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The Herald, Tuesday, July 4, 1944, page 3

Ern Malley

Nearly Bad Enough to be Genuine


James McAuley photo in the Herald, July 4, 1944

The newspaper item begins with a photo of James McAuley under the heading Helped Create “Ern Malley” and the following text:

Lieut James McAuley, who with Corporal Harold Stewart (now in hospital in Sydney) created the bogus ‘Ern Malley.’ He said today that so far he had see no statement from Angry Penguins that called for a reply from himself or Stewart.

ERN MALLEY

Nearly Bad Enough to be Genuine


Even Now Bernard O’Dowd, the poet, finds it hard to believe ‘Ern Malley’s’ verses were faked.

To Mr O’Dowd they gave so many indications of “the obscurity, cacophony and flatulence” characterising the writings of many Australians, who “dated” their productions by calling them “modern poetry.”

“If a genuine hoax, the authors are to be congratulated on a very timely experiment,” Mr O’Dowd said today. “Just as Byron’s ‘English Bards and Scotch Reviewers’ cleared the British poetic atmosphere of a lot of smelly dust,” so “Ern Malley’s Darkening Ecliptic” will tend to dissipate the too prevalent charlatanism, cheap-jackery vulgarity, and verbose omniscience infesting poetic and critical organisms in Australia today.

“I agree with The Herald sub-leader of last night, and trust that the layman who loves poetry will take the lesson of this hoax to heart and begin to have some, though only a humble, confidence in his own judgment of the merits of Australian verse.

Floundering in Mud

“He will, I hope, cease kow-towing to bell wethers of such gullible types as those who blundered into ‘Ern Malley’s’ trap.’

“The tragedy of so much recent Australian literary work is that it is floundering in mud and quick-sands out of which men like T. S. Eliot struggled and escaped into the pure flowing stream of traditional English literature years ago.

“It is to be hoped, too, that the derision inevitably scarifying quite a lot of pretentious people will not injure men of the type of Paul Grano and Joseph O’Dwyer, who, though ‘modern’, have the clarity of high seriousness essential to true poetry.”

The article was followed by this letter:

He Doesn't Care
(to the Editor)

Sir, — I hope I do not lay myself open to a charge of logamachy [sic] when I say that Mr Harris’s statement (Herald, 3/7/44) rather left his valency, though by no means enteric unduly crenelated, and I am afraid it was much too apodeictic for a penguin who (or which) was truly angry. The really angry bird is my wife, to whom I have denied autarchical domestic economy. But I really do not care who is angry or not. — LAUGHING JACKASS.


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