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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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The sergeant dismounted and knelt on the sod --
`Your bushranging's over -- make peace, Jack, with God!'
The bushranger laughed -- not a word he replied,
But turned to the girl who knelt down by his side.
He gazed in her eyes as she lifted his head:
`Just kiss me -- my girl -- and -- I'll -- chance it,' he said.

When the `Army' Prays for Watty

When the kindly hours of darkness, save for light of moon and star,
Hide the picture on the signboard over Doughty's Horse Bazaar;
When the last rose-tint is fading on the distant mulga scrub,
Then the Army prays for Watty at the entrance of his pub.

Now, I often sit at Watty's when the night is very near,
With a head that's full of jingles and the fumes of bottled beer,
For I always have a fancy that, if I am over there
When the Army prays for Watty, I'm included in the prayer.

Watty lounges in his arm-chair, in its old accustomed place,
With a fatherly expression on his round and passive face;
And his arms are clasped before him in a calm, contented way,
And he nods his head and dozes when he hears the Army pray.

And I wonder does he ponder on the distant years and dim,
Or his chances over yonder, when the Army prays for him?
Has he not a fear connected with the warm place down below,
Where, according to good Christians, all the publicans should go?

But his features give no token of a feeling in his breast,
Save of peace that is unbroken and a conscience well at rest;
And we guzzle as we guzzled long before the Army came,
And the loafers wait for `shouters' and -- they get there just the same.

It would take a lot of praying -- lots of thumping on the drum --
To prepare our sinful, straying, erring souls for Kingdom Come;
But I love my fellow-sinners, and I hope, upon the whole,
That the Army gets a hearing when it prays for Watty's soul.

The Wreck of the `Derry Castle'

Day of ending for beginnings!
Ocean hath another innings,
Ocean hath another score;
And the surges sing his winnings,
And the surges shout his winnings,
And the surges shriek his winnings,
All along the sullen shore.

Sing another dirge in wailing,
For another vessel sailing
With the shadow-ships at sea;
Shadow-ships for ever sinking --
Shadow-ships whose pumps are clinking,
And whose thirsty holds are drinking
Pledges to Eternity.

Pray for souls of ghastly, sodden
Corpses, floating round untrodden
Cliffs, where nought but sea-drift strays;
Souls of dead men, in whose faces
Of humanity no trace is --
Not a mark to show their races --
Floating round for days and days.

. . . . .

Ocean's salty tongues are licking
Round the faces of the drowned,
And a cruel blade seems sticking
Through my heart and turning round.

Heaven! shall HIS ghastly, sodden
Corpse float round for days and days?
Shall it dash 'neath cliffs untrodden,
Rocks where nought but sea-drift strays?

God in heaven! hide the floating,
Falling, rising, face from me;
God in heaven! stay the gloating,
Mocking singing of the sea!

Ben Duggan

Jack Denver died on Talbragar when Christmas Eve began,
And there was sorrow round the place, for Denver was a man;
Jack Denver's wife bowed down her head -- her daughter's grief was wild,
And big Ben Duggan by the bed stood sobbing like a child.
But big Ben Duggan saddled up, and galloped fast and far,
To raise the longest funeral ever seen on Talbragar.

By station home
And shearing shed
Ben Duggan cried, `Jack Denver's dead!
Roll up at Talbragar!'

He borrowed horses here and there, and rode all Christmas Eve,
And scarcely paused a moment's time the mournful news to leave;
He rode by lonely huts and farms, and when the day was done
He turned his panting horse's head and rode to Ross's Run.
No bushman in a single day had ridden half so far
Since Johnson brought the doctor to his wife at Talbragar.

By diggers' camps
Ben Duggan sped --
At each he cried, `Jack Denver's dead!
Roll up at Talbragar!'

That night he passed the humpies of the splitters on the ridge,
And roused the bullock-drivers camped at Belinfante's Bridge;
And as he climbed the ridge again the moon shone on the rise;
The soft white moonbeams glistened in the tears that filled his eyes;
He dashed the rebel drops away -- for blinding things they are --
But 'twas his best and truest friend who died on Talbragar.

At Blackman's Run
Before the dawn,
Ben Duggan cried, `Poor Denver's gone!
Roll up at Talbragar!'

At all the shanties round the place they'd heard his horse's tramp,
He took the track to Wilson's Luck, and told the diggers' camp;
But in the gorge by Deadman's Gap the mountain shades were black,
And there a newly-fallen tree was lying on the track --
He saw too late, and then he heard the swift hoof's sudden jar,
And big Ben Duggan ne'er again rode home to Talbragar.

`The wretch is drunk,
And Denver's dead --
A burning shame!' the people said
Next day at Talbragar.

For thirty miles round Talbragar the boys rolled up in strength,
And Denver had a funeral a good long mile in length;
Round Denver's grave that Christmas day rough bushmen's eyes were dim --
The western bushmen knew the way to bury dead like him;
But some returning homeward found, by light of moon and star,
Ben Duggan dying in the rocks, five miles from Talbragar.

They knelt around,
He raised his head
And faintly gasped, `Jack Denver's dead,
Roll up at Talbragar!'

But one short hour before he died he woke to understand,
They told him, when he asked them, that the funeral was `grand';
And then there came into his eyes a strange victorious light,
He smiled on them in triumph, and his great soul took its flight.
And still the careless bushmen tell by tent and shanty bar
How Duggan raised a funeral years back on Talbragar.

And far and wide
When Duggan died,
The bushmen of the western side
Rode in to Talbragar.

The Star of Australasia

We boast no more of our bloodless flag, that rose from a nation's slime;
Better a shred of a deep-dyed rag from the storms of the olden time.
From grander clouds in our `peaceful skies' than ever were there before
I tell you the Star of the South shall rise -- in the lurid clouds of war.
It ever must be while blood is warm and the sons of men increase;
For ever the nations rose in storm, to rot in a deadly peace.
There comes a point that we will not yield, no matter if right or wrong,
And man will fight on the battle-field
while passion and pride are strong --
So long as he will not kiss the rod, and his stubborn spirit sours,
And the scorn of Nature and curse of God are heavy on peace like ours.

. . . . .

There are boys out there by the western creeks, who hurry away from school
To climb the sides of the breezy peaks or dive in the shaded pool,
Who'll stick to their guns when the mountains quake
to the tread of a mighty war,
And fight for Right or a Grand Mistake as men never fought before;
When the peaks are scarred and the sea-walls crack
till the furthest hills vibrate,
And the world for a while goes rolling back in a storm of love and hate.

. . . . .

There are boys to-day in the city slum and the home of wealth and pride
Who'll have one home when the storm is come, and fight for it side by side,
Who'll hold the cliffs 'gainst the armoured hells
that batter a coastal town,
Or grimly die in a hail of shells when the walls come crashing down.
And many a pink-white baby girl, the queen of her home to-day,
Shall see the wings of the tempest whirl the mist of our dawn away --
Shall live to shudder and stop her ears to the thud of the distant gun,
And know the sorrow that has no tears when a battle is lost and won, --
As a mother or wife in the years to come, will kneel, wild-eyed and white,
And pray to God in her darkened home for the `men in the fort to-night'.

. . . . .

