Some Australian literature

This site contains Australian prose and poetry from C. J. Dennis, Mary Gilmore, Henry Kendall, Banjo Paterson, Henry Lawson and others. I have provided this hidden list for search engines that ignore meta tags.
This is a collection of classic Australian literature, mainly poetry, with two bits of prose, all from the public domain, and so necessarily dated. This reflects a bygone Australia, but it is an Australia that is part of our mythology, our dreaming. We see ourselves in the bush, even when we are just about purely urban, and beware of saying otherwise! I will add more to this later. There is also my slow-to-grow list of rhetorical flourishes and catch-phrases, and this external link will elad you to a set of mystery books set in Sydney.

Contents

C. J. Dennis
Australaise
Mary Gilmore
Marri'd
Adam Lindsay Gordon
The Sick Stock-rider
W. T. Goodge
The Great Australian Adjective
The Guile Of Dad M'Ginnis
Daley's Dorg Wattle
Henry Kendall
Sydney Harbour
Blue Mountain Pioneers
Bell-Birds
Jim the Splitter
Henry Lawson
A Bush Controversy
Faces in the Street
The Roaring Days
The Teams
The Loaded Dog
Freedom on the Wallaby
Waratah and Wattle
Up the Country
The City Bushman
The Poets of the Tomb
John O'Brien
Said Hanrahan
Will Ogilvie
From The Gulf
The Stockyard Liar
Banjo Paterson
A Bush Controversy
Clancy of the Overflow
The Man from Snowy River
Been There Before
The Merino Sheep
In Defence of the Bush
An Answer to Various Bards
A Voice From the Town
Others
My Country
Nine Miles From Gundagai
Lazy Harry's
The Wild Colonial Boy
Australasia
How McDougal Topped The Score
Where the Pelican Builds
A Ballade of Wattle Blossom
The Australian Sunrise
Under the Wattle
A Bush Controversy
A Voice from the Bush
The Fact of the Matter
The Overflow of Clancy
Banjo, of the Overflow

Australaise

The first version of this piece won a Bulletin competition in 1908, but a number of other versions were produced, including one that was widely distributed during World war I, having been dedicated by the poet to the Australian Expeditionary Force. The tune, he said, was Onward Christian Soldiers. The missing word, if it is worrying you, is The Great Australian Adjective. Think sanguine thoughts.

Fellers of Australier,
Blokes an' coves an' coots,
Shift yer - carcases,
Move yer - boots.
Gird yer - loins up,
Get yer - gun,
Set the - enermy
An' watch the blighters run.

Chorus:
Get a - move on,
Have some - sense.
Learn the - art of
Self de- - -fence.

Have some - brains be-
Neath yer - lids.
An' swing a - sabre
Fer the missus an' the kids.
Chuck supportin' - posts,
An' strikin' - lights,
Support a - fam'ly an'
Strike fer yer - rights.

Chorus:
Get a - move, etc.

Joy is - fleetin',
Life is - short.
Wot's the use uv wastin' it
All on - sport?
Hitch yer - tip-dray
To a - star.
Let yer - watchword be
"Australi- - -ar!"

Chorus:
Get a - move, etc.

'Ow's the - nation
Goin' to ixpand
'Lest us - blokes an' coves
Lend a - 'and?
'Eave yer - apathy
Down a - chasm;
'Ump yer - burden with
Enthusi- - -asm.

Chorus:
Get a - move, etc.

Wen the - trouble
Hits yer native land
Take a - rifle
In yer - 'and.
Keep yer - upper lip
Stiff as stiff kin be,
An' speed a - bullet for
Pos- - -terity.

Chorus:
Get a - move, etc.

Wen the - bugle
Sounds "Ad- - -vance"
Don't be like a flock uv sheep
In a - trance.
Biff the - foeman
Where it don't agree.
Spifler- - -cate him
To Eternity.

Chorus:
Get a - move, etc.

Fellers of Australier,
Cobbers, chaps an' mates,
Hear the - enermy
Kickin' at the gates!
Blow the - bugle,
Beat the - drum,
Upper-cut and out the cow
To kingdom- - -come!

Chorus:
Get a - move on,
Have some - sense.
Learn the - art of
Self de- - -fence!

C. J. Dennis,

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The Great Australian Adjective

The sunburnt bloody stockman stood
And in a dismal bloody mood
Apostrophised his bloody cuddy;
"The bloody nag's no bloody good,
He couldn't earn his bloody food -
A regular bloody brumby.
Bloody!"

He jumped across the bloody horse
And cantered off, of bloody course,
The roads were bad and bloody muddy;
Said he, "Well spare me bloody days
The bloody Government's bloody ways
Are screamin' bloody funny.
Bloody!"

He rode uphill, down bloody dale,
The wind, it blew a bloody gale,
The creek was high and bloody floody.
Said he, "The bloody horse must swim.
The same for bloody me and him,
It's somethin' bloody sickenin'.
Bloody!"

He plunged into the bloody creek,
The bloody nag was bloody weak,
The stockman's face a bloody study!
And though the bloody horse was drowned
The bloody rider reached the ground
Ejaculating, "Bloody?"
"Bloody!!"

W. T. Goodge

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The Guile Of Dad M'Ginnis

When M'Ginnis struck the mining camp at Jamberoora Creek
His behaviour was appreciated highly;
For, although he was a quiet man, in manner mild and meek,
Not like ordinary swagmen with a monumental cheek,
He became the admiration of the camp along the creek
'Cause he showed a point to Kangaroobie Riley!

Both the pubs at Jamberoora had some grog that stood the test
(Not to speak of what was manufactured slyly!)
And the hostel of O'Gorman, which was called The Diggers' Rest,
Was, O'Gorman said, the finest house of any in the west;
But it was a burning question if it really was the best,
Or the Miners' - kept by Kangaroobie Riley.

Dad M'Ginnis called at Riley's. Said he "felt a trifle queer",
And with something like a wan and weary smile, he
Said he "thought he'd try a whisky". Pushed it back and said, "I fear
I had better take a brandy." Passed that back and said: "Look here,
Take the brandy; after all, I think I'll have a pint of beer!"
And he drank the health of Kangaroobie Riley!

"Where's the money?" asked the publican; "you'll have to pay, begad!"
"Gave the brandy for the beer!" said Dad the wily,
"And I handed you the whisky when i took the brandy lad!"
"But you paid not for the whisky!" answered Riley. "No," said Dad,
"And you don't expect a man to pay for what he never had!"

'Twas the logic flattened Kangaroobie Riley!

"See," said Kangaroobie Riley, "you have had me, that is clear!
But I never mind a joke," he added dryly.
"Just you work it on O'Gorman, and I'll shout another beer."
"I'd be happy to oblige yer," said M'Ginnis with a leer,
"But the fact about the matter is - O'Gorman sent me here! -
So, good morning, Mr Kangaroobie Riley!"

W. T. Goodge

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Daley's Dorg Wattle

"You can talk about yer sheep dorgs," said the man from Allan's Creek,
But I know a dorg that simply knocked 'em bandy!
Do whatever you would show him, and you'd hardly need to speak;
Owned by Daley, drover cove in Jackandandy.

"We was talkin' in the parlour, me and Daley, quiet like,
When a blowfly starts a-buzzin' round the ceilin',
Up gets Daley, and he says to me, 'You wait a minute, Mike,
And I'll show you what a dorg he is at heelin'."

"And an empty pickle-bottle was a-standin' on the shelf,
Daley takes it down and puts it on the table,
And he bets me drinks that blinded dorg would do it by himself -
And I didn't think as how as he was able!

"Well, he shows the dorg the bottle, and he points up to the fly,
And he shuts the door, and says to him - 'Now Wattle!'
And in less than fifteen seconds, spare me days, it ain't a lie,
That there dorg had got that inseck in the bottle."

W. T. Goodge

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Said Hanrahan

"We'll all be rooned," said Hanrahan
In accents most forlorn
Outside the church ere Mass began
One frosty Sunday morn.

The congregation stood about,
Coat collars to the ears,
And talked of stock and crops and drought
As it had done for years.

"It's looking crook," said Daniel Croke;
"Bedad, it's cruke, me lad,
For never since the banks went broke
Has seasons been so bad."

"It's dry, all right," said young O'Neil,
With which astute remark
He squatted down upon his heel
And chewed a piece of bark.

And so around the chorus ran
"It's keepin' dry, no doubt."
"We'll all be rooned," said Hanrahan,
"Before the year is out."

"The crops are done; ye'll have your work
To save one bag of grain;
From here way out to Back-o'-Bourke
They're singin' out for rain.

"They're singin' out for rain," he said,
"And all the tanks are dry."
The congregation scratched its head,
And gazed around the sky.

"There won't be grass, in any case,
Enough to feed an ass;
There's not a blade on Casey's place
As I came down to Mass."

"If rain don't come this month," said Dan,
And cleared his throat to speak -
"We'll all be rooned," said Hanrahan,
"If rain don't come this week."

A heavy silence seemed to steal
On all at this remark;
And each man squatted on his heel,
And chewed a piece of bark.

"We want an inch of rain, we do,"
O'Neil observed at last;
But Croke 'maintained' we wanted two
To put the danger past.

"If we don't get three inches, man,
Or four to break this drought,
We'll all be rooned," said Hanrahan,
"Before the year is out."

In God's good time down came the rain;
And all the afternoon
On iron roof and window-pane
It drummed a homely tune.

And through the night it pattered still,
And lightsome, gladsome elves
On dripping spout and window-sill
Kept talking to themselves.

It pelted, pelted all day long,
A-singing at its work,
Till every heart took up the song
Way out to Back-o'-Bourke.

And every creek a banker ran,
And dams filled overtop;
"We'll all be rooned," said Hanrahan,
"If this rain doesn't stop."

And stop it did, in God's good time:
And spring came in to fold
A mantle o'er the hills sublime
Of green and pink and gold.

And days went by on dancing feet,
With harvest-hopes immense,
And laughing eyes beheld the wheat
Nid-nodding o'er the fence.

And, oh, the smiles on every face,
As happy lad and lass
Through grass knee-deep on Casey's place
Went riding down to Mass.

While round the church in clothes genteel
Discoursed the men of mark,
And each man squatted on his heel,
And chewed his piece of bark.

"There'll be bush-fires for sure, me man,
There will, without a doubt;
We'll all be rooned,"said Hanrahan,
"Before the year is out."

P. J. Hartigan ('John O'Brien')

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From The Gulf

Store cattle from Nelanjie! The mob goes feeding past,
With half a mile of sandhill 'twixt the leaders and the last;
The nags that move behind them are the good old Queensland stamp -
Short backs and perfect shoulders that are priceless on a camp;
And these are Men that ride them, broad-chested, tanned, and tall,
The bravest hearts amongst us and the lightest hands of all:
Oh, let them wade in Wonga grass and taste the Wonga dew,
And let them spread, those thousand head - for we've been droving too!

Store cattle from Nelanjie! By half a hundred towns,
By Northern ranges rough and red, by rolling open downs,
By stock-routes brown and burnt and bare, by flood-wrapped river-bends,
They've hunted them from gate to gate - The drover has no friends!
But idly they may ride today beneath the scorching sun
And let the hungry bullocks try the grass on Wonga run;
No overseer will dog them here to 'see the cattle through',
But they may spread their thousand head - for we've been droving too!

Store cattle from Nelanjie! They've a naked track to steer;
The stockyards at Wodonga are a long way down from here;
The creeks won't run till God knows when, and half the holes are dry;
The tanks are few and far between and water's dear to buy:
There's plenty at the Brolga bore for all his stock and mine -
We'll pass him with a brave God-speed across the Border line;
And if he goes a five-mile stage and loiters slowly through,
We'll only think the more of him - for we've been droving too!

Store cattle from Nelanjie! They're mute as milkers now;
But yonder grizzled drover, with the care-lines on his brow,
Could tell of merry musters on the big Nelanjie plains,
With blood upon the chestnut's flanks and foam upon the reins;
Could tell of nights upon the road when those same mild-eyed steers
Went ringing round the river bend and through the scrub like spears;
And if his words are rude and rough, we know his words are true,
We know what wild Nelanjies are - and we've been droving too!

Store cattle from Nelanjie! Around the fire at night
They've watched the pine-tree shadows lift before the dancing light;
They've lain awake to listen when the weird bush-voices speak,
And heard the lilting bells go by along the empty creek;
They've spun the yarns of hut and camp, the tales of play and work,
The wondrous tales that gild the road from Normanton to Bourke;
They've told of fortune foul and fair, of women false and true,
And well we know the songs they've sung - for we've been droving too!

Store cattle from Nelanjie! Their breath is on the breeze;
You hear them tread, a thousand head, in blue-grass to the knees;
The lead is on the netting-fence, the wings are spreading wide,
The lame and laggard scarcely move - so slow the drovers ride!
But let them stay and feed today for sake of Auld Lang Syne;
They'll never get a chance like this below the Border line;
And if they tread our frontage down, what's that to me or you?
What's ours to fare, by God they'll share! for we've been droving too!

Will H. Ogilvie

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The Stockyard Liar

If ever you're handling a rough one
There's bound to be perched on the rails
Of the Stockyard some grizzled old tough one
Whose flow of advice never fails;
There are plenty of course, who aspire
To make plain that you're only a dunce,
But the most insupportable liar
Is the man who has ridden 'em once.

He will tell you a tale and a rum one,
With never a smile on his face,
How he broke for old Somebody Some-one
At some unapproachable place;
How they bucked and they snorted and squealed,
How he spurred 'em and flogged 'em, and how
He would gallop 'em round till they reeled -
But he's "getting too old for it now".

How you're standing too far from her shoulder,
Or too jolly close to the same,
How he could have taught you to hold her
In the days when he "followed the game";
He will bustle, annoy and un-nerve us
Till even our confidence fails -
O Shade of old Nimrod! preserve us
From the beggar that sits on the rails!

How your reins you are holding too tightly,
Your girths might as well be unloosed,
How "young chaps" don't handle them rightly,
And horses don't buck "like they used";
Till at last, in a bit of passion,
You ask him in choicest "Barcoo"
To go and be hanged in a fashion
That turns the whole atmosphere blue!

And the chances are strong the old buffer
Has been talking for something to say,
And never rode anything rougher
Than the shaft of old Somebody's dray;
And the horses he thinks he has broken
Are clothes-horses sawn out of pine,
And his yarns to us simply betoken
The start of a senile decline.

