Part 2 out of 2
In drought or plenty, in good or ill,
That same old steed was my comrade still;
The old grey horse with his honest ways
Was a mate to me in the droving days.
When we kept our watch in the cold and damp,
If the cattle broke from the sleeping camp,
Over the flats and across the plain,
With my head bent down on his waving mane,
Through the boughs above and the stumps below
On the darkest night I could let him go
At a racing speed; he would choose his course,
And my life was safe with the old grey horse.
But man and horse had a favourite job,
When an outlaw broke from a station mob,
With a right good will was the stockwhip plied,
As the old horse raced at the straggler's side,
And the greenhide whip such a weal would raise,
We could use the whip in the droving days.
. . . . .
`Only a pound!' and was this the end --
Only a pound for the drover's friend.
The drover's friend that had seen his day,
And now was worthless, and cast away
With a broken knee and a broken heart
To be flogged and starved in a hawker's cart.
Well, I made a bid for a sense of shame
And the memories dear of the good old game.
`Thank you? Guinea! and cheap at that!
Against you there in the curly hat!
Only a guinea, and one more chance,
Down he goes if there's no advance,
Third, and the last time, one! two! three!'
And the old grey horse was knocked down to me.
And now he's wandering, fat and sleek,
On the lucerne flats by the Homestead Creek;
I dare not ride him for fear he'd fall,
But he does a journey to beat them all,
For though he scarcely a trot can raise,
He can take me back to the droving days.
`He ought to be home,' said the old man, `without there's something amiss.
He only went to the Two-mile -- he ought to be back by this.
He WOULD ride the Reckless filly, he WOULD have his wilful way;
And, here, he's not back at sundown -- and what will his mother say?
`He was always his mother's idol, since ever his father died;
And there isn't a horse on the station that he isn't game to ride.
But that Reckless mare is vicious, and if once she gets away
He hasn't got strength to hold her -- and what will his mother say?'
The old man walked to the sliprail, and peered up the dark'ning track,
And looked and longed for the rider that would never more come back;
And the mother came and clutched him, with sudden, spasmodic fright:
`What has become of my Willie? -- why isn't he home to-night?'
Away in the gloomy ranges, at the foot of an ironbark,
The bonnie, winsome laddie was lying stiff and stark;
For the Reckless mare had smashed him against a leaning limb,
And his comely face was battered, and his merry eyes were dim.
And the thoroughbred chestnut filly, the saddle beneath her flanks,
Was away like fire through the ranges to join the wild mob's ranks;
And a broken-hearted woman and an old man worn and grey
Were searching all night in the ranges till the sunrise brought the day.
And the mother kept feebly calling, with a hope that would not die,
`Willie! where are you, Willie?' But how can the dead reply;
And hope died out with the daylight, and the darkness brought despair,
God pity the stricken mother, and answer the widow's prayer!
Though far and wide they sought him, they found not where he fell;
For the ranges held him precious, and guarded their treasure well.
The wattle blooms above him, and the blue bells blow close by,
And the brown bees buzz the secret, and the wild birds sing reply.
But the mother pined and faded, and cried, and took no rest,
And rode each day to the ranges on her hopeless, weary quest.
Seeking her loved one ever, she faded and pined away,
But with strength of her great affection she still sought every day.
`I know that sooner or later I shall find my boy,' she said.
But she came not home one evening, and they found her lying dead,
And stamped on the poor pale features, as the spirit homeward pass'd,
Was an angel smile of gladness -- she had found the boy at last.
Over the Range
Little bush maiden, wondering-eyed,
Playing alone in the creek-bed dry,
In the small green flat on every side
Walled in by the Moonbi ranges high;
Tell us the tale of your lonely life,
'Mid the great grey forests that know no change.
`I never have left my home,' she said,
`I have never been over the Moonbi Range.
`Father and mother are both long dead,
And I live with granny in yon wee place.'
`Where are your father and mother?' we said.
She puzzled awhile with thoughtful face,
Then a light came into the shy brown eye,
And she smiled, for she thought the question strange
On a thing so certain -- `When people die
They go to the country over the range.'
`And what is this country like, my lass?'
`There are blossoming trees and pretty flowers,
And shining creeks where the golden grass
Is fresh and sweet from the summer showers.
They never need work, nor want, nor weep;
No troubles can come their hearts to estrange.
Some summer night I shall fall asleep,
And wake in the country over the range.'
Child, you are wise in your simple trust,
For the wisest man knows no more than you
Ashes to ashes, and dust to dust:
Our views by a range are bounded too;
But we know that God hath this gift in store,
That when we come to the final change,
We shall meet with our loved ones gone before
To the beautiful country over the range.
Only a Jockey
`Richard Bennison, a jockey, aged 14, while riding William Tell
in his training, was thrown and killed. The horse is luckily uninjured.'
-- Melbourne Wire.
Out in the grey cheerless chill of the morning light,
Out on the track where the night shades still lurk;
Ere the first gleam of the sungod's returning light,
Round come the race-horses early at work.
Reefing and pulling and racing so readily,
Close sit the jockey-boys holding them hard,
`Steady the stallion there -- canter him steadily,
Don't let him gallop so much as a yard.'
Fiercely he fights while the others run wide of him,
Reefs at the bit that would hold him in thrall,
Plunges and bucks till the boy that's astride of him
Goes to the ground with a terrible fall.
`Stop him there! Block him there! Drive him in carefully,
Lead him about till he's quiet and cool.
Sound as a bell! though he's blown himself fearfully,
Now let us pick up this poor little fool.
`Stunned? Oh, by Jove, I'm afraid it's a case with him;
Ride for the doctor! keep bathing his head!
Send for a cart to go down to our place with him' --
No use! One long sigh and the little chap's dead.