But, oh! if the cavalry charge again as they did when the world was wide,
'Twill be grand in the ranks of a thousand men
in that glorious race to ride
And strike for all that is true and strong,
for all that is grand and brave,
And all that ever shall be, so long as man has a soul to save.
He must lift the saddle, and close his `wings', and shut his angels out,
And steel his heart for the end of things,
who'd ride with a stockman scout,
When the race they ride on the battle track, and the waning distance hums,
And the shelled sky shrieks or the rifles crack
like stockwhip amongst the gums --
And the `straight' is reached and the field is `gapped'
and the hoof-torn sward grows red
With the blood of those who are handicapped with iron and steel and lead;
And the gaps are filled, though unseen by eyes,
with the spirit and with the shades
Of the world-wide rebel dead who'll rise and rush with the Bush Brigades.

. . . . .

All creeds and trades will have soldiers there --
give every class its due --
And there'll be many a clerk to spare for the pride of the jackeroo.
They'll fight for honour and fight for love, and a few will fight for gold,
For the devil below and for God above, as our fathers fought of old;
And some half-blind with exultant tears, and some stiff-lipped, stern-eyed,
For the pride of a thousand after-years and the old eternal pride;
The soul of the world they will feel and see
in the chase and the grim retreat --
They'll know the glory of victory -- and the grandeur of defeat.

The South will wake to a mighty change ere a hundred years are done
With arsenals west of the mountain range and every spur its gun.
And many a rickety son of a gun, on the tides of the future tossed,
Will tell how battles were really won that History says were lost,
Will trace the field with his pipe, and shirk
the facts that are hard to explain,
As grey old mates of the diggings work the old ground over again --
How `this was our centre, and this a redoubt,
and that was a scrub in the rear,
And this was the point where the guards held out,
and the enemy's lines were here.'

. . . . .

They'll tell the tales of the nights before
and the tales of the ship and fort
Till the sons of Australia take to war as their fathers took to sport,
Their breath come deep and their eyes grow bright
at the tales of our chivalry,
And every boy will want to fight, no matter what cause it be --
When the children run to the doors and cry:
`Oh, mother, the troops are come!'
And every heart in the town leaps high at the first loud thud of the drum.
They'll know, apart from its mystic charm, what music is at last,
When, proud as a boy with a broken arm, the regiment marches past.
And the veriest wreck in the drink-fiend's clutch,
no matter how low or mean,
Will feel, when he hears the march, a touch
of the man that he might have been.
And fools, when the fiends of war are out and the city skies aflame,
Will have something better to talk about than an absent woman's shame,
Will have something nobler to do by far than jest at a friend's expense,
Or blacken a name in a public bar or over a backyard fence.
And this you learn from the libelled past,
though its methods were somewhat rude --
A nation's born where the shells fall fast, or its lease of life renewed.
We in part atone for the ghoulish strife,
and the crimes of the peace we boast,
And the better part of a people's life in the storm comes uppermost.

The self-same spirit that drives the man to the depths of drink and crime
Will do the deeds in the heroes' van that live till the end of time.
The living death in the lonely bush, the greed of the selfish town,
And even the creed of the outlawed push is chivalry -- upside down.
'Twill be while ever our blood is hot, while ever the world goes wrong,
The nations rise in a war, to rot in a peace that lasts too long.
And southern nation and southern state, aroused from their dream of ease,
Must sign in the Book of Eternal Fate their stormy histories.

The Great Grey Plain

Out West, where the stars are brightest,
Where the scorching north wind blows,
And the bones of the dead gleam whitest,
And the sun on a desert glows --
Yet within the selfish kingdom
Where man starves man for gain,
Where white men tramp for existence --
Wide lies the Great Grey Plain.

No break in its awful horizon,
No blur in the dazzling haze,
Save where by the bordering timber
The fierce, white heat-waves blaze,
And out where the tank-heap rises
Or looms when the sunlights wane,
Till it seems like a distant mountain
Low down on the Great Grey Plain.

No sign of a stream or fountain,
No spring on its dry, hot breast,
No shade from the blazing noontide
Where a weary man might rest.
Whole years go by when the glowing
Sky never clouds for rain --
Only the shrubs of the desert
Grow on the Great Grey Plain.

From the camp, while the rich man's dreaming,
Come the `traveller' and his mate,
In the ghastly dawnlight seeming
Like a swagman's ghost out late;
And the horseman blurs in the distance,
While still the stars remain,
A low, faint dust-cloud haunting
His track on the Great Grey Plain.

And all day long from before them
The mirage smokes away --
That daylight ghost of an ocean
Creeps close behind all day
With an evil, snake-like motion,
As the waves of a madman's brain:
'Tis a phantom NOT like water
Out there on the Great Grey Plain.

There's a run on the Western limit
Where a man lives like a beast,
And a shanty in the mulga
That stretches to the East;
And the hopeless men who carry
Their swags and tramp in pain --
The footmen must not tarry
Out there on the Great Grey Plain.

Out West, where the stars are brightest,
Where the scorching north wind blows,
And the bones of the dead seem whitest,
And the sun on a desert glows --
Out back in the hungry distance
That brave hearts dare in vain --
Where beggars tramp for existence --
There lies the Great Grey Plain.

'Tis a desert not more barren
Than the Great Grey Plain of years,
Where a fierce fire burns the hearts of men --
Dries up the fount of tears:
Where the victims of a greed insane
Are crushed in a hell-born strife --
Where the souls of a race are murdered
On the Great Grey Plain of Life!

The Song of Old Joe Swallow

When I was up the country in the rough and early days,
I used to work along ov Jimmy Nowlett's bullick-drays;
Then the reelroad wasn't heered on, an' the bush was wild an' strange,
An' we useter draw the timber from the saw-pits in the range --
Load provisions for the stations, an' we'd travel far and slow
Through the plains an' 'cross the ranges in the days of long ago.

Then it's yoke up the bullicks and tramp beside 'em slow,
An' saddle up yer horses an' a-ridin' we will go,
To the bullick-drivin', cattle-drovin',
Nigger, digger, roarin', rovin'
Days o' long ago.

Once me and Jimmy Nowlett loaded timber for the town,
But we hadn't gone a dozen mile before the rain come down,
An' me an' Jimmy Nowlett an' the bullicks an' the dray
Was cut off on some risin' ground while floods around us lay;
An' we soon run short of tucker an' terbacca, which was bad,
An' pertaters dipped in honey was the only tuck we had.

An' half our bullicks perished when the drought was on the land,
An' the burnin' heat that dazzles as it dances on the sand;
When the sun-baked clay an' gravel paves for miles the burnin' creeks,
An' at ev'ry step yer travel there a rottin' carcase reeks --
But we pulled ourselves together, for we never used ter know
What a feather bed was good for in those days o' long ago.

But in spite ov barren ridges an' in spite ov mud an' heat,
An' dust that browned the bushes when it rose from bullicks' feet,
An' in spite ov cold and chilblains when the bush was white with frost,
An' in spite of muddy water where the burnin' plain was crossed,
An' in spite of modern progress, and in spite of all their blow,
'Twas a better land to live in, in the days o' long ago.

When the frosty moon was shinin' o'er the ranges like a lamp,
An' a lot of bullick-drivers was a-campin' on the camp,
When the fire was blazin' cheery an' the pipes was drawin' well,
Then our songs we useter chorus an' our yarns we useter tell;
An' we'd talk ov lands we come from, and ov chaps we useter know,
For there always was behind us OTHER days o' long ago.