There are laws for our proper protection
From murder and theft and the rest,
But the criminal wanting inspection
Is riding a rail in the West;
And the law that the country requires
At the hands of her statesmen of sense
Is the law that makes meat of the liars
That can sit a rough buck - on the fence!

Will H. Ogilvie

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The Sick Stock-rider

Hold hard, Ned! Lift me down once more, and lay me in the shade.
Old man, you've had your work cut out to guide
Both horses, and to hold me in the saddle when I swayed,
All through the hot, slow, sleepy, silent ride.
The dawn at "Moorabinda" was a mist rack dull and dense,
The sun-rise was a sullen, sluggish lamp;
I was dozing in the gateway at Arbuthnot's bound'ry fence,
I was dreaming on the Limestone cattle camp.

We crossed the creek at Carricksford, and sharply through the haze,
And suddenly the sun shot flaming forth;
To southward lay "Katawa", with the sand peaks all ablaze,
And the flushed fields of Glen Lomond lay to north.
Now westward winds the bridle-path that leads to Lindisfarm,
And yonder looms the double-headed Bluff;
From the far side of the first hill, when the skies are clear and calm,
You can see Sylvester's woolshed fair enough.

Five miles we used to call it from our homestead to the place
Where the big tree spans the roadway like an arch;
'Twas here we ran the dingo down that gave us such a chase
Eight years ago - or was it nine? - last March.
'Twas merry in the glowing morn among the gleaming grass,
To wander as we've wandered many a mile,
And blow the cool tobacco cloud, and watch the white wreaths pass,
Sitting loosely in the saddle all the while.

'Twas merry 'mid the blackwoods, when we spied the station roofs,
To wheel the wild scrub cattle at the yard,
With a running fire of stock whips and a fiery run of hoofs;
Oh! the hardest day was never then too hard!
Aye! we had a glorious gallop after "Starlight" and his gang,
When they bolted from Sylvester's on the flat;
How the sun-dried reed-beds crackled, how the flint-strewn ranges rang,
To the strokes of "Mountaineer" and "Acrobat".

Hard behind them in the timber, harder still across the heath,
Close beside them through the tea-tree scrub we dash'd;
And the golden-tinted fern leaves, how they rustled underneath;
And the honeysuckle osiers, how they crash'd!
We led the hunt throughout, Ned, on the chestnut and the grey,
And the troopers were three hundred yards behind,
While we emptied our six-shooters on the bushrangers at bay,
In the creek with stunted box-trees for a blind!
There you grappled with the leader, man to man, and horse to horse,
And you roll'd together when the chestnut rear'd;
He blazed away and missed you in that shallow water-course -
A narrow shave - his powder singed your beard!

In these hours when life is ebbing, how those days when life was young
Come back to us; how clearly I recall
Even the yarns Jack Hall invented, and the songs Jem Roper sung;
And where are now Jem Roper and Jack Hall?
Ay! nearly all our comrades of the old colonial school,
Our ancient boon companions, Ned, are gone;
Hard livers for the most part, somewhat reckless as a rule,
It seems that you and I are left alone.

There was Hughes, who got in trouble through that business with the cards,
It matters little what became of him;
But a steer ripp'd up Macpherson in the Cooraminta yards,
And Sullivan was drown'd at Sink-or-swim;
And Mostyn - poor Frank Mostyn - died at last, a fearful wreck,
In the "horrors" at the Upper Wandinong,
And Carisbrooke, the rider, at the Horsefall broke his neck;
Faith! the wonder was he saved his neck so long!

Ah! those days and nights we squandered at the Logans' in the glen -
The Logans, man and wife, have long been dead.
Elsie's tallest girl seems taller than your little Elsie then;
And Ethel is a woman grown and wed.

I've had my share of pastime, and I've done my share of toil,
And life is short - the longest life a span;
I care not now to tarry for the corn or for the oil,
Or for wine that maketh glad the heart of man.
For good undone, and gifts misspent, and resolutions vain,
'Tis somewhat late to trouble. This I know -
I should live the same life over, if I had to live again;
And the chances are I go where most men go.

The deep blue skies wax dusky, and the tall green trees grow dim,
The sward beneath me seems to heave and fall;
And sickly, smoky shadows through the sleepy sunlight swim,
And on the very sun's face weave their pall.
Let me slumber in the hollow where the wattle blossoms wave,
With never stone or rail to fence my bed;
Should the sturdy station children pull the bush-flowers on my grave,
I may chance to hear them romping overhead.

I don't suppose I shall though, for I feel like sleeping sound,
That sleep, they say, is doubtful. True; but yet
At least it makes no difference to the dead man underground
What the living men remember or forget.
Enigmas that perplex us in the world's unequal strife,
The future may ignore or may reveal;
Yet some, as weak as water, Ned, to make the best of life,
Have been to face the worst as true as steel.

Adam Lindsay Gordon

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Marri'd

It's singing in and out,
And feeling full of grace;
Here and there, up and down,
And round about the place.

It's rolling up your sleeves,
And whitening up the hearth,
And scrubbing out the floors,
And sweeping down the path;

It's baking tarts and pies,
And shining up the knives;
And feeling like some days
Was worth a thousand lives.

It's watching out the door,
And watching by the gate;
And watching down the road,
And wondering why he's late;

And feeling anxious-like,
For fear there's something wrong;
And wondering why he's kept,
And why he takes so long.

It's coming back inside
And sitting down a spell,
To sort o' make believe
You're thinking things is well.

It's getting up again
And wandering in and out;
And feeling wistful-like,
Not knowing what about;

And flushing all at once
And smiling just so sweet,
And feeling real proud
The place is fresh and neat.

And feeling awful glad,
Like them that watched Siloam;
And everything because -
A man is coming Home!

Mary Gilmore

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Sydney Harbour

Where Hornby, like a mighty fallen star,
Burns through the darkness with a splendid ring
Of tenfold light, and where the awful face
Of Sydney's northern headland stares all night
O'er dark, determined waters from the east,
From year to year a wild, Titanic voice
Of fierce aggressive sea shoots up and makes, -
When storm sails high through drifts of driving sleet,
And in the days when limpid waters glass
December's sunny hair and forest face, -
A roaring down by immemorial caves,
A thunder in the everlasting hills.

But calm and lucid as an English lake,
Beloved by beams and wooed by wind and wing,
Shut in from tempest-trampled wastes of wave,
And sheltered from white wraths of surge by walls -
Grand ramparts founded by the hand of God,
The lordly Harbour gleams. Yea, like a shield
Of marvellous gold dropped in his fiery flight
By some lost angel in the elder days,
When Satan faced and fought Omnipotence,
It shines amongst fair, flowering hills, and flows
By dells of glimmering greenness manifold.
And all day long, when soft-eyed Spring comes round
With gracious gifts of bird and leaf and grass -
And through the noon, when sumptuous Summer sleeps
By yellowing runnels under beetling cliffs,
This royal water blossoms far and wide
With ships from all the corners of the world.

And while sweet Autumn with her gipsy face
Stands in the gardens, splashed from heel to thigh
With spinning vine-blood - yea, and when the mild,
Wan face of our Australian Winter looks
Across the congregated southern fens,
Then low, melodious, shell-like songs are heard
Beneath proud hulls and pompous clouds of sail,
By yellow beaches under lisping leaves
And hidden nooks to Youth and Beauty dear,
And where the ear may catch the counter-voice
Of Ocean travelling over far, blue tracts.

Moreover, when the moon is gazing down
Upon her lovely reflex in the wave,
(What time she, sitting in the zenith, makes
A silver silence over stirless woods),
Then, where its echoes start at sudden bells,
And where its waters gleam with flying lights,
The haven lies, in all its beauty clad,
More lovely even than the golden lakes
The poet saw, while dreaming splendid dreams
Which showed his soul the far Hesperides.

Henry Kendall

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Blue Mountain Pioneers

The dauntless three! For twenty days and nights
These heroes battled with the haughty heights;
For twenty spaces of the star and sun
These Romans kept their harness buckled on;
By gaping gorges, and by cliffs austere,
These fathers struggled in the great old year.
Their feet they set on strange hills scarred by fire,
Their strong arms forced a path through brake and briar;
They fought with Nature till they reached the throne
Where morning glittered on the great Unknown!
There, in a time with praise and prayer supreme,
Paused Blaxland, Lawson, Wentworth, in a dream;
There, where the silver arrows of the day
Smote slope and spire, they halted on their way.
Behind them were the conquered hills - they faced
The vast green West, with glad, strange beauty graced;
And every tone of every cave and tree
Was as a voice of splendid prophecy.

Henry Kendall

Gregory Blaxland, William Charles Wentworth and William Lawson led a party across the Blue Mountains in 1813, showing that it was possible to break out from the coastal strip which had been all that white Australians could reach in the first 25 years of the colony. Wentworth later wrote a piece of verse called Australasia, which shows us that he still saw Australia as "foreign".

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Bell-Birds

By channels of coolness the echoes are calling,
And down the dim gorges I hear the creek falling;
It lives in the mountain, where moss and the sedges
Touch with their beauty the banks and the ledges;
Through brakes of the cedar and sycamore bowers
Struggles the light that is love to the flowers.
And, softer than slumber, and sweeter than singing,
The notes of the bell-birds are running and ringing.

The silver-voiced bell-birds, the darlings of day-time,
They sing in September their songs of the May-time.
When shadows wax strong and the thunder-bolts hurtle,
They hide with their fear in the leaves of the myrtle;
When rain and the sunbeams shine mingled together
They start up like fairies that follow fair weather,
And straightway the hues of their feathers unfolden
Are the green and the purple, the blue and the golden.

October, the maiden of bright yellow tresses,
Loiters for love in these cool wildernesses;
Loiters knee-deep in the grasses to listen,
Where dripping rocks gleam and the leafy pools glisten.
Then is the time when the water-moons splendid
Break with their gold, and are scattered or blended
Over the creeks, till the woodlands have warning
Of songs of the bell-bird and wings of the morning.

Welcome as waters unkissed by the summers
Are the voices of bell-birds to thirsty far-comers.
When fiery December sets foot in the forest,
And the need of the wayfarer presses the sorest,
Pent in the ridges for ever and ever.
The bell-birds direct him to spring and to river,
With ring and with ripple, like runnels whose torrents
Are toned by the pebbles and leaves in the currents.

Often I sit, looking back to a childhood
Mixt with the sights and the sounds of the wildwood,
Longing for power and the sweetness to fashion
Lyrics with beats like the heart-beats of passion -
Songs interwoven of lights and of laughters
Borrowed from bell-birds in far forest rafters;
So I might keep in the city and alleys
The beauty and strength of the deep mountain valleys,
Charming to slumber the pain of my losses
With glimpses of creeks and a vision of mosses.

Henry Kendall

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Jim the Splitter

The bard who is singing of Wollombi Jim
Is hardly just now in the requisite trim
To sit on his Pegasus fairly;
Besides, he is bluntly informed by the Muse
That Jim is a subject no singer should choose;
For Jim is poetical rarely.

But being full up of the myths that are Greek -
Of the classic, and noble, and nude, and antique,
Which means not a rag but the pelt on;
This poet intends to give Daphne the slip,
For the sake of a hero in moleskin and kip,
With a jumper and snake-buckle belt on.

No party is Jim of the Pericles type -
He is modern right up from the toe to the pipe;
And being no reader or roamer,
He hasn't Euripides much in the head;
And let it be carefully, tenderly said,
He never has analysed Homer.

He can roar out a song of the twopenny kind;
But, knowing the beggar so well, I'm inclined
To believe that a "par" about Kelly,
The rascal who skulked under shadow of curse,
Is more in his line than the happiest verse
On the glittering pages of Shelley.

You mustn't, however, adjudge him in haste,
Because a red robber is more to his taste
Than Ruskin, Rossetti, or Dante!
You see, he was bred in a bangalow wood,
And bangalow pith was the principal food
His mother served out in her shanty.

His knowledge is this - he can tell in the dark
What timber will split by the feel of the bark;
And rough as his manner of speech is,
His wits to the fore he can readily bring
In passing off ash as the genuine thing
When scarce in the forest the beech is.

In girthing a tree that he sells in the round,
He assumes, as a rule, that the body is sound,
And measures, forgetting to bark it!
He may be a ninny, but still the old dog
Can plug to perfection the pipe of a log
And palm it away on the market.

He splits a fair shingle, but holds to the rule
Of his father's, and, haply, his grandfather's school;
Which means that he never has blundered,
When tying his shingles, by slinging in more
Than the recognized number of ninety and four
To the bundle he sells for a hundred!

When asked by the market for ironbark red,
It always occurs to the Wollombi head
To do a "mahogany" swindle.
In forests where never the ironbark grew,
When Jim is at work, it would flabbergast you
To see how the ironbarks dwindle.

He can stick to the saddle, can Wollombi Jim,
And when a buckjumper dispenses with him,
The leather goes off with the rider.
And, as to a team, over gully and hill
He can travel with twelve on the breadth of a quill
And boss the unlucky offsider.

He shines at his best at the tiller of saw,
On the top of the pit, where his whisper is law
To the gentleman working below him.
When the pair of them pause in a circle of dust,
Like a monarch he poses - exalted, august -
There's nothing this planet can show him!

For a man is a man who can sharpen and set,
And he is the only thing masculine yet
According to sawyer and splitter -
Or rather according to Wollombi Jim;
And nothing will tempt me to differ from him,
For Jim is a bit of a hitter.

But, being full up, we'll allow him to rip,
Along with his lingo, his saw, and his whip -
He isn't the classical notion.
And, after a night in his humpy, you see,
A person of orthodox habits would be
Refreshed by a dip in the ocean.

To tot him right up from the heel to the head,
He isn't the Grecian of whom we have read -
His face is a trifle too shady.
The nymph in green valleys of Thessaly dim
Would never "jack up" her old lover for him,
For she has the tastes of a lady.

So much for our hero! A statuesque foot
Would suffer by wearing that heavy-nailed boot -
Its owner is hardly Achilles.
However, he's happy! He cuts a great "fig"
In the land where a coat is no part of the rig -
In the country of damper and billies.

Henry Kendall

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Faces in the Street

They lie, the men who tell us in a loud decisive tone
That want is here a stranger, and that misery's unknown;
For where the nearest suburb and the city proper meet
My window-sill is level with the faces in the street -
Drifting past, drifting past,
To the beat of weary feet -
While I sorrow for the owners of those faces in the street.

