The Poetry Corner


By Banjo Paterson (Andrew Barton)

A Tragedy as Played at Ryde** Macbreath Mr Henley Macpuff Mr Terry The Ghost ACT I TIME: The day before the election SCENE: A Drummoyne tram running past a lunatic asylum. All present are Reform Leaguers and supporters of Macbreath. They seat themselves in the compartment. MACBREATH: Here, I'll sit in the midst. Be large in mirth. Anon we'll all be fitted With Parliamentary seats. (Voter approaches the door.) There's blood upon thy face. VOTER: 'Tis Thompsons's, then. MACBREATH: Is he thrown out? How neatly we beguiled The guileless Thompson. Did he sign a pledge agreeing to retire? VOTER: Aye, that he did. MACBREATH: Not so did I! Not on the doubtful hazard of a vote By Ryde electors, cherry-pickers, oafs, That drive their market carts at dread of night And sleep all day. Not on the jaundiced choice Of folks who daily run their half a mile Just after breakfast, when the steamer hoots Her warning to the laggard, not on these Relied Macbreath, for if these rustics' choice Had fall'n on Thompson, I should still have claimed A conference. But hold! Is Thompson out? VOTER: My lord, his name is mud. That I did for him I paid my shilling and I cast my vote. MACBREATH: Thou art the best of all the shilling voters. Prithee, be near me on election day To see me smite Macpuff, and now we shan't Be long, (Ghost of Thompson appears.) What's this? A vision! Thou canst not say I did it! Never shake Thy gory locks at me. Run for some other seat, Let the woods hide thee. Prithee, chase thyself! (The ghost of Thompson disappears, and Macbreath revives himself with a great effort.) Leaguers all, Mine own especial comrades of Reform, All amateurs and no professionals, So many worthy candidates I see, Alas that there are only ninety seats. Still, let us take them all, and Joe Carruthers, Ashton, and Jimmy Hogue, and all the rest, Will have to look for work! Oh, joyous day, To-morrow's poll will make me M.L.A. ACT II TIME: Election day. SCENE: Macbreath's committee rooms. MACBREATH: Bring me no more reports: let them all fly; Till Labour's platform to Kyabram come I cannot taint with fear. How go the votes? Enter first voter FIRST VOTER: May it please my Lord, The cherry-pickers' vote is two to one Towards Macpuff: and all our voters say The ghost of Thompson sits in every booth, And talks of pledges. MACBREATH: What a polished liar! And yet the dead can vote! (Strikes him.) What if it should be! (Ghost of Thompson appears to him suddenly.) GHOST: The Pledge! The Pledge! MACBREATH: I say I never signed the gory pledge. (Ghost disappears. Enter a Messenger.) Thou com'st to use thy tongue. Thy story quickly! MESSENGER: Gracious, my Lord, I should report that which I know I saw, But know not how to do it. MACBREATH: Well! say, on! MESSENGER: As I did stand my watch in Parliament I saw the Labour platform come across And join Kyabram, Loans were overthrown, The numbers were reduced, extravagance Is put an end to by McGowan's vote. MACBREATH: The devil damn thee black, thou cream-faced loon! Where got'st thou this fish yarn? MESSENGER: There's nearly forty, MACBREATH: Thieves, fool? MESSENGER: No, members, will be frozen out of work! MACBREATH: Aye, runs the story so! Well, well, 'tis sudden! These are the uses of the politician, A few brief sittings and another contest; He hardly gets to know th' billiard tables Before he's out . . . (Alarums and Harbour excursions; enter Macpuff at the head of a Picnic Party.) MACPUFF: Now, yield thee, tyrant! By that fourth party which I once did form, I'll take thee to a picnic, there to live On windfall oranges! MACBREATH: . . . Nay, rather death! Death before picnic! Lay on Macpuff, And damned be he who first cries Hold, enough! (They fight. Macbreath is struck on the back of the head by some blue metal from Pennant Hills Quarry. He falls. The referee counts, "One, two, three, eight, nine, ten, out!") MACPUFF: Kind voters all, and worthy gentlemen, Who rallied to my flag today, and made me Member for Thompson, from my soul I thank you. There needs no trumpet blast, for I can blow Like any trombone. Prithee, let us go! Thanks to you all who shared this glorious day, Whom I invite to dance at Chowder Bay! (Curtain)