This blog is for everyone who uses words.

The ordinary-sized words are for everyone, but the big ones are especially for children.

Saturday, 7 September 2019

Saturday Rave: A Ballad of Freedom by C J Dennis.

The Australian poet C J Dennis was born in 1876. He was remarkable for having a fairly gloomy and difficult childhood (not only sent away to be raised by great-aunts, and then by the notoriously violent Christian Brothers, but being called Clarrie (which was short for Clarence, but even so...)) and yet he grew up to be not only a poet who could see the comic side of more or less anything, but a poet who made proper money.

The Ballad of Freedom speaks penetratingly of serious matters, but that doesn't stop it being a joyful read.

It begins like this:

Now Mr. Jeremiah Bane
He owned a warehouse in The Lane,
An edifice of goodly size,
Where, with keen private enterprise,
  He sold imported napery
  And drapery - and drapery.
His singlets and his socks were sent
Out over half the continent;
  In clothing for the nursery
  And mercery - and mercery
He plied a most extensive trade,
And quite enormous profits made,
And barracked, with much fervency,
For foreign-trade - described as "Free."
        He said,
        It was
            His creed.
The trade described as Free.


And then we get a whole story about this dreadful, cunning man, which I thoroughly recommend.

A Ballad of Freedom poem reminds me rather of The Canterbury Tales. It has the same winking humour and sharp eye for hypocrisy, and the same slightly sardonic realism and delight in the arrangement of language.

How could anyone afford to miss something like that?

The whole poem - do read it - can be found HERE.

Word To Use Today: mercery. Mercery is fine fabrics (mercery are fine fabrics? Oh dear, that's a place that English won't go, isn't it) such as velvet and silk. The word comes from the Latin mers, which means goods or wares.

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