And cause I have to sorrow, in a land so young and fair,
To see upon those faces stamped the marks of Want and Care;
I look in vain for traces of the fresh and fair and sweet
In sallow, sunken faces that are drifting through the street -
Drifting on, drifting on,
To the scrape of restless feet;
I can sorrow for the owners of the faces in the street.

In hours before the dawning dims the starlight in the sky
The wan and weary faces first begin to trickle by,
Increasing as the moments hurry on with morning feet,
Till like a pallid river flow the faces in the street -
Flowing in, flowing in,
To the beat of hurried feet -
Ah! I sorrow for the owners of those faces in the street.

The human river dwindles when 'tis past the hour of eight,
Its waves go flowing faster in the fear of being late;
But slowly drag the moments, whilst beneath the dust and heat
The city grinds the owners of the faces in the street -
Grinding body, grinding soul,
Yielding scarce enough to eat -
Oh! I sorrow for the owners of the faces in the street.

And then the only faces till the sun is sinking down
Are those of outside toilers and the idlers of the town,
Save here and there a face that seems a stranger in the street,
Tells of the city's unemployed upon his weary beat -
Drifting round, drifting round,
To the tread of listless feet -
Ah! My heart aches for the owner of that sad face in the street.

And when the hours on lagging feet have slowly dragged away,
And sickly yellow gaslights rise to mock the going day,
Then flowing past my window like a tide in its retreat,
Again I see the pallid stream of faces in the street -
Ebbing out, ebbing out,
To the drag of tired feet,
While my heart is aching dumbly for the faces in the street.

And now all blurred and smirched with vice the day's sad pages end,
For while the short 'large hours' toward the longer 'small hours' trend,
With smiles that mock the wearer, and with words that half entreat,
Delilah pleads for custom at the corner of the street -
Sinking down, sinking down,
Battered wreck by tempests beat -
A dreadful, thankless trade is hers, that Woman of the Street.

But, ah! to dreader things than these our fair young city comes,
For in its heart are growing thick the filthy dens and slums,
Where human forms shall rot away in sties for swine unmeet,
And ghostly faces shall be seen unfit for any street -
Rotting out, rotting out,
For the lack of air and meat -
In dens of vice and horror that are hidden from the street.

I wonder would the apathy of wealthy men endure
Were all their windows level with the faces of the Poor?
Ah! Mammon's slaves, your knees shall knock, your hearts in terror beat,
When God demands a reason for the sorrows of the street,
The wrong things and the bad things
And the sad things that we meet
In the filthy lane and alley, and the cruel, heartless street.

I left the dreadful corner where the steps are never still,
And sought another window overlooking gorge and hill;
But when the night came dreary with the driving rain and sleet,
They haunted me - the shadows of those faces in the street,
Flitting by, flitting by,
Flitting by with noiseless feet,
And with cheeks but little paler than the real ones in the street.

Once I cried: 'Oh, God Almighty! if Thy might doth still endure,
Now show me in a vision for the wrongs of Earth a cure.'
And, lo! with shops all shuttered I beheld a city's street,
And in the warning distance heard the tramp of many feet,
Coming near, coming near,
To a drum's dull distant beat,
And soon I saw the army that was marching down the street.

Then, like a swollen river that has broken bank and wall,
The human flood came pouring with the red flags over all,
And kindled eyes all blazing bright with revolution's heat,
And flashing swords reflecting rigid faces in the street.
Pouring on, pouring on,
To a drum's loud threatening beat,
And the war-hymns and the cheering of the people in the street.

And so it must be while the world goes rolling round its course,
The warning pen shall write in vain, the warning voice grow hoarse,
But not until a city feels Red Revolution's feet
Shall its sad people miss awhile the terrors of the street -
The dreadful everlasting strife
For scarcely clothes and meat
In that pent track of living death - the city's cruel street.

Henry Lawson

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The Roaring Days

The night too quickly passes
And we are growing old,
So let us fill our glasses
And toast the Days of Gold;
When finds of wondrous treasure
Set all the South ablaze,
And you and I were faithful mates
All through the roaring days!

Then stately ships came sailing
From every harbour's mouth,
And sought the land of promise
That beaconed in the South;
Then southward streamed their streamers
And swelled their canvas full
To speed the wildest dreamers
E'er borne in vessel's hull.

Their shining Eldorado,
Beneath the southern skies,
Was day and night for ever
Before their eager eyes.
The brooding bush, awakened,
Was stirred in wild unrest,
And all the year a human stream
Went pouring to the West.

The rough bush roads re-echoed
The bar-room's noisy din,
When troops of stalwart horsemen
Dismounted at the inn.
And oft the hearty greetings
And hearty clasp of hands
Would tell of sudden meetings
Of friends from other lands.

And when the cheery camp-fire
Explored the bush with gleams,
The camping-grounds were crowded
With caravans of teams;
Then home the jests were driven,
And good old songs were sung,
And choruses were given
The strength of heart and lung.

Oft when the camps were dreaming,
And fires began to pale,
Through rugged ranges gleaming
Would come the Royal Mail.
Behind six foaming horses,
And lit by flashing lamps,
Old Cobb and Co., in royal state,
Went dashing past the camps.

Oh, who would paint a goldfield,
And paint the picture right,
As old Adventure saw it
In early morning's light?
The yellow mounds of mullock
With spots of red and white,
The scattered quartz that glistened
Like diamonds in light;

The azure line of ridges,
The bush of darkest green,
The little homes of calico
That dotted all the scene.
The flat straw hats with ribands
That old engravings show -
The dress that still reminds us
Of sailors, long ago.

I hear the fall of timber
From distant flats and fells,
The pealing of the anvils
As clear as little bells,
The rattle of the cradle,
The clack of windlass-boles,
The flutter of the crimson flags
Above the golden holes.

Ah, then their hearts were bolder,
And if Dame Fortune frowned
Our swags we'd lightly shoulder
And tramp to other ground.
Oh, they were lion-hearted
Who gave our country birth!
Stout sons, of stoutest fathers born,
From all the lands on earth!

Those golden days are vanished,
And altered is the scene;
The diggings are deserted,
The camping-grounds are green;
The flaunting flag of progress
Is in the West unfurled,
The mighty bush with iron rails
Is tethered to the world.

Henry Lawson

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The Teams

A cloud of dust on the long white road,
And the teams go creeping on
Inch by inch with the weary load;
And by the power of the green-hide goad
The distant goal is won.

With eyes half-shut to the blinding dust,
And necks to the yokes bent low,
The beasts are pulling as bullocks must;
And the shining tires might almost rust
While the spokes are turning slow.

With face half-hid 'neath a broad-brimmed hat
That shades from the heat's white waves,
And shouldered whip with its green-hide plait,
The driver plods with a gait like that
Of his weary, patient slaves.

He wipes his brow, for the day is hot,
And spits to the left with spite;
He shouts at Bally, and flicks at Scot,
And raises dust from the back of Spot,
And spits to the dusty right.

He'll sometimes pause as a thing of form
In front of a settler's door,
And ask for a drink, and remark "It's warm",
Or say "There's signs of a thunder-storm";
But he seldom utters more.

The rains are heavy on roads like these;
And, fronting his lonely home,
For days together the settler sees
The waggons bogged to the axletrees,
Or ploughing the sodden loam.

And then when the roads are at their worst,
The bushman's children hear
The cruel blows of the whips reversed
While bullocks pull as their hearts would burst,
And bellow with pain and fear.

And thus - with glimpses of home and rest -
Are the long, long journeys done;
And thus - 'tis a thankless life at the best! -
Is Distance fought in the mighty West,
And the lonely battle won.

Henry Lawson

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The Loaded Dog

Dave Regan, Jim Bently, and Andy Page were sinking a shaft at Stony Creek in search of a rich gold quartz reef which was supposed to exist in the vicinity. There is always a rich reef supposed to exist in the vicinity; the only questions are whether it is ten feet or hundreds beneath the surface, and in which direction. They had struck some pretty solid rock, also water which kept them baling. They used the old-fashioned blasting-powder and time-fuse. They'd make a sausage or cartridge of blasting-powder in a skin of strong calico or canvas, the mouth sewn and bound round the end of the fuse; they'd dip the cartridge in melted tallow to make it water-tight, get the drill-hole as dry as possible, drop in the cartridge with some dry dust, and wad and ram with stiff clay and broken brick. Then they'd light the fuse and get out of the hole and wait. The result was usually an ugly pot-hole in the bottom of the shaft and half a barrow-load of broken rock.

There was plenty of fish in the creek, fresh-water bream, cod, cat-fish, and tailers. The party were fond of fish, and Andy and Dave of fishing. Andy would fish for three hours at a stretch if encouraged by a "nibble" or a "bite" now and then - say once in twenty minutes. The butcher was always willing to give meat in exchange for fish when they caught more than they could eat; but now it was winter, and these fish wouldn't bite. However, the creek was low, just a chain of muddy water-holes, from the hole with a few bucketfuls in it to the sizable pool with an average depth of six or seven feet, and they could get fish by baling out the smaller holes or muddying up the water in the larger ones till the fish rose to the surface. There was the cat-fish, with spikes growing out of the sides of its head, and if you got pricked you'd know it, as Dave said. Andy took off his boots, tucked up his trousers, and went into a hole one day to stir up the mud with his feet, and he knew it. Dave scooped one out with his hand and got pricked, and he knew it too; his arm swelled, and the pain throbbed up into his shoulder, and down into his stomach too, he said, like a toothache he had once, and kept him awake for two nights - only the toothache pain had a "burred edge", Dave said.

Dave got an idea.

"Why not blow the fish up in the big water-hole with a cartridge?" he said. "I'll try it."

He thought the thing out and Andy Page worked it out. Andy usually put Dave's theories into practice if they were practicable, or bore the blame for the failure and the chaffing of his mates if they weren't.

He made a cartridge about three times the size of those they used in the rock. Jim Bently said it was big enough to blow the bottom out of the river. The inner skin was of stout calico; Andy stuck the end of a six-foot piece of fuse well down in the powder and bound the mouth of the bag firmly to it with whipcord. The idea was to sink the cartridge in the water with the open end of the fuse attached to a float on the surface, ready for lighting. Andy dipped the cartridge in melted bees'-wax to make it water-tight. "We'll have to leave it some time before we light it," said Dave, "to give the fish time to get over their scare when we put it in, and come nosing round again; so we'll want it well water-tight."

Round the cartridge Andy, at Dave's suggestion, bound a strip of sail canvas - that they used for making water-bags - to increase the force of the explosion, and round that he pasted layers of stiff brown paper - on the plan of the sort of fireworks we called "gun-crackers". He let the paper dry in the sun, then he sewed a covering of two thicknesses of canvas over it, and bound the thing from end to end with stout fishing-line. Dave's schemes were elaborate, and he often worked his inventions out to nothing. The cartridge was rigid and solid enough now - a formidable bomb; but Andy and Dave wanted to be sure. Andy sewed on another layer of canvas, dipped the cartridge in melted tallow, twisted a length of fencing-wire round it as an afterthought, dipped it in tallow again, and stood it carefully against a tent-peg, where he'd know where to find it, and wound the fuse loosely round it. Then he went to the camp-fire to try some potatoes which were boiling in their jackets in a billy, and to see about frying some chops for dinner. Dave and Jim were at work in the claim that morning.

They had a big black young retriever dog - or rather an overgrown pup, a big, foolish, four-footed mate, who was always slobbering round them and lashing their legs with his heavy tail that swung round like a stock-whip. Most of his head was usually a red, idiotic, slobbering grin of appreciation of his own silliness. He seemed to take life, the world, his two-legged mates, and his own instinct as a huge joke. He'd retrieve anything: he carted back most of the camp rubbish that Andy threw away. They had a cat that died in hot weather, and Andy threw it a good distance away in the scrub; and early one morning the dog found the cat, after it had been dead a week or so, and carried it back to camp, and laid it just inside the tent-flaps, where it could best make its presence known when the mates should rise and begin to sniff suspiciously in the sickly smothering atmosphere of the summer sunrise. He used to retrieve them when they went in swimming; he'd jump in after them, and take their hands in his mouth, and try to swim out with them, and scratch their naked bodies with his paws. They loved him for his good-heartedness and his foolishness, but when they wished to enjoy a swim they had to tie him up in camp.

He watched Andy with great interest all the morning making the cartridge, and hindered him considerably, trying to help; but about noon he went off to the claim to see how Dave and Jim were getting on, and to come home to dinner with them. Andy saw them coming, and put a panful of mutton-chops on the fire. Andy was cook to-day; Dave and Jim stood with their backs to the fire, as Bushmen do in all weathers, waiting till dinner should be ready. The retriever went nosing round after something he seemed to have missed.

Andy's brain still worked on the cartridge; his eye was caught by the glare of an empty kerosene-tin lying in the bushes, and it struck him that it wouldn't be a bad idea to sink the cartridge packed with clay, sand, or stones in the tin, to increase the force of the explosion. He may have been all out, from a scientific point of view, but the notion looked all right to him. Jim Bently, by the way, wasn't interested in their "damned silliness". Andy noticed an empty treacle-tin - the sort with the little tin neck or spout soldered on to the top for the convenience of pouring out the treacle - and it struck him that this would have made the best kind of cartridge-case: he would only have had to pour in the powder, stick the fuse in through the neck, and cork and seal it with bees'-wax. He was turning to suggest this to Dave, when Dave glanced over his shoulder to see how the chops were doing - and bolted. He explained afterwards that he thought he heard the pan spluttering extra, and looked to see if the chops were burning. Jim Bently looked behind and bolted after Dave. Andy stood stock-still, staring after them.

"Run, Andy! run!" they shouted back at him. "Run!!! Look behind you, you fool!" Andy turned slowly and looked, and there, close behind him, was the retriever with the cartridge in his mouth - wedged into his broadest and silliest grin. And that wasn't all. The dog had come round the fire to Andy, and the loose end of the fuse had trailed and waggled over the burning sticks into the blaze; Andy had slit and nicked the firing end of the fuse well, and now it was hissing and spitting properly.

Andy's legs started with a jolt; his legs started before his brain did, and he made after Dave and Jim. And the dog followed Andy.

