The Fine Fat Saucy Chinaman

I'll sing a little ditty, which
I trust you'll not think flat.
Of a fine fat saucy Chinaman
Who lives on Ballarat,
Whose pigtail is wound round his nut
In a tremendous plait,
And who wears on most occasions
A mushroom-looking hat.

Like a fine fat saucy Chinaman,
One of the present time.

His tent is on the Red Hill, and
He's fossicking all day;
And though he takes what others leave,
Contrives to make it pay;
And sometimes gets big nuggets,
As I've heard people say,
For, by dint of perseverance,
He always pays his way.

But the people on the diggings
Complain of him in shoals -
They say he's always damaging
The splendid waterholes;
And when they catch him at it,
Into a rage they fly;
But, "Welly good no sabby,"
Is all John will reply.

There's an awful insurrection
In China now 'tis said;
He comes away, but finds here too
A price set on his head;
But as the ten pound poll tax
He swears he will not stand,
He goes on shore at Adelaide,
And tramps it overland.

Now John with all his many faults,
Leads an industrious life;
The greatest drawback that he has
Is that he has no wife;
And as he is a bachelor,
Of course he never pops
To spend his tin in any of
The millinery shops.

Now as he's getting lots of gold,
I've not the slightest doubt
That ultimately Chinese girls
By thousands will come out,
Of all sizes and complexions
To please both great and small,
For John says that without a wife,
He can't get on at all.

by Anonymous Oceania

Other poems of ANONYMOUS OCEANIA (27)

Comments (4)

Shakespeare you are good. This is poetry, simply amazing
This is a sonnet that is considered by many to be the key to understanding Shakespeare's attitude to love. It plays out the old battle between spiritual and physical love, a subject which had been the jousting field of argument for centuries. The poet seems to ally himself with the traditionalists who believed that the nature of woman was such as to corrupt pure love. In Platonic terms she was the material dross of which bodies were made, but the spiritual ideal love was independent of her, and true love could really only subsist between males. In terms of Christian theology, woman was the devil and was responsible for the fall since she had tempted man to eat forbidden fruit. Any form of congress with a woman was corrupting, and the ideal life would always be one of chastity and abstention from sex. The doctrine was alleviated slightly by devotion to Mary, the Mother of God, but despite giving birth she was a virgin and worshipped as the Blessed Virgin Mary. A mitigation to this view was the reality of life itself, which always returned to insist that the majority of men would continue to desire women.
The poet here follows the traditional line that woman is the female evil, her sexuality being a threat not only to the poet who loves her, but also to the pure spirit of love of which his friend is the icon. The battle is between heaven and hell, between the spirit and the body, and the body seems to triumph over the spirit just as it does in Sonnet 129, and less agonisingly in 151. The net result is that the poet is flung into a rage of jealousy and, like Othello, his imagination runs riot as he thinks of what the lovers must have done together: Lie with her? Lie on her? - We say lie on her when they belie her. - Zounds, that's fulsome. - Handkerchief - confessions - handkerchief! - To confess and be hanged for his labour - first to be hanged, and then confess! I tremble at it. Oth.IV.1.36-41. This is the fevered imagination which guesses one angel in another's hell and broods with frenzied misogyny on his sense of betrayal. But one presumes it had a less tragic outcome than the Othello story. There is always some doubt about the autobiographical nature of these sonnets, although the majority of readers will inevitably take them to be personal accounts of suffering or elation.
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