Australian Folk Songs

songs | books | records | articles | glossary | links | search | responses | home

Poverty (1933)

By C. R. E. Grainger

It follows me in daytime--It follows me at night--
Ungainly are its features, are hateful to my sight;
A grim and grizzled monster--created by mistake,
It sits upon my pillow, to keep me wide awake.

The thing is quite sagacious--voracious as a hog--
It stalks me like a shadow--'tis faithful as a dog;
It's master of the ages--it's full of craft and guile--
The lowest form of cunning is shown on its profile.

Just keep into your cupboard, when it is nearly bare--
you'll find the shapeless monster has taken refuge there.
Amongst the working masses, it gains its strength and power--
It's seeking, ever seeking, for those it may devour.

It lives within the attic--it thrives within the slum--
It's deaf to all entreaties--to each appeal is dumb;
'Twas born of greed; by grabbit--of mean and formless shape--
It's cross between a donkey, a tiger and an ape.

It's Father, too, of squalor--of infamy and shame--
Debauch is close relation, and crime must bear its name;
On misery and anguish, the loathsome thing is fed--
It goes from hut to hovel, demanding daily bread.

It lurks within the dungeon--it stalks upon the street--
It strips you of your clothing--takes boots from off your feet.
'Tis many sided creature--'twill flatter and cajole--
'Twas bred to kill ambition--to murder, too, your soul.

I slip around a corner--I dodge this way and that--
I'll soon be quite proficient as any acrobat.
I watched it slowy coming--I often have to flee
because the frightful creature is always after me.

In bye-ways and dark allies, I saw it slyly creep--
Ths thing is ever watchful--it never seems, to sleep;
It nearly has me cornered--it's almost safe to bet,
No matter how I dodge it, the thing will get me yet.

I see an empty cottage, with cupboard grim and bare,
And note the frightful havoc when hunger's stalking there;
The dirty hut or hovel, the humpy built of bags--
The haunting eyes of children all dressed in tattered rags.

Great God, such slow starvation I've never seen before--
It's even worse than murder, and ten times worse than war;
No doubt you all have seen it, in every form and shape--
'Tis cross between a donkey, a tiger and an Ape.


From the NSW Newspaper the The Cessnock Eagle and South Maitland Recorder Thursday 9 November 1933 p. 5.

The prolific poet Clement R. E. Grainger (1886 - 1955) had a collection of his work "Goblins of the Past and Other Verse" published by The Worker Trustees in Sydney in 1931.


australian traditional songs . . . a selection by mark gregory