Dave and Jim were good runners - Jim the best - for a short distance; Andy was slow and heavy, but he had the strength and the wind and could last. The dog leapt and capered round him, delighted as a dog could be to find his mates, as he thought, on for a frolic. Dave and Jim kept shouting back, "Don't foller us! don't foller us, you coloured fool!" but Andy kept on, no matter how they dodged. They could never explain, any more than the dog, why they followed each other, but so they ran, Dave keeping in Jim's track in all its turnings, Andy after Dave, and the dog circling round Andy - the live fuse swishing in all directions and hissing and spluttering and stinking. Jim yelling to Dave not to follow him, Dave shouting to Andy to go in another direction - to "spread out", and Andy roaring at the dog to go home. Then Andy's brain began to work, stimulated by the crisis: he tried to get a running kick at the dog, but the dog dodged; he snatched up sticks and stones and threw them at the dog and ran on again.

The retriever saw that he'd made a mistake about Andy, and left him and bounded after Dave. Dave, who had the presence of mind to think that the fuse's time wasn't up yet, made a dive and a grab for the dog, caught him by the tail, and as he swung round, snatched the cartridge out of his mouth and flung it as far as he could: the dog immediately bounded after it and retrieved it. Dave roared and cursed at the dog, who seeing that Dave was offended, left him and went after Jim, who was well ahead. Jim swung to a sapling and went up it like a native bear; it was a young sapling, and Jim couldn't safely get more than ten or twelve feet from the ground.

The dog laid the cartridge, as carefully as if it was a kitten, at the foot of the sapling, and capered and leaped and whooped joyously round under Jim. The big pup reckoned that this was part of the lark - he was all right now - it was Jim who was out for a spree. The fuse sounded as if it were going a mile a minute. Jim tried to climb higher and the sapling bent and cracked. Jim fell on his feet and ran. The dog swooped on the cartridge and followed. It all took but a very few moments. Jim ran to a digger's hole, about ten feet deep, and dropped down into it - landing on soft mud - and was safe. The dog grinned sardonically down on him, over the edge, for a moment, as if he thought it would be a good lark to drop the cartridge down on Jim.

"Go away, Tommy," said Jim feebly, "go away."

The dog bounded off after Dave, who was the only one in sight now; Andy had dropped behind a log, where he lay flat on his face, having suddenly remembered a picture of the Russo-Turkish war with a circle of Turks lying flat on their faces (as if they were ashamed) round a newly-arrived shell.

There was a small hotel or shanty on the creek, on the main road, not far from the claim. Dave was desperate, the time flew much faster in his stimulated imagination than it did in reality, so he made for the shanty. There were several casual Bushmen on the verandah and in the bar; Dave rushed into the bar, banging the door to behind him. "My dog!" he gasped, in reply to the astonished stare of the publican, "the blanky retriever - he's got a live cartridge in his mouth -"

The retriever, finding the front door shut against him, had bounded round and in by the back way, and now stood smiling in the doorway leading from the passage, the cartridge still in his mouth and the fuse spluttering. They burst out of that bar. Tommy bounded first after one and then after another, for, being a young dog, he tried to make friends with everybody.

The Bushmen ran round corners, and some shut themselves in the stable. There was a new weather-board and corrugated-iron kitchen and wash-house on piles in the back-yard, with some women washing clothes inside. Dave and the publican bundled in there and shut the door - the publican cursing Dave and calling him a crimson fool, in hurried tones, and wanting to know what the hell he came here for.

The retriever went in under the kitchen, amongst the piles, but, luckily for those inside, there was a vicious yellow mongrel cattle-dog sulking and nursing his nastiness under there - a sneaking, fighting, thieving canine, whom neighbours had tried for years to shoot or poison. Tommy saw his danger - he'd had experience from this dog - and started out and across the yard, still sticking to the cartridge. Half-way across the yard the yellow dog caught him and nipped him. Tommy dropped the cartridge, gave one terrified yell, and took to the Bush. The yellow dog followed him to the fence and then ran back to see what he had dropped.

Nearly a dozen other dogs came from round all the corners and under the buildings - spidery, thievish, cold-blooded kangaroo-dogs, mongrel sheep- and cattle-dogs, vicious black and yellow dogs - that slip after you in the dark, nip your heels, and vanish without explaining - and yapping, yelping small fry. They kept at a respectable distance round the nasty yellow dog, for it was dangerous to go near him when he thought he had found something which might be good for a dog to eat. He sniffed at the cartridge twice, and was just taking a third cautious sniff when -

It was very good blasting powder - a new brand that Dave had recently got up from Sydney; and the cartridge had been excellently well made. Andy was very patient and painstaking in all he did, and nearly as handy as the average sailor with needles, twine, canvas, and rope.

Bushmen say that that kitchen jumped off its piles and on again. When the smoke and dust cleared away, the remains of the nasty yellow dog were lying against the paling fence of the yard looking as if he had been kicked into a fire by a horse and afterwards rolled in the dust under a barrow, and finally thrown against the fence from a distance. Several saddle-horses, which had been "hanging-up" round the verandah, were galloping wildly down the road in clouds of dust, with broken bridle-reins flying; and from a circle round the outskirts, from every point of the compass in the scrub, came the yelping of dogs. Two of them went home, to the place where they were born, thirty miles away, and reached it the same night and stayed there; it was not till towards evening that the rest came back cautiously to make inquiries. One was trying to walk on two legs, and most of 'em looked more or less singed; and a little, singed, stumpy-tailed dog, who had been in the habit of hopping the back half of him along on one leg, had reason to be glad that he'd saved up the other leg all those years, for he needed it now. There was one old one-eyed cattle-dog round that shanty for years afterwards, who couldn't stand the smell of a gun being cleaned. He it was who had taken an interest, only second to that of the yellow dog, in the cartridge. Bushmen said that it was amusing to slip up on his blind side and stick a dirty ramrod under his nose: he wouldn't wait to bring his solitary eye to bear - he'd take to the Bush and stay out all night.

For half an hour or so after the explosion there were several Bushmen round behind the stable who crouched, doubled up, against the wall, or rolled gently on the dust, trying to laugh without shrieking. There were two white women in hysterics at the house, and a half-caste rushing aimlessly round with a dipper of cold water. The publican was holding his wife tight and begging her between her squawks, to "hold up for my sake, Mary, or I'll lam the life out of ye."

Dave decided to apologise later on, "when things had settled a bit," and went back to camp. And the dog that had done it all, "Tommy", the great, idiotic mongrel retriever, came slobbering round Dave and lashing his legs with his tail, and trotted home after him, smiling his broadest, longest, and reddest smile of amiability, and apparently satisfied for one afternoon with the fun he'd had.

Andy chained the dog up securely, and cooked some more chops, while Dave went to help Jim out of the hole.

And most of this is why, for years afterwards, lanky, easy-going Bushmen, riding lazily past Dave's camp, would cry, in a lazy drawl and with just a hint of the nasal twang -

"'El-lo, Da-a-ve! How's the fishin' getting on, Da-a-ve?"

Henry Lawson

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Freedom on the Wallaby

Australia's a big country
An' Freedom's humping bluey,
An' Freedom's on the wallaby
Oh! don't you hear 'er cooey?
She's just begun to boomerang,
She'll knock the tyrants silly,
She's going to light another fire
And boil another billy.

Our fathers toiled for bitter bread
While loafers thrived beside 'em,
But food to eat and clothes to wear,
Their native land denied 'em.
An' so they left their native land
In spite of their devotion,
An' so they came, or if they stole,
Were sent across the ocean.

Then Freedom couldn't stand the glare
Of Royalty's regalia,
She left the loafers where they were,
An' come out to Australia.
But now across the mighty main
The chains have come to bind her,
She little thought to see again
The wrongs she left behind her.

Our parents toiled to make a home.
Hard grubbin' 'twas an' clearin',
They wasn't crowded much with lords
When they was pioneerin'.
But now that we have made the land
A garden full of promise,
Old Greed must crook 'is dirty hand
And come to take it from us.

So we must fly a rebel flag,
As others did before us,
And we must sing a rebel song
And join in rebel chorus.
We'll make the tyrants feel the sting
O' those that they would throttle;
They needn't say the fault is ours
If blood should stain the wattle!

Henry Lawson, 1891

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Waratah and Wattle

Though poor and in trouble I wander alone,
With a rebel cockade in my hat;
Though friends may desert me, and kindred disown,
My country will never do that!
You may sing of the Shamrock, the Thistle, and Rose,
Or the three in a bunch if you will;
But I know of a country that gathered all those,
And I love the great land where the Waratah grows,
And the Wattle-bough blooms on the hill.

Australia! Australia! so fair to behold
While the blue sky is arching above;
The stranger should never have need to be told,
That the Wattle-bloom means that her heart is of gold,
And the Waratah's red with her love.

Australia! Australia! most beautiful name,
Most kindly and bountiful land;
I would die every death that might save her from shame,
If a black cloud should rise on the strand;
But whatever the quarrel, whoever her foes,
Let them come! Let them come when they will!
Though the struggle be grim, 'tis Australia that knows,
That her children shall fight while the Waratah grows,
And the Wattle blooms out on the hill.

Henry Lawson, 1905.

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My Country

The love of field and coppice,
Of green and shaded lanes,
Of ordered woods and gardens
Is running in your veins.
Strong love of grey-blue distance,
Brown streams and soft, dim skies -
I know but cannot share it,
My love is otherwise.

I love a sunburnt country,
A land of sweeping plains,
Of ragged mountain ranges,
Of droughts and flooding rains.
I love her far horizons,
I love her jewel-sea,
Her beauty and her terror -
The wide brown land for me!

The stark white ring-barked forests,
All tragic to the moon,
The sapphire-misted mountains,
The hot gold hush of noon,
Green tangle of the brushes
Where lithe lianas coil,
And orchids deck the tree-tops,
And ferns the warm dark soil.

Core of my heart, my country!
Her pitiless blue sky,
When, sick at heart, around us
We see the cattle die -
But then the grey clouds gather,
And we can bless again
The drumming of an army,
The steady soaking rain.

Core of my heart, my country!
Land of the rainbow gold,
For flood and fire and famine
She pays us back threefold.
Over the thirsty paddocks,
Watch, after many days,
The filmy veil of greenness
That thickens as we gaze.

An opal-hearted country,
A wilful, lavish land -
All you who have not loved her,
You will not understand -
Though earth holds many splendours,
Wherever I may die,
I know to what brown country
My homing thoughts will fly.

Dorothea Mackellar, 1908

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Clancy of the Overflow

I had written him a letter which I had, for want of better
Knowledge, sent to where I met him down the Lachlan years ago;
He was shearing when I knew him, so I sent the letter to him,
Just on spec, addressed as follows, "Clancy, of The Overflow".

And an answer came directed in a writing unexpected
(And I think the same was written with a thumb-nail dipped in tar);
'Twas his shearing mate who wrote it, and verbatim I will quote it:
"Clancy's gone to Queensland droving, and we don't know where he are."

In my wild erratic fancy visions come to me of Clancy
Gone a-droving "down the Cooper" where the Western drovers go;
As the stock are slowly stringing, Clancy rides behind them singing,
For the drover's life has pleasures that the townsfolk never know.

And the bush has friends to meet him, and their kindly voices greet him
In the murmur of the breezes and the river on its bars,
And he sees the vision splendid of the sunlit plains extended,
And at night the wondrous glory of the everlasting stars.

I am sitting in my dingy little office, where a stingy
Ray of sunlight struggles feebly down between the houses tall,
And the foetid air and gritty of the dusty, dirty city,
Through the open window floating, spreads its foulness over all.

And in place of lowing cattle, I can hear the fiendish rattle
Of the tramways and the buses making hurry down the street;
And the language uninviting of the gutter children fighting
Comes fitfully and faintly through the ceaseless tramp of feet.

And the hurrying people daunt me, and their pallid faces haunt me
As they shoulder one another in their rush and nervous haste,
With their eager eyes and greedy, and their stunted forms and weedy,
For townsfolk have no time to grow, they have no time to waste.

And I somehow rather fancy that I'd like to change with Clancy,
Like to take a turn at droving where the seasons come and go,
While he faced the round eternal of the cash-book and the journal -
But I doubt he'd suit the office, Clancy, of The Overflow.

Banjo Paterson

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The Man from Snowy River

There was movement at the station, for the word had passed around
That the colt from old Regret had got away,
And had joined the wild bush horses - he was worth a thousand pound,
So all the cracks had gathered to the fray.

All the tried and noted riders from the stations near and far
Had mustered at the homestead overnight,
For the bushmen love hard riding where the wild bush horses are,
And the stock-horse snuffs the battle with delight.

There was Harrison, who made his pile when Pardon won the cup,
The old man with his hair as white as snow;
But few could ride beside him when his blood was fairly up -
He would go wherever horse and man could go.

And Clancy of the Overflow came down to lend a hand,
No better horseman ever held the reins;
For never horse could throw him while the saddle-girths would stand -
He learnt to ride while droving on the plains.

And one was there, a stripling on a small and weedy beast;
He was something like a racehorse undersized,
With a touch of Timor pony - three parts thoroughbred at least -
And such as are by mountain horsemen prized.

He was hard and tough and wiry - just the sort that won't say die -
There was courage in his quick impatient tread;
And he bore the badge of gameness in his bright and fiery eye,
And the proud and lofty carriage of his head.

But still so slight and weedy, one would doubt his power to stay,
And the old man said, "That horse will never do
For a long and tiring gallop - lad, you'd better stop away,
Those hills are far too rough for such as you."

So he waited, sad and wistful - only Clancy stood his friend -
"I think we ought to let him come," he said;
"I warrant he'll be with us when he's wanted at the end,
For both his horse and he are mountain bred.

"He hails from Snowy River, up by Kosciusko's side,
Where the hills are twice as steep and twice as rough;
Where a horse's hoofs strike firelight from the flint stones every stride,
The man that holds his own is good enough.

And the Snowy River riders on the mountains make their home,
Where the river runs those giant hills between;
I have seen full many horsemen since I first commenced to roam,
But nowhere yet such horsemen have I seen."

So he went; they found the horses by the big mimosa clump,
They raced away towards the mountain's brow,
And the old man gave his orders, "Boys, go at them from the jump,
No use to try for fancy riding now.

And, Clancy, you must wheel them, try and wheel them to the right.
Ride boldly, lad, and never fear the spills,
For never yet was rider that could keep the mob in sight,
If once they gain the shelter of those hills."

So Clancy rode to wheel them - he was racing on the wing
Where the best and boldest riders take their place,
And he raced his stock-horse past them, and he made the ranges ring
With the stockwhip, as he met them face to face.