Ah, them early days was ended when the reelroad crossed the plain,
But in dreams I often tramp beside the bullick-team again:
Still we pauses at the shanty just to have a drop er cheer,
Still I feels a kind ov pleasure when the campin'-ground is near;
Still I smells the old tarpaulin me an' Jimmy useter throw
O'er the timber-truck for shelter in the days ov long ago.

I have been a-driftin' back'ards with the changes ov the land,
An' if I spoke ter bullicks now they wouldn't understand,
But when Mary wakes me sudden in the night I'll often say:
`Come here, Spot, an' stan' up, Bally, blank an' blank an' come-eer-way.'
An' she says that, when I'm sleepin', oft my elerquince 'ill flow
In the bullick-drivin' language ov the days o' long ago.

Well, the pub will soon be closin', so I'll give the thing a rest;
But if you should drop on Nowlett in the far an' distant west --
An' if Jimmy uses doubleyou instead of ar an' vee,
An' if he drops his aitches, then you're sure to know it's he.
An' yer won't forgit to arsk him if he still remembers Joe
As knowed him up the country in the days o' long ago.

Then it's yoke up the bullicks and tramp beside 'em slow,
An' saddle up yer horses an' a-ridin' we will go,
To the bullick-drivin', cattle-drovin',
Nigger, digger, roarin', rovin'
Days o' long ago.

Corny Bill

His old clay pipe stuck in his mouth,
His hat pushed from his brow,
His dress best fitted for the South --
I think I see him now;
And when the city streets are still,
And sleep upon me comes,
I often dream that me an' Bill
Are humpin' of our drums.

I mind the time when first I came
A stranger to the land;
And I was stumped, an' sick, an' lame
When Bill took me in hand.
Old Bill was what a chap would call
A friend in poverty,
And he was very kind to all,
And very good to me.

We'd camp beneath the lonely trees
And sit beside the blaze,
A-nursin' of our wearied knees,
A-smokin' of our clays.
Or when we'd journeyed damp an' far,
An' clouds were in the skies,
We'd camp in some old shanty bar,
And sit a-tellin' lies.

Though time had writ upon his brow
And rubbed away his curls,
He always was -- an' may be now --
A favourite with the girls;
I've heard bush-wimmin scream an' squall --
I've see'd 'em laugh until
They could not do their work at all,
Because of Corny Bill.

He was the jolliest old pup
As ever you did see,
And often at some bush kick-up
They'd make old Bill M.C.
He'd make them dance and sing all night,
He'd make the music hum,
But he'd be gone at mornin' light
A-humpin' of his drum.

Though joys of which the poet rhymes
Was not for Bill an' me,
I think we had some good old times
Out on the wallaby.
I took a wife and left off rum,
An' camped beneath a roof;
But Bill preferred to hump his drum
A-paddin' of the hoof.

The lazy, idle loafers what
In toney houses camp
Would call old Bill a drunken sot,
A loafer, or a tramp;
But if the dead should ever dance --
As poets say they will --
I think I'd rather take my chance
Along of Corny Bill.

His long life's-day is nearly o'er,
Its shades begin to fall;
He soon must mount his bluey for
The last long tramp of all;
I trust that when, in bush an' town,
He's lived and learnt his fill,
They'll let the golden slip-rails down
For poor old Corny Bill.

Cherry-Tree Inn

The rafters are open to sun, moon, and star,
Thistles and nettles grow high in the bar --
The chimneys are crumbling, the log fires are dead,
And green mosses spring from the hearthstone instead.
The voices are silent, the bustle and din,
For the railroad hath ruined the Cherry-tree Inn.

Save the glimmer of stars, or the moon's pallid streams,
And the sounds of the 'possums that camp on the beams,
The bar-room is dark and the stable is still,
For the coach comes no more over Cherry-tree Hill.
No riders push on through the darkness to win
The rest and the comfort of Cherry-tree Inn.

I drift from my theme, for my memory strays
To the carrying, digging, and bushranging days --
Far back to the seasons that I love the best,
When a stream of wild diggers rushed into the west,
But the `rushes' grew feeble, and sluggish, and thin,
Till scarcely a swagman passed Cherry-tree Inn.

Do you think, my old mate (if it's thinking you be),
Of the days when you tramped to the goldfields with me?
Do you think of the day of our thirty-mile tramp,
When never a fire could we light on the camp,
And, weary and footsore and drenched to the skin,
We tramped through the darkness to Cherry-tree Inn?

Then I had a sweetheart and you had a wife,
And Johnny was more to his mother than life;
But we solemnly swore, ere that evening was done,
That we'd never return till our fortunes were won.
Next morning to harvests of folly and sin
We tramped o'er the ranges from Cherry-tree Inn.

. . . . .

The years have gone over with many a change,
And there comes an old swagman from over the range,
And faint 'neath the weight of his rain-sodden load,
He suddenly thinks of the inn by the road.
He tramps through the darkness the shelter to win,
And reaches the ruins of Cherry-tree Inn.

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.

Knocked Up

I'm lyin' on the barren ground that's baked and cracked with drought,
And dunno if my legs or back or heart is most wore out;
I've got no spirits left to rise and smooth me achin' brow --
I'm too knocked up to light a fire and bile the billy now.

Oh it's trampin', trampin', tra-a-mpin', in flies an' dust an' heat,
Or it's trampin' trampin' tra-a-a-mpin'
through mud and slush 'n sleet;
It's tramp an' tramp for tucker -- one everlastin' strife,
An' wearin' out yer boots an' heart in the wastin' of yer life.

They whine o' lost an' wasted lives in idleness and crime --
I've wasted mine for twenty years, and grafted all the time
And never drunk the stuff I earned, nor gambled when I shore --
But somehow when yer on the track yer life seems wasted more.

A long dry stretch of thirty miles I've tramped this broilin' day,
All for the off-chance of a job a hundred miles away;
There's twenty hungry beggars wild for any job this year,
An' fifty might be at the shed while I am lyin' here.

The sinews in my legs seem drawn, red-hot -- 'n that's the truth;
I seem to weigh a ton, and ache like one tremendous tooth;
I'm stung between my shoulder-blades -- my blessed back seems broke;
I'm too knocked out to eat a bite -- I'm too knocked up to smoke.

The blessed rain is comin' too -- there's oceans in the sky,
An' I suppose I must get up and rig the blessed fly;
The heat is bad, the water's bad, the flies a crimson curse,
The grub is bad, mosquitoes damned -- but rheumatism's worse.

I wonder why poor blokes like me will stick so fast ter breath,
Though Shakespeare says it is the fear of somethin' after death;
But though Eternity be cursed with God's almighty curse --
What ever that same somethin' is I swear it can't be worse.

For it's trampin', trampin', tra-a-mpin' thro' hell across the plain,
And it's trampin' trampin' tra-a-mpin' thro' slush 'n mud 'n rain --
A livin' worse than any dog -- without a home 'n wife,
A-wearin' out yer heart 'n soul in the wastin' of yer life.

The Blue Mountains

Above the ashes straight and tall,
Through ferns with moisture dripping,
I climb beneath the sandstone wall,
My feet on mosses slipping.

Like ramparts round the valley's edge
The tinted cliffs are standing,
With many a broken wall and ledge,
And many a rocky landing.

And round about their rugged feet
Deep ferny dells are hidden
In shadowed depths, whence dust and heat
Are banished and forbidden.

The stream that, crooning to itself,
Comes down a tireless rover,
Flows calmly to the rocky shelf,
And there leaps bravely over.

