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In the Days When the World Was Wide and Other Verses by Henry Lawson [Australian house-painter/author/poet 1867-1922]

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In the Days When the World was Wide and Other Verses (2 ed.)
by Henry Lawson [Australian house-painter, author and poet -- 1867-1922.]

[Note on text: Italicized stanzas will be indented 5 spaces.
Italicized stanzas that are ALREADY indented will be indented 10 spaces.
Italicized words and phrases have been capitalized.
Lines longer than 75 characters have been broken according to metre,
and the continuation is indented two spaces. Also,
some obvious errors, after being confirmed against other sources,
have been corrected. This etext was prepared from a 1913 printing.]

[Note on content: Banjo Paterson and Henry Lawson were writing for
the Sydney `Bulletin' in 1892 when Lawson suggested a `duel' of poetry
to increase the number of poems they could sell to the paper.
It was apparently entered into in all fun, though there are reports
that Lawson was bitter about it later. `Up the Country'
and `The City Bushman', included in this selection,
were two of Lawson's contributions to the debate. Please note
that this is the revised edition of 1900. Therefore, even though this book
was originally published in 1896, it includes two poems not published
until 1899 (`The Sliprails and the Spur' and `Past Carin'').]

First Edition printed February 1896,
Reprinted August 1896, October 1896, March 1898, and November 1898;

Revised Edition, January 1900;
Reprinted May 1903, February 1910, June 1912, and July 1913.


Most of the verses contained in this volume were first published
in the Sydney `Bulletin'; others in the Brisbane `Boomerang',
Sydney `Freeman's Journal', `Town and Country Journal', `Worker',
and `New Zealand Mail', whose editors and proprietors I desire to thank
for past kindnesses and for present courtesy in granting me
the right of reproduction in book form.

`In the Days When the World was Wide' was written in Maoriland
and some of the other verses in Victoria, Queensland and Western Australia.

The dates of original publication are given in the Table of Contents.
Those undated are now printed for the first time.


To J. F. Archibald

To an Old Mate

Old Mate! In the gusty old weather,
When our hopes and our troubles were new,
In the years spent in wearing out leather,
I found you unselfish and true --
I have gathered these verses together
For the sake of our friendship and you.

You may think for awhile, and with reason,
Though still with a kindly regret,
That I've left it full late in the season
To prove I remember you yet;
But you'll never judge me by their treason
Who profit by friends -- and forget.

I remember, Old Man, I remember --
The tracks that we followed are clear --
The jovial last nights of December,
The solemn first days of the year,
Long tramps through the clearings and timber,
Short partings on platform and pier.

I can still feel the spirit that bore us,
And often the old stars will shine --
I remember the last spree in chorus
For the sake of that other Lang Syne,
When the tracks lay divided before us,
Your path through the future and mine.

Through the frost-wind that cut like whip-lashes,
Through the ever-blind haze of the drought --
And in fancy at times by the flashes
Of light in the darkness of doubt --
I have followed the tent poles and ashes
Of camps that we moved further out.

You will find in these pages a trace of
That side of our past which was bright,
And recognise sometimes the face of
A friend who has dropped out of sight --
I send them along in the place of
The letters I promised to write.


To an Old Mate
Old Mate! In the gusty old weather,

In the Days When the World was Wide
The world is narrow and ways are short, and our lives are dull and slow,
[Dec. -- 1894]

Faces in the Street
They lie, the men who tell us in a loud decisive tone
[July -- 1888]

The Roaring Days
The night too quickly passes
[Dec. -- 1889]

It is stuffy in the steerage where the second-classers sleep,
[Dec. -- 1893]

The Drover's Sweetheart
An hour before the sun goes down
[June -- 1891]

Out Back
The old year went, and the new returned,
in the withering weeks of drought,
[Sept. -- 1893]

The Free-Selector's Daughter
I met her on the Lachlan Side --
[May -- 1891]

`Sez You'
When the heavy sand is yielding backward from your blistered feet,
[Mar. -- 1894]

Andy's Gone With Cattle
Our Andy's gone to battle now
[Oct. -- 1888]

Jack Dunn of Nevertire
It chanced upon the very day we'd got the shearing done,
[Aug. -- 1892]

Trooper Campbell
One day old Trooper Campbell
[Apr. -- 1891]

The Sliprails and the Spur
The colours of the setting sun
[July -- 1899]

Past Carin'
Now up and down the siding brown
[Aug. -- 1899]

The Glass on the Bar
Three bushmen one morning rode up to an inn,
[Apr. -- 1890]

The Shanty on the Rise
When the caravans of wool-teams climbed the ranges from the West,
[Dec. -- 1891]

The Vagabond
White handkerchiefs wave from the short black pier
[Aug. -- 1895]

It was somewhere in September, and the sun was going down,
[Dec. -- 1893]

Middleton's Rouseabout
Tall and freckled and sandy,
[Mar. -- 1890]

The Ballad of the Drover
Across the stony ridges,
[Mar. -- 1889]

Taking His Chance
They stood by the door of the Inn on the Rise;
[June -- 1892]

When the `Army' Prays for Watty
When the kindly hours of darkness, save for light of moon and star,
[May -- 1893]

The Wreck of the `Derry Castle'
Day of ending for beginnings!
[Dec. -- 1887]

Ben Duggan
Jack Denver died on Talbragar when Christmas Eve began,
[Dec. -- 1891]

The Star of Australasia
We boast no more of our bloodless flag, that rose from a nation's slime;

The Great Grey Plain
Out West, where the stars are brightest,
[Sept. -- 1893]

The Song of Old Joe Swallow
When I was up the country in the rough and early days,
[May -- 1890]

Corny Bill
His old clay pipe stuck in his mouth,
[May -- 1892]

Cherry-Tree Inn
The rafters are open to sun, moon, and star,

Up the Country
I am back from up the country -- very sorry that I went --
[July -- 1892]

Knocked Up
I'm lyin' on the barren ground that's baked and cracked with drought,
[Aug. -- 1893]

The Blue Mountains
Above the ashes straight and tall,
[Dec. -- 1888]

The City Bushman
It was pleasant up the country, City Bushman, where you went,
[Aug. -- 1892]

There are scenes in the distance where beauty is not,
[Aug. -- 1891]

Mount Bukaroo
Only one old post is standing --
[Dec. -- 1889]

The Fire at Ross's Farm
The squatter saw his pastures wide
[Apr. -- 1891]

The Teams
A cloud of dust on the long white road,
[Dec. -- 1889]

Cameron's Heart
The diggings were just in their glory when Alister Cameron came,
[July -- 1891]

The Shame of Going Back
When you've come to make a fortune and you haven't made your salt,
[Oct. -- 1891]

Since Then
I met Jack Ellis in town to-day --
[Nov. -- 1895]