Then they halted for a moment, while he swung the dreaded lash,
But they saw their well-loved mountain full in view,
And they charged beneath the stockwhip with a sharp and sudden dash,
And off into the mountain scrub they flew.

Then fast the horsemen followed, where the gorges deep and black
Resounded to the thunder of their tread,
And the stockwhips woke the echoes, and they fiercely answered back
From cliffs and crags that beetled overhead.

And upward, ever upward, the wild horses held their way,
Where mountain ash and kurrajong grew wide;
And the old man muttered fiercely, "We may bid the mob good day,
No man can hold them down the other side."

When they reached the mountain's summit, even Clancy took a pull -
It well might make the boldest hold their breath;
The wild hop scrub grew thickly, and the hidden ground was full
Of wombat holes, and any slip was death.

But the man from Snowy River let the pony have his head,
And he swung his stockwhip round and gave a cheer,
And he raced him down the mountain like a torrent down its bed,
While the others stood and watched in very fear.

He sent the flint-stones flying, but the pony kept his feet,
He cleared the fallen timber in his stride,
And the man from Snowy River never shifted in his seat -
It was grand to see that mountain horseman ride.

Through the stringy barks and saplings, on the rough and broken ground,
Down the hillside at a racing pace he went;
And he never drew the bridle till he landed safe and sound,
At the bottom of that terrible descent.

He was right among the horses as they climbed the farther hill,
And the watchers on the mountain, standing mute,
Saw him ply the stockwhip fiercely; he was right among them still,
As he raced across the clearing in pursuit.

They lost him for a moment, where two mountain gullies met
In the ranges - but a final glimpse reveals
On a dim and distant hillside the wild horses racing yet,
With the man from Snowy River at their heels.

And he ran them single-handed till their sides were white with foam;
He followed like a bloodhound on their track,
Till they halted cowed and beaten; then he turned their heads for home,
And alone and unassisted brought them back.

But his hardy mountain pony he could scarcely raise a trot,
He was blood from hip to shoulder from the spur;
But his pluck was still undaunted, and his courage fiery hot,
For never yet was mountain horse a cur.

And down by Kosciusko, where the pine-clad ridges raise
Their torn and rugged battlements on high,
Where the air is clear as crystal, and the white stars fairly blaze
At midnight in the cold and frosty sky,

And where around the Overflow the reed-beds sweep and sway
To the breezes, and the rolling plains are wide,
The Man from Snowy River is a household word today,
And the stockmen tell the story of his ride.

Banjo Paterson, 1890

In recent times, Australia has elected to honour the Polish patriot, Kosciuszko, by spelling correctly the name of the mountain, so-named by Count Strzelecki, but written as "Kosciusko" for several generations.

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Been There Before

There came a stranger to Walgett town,
To Walgett town when the sun was low,
And he carried a thirst that was worth a crown,
Yet how to quench it he did not know;
But he thought he might take those yokels down,
The guileless yokels of Walgett town.

They made him a bet in a private bar,
In a private bar when the talk was high,
And they bet him some pounds no matter how far
He could pelt a stone, yet he could not shy
A stone right over the river so brown,
The Darling River at Walgett town.

He knew that the river from bank to bank
Was fifty yards, and he smiled a smile
As he trundled down; but his hopes they sank,
For there wasn't a stone within fifty mile;
For the saltbush plain and the open down
Produce no quarries in Walgett town.

The yokels laughed at his hopes o'erthrown,
And he stood awhile like a man in a dream;
Then out of his pocket he fetched a stone,
And pelted it over the silent stream -
He'd been there before; he had wandered down
On a previous visit to Walgett town.

Banjo Paterson

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The Merino Sheep

People have got the impression that the merino is a gentle, bleating animal that gets its living without trouble to anybody, and comes up every year to be shorn with a pleased smile upon its amiable face. It is my purpose here to exhibit the merino sheep in its true light.

First let us give him his due. No one can accuse him of being a ferocious animal. No one could ever say that a sheep attacked him without provocation; although there is an old bush story of a man who was discovered in the act of killing a neighbour's wether.

"Hello!" said the neighbour, "What's this? Killing my sheep! What have you got to say for yourself?"

"Yes," said the man, with an air of virtuous indignation. "I AM killing your sheep. I'll kill ANY man's sheep that bites ME!"

But as a rule the merino refrains from using his teeth on people. He goes to work in another way.

The truth is that he is a dangerous monomaniac, and his one idea is to ruin the man who owns him. With this object in view he will display a talent for getting into trouble and a genius for dying that are almost incredible.

If a mob of sheep see a bush fire closing round them, do they run away out of danger? Not at all, they rush round and round in a ring till the fire burns them up. If they are in a river-bed, with a howling flood coming down, they will stubbornly refuse to cross three inches of water to save themselves. Dogs may bark and men may shriek, but the sheep won't move. They will wait there till the flood comes and drowns them all, and then their corpses go down the river on their backs with their feet in the air.

A mob will crawl along a road slowly enough to exasperate a snail, but let a lamb get away in a bit of rough country, and a racehorse can't head him back again. If sheep are put into a big paddock with water in three corners of it, they will resolutely crowd into the fourth, and die of thirst.

When being counted out at a gate, if a scrap of bark be left on the ground in the gateway, they will refuse to step over it until dogs and men have sweated and toiled and sworn and "heeled 'em up", and "spoke to 'em", and fairly jammed them at it. At last one will gather courage, rush at the fancied obstacle, spring over it about six feet in the air, and dart away. The next does exactly the same, but jumps a bit higher. Then comes a rush of them following one another in wild bounds like antelopes, until one overjumps himself and alights on his head. This frightens those still in the yard, and they stop running out.

Then the dogging and shrieking and hustling and tearing have to be gone through all over again. (This on a red-hot day, mind you, with clouds of blinding dust about, the yolk of wool irritating your eyes, and, perhaps, three or four thousand sheep to put through.) The delay throws out the man who is counting, and he forgets whether he left off at 45 or 95.

The dogs, meanwhile, have taken the first chance to slip over the fence and hide in the shade somewhere, and then there are loud whistlings and oaths, and calls for Rover and Bluey. At last a dirt-begrimed man jumps over the fence, unearths Bluey, and hauls him back by the ear. Bluey sets to work barking and heeling-'em up again, and pretends that he thoroughly enjoys it; but all the while he is looking out for another chance to "clear". And THIS time he won't be discovered in a hurry.

There is a well-authenticated story of a ship-load of sheep that was lost because an old ram jumped overboard, and all the rest followed him. No doubt they did, and were proud to do it. A sheep won't go through an open gate on his own responsibility, but he would gladly and proudly "follow the leader" through the red-hot portals of Hades: and it makes no difference whether the lead goes voluntarily, or is hauled struggling and kicking and fighting every inch of the way.

For pure, sodden stupidity there is no animal like the merino. A lamb will follow a bullock-dray, drawn by sixteen bullocks and driven by a profane person with a whip, under the impression that the aggregate monstrosity is his mother. A ewe never knows her own lamb by sight, and apparently has no sense of colour. She can recognise its voice half a mile off among a thousand other voices apparently exactly similar; but when she gets within five yards of it she starts to smell all the other lambs within reach, including the black ones - though her own may be white.

The fiendish resemblance which one sheep bears to another is a great advantage to them in their struggles with their owners. It makes it more difficult to draft them out of a strange flock, and much harder to tell when any are missing.

Concerning this resemblance between sheep, there is a story told of a fat old Murrumbidgee squatter who gave a big price for a famous ram called Sir Oliver. He took a friend out one day to inspect Sir Oliver, and overhauled that animal with a most impressive air of sheep-wisdom.

"Look here," he said, "at the fineness of the wool. See the serrations in each thread of it. See the density of it. Look at the way his legs and belly are clothed - he's wool all over, that sheep. Grand animal, grand animal!"

Then they went and had a drink, and the old squatter said, "Now, I'll show you the difference between a champion ram and a second-rater." So he caught a ram and pointed out his defects. "See here - not half the serrations that other sheep had. No density of fleece to speak of. Bare-bellied as a pig, compared with Sir Oliver. Not that this isn't a fair sheep, but he'd be dear at one-tenth Sir Oliver's price. By the way, Johnson" (to his overseer), "what ram IS this?"

"That, sir," replied the astounded functionary - "that IS Sir Oliver, sir!"

There is another kind of sheep in Australia, as great a curse in his own way as the merino - namely, the cross-bred, or half-merino-half-Leicester animal. The cross-bred will get through, under, or over any fence you like to put in front of him. He is never satisfied with his owner's run, but always thinks other people's runs must be better, so he sets off to explore. He will strike a course, say, south-east, and so long as the fit takes him he will keep going south-east through all obstacles - rivers, fences, growing crops, anything. The merino relies on passive resistance for his success; the cross-bred carries the war into the enemy's camp, and becomes a living curse to his owner day and night.

Once there was a man who was induced in a weak moment to buy twenty cross-bred rams. From that hour the hand of Fate was upon him. They got into all the paddocks they shouldn't have been in. They scattered themselves over the run promiscuously. They visited the cultivation paddock and the vegetable-garden at their own sweet will. And then they took to roving. In a body they visited the neighbouring stations, and played havoc with the sheep all over the district.

The wretched owner was constantly getting fiery letters from his neighbours: "Your blanky rams are here. Come and take them away at once," and he would have to go nine or ten miles to drive them home. Any man who has tried to drive rams on a hot day knows what purgatory is. He was threatened every week with actions for trespass.

He tried shutting them up in the sheep-yard. They got out and went back to the garden. Then he gaoled them in the calf-pen. Out again and into a growing crop. Then he set a boy to watch them; but the boy went to sleep, and they were four miles away across country before he got on to their tracks.

At length, when they happened accidentally to be at home on their owner's run, there came a big flood. His sheep, mostly merinos, had plenty of time to get on to high ground and save their lives; but, of course, they didn't, and were almost all drowned. The owner sat on a rise above the waste of waters and watched the dead animals go by. He was a ruined man. But he said, "Thank God, those cross-bred rams are drowned, anyhow." Just as he spoke there was a splashing in the water, and the twenty rams solemnly swam ashore and ranged themselves in front of him. They were the only survivors of his twenty thousand sheep. He broke down, and was taken to an asylum for insane paupers. The cross-breds had fulfilled their destiny.

The cross-bred drives his owner out of his mind, but the merino ruins his man with greater celerity. Nothing on earth will kill cross-breds; nothing will keep merinos alive. If they are put on dry salt-bush country they die of drought. If they are put on damp, well-watered country they die of worms, fluke, and foot-rot. They die in the wet seasons and they die in the dry ones.

The hard, resentful look on the faces of all bushmen comes from a long course of dealing with merino sheep. The merino dominates the bush, and gives to Australian literature its melancholy tinge, its despairing pathos. The poems about dying boundary-riders, and lonely graves under mournful she-oaks, are the direct outcome of the poet's too close association with that soul-destroying animal. A man who could write anything cheerful after a day in the drafting-yards would be a freak of nature.

Banjo Paterson

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Nine Miles From Gundagai

I've done my share of shearing sheep,
Of droving and all that,
And bogged a bullock-team as well,
On a Murrumbidgee flat.
I've seen the bullock stretch and strain,
And blink his bleary eye,
And the dog sit on the tucker box,
Nine miles from Gundagai.

I've been jilted, jarred, and cross in love,
And sand-bagged in the dark,
Till if a mountain fell on me
I'd treat it as a lark.
It's when you've got your bullocks bogged
That's the time you flog and cry,
And the dog sits on the tucker box,
Nine miles from Gundagai.

We've all got our little troubles,
In life's hard, thorny way.
Some strike them in a motor car
And others in a dray.
But when your dog and bullocks strike,
It ain't no apple pie,
And the dog sat on the tucker box
Nine miles from Gundagai.

But that's all past and dead and gone,
And I've sold the team for meat,
And perhaps, some day where I was bogged,
There'll be an asphalt street,
The dog, ah! well he got a bait,
And thought he'd like to die,
So I buried him in the tucker box,
Nine miles from Gundagai.

Jack Moses

Note: the words of this song may have been altered somewhat, to protect people with delicate minds. For a more robust interpretation, see Taking the Road to Gundagai.

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Lazy Harry's

Note: some singers believe the correct version is "Lousy Harry's" - let the reader decide!

Oh, we started down from Roto when the sheds had all cut out.
We'd whips and whips of Rhino as we meant to push about,
So we humped our blues serenely and made for Sydney town,
With a three-spot cheque between us, as wanted knocking down.

Chorus
But we camped at Lazy Harry's, on the road to Gundagai.
The road to Gundagai! Not five miles from Gundagai!
Yes, we camped at Lazy Harry's, on the road to Gundagai.

Well, we struck the Murrumbidgee near the Yanko in a week,
And passed through old Narrandera and crossed the Burnet Creek.
And we never stopped at Wagga, for we'd Sydney in our eye.
But we camped at Lazy Harry's, on the road to Gundagai.

Chorus

Oh, I've seen a lot of girls, my boys, and drunk a lot of beer,
And I've met with some of both, chaps, as has left me mighty queer;
But for beer to knock you sideways, and for girls to make you sigh,
You must camp at Lazy Harry's, on the road to Gundagai.

Chorus

Well, we chucked our blooming swags off, and we walked into the bar,
And we called for rum-an'-raspb'ry and a shilling each cigar.
But the girl that served the pizen, she winked at Bill and I -
And we camped at Lazy Harry's, not five miles from Gundagai.

Chorus

In a week the spree was over and the cheque was all knocked down,
So we shouldered our "Matildas," and we turned our backs on town,
And the girls they stood a nobbler as we sadly said "Good bye,"
And we tramped from Lazy Harry's, not five miles from Gundagai;

Chorus

Traditional

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The Wild Colonial Boy

'TIS of a wild Colonial boy, Jack Doolan was his name,
Of poor but honest parents he was born in Castlemaine.
He was his father's only hope, his mother's only joy,
And dearly did his parents love the wild Colonial boy.

Chorus
Come, all my hearties, we'll roam the mountains high,
Together we will plunder, together we will die.
We'll wander over valleys, and gallop over plains,
And we'll scorn to live in slavery, bound down with iron chains.

He was scarcely sixteen years of age when he left his father's home,
And through Australia's sunny clime a bushranger did roam.
He robbed those wealthy squatters, their stock he did destroy,
And a terror to Australia was the wild Colonial boy.