Now pouring down, now lost in spray
When mountain breezes sally,
The water strikes the rock midway,
And leaps into the valley.

Now in the west the colours change,
The blue with crimson blending;
Behind the far Dividing Range,
The sun is fast descending.

And mellowed day comes o'er the place,
And softens ragged edges;
The rising moon's great placid face
Looks gravely o'er the ledges.

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 thro' 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.

And 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, for 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 -- but his `silver chime' is harsh
When it's heard beside the solo of the curlew in the marsh.

Yes, I heard the shearers singing `William Riley', out of tune,
Saw 'em fighting round a shanty on a Sunday afternoon,
But 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 fell a-aching to the roots
And you almost felt the croaking of the bull-frog in your boots --
Sit and shiver in the saddle, curse the restless stock and cough
Till a squatter's irate 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;
Where the scalper -- never troubled by the `war-whoop of the push' --
Has a quiet little billet -- breeding rabbits in the bush;
Where the idle shanty-keeper never fails to make a draw,
And the dummy gets his tucker through provisions in the law;
Where 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 the Eldorado of the poets of the West.

And 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 we'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.


There are scenes in the distance where beauty is not,
On the desolate flats where gaunt appletrees rot.
Where the brooding old ridge rises up to the breeze
From his dark lonely gullies of stringy-bark trees,
There are voice-haunted gaps, ever sullen and strange,
But Eurunderee lies like a gem in the range.

Still I see in my fancy the dark-green and blue
Of the box-covered hills where the five-corners grew;
And the rugged old sheoaks that sighed in the bend
O'er the lily-decked pools where the dark ridges end,
And the scrub-covered spurs running down from the Peak
To the deep grassy banks of Eurunderee Creek.

On the knolls where the vineyards and fruit-gardens are
There's a beauty that even the drought cannot mar;
For I noticed it oft, in the days that are lost,
As I trod on the siding where lingered the frost,
When the shadows of night from the gullies were gone
And the hills in the background were flushed by the dawn.

I was there in late years, but there's many a change
Where the Cudgegong River flows down through the range,
For the curse of the town with the railroad had come,
And the goldfields were dead. And the girl and the chum
And the old home were gone, yet the oaks seemed to speak
Of the hazy old days on Eurunderee Creek.

And I stood by that creek, ere the sunset grew cold,
When the leaves of the sheoaks are traced on the gold,
And I thought of old things, and I thought of old folks,
Till I sighed in my heart to the sigh of the oaks;
For the years waste away like the waters that leak
Through the pebbles and sand of Eurunderee Creek.

Mount Bukaroo

Only one old post is standing --
Solid yet, but only one --
Where the milking, and the branding,
And the slaughtering were done.
Later years have brought dejection,
Care, and sorrow; but we knew
Happy days on that selection
Underneath old Bukaroo.

Then the light of day commencing
Found us at the gully's head,
Splitting timber for the fencing,
Stripping bark to roof the shed.
Hands and hearts the labour strengthened;
Weariness we never knew,
Even when the shadows lengthened
Round the base of Bukaroo.

There for days below the paddock
How the wilderness would yield
To the spade, and pick, and mattock,
While we toiled to win the field.
Bronzed hands we used to sully
Till they were of darkest hue,
`Burning off' down in the gully
At the back of Bukaroo.

When we came the baby brother
Left in haste his broken toys,
Shouted to the busy mother:
`Here is dadda and the boys!'
Strange it seems that she was able
For the work that she would do;
How she'd bustle round the table
In the hut 'neath Bukaroo!

When the cows were safely yarded,
And the calves were in the pen,
All the cares of day discarded,
Closed we round the hut-fire then.
Rang the roof with boyish laughter
While the flames o'er-topped the flue;
Happy days remembered after --
Far away from Bukaroo.

But the years were full of changes,
And a sorrow found us there;
For our home amid the ranges
Was not safe from searching Care.
On he came, a silent creeper;
And another mountain threw
O'er our lives a shadow deeper
Than the shade of Bukaroo.

All the farm is disappearing;
For the home has vanished now,
Mountain scrub has choked the clearing,
Hid the furrows of the plough.
Nearer still the scrub is creeping
Where the little garden grew;
And the old folks now are sleeping
At the foot of Bukaroo.

The Fire at Ross's Farm

The squatter saw his pastures wide
Decrease, as one by one
The farmers moving to the west
Selected on his run;
Selectors took the water up
And all the black soil round;
The best grass-land the squatter had
Was spoilt by Ross's Ground.

Now many schemes to shift old Ross
Had racked the squatter's brains,
But Sandy had the stubborn blood
Of Scotland in his veins;
He held the land and fenced it in,
He cleared and ploughed the soil,
And year by year a richer crop
Repaid him for his toil.

Between the homes for many years
The devil left his tracks:
The squatter pounded Ross's stock,
And Sandy pounded Black's.
A well upon the lower run
Was filled with earth and logs,
And Black laid baits about the farm
To poison Ross's dogs.

It was, indeed, a deadly feud
Of class and creed and race;
But, yet, there was a Romeo
And a Juliet in the case;
And more than once across the flats,
Beneath the Southern Cross,
Young Robert Black was seen to ride
With pretty Jenny Ross.

One Christmas time, when months of drought
Had parched the western creeks,
The bush-fires started in the north
And travelled south for weeks.
At night along the river-side
The scene was grand and strange --
The hill-fires looked like lighted streets
Of cities in the range.

The cattle-tracks between the trees
Were like long dusky aisles,
And on a sudden breeze the fire
Would sweep along for miles;
Like sounds of distant musketry
It crackled through the brakes,
And o'er the flat of silver grass
It hissed like angry snakes.

It leapt across the flowing streams
And raced o'er pastures broad;
It climbed the trees and lit the boughs
And through the scrubs it roared.
The bees fell stifled in the smoke
Or perished in their hives,
And with the stock the kangaroos
Went flying for their lives.

The sun had set on Christmas Eve,
When, through the scrub-lands wide,
Young Robert Black came riding home
As only natives ride.
He galloped to the homestead door
And gave the first alarm:
`The fire is past the granite spur,
`And close to Ross's farm.'

`Now, father, send the men at once,
They won't be wanted here;
Poor Ross's wheat is all he has
To pull him through the year.'
`Then let it burn,' the squatter said;
`I'd like to see it done --
I'd bless the fire if it would clear
Selectors from the run.

`Go if you will,' the squatter said,
`You shall not take the men --
Go out and join your precious friends,
And don't come here again.'
`I won't come back,' young Robert cried,
And, reckless in his ire,
He sharply turned his horse's head
And galloped towards the fire.

And there, for three long weary hours,
Half-blind with smoke and heat,
Old Ross and Robert fought the flames
That neared the ripened wheat.
The farmer's hand was nerved by fears
Of danger and of loss;
And Robert fought the stubborn foe
For the love of Jenny Ross.

But serpent-like the curves and lines
Slipped past them, and between,
Until they reached the bound'ry where
The old coach-road had been.
`The track is now our only hope,
There we must stand,' cried Ross,
`For nought on earth can stop the fire
If once it gets across.'

Then came a cruel gust of wind,
And, with a fiendish rush,
The flames leapt o'er the narrow path
And lit the fence of brush.
`The crop must burn!' the farmer cried,
`We cannot save it now,'
And down upon the blackened ground
He dashed the ragged bough.