Peter Anderson and Co.
He had offices in Sydney, not so many years ago,
[Aug. -- 1895]

When the Children Come Home
On a lonely selection far out in the West
[Dec. -- 1890]

Dan, the Wreck
Tall, and stout, and solid-looking,

A Prouder Man Than You
If you fancy that your people came of better stock than mine,
[June -- 1892]

The Song and the Sigh
The creek went down with a broken song,
[Mar. -- 1889]

The Cambaroora Star
So you're writing for a paper? Well, it's nothing very new
[Dec. -- 1891]

After All
The brooding ghosts of Australian night
have gone from the bush and town;

Marshall's Mate
You almost heard the surface bake, and saw the gum-leaves turn --
[July -- 1895]

The Poets of the Tomb
The world has had enough of bards who wish that they were dead,
[Oct. -- 1892]

Australian Bards and Bush Reviewers
While you use your best endeavour to immortalise in verse
[Feb. -- 1894]

The Ghost
Down the street as I was drifting with the city's human tide,
[Aug. -- 1889]

In the Days When the World was Wide and Other Verses

In the Days When the World was Wide

The world is narrow and ways are short, and our lives are dull and slow,
For little is new where the crowds resort, and less where the wanderers go;
Greater, or smaller, the same old things we see by the dull road-side --
And tired of all is the spirit that sings
of the days when the world was wide.

When the North was hale in the march of Time,
and the South and the West were new,
And the gorgeous East was a pantomime, as it seemed in our boyhood's view;
When Spain was first on the waves of change,
and proud in the ranks of pride,
And all was wonderful, new and strange in the days when the world was wide.

Then a man could fight if his heart were bold,
and win if his faith were true --
Were it love, or honour, or power, or gold, or all that our hearts pursue;
Could live to the world for the family name, or die for the family pride,
Could fly from sorrow, and wrong, and shame
in the days when the world was wide.

They sailed away in the ships that sailed ere science controlled the main,
When the strong, brave heart of a man prevailed
as 'twill never prevail again;
They knew not whither, nor much they cared --
let Fate or the winds decide --
The worst of the Great Unknown they dared
in the days when the world was wide.

They raised new stars on the silent sea that filled their hearts with awe;
They came to many a strange countree and marvellous sights they saw.
The villagers gaped at the tales they told,
and old eyes glistened with pride --
When barbarous cities were paved with gold
in the days when the world was wide.

'Twas honest metal and honest wood, in the days of the Outward Bound,
When men were gallant and ships were good -- roaming the wide world round.
The gods could envy a leader then when `Follow me, lads!' he cried --
They faced each other and fought like men
in the days when the world was wide.

They tried to live as a freeman should -- they were happier men than we,
In the glorious days of wine and blood, when Liberty crossed the sea;
'Twas a comrade true or a foeman then, and a trusty sword well tried --
They faced each other and fought like men
in the days when the world was wide.

The good ship bound for the Southern seas when the beacon was Ballarat,
With a `Ship ahoy!' on the freshening breeze,
`Where bound?' and `What ship's that?' --
The emigrant train to New Mexico -- the rush to the Lachlan Side --
Ah! faint is the echo of Westward Ho!
from the days when the world was wide.

South, East, and West in advance of Time -- and, ay! in advance of Thought
Those brave men rose to a height sublime -- and is it for this they fought?
And is it for this damned life we praise the god-like spirit that died
At Eureka Stockade in the Roaring Days
with the days when the world was wide?

We fight like women, and feel as much; the thoughts of our hearts we guard;
Where scarcely the scorn of a god could touch,
the sneer of a sneak hits hard;
The treacherous tongue and cowardly pen, the weapons of curs, decide --
They faced each other and fought like men
in the days when the world was wide.

Think of it all -- of the life that is! Study your friends and foes!
Study the past! And answer this: `Are these times better than those?'
The life-long quarrel, the paltry spite, the sting of your poisoned pride!
No matter who fell it were better to fight
as they did when the world was wide.

Boast as you will of your mateship now -- crippled and mean and sly --
The lines of suspicion on friendship's brow
were traced since the days gone by.
There was room in the long, free lines of the van
to fight for it side by side --
There was beating-room for the heart of a man
in the days when the world was wide.

. . . . .

With its dull, brown days of a-shilling-an-hour
the dreary year drags round:
Is this the result of Old England's power?
-- the bourne of the Outward Bound?
Is this the sequel of Westward Ho! -- of the days of Whate'er Betide?
The heart of the rebel makes answer `No!
We'll fight till the world grows wide!'

The world shall yet be a wider world -- for the tokens are manifest;
East and North shall the wrongs be hurled that followed us South and West.
The march of Freedom is North by the Dawn! Follow, whate'er betide!
Sons of the Exiles, march! March on! March till the world grows wide!

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.

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;
When, puzzled long, the new-chum
Would recognise at last,
Behind a bronzed and bearded skin,
A comrade of the past.

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.
Oh, they were lion-hearted
Who gave our country birth!
Oh, they were of the stoutest sons
From all the lands on earth!

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.'s', in royal state,
Went dashing past the camps.

Oh, who would paint a goldfield,
And limn the picture right,
As we have often seen 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.

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 our hearts were bolder,
And if Dame Fortune frowned
Our swags we'd lightly shoulder
And tramp to other ground.
But 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.


It is stuffy in the steerage where the second-classers sleep,
For there's near a hundred for'ard, and they're stowed away like sheep, --
They are trav'lers for the most part in a straight 'n' honest path;
But their linen's rather scanty, an' there isn't any bath --
Stowed away like ewes and wethers that is shore 'n' marked 'n' draft.
But the shearers of the shearers always seem to travel aft;
In the cushioned cabins, aft,
With saloons 'n' smoke-rooms, aft --
There is sheets 'n' best of tucker for the first-salooners, aft.

Our beef is just like scrapin's from the inside of a hide,
And the spuds were pulled too early, for they're mostly green inside;
But from somewhere back amidships there's a smell o' cookin' waft,
An' I'd give my earthly prospects for a real good tuck-out aft --
Ham an' eggs 'n' coffee, aft,
Say, cold fowl for luncheon, aft,
Juicy grills an' toast 'n' cutlets -- tucker a-lor-frongsy, aft.

They feed our women sep'rate, an' they make a blessed fuss,
Just as if they couldn't trust 'em for to eat along with us!
Just because our hands are horny an' our hearts are rough with graft --
But the gentlemen and ladies always DINE together, aft --
With their ferns an' mirrors, aft,
With their flow'rs an' napkins, aft --
`I'll assist you to an orange' -- `Kindly pass the sugar', aft.