Chorus

In sixty-one this daring youth commenced his wild career,
With a heart that knew no danger, no foeman did he fear.
He stuck up the Beechworth mail coach, and robbed Judge MacEvoy,
Who trembled, and gave up his gold to the wild Colonial boy.

Chorus

He bade the Judge "Good morning," and told him to beware,
That he'd never rob a hearty chap that acted on the square,
And never to rob a mother of her son and only joy,
Or else you may turn outlaw, like the wild Colonial boy.

Chorus

One day as he was riding the mountain side along,
A-listening to the little birds, their pleasant laughing song,
Three mounted troopers rode along - Kelly, Davis, and FitzRoy.
They thought that they would capture him - the wild Colonial boy.

Chorus

"Surrender now, Jack Doolan, you see there's three to one.
Surrender now, Jack Doolan, you daring highwayman."
He drew a pistol from his belt, and shook the little toy.
"I'll fight, but not surrender," said the wild Colonial boy.

Chorus

He fired at Trooper Kelly, and brought him to the ground,
And in return from Davis received a mortal wound.
All shattered through the jaws he lay still firing at FitzRoy,
And that's the way they captured him - the wild Colonial boy.

Chorus
Come, all my hearties, we'll roam the mountains high,
Together we will plunder, together we will die.
We'll wander over valleys, and gallop over plains,
And we'll scorn to live in slavery, bound down with iron chains.

Traditional

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Australasia

Celestial poesy! whose genial sway
Earth's furthest habitable shores obey;
Whose inspirations shed their sacred light,
Far as the regions of the Arctic night,
And to the Laplander his Boreal gleam
Endear not less than Phoebus' brighter beam, -
Descend thou also on my native land,
And on some mountain-summit take thy stand;
Thence issuing soon a purer font be seen
Than charmed Castalia or famed Hippocrene;
And there a richer, nobler fane arise,
Than on Parnassus met the adoring eyes.

William Charles Wentworth

Enough! Those wanting more are courteously referred to the Project Gutenberg etexts ozvrs10.txt or ozvrs10.zip - you will find Project Gutenberg on the Web at http://www.promo.net/pg/list.html, and these two files may be downloaded free from that site.

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How McDougal Topped The Score

A peaceful spot is Piper's Flat. The folk that live around -
They keep themselves by keeping sheep and turning up the ground;
But the climate is erratic, and the consequences are
The struggle with the elements is everlasting war.
We plough, and sow, and harrow - then sit down and pray for rain;
And then we all get flooded out and have to start again.
But the folk are now rejoicing as they ne'er rejoiced before,
For we've played Molongo cricket, and McDougal topped the score!

Molongo had a head on it, and challenged us to play
A single-innings match for lunch - the losing team to pay;
We were not great guns at cricket, but we couldn't well say no,
So we all began to practise, and we let the reaping go.
We scoured the Flat for ten miles round to muster up our men,
But when the list was totalled we could only number ten.
Then up spoke big Tim Brady: he was always slow to speak,
And he said - 'What price McDougal, who lives down at Cooper's Creek?'

So we sent for old McDougal, and he stated in reply
That he'd never played at cricket, but he'd half a mind to try.
He couldn't come to practise - he was getting in his hay,
But he guessed he'd show the beggars from Molongo how to play.
Now, McDougal was a Scotchman, and a canny one at that,
So he started in to practise with a paling for a bat.
He got Mrs Mac to bowl to him, but she couldn't run at all,
So he trained his sheep-dog, Pincher, how to scout and fetch the ball.

Now, Pincher was no puppy; he was old, and worn, and grey;
But he understood McDougal, and - accustomed to obey -
When McDougal cried out 'Fetch it!' he would fetch it in a trice,
But until the word was 'Drop it!' he would grip it like a vice.
And each succeeding night they played until the light grew dim:
Sometimes McDougal struck the ball - sometimes the ball struck him.
Each time he struck, the ball would plough a furrow in the ground;
And when he missed, the impetus would turn him three times round.

The fatal day at last arrived - the day that was to see
Molongo bite the dust, or Piper's Flat knocked up a tree!
Molongo's captain won the toss, and sent his men to bat,
And they gave some leather-hunting to the men of Piper's Flat.
When the ball sped where McDougal stood, firm planted in his track,
He shut his eyes, and turned him round, and stopped it with his back!
The highest score was twenty-two, the total sixty-six,
When Brady sent a yorker down that scattered Johnson's sticks.

Then Piper's Flat went in to bat, for glory and renown,
But, like the grass before the scythe, our wickets tumbled down.
'Nine wickets down, for seventeen, with fifty more to win!'
Our captain heaved a sigh, and sent McDougal in.
'Ten pounds to one you'll lose it!' cried a barracker from town;
But McDougal said, 'I'll tak' it, mon!" and planted the money down.
Then he girded up his moleskins in a self-reliant style,
Threw off his hat and boots and faced the bowler with a smile.

He held the bat the wrong side out, and Johnson with a grin
Stepped lightly to the bowling crease, and sent a 'wobbler' in;
McDougal spooned it softly back, and Johnson waited there,
But McDougal, crying 'Fetch it!' started running like a hare.
Molongo shouted 'Victory! He's out as sure as eggs,'
When Pincher started through the crowd, and ran through Johnson's legs.
He seized the ball like lightning; then he ran behind a log.
And McDougal kept on running, while Molongo chased the dog!

They chased him up, they chased him down, they chased him round, and then
He darted through the slip-rail as the scorer shouted 'Ten!'
McDougal puffed; Molongo swore; excitement was intense;
As the scorer marked down twenty, Pincher cleared a barbed-wire fence.
'Let us head him!' shrieked Molongo. 'Brain the mongrel with a bat!'
'Run it out! Good old McDougal!' yelled the men of Piper's Flat.
And McDougal kept on jogging, and then Pincher doubled back,
And the scorer counted 'Forty' as they raced across the track.

McDougal's legs were going fast, Molongo's breath was gone -
But still Molongo chased the dog - McDougal struggled on.
When the scorer shouted 'Fifty', then they knew the chase could cease;
And McDougal gasped out 'Drop it!' as he dropped within his crease.
Then Pincher dropped the ball, and as instinctively he knew
Discretion was the wiser plan, he disappeared from view;
And as Molongo's beaten men exhausted lay around
We raised McDougal shoulder-high, and bore him from the ground.

We bore him to McGiniss's where lunch was ready laid,
And filled him up with whisky-punch, for which Molongo paid.
We drank his health in bumpers, and we cheered him three times three,
And when Molongo got its breath, Molongo joined the spree.
And the critics say they never saw a cricket match like that,
When McDougal broke the record in the game at Piper's Flat;
And the folk are jubilating as they never did before;
For we played Molongo cricket - and McDougal topped the score!

Thomas E. Spencer

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Where the Pelican Builds

The horses were ready, the rails were down,
But the riders lingered still -
One had a parting word to say,
And one had his pipe to fill.
Then they mounted, one with a granted prayer,
And one with a grief unguessed.
"We are going," they said, as they rode away -
"Where the pelican builds her nest!"

They had told us of pastures wide and green,
To be sought past the sunset's glow;
Of rifts in the ranges by opal lit;
And gold 'neath the river's flow.
And thirst and hunger were banished words
When they spoke of that unknown West;
No drought they dreaded, no flood they feared,
Where the pelican builds her nest!

The creek at the ford was but fetlock deep
When we watched them crossing there;
The rains have replenished it thrice since then,
And thrice has the rock lain bare.
But the waters of Hope have flowed and fled,
And never from blue hill's breast
Come back - by the sun and the sands devoured -
Where the pelican builds her nest.

Mary Hannay Foott

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A Ballade of Wattle Blossom

There's a land that is happy and fair,
Set gem-like in halcyon seas;
The white winters visit not there,
To sadden its blossoming leas,
More bland than the Hesperides,
Or any warm isle of the West,
Where the wattle-bloom perfumes the breeze,
And the bell-bird builds her nest.

When the oak and the elm are bare,
And wild winds vex the shuddering trees;
There the clematis whitens the air,
And the husbandman laughs as he sees
The grass rippling green to his knees,
And his vineyards in emerald drest -
Where the wattle-bloom bends in the breeze,
And the bell-bird builds her nest.

What land is with this to compare?
Not the green hills of Hybla, with bees
Honey-sweet, are more radiant and rare
In colour and fragrance than these
Boon shores, where the storm-clouds cease,
And the wind and the wave are at rest -
Where the wattle-bloom waves in the breeze,
And the bell-bird builds her nest.

Envoy.

Sweetheart, let them praise as they please
Other lands, but we know which is best -
Where the wattle-bloom perfumes the breeze,
And the bell-bird builds her nest.

Robert Richardson

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The Australian Sunrise

The Morning Star paled slowly, the Cross hung low to the sea,
And down the shadowy reaches the tide came swirling free,
The lustrous purple blackness of the soft Australian night,
Waned in the grey awakening that heralded the light;
Still in the dying darkness, still in the forest dim
The pearly dew of the dawning clung to each giant limb,
Till the sun came up from ocean, red with the cold sea mist,
And smote on the limestone ridges, and the shining tree-tops kissed;
Then the fiery Scorpion vanished, the magpie's note was heard,
And the wind in the she-oak wavered, and the honeysuckles stirred,
The airy golden vapour rose from the river breast,
The kingfisher came darting out of his crannied nest,
And the bulrushes and reed-beds put off their sallow grey
And burnt with cloudy crimson at dawning of the day.

James Lister Cuthbertson

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Under the Wattle

"Why should not wattle do
For mistletoe?"
Asked one - they were but two -
Where wattles grow.

He was her lover, too,
Who urged her so -
"Why should not wattle do
For mistletoe?"

A rose-cheek rosier grew;
Rose-lips breathed low;
"Since it is here, and YOU,
I hardly know
Why wattle should not do."

Douglas Brooke Wheelton Sladen

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A Bush Controversy

This long drawn-out "war" of this name began with a single shot, the rather unexciting A Voice from the Bush, published in 1871 or 1872 (there is some controversy about when it was first published and, indeed, who wrote it).

Then in 1892, two friends, Banjo Paterson and Henry Lawson concocted a literary difference, into which other poets were soon drawn. It began with Up the Country, first published as Borderland, and continued with In Defence of the Bush. Then Edward Dyson contributed The Fact of the Matter, and Lawson replied with The City Bushman (first published as "In Answer to Banjo, and Otherwise"). Then came two clever parodies of Paterson's own Clancy of the Overflow: first The Overflow of Clancy, by "H.H.C.C.", and then Francis Kenna's Banjo, of the Overflow, before Paterson's An Answer to Various Bards, and Lawson's The Poets of the Tomb brought matters to a conclusion.

Finally, in 1894, Paterson returned to the subject with A Voice From the Town, said to be a response to Mowbray Morris, who may, or may not, have started it all

The result was a set of verse which reveal to us that the old "bush values" Australia had were even then being lost as Australia became a nation of people living in towns and cities. The urban workers, Lawson's Faces in the Street, were fast becoming a majority of Australians, but for two more generations, Australians could still pretend to be a rural people with rural values.

Here is how Paterson described the exchanges many years later:

Henry Lawson was a man of remarkable insight in some things and of extraordinary simplicity in others. We were both looking for the same reef, if you get what I mean; but I had done my prospecting on horseback with my meals cooked for me, while Lawson has done his prospecting on foot and had had to cook for himself. Nobody realised this better than Lawson; and one day he suggested that we should write against each other, he putting the bush from his point of view, and I putting it from mine.

"We ought to do pretty well out of it," he said, "we ought to be able to get in three or four sets of verses before they stop us."

This suited me all right, for we were working on space, and the pay was very small . . . so we slam-banged away at each other for weeks and weeks; not until they stopped us, but until we ran out of material . . .

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A Voice from the Bush

Mowbray Morris, aide-de-camp to the then South Australian Governor, later claimed authorship of this originally anonymous work. It is referred to by Banjo Paterson in the last of this sequence, A Voice from the Town, but otherwise plays no part in the sequence which follows.

It appears that the text was variously butchered: this is the version taken from Australian Ballads and Rhymes, published in London by Walter Scott in 1888, where it is claimed that the author (known, but at that stage remaining anonymous) had corrected the proofs. The verses are now of four long lines, rather than eight short ones, and a few changes have been made (in verse 1, line 4, the fourth word is "as", not "so", stuff like that. A missing verse (the 12th) has also been reinstated, and missing words added that fix some glaring nastiness in the scansion. My thanks to Kath who provided photos of the pages when her scanner was uncooperative!

A few of the changes look like an author's second thoughts. As a general rule, where this version differs from any other found on the Web in wording or punctuation, I believe that this version may be regarded as Morris' last word on the matter. The remaining infelicities of scansion remain as they do in the text, having been double-checked.

The poem had been attributed to Adam Lindsay Gordon, and a note in the book reads:

The real author of the poem that has brought Gordon much popularity, 'A Voice from the Bush," not only feeely gave his permission for it to be used, but has given the correct version of the poem, which has suffered much at the hands of the printers. His name is an open secret to all students of Australian poetry, but he desires that it should not be given in this volume.

High noon, and not a cloud in the sky to break this blinding sun.
Well, I've half the day before me still, and most of my journey done.
There's little enough of shade to be got, but I'll take what I can get,
For I'm not as hearty as once I was, although I'm a young man yet.

Young! Well, yes, I suppose so, as far as the seasons go,
Though there's many a man far older than I down there in the town below -
Older, but men to whom, in the pride of their manhood strong,
The hardest work is never too hard, nor the longest day too long.

But I've cut my cake, so I can't complain, and I've only myself to blame;
Ay! that was always their tale at home, and here it is just the same.
Of the seed I've sown in pleasure, the harvest I'm reaping in pain;
Could I put my life a few years back, would I live that life again?

Would I? Of course I would! What glorious days they were!
It sometimes seems but the dream of a dream, that life could have been so fair,
So sweet but if a short time back, while now, if one can call
This life, I almost doubt at times if it's worth the living at all.

One of these poets which is it? somewhere or another sings,
That the crown of a sorrow's sorrow is remembering happier things.
What the crown of a sorrow's sorrow may be, I know not; but this I know,
It lightens the years that are now, sometimes to think of the years ago.

Where are they now, I wonder, with whom those years were pass'd?
The pace was a little too good, I fear, for many of them to last.
And there's always plenty to take their place when the leaders begin to decline;
Still I wish them well, where'er they are, for the sake of auld lang syne.