But wildly, in a rush of hope,
His heart began to beat,
For o'er the crackling fire he heard
The sound of horses' feet.
`Here's help at last,' young Robert cried,
And even as he spoke
The squatter with a dozen men
Came racing through the smoke.

Down on the ground the stockmen jumped
And bared each brawny arm,
They tore green branches from the trees
And fought for Ross's farm;
And when before the gallant band
The beaten flames gave way,
Two grimy hands in friendship joined --
And it was Christmas Day.

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.

But the rains are heavy on roads like these;
And, fronting his lonely home,
For weeks together the settler sees
The teams bogged down 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 little of joy or rest
Are the long, long journeys done;
And thus -- 'tis a cruel war at the best --
Is distance fought in the mighty West,
And the lonely battles won.

Cameron's Heart

The diggings were just in their glory when Alister Cameron came,
With recommendations, he told me, from friends and a parson `at hame';
He read me his recommendations -- he called them a part of his plant --
The first one was signed by an Elder, the other by Cameron's aunt.
The meenister called him `ungodly -- a stray frae the fauld o' the Lord',
And his aunt set him down as a spendthrift, `a rebel at hame and abroad'.

He got drunk now and then and he gambled (such heroes are often the same);
That's all they could say in connection with Alister Cameron's name.
He was straight and he stuck to his country
and spoke with respect of his kirk;
He did his full share of the cooking, and more than his share of the work.
And many a poor devil then, when his strength and his money were spent,
Was sure of a lecture -- and tucker, and a shakedown in Cameron's tent.

He shunned all the girls in the camp,
and they said he was proof to the dart --
That nothing but whisky and gaming had ever a place in his heart;
He carried a packet about him, well hid, but I saw it at last,
And -- well, 'tis a very old story -- the story of Cameron's past:
A ring and a sprig o' white heather, a letter or two and a curl,
A bit of a worn silver chain, and the portrait of Cameron's girl.

. . . . .

It chanced in the first of the Sixties that Ally and I and McKean
Were sinking a shaft on Mundoorin, near Fosberry's puddle-machine.
The bucket we used was a big one, and rather a weight when 'twas full,
Though Alister wound it up easy, for he had the strength of a bull.
He hinted at heart-disease often, but, setting his fancy apart,
I always believed there was nothing the matter with Cameron's heart.

One day I was working below -- I was filling the bucket with clay,
When Alister cried, `Pack it on, mon! we ought to be bottomed to-day.'
He wound, and the bucket rose steady and swift to the surface until
It reached the first log on the top,
where it suddenly stopped, and hung still.
I knew what was up in a moment when Cameron shouted to me:
`Climb up for your life by the footholes.

And those were the last words he uttered.
He groaned, for I heard him quite plain --
There's nothing so awful as that when it's wrung from a workman in pain.
The strength of despair was upon me; I started, and scarcely drew breath,
But climbed to the top for my life in the fear of a terrible death.
And there, with his waist on the handle, I saw the dead form of my mate,
And over the shaft hung the bucket, suspended by Cameron's weight.

I wonder did Alister think of the scenes in the distance so dim,
When Death at the windlass that morning took cruel advantage of him?
He knew if the bucket rushed down it would murder or cripple his mate --
His hand on the iron was closed with a grip that was stronger than Fate;
He thought of my danger, not his, when he felt in his bosom the smart,
And stuck to the handle in spite of the Finger of Death on his heart.

The Shame of Going Back

When you've come to make a fortune and you haven't made your salt,
And the reason of your failure isn't anybody's fault --
When you haven't got a billet, and the times are very slack,
There is nothing that can spur you like the shame of going back;
Crawling home with empty pockets,
Going back hard-up;
Oh! it's then you learn the meaning of humiliation's cup.

When the place and you are strangers and you struggle all alone,
And you have a mighty longing for the town where you are known;
When your clothes are very shabby and the future's very black,
There is nothing that can hurt you like the shame of going back.

When we've fought the battle bravely and are beaten to the wall,
'Tis the sneers of men, not conscience, that make cowards of us all;
And the while you are returning, oh! your brain is on the rack,
And your heart is in the shadow of the shame of going back.

When a beaten man's discovered with a bullet in his brain,
They POST-MORTEM him, and try him, and they say he was insane;
But it very often happens that he'd lately got the sack,
And his onward move was owing to the shame of going back.

Ah! my friend, you call it nonsense, and your upper lip is curled,
I can see that you have never worked your passage through the world;
But when fortune rounds upon you and the rain is on the track,
You will learn the bitter meaning of the shame of going back;
Going home with empty pockets,
Going home hard-up;
Oh, you'll taste the bitter poison in humiliation's cup.

Since Then

I met Jack Ellis in town to-day --
Jack Ellis -- my old mate, Jack --
Ten years ago, from the Castlereagh,
We carried our swags together away
To the Never-Again, Out Back.

But times have altered since those old days,
And the times have changed the men.
Ah, well! there's little to blame or praise --
Jack Ellis and I have tramped long ways
On different tracks since then.

His hat was battered, his coat was green,
The toes of his boots were through,
But the pride was his! It was I felt mean --
I wished that my collar was not so clean,
Nor the clothes I wore so new.

He saw me first, and he knew 'twas I --
The holiday swell he met.
Why have we no faith in each other? Ah, why? --
He made as though he would pass me by,
For he thought that I might forget.

He ought to have known me better than that,
By the tracks we tramped far out --
The sweltering scrub and the blazing flat,
When the heat came down through each old felt hat
In the hell-born western drought.

The cheques we made and the shanty sprees,
The camps in the great blind scrub,
The long wet tramps when the plains were seas,
And the oracles worked in days like these
For rum and tobacco and grub.

Could I forget how we struck `the same
Old tale' in the nearer West,
When the first great test of our friendship came --
But -- well, there's little to praise or blame
If our mateship stood the test.

`Heads!' he laughed (but his face was stern) --
`Tails!' and a friendly oath;
We loved her fair, we had much to learn --
And each was stabbed to the heart in turn
By the girl who -- loved us both.

Or the last day lost on the lignum plain,
When I staggered, half-blind, half-dead,
With a burning throat and a tortured brain;
And the tank when we came to the track again
Was seventeen miles ahead.

Then life seemed finished -- then death began
As down in the dust I sank,
But he stuck to his mate as a bushman can,
Till I heard him saying, `Bear up, old man!'
In the shade by the mulga tank.

. . . . .

He took my hand in a distant way
(I thought how we parted last),
And we seemed like men who have nought to say
And who meet -- `Good-day', and who part -- `Good-day',
Who never have shared the past.

I asked him in for a drink with me --
Jack Ellis -- my old mate, Jack --
But his manner no longer was careless and free,
He followed, but not with the grin that he
Wore always in days Out Back.

I tried to live in the past once more --
Or the present and past combine,
But the days between I could not ignore --
I couldn't help notice the clothes he wore,
And he couldn't but notice mine.

He placed his glass on the polished bar,
And he wouldn't fill up again;
For he is prouder than most men are --
Jack Ellis and I have tramped too far
On different tracks since then.

He said that he had a mate to meet,
And `I'll see you again,' said he,
Then he hurried away through the crowded street
And the rattle of buses and scrape of feet
Seemed suddenly loud to me.

And I almost wished that the time were come
When less will be left to Fate --
When boys will start on the track from home
With equal chances, and no old chum
Have more or less than his mate.

Peter Anderson and Co.