We are shabby, rough, 'n' dirty, an' our feelin's out of tune,
An' it's hard on fellers for'ard that was used to go saloon;
There's a broken swell among us -- he is barracked, he is chaffed,
An' I wish at times, poor devil, for his own sake he was aft;
For they'd understand him, aft,
(He will miss the bath-rooms aft),
Spite of all there's no denyin' that there's finer feelin's aft.

Last night we watched the moonlight as it spread across the sea --
`It is hard to make a livin',' said the broken swell to me.
`There is ups an' downs,' I answered, an' a bitter laugh he laughed --
There were brighter days an' better when he always travelled aft --
With his rug an' gladstone, aft,
With his cap an' spyglass, aft --
A careless, rovin', gay young spark as always travelled aft.

There's a notice by the gangway, an' it seems to come amiss,
For it says that second-classers `ain't allowed abaft o' this';
An' there ought to be a notice for the fellows from abaft --
But the smell an' dirt's a warnin' to the first-salooners, aft;
With their tooth and nail-brush, aft,
With their cuffs 'n' collars, aft --
Their cigars an' books an' papers, an' their cap-peaks fore-'n'-aft.

I want to breathe the mornin' breeze that blows against the boat,
For there's a swellin' in my heart -- a tightness in my throat --
We are for'ard when there's trouble! We are for'ard when there's graft!
But the men who never battle always seem to travel aft;
With their dressin'-cases, aft,
With their swell pyjamas, aft --
Yes! the idle and the careless, they have ease an' comfort, aft.

I feel so low an' wretched, as I mooch about the deck,
That I'm ripe for jumpin' over -- an' I wish there was a wreck!
We are driven to New Zealand to be shot out over there --
Scarce a shillin' in our pockets, nor a decent rag to wear,
With the everlastin' worry lest we don't get into graft --
There is little left to land for if you cannot travel aft;
No anxiety abaft,
They have stuff to land with, aft --
Oh, there's little left to land for if you cannot travel aft;

But it's grand at sea this mornin', an' Creation almost speaks,
Sailin' past the Bay of Islands with its pinnacles an' peaks,
With the sunny haze all round us an' the white-caps on the blue,
An' the orphan rocks an' breakers -- Oh, it's glorious sailin' through!
To the south a distant steamer, to the west a coastin' craft,
An' we see the beauty for'ard, better than if we were aft;
Spite of op'ra-glasses, aft;
But, ah well, they're brothers aft --
Nature seems to draw us closer -- bring us nearer fore-'n'-aft.

What's the use of bein' bitter? What's the use of gettin' mad?
What's the use of bein' narrer just because yer luck is bad?
What's the blessed use of frettin' like a child that wants the moon?
There is broken hearts an' trouble in the gilded first saloon!
We are used to bein' shabby -- we have got no overdraft --
We can laugh at troubles for'ard that they couldn't laugh at aft;
Spite o' pride an' tone abaft
(Keepin' up appearance, aft)
There's anxiety an' worry in the breezy cabins aft.

But the curse o' class distinctions from our shoulders shall be hurled,
An' the influence of woman revolutionize the world;
There'll be higher education for the toilin' starvin' clown,
An' the rich an' educated shall be educated down;
An' we all will meet amidships on this stout old earthly craft,
An' there won't be any friction 'twixt the classes fore-'n'-aft.
We'll be brothers, fore-'n'-aft!
Yes, an' sisters, fore-'n'-aft!
When the people work together, and there ain't no fore-'n'-aft.

The Drover's Sweetheart

An hour before the sun goes down
Behind the ragged boughs,
I go across the little run
And bring the dusty cows;
And once I used to sit and rest
Beneath the fading dome,
For there was one that I loved best
Who'd bring the cattle home.

Our yard is fixed with double bails,
Round one the grass is green,
The bush is growing through the rails,
The spike is rusted in;
And 'twas from there his freckled face
Would turn and smile at me --
He'd milk a dozen in the race
While I was milking three.

I milk eleven cows myself
Where once I milked but four;
I set the dishes on the shelf
And close the dairy door;
And when the glaring sunlight fails
And the fire shines through the cracks,
I climb the broken stockyard rails
And watch the bridle-tracks.

He kissed me twice and once again
And rode across the hill,
The pint-pots and the hobble-chain
I hear them jingling still;
He'll come at night or not at all --
He left in dust and heat,
And when the soft, cool shadows fall
Is the best time to meet.

And he is coming back again,
He wrote to let me know,
The floods were in the Darling then --
It seems so long ago;
He'd come through miles of slush and mud,
And it was weary work,
The creeks were bankers, and the flood
Was forty miles round Bourke.

He said the floods had formed a block,
The plains could not be crossed,
And there was foot-rot in the flock
And hundreds had been lost;
The sheep were falling thick and fast
A hundred miles from town,
And when he reached the line at last
He trucked the remnant down.

And so he'll have to stand the cost;
His luck was always bad,
Instead of making more, he lost
The money that he had;
And how he'll manage, heaven knows
(My eyes are getting dim),
He says -- he says -- he don't -- suppose
I'll want -- to -- marry -- him.

As if I wouldn't take his hand
Without a golden glove --
Oh! Jack, you men won't understand
How much a girl can love.
I long to see his face once more --
Jack's dog! thank God, it's Jack! --
(I never thought I'd faint before)
He's coming -- up -- the track.

Out Back

The old year went, and the new returned, in the withering weeks of drought,
The cheque was spent that the shearer earned,
and the sheds were all cut out;
The publican's words were short and few,
and the publican's looks were black --
And the time had come, as the shearer knew, to carry his swag Out Back.

For time means tucker, and tramp you must,
where the scrubs and plains are wide,
With seldom a track that a man can trust, or a mountain peak to guide;
All day long in the dust and heat -- when summer is on the track --
With stinted stomachs and blistered feet,
they carry their swags Out Back.

He tramped away from the shanty there, when the days were long and hot,
With never a soul to know or care if he died on the track or not.
The poor of the city have friends in woe, no matter how much they lack,
But only God and the swagmen know how a poor man fares Out Back.

He begged his way on the parched Paroo and the Warrego tracks once more,
And lived like a dog, as the swagmen do, till the Western stations shore;
But men were many, and sheds were full, for work in the town was slack --
The traveller never got hands in wool,
though he tramped for a year Out Back.

In stifling noons when his back was wrung
by its load, and the air seemed dead,
And the water warmed in the bag that hung to his aching arm like lead,
Or in times of flood, when plains were seas,
and the scrubs were cold and black,
He ploughed in mud to his trembling knees, and paid for his sins Out Back.

He blamed himself in the year `Too Late' --
in the heaviest hours of life --
'Twas little he dreamed that a shearing-mate had care of his home and wife;
There are times when wrongs from your kindred come,
and treacherous tongues attack --
When a man is better away from home, and dead to the world, Out Back.

