What! Don’t you our Mæcenas know
The man who started, years ago,
Our Wild Australian Author show?
You don’t? Your ignorance sublime
Exceeds – to use a Boston rhyme –
The taciturnity of time.
Well, there he is, across the way –
Tall, thin, and growing somwhat grey –
He has good reason, you will say.
He’s entering a bookshop. Fine!
He buys a book. Don’t make a sign!
Don’t speak! Don’t breathe! It may be mine!
Alas! The cover isn’t blue;
It’s green – it’s Quinn’s – I always knew
His taste was never sound and true!
We all have hobbies. Some endure,
Some pass. Australian Literature
Is his. He likes it straight and pure.
Those breezy gentlemen you see
Walk up the street so spaciously,
He started them; he started me.
My word! My oath, if that you wish!
I would have now been selling fish,
Or something hot and sausageish –
And friends of mine, with names renowned
Would now be driving picks in ground,
And hoisting New South Wales around,
If he – the Lord of the Event –
Had not appeared, pre-subsequent,
And given us encouragement.
He’s now, you see, just skin and bone,
Yet once he weighed quite fourteen stone –
When he left coves like us alone.
And he was – breathe it hoarse and low –
A man of substance. This I know –
But that was several years ago.
Now was he thus to leanness brought?
What tragic Fate his sorrow wrought?
Alas! he read the books he bought!
And now he’s growing grey and old:
But while he lives, we’ll say: ‘Behold!
One copy of our works is sold!’
He is the apple of our eye;
His health to us is precious. Why?
We have to live; he dare not die.
© Victor Daley