Clarence Michael James Stanislaus Dennis

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

Old Town Types No.11 - Poem by Clarence Michael James Stanislaus Dennis

As first I remember him: A red man, and tall,
Great Toll, the blacksmith, filled my childish eye.
At its first crisp, clamorous stroke,
Every morning I awoke
To the ringing of his anvil as the years lagged by.
And, when the season came for them, he made us iron hoops
And iron hooks to trundle them: for children were his joy,
And then down the village street we raced with joyous whoops;
For little things contented us when I was a boy.

A glad giant toiling in his little tin shop
The great swelling arms he had, the great rugged head
There he loomed beside the forge
Calling to his striker, george,
'Smite it, laddie! Smite it while the iron glows red!'
So simply joyous in his strength, he made of life a song;
A straight man, a proper man, on no swift fortune bent,
He went about his heavy tasks humming the whole day long,
Accepting, simply as it came, his great gift of content.

The boasting tales his townsmen told he feigned were half untrue,
And blushed to find his feats of strength had won him wide renown;
Of how, long since, he flung his sledge
Fron Grogan's to the river's edge,
And bore two bags of wheat a-back the whole length of the town;
Of how he raised a mighty beam to save a child from fire
When Simpson's store was gutted in the blaze of 'eighty-six.
'They talk,' said he; 'and tales will grow. But, Lord, 'tain't my desire
For to figure as a hero thro' a brace of silly tricks.'

As last I remember him: A grey man and spare,
Sitting in his sons' garage, now from toil withdrawn,
Calling with a mighty roar,
Startling in a man so hoar,
'Smite it, laddie! Smite it! Lord, the young 'uns lack the brawn!'
But, as the cool of even comes to oust the day-long heat,
He is mindful of 'the missus.' ''Tis the rheumatiz,' he owns.
Then, shoulders back, grey head erect, he toddles down the street
Old Toll, the ex-smith, a brave old bag of bones.


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Poem Submitted: Wednesday, August 29, 2012



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