And dirty and careless and old he wore, as his lamp of hope grew dim;
He tramped for years till the swag he bore seemed part of himself to him.
As a bullock drags in the sandy ruts, he followed the dreary track,
With never a thought but to reach the huts when the sun went down Out Back.

It chanced one day, when the north wind blew
in his face like a furnace-breath,
He left the track for a tank he knew -- 'twas a short-cut to his death;
For the bed of the tank was hard and dry, and crossed with many a crack,
And, oh! it's a terrible thing to die of thirst in the scrub Out Back.

A drover came, but the fringe of law was eastward many a mile;
He never reported the thing he saw, for it was not worth his while.
The tanks are full and the grass is high in the mulga off the track,
Where the bleaching bones of a white man lie
by his mouldering swag Out Back.

For time means tucker, and tramp they must,
where the plains and scrubs are wide,
With seldom a track that a man can trust, or a mountain peak to guide;
All day long in the flies and heat the men of the outside track
With stinted stomachs and blistered feet
must carry their swags Out Back.

The Free-Selector's Daughter

I met her on the Lachlan Side --
A darling girl I thought her,
And ere I left I swore I'd win
The free-selector's daughter.

I milked her father's cows a month,
I brought the wood and water,
I mended all the broken fence,
Before I won the daughter.

I listened to her father's yarns,
I did just what I `oughter',
And what you'll have to do to win
A free-selector's daughter.

I broke my pipe and burnt my twist,
And washed my mouth with water;
I had a shave before I kissed
The free-selector's daughter.

Then, rising in the frosty morn,
I brought the cows for Mary,
And when I'd milked a bucketful
I took it to the dairy.

I poured the milk into the dish
While Mary held the strainer,
I summoned heart to speak my wish,
And, oh! her blush grew plainer.

I told her I must leave the place,
I said that I would miss her;
At first she turned away her face,
And then she let me kiss her.

I put the bucket on the ground,
And in my arms I caught her:
I'd give the world to hold again
That free-selector's daughter!

`Sez You'

When the heavy sand is yielding backward from your blistered feet,
And across the distant timber you can SEE the flowing heat;
When your head is hot and aching, and the shadeless plain is wide,
And it's fifteen miles to water in the scrub the other side --
Don't give up, don't be down-hearted, to a man's strong heart be true!
Take the air in through your nostrils, set your lips and see it through --
For it can't go on for ever, and -- `I'll have my day!' says you.

When you're camping in the mulga, and the rain is falling slow,
While you nurse your rheumatism 'neath a patch of calico;
Short of tucker or tobacco, short of sugar or of tea,
And the scrubs are dark and dismal, and the plains are like a sea;
Don't give up and be down-hearted -- to the soul of man be true!
Grin! if you've a mate to grin for, grin and jest and don't look blue;
For it can't go on for ever, and -- `I'll rise some day,' says you.

When you've tramped the Sydney pavements till you've counted all the flags,
And your flapping boot-soles trip you, and your clothes are mostly rags,
When you're called a city loafer, shunned, abused, moved on, despised --
Fifty hungry beggars after every job that's advertised --
Don't be beaten! Hold your head up! To your wretched self be true;
Set your pride to fight your hunger! Be a MAN in all you do!
For it cannot last for ever -- `I will rise again!' says you.

When you're dossing out in winter, in the darkness and the rain,
Crouching, cramped, and cold and hungry 'neath a seat in The Domain,
And a cloaked policeman stirs you with that mighty foot of his --
`Phwat d'ye mane? Phwat's this?
Who are ye? Come, move on -- git out av this!'
Don't get mad; 'twere only foolish; there is nought that you can do,
Save to mark his beat and time him -- find another hole or two;
But it can't go on for ever -- `I'll have money yet!' says you.

. . . . .

Bother not about the morrow, for sufficient to the day
Is the evil (rather more so). Put your trust in God and pray!
Study well the ant, thou sluggard. Blessed are the meek and low.
Ponder calmly on the lilies -- how they idle, how they grow.
A man's a man! Obey your masters! Do not blame the proud and fat,
For the poor are always with them, and they cannot alter that.
Lay your treasures up in Heaven -- cling to life and see it through!
For it cannot last for ever -- `I shall die some day,' says you.

Andy's Gone With Cattle

Our Andy's gone to battle now
'Gainst Drought, the red marauder;
Our Andy's gone with cattle now
Across the Queensland border.

He's left us in dejection now;
Our hearts with him are roving.
It's dull on this selection now,
Since Andy went a-droving.

Who now shall wear the cheerful face
In times when things are slackest?
And who shall whistle round the place
When Fortune frowns her blackest?

Oh, who shall cheek the squatter now
When he comes round us snarling?
His tongue is growing hotter now
Since Andy cross'd the Darling.

The gates are out of order now,
In storms the `riders' rattle;
For far across the border now
Our Andy's gone with cattle.

Poor Aunty's looking thin and white;
And Uncle's cross with worry;
And poor old Blucher howls all night
Since Andy left Macquarie.

Oh, may the showers in torrents fall,
And all the tanks run over;
And may the grass grow green and tall
In pathways of the drover;

And may good angels send the rain
On desert stretches sandy;
And when the summer comes again
God grant 'twill bring us Andy.

Jack Dunn of Nevertire

It chanced upon the very day we'd got the shearing done,
A buggy brought a stranger to the West-o'-Sunday Run;
He had a round and jolly face, and he was sleek and stout,
He drove right up between the huts and called the super out.
We chaps were smoking after tea, and heard the swell enquire
For one as travelled by the name of `Dunn of Nevertire'.
Jack Dunn of Nevertire,
Poor Dunn of Nevertire;
There wasn't one of us but knew Jack Dunn of Nevertire.

`Jack Dunn of Nevertire,' he said; `I was a mate of his;
And now it's twenty years since I set eyes upon his phiz.
There is no whiter man than Jack -- no straighter south the line,
There is no hand in all the land I'd sooner grip in mine;
To help a mate in trouble Jack would go through flood and fire.
Great Scott! and don't you know the name of Dunn of Nevertire?
Big Dunn of Nevertire,
Long Jack from Nevertire;
He stuck to me through thick and thin, Jack Dunn of Nevertire.

`I did a wild and foolish thing while Jack and I were mates,
And I disgraced my guv'nor's name, an' wished to try the States.
My lamps were turned to Yankee Land, for I'd some people there,
And I was right when someone sent the money for my fare;
I thought 'twas Dad until I took the trouble to enquire,
And found that he who sent the stuff was Dunn of Nevertire,
Jack Dunn of Nevertire,
Soft Dunn of Nevertire;
He'd won some money on a race -- Jack Dunn of Nevertire.