Only a jockey-boy, foul-mouthed and bad you see,
Ignorant, heathenish, gone to his rest.
Parson or Presbyter, Pharisee, Sadducee,
What did you do for him? -- bad was the best.
Negroes and foreigners, all have a claim on you;
Yearly you send your well-advertised hoard,
But the poor jockey-boy -- shame on you, shame on you,
`Feed ye, my little ones' -- what said the Lord?
Him ye held less than the outer barbarian,
Left him to die in his ignorant sin;
Have you no principles, humanitarian?
Have you no precept -- `go gather them in?'
. . . . .
Knew he God's name? In his brutal profanity,
That name was an oath -- out of many but one --
What did he get from our famed Christianity?
Where has his soul -- if he had any -- gone?
Fourteen years old, and what was he taught of it?
What did he know of God's infinite grace?
Draw the dark curtain of shame o'er the thought of it,
Draw the shroud over the jockey-boy's face.
How M'Ginnis Went Missing
Let us cease our idle chatter,
Let the tears bedew our cheek,
For a man from Tallangatta
Has been missing for a week.
Where the roaring flooded Murray
Covered all the lower land,
There he started in a hurry,
With a bottle in his hand.
And his fate is hid for ever,
But the public seem to think
That he slumbered by the river,
'Neath the influence of drink.
And they scarcely seem to wonder
That the river, wide and deep,
Never woke him with its thunder,
Never stirred him in his sleep.
As the crashing logs came sweeping,
And their tumult filled the air,
Then M'Ginnis murmured, sleeping,
`'Tis a wake in ould Kildare.'
So the river rose and found him
Sleeping softly by the stream,
And the cruel waters drowned him
Ere he wakened from his dream.
And the blossom-tufted wattle,
Blooming brightly on the lea,
Saw M'Ginnis and the bottle
Going drifting out to sea.
A Voice from the Town
A sequel to [Mowbray Morris's] `A Voice from the Bush'
I thought, in the days of the droving,
Of steps I might hope to retrace,
To be done with the bush and the roving
And settle once more in my place.
With a heart that was well nigh to breaking,
In the long, lonely rides on the plain,
I thought of the pleasure of taking
The hand of a lady again.
I am back into civilisation,
Once more in the stir and the strife,
But the old joys have lost their sensation --
The light has gone out of my life;
The men of my time they have married,
Made fortunes or gone to the wall;
Too long from the scene I have tarried,
And, somehow, I'm out of it all.
For I go to the balls and the races
A lonely companionless elf,
And the ladies bestow all their graces
On others less grey than myself;
While the talk goes around I'm a dumb one
'Midst youngsters that chatter and prate,
And they call me `the Man who was Someone
Way back in the year Sixty-eight.'
And I look, sour and old, at the dancers
That swing to the strains of the band,
And the ladies all give me the Lancers,
No waltzes -- I quite understand.
For matrons intent upon matching
Their daughters with infinite push,
Would scarce think him worthy the catching,
The broken-down man from the bush.
New partners have come and new faces,
And I, of the bygone brigade,
Sharply feel that oblivion my place is --
I must lie with the rest in the shade.
And the youngsters, fresh-featured and pleasant,
They live as we lived -- fairly fast;
But I doubt if the men of the present
Are as good as the men of the past.
Of excitement and praise they are chary,
There is nothing much good upon earth;
Their watchword is NIL ADMIRARI,
They are bored from the days of their birth.
Where the life that we led was a revel
They `wince and relent and refrain' --
I could show them the road -- to the devil,
Were I only a youngster again.
I could show them the road where the stumps are
The pleasures that end in remorse,
And the game where the Devil's three trumps are,
The woman, the card, and the horse.
Shall the blind lead the blind -- shall the sower
Of wind reap the storm as of yore?
Though they get to their goal somewhat slower,
They march where we hurried before.
For the world never learns -- just as we did,
They gallantly go to their fate,
Unheeded all warnings, unheeded
The maxims of elders sedate.
As the husbandman, patiently toiling,
Draws a harvest each year from the soil,
So the fools grow afresh for the spoiling,
And a new crop of thieves for the spoil.
But a truce to this dull moralising,
Let them drink while the drops are of gold,
I have tasted the dregs -- 'twere surprising
Were the new wine to me like the old;
And I weary for lack of employment
In idleness day after day,
For the key to the door of enjoyment
Is Youth -- and I've thrown it away.
A Bunch of Roses
Roses ruddy and roses white,
What are the joys that my heart discloses?
Sitting alone in the fading light
Memories come to me here to-night
With the wonderful scent of the big red roses.
Memories come as the daylight fades
Down on the hearth where the firelight dozes;
Flicker and flutter the lights and shades,
And I see the face of a queen of maids
Whose memory comes with the scent of roses.
Visions arise of a scene of mirth,
And a ball-room belle that superbly poses --
A queenly woman of queenly worth,
And I am the happiest man on earth
With a single flower from a bunch of roses.
Only her memory lives to-night --
God in His wisdom her young life closes;
Over her grave may the turf be light,
Cover her coffin with roses white --
She was always fond of the big white roses.
. . . . .
Such are the visions that fade away --
Man proposes and God disposes;
Look in the glass and I see to-day
Only an old man, worn and grey,
Bending his head to a bunch of roses.
As I lie at rest on a patch of clover
In the Western Park when the day is done,
I watch as the wild black swans fly over
With their phalanx turned to the sinking sun;
And I hear the clang of their leader crying
To a lagging mate in the rearward flying,
And they fade away in the darkness dying,
Where the stars are mustering one by one.
Oh! ye wild black swans, 'twere a world of wonder
For a while to join in your westward flight,
With the stars above and the dim earth under,
Through the cooling air of the glorious night.
