Paean for John Dengate
He was a poet of wit and laughter,
Precise in metre, and verse and rhyme,
He spoke for drunkards and broken warriors,
Of Sydney’s streets in the Rare Old Times.
We sang his songs in joyful chorus,
And wildly laughed and laughed again,
No bloated, pompous party leader
Was safe from his incisive pen.
And proud to be a son of Erin,
He used her music and told her tales,
Of Ireland’s exiles, her sons and daughters,
Who shaped the stories of New South Wales.
He sang of squatters at Parramatta,
Of murdered convicts at Castle Hill,
Of Carlingford’s sweet creeks and orchards,
Of poverty at Erskineville
Hail and farewell you dread school master,
Whose twinkling eyes belied your frown,
They’ll miss your whistle down there by Central,
Old busking Bard of Sydney Town.
While there’s a pint upon the table,
While friends are singing bold and strong,
While horses race and bat meets leather,
Someone will sing a Dengate song. (repeat last 2 lines)
John Warner, September 2013
A note from John Warner:
Carrifergus is strongly associated with Declan Affley, one of John’s close friends.
After Declan’s death, I noted frequently that if I or any other sang that song when John Was present, he’d sketch a quiet toast in Declan’s memory.
I use this tune to celebrate that historical continuity and place both men firmly in the ancient tradition of the bards of Ireland.