He had offices in Sydney, not so many years ago,
And his shingle bore the legend `Peter Anderson and Co.',
But his real name was Careless, as the fellows understood --
And his relatives decided that he wasn't any good.
'Twas their gentle tongues that blasted any `character' he had --
He was fond of beer and leisure -- and the Co. was just as bad.
It was limited in number to a unit, was the Co. --
'Twas a bosom chum of Peter and his Christian name was Joe.

'Tis a class of men belonging to these soul-forsaken years:
Third-rate canvassers, collectors, journalists and auctioneers.
They are never very shabby, they are never very spruce --
Going cheerfully and carelessly and smoothly to the deuce.
Some are wanderers by profession, `turning up' and gone as soon,
Travelling second-class, or steerage (when it's cheap they go saloon);
Free from `ists' and `isms', troubled little by belief or doubt --
Lazy, purposeless, and useless -- knocking round and hanging out.
They will take what they can get, and they will give what they can give,
God alone knows how they manage -- God alone knows how they live!
They are nearly always hard-up, but are cheerful all the while --
Men whose energy and trousers wear out sooner than their smile!
They, no doubt, like us, are haunted by the boresome `if' or `might',
But their ghosts are ghosts of daylight -- they are men who live at night!

Peter met you with the comic smile of one who knows you well,
And is mighty glad to see you, and has got a joke to tell;
He could laugh when all was gloomy, he could grin when all was blue,
Sing a comic song and act it, and appreciate it, too.
Only cynical in cases where his own self was the jest,
And the humour of his good yarns made atonement for the rest.
Seldom serious -- doing business just as 'twere a friendly game --
Cards or billiards -- nothing graver. And the Co. was much the same.

They tried everything and nothing 'twixt the shovel and the press,
And were more or less successful in their ventures -- mostly less.
Once they ran a country paper till the plant was seized for debt,
And the local sinners chuckle over dingy copies yet.

They'd been through it all and knew it in the land of Bills and Jims --
Using Peter's own expression, they had been in `various swims'.
Now and then they'd take an office, as they called it, -- make a dash
Into business life as `agents' -- something not requiring cash.
(You can always furnish cheaply, when your cash or credit fails,
With a packing-case, a hammer, and a pound of two-inch nails --
And, maybe, a drop of varnish and sienna, too, for tints,
And a scrap or two of oilcloth, and a yard or two of chintz).
They would pull themselves together, pay a week's rent in advance,
But it never lasted longer than a month by any chance.

The office was their haven, for they lived there when hard-up --
A `daily' for a table cloth -- a jam tin for a cup;
And if the landlord's bailiff happened round in times like these
And seized the office-fittings -- well, there wasn't much to seize --
They would leave him in possession. But at other times they shot
The moon, and took an office where the landlord knew them not.
And when morning brought the bailiff there'd be nothing to be seen
Save a piece of bevelled cedar where the tenant's plate had been;
There would be no sign of Peter -- there would be no sign of Joe
Till another portal boasted `Peter Anderson and Co.'

And when times were locomotive, billiard-rooms and private bars --
Spicy parties at the cafe -- long cab-drives beneath the stars;
Private picnics down the Harbour -- shady campings-out, you know --
No one would have dreamed 'twas Peter --
no one would have thought 'twas Joe!
Free-and-easies in their `diggings', when the funds began to fail,
Bosom chums, cigars, tobacco, and a case of English ale --
Gloriously drunk and happy, till they heard the roosters crow --
And the landlady and neighbours made complaints about the Co.
But that life! it might be likened to a reckless drinking-song,
For it can't go on for ever, and it never lasted long.

. . . . .

Debt-collecting ruined Peter -- people talked him round too oft,
For his heart was soft as butter (and the Co.'s was just as soft);
He would cheer the haggard missus, and he'd tell her not to fret,
And he'd ask the worried debtor round with him to have a wet;
He would ask him round the corner, and it seemed to him and her,
After each of Peter's visits, things were brighter than they were.
But, of course, it wasn't business -- only Peter's careless way;
And perhaps it pays in heaven, but on earth it doesn't pay.
They got harder up than ever, and, to make it worse, the Co.
Went more often round the corner than was good for him to go.

`I might live,' he said to Peter, `but I haven't got the nerve --
I am going, Peter, going -- going, going -- no reserve.
Eat and drink and love they tell us, for to-morrow we may die,
Buy experience -- and we bought it -- we're experienced, you and I.'
Then, with a weary movement of his hand across his brow:
`The death of such philosophy's the death I'm dying now.
Pull yourself together, Peter; 'tis the dying wish of Joe
That the business world shall honour Peter Anderson and Co.

`When you feel your life is sinking in a dull and useless course,
And begin to find in drinking keener pleasure and remorse --
When you feel the love of leisure on your careless heart take holt,
Break away from friends and pleasure, though it give your heart a jolt.
Shun the poison breath of cities -- billiard-rooms and private bars,
Go where you can breathe God's air and see the grandeur of the stars!
Find again and follow up the old ambitions that you had --
See if you can raise a drink, old man, I'm feelin' mighty bad --
Hot and sweetened, nip o' butter -- squeeze o' lemon, Pete,' he sighed.
And, while Peter went to fetch it, Joseph went to sleep -- and died
With a smile -- anticipation, maybe, of the peace to come,
Or a joke to try on Peter -- or, perhaps, it was the rum.

. . . . .

Peter staggered, gripped the table, swerved as some old drunkard swerves --
At a gulp he drank the toddy, just to brace his shattered nerves.
It was awful, if you like. But then he hadn't time to think --
All is nothing! Nothing matters! Fill your glasses -- dead man's drink.

. . . . .

Yet, to show his heart was not of human decency bereft,
Peter paid the undertaker. He got drunk on what was left;
Then he shed some tears, half-maudlin, on the grave where lay the Co.,
And he drifted to a township where the city failures go.
Where, though haunted by the man he was, the wreck he yet might be,
Or the man he might have been, or by each spectre of the three,
And the dying words of Joseph, ringing through his own despair,
Peter `pulled himself together' and he started business there.

But his life was very lonely, and his heart was very sad,
And no help to reformation was the company he had --
Men who might have been, who had been, but who were not in the swim --
'Twas a town of wrecks and failures -- they appreciated him.
They would ask him who the Co. was -- that queer company he kept --
And he'd always answer vaguely -- he would say his partner slept;
That he had a `sleeping partner' -- jesting while his spirit broke --
And they grinned above their glasses, for they took it as a joke.
He would shout while he had money, he would joke while he had breath --
No one seemed to care or notice how he drank himself to death;
Till at last there came a morning when his smile was seen no more --
He was gone from out the office, and his shingle from the door,
And a boundary-rider jogging out across the neighb'ring run
Was attracted by a something that was blazing in the sun;
And he found that it was Peter, lying peacefully at rest,
With a bottle close beside him and the shingle on his breast.
Well, they analysed the liquor, and it would appear that he
Qualified his drink with something good for setting spirits free.
Though 'twas plainly self-destruction -- `'twas his own affair,' they said;
And the jury viewed him sadly, and they found -- that he was dead.

When the Children Come Home

On a lonely selection far out in the West
An old woman works all the day without rest,
And she croons, as she toils 'neath the sky's glassy dome,
`Sure I'll keep the ould place till the childer come home.'

She mends all the fences, she grubs, and she ploughs,
She drives the old horse and she milks all the cows,
And she sings to herself as she thatches the stack,
`Sure I'll keep the ould place till the childer come back.'

