(7 September 1876 - 22 June 1938 / Auburn, South Australia)

The Crisis

Be-wigged and gowned, the Speaker frowned,
And his frown was ill to see.
'Oddsfish!' he spake, 'Do I mistake?
Stands 'And' where 'Or' should be?
Be such the case, this land's disgrace
Shall shame our House no more.
Gadzooks, and by my halidame!
Call members hence, so our fair name
Be purged and shriven of ill-fame
And 'And' give place to 'Or'!'

From divers nooks, with guilty looks,
The mumbling members came;
With wimpering wails they gnawed their nails
And slunk in snivelling shame;
From party rooms, as from dank tombs,
From crypt and corridor.
The Speaker boomed, with beetling brow:
Yours was the sin! And, here and now,
I bid ye kneel and make the vow
To change yon 'And' to 'Or'!'

They bore the Mace from its resting place
In the dungeon 'neath the stairs;
Silk-breeched, but game, the Speaker came
And set the carven chairs.
Then the great Black Rod, at the Speaker's nod,
Waved o'er them as they swore
By this and that, by book and bell,
That one and all, what e'er befell
Would take the vow, and keep it well;
To change the 'And' to 'Or'.

Now in his place, with chastened face,
The Premier rose and spoke.
They harked to him in silence grim
While tears they strove to choke.
With trembling hand he seized that 'And'
And cast it thro' the door.
And now, amid subdued applause,
The brave upholder of our laws,
Square in it's place withn the clause
Enthroned the rightful 'Or'.

Sighs of relief replaced their grief
As members breathed short prayers.
They bore the Mace to its resting place
In the dungeon 'neath the stairs.
Honor to these, our bold M.P.'s!
All patriots to the core!
With bated breath the tale unfold
To your son's sons when you grow old.
Their fame uphold ... The cost, all told,
Was twelve pounds, eight and four!

And we poor hacks who yield the tax
Should we not be content
With these whose task was to unmask
That word malevolent?
Alas, who knows what weary woes
Might have best us sore
Had not that adamantine band
Upheld the honor of their land
By plucking out the craft 'And,'
And substituting 'Or?'

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