As we swept along on our pinions winging,
We should catch the chime of a church-bell ringing,
Or the distant note of a torrent singing,
Or the far-off flash of a station light.
From the northern lakes with the reeds and rushes,
Where the hills are clothed with a purple haze,
Where the bell-birds chime and the songs of thrushes
Make music sweet in the jungle maze,
They will hold their course to the westward ever,
Till they reach the banks of the old grey river,
Where the waters wash, and the reed-beds quiver
In the burning heat of the summer days.
Oh! ye strange wild birds, will ye bear a greeting
To the folk that live in that western land?
Then for every sweep of your pinions beating,
Ye shall bear a wish to the sunburnt band,
To the stalwart men who are stoutly fighting
With the heat and drought and the dust-storm smiting,
Yet whose life somehow has a strange inviting,
When once to the work they have put their hand.
Facing it yet! Oh, my friend stout-hearted,
What does it matter for rain or shine,
For the hopes deferred and the gain departed?
Nothing could conquer that heart of thine.
And thy health and strength are beyond confessing
As the only joys that are worth possessing.
May the days to come be as rich in blessing
As the days we spent in the auld lang syne.
I would fain go back to the old grey river,
To the old bush days when our hearts were light,
But, alas! those days they have fled for ever,
They are like the swans that have swept from sight.
And I know full well that the strangers' faces
Would meet us now in our dearest places;
For our day is dead and has left no traces
But the thoughts that live in my mind to-night.
There are folk long dead, and our hearts would sicken --
We would grieve for them with a bitter pain,
If the past could live and the dead could quicken,
We then might turn to that life again.
But on lonely nights we would hear them calling,
We should hear their steps on the pathways falling,
We should loathe the life with a hate appalling
In our lonely rides by the ridge and plain.
. . . . .
In the silent park is a scent of clover,
And the distant roar of the town is dead,
And I hear once more as the swans fly over
Their far-off clamour from overhead.
They are flying west, by their instinct guided,
And for man likewise is his fate decided,
And griefs apportioned and joys divided
By a mighty power with a purpose dread.
The All Right 'Un
He came from `further out',
That land of heat and drought
And dust and gravel.
He got a touch of sun,
And rested at the run
Until his cure was done,
And he could travel.
When spring had decked the plain,
He flitted off again
As flit the swallows.
And from that western land,
When many months were spanned,
A letter came to hand,
Which read as follows:
`Dear sir, I take my pen
In hopes that all your men
And you are hearty.
You think that I've forgot
Your kindness, Mr. Scott,
Oh, no, dear sir, I'm not
That sort of party.
`You sometimes bet, I know,
Well, now you'll have a show
The `books' to frighten.
Up here at Wingadee
Young Billy Fife and me
We're training Strife, and he
Is a all right 'un.
`Just now we're running byes,
But, sir, first time he tries
I'll send you word of.
And running `on the crook'
Their measures we have took,
It is the deadest hook
You ever heard of.
`So when we lets him go,
Why, then, I'll let you know,
And you can have a show
To put a mite on.
Now, sir, my leave I'll take,
Yours truly, William Blake.
P.S. -- Make no mistake,
HE'S A ALL RIGHT 'UN.'
. . . . .
By next week's RIVERINE
I saw my friend had been
A bit too cunning.
I read: `The racehorse Strife
And jockey William Fife
Disqualified for life --
But though they spoilt his game,
I reckon all the same
I fairly ought to claim
My friend a white 'un.
For though he wasn't straight,
His deeds would indicate
His heart at any rate
Was `a all right 'un'.
The Boss of the `Admiral Lynch'
Did you ever hear tell of Chili? I was readin' the other day
Of President Balmaceda and of how he was sent away.
It seems that he didn't suit 'em -- they thought that they'd like a change,
So they started an insurrection and chased him across the range.
They seemed to be restless people -- and, judging by what you hear,
They raise up these revolutions 'bout two or three times a year;
And the man that goes out of office, he goes for the boundary QUICK,
For there isn't no vote by ballot -- it's bullets that does the trick.
And it ain't like a real battle, where the prisoners' lives are spared,
And they fight till there's one side beaten
and then there's a truce declared,
And the man that has got the licking goes down like a blooming lord
To hand in his resignation and give up his blooming sword,
And the other man bows and takes it, and everything's all polite --
This wasn't that kind of a picnic, this wasn't that sort of a fight.
For the pris'ners they took -- they shot 'em;
no odds were they small or great,
If they'd collared old Balmaceda, they reckoned to shoot him straight.
A lot of bloodthirsty devils they were -- but there ain't a doubt
They must have been real plucked 'uns -- the way that they fought it out,
And the king of 'em all, I reckon, the man that could stand a pinch,
Was the boss of a one-horse gunboat. They called her the `Admiral Lynch'.
Well, he was for Balmaceda, and after the war was done,
And Balmaceda was beaten and his troops had been forced to run,
The other man fetched his army and proceeded to do things brown,
He marched 'em into the fortress and took command of the town.
Cannon and guns and horses troopin' along the road,
Rumblin' over the bridges, and never a foeman showed
Till they came in sight of the harbour, and the very first thing they see
Was this mite of a one-horse gunboat a-lying against the quay,
And there as they watched they noticed a flutter of crimson rag,
And under their eyes he hoisted old Balmaceda's flag.
Well, I tell you it fairly knocked 'em -- it just took away their breath,
For he must ha' known if they caught him, 'twas nothin' but sudden death.
An' he'd got no fire in his furnace, no chance to put out to sea,
So he stood by his gun and waited with his vessel against the quay.
Well, they sent him a civil message to say that the war was done,
And most of his side were corpses, and all that were left had run;
And blood had been spilt sufficient, so they gave him a chance to decide
If he'd haul down his bit of bunting and come on the winning side.