Jack Villiers - Galloping Jack - what a beggar he was to ride!
Was shot in a gambling row last year, on the Californian side.
And Byng, the best of the lot, who was broke in the Derby of fifty-eight,
Is keeping sheep with Harry Lepell, somewhere on the River Plate.

Do they ever think of me at all, and the fun we used to share?
It gives me a pleasant hour or so and I've none too many to spare.
This dull blood runs as it used to run, and the spent flame flickers up,
As I think on the cheers that rang in my ears when I won the Garrison Cup.

And how the regiment roared to a man, while the voice of the fielders shook,
As I swung in my stride, six lengths to the good, hard held, over Bosworth Brook.
Instead of the parrot's screech, I seem to hear the twang of the horn,
As once again from Barkby Holt I set the pick of the Quorn.

Well, those were harmless pleasures enough; for I hold him worse than an ass
Who shakes his head at a "neck on the post," or a quick thing over the grass.
Go for yourself, and go to win, and you can't very well go wrong
Gad, if I'd only stuck to that, I'd be singing a different song!

As to the one I'm singing, it's pretty well known to all.
We knew too much, but not quite enough, and so we went to the wall;
While those who cared not, if the work was done, how dirty their hands might be,
Went up on our shoulders and kicked us down, when they got to the top of the tree.

But though it relieves one's mind at times, there's little good in a curse,
Our comfort is, though it's not very well, it might be a great deal worse.
A roof to my head, and a bite to mouth, and no one likely to know
In "Bill the Bushman" the dandy who went to the dogs long ago.

Out there on the station among the lads, I get along pretty well;
It's only when I get down into town that I feel this life such a hell.
Booted and bearded and burn'd to a brick, I loaf along the street;
I watch the ladies tripping by, and bless their dainty feet.

I watch them here and there, with a bitter feeling of pain;
Ah! what wouldn't I give to feel a lady's hand again.
They used to be glad to see me once; they might have been so to-day;
But we never know the worth of a thing until we have thrown it away.

I watch them, but from afar; and I pull my old cap over my eyes,
Partly to hide the tears that, rude and rough as I am, will rise,
And partly because I cannot bear that such as they should see
The man that I am, when I know, though they don't, the man that I ought to be.

* * * * *

Puff! with the last whiff of my pipe I blow these fancies away,
For I must be jogging along if I want to get down to town to-day.
As I know I shall reach my journey's end though I travel not over fast;
So the end of my longer journey will come in its own good time at last.

Mowbray Morris

Published in The Adelaide Advertiser, 29 September 1871 (or 1872?)

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Up the Country

I am back from up the country - very sorry that I went -
Seeking for the Southern poets' land whereon to pitch my tent;
I have lost a lot of idols, which were broken on the track,
Burnt a lot of fancy verses, and I'm glad that I am back.
Further out may be the pleasant scenes of which our poets boast,
But I think the country's rather more inviting round the coast.
Anyway, I'll stay at present at a boarding-house in town,
Drinking beer and lemon-squashes, taking baths and cooling down.

'Sunny plains'! Great Scott! - those burning wastes of barren soil and sand
With their everlasting fences stretching out across the land!
Desolation where the crow is! Desert where the eagle flies,
Paddocks where the luny bullock starts and stares with reddened eyes;
Where, in clouds of dust enveloped, roasted bullock-drivers creep
Slowly past the sun-dried shepherd dragged behind his crawling sheep.
Stunted peak of granite gleaming, glaring like a molten mass
Turned from some infernal furnace on a plain devoid of grass.

Miles and miles of thirsty gutters - strings of muddy water-holes
In the place of 'shining rivers' - 'walled by cliffs and forest boles.'
Barren ridges, gullies, ridges! where the ever-madd'ning flies -
Fiercer than the plagues of Egypt - swarm about your blighted eyes!
Bush! where there is no horizon! where the buried bushman sees
Nothing - Nothing! but the sameness of the ragged, stunted trees!
Lonely hut where drought's eternal, suffocating atmosphere
Where the God-forgotten hatter dreams of city life and beer.

Treacherous tracks that trap the stranger, endless roads that gleam and glare,
Dark and evil-looking gullies, hiding secrets here and there!
Dull dumb flats and stony rises, where the toiling bullocks bake,
And the sinister 'gohanna', and the lizard, and the snake.
Land of day and night - no morning freshness, and no afternoon,
When the great white sun in rising bringeth summer heat in June.
Dismal country for the exile, when the shades begin to fall
From the sad heart-breaking sunset, to the new-chum worst of all.

Dreary land in rainy weather, with the endless clouds that drift
O'er the bushman like a blanket that the Lord will never lift -
Dismal land when it is raining - growl of floods, and, oh! the woosh
Of the rain and wind together on the dark bed of the bush -
Ghastly fires in lonely humpies where the granite rocks are piled
In the rain-swept wildernesses that are wildest of the wild.

Land where gaunt and haggard women live alone and work like men,
Till their husbands, gone a-droving, will return to them again:
Homes of men! if home had ever such a God-forgotten place,
Where the wild selector's children fly before a stranger's face.
Home of tragedy applauded by the dingoes' dismal yell,
Heaven of the shanty-keeper - fitting fiend for such a hell -
And the wallaroos and wombats, and, of course, the curlew's call -
And the lone sundowner tramping ever onward through it all!

I am back from up the country, up the country where I went
Seeking for the Southern poets' land whereon to pitch my tent;
I have shattered many idols out along the dusty track,
Burnt a lot of fancy verses - and I'm glad that I am back.
I believe the Southern poets' dream will not be realised
Till the plains are irrigated and the land is humanised.
I intend to stay at present, as I said before, in town
Drinking beer and lemon-squashes, taking baths and cooling down.

Henry Lawson, The Bulletin July 9, 1892

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In Defence of the Bush

So you're back from up the country, Mister Lawson, where you went,
And you're cursing all the business in a bitter discontent;
Well, we grieve to disappoint you, and it makes us sad to hear
That it wasn't cool and shady - and there wasn't whips of beer,
And the looney bullock snorted when you first came into view -
Well, you know it's not so often that he sees a swell like you;
And the roads were hot and dusty, and the plains were burnt and brown,
And no doubt you're better suited drinking lemon-squash in town.
Yet, perchance, if you should journey down the very track you went
In a month or two at furthest, you would wonder what it meant;
Where the sunbaked earth was gasping like a creature in its pain
You would find the grasses waving like a field of summer grain,
And the miles of thirsty gutters, blocked with sand and choked with mud,
You would find them mighty rivers with a turbid, sweeping flood.
For the rain and drought and sunshine make no changes in the street,
In the sullen line of buildings and the ceaseless tramp of feet;
But the bush has moods and changes, as the seasons rise and fall,
And the men who know the bush-land - they are loyal through it all.

But you found the bush was dismal and a land of no delight -
Did you chance to hear a chorus in the shearers' huts at night?
Did they "rise up William Riley" by the camp-fire's cheery blaze?
Did they rise him as we rose him in the good old droving days?
And the women of the homesteads and the men you chanced to meet -
Were their faces sour and saddened like the "faces in the street"?
And the "shy selector children" - were they better now or worse
Than the little city urchins who would greet you with a curse?
Is not such a life much better than the squalid street and square
Where the fallen women flaunt it in the fierce electric glare,
Where the sempstress plies her needle till her eyes are sore and red
In a filthy, dirty attic toiling on for daily bread?
Did you hear no sweeter voices in the music of the bush
Than the roar of trams and buses, and the war-whoop of "the push"?
Did the magpies rouse your slumbers with their carol sweet and strange?

Did you hear the silver chiming of the bell-birds on the range?
But, perchance, the wild birds' music by your senses was despised,
For you say you'll stay in townships till the bush is civilized.
Would you make it a tea-garden, and on Sundays have a band
Where the "blokes" might take their "donahs", with a "public" close at hand?
You had better stick to Sydney and make merry with the "push",
For the bush will never suit you, and you'll never suit the bush.

Banjo Paterson, published July 23, 1892

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The Fact of the Matter

I'm wonderin' why those fellers who go buildin' chipper ditties,
'Bout the rosy times out drovin', an' the dust an' death of cities,
Don't sling the bloomin' office, strike some drover for a billet,
And soak up all the glory that comes handy while they fill it.

P'r'aps it's fun to travel cattle or to picnic with merinos,
But the drover don't catch on, sir, not much high-class rapture he knows.
As for sleepin' on the plains there in the shadder of the spear-grass,
That's liked best by the Juggins with a spring-bed an' a pier-glass.

An' the camp-fire, an' the freedom, and the blanky constellations,
The 'possum-rug an' billy, an' the togs an' stale ole rations -
It's strange they're only raved about by coves that dress up pretty,
An' sport a wife, an' live on slap-up tucker in the city.

I've tickled beef in my time clear from Clarke to Riverina,
An' shifted sheep all round the shop, but blow me if I've seen a
Single blanky hand who didn't buck at pleasures of this kidney,
And wouldn't trade his blisses for a flutter down in Sydney.

Night-watches are delightful when the stars are really splendid
To the chap who's fresh upon the job, but, you bet, his rapture's ended
When the rain comes down in sluice-heads, or the cuttin' hailstones pelter,
An' the sheep drift off before the wind, an' the horses strike for shelter.

Don't take me for a howler, but I find it come annoyin'
To hear these fellers rave about the pleasures we're enjoyin',
When p'r'aps we've nothin' better than some fluky water handy,
An' they're right on all the lickers - rum, an' plenty beer an' brandy.

The town is dusty, may be, but it isn't worth the curses
'Side the dust a feller swallers an' the blinded thirst he nurses
When he's on the hard macadam, where the jumbucks cannot browse, an'
The wind is in his whiskers, an' he follers twenty thousan'.

This drovin' on the plain, too, it's all O.K. when the weather
Isn't hot enough to curl the soles right off your upper leather,
Or so cold that when the mornin' wind comes hissin' through the grasses
You can feel it cut your eyelids like a whip-lash as it passes.

Then there's bull-ants in the blankets, an' a lame horse, an' muskeeters,
An' a D.T. boss like Halligan, or one like Humpy Peters,
Who is mean about the tucker, an' can curse from start to sundown,
An' can fight like fifty devils, an' whose growler's never run down.

Yes, I wonder why the fellers what go building chipper ditties
'Bout the rosy times out drovin' an' the dust an' death of cities,
Don't sling the bloomin' office, strike ole Peters for a billet,
An' soak up all the glory that comes handy while they fill it.

Edward Dyson, The Bulletin, July 30, 1892

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The City Bushman

It was pleasant up the country, City Bushman, where you went,
For you sought the greener patches and you travelled like a gent;
And you curse the trams and buses and the turmoil and the push,
Though you know the squalid city needn't keep you from the bush;
But we lately heard you singing of the "plains where shade is not",
And you mentioned it was dusty - "all was dry and all was hot".

True, the bush "hath moods and changes" - and the bushman hath 'em, too,
For he's not a poet's dummy - he's a man, the same as you;
But his back is growing rounder - slaving for the absentee -
And his toiling wife is thinner than a country wife should be.
For we noticed that the faces of the folks we chanced to meet
Should have made a greater contrast to the faces in the street;
And, in short, we think the bushman's being driven to the wall,
And it's doubtful if his spirit will be "loyal through it all".

Though the bush has been romantic and it's nice to sing about,
There's a lot of patriotism that the land could do without -
Sort of British Workman nonsense that shall perish in the scorn
Of the drover who is driven and the shearer who is shorn,
Of the struggling western farmers who have little time for rest,
And are ruined on selections in the sheep-infested West;
Droving songs are very pretty, but they merit little thanks
From the people of a country in possession of the Banks.

No, the "rise and fall of seasons" suits the rise and fall of rhyme,
But we know that western seasons do not run on schedule time;
For the drought will go on drying while there's anything to dry,
Then it rains until you'd fancy it would bleach the sunny sky -
Then it pelters out of reason, till the downpour day and night
Nearly sweeps the population to the Great Australian Bight.
It is up in Northern Queensland that the seasons do their best,
But it's doubtful if you ever saw a season in the West;
There are years without an autumn or a winter or a spring,
There are broiling Junes, and summers when it rains like anything.

In the bush my ears were opened to the singing of the bird,
But the "carol of the magpie" was a thing I never heard.
Once the beggar roused my slumbers in a shanty, it is true,
But I only heard him asking, "Who the blanky blank are you?"
And the bell-bird in the ranges - well, his "silver chime" is harsh
When it's heard beside the solo of the curlew in the marsh.

No, the bushman isn't always "trapping brumbies in the night",
Nor is he for ever riding when "the morn is fresh and bright",
And he isn't always singing in the humpies on the run -
And the camp-fire's "cheery blazes" are a trifle overdone;
We have grumbled with the bushmen round the fire on rainy days,
When the smoke would blind a bullock and there wasn't any blaze,
Save the blazes of our language, for we cursed the fire in turn
Till the atmosphere was heated and the wood began to burn.
Then we had to wring our blueys which were rotting in the swags,
And we saw the sugar leaking through the bottoms of the bags,
And we couldn't raise a chorus, for the toothache and the cramp,
While we spent the hours of darkness draining puddles round the camp.

Would you like to change with Clancy - go a-droving? tell us true,
For we rather think that Clancy would be glad to change with you,
And be something in the city; but 'twould give your muse a shock
To be losing time and money through the foot-rot in the flock,
And you wouldn't mind the beauties underneath the starry dome
If you had a wife and children and a lot of bills at home.

Did you ever guard the cattle when the night was inky-black,
And it rained, and icy water trickled gently down your back
Till your saddle-weary backbone started aching at the roots
And you almost felt the croaking of the bull-frog in your boots -
Did you shiver in the saddle, curse the restless stock and cough
Till a squatter's blanky dummy cantered up to warn you off?
Did you fight the drought and pleuro when the "seasons" were asleep,
Felling sheoaks all the morning for a flock of starving sheep,
Drinking mud instead of water - climbing trees and lopping boughs
For the broken-hearted bullocks and the dry and dusty cows?

Do you think the bush was better in the "good old droving days",
When the squatter ruled supremely as the king of western ways,
When you got a slip of paper for the little you could earn,
But were forced to take provisions from the station in return -
When you couldn't keep a chicken at your humpy on the run,
For the squatter wouldn't let you - and your work was never done;
When you had to leave the missus in a lonely hut forlorn
While you "rose up Willy Riley" - in the days ere you were born?