It is five weary years since her old husband died;
And oft as he lay on his deathbed he sighed
`Sure one man can bring up ten children, he can,
An' it's strange that ten sons cannot keep one old man.'

Whenever the scowling old sundowners come,
And cunningly ask if the master's at home,
`Be off,' she replies, `with your blarney and cant,
Or I'll call my son Andy; he's workin' beyant.'

`Git out,' she replies, though she trembles with fear,
For she lives all alone and no neighbours are near;
But she says to herself, when she's like to despond,
That the boys are at work in the paddock beyond.

Ah, none of her children need follow the plough,
And some have grown rich in the city ere now;
Yet she says: `They might come when the shearing is done,
And I'll keep the ould place if it's only for one.'

Dan, the Wreck

Tall, and stout, and solid-looking,
Yet a wreck;
None would think Death's finger's hooking
Him from deck.
Cause of half the fun that's started --
`Hard-case' Dan --
Isn't like a broken-hearted,
Ruined man.

Walking-coat from tail to throat is
Frayed and greened --
Like a man whose other coat is
Being cleaned;
Gone for ever round the edging
Past repair --
Waistcoat pockets frayed with dredging
After `sprats' no longer there.

Wearing summer boots in June, or
Slippers worn and old --
Like a man whose other shoon are
Getting soled.
Pants? They're far from being recent --
But, perhaps, I'd better not --
Says they are the only decent
Pair he's got.

And his hat, I am afraid, is
Troubling him --
Past all lifting to the ladies
By the brim.
But, although he'd hardly strike a
Girl, would Dan,
Yet he wears his wreckage like a

Once -- no matter how the rest dressed --
Up or down --
Once, they say, he was the best-dressed
Man in town.
Must have been before I knew him --
Now you'd scarcely care to meet
And be noticed talking to him
In the street.

Drink the cause, and dissipation,
That is clear --
Maybe friend or kind relation
Cause of beer.
And the talking fool, who never
Reads or thinks,
Says, from hearsay: `Yes, he's clever;
But, you know, he drinks.'

Been an actor and a writer --
Doesn't whine --
Reckoned now the best reciter
In his line.
Takes the stage at times, and fills it --
`Princess May' or `Waterloo'.
Raise a sneer! -- his first line kills it,
`Brings 'em', too.

Where he lives, or how, or wherefore
No one knows;
Lost his real friends, and therefore
Lost his foes.
Had, no doubt, his own romances --
Met his fate;
Tortured, doubtless, by the chances
And the luck that comes too late.

Now and then his boots are polished,
Collar clean,
And the worst grease stains abolished
By ammonia or benzine:
Hints of some attempt to shove him
From the taps,
Or of someone left to love him --
Sister, p'r'aps.

After all, he is a grafter,
Earns his cheer --
Keeps the room in roars of laughter
When he gets outside a beer.
Yarns that would fall flat from others
He can tell;
How he spent his `stuff', my brothers,
You know well.

Manner puts a man in mind of
Old club balls and evening dress,
Ugly with a handsome kind of

. . . . .

One of those we say of often,
While hearts swell,
Standing sadly by the coffin:
`He looks well.'

. . . . .

We may be -- so goes a rumour --
Bad as Dan;
But we may not have the humour
Of the man;
Nor the sight -- well, deem it blindness,
As the general public do --
And the love of human kindness,
Or the GRIT to see it through!

A Prouder Man Than You

If you fancy that your people came of better stock than mine,
If you hint of higher breeding by a word or by a sign,
If you're proud because of fortune or the clever things you do --
Then I'll play no second fiddle: I'm a prouder man than you!

If you think that your profession has the more gentility,
And that you are condescending to be seen along with me;
If you notice that I'm shabby while your clothes are spruce and new --
You have only got to hint it: I'm a prouder man than you!

If you have a swell companion when you see me on the street,
And you think that I'm too common for your toney friend to meet,
So that I, in passing closely, fail to come within your view --
Then be blind to me for ever: I'm a prouder man than you!

If your character be blameless, if your outward past be clean,
While 'tis known my antecedents are not what they should have been,
Do not risk contamination, save your name whate'er you do --
`Birds o' feather fly together': I'm a prouder bird than you!

Keep your patronage for others! Gold and station cannot hide
Friendship that can laugh at fortune, friendship that can conquer pride!
Offer this as to an equal -- let me see that you are true,
And my wall of pride is shattered: I am not so proud as you!

The Song and the Sigh

The creek went down with a broken song,
'Neath the sheoaks high;
The waters carried the song along,
And the oaks a sigh.

The song and the sigh went winding by,
Went winding down;
Circling the foot of the mountain high,
And the hillside brown.

They were hushed in the swamp of the Dead Man's Crime,
Where the curlews cried;
But they reached the river the self-same time,
And there they died.

And the creek of life goes winding on,
Wandering by;
And bears for ever, its course upon,
A song and a sigh.

The Cambaroora Star

So you're writing for a paper? Well, it's nothing very new
To be writing yards of drivel for a tidy little screw;
You are young and educated, and a clever chap you are,
But you'll never run a paper like the CAMBAROORA STAR.
Though in point of education I am nothing but a dunce,
I myself -- you mayn't believe it -- helped to run a paper once
With a chap on Cambaroora, by the name of Charlie Brown,
And I'll tell you all about it if you'll take the story down.

On a golden day in summer, when the sunrays were aslant,
Brown arrived in Cambaroora with a little printing plant
And his worldly goods and chattels -- rather damaged on the way --
And a weary-looking woman who was following the dray.
He had bought an empty humpy, and, instead of getting tight,
Why, the diggers heard him working like a lunatic all night:
And next day a sign of canvas, writ in characters of tar,
Claimed the humpy as the office of the CAMBAROORA STAR.

Well, I cannot read, that's honest, but I had a digger friend
Who would read the paper to me from the title to the end;
And the STAR contained a leader running thieves and spielers down,
With a slap against claim-jumping, and a poem made by Brown.
Once I showed it to a critic, and he said 'twas very fine,
Though he wasn't long in finding glaring faults in every line;
But it was a song of Freedom -- all the clever critic said
Couldn't stop that song from ringing, ringing, ringing in my head.

So I went where Brown was working in his little hut hard by:
`My old mate has been a-reading of your writings, Brown,' said I --
`I have studied on your leader, I agree with what you say,
You have struck the bed-rock certain, and there ain't no get-away;
Your paper's just the thumper for a young and growing land,
And your principles is honest, Brown; I want to shake your hand,
And if there's any lumping in connection with the STAR,
Well, I'll find the time to do it, and I'll help you -- there you are!'

Brown was every inch a digger (bronzed and bearded in the South),
But there seemed a kind of weakness round the corners of his mouth
When he took the hand I gave him; and he gripped it like a vice,
While he tried his best to thank me, and he stuttered once or twice.
But there wasn't need for talking -- we'd the same old loves and hates,
And we understood each other -- Charlie Brown and I were mates.
So we worked a little `paddock' on a place they called the `Bar',
And we sank a shaft together, and at night we worked the STAR.

Charlie thought and did his writing when his work was done at night,
And the missus used to `set' it near as quick as he could write.
Well, I didn't shirk my promise, and I helped the thing, I guess,
For at night I worked the lever of the crazy printing-press;
Brown himself would do the feeding, and the missus used to `fly' --
She is flying with the angels, if there's justice up on high,
For she died on Cambaroora when the STAR began to go,
And was buried like the diggers buried diggers long ago.