He listened and heard their message, and answered them all polite,
That he was a Spanish hidalgo, and the men of his race MUST fight!
A gunboat against an army, and with never a chance to run,
And them with their hundred cannon and him with a single gun:
The odds were a trifle heavy -- but he wasn't the sort to flinch,
So he opened fire on the army, did the boss of the `Admiral Lynch'.
They pounded his boat to pieces, they silenced his single gun,
And captured the whole consignment, for none of 'em cared to run;
And it don't say whether they shot him -- it don't even give his name --
But whatever they did I'll wager that he went to his graveyard game.
I tell you those old hidalgos so stately and so polite,
They turn out the real Maginnis when it comes to an uphill fight.
There was General Alcantara, who died in the heaviest brunt,
And General Alzereca was killed in the battle's front;
But the king of 'em all, I reckon -- the man that could stand a pinch --
Was the man who attacked the army with the gunboat `Admiral Lynch'.
A Bushman's Song
I'm travellin' down the Castlereagh, and I'm a station hand,
I'm handy with the ropin' pole, I'm handy with the brand,
And I can ride a rowdy colt, or swing the axe all day,
But there's no demand for a station-hand along the Castlereagh.
So it's shift, boys, shift, for there isn't the slightest doubt
That we've got to make a shift to the stations further out,
With the pack-horse runnin' after, for he follows like a dog,
We must strike across the country at the old jig-jog.
This old black horse I'm riding -- if you'll notice what's his brand,
He wears the crooked R, you see -- none better in the land.
He takes a lot of beatin', and the other day we tried,
For a bit of a joke, with a racing bloke, for twenty pounds a side.
It was shift, boys, shift, for there wasn't the slightest doubt
That I had to make him shift, for the money was nearly out;
But he cantered home a winner, with the other one at the flog --
He's a red-hot sort to pick up with his old jig-jog.
I asked a cove for shearin' once along the Marthaguy:
`We shear non-union here,' says he. `I call it scab,' says I.
I looked along the shearin' floor before I turned to go --
There were eight or ten dashed Chinamen a-shearin' in a row.
It was shift, boys, shift, for there wasn't the slightest doubt
It was time to make a shift with the leprosy about.
So I saddled up my horses, and I whistled to my dog,
And I left his scabby station at the old jig-jog.
I went to Illawarra, where my brother's got a farm,
He has to ask his landlord's leave before he lifts his arm;
The landlord owns the country side -- man, woman, dog, and cat,
They haven't the cheek to dare to speak without they touch their hat.
It was shift, boys, shift, for there wasn't the slightest doubt
Their little landlord god and I would soon have fallen out;
Was I to touch my hat to him? -- was I his bloomin' dog?
So I makes for up the country at the old jig-jog.
But it's time that I was movin', I've a mighty way to go
Till I drink artesian water from a thousand feet below;
Till I meet the overlanders with the cattle comin' down,
And I'll work a while till I make a pile, then have a spree in town.
So, it's shift, boys, shift, for there isn't the slightest doubt
We've got to make a shift to the stations further out;
The pack-horse runs behind us, for he follows like a dog,
And we cross a lot of country at the old jig-jog.
How Gilbert Died
There's never a stone at the sleeper's head,
There's never a fence beside,
And the wandering stock on the grave may tread
Unnoticed and undenied,
But the smallest child on the Watershed
Can tell you how Gilbert died.
For he rode at dusk, with his comrade Dunn
To the hut at the Stockman's Ford,
In the waning light of the sinking sun
They peered with a fierce accord.
They were outlaws both -- and on each man's head
Was a thousand pounds reward.
They had taken toll of the country round,
And the troopers came behind
With a black that tracked like a human hound
In the scrub and the ranges blind:
He could run the trail where a white man's eye
No sign of a track could find.
He had hunted them out of the One Tree Hill
And over the Old Man Plain,
But they wheeled their tracks with a wild beast's skill,
And they made for the range again.
Then away to the hut where their grandsire dwelt,
They rode with a loosened rein.
And their grandsire gave them a greeting bold:
`Come in and rest in peace,
No safer place does the country hold --
With the night pursuit must cease,
And we'll drink success to the roving boys,
And to hell with the black police.'
But they went to death when they entered there,
In the hut at the Stockman's Ford,
For their grandsire's words were as false as fair --
They were doomed to the hangman's cord.
He had sold them both to the black police
For the sake of the big reward.
In the depth of night there are forms that glide
As stealthy as serpents creep,
And around the hut where the outlaws hide
They plant in the shadows deep,
And they wait till the first faint flush of dawn
Shall waken their prey from sleep.
But Gilbert wakes while the night is dark --
A restless sleeper, aye,
He has heard the sound of a sheep-dog's bark,
And his horse's warning neigh,
And he says to his mate, `There are hawks abroad,
And it's time that we went away.'
Their rifles stood at the stretcher head,
Their bridles lay to hand,
They wakened the old man out of his bed,
When they heard the sharp command:
`In the name of the Queen lay down your arms,
Now, Dunn and Gilbert, stand!'
Then Gilbert reached for his rifle true
That close at his hand he kept,
He pointed it straight at the voice and drew,
But never a flash outleapt,
For the water ran from the rifle breech --
It was drenched while the outlaws slept.
Then he dropped the piece with a bitter oath,
And he turned to his comrade Dunn:
`We are sold,' he said, `we are dead men both,
But there may be a chance for one;
I'll stop and I'll fight with the pistol here,
You take to your heels and run.'
So Dunn crept out on his hands and knees
In the dim, half-dawning light,
And he made his way to a patch of trees,
And vanished among the night,
And the trackers hunted his tracks all day,
But they never could trace his flight.
But Gilbert walked from the open door
In a confident style and rash;
He heard at his side the rifles roar,
And he heard the bullets crash.
