Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Cecil W Pierce’s 1894 Australian cricket poem

A friend and book collector Rowan Gibbs recently sent me a photo of a poem he found inside a copy of the great Australian cricketer George Giffen’s book With Bat and Ball (1898).
Giffen (1859-1927) was once referred to as the “WG Grace of Australia” (Wisden Obituary) and his career span was 1877-1904. His exploits on the 1886 tour of England are best known, more so than the 1893 tour mentioned in this poem. As the poem states he continued to rack up huge scores at the time for South Australia despite not living up to expectations on the 1893 England tour. In 1894, near the time of this poem, he was ‘All-Round Cricketer of the Year’ in Wisden.
Rowan says: ‘This copy has pasted on the endpaper a clipping of a poem ‘To George Giffen’ (possibly from The [Sydney] Bulletin) signed “CECIL W PIERCE SOMERSET, The Snowy River, near Mt. Kosciusko, January 14, 1894”. However from a letter in The South Australian Register 1894 this seems to be an error for Cecil W Pierce, of Somerset, S.A.
I’ll share the poem with you here:


To George Giffen

So they jeered you, George, in Melbourne: no wonder that they seem
   So snarlish when they see you, and so sore.
What have you put together ’gainst the cabbage team?
   A dozen double hundreds or a score?

They’ve a tidy troop of trundlers, but when you’re on the job
   They don’t improve their figures very much;
Though they tackle you with “Hughie,” or try you with their “Bob,”
   You thump them like an uncle who is Dutch.

And then you belt their batsmen, till you’ve got them all abroad,
   (And that’s enough to cause a lasting feud).
If you snavel all their wickets, and score two hundred odd,
   How can you, George, expect their gratitude?

Then in the tour just over, the freedom of your “tip”
   Has pained some gentle spirits in the crew.
For every man’s a model, who has made the English trip,
   And needs a dirty halo – barring you!

And there are some around you, whom your long success offends;
   The vermin of their envy swells our gorge,
Whilst many a fairish player has got a knot of friends
   To put his powers by yours, my matchless George.

But let them bark behind you – ‘tis the trick of ev’ry cur,
   Yet when you meet the Melbourne team again,
You may make a cool five hundred, the barrack bile to stir,
   And may they face your dropping ball in vain.

Good luck, king George of cricket! Of your prowess we are proud
   And may you ever have at your right hand
Big Jack, the giant hitter, the joy of ev’ry crowd,
   Who lammed the lightning Lockwood to the stand.

And Adelaide, the handful shall possess the Sheffield shield,
   With big and braggart Melbourne fairly purled;
Whilst the white and tiny city can send into the field,
   The hitter and the champion of the world.

The Snowy River, near Mt Kosciusko
January 14, 1894

© Cecil W Pierce 1894

Extract from Cecil W Pierce's poem to George Giffen

1 comment:

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