. . . . .

Lord, that press! It was a jumper -- we could seldom get it right,
And were lucky if we averaged a hundred in the night.
Many nights we'd sit together in the windy hut and fold,
And I helped the thing a little when I struck a patch of gold;
And we battled for the diggers as the papers seldom do,
Though when the diggers errored, why, we touched the diggers too.
Yet the paper took the fancy of that roaring mining town,
And the diggers sent a nugget with their sympathy to Brown.

Oft I sat and smoked beside him in the listening hours of night,
When the shadows from the corners seemed to gather round the light --
When his weary, aching fingers, closing stiffly round the pen,
Wrote defiant truth in language that could touch the hearts of men --
Wrote until his eyelids shuddered -- wrote until the East was grey:
Wrote the stern and awful lessons that were taught him in his day;
And they knew that he was honest, and they read his smallest par,
For I think the diggers' Bible was the CAMBAROORA STAR.

Diggers then had little mercy for the loafer and the scamp --
If there wasn't law and order, there was justice in the camp;
And the manly independence that is found where diggers are
Had a sentinel to guard it in the CAMBAROORA STAR.
There was strife about the Chinamen, who came in days of old
Like a swarm of thieves and loafers when the diggers found the gold --
Like the sneaking fortune-hunters who are always found behind,
And who only shepherd diggers till they track them to the `find'.

Charlie wrote a slinging leader, calling on his digger mates,
And he said: `We think that Chinkies are as bad as syndicates.
What's the good of holding meetings where you only talk and swear?
Get a move upon the Chinkies when you've got an hour to spare.'
It was nine o'clock next morning when the Chows began to swarm,
But they weren't so long in going, for the diggers' blood was warm.
Then the diggers held a meeting, and they shouted: `Hip hoorar!
Give three ringing cheers, my hearties, for the CAMBAROORA STAR.'

But the Cambaroora petered, and the diggers' sun went down,
And another sort of people came and settled in the town;
The reefing was conducted by a syndicate or two,
And they changed the name to `Queensville', for their blood was very blue.
They wanted Brown to help them put the feathers in their nests,
But his leaders went like thunder for their vested interests,
And he fought for right and justice and he raved about the dawn
Of the reign of Man and Reason till his ads. were all withdrawn.

He was offered shares for nothing in the richest of the mines,
And he could have made a fortune had he run on other lines;
They abused him for his leaders, and they parodied his rhymes,
And they told him that his paper was a mile behind the times.
`Let the times alone,' said Charlie, `they're all right, you needn't fret;
For I started long before them, and they haven't caught me yet.
But,' says he to me, `they're coming, and they're not so very far --
Though I left the times behind me they are following the STAR.

`Let them do their worst,' said Charlie, `but I'll never drop the reins
While a single scrap of paper or an ounce of ink remains:
I've another truth to tell them, though they tread me in the dirt,
And I'll print another issue if I print it on my shirt.'
So we fought the battle bravely, and we did our very best
Just to make the final issue quite as lively as the rest.
And the swells in Cambaroora talked of feathers and of tar
When they read the final issue of the CAMBAROORA STAR.

Gold is stronger than the tongue is -- gold is stronger than the pen:
They'd have squirmed in Cambaroora had I found a nugget then;
But in vain we scraped together every penny we could get,
For they fixed us with their boycott, and the plant was seized for debt.
'Twas a storekeeper who did it, and he sealed the paper's doom,
Though we gave him ads. for nothing when the STAR began to boom:
'Twas a paltry bill for tucker, and the crawling, sneaking clown
Sold the debt for twice its value to the men who hated Brown.

I was digging up the river, and I swam the flooded bend
With a little cash and comfort for my literary friend.
Brown was sitting sad and lonely with his head bowed in despair,
While a single tallow candle threw a flicker on his hair,
And the gusty wind that whistled through the crannies of the door
Stirred the scattered files of paper that were lying on the floor.
Charlie took my hand in silence -- and by-and-by he said:
`Tom, old mate, we did our damnedest, but the brave old STAR is dead.'

. . . . .

Then he stood up on a sudden, with a face as pale as death,
And he gripped my hand a moment, while he seemed to fight for breath:
`Tom, old friend,' he said, `I'm going, and I'm ready to -- to start,
For I know that there is something -- something crooked with my heart.
Tom, my first child died. I loved her even better than the pen --
Tom -- and while the STAR was dying, why, I felt like I did THEN.

. . . . .

Listen! Like the distant thunder of the rollers on the bar --
Listen, Tom! I hear the -- diggers -- shouting: `Bully for the STAR!''

After All

The brooding ghosts of Australian night have gone from the bush and town;
My spirit revives in the morning breeze,
though it died when the sun went down;
The river is high and the stream is strong,
and the grass is green and tall,
And I fain would think that this world of ours is a good world after all.

The light of passion in dreamy eyes, and a page of truth well read,
The glorious thrill in a heart grown cold of the spirit I thought was dead,
A song that goes to a comrade's heart, and a tear of pride let fall --
And my soul is strong! and the world to me is a grand world after all!

Let our enemies go by their old dull tracks,
and theirs be the fault or shame
(The man is bitter against the world who has only himself to blame);
Let the darkest side of the past be dark, and only the good recall;
For I must believe that the world, my dear, is a kind world after all.

It well may be that I saw too plain, and it may be I was blind;
But I'll keep my face to the dawning light,
though the devil may stand behind!
Though the devil may stand behind my back, I'll not see his shadow fall,
But read the signs in the morning stars of a good world after all.

Rest, for your eyes are weary, girl -- you have driven the worst away --
The ghost of the man that I might have been is gone from my heart to-day;
We'll live for life and the best it brings till our twilight shadows fall;
My heart grows brave, and the world, my girl, is a good world after all.

Marshall's Mate

You almost heard the surface bake, and saw the gum-leaves turn --
You could have watched the grass scorch brown had there been grass to burn.
In such a drought the strongest heart might well grow faint and weak --
'Twould frighten Satan to his home -- not far from Dingo Creek.

The tanks went dry on Ninety Mile, as tanks go dry out back,
The Half-Way Spring had failed at last when Marshall missed the track;
Beneath a dead tree on the plain we saw a pack-horse reel --
Too blind to see there was no shade, and too done-up to feel.
And charcoaled on the canvas bag (`twas written pretty clear)
We read the message Marshall wrote. It said: `I'm taken queer --
I'm somewhere off of Deadman's Track, half-blind and nearly dead;
Find Crowbar, get him sobered up, and follow back,' it said.

`Let Mitchell go to Bandicoot. You'll find him there,' said Mack.
`I'll start the chaps from Starving Steers, and take the dry-holes back.'
We tramped till dark, and tried to track the pack-horse on the sands,
And just at daylight Crowbar came with Milroy's station hands.
His cheeks were drawn, his face was white, but he was sober then --
In times of trouble, fire, and flood, 'twas Crowbar led the men.
`Spread out as widely as you can each side the track,' said he;
`The first to find him make a smoke that all the rest can see.'

We took the track and followed back where Crowbar followed fate,
We found a dead man in the scrub -- but 'twas not Crowbar's mate.
The station hands from Starving Steers were searching all the week --
But never news of Marshall's fate came back to Dingo Creek.
And no one, save the spirit of the sand-waste, fierce and lone,

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