But he laughed as he lifted his pistol-hand,
And he fired at the rifle flash.
Then out of the shadows the troopers aimed
At his voice and the pistol sound,
With the rifle flashes the darkness flamed,
He staggered and spun around,
And they riddled his body with rifle balls
As it lay on the blood-soaked ground.
There's never a stone at the sleeper's head,
There's never a fence beside,
And the wandering stock on the grave may tread
Unnoticed and undenied,
But the smallest child on the Watershed
Can tell you how Gilbert died.
The Flying Gang
I served my time, in the days gone by,
In the railway's clash and clang,
And I worked my way to the end, and I
Was the head of the `Flying Gang'.
`Twas a chosen band that was kept at hand
In case of an urgent need,
Was it south or north we were started forth,
And away at our utmost speed.
If word reached town that a bridge was down,
The imperious summons rang --
`Come out with the pilot engine sharp,
And away with the flying gang.'
Then a piercing scream and a rush of steam
As the engine moved ahead,
With a measured beat by the slum and street
Of the busy town we fled,
By the uplands bright and the homesteads white,
With the rush of the western gale,
And the pilot swayed with the pace we made
As she rocked on the ringing rail.
And the country children clapped their hands
As the engine's echoes rang,
But their elders said: `There is work ahead
When they send for the flying gang.'
Then across the miles of the saltbush plain
That gleamed with the morning dew,
Where the grasses waved like the ripening grain
The pilot engine flew,
A fiery rush in the open bush
Where the grade marks seemed to fly,
And the order sped on the wires ahead,
The pilot MUST go by.
The Governor's special must stand aside,
And the fast express go hang,
Let your orders be that the line is free
For the boys of the flying gang.
Shearing at Castlereagh
The bell is set a-ringing, and the engine gives a toot,
There's five and thirty shearers here are shearing for the loot,
So stir yourselves, you penners-up, and shove the sheep along,
The musterers are fetching them a hundred thousand strong,
And make your collie dogs speak up -- what would the buyers say
In London if the wool was late this year from Castlereagh?
The man that `rung' the Tubbo shed is not the ringer here,
That stripling from the Cooma side can teach him how to shear.
They trim away the ragged locks, and rip the cutter goes,
And leaves a track of snowy fleece from brisket to the nose;
It's lovely how they peel it off with never stop nor stay,
They're racing for the ringer's place this year at Castlereagh.
The man that keeps the cutters sharp is growling in his cage,
He's always in a hurry and he's always in a rage --
`You clumsy-fisted mutton-heads, you'd turn a fellow sick,
You pass yourselves as shearers, you were born to swing a pick.
Another broken cutter here, that's two you've broke to-day,
It's awful how such crawlers come to shear at Castlereagh.'
The youngsters picking up the fleece enjoy the merry din,
They throw the classer up the fleece, he throws it to the bin;
The pressers standing by the rack are waiting for the wool,
There's room for just a couple more, the press is nearly full;
Now jump upon the lever, lads, and heave and heave away,
Another bale of golden fleece is branded `Castlereagh'.
The Wind's Message
There came a whisper down the Bland between the dawn and dark,
Above the tossing of the pines, above the river's flow;
It stirred the boughs of giant gums and stalwart ironbark;
It drifted where the wild ducks played amid the swamps below;
It brought a breath of mountain air from off the hills of pine,
A scent of eucalyptus trees in honey-laden bloom;
And drifting, drifting far away along the southern line
It caught from leaf and grass and fern a subtle strange perfume.
It reached the toiling city folk, but few there were that heard --
The rattle of their busy life had choked the whisper down;
And some but caught a fresh-blown breeze with scent of pine that stirred
A thought of blue hills far away beyond the smoky town;
And others heard the whisper pass, but could not understand
The magic of the breeze's breath that set their hearts aglow,
Nor how the roving wind could bring across the Overland
A sound of voices silent now and songs of long ago.
But some that heard the whisper clear were filled with vague unrest;
The breeze had brought its message home, they could not fixed abide;
Their fancies wandered all the day towards the blue hills' breast,
Towards the sunny slopes that lie along the riverside,
The mighty rolling western plains are very fair to see,
Where waving to the passing breeze the silver myalls stand,
But fairer are the giant hills, all rugged though they be,
From which the two great rivers rise that run along the Bland.
Oh! rocky range and rugged spur and river running clear,
That swings around the sudden bends with swirl of snow-white foam,
Though we, your sons, are far away, we sometimes seem to hear
The message that the breezes bring to call the wanderers home.
The mountain peaks are white with snow that feeds a thousand rills,
Along the river banks the maize grows tall on virgin land,
And we shall live to see once more those sunny southern hills,
And strike once more the bridle track that leads along the Bland.
Down along the Snakebite River, where the overlanders camp,
Where the serpents are in millions, all of the most deadly stamp;
Where the station-cook in terror, nearly every time he bakes,
Mixes up among the doughboys half-a-dozen poison-snakes:
Where the wily free-selector walks in armour-plated pants,
And defies the stings of scorpions, and the bites of bull-dog ants:
Where the adder and the viper tear each other by the throat,
There it was that William Johnson sought his snake-bite antidote.
Johnson was a free-selector, and his brain went rather queer,
For the constant sight of serpents filled him with a deadly fear;
So he tramped his free-selection, morning, afternoon, and night,
Seeking for some great specific that would cure the serpent's bite.
Till King Billy, of the Mooki, chieftain of the flour-bag head,
Told him, `Spos'n snake bite pfeller, pfeller mostly drop down dead;
Spos'n snake bite old goanna, then you watch a while you see,
Old goanna cure himself with eating little pfeller tree.'
`That's the cure,' said William Johnson, `point me out this plant sublime,'
But King Billy, feeling lazy, said he'd go another time.
