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Collected Poems

To a Fiend in the Wilderness

To a Fiend in the Wilderness

Who'd have guessed it from his lip
Or his brow's unaccustomed bearing,
On the night he thus took ship…?
I left his arm that night myself
For what's-his-name's, the new prose-poet
That wrote the book there, on the shelf
He was prouder than the Devil:
How he must have cursed our revel!

—Browning, Waring.

I say, what is the matter with you, you old devil?
I haven't heard a word from you since you left
for Van Dieman's Land (where you ought to feel
preety much at home, eh? what?). They tell me
it's quite a wilderness, Jack just as good as his master,
impossible to get servants and all the politicians damned Socialists

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wrecking the country. The colonies must be the very devil
(you ought to know about that!) By Jove,
I think you might be wise to pack up, dear boy,
and come Home. When Kelly left he sold me his pub,
my son has gone to sea, I've one or two fish biting
on another little proposition that might land some ripe fruit
right in my lap. I say, for God's sake chuck it,
I can promise you plenty of pretty decent week-ends
with a bit of grog and anything else you might happen to have an eye for.

I did think of getting some fellow to knock all this
into verse for me but it's hard to get labour in these times
and when you get 'em they won't do an honest day's work
so I'm afraid it'll just have to go as it is.
But I say, Dommers, I'm getting pretty browned off,
do come back some time before I'm dead
and all your teeth have fallen out, what?