Clarence Michael James Stanislaus Dennis

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

Old Town Types No. 13 - Larrikin Luke - Poem by Clarence Michael James Stanislaus Dennis

Luke Gale, the larrikin lad, dwelt in Larrikin Lane,
A low street, a by-street, right at the edge of the town;
King of the boys and hobbledehoys - a vulgar youth, and vain,
Winning from all respectable folk a very respectable frown.
But, oh, to see him on Saturday nights, dolled in his nobbiest duds,
Doing the weekly Saturday rounds; impudent, out for larks
Eyeing the girls at the Saturday shops
Coming for candy and acidy drops,
While Luke and his henchmen leaned on posts, passing inane remarks.

Larrikin Luke knew how to dress; short, black-braided coat,
Big, black, felt hat, low and broad of brim;
Shirt, white and collarless quite, narrow tie at the throat
Neatly drawn thro' a quandong ring; vest low-cut and trim.
But, pride of his wardrobe, badge of his clan, flapping about his feet,
Black pants - wonderful pants, by a snake-skin belt girt low,
Belled at the bottoms and tight on the thighs;
A curly fringe combed down to his eyes;
Thimble heels to his shiny shoes, laced right down to the toe.

When General Booth sent soldiers hence banging the 'Salvo' drum,
Larrikin Luke and his rowdy push hatched more larrikin plots;
And the 'Starvation Army' marched, to the joy of the township's scum,
Down the streets as they wildly beat on old tins and pots.
And the grave town elders shook their heads hearing the ribald songs
As the badgered brothers of 'Blood and Fire' meekly knelt to pray;
'Larrikin Luke is doomed,' they said;
'Nothing but gaol for him ahead.'
Now Luke and his lads have long passed on, but Booth's men came to stay.

Larrikin Luke, when I saw him last, was a sober man and grey,
Boss of a thriving business now, moved to a different town;
Married and made and settled down; marking the young folk's way,
As any respectable citizen would, with a very respectable frown.
A serious man, Luke Gale, esquire, with a grown-up family now,
A family man, and a solid man, as every townsman grants,
Chiding the wayward young, forsooth!
But I see him still in his own wild youth,
With his thimble heels, and his broad-brimmed hat, and those queer bell-bottomed pants.


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Poem Submitted: Wednesday, August 29, 2012



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