`Now I've returned, by Liverpool, a swell of Yankee brand,
To reckon, guess, and kalkilate, 'n' wake my native land;
There is no better land, I swear, in all the wide world round --
I smelt the bush a month before we touched King George's Sound!
And now I've come to settle down, the top of my desire
Is just to meet a mate o' mine called `Dunn of Nevertire'.
Was raised at Nevertire --
The town of Nevertire;
He humped his bluey by the name of `Dunn of Nevertire'.

`I've heard he's poor, and if he is, a proud old fool is he;
But, spite of that, I'll find a way to fix the old gum-tree.
I've bought a station in the North -- the best that could be had;
I want a man to pick the stock -- I want a super bad;
I want no bully-brute to boss -- no crawling, sneaking liar --
My station super's name shall be `Jack Dunn of Nevertire'!
Straight Dunn of Nevertire,
Old Dunn of Nevertire;
I guess he's known up Queensland way -- Jack Dunn of Nevertire.'

The super said, while to his face a strange expression came:
`I THINK I've seen the man you want, I THINK I know the name;
Had he a jolly kind of face, a free and careless way,
Gray eyes that always seem'd to smile, and hair just turning gray --
Clean-shaved, except a light moustache, long-limbed, an' tough as wire?'
`THAT'S HIM! THAT'S DUNN!' the stranger roared, `Jack Dunn of Nevertire!
John Dunn of Nevertire,
Jack D. from Nevertire,
They said I'd find him here, the cuss! -- Jack Dunn of Nevertire.

`I'd know his walk,' the stranger cried, `though sobered, I'll allow.'
`I doubt it much,' the boss replied, `he don't walk that way now.'
`Perhaps he don't!' the stranger said, `for years were hard on Jack;
But, if he were a mile away, I swear I'd know his back.'
`I doubt it much,' the super said, and sadly puffed his briar,
`I guess he wears a pair of wings -- Jack Dunn of Nevertire;
Jack Dunn of Nevertire,
Brave Dunn of Nevertire,
He caught a fever nursing me, Jack Dunn of Nevertire.'

We took the stranger round to where a gum-tree stood alone,
And in the grass beside the trunk he saw a granite stone;
The names of Dunn and Nevertire were plainly written there --
`I'm all broke up,' the stranger said, in sorrow and despair,
`I guess he has a wider run, the man that I require;
He's got a river-frontage now, Jack Dunn of Nevertire;
Straight Dunn of Nevertire,
White Jack from Nevertire,
I guess Saint Peter knew the name of `Dunn of Nevertire'.'

Trooper Campbell

One day old Trooper Campbell
Rode out to Blackman's Run,
His cap-peak and his sabre
Were glancing in the sun.
'Twas New Year's Eve, and slowly
Across the ridges low
The sad Old Year was drifting
To where the old years go.

The trooper's mind was reading
The love-page of his life --
His love for Mary Wylie
Ere she was Blackman's wife;
He sorrowed for the sorrows
Of the heart a rival won,
For he knew that there was trouble
Out there on Blackman's Run.

The sapling shades had lengthened,
The summer day was late,
When Blackman met the trooper
Beyond the homestead gate.
And if the hand of trouble
Can leave a lasting trace,
The lines of care had come to stay
On poor old Blackman's face.

`Not good day, Trooper Campbell,
It's a bad, bad day for me --
You are of all the men on earth
The one I wished to see.
The great black clouds of trouble
Above our homestead hang;
That wild and reckless boy of mine
Has joined M'Durmer's gang.

`Oh! save him, save him, Campbell!
I beg in friendship's name!
For if they take and hang him,
The wife would die of shame.
Could Mary or her sisters
Hold up their heads again,
And face a woman's malice
Or claim the love of men?

`And if he does a murder
'Twere better we were dead.
Don't take him, Trooper Campbell,
If a price be on his head;
But shoot him! shoot him, Campbell,
When you meet him face to face,
And save him from the gallows,
And us from that disgrace.'

`Now, Tom,' cried Trooper Campbell,
`You know your words are wild.
Though he is wild and reckless,
Yet still he is your child;
So bear up in your trouble,
And meet it like a man,
And tell the wife and daughters
I'll save him if I can.'

. . . . .

The sad Australian sunset
Had faded from the west;
But night brings darker shadows
To hearts that cannot rest;
And Blackman's wife sat rocking
And moaning in her chair.
`I cannot bear disgrace,' she moaned;
`Disgrace I cannot bear.

`In hardship and in trouble
I struggled year by year
To make my children better
Than other children here.
And if my son's a felon
How can I show my face?
I cannot bear disgrace; my God,
I cannot bear disgrace!

`Ah, God in Heaven pardon!
I'm selfish in my woe --
My boy is better-hearted
Than many that I know.
And I will face the world's disgrace,
And, till his mother's dead,
My foolish child shall find a place
To lay his outlawed head.'

. . . . .

With a sad heart Trooper Campbell
Rode back from Blackman's Run,
Nor noticed aught about him
Till thirteen miles were done;
When, close beside a cutting,
He heard the click of locks,
And saw the rifle muzzles
Were on him from the rocks.

But suddenly a youth rode out,
And, close by Campbell's side:
`Don't fire! don't fire, in heaven's name!
It's Campbell, boys!' he cried.
Then one by one in silence
The levelled rifles fell,
For who'd shoot Trooper Campbell
Of those who knew him well?

Oh, bravely sat old Campbell,
No sign of fear showed he.
He slowly drew his carbine;
It rested by his knee.
The outlaws' guns were lifted,
But none the silence broke,
Till steadfastly and firmly
Old Trooper Campbell spoke.

`That boy that you would ruin
Goes home with me, my men;
Or some of us shall never
Ride through the Gap again.
You know old Trooper Campbell,
And have you ever heard
That bluff or lead could turn him,
That e'er he broke his word?

`That reckless lad is playing
A heartless villain's part;
He knows that he is breaking
His poor old mother's heart.
He'll bring a curse upon himself;
But 'tis not that alone,
He'll bring dishonour to a name
That I'D be proud to own.

`I speak to you, M'Durmer, --
If your heart's not hardened quite,
And if you'd seen the trouble
At Blackman's home this night,
You'd help me now, M'Durmer --
I speak as man to man --
I swore to save that foolish lad,
And I'll save him if I can.'

`Oh, take him!' said M'Durmer,
`He's got a horse to ride.'
The youngster thought a moment,
Then rode to Campbell's side --
`Good-bye!' the outlaws shouted,
As up the range they sped.
`A Merry New Year, Campbell,'
Was all M'Durmer said.

. . . . .

Then fast along the ridges
Two bushmen rode a race,
And the moonlight lent a glory
To Trooper Campbell's face.
And ere the new year's dawning
They reached the home at last;
And this is but a story
Of trouble that is past!

