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Clarence Michael James Stanislaus Dennis

(7 September 1876 - 22 June 1938 / Auburn, South Australia)

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Hist!


Hist! . . . . . . Hark!
The night is very dark,
And we've to go a mile or so
Across the Possum Park.

Step . . . . . . light,
Keeping to the right;
If we delay, and lose our way,
We'll be out half the night.
The clouds are low and gloomy. Oh!
It's just begun to mist!
We haven't any overcoats
And - Hist! . . . . . . Hist!

(Mo . . . . . . poke!)
Who was that that spoke?
This is not a fitting spot
To make a silly joke.

Dear . . . . . . me!
A mopoke in a tree!
It jarred me so, I didn't know
Whatever it could be.
But come along; creep along;
Soon we shall be missed.
They'll get a scare and wonder where
We - Hush! . . . . . . Hist!

Ssh! . . . . . . Soft!
I've told you oft and oft
We should not stray so far away
Without a moon aloft.

Oo! . . . . . . Scat!
Goodness! What was that?
Upon my word, it's quite absurd,
It's only just a cat.
But come along; haste along;
Soon we'll have to rush,
Or we'll be late and find the gate
Is - Hist! . . . . . . Hush!

(Kok!. . . . . . Korrock!)
Oh! I've had a shock!
I hope and trust it's only just
A frog behind a rock.

Shoo! . . . . . . Shoo!
We've had enough of you;
Scaring folk just for a joke
Is not the thing to do.
But come along, slip along -
Isn't it a lark
Just to roam so far from home
On - Hist! . . . . . . Hark!

Look! . . . . . . See!
Shining through the tree,
The window-light is glowing bright
To welcome you and me.

Shout! . . . . . . Shout!
There's someone round about,
And through the door I see some more
And supper all laid out.
Now, run! Run! Run!
Oh, we've had such splendid fun -
Through the park in the dark,
As brave as anyone.

Laughed, we did, and chaffed, we did,
And whistled all the way,
And we're home again! Home again!
Hip . . . . . . Hooray!

Submitted: Thursday, January 01, 2004

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  • Terence George Craddock (7/21/2012 1:04:00 AM)

    The mopoke (Mo...... poke!) of the poem 'Hist! ' is the Southern Boobook (Ninox novaeseelandiae) . This owl is also called the Tasmanian spotted owl. It is a 'small brown owl found throughout New Zealand, Tasmania, across most of mainland Australia and in Timor, southern New Guinea and nearby islands. This bird is the smallest owl in Australia and is the continent's most widely distributed and common owl.'
    The Southern Boobook has many alternative common names, based upon the distinctive two-pitched onomatopoeic call the owl makes during the night. In New Zealand this sounds like morepork. Does the call really sound as different in other places as mopoke, morepork, ruru and boobook suggest? (Report) Reply

  • Terence George Craddock (7/21/2012 12:42:00 AM)

    'Hist! ' by Clarence Michael James Stanislaus Dennis is a delightful fun poem, that can easily be read to entertain children, with a beautiful example of a scary walk that ends with an unexpected turn. The first stanza 'Hist! ...... Hark! / The night is very dark, / And we've to go a mile or so/ Across the Possum Park' are all images which immediately grip and engage the imagination. Fear of losing the way, 'clouds are low and gloomy. Oh! / It's just begun to mist! ' and no overcoats adds to the mounting fear.
    The distinctive two-pitched call of the 'Mo...... poke! ' adds a scare in the night. The question of who spoke, is cautioned with 'This is not a fitting spot/ To make a silly joke'. 'It jarred me so, I didn't know/ Whatever it could be' is an admission of the narrator's fear. The reader or audience is further pulled into the poetic tale with 'But come along; creep along; / Soon we shall be missed./ They'll get a scare and wonder where'; left hanging with the sudden interrupted 'We - Hush! ...... Hist! ' builds a playful suspense.
    'Ssh! ...... Soft! ' warns they have strayed 'so far away/ Without a moon aloft.' It is too dark and scary. 'Oo! ...... Scat! ' is the next absurd scare, which is relief revealed to be, 'It's only just a cat'. The tale picks up again as 'But come along; haste along; / Soon we'll have to rush, / Or we'll be late and find the gate' is again broken with a 'Is - Hist! ...... Hush! '. This is a wonderful 'Who's that? ' children's tale set in the dark of 'Possum Park'.
    The 'Kok! ...... Korrock! / Oh! I've had a shock! ' is hoped and trusted to be, only 'A frog behind a rock'. The 'Shoo! ...... Shoo! / We've had enough of you; / Scaring folk just for a joke' builds into the juxtaposition contrast, of a piped pipers tale leading us on with an alluring; 'But come along, slip along -/ Isn't it a lark/ Just to roam so far from home'.
    The scary wondering has become a lark stroll in the dark of night. 'Look! ...... See! / Shining through the tree, / The window-light is glowing bright/ To welcome you and me' is a happy relieved first sight of welcoming home. We immediately celebrate our safe return with 'Shout! ...... Shout! ' comforted with 'There's someone round about'. What can be seen through the door? The delightful surprise of 'supper all laid out' during our absence. We are commanded 'Now, run! Run! Run! ' to our supper and told 'Oh, we've had such splendid fun -/ Through the park in the dark, / As brave as anyone.' Upon reaching home our scary walk has suddenly become fun.
    Could a safe return from a childhood adventure be more happily celebrated? 'Laughed, we did, and chaffed, we did, / And whistled all the way, ' are delightful merry lines. The ultimate climax of the celebrated return is reached with 'And we're home again! Home again! / Hip...... Hooray! '. Dennis has written a wonderful poem to thrill generations of young children and we should appreciate his effort; by reading 'Hist! ' to our children or grandchildren. I will. (Report) Reply

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