Ah! we read about the drovers and the shearers and the like
Till we wonder why such happy and romantic fellows strike.
Don't you fancy that the poets ought to give the bush a rest
Ere they raise a just rebellion in the over-written West?
Where the simple-minded bushman gets a meal and bed and rum
Just by riding round reporting phantom flocks that never come;
There the scalper - never troubled by the "war-whoop of the push" -
Has a quiet little billet - breeding rabbits in the bush;

There the idle shanty-keeper never fails to make a draw,
And the dummy gets his tucker through provisions in the law;
There the labour-agitator - when the shearers rise in might -
Makes his money sacrificing all his substance for The Right;
Where the squatter makes his fortune, and "the seasons rise and fall",
And the poor and honest bushman has to suffer for it all;
Where the drovers and the shearers and the bushmen and the rest
Never reach that Eldorado of the poets of the West.

So you think the bush is purer and that life is better there,
But it doesn't seem to pay you like the "squalid street and square".
Pray inform us, City Bushman, where you read, in prose or verse,
Of the awful "city urchin who would greet you with a curse".
There are golden hearts in gutters, though their owners lack the fat,
And I'll back a teamster's offspring to outswear a city brat.

Do you think we're never jolly where the trams and buses rage?
Did you hear the gods in chorus when "Ri-tooral" held the stage?
Did you catch a ring of sorrow in the city urchin's voice
When he yelled for Billy Elton, when he thumped the floor for Royce?
Do the bushmen, down on pleasure, miss the everlasting stars
When they drink and flirt and so on in the glow of private bars?

You've a down on "trams and buses", or the "roar" of 'em, you said,
And the "filthy, dirty attic", where you never toiled for bread.
(And about that self-same attic - Lord! wherever have you been?
For the struggling needlewoman mostly keeps her attic clean.)
But you'll find it very jolly with the cuff-and-collar push,
And the city seems to suit you, while you rave about the bush.

You'll admit that Up-the Country, more especially in drought,
Isn't quite the Eldorado that the poets rave about,
Yet at times we long to gallop where the reckless bushman rides
In the wake of startled brumbies that are flying for their hides,
Long to feel the saddle tremble once again between our knees
And to hear the stockwhips rattle just like rifles in the trees!
Long to feel the bridle-leather tugging strongly in the hand -
And to feel once more a little like a native of the land!
And the ring of bitter feeling in the jingling of our rhymes
Isn't suited to the country nor the spirit of the times.
Let us go together droving, and returning, if we live,
Try to understand each other while we reckon up the div.

Henry Lawson, The Bulletin, August 6, 1892

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The Overflow of Clancy

(On reading the Banjo's "Clancy of the Overflow."

I've read "The Banjo's" letter, and I'm glad he's found a better
Billet than he had upon the station where I met him years ago;
He was "slushy" then for Scotty, but the "bushland" sent him "dotty,"
So he "rose up, William Riley," and departed down below.

He "rolled up" very gladly, for he had bush-fever badly
When he left "the smoke" to wander "where the wattle-blossoms wave,"
But a course of "stag and brownie" seems to make the bush-struck towny
Kinder weaken on the wattle and the bushman's lonely grave.

Safe in town, he spins romances of the bush until one fancies
That it's all top-boots and chorus, kegs of rum and "whips" of grass,
And the sheep off camp go stringing when the "boss-in-charge" is singing,
Whilst we "blow the cool tobacco-smoke and watch the white wreaths pass."

Yet, I guess "The B." feels fitter in a b'iled shirt and "hard-hitter"
Than he would "way down the Cooper" in a flannel smock and "moles,"
For the city cove has leisure to indulge in stocks of pleasure,
But the drover's only pastime's cooking "What's this! on the coals."

And the pub hath friends to meet him, and between the acts they treat him
While he's swapping "fairy twisters" with the "girls behind their bars,"
And he sees a vista splendid when the ballet is extended,
And at night he's in his glory with the comic-op'ra stars.

* * * * *

I am sitting, very weary, on a log before a dreary
Little fire that's feebly hissing 'neath a heavy fall of rain,
And the wind is cold and nipping, and I curse the ceaseless dripping
As I slosh around for wood to start the embers up again.

And, in place of beauty's greeting, I can hear the dismal bleating
Of a ewe that's sneaking out among the marshes for her lamb;
And for all the poet's skitin' that a new-chum takes delight in,
The drover's share of pleasure isn't worth a tinker's d--n.

Does he sneer at bricks and mortar when he's squatting in the water
After riding fourteen hours beneath a sullen, weeping sky?
Does he look aloft and thank it, as he spreads his sodden blanket?
for the drover has no time to spare, he has no time to dry.

If "The Banjo's" game to fill it, he is welcome to my billet;
He can "take a turn at droving" - wages three-and-six a day -
And his throat'll get more gritty than mine will in the city
Where with Mister Lawson's squashes I can wash the dust away.

"H.H.C.C." - The Bulletin, August 20, 1892

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Banjo, of the Overflow

I had written him a letter which I had for want of better
Knowledge given to a partner by the name of "Greenhide Jack " -
He was shearing when I met him, and I thought perhaps I'd let him
Know that I was "stiff," and, maybe, he would send a trifle back.

My request was not requited, for an answer came indited
On a sheet of scented paper, in an ink of fancy blue;
And the envelope, I fancy, had an "Esquire" to the Clancy
And it simply read, "I'm busy; but I'll see what I can do!"

To the vision land I can go, and I often think of "Banjo" -
Of the boy I used to shepherd in the not so long ago,
He was not the bushman's kidney, and among the crowds of Sydney
He'll be more at home than mooning on the dreary Overflow.

He has clients now to fee him, and has friends to come and see him,
He can ride from morn to evening in the padded hansom cars,
And he sees the beauties blending where the throngs are never ending,
And at night the wond'rous women in the everlasting bars.

I am tired of reading prattle of the sweetly-lowing cattle
Stringing out across the open with the bushmen riding free;
I am sick at heart of roving up and down the country droving,
And of alternating damper with the salt-junk and the tea.

And from sleeping in the water on the droving trips I've caught a
Lively dose of rheumatism in my back and in my knee,
And in spite of verse it's certain that the sky's a leaky curtain -
It may suit the "Banjo" nicely, but it never suited me.

And the bush is very pretty when you view it from the city,
But it loses all its beauty when you face it "on the pad;"
And the wildernesses haunt you, and the plains extended daunt you,
Till at times you come to fancy that the life will drive you mad.

But I somehow often fancy that I'd rather not be Clancy,
That I'd like to be the "Banjo" where the people come and go,
When instead of framing curses I'd be writing charming verses -
Tho' I scarcely think he'd swap me, "Banjo, the Overflow".

-"K" (Francis Kenna), The Bulletin, August 27, 1892

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The Poets of the Tomb

The world has had enough of bards who wish that they were dead,
Tis time, the people passed a law to knock 'em on the head,
For 'twould be lovely if their friends could grant the rest they crave -
Those bards of "tears" and "vanished hopes," those poets of the grave.
They say that life's an awful thing and full of care and gloom,
They talk of peace and restfulness connected with the tomb.

They say that man is made of dirt, and die, of course, he must;
But, all the same, a man is made of pretty solid dust,
There is a thing that they forget, so let it here be writ,
That some are made of common mud, and some are made of grit;
Some try to help the world along while others fret and fume
And wish that they were slumbering in the silence of the tomb.

'Twixt mother's arms and coffin-gear a man has work to do!
And if he does his very best he mostly worries through,
And while there is a wrong to right, and while the world goes round,
An honest man alive is worth a million under ground,
And yet, as long as sheoaks sigh and wattle-blossoms bloom,
The world shall hear the drivel of the poets of the tomb.

And though the graveyard poets long to vanish from the scene,
I notice that they mostly wish their resting-place kept green.
Now, were I rotting underground, I do not think I'd care
If wombats rooted on the ground or if the cows camped there;
And should I have some feelings left when I have gone before,
I think a ton of solid stone would hurt my feelings more.

Such wormy songs of mouldy joys can give me no delight;
I'll take my chances with the world, I'd rather live and fight.
Tho' "fortune" laughs along my track, or wears her blackest frown,
I'll try to do the world some good before I tumble down.
Let's fight for things that ought to be and try to make 'em boom;
We cannot help mankind when we are ashes in the tomb.

Henry Lawson, Bulletin, October 8, 1892

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An Answer to Various Bards

Well, I've waited mighty patient while they all came rolling in,
Mister Lawson, Mister Dyson, and the others of their kin,
With their dreadful, dismal stories of the Overlander's camp,
How his fire is always smoky, and his boots are always damp;
And they paint it so terrific it would fill one's soul with gloom -
But you know they're fond of writing about "corpses" and "the tomb".
So, before they curse the bushland, they should let their fancy range,
And take something for their livers, and be cheerful for a change.

Now, for instance, Mr Lawson - well of course, we almost cried
At the sorrowful description how his "little 'Arvie" died,
And we lachrymosed in silence when "His Father's Mate" was slain;
Then he went and killed the father, and we had to weep again.
Ben Duggan and Jack Denver, too, he caused them to expire,
After which he cooked the gander of Jack Dunn, of Nevertire;
And, no doubt, the bush is wretched if you judge it by the groan
Of the sad and soulful poet with a graveyard of his own.

And he spoke in terms prophetic of a revolution's heat,
When the world should hear the clamour of those people in the street;
But the shearer chaps who start it - why, he rounds on them the blame,
And he calls 'em "agitators who are living on the game".
But I "over-write" the bushmen! Well, I own without a doubt
That I always see a hero in the "man from furthest out".
I could never contemplate him through an atmosphere of gloom,
And a bushman never struck me as a subject for "the tomb".

If it ain't all "golden sunshine" where the "wattle branches wave",
Well, it ain't all damp and dismal, and it ain't all "lonely grave".
And, of course, there's no denying that the bushman's life is rough,
But a man can easy stand it if he's built of sterling stuff;
Though it's seldom that the drover gets a bed of eiderdown,
Yet the man who's born a bushman, he gets mighty sick of town,
For he's jotting down the figures, and he's adding up the bills
While his heart is simply aching for a sight of Southern hills.

Then he hears a wool-team passing with a rumble and a lurch,
And, although the work is pressing, yet it brings him off his perch,
For it stirs him like a message from his station friends afar
And he seems to sniff the ranges in the scent of wool and tar;
And it takes him back in fancy, half in laughter, half in tears,
To a sound of other voices and a thought of other years.
When the woolshed rang with a bustle from the dawning of the day,
And the shear-blades were a-clicking to the cry of "Wool away!"

Then his face was somewhat browner, and his frame was firmer set -
And he feels his flabby muscles with a feeling of regret.
But the wool-team slowly passes, and his eyes go sadly back
To the dusty little table and the papers in the rack,
And his thoughts go to the terrace where his sickly children squall,
And he thinks there's something healthy in the bush-life after all.
But we'll go no more a-droving in the wind or in the sun,
For our fathers' hearts have failed us, and the droving days are done.

There's a nasty dash of danger where the long-horned bullock wheels,
And we like to live in comfort and to get our reg'lar meals.
For to hang around the townships suits us better, you'll agree,
And a job at washing bottles is the job for such as we.
Let us herd into the cities, let us crush and crowd and push
Till we lose the love of roving, and we learn to hate the bush;
And we'll turn our aspirations to a city life and beer,
And we'll slip across to England - it's a nicer place than here;

For there's not much risk of hardship where all comforts are in store,
And the theatres are in plenty, and the pubs are more and more.
But that ends it, Mr Lawson, and it's time to say good-bye,
So we must agree to differ in all friendship, you and I.
Yes, we'll work our own salvation with the stoutest hearts we may,
And if fortune only favours we will take the road some day,
And go droving down the river 'neath the sunshine and the stars,
And then return to Sydney and vermilionize the bars.

Banjo Paterson, Bulletin, October 1, 1892

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A Voice From the Town

A sequel to Mowbray Morris's "A Voice from the Bush".

I thought, in the days of my droving,
Of steps I might hope to retrace,
To be done with the bush and the roving
And settle once more in my place.
With a heart that was wellnigh to breaking,
In the long, lonely rides on the plain,
I thought of the pleasure of taking
The hand of a lady again.

I am back into civilization,
Once more in the stir and the strife,
But the old joys have lost their sensation
The light has gone out of my life;
The men of my time they have married,
Made fortunes or gone to the wall;
Too long from the scene I have tarried,
And, somehow, I'm out of it all.

For I go to the balls and the races
A lonely, companionless elf,
And the ladies bestow all their graces
On others less grey than myself;
While the talk goes around I'm a dumb one
Midst youngsters that chatter and prate,
And they call me "The Man who was Some One
Way back in the year Sixty-eight".

And I look, sour and old, at the dancers
That swing to the strains of the band,
And the ladies all give me the Lancers,
No waltzes - I quite understand.
For matrons, intent upon matching
Their daughters with infinite push,
Would scarce think him worth the catching,
The broken-down man from the bush.

New partners have come and new faces,
And I, of the bygone brigade,
Sharply feel that oblivion my place is -
I must lie with the rest in the shade.
And the youngsters, fresh-featured and pleasant,
They live as we lived - fairly fast;
But I doubt if the men of the present
Are as good as the men of the past.

Of excitement and praise they are chary,
There is nothing much good upon earth;
Their watchword is nil admirari,
They are bored from the days of their birth.
Where the life that we led was a revel
They "wince and relent and refrain" -
I could show them the road - to the Devil,
Were I only a youngster again.

I could show them the road where the stumps are,
The pleasures that end in remorse,
And the game where the Devil's three trumps are
The woman, the card, and the horse.
Shall the blind lead the blind - shall the sower
Of wind reap the storm as of yore?
Though they get to their goal somewhat slower,
They march where we hurried before.

For the world never learns - just as we did
They gallantly go to their fate,
Unheeded all warnings, unheeded
The maxims of elders sedate.
As the husbandman, patiently toiling,
Draws a harvest each year from the soil,
So the fools grow afresh for the spoiling,
And a new crop of thieves for the spoil.

But a truce to this dull moralizing,
Let them drink while the drops are of gold.
I have tasted the dregs - were surprising
Were the new wine to me like the old;
And I weary for lack of employment
In idleness day after day,
For the key to the door of enjoyment
Is Youth - and I've thrown it away.

Banjo Paterson, The Bulletin, October 20, 1894

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