as the poit sez, the days drag by
On ledding feet.I wish't they'd do a guy.
I dunno'ow I 'ad the nerve ter speak,
An' make that meet wiv 'er fer Sundee week!
But strike!It's funny wot a bloke'll do
When 'e's all out...She's gorn, when I come-to.
I'm yappin' to me cobber uv me mash....
I've done me dash!
'Er name's Doreen....An' me-that thort I knoo
The ways uv tarts, an' all that smoogin' game!
An' so I ort; fer ain't I known a few?
Yet some'ow...I dunno.It ain't the same.
I carn't tell WOT it is; but, all I know,
I've dropped me bundle--an' I'm glad it's so.
Fer when I come ter think uv wot I been....
'Er name's Doreen.