The Sliprails and the Spur

The colours of the setting sun
Withdrew across the Western land --
He raised the sliprails, one by one,
And shot them home with trembling hand;
Her brown hands clung -- her face grew pale --
Ah! quivering chin and eyes that brim! --
One quick, fierce kiss across the rail,
And, `Good-bye, Mary!' `Good-bye, Jim!'
Oh, he rides hard to race the pain
Who rides from love, who rides from home;
But he rides slowly home again,
Whose heart has learnt to love and roam.

A hand upon the horse's mane,
And one foot in the stirrup set,
And, stooping back to kiss again,
With `Good-bye, Mary! don't you fret!
When I come back' -- he laughed for her --
`We do not know how soon 'twill be;
I'll whistle as I round the spur --
You let the sliprails down for me.'

She gasped for sudden loss of hope,
As, with a backward wave to her,
He cantered down the grassy slope
And swiftly round the dark'ning spur.
Black-pencilled panels standing high,
And darkness fading into stars,
And blurring fast against the sky,
A faint white form beside the bars.

And often at the set of sun,
In winter bleak and summer brown,
She'd steal across the little run,
And shyly let the sliprails down.
And listen there when darkness shut
The nearer spur in silence deep;
And when they called her from the hut
Steal home and cry herself to sleep.

. . . . .

{Some editions have four more lines here.}
And he rides hard to dull the pain
Who rides from one that loves him best;
And he rides slowly back again,
Whose restless heart must rove for rest.

Past Carin'

Now up and down the siding brown
The great black crows are flyin',
And down below the spur, I know,
Another `milker's' dyin';
The crops have withered from the ground,
The tank's clay bed is glarin',
But from my heart no tear nor sound,
For I have gone past carin' --
Past worryin' or carin',
Past feelin' aught or carin';
But from my heart no tear nor sound,
For I have gone past carin'.

Through Death and Trouble, turn about,
Through hopeless desolation,
Through flood and fever, fire and drought,
And slavery and starvation;
Through childbirth, sickness, hurt, and blight,
And nervousness an' scarin',
Through bein' left alone at night,
I've got to be past carin'.
Past botherin' or carin',
Past feelin' and past carin';
Through city cheats and neighbours' spite,
I've come to be past carin'.

Our first child took, in days like these,
A cruel week in dyin',
All day upon her father's knees,
Or on my poor breast lyin';
The tears we shed -- the prayers we said
Were awful, wild -- despairin'!
I've pulled three through, and buried two
Since then -- and I'm past carin'.
I've grown to be past carin',
Past worryin' and wearin';
I've pulled three through and buried two
Since then, and I'm past carin'.

'Twas ten years first, then came the worst,
All for a dusty clearin',
I thought, I thought my heart would burst
When first my man went shearin';
He's drovin' in the great North-west,
I don't know how he's farin';
For I, the one that loved him best,
Have grown to be past carin'.
I've grown to be past carin'
Past lookin' for or carin';
The girl that waited long ago,
Has lived to be past carin'.

My eyes are dry, I cannot cry,
I've got no heart for breakin',
But where it was in days gone by,
A dull and empty achin'.
My last boy ran away from me,
I know my temper's wearin',
But now I only wish to be
Beyond all signs of carin'.
Past wearyin' or carin',
Past feelin' and despairin';
And now I only wish to be
Beyond all signs of carin'.

The Glass on the Bar

Three bushmen one morning rode up to an inn,
And one of them called for the drinks with a grin;
They'd only returned from a trip to the North,
And, eager to greet them, the landlord came forth.
He absently poured out a glass of Three Star.
And set down that drink with the rest on the bar.

`There, that is for Harry,' he said, `and it's queer,
'Tis the very same glass that he drank from last year;
His name's on the glass, you can read it like print,
He scratched it himself with an old piece of flint;
I remember his drink -- it was always Three Star' --
And the landlord looked out through the door of the bar.

He looked at the horses, and counted but three:
`You were always together -- where's Harry?' cried he.
Oh, sadly they looked at the glass as they said,
`You may put it away, for our old mate is dead;'
But one, gazing out o'er the ridges afar,
Said, `We owe him a shout -- leave the glass on the bar.'

They thought of the far-away grave on the plain,
They thought of the comrade who came not again,
They lifted their glasses, and sadly they said:
`We drink to the name of the mate who is dead.'
And the sunlight streamed in, and a light like a star
Seemed to glow in the depth of the glass on the bar.

And still in that shanty a tumbler is seen,
It stands by the clock, ever polished and clean;
And often the strangers will read as they pass
The name of a bushman engraved on the glass;
And though on the shelf but a dozen there are,
That glass never stands with the rest on the bar.

The Shanty on the Rise

When the caravans of wool-teams climbed the ranges from the West,
On a spur among the mountains stood `The Bullock-drivers' Rest';
It was built of bark and saplings, and was rather rough inside,
But 'twas good enough for bushmen in the careless days that died --
Just a quiet little shanty kept by `Something-in-Disguise',
As the bushmen called the landlord of the Shanty on the Rise.

City swells who `do the Royal' would have called the Shanty low,
But 'twas better far and purer than some toney pubs I know;
For the patrons of the Shanty had the principles of men,
And the spieler, if he struck it, wasn't welcome there again.
You could smoke and drink in quiet, yarn, or else soliloquise,
With a decent lot of fellows in the Shanty on the Rise.

'Twas the bullock-driver's haven when his team was on the road,
And the waggon-wheels were groaning as they ploughed beneath the load;
And I mind how weary teamsters struggled on while it was light,
Just to camp within a cooey of the Shanty for the night;
And I think the very bullocks raised their heads and fixed their eyes
On the candle in the window of the Shanty on the Rise.

And the bullock-bells were clanking from the marshes on the flats
As we hurried to the Shanty, where we hung our dripping hats;
And we took a drop of something that was brought at our desire,
As we stood with steaming moleskins in the kitchen by the fire.
Oh! it roared upon a fireplace of the good, old-fashioned size,
When the rain came down the chimney of the Shanty on the Rise.

They got up a Christmas party in the Shanty long ago,
While I camped with Jimmy Nowlett on the riverbank below;
Poor old Jim was in his glory -- they'd elected him M.C.,
For there wasn't such another raving lunatic as he.
`Mr. Nowlett, Mr. Swaller!' shouted Something-in-Disguise,
As we walked into the parlour of the Shanty on the Rise.

There is little real pleasure in the city where I am --
There's a swarry round the corner with its mockery and sham;
But a fellow can be happy when around the room he whirls
In a party up the country with the jolly country girls.
Why, at times I almost fancied I was dancing on the skies,
When I danced with Mary Carey in the Shanty on the Rise.