Thus it came to pass that Johnson, having got the tale by rote,
Followed every stray goanna, seeking for the antidote.
. . . . .
Loafing once beside the river, while he thought his heart would break,
There he saw a big goanna fighting with a tiger-snake,
In and out they rolled and wriggled, bit each other, heart and soul,
Till the valiant old goanna swallowed his opponent whole.
Breathless, Johnson sat and watched him, saw him struggle up the bank,
Saw him nibbling at the branches of some bushes, green and rank;
Saw him, happy and contented, lick his lips, as off he crept,
While the bulging in his stomach showed where his opponent slept.
Then a cheer of exultation burst aloud from Johnson's throat;
`Luck at last,' said he, `I've struck it! 'tis the famous antidote.'
`Here it is, the Grand Elixir, greatest blessing ever known,
Twenty thousand men in India die each year of snakes alone.
Think of all the foreign nations, negro, chow, and blackamoor,
Saved from sudden expiration, by my wondrous snakebite cure.
It will bring me fame and fortune! In the happy days to be,
Men of every clime and nation will be round to gaze on me --
Scientific men in thousands, men of mark and men of note,
Rushing down the Mooki River, after Johnson's antidote.
It will cure Delirium Tremens, when the patient's eyeballs stare
At imaginary spiders, snakes which really are not there.
When he thinks he sees them wriggle, when he thinks he sees them bloat,
It will cure him just to think of Johnson's Snakebite Antidote.'
Then he rushed to the museum, found a scientific man --
`Trot me out a deadly serpent, just the deadliest you can;
I intend to let him bite me, all the risk I will endure,
Just to prove the sterling value of my wondrous snakebite cure.
Even though an adder bit me, back to life again I'd float;
Snakes are out of date, I tell you, since I've found the antidote.'
Said the scientific person, `If you really want to die,
Go ahead -- but, if you're doubtful, let your sheep-dog have a try.
Get a pair of dogs and try it, let the snake give both a nip;
Give your dog the snakebite mixture, let the other fellow rip;
If he dies and yours survives him, then it proves the thing is good.
Will you fetch your dog and try it?' Johnson rather thought he would.
So he went and fetched his canine, hauled him forward by the throat.
`Stump, old man,' says he, `we'll show them we've the genwine antidote.'
Both the dogs were duly loaded with the poison-gland's contents;
Johnson gave his dog the mixture, then sat down to wait events.
`Mark,' he said, `in twenty minutes Stump'll be a-rushing round,
While the other wretched creature lies a corpse upon the ground.'
But, alas for William Johnson! ere they'd watched a half-hour's spell
Stumpy was as dead as mutton, t'other dog was live and well.
And the scientific person hurried off with utmost speed,
Tested Johnson's drug and found it was a deadly poison-weed;
Half a tumbler killed an emu, half a spoonful killed a goat,
All the snakes on earth were harmless to that awful antidote.
. . . . .
Down along the Mooki River, on the overlanders' camp,
Where the serpents are in millions, all of the most deadly stamp,
Wanders, daily, William Johnson, down among those poisonous hordes,
Shooting every stray goanna, calls them `black and yaller frauds'.
And King Billy, of the Mooki, cadging for the cast-off coat,
Somehow seems to dodge the subject of the snake-bite antidote.
Ambition and Art
I am the maid of the lustrous eyes
Of great fruition,
Whom the sons of men that are over-wise
Have called Ambition.
And the world's success is the only goal
I have within me;
The meanest man with the smallest soul
May woo and win me.
For the lust of power and the pride of place
To all I proffer.
Wilt thou take thy part in the crowded race
For what I offer?
The choice is thine, and the world is wide --
Thy path is lonely.
I may not lead and I may not guide --
I urge thee only.
I am just a whip and a spur that smites
To fierce endeavour.
In the restless days and the sleepless nights
I urge thee ever.
Thou shalt wake from sleep with a startled cry,
In fright upleaping
At a rival's step as it passes by
Whilst thou art sleeping.
Honour and truth shall be overthrown
In fierce desire;
Thou shalt use thy friend as a stepping-stone
To mount thee higher.
When the curtain falls on the sordid strife
That seemed so splendid,
Thou shalt look with pain on the wasted life
That thou hast ended.
Thou hast sold thy life for a guerdon small
In fitful flashes;
There has been reward -- but the end of all
Is dust and ashes.
For the night has come and it brings to naught
Thy projects cherished,
And thine epitaph shall in brass be wrought --
`He lived and perished.'
I wait for thee at the outer gate,
My love, mine only;
Wherefore tarriest thou so late
While I am lonely.
Thou shalt seek my side with a footstep swift,
In thee implanted
Is the love of Art and the greatest gift
That God has granted.
And the world's concerns with its rights and wrongs
Shall seem but small things --
Poet or painter, a singer of songs,
Thine art is all things.
For the wine of life is a woman's love
To keep beside thee;
But the love of Art is a thing above --
A star to guide thee.
As the years go by with thy love of Art
Thou shalt end thy days with a quiet heart --
Thy work is finished.
So the painter fashions a picture strong
That fadeth never,
And the singer singeth a wond'rous song
That lives for ever.
The Daylight is Dying
The daylight is dying
Away in the west,
The wild birds are flying
In silence to rest;
In leafage and frondage
Where shadows are deep,
They pass to its bondage --
The kingdom of sleep.
And watched in their sleeping
By stars in the height,
They rest in your keeping,
Oh, wonderful night.
When night doth her glories
Of starshine unfold,
'Tis then that the stories
Of bush-land are told.
Unnumbered I hold them
In memories bright,
But who could unfold them,
Or read them aright?
Beyond all denials
The stars in their glories
The breeze in the myalls
Are part of these stories.
