A Square Deal (Poem by C. J. Dennis)

C. J. Dennis Poem

A Square Deal
By C. J. Dennis

"Dreamin'?" I sez to Digger Smith.
        "Buck up, ole sport, an' smile.
Ain't there enough uv joy to-day
To drive the bogey man away
        An' make reel things worth while?
A bloke would think, to see you stare,
There's visions on the 'ill-tops there."

"Dreamin'," sez Digger Smith. "Why not?
        An' there is visions too.
An' when I get 'em sorted out,
An' strafe that little bogey, Doubt,
        I'll start me life all new.
Oh, I ain't crook; but packed in 'ere
Is thoughts: enough to last a year.

"I'm thinkin' things," sez Digger Smith.
        "I'm thinkin' big an' fine
Uv Life an' Love an' all the rest,
An' wot is right an' wot is best,
        An' 'ow much will be mine.
Not that I'm wantin' overmuch
Some work, some play, an' food an' such."

"See 'ere," I sez. "You 'ark to me.
        I've done some thinkin' too.
An' this 'ere land, for wot yeh did,
Owes some few million solid quid
        To fightin' blokes like you.
So don't be too dam modest or
Yeh'll git less than yeh're lookin' for."

"Money?" sez Digger. "Loot?" sez 'e
        "Aw, give that talk a rest!
I'm sick uv it. I didn't say
That I was thinkin' all uv pay,
        But wot was right an' best.
An' that ain't in the crazy game
Uv grabbin' wealth an' chasin' fame.

"Do you think us blokes Over There,
        When things was goin' strong,
Was keepin' ledgers day be day
An' reck'nin' wot the crowd would pay?
        Pull off! Yeh got it wrong.
Do you think all the boys gone West
Wants great swank 'ead-stones on their chest?

"You chaps at 'ome 'as small ideer
        Uv wot we think an' feel.
We done our bit an' seen it thro',
An' all that we are askin' you
        Is jist a fair, square deal.
We want this land we battled for
To settle up — an' somethin' more.

"We want the land we battled for
        To be a land worth while.
We're sick uv greed, an' 'ate, an' strife,
An' all the mess that's made uv life."...
        'E stopped a bit to smile.
"I got these thoughts Out There becos
We learnt wot mateship reely was."


The hills be'ind the orchard trees
        Was showin' misty blue.
The ev'nin' light was growin' dim;
An' down I sat 'longside uv 'im,
        An' done some dreamin' too.
I dreams uv war; an' wot is paid
By blokes that went an' blokes that stayed.

I dreams uv honour an' reward,
        An' 'ow to pay a debt.
For partin' cash, an' buyin' farms,
An' fittin' chaps with legs an' arms
        Ain't all — there's somethin' yet.
There's still a solid balance due;
An' now it's up to me an' you.

There's men I know ain't yet woke up,
        Or reckernized that debt — 
Proud men 'oo wouldn't take yeh down
Or owe their grocer 'arf-a-crown — 
        They ain't considered, yet,
There's somethin' owin' — to the dead,
An' Diggers live for more than bread.

"We learnt wot mateship was," 'e sez.
        "Us Diggers found the good
That's hid away somewhere in chaps,
An' ain't searched for enough, per'aps,
        Or prized, or understood.
But all this game uv grab an' greed
An' silly 'ate — Why, where's the need?"

The hills be'ind the orchard trees
        Jist caught the settin' sun.
A bloke might easy think that there,
'Way back be'ind the range somewhere,
        Where streaks uv sunlight run,
There was a land, swep' clear uv doubt,
Where men finds wot they dreams about.


"Beauty," sez Digger, sudden-like,
        "An' love, an' kindliness;
The chance to live a clean, straight life,
A dinkum deal for kids an' wife
        A man needs nothin' less....
Maybe they'll get it when I go
To push up daisies. I dunno."

"Dreamin'," sez Digger Smith. "Why not?
        There's visions on the hill."...
Then I gets up an' steals away,
An' leaves 'im with the dyin' day,
        Dreamin' an' doubtin' still....
Cobber, it's up to me an' you
To see that 'arf 'is dream comes true.

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