The Singing Garden

The Grey Fantail

C.J. Dennis

THE bushmen call me “Cranky Fan,”
    Because my strange, erratic flight
Seems to uncomprehending man
    Sign of a wit not over bright;
But nimble wit and nimble wing
    Uphold me in the trade I ply
Of ever-restless foraging—
    Excuse me—there’s another fly!

A tireless ball of buff and grey;
    White-shafted, my important tail
Guides me on my eccentric way
    When stronger aviators fail;
Now right side up, now upside down,
    Now tumbling crazily from high,
I ape the antics of a clown—
    Whoop!—and that’s another fly!

’Tis thus my daily fare I earn
    By nimble trick of wit and wing;
And, when my nestlings so would learn,
    A clothes-line is a handy thing.
And that is why we’re sitting now,
    Tho’ not for long, my brood and I,
That they may be instructed how—
    Whoo-oop!—and that’s another fly!

I loop the loop with careless ease,
    Now in a tail-spin watch me fall;
Yet, spite these eccentricities,
    I am the friendliest bird of all.
Upon your shoulder, lordly man,
    I pause as I go flitting by.
Spare a kind word for Cranky Fan—
    Whoop!—and that’s another fly!

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