Backblock Ballads and Later Verses

Grimbles and the Gnad

C.J. Dennis

IT was told me by a bushman, bald and bent, and very old,
Upon the road to Poolyerleg; and here’s the tale he told.
’Twould seem absurd to doubt his word, so honest he appeared—
And, as he spoke, the sou’-west wind toyed gently with his beard.

                    “First it was the Grimble Grubs,
                        Which they et his ’taters;
                    An’ all we buried in the end
                        Was Martin’s boots and gaiters.”

With this cryptic observation he began his anecdote;
And, when I sought particulars, he smiled and cleared his throat;
Then sat him down, and with his brown, rough hands about his knees
He told it all. And, as he spoke, his beard waved in the breeze.

                    “First it was the Grimble Grubs—
                        As I sez at startin’,
                    Which they et his tater crops,
                        Which it troubled Martin.”

Now, this Martin was a farmer with a scientific mind—
(It was thus the bushman started, as his beard blew out behind)—
He farmed the land and, understand, his luck was all tip-top,
Till them there little Grimble Grubs got in his tater crop.

P’raps you have heard of Grimble Grubs; more likely p’raps you’ve not;
When once they taste your ’taters you can look to lose the lot.
An’ poor Martin, he was worried till he met a feller who
Had read a book about the Swook, the which lives in Peru.

Now the Swook it is a beetle that inhabits Wuzzle Shrubs,
An’ it makes a steady diet of the little Grimble Grubs;
So Martin he imported some, at very great expense,
An’ turned ’em loose to play the dooce and teach the Grimbles sense.

                    Then he swore by Wuzzle Swooks—
                        Friends of cultivators—
                    Which they et the Grimble Grubs,
                        Which they et his ’taters.

But when the Wuzzle Swooks had et the Grimble Grubs right up,
Then they had to change their habits for to find a bit an’ sup;
So they started on his turnips, which was summat to their taste,
Till Mister Martin’s turnip patch became a howling’ waste.

Then he natural grew peevish, till one afternoon he heard,
From a Feller in the poultry line, about the Guffer Bird
Which is native of Mauritius and the woods of Tennessee,
An’ preys upon the Wuzzle Swooks for breakfast, lunch and tea.

                    So he got some Guffer Birds
                        Over from Mauritius,
                    Which the same by nature are
                        Very, very vicious:
                    Which they et the Wuzzle Swooks—
                        Plague of cultivators—
                    Which they et the Grimble Grubs,
                        Which they et the ’taters.

Then Martin swore by Guffer Birds, until one day he found
They’d et up all the Wuzzle Swooks for miles an’ miles around,
An’, havin’ still some appetite, an’ being’ mighty mean,
They perched upon his apple trees and stripped his orchard clean.

Here’s where Martin got excited; he was in an awful funk,
Until one day he read about the little Warty Swunk,
Which has his home in Mexico, an’ lives on Guffer Birds;
An’ Martin, being’ desperate, imported him in herds.

                    Then he praised the Warty Swunks,
                        Beady-eyed and vicious,
                    Which they et the Guffer Birds,
                        Native of Mauritius,
                    Which they et the Wuzzle Swooks—
                        Plague of cultivators—
                    Which they et the Grimble Grubs,
                        Which they et the ’taters.

Now them Swunks were simply wonders, an’ old Martin stopped his growls,
Till they et up all the Guffer Birds, an’ started on his fowls.
An’ the riots in his hen-house that occurred near every night
They robbed him of his beauty sleep an’ turned his whiskers white.

He was wearin’ to a shadder, till by accident he seen
A picture of the Bogggle Dog in some old magazine.
And the same he was notorious for huntin’ Swunks an’ such,
And for living’ on their livers which he fancied very much.

Now the Boggle Dog of Boffin’s Land is most extremely rare,
But Martin mortgaged house an’ home just to import a pair.
They was most ferocious animals; but Martin he was mad;
An’ he sooled ’em on the Warty Swunks with all the breath he had.

                    Oh, he loved the Boggle Dogs,
                        Called ’em “Dear” an’ “Darlin’”—
                    Fierce, ferocious Boggle Dogs,
                        With their savage snarlin’;
                    Which they et the Warty Swunks,
                        Beady-eyed and vicious,
                    Which they et the Guffer Birds,
                        Native of Mauritius,
                    Which they et the Wuzzle Swooks—
                        Plague of cultivators—
                    Which they et the Grimble Grubs,
                        Which they et the ’taters.

Then Martin he picked up a bit, an’ got his proper sleep,
Until he found the Boggle Dogs had taken to his sheep;
For Warty Swunks is hard to catch, and nimble on their feet,
An’ livers of merino lambs is just as nice to eat.

Now, I’m thinkin’ here that Martin must have gone a trifle mad,
Else he’d never have imported such a creature as the Gnad;
For the Gnad, though few folks know it, roams about the Boffin bogs
An’ he has a passin’ fancy for the flesh of Boggle Dogs.

But Martin he imported one with his last bit of cash,
An’ loosed him on the Boggle Dogs—an action worse than rash;
But the Boggles stayed in hidin’, for the Boggles were discreet,
And the Gnad he cast his eye around for something he could eat.

“Sool ’em, Towser!” shouted Martin dancin’ ’mid his ravaged crops;
But the Gnad regarded Martin as he slowly licked his chops.
An’ the last we seen of Martin, far as I can call to mind,
He was tearin’ round his paddock with the Gnad just close behind.

                    First it was the Grimble Grubs,
                        Which they et his ’taters,
                    Then it was the Wuzzle Swooks—
                        Plague of cultivators—
                    Then it was the Guffer Birds,
                        Native of Mauritius,
                    Then it was the Warty Swunks,
                        Beady-eyed an’ vicious,
                    Then it was the Boggle Dogs,
                        With their snarls and snortin’,
                    Till the bad ferocious Gnad
                        Finished his importin’.
                    An’ all because the Grimble Grubs
                        They got into his ’taters,
                    We never found a stitch of him
                        But blucher boots and gaiters.

Thus the bushman closed his story with a sympathetic sigh;
Then wrung my hand most heartily, and sadly said “Good-bye.”
And, as he went, ’twas evident he mourned his friend’s decease.
He bowed his head, and, as I’ve said, his beard waved in the breeze.

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