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C. J. Dennis

Clarence Michael James Stanislaus Dennis, better known as C. J. Dennis, (7 September 1876 - 22 June 1938) was an Australian poet famous for his humorous poems, especially "The Sentimental Bloke", published in the early 20th century.

C. J. Dennis was born in Auburn, South Australia. His father owned a hotel in Laura, and his mother suffered ill health, so Clarrie (as he was known) was raised initially by his great-aunts, then went away to school, Christian Brothers College, Adelaide as a teenager.

At the age of 19 he was employed as a solicitor's clerk. It was while he was working in this job that, like banker's clerk Banjo Paterson before him, his first poem was published. He later went on to publish in The Bulletin, as Paterson and Henry Lawson had also done. The three are often considered Australia's three most famous poets; though Dennis's work is less well known today, his 1916 publication of The Sentimental Bloke sold 65,000 copies in its first year, and by 1917 he was the most prosperous poet in Australian history.

The Songs of a Sentimental Bloke and numerous spin-offs published subsequently related the everyday adventures of the title character (name unknown), his girl Doreen, his friend Ginger Mick, and other characters. The poems are written in dialect, and present the Sentimental Bloke as a typical larrikin.

This ev'nin' I was sittin' wiv Doreen,
Peaceful an' 'appy wiv the day's work done,
Watchin', be'ind the orchard's bonzer green,
The flamin' wonder of the settin' sun.

Another day gone by; another night
Creepin' along to douse Day's golden light;
Another dawning when the night is gone,
To live an' love--an' so life mooches on.
sad to his feet
(from "The Songs of a Sentimental Bloke")

The Sentimental Bloke was adapted as a stage play, a silent film of the same name, a sound film, and a musical over the following decades. In 1983, Australia Post featured the Sentimental Bloke on a series of stamps. A poetry prize named in Dennis's honour is presented regularly by the Premier of Victoria.

After Dennis's death at the age of 61, Joseph Lyons, the Prime Minister of Australia, described him as "the Robert Burns of Australia".

Publications

  • Backblock Ballads and Other Verses (1913)
  • The Songs of a Sentimental Bloke (1915)
  • The Moods of Ginger Mick (1916)
  • The Glugs of Gosh (1917)
  • Doreen (1917)
  • Digger Smith (1918)
  • Backblock Ballads and Later Verses (1918)
  • Jim of the Hills (1919)
  • A Book for Kids (1921) (reissued as Roundabout, 1935)
  • Rose of Spadgers (1924)
  • The Singing Garden (1935)

Shorter works were also published in a wide variety of Australian newspapers and magazines.

See also

External links

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