Clarence Michael James Stanislaus Dennis, better known as C. J. Dennis, was an Australian poet known for his humorous poems, especially "The Songs of a Sentimental Bloke", published in the early 20th century. Though Dennis's work is less well known today, his 1916 publication of The Sentimental Bloke sold 65,000 copies in its first year, and by 1917 he was the most prosperous poet in Australian history.
Together with Banjo Paterson and Henry Lawson, both of whom he collaborated with, he is often considered among Australia's three most famous poets.
When he died at the age of 61, the Prime Minister of Australia Joseph Lyons suggested he was destined to be remembered as the "Australian Robert Burns".
C. J. Dennis was born in Auburn, South Australia. His father owned hotels in Auburn, and then later in Gladstone and Laura. His mother suffered ill health, so Clarrie (as he was known) was raised initially by his great-aunts, then went away to school, Christian Brothers College, Adelaide as a teenager.
At the age of 19 he was employed as a solicitor's clerk. It was while he was working in this job that, like banker's clerk Banjo Paterson before him, his first poem was published. He later went on to publish in The Bulletin.
C. J. Dennis is buried in Box Hill Cemetery, Melbourne. The Box Hill Historical Society have attached a commemorative plaque to the gravestone. Dennis is also commemorated with a plaque on Circular Quay in Sydney which forms part of the NSW Ministry for the Arts - Writers Walk series, and by a bust outside the town hall of the town of Laura.
Once a little sugar ant made up his mind to roam-
To fare away far away, far away from home.
He had eaten all his breakfast, and he had his ma's consent
To see what he should chance to see and here's the way he went
Hist! . . . . . . Hark!
The night is very dark,
And we've to go a mile or so
Across the Possum Park.
Now, a man in Oodnadatta
He grew fat, and he grew fatter,
Though he hardly had a thing to eat for dinner;
While a man in Booboorowie
Hey, there! Hoop-la! the circus is in town!
Have you seen the elephant? Have you seen the clown?
Have you seen the dappled horse gallop round the ring?
Have you seen the acrobats on the dizzy swing?