The waving of grasses,
The song of the river
That sings as it passes
For ever and ever,
The hobble-chains' rattle,
The calling of birds,
The lowing of cattle
Must blend with the words.
Without these, indeed, you
Would find it ere long,
As though I should read you
The words of a song
That lamely would linger
When lacking the rune,
The voice of the singer,
The lilt of the tune.
But, as one half-hearing
An old-time refrain,
With memory clearing,
Recalls it again,
These tales, roughly wrought of
The bush and its ways,
May call back a thought of
The wandering days,
And, blending with each
In the mem'ries that throng,
There haply shall reach
You some echo of song.
In Defence of the Bush
So you're back from up the country, Mister Townsman, where you went,
And you're cursing all the business in a bitter discontent;
Well, we grieve to disappoint you, and it makes us sad to hear
That it wasn't cool and shady -- and there wasn't plenty beer,
And the loony bullock snorted when you first came into view;
Well, you know it's not so often that he sees a swell like you;
And the roads were hot and dusty, and the plains were burnt and brown,
And no doubt you're better suited drinking lemon-squash in town.
Yet, perchance, if you should journey down the very track you went
In a month or two at furthest you would wonder what it meant,
Where the sunbaked earth was gasping like a creature in its pain
You would find the grasses waving like a field of summer grain,
And the miles of thirsty gutters blocked with sand and choked with mud,
You would find them mighty rivers with a turbid, sweeping flood;
For the rain and drought and sunshine make no changes in the street,
In the sullen line of buildings and the ceaseless tramp of feet;
But the bush hath moods and changes, as the seasons rise and fall,
And the men who know the bush-land -- they are loyal through it all.
. . . . .
But you found the bush was dismal and a land of no delight,
Did you chance to hear a chorus in the shearers' huts at night?
Did they `rise up, William Riley' by the camp-fire's cheery blaze?
Did they rise him as we rose him in the good old droving days?
And the women of the homesteads and the men you chanced to meet --
Were their faces sour and saddened like the `faces in the street',
And the `shy selector children' -- were they better now or worse
Than the little city urchins who would greet you with a curse?
Is not such a life much better than the squalid street and square
Where the fallen women flaunt it in the fierce electric glare,
Where the sempstress plies her sewing till her eyes are sore and red
In a filthy, dirty attic toiling on for daily bread?
Did you hear no sweeter voices in the music of the bush
Than the roar of trams and 'buses, and the war-whoop of `the push'?
Did the magpies rouse your slumbers with their carol sweet and strange?
Did you hear the silver chiming of the bell-birds on the range?
But, perchance, the wild birds' music by your senses was despised,
For you say you'll stay in townships till the bush is civilised.
Would you make it a tea-garden and on Sundays have a band
Where the `blokes' might take their `donahs',
with a `public' close at hand?
You had better stick to Sydney and make merry with the `push',
For the bush will never suit you, and you'll never suit the bush.
Oh, the new-chum went to the back block run,
But he should have gone there last week.
He tramped ten miles with a loaded gun,
But of turkey or duck he saw never a one,
For he should have been there last week,
There were flocks of 'em there last week.
He wended his way to a waterfall,
And he should have gone there last week.
He carried a camera, legs and all,
But the day was hot, and the stream was small,
For he should have gone there last week,
They drowned a man there last week.
He went for a drive, and he made a start,
Which should have been made last week,
For the old horse died of a broken heart;
So he footed it home and he dragged the cart --
But the horse was all right last week,
He trotted a match last week.
So he asked the bushies who came from far
To visit the town last week,
If they'd dine with him, and they said `Hurrah!'
But there wasn't a drop in the whisky jar --
You should have been here last week,
I drank it all up last week!
The shearers sat in the firelight, hearty and hale and strong,
After the hard day's shearing, passing the joke along:
The `ringer' that shore a hundred, as they never were shorn before,
And the novice who, toiling bravely, had tommy-hawked half a score,
The tarboy, the cook, and the slushy, the sweeper that swept the board,
The picker-up, and the penner, with the rest of the shearing horde.
There were men from the inland stations
where the skies like a furnace glow,
And men from the Snowy River, the land of the frozen snow;
There were swarthy Queensland drovers who reckoned all land by miles,
And farmers' sons from the Murray, where many a vineyard smiles.
They started at telling stories when they wearied of cards and games,
And to give these stories a flavour they threw in some local names,
And a man from the bleak Monaro, away on the tableland,
He fixed his eyes on the ceiling, and he started to play his hand.
He told them of Adjintoothbong, where the pine-clad mountains freeze,
And the weight of the snow in summer breaks branches off the trees,
And, as he warmed to the business, he let them have it strong --
Nimitybelle, Conargo, Wheeo, Bongongolong;
He lingered over them fondly, because they recalled to mind
A thought of the old bush homestead, and the girl that he left behind.
Then the shearers all sat silent till a man in the corner rose;
Said he, `I've travelled a-plenty but never heard names like those.
Out in the western districts, out on the Castlereagh
Most of the names are easy -- short for a man to say.
`You've heard of Mungrybambone and the Gundabluey pine,
Quobbotha, Girilambone, and Terramungamine,
Quambone, Eunonyhareenyha, Wee Waa, and Buntijo --'
But the rest of the shearers stopped him:
`For the sake of your jaw, go slow,
If you reckon those names are short ones out where such names prevail,
Just try and remember some long ones before you begin the tale.'
And the man from the western district, though never a word he said,
Just winked with his dexter eyelid, and then he retired to bed.
A Bush Christening
On the outer Barcoo where the churches are few,
And men of religion are scanty,
On a road never cross'd 'cept by folk that are lost,
One Michael Magee had a shanty.
Now this Mike was the dad of a ten year old lad,
Plump, healthy, and stoutly conditioned;
He was strong as the best, but poor Mike had no rest
For the youngster had never been christened.