Jimmy came to me and whispered, and I muttered, `Go along!'
But he shouted, `Mr. Swaller will oblige us with a song!'
And at first I said I wouldn't, and I shammed a little too,
Till the girls began to whisper, `Mr. Swallow, now, ah, DO!'
So I sang a song of something 'bout the love that never dies,
And the chorus shook the rafters of the Shanty on the Rise.

Jimmy burst his concertina, and the bullock-drivers went
For the corpse of Joe the Fiddler, who was sleeping in his tent;
Joe was tired and had lumbago, and he wouldn't come, he said,
But the case was very urgent, so they pulled him out of bed;
And they fetched him, for the bushmen knew that Something-in-Disguise
Had a cure for Joe's lumbago in the Shanty on the Rise.

Jim and I were rather quiet while escorting Mary home,
'Neath the stars that hung in clusters, near and distant, from the dome;
And we walked so very silent -- being lost in reverie --
That we heard the settlers'-matches rustle softly on the tree;
And I wondered who would win her when she said her sweet good-byes --
But she died at one-and-twenty, and was buried on the Rise.

I suppose the Shanty vanished from the ranges long ago,
And the girls are mostly married to the chaps I used to know;
My old chums are in the distance -- some have crossed the border-line,
But in fancy still their glasses chink against the rim of mine.
And, upon the very centre of the greenest spot that lies
In my fondest recollection, stands the Shanty on the Rise.

The Vagabond

White handkerchiefs wave from the short black pier
As we glide to the grand old sea --
But the song of my heart is for none to hear
If one of them waves for me.
A roving, roaming life is mine,
Ever by field or flood --
For not far back in my father's line
Was a dash of the Gipsy blood.

Flax and tussock and fern,
Gum and mulga and sand,
Reef and palm -- but my fancies turn
Ever away from land;
Strange wild cities in ancient state,
Range and river and tree,
Snow and ice. But my star of fate
Is ever across the sea.

A god-like ride on a thundering sea,
When all but the stars are blind --
A desperate race from Eternity
With a gale-and-a-half behind.
A jovial spree in the cabin at night,
A song on the rolling deck,
A lark ashore with the ships in sight,
Till -- a wreck goes down with a wreck.

A smoke and a yarn on the deck by day,
When life is a waking dream,
And care and trouble so far away
That out of your life they seem.
A roving spirit in sympathy,
Who has travelled the whole world o'er --
My heart forgets, in a week at sea,
The trouble of years on shore.

A rolling stone! -- 'tis a saw for slaves --
Philosophy false as old --
Wear out or break 'neath the feet of knaves,
Or rot in your bed of mould!
But I'D rather trust to the darkest skies
And the wildest seas that roar,
Or die, where the stars of Nations rise,
In the stormy clouds of war.

Cleave to your country, home, and friends,
Die in a sordid strife --
You can count your friends on your finger ends
In the critical hours of life.
Sacrifice all for the family's sake,
Bow to their selfish rule!
Slave till your big soft heart they break --
The heart of the family fool.

Domestic quarrels, and family spite,
And your Native Land may be
Controlled by custom, but, come what might,
The rest of the world for me.
I'd sail with money, or sail without! --
If your love be forced from home,
And you dare enough, and your heart be stout,
The world is your own to roam.

I've never a love that can sting my pride,
Nor a friend to prove untrue;
For I leave my love ere the turning tide,
And my friends are all too new.
The curse of the Powers on a peace like ours,
With its greed and its treachery --
A stranger's hand, and a stranger land,
And the rest of the world for me!

But why be bitter? The world is cold
To one with a frozen heart;
New friends are often so like the old,
They seem of the past a part --
As a better part of the past appears,
When enemies, parted long,
Are come together in kinder years,
With their better nature strong.

I had a friend, ere my first ship sailed,
A friend that I never deserved --
For the selfish strain in my blood prevailed
As soon as my turn was served.
And the memory haunts my heart with shame --
Or, rather, the pride that's there;
In different guises, but soul the same,
I meet him everywhere.

I had a chum. When the times were tight
We starved in Australian scrubs;
We froze together in parks at night,
And laughed together in pubs.
And I often hear a laugh like his
From a sense of humour keen,
And catch a glimpse in a passing phiz
Of his broad, good-humoured grin.

And I had a love -- 'twas a love to prize --
But I never went back again . . .
I have seen the light of her kind brown eyes
In many a face since then.

. . . . .

The sailors say 'twill be rough to-night,
As they fasten the hatches down,
The south is black, and the bar is white,
And the drifting smoke is brown.
The gold has gone from the western haze,
The sea-birds circle and swarm --
But we shall have plenty of sunny days,
And little enough of storm.

The hill is hiding the short black pier,
As the last white signal's seen;
The points run in, and the houses veer,
And the great bluff stands between.
So darkness swallows each far white speck
On many a wharf and quay.
The night comes down on a restless deck, --
Grim cliffs -- and -- The Open Sea!


It was somewhere in September, and the sun was going down,
When I came, in search of `copy', to a Darling-River town;
`Come-and-have-a-drink' we'll call it -- 'tis a fitting name, I think --
And 'twas raining, for a wonder, up at Come-and-have-a-drink.

'Neath the public-house verandah I was resting on a bunk
When a stranger rose before me, and he said that he was drunk;
He apologised for speaking; there was no offence, he swore;
But he somehow seemed to fancy that he'd seen my face before.

`No erfence,' he said. I told him that he needn't mention it,
For I might have met him somewhere; I had travelled round a bit,
And I knew a lot of fellows in the bush and in the streets --
But a fellow can't remember all the fellows that he meets.

Very old and thin and dirty were the garments that he wore,
Just a shirt and pair of trousers, and a boot, and nothing more;
He was wringing-wet, and really in a sad and sinful plight,
And his hat was in his left hand, and a bottle in his right.

His brow was broad and roomy, but its lines were somewhat harsh,
And a sensual mouth was hidden by a drooping, fair moustache;
(His hairy chest was open to what poets call the `wined',
And I would have bet a thousand that his pants were gone behind).

He agreed: `Yer can't remember all the chaps yer chance to meet,'
And he said his name was Sweeney -- people lived in Sussex-street.
He was campin' in a stable, but he swore that he was right,
`Only for the blanky horses walkin' over him all night.'

He'd apparently been fighting, for his face was black-and-blue,
And he looked as though the horses had been treading on him, too;
But an honest, genial twinkle in the eye that wasn't hurt
Seemed to hint of something better, spite of drink and rags and dirt.

It appeared that he mistook me for a long-lost mate of his --
One of whom I was the image, both in figure and in phiz --
(He'd have had a letter from him if the chap were living still,
For they'd carried swags together from the Gulf to Broken Hill.)

Sweeney yarned awhile and hinted that his folks were doing well,
And he told me that his father kept the Southern Cross Hotel;
And I wondered if his absence was regarded as a loss
When he left the elder Sweeney -- landlord of the Southern Cross.

He was born in Parramatta, and he said, with humour grim,
That he'd like to see the city ere the liquor finished him,
But he couldn't raise the money. He was damned if he could think
What the Government was doing. Here he offered me a drink.

I declined -- 'TWAS self-denial -- and I lectured him on booze,
Using all the hackneyed arguments that preachers mostly use;
Things I'd heard in temperance lectures (I was young and rather green),
And I ended by referring to the man he might have been.

Then a wise expression struggled with the bruises on his face,
Though his argument had scarcely any bearing on the case:
`What's the good o' keepin' sober? Fellers rise and fellers fall;
What I might have been and wasn't doesn't trouble me at all.'

But he couldn't stay to argue, for his beer was nearly gone.
He was glad, he said, to meet me, and he'd see me later on;
He guessed he'd have to go and get his bottle filled again,
And he gave a lurch and vanished in the darkness and the rain.

. . . . .

And of afternoons in cities, when the rain is on the land,
Visions come to me of Sweeney with his bottle in his hand,
With the stormy night behind him, and the pub verandah-post --
And I wonder why he haunts me more than any other ghost.

Still I see the shearers drinking at the township in the scrub,
And the army praying nightly at the door of every pub,
And the girls who flirt and giggle with the bushmen from the west --
But the memory of Sweeney overshadows all the rest.

Well, perhaps, it isn't funny; there were links between us two --
He had memories of cities, he had been a jackeroo;
And, perhaps, his face forewarned me of a face that I might see
From a bitter cup reflected in the wretched days to be.

. . . . .

I suppose he's tramping somewhere where the bushmen carry swags,
Cadging round the wretched stations with his empty tucker-bags;
And I fancy that of evenings, when the track is growing dim,
What he `might have been and wasn't' comes along and troubles him.

Middleton's Rouseabout

Tall and freckled and sandy,
Face of a country lout;
This was the picture of Andy,
Middleton's Rouseabout.

Type of a coming nation,
In the land of cattle and sheep,
Worked on Middleton's station,
`Pound a week and his keep.'

On Middleton's wide dominions
Plied the stockwhip and shears;
Hadn't any opinions,
Hadn't any `idears'.

Swiftly the years went over,
Liquor and drought prevailed;
Middleton went as a drover,
After his station had failed.

Type of a careless nation,
Men who are soon played out,
Middleton was: -- and his station
Was bought by the Rouseabout.

Flourishing beard and sandy,
Tall and robust and stout;
This is the picture of Andy,
Middleton's Rouseabout.

Now on his own dominions
Works with his overseers;
Hasn't any opinions,
Hasn't any `idears'.

The Ballad of the Drover

Across the stony ridges,
Across the rolling plain,
Young Harry Dale, the drover,
Comes riding home again.
And well his stock-horse bears him,
And light of heart is he,
And stoutly his old pack-horse
Is trotting by his knee.

Up Queensland way with cattle
He travelled regions vast;
And many months have vanished
Since home-folk saw him last.
He hums a song of someone
He hopes to marry soon;
And hobble-chains and camp-ware
Keep jingling to the tune.

Beyond the hazy dado
Against the lower skies
And yon blue line of ranges
The homestead station lies.
And thitherward the drover
Jogs through the lazy noon,
While hobble-chains and camp-ware
Are jingling to a tune.

An hour has filled the heavens
With storm-clouds inky black;
At times the lightning trickles
Around the drover's track;
But Harry pushes onward,
His horses' strength he tries,
In hope to reach the river
Before the flood shall rise.

The thunder from above him
Goes rolling o'er the plain;
And down on thirsty pastures
In torrents falls the rain.
And every creek and gully
Sends forth its little flood,
Till the river runs a banker,
All stained with yellow mud.

Now Harry speaks to Rover,
The best dog on the plains,
And to his hardy horses,
And strokes their shaggy manes;
`We've breasted bigger rivers
When floods were at their height
Nor shall this gutter stop us
From getting home to-night!'

The thunder growls a warning,
The ghastly lightnings gleam,
As the drover turns his horses
To swim the fatal stream.
But, oh! the flood runs stronger
Than e'er it ran before;
The saddle-horse is failing,
And only half-way o'er!

When flashes next the lightning,
The flood's grey breast is blank,
And a cattle dog and pack-horse
Are struggling up the bank.
But in the lonely homestead
The girl will wait in vain --
He'll never pass the stations
In charge of stock again.

The faithful dog a moment
Sits panting on the bank,
And then swims through the current
To where his master sank.
And round and round in circles
He fights with failing strength,
Till, borne down by the waters,
The old dog sinks at length.

Across the flooded lowlands
And slopes of sodden loam
The pack-horse struggles onward,
To take dumb tidings home.
And mud-stained, wet, and weary,
Through ranges dark goes he;
While hobble-chains and tinware
Are sounding eerily.

. . . . .

The floods are in the ocean,
The stream is clear again,
And now a verdant carpet
Is stretched across the plain.
But someone's eyes are saddened,
And someone's heart still bleeds
In sorrow for the drover
Who sleeps among the reeds.

Taking His Chance

They stood by the door of the Inn on the Rise;
May Carney looked up in the bushranger's eyes:
`Oh! why did you come? -- it was mad of you, Jack;
You know that the troopers are out on your track.'
A laugh and a shake of his obstinate head --
`I wanted a dance, and I'll chance it,' he said.

Some twenty-odd bushmen had come to the `ball',
But Jack from his youth had been known to them all,
And bushmen are soft where a woman is fair,
So the love of May Carney protected him there;
And all the short evening -- it seems like romance --
She danced with a bushranger taking his chance.

`Twas midnight -- the dancers stood suddenly still,
For hoofs had been heard on the side of the hill!
Ben Duggan, the drover, along the hillside
Came riding as only a bushman can ride.
He sprang from his horse, to the shanty he sped --
`The troopers are down in the gully!' he said.

Quite close to the homestead the troopers were seen.
`Clear out and ride hard for the ranges, Jack Dean!
Be quick!' said May Carney -- her hand on her heart --
`We'll bluff them awhile, and 'twill give you a start.'
He lingered a moment -- to kiss her, of course --
Then ran to the trees where he'd hobbled his horse.

She ran to the gate, and the troopers were there --
The jingle of hobbles came faint on the air --
Then loudly she screamed: it was only to drown
The treacherous clatter of slip-rails let down.
But troopers are sharp, and she saw at a glance
That someone was taking a desperate chance.

They chased, and they shouted, `Surrender, Jack Dean!'
They called him three times in the name of the Queen.
Then came from the darkness the clicking of locks;
The crack of the rifles was heard in the rocks!
A shriek and a shout, and a rush of pale men --
And there lay the bushranger, chancing it then.

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