And his wife used to cry, `If the darlin' should die
Saint Peter would not recognise him.'
But by luck he survived till a preacher arrived,
Who agreed straightaway to baptise him.
Now the artful young rogue, while they held their collogue,
With his ear to the keyhole was listenin',
And he muttered in fright, while his features turned white,
`What the divil and all is this christenin'?'
He was none of your dolts, he had seen them brand colts,
And it seemed to his small understanding,
If the man in the frock made him one of the flock,
It must mean something very like branding.
So away with a rush he set off for the bush,
While the tears in his eyelids they glistened --
`'Tis outrageous,' says he, `to brand youngsters like me,
I'll be dashed if I'll stop to be christened!'
Like a young native dog he ran into a log,
And his father with language uncivil,
Never heeding the `praste' cried aloud in his haste,
`Come out and be christened, you divil!'
But he lay there as snug as a bug in a rug,
And his parents in vain might reprove him,
Till his reverence spoke (he was fond of a joke)
`I've a notion,' says he, `that'll move him.'
`Poke a stick up the log, give the spalpeen a prog;
Poke him aisy -- don't hurt him or maim him,
'Tis not long that he'll stand, I've the water at hand,
As he rushes out this end I'll name him.
`Here he comes, and for shame! ye've forgotten the name --
Is it Patsy or Michael or Dinnis?'
Here the youngster ran out, and the priest gave a shout --
`Take your chance, anyhow, wid `Maginnis'!'
As the howling young cub ran away to the scrub
Where he knew that pursuit would be risky,
The priest, as he fled, flung a flask at his head
That was labelled `MAGINNIS'S WHISKY'!
And Maginnis Magee has been made a J.P.,
And the one thing he hates more than sin is
To be asked by the folk, who have heard of the joke,
How he came to be christened `Maginnis'!
How the Favourite Beat Us
`Aye,' said the boozer, `I tell you it's true, sir,
I once was a punter with plenty of pelf,
But gone is my glory, I'll tell you the story
How I stiffened my horse and got stiffened myself.
`'Twas a mare called the Cracker, I came down to back her,
But found she was favourite all of a rush,
The folk just did pour on to lay six to four on,
And several bookies were killed in the crush.
`It seems old Tomato was stiff, though a starter;
They reckoned him fit for the Caulfield to keep.
The Bloke and the Donah were scratched by their owner,
He only was offered three-fourths of the sweep.
`We knew Salamander was slow as a gander,
The mare could have beat him the length of the straight,
And old Manumission was out of condition,
And most of the others were running off weight.
`No doubt someone `blew it', for everyone knew it,
The bets were all gone, and I muttered in spite
`If I can't get a copper, by Jingo, I'll stop her,
Let the public fall in, it will serve the brutes right.'
`I said to the jockey, `Now, listen, my cocky,
You watch as you're cantering down by the stand,
I'll wait where that toff is and give you the office,
You're only to win if I lift up my hand.'
`I then tried to back her -- `What price is the Cracker?'
`Our books are all full, sir,' each bookie did swear;
My mind, then, I made up, my fortune I played up
I bet every shilling against my own mare.
`I strolled to the gateway, the mare in the straightway
Was shifting and dancing, and pawing the ground,
The boy saw me enter and wheeled for his canter,
When a darned great mosquito came buzzing around.
`They breed 'em at Hexham, it's risky to vex 'em,
They suck a man dry at a sitting, no doubt,
But just as the mare passed, he fluttered my hair past,
I lifted my hand, and I flattened him out.
`I was stunned when they started, the mare simply darted
Away to the front when the flag was let fall,
For none there could match her, and none tried to catch her --
She finished a furlong in front of them all.
`You bet that I went for the boy, whom I sent for
The moment he weighed and came out of the stand --
`Who paid you to win it? Come, own up this minute.'
`Lord love yer,' said he, `why you lifted your hand.'
`'Twas true, by St. Peter, that cursed `muskeeter'
Had broke me so broke that I hadn't a brown,
And you'll find the best course is when dealing with horses
To win when you're able, and KEEP YOUR HANDS DOWN.
The Great Calamity
MacFierce'un came to Whiskeyhurst
When summer days were hot,
And bided there wi' Jock McThirst,
A brawny brother Scot.
Gude Faith! They made the whisky fly,
Like Highland chieftains true,
And when they'd drunk the beaker dry
They sang `We are nae fou!'
`There is nae folk like oor ain folk,
Sae gallant and sae true.'
They sang the only Scottish joke
Which is, `We are nae fou.'
Said bold McThirst, `Let Saxons jaw
Aboot their great concerns,
But bonny Scotland beats them a',
The land o' cakes and Burns,
The land o' partridge, deer, and grouse,
Fill up your glass, I beg,
There's muckle whusky i' the house,
Forbye what's in the keg.'
And here a hearty laugh he laughed,
`Just come wi' me, I beg.'
MacFierce'un saw with pleasure daft
A fifty-gallon keg.
`Losh, man, that's grand,' MacFierce'un cried,
`Saw ever man the like,
Now, wi' the daylight, I maun ride
To meet a Southron tyke,
But I'll be back ere summer's gone,
So bide for me, I beg,
We'll make a grand assault upon
Yon deevil of a keg.'
. . . . .
MacFierce'un rode to Whiskeyhurst,
When summer days were gone,
And there he met with Jock McThirst
Was greetin' all alone.
`McThirst what gars ye look sae blank?
Have all yer wits gane daft?
Has that accursed Southron bank
Called up your overdraft?
Is all your grass burnt up wi' drouth?
Is wool and hides gone flat?'
McThirst replied, `Gude friend, in truth,
'Tis muckle waur than that.'
`Has sair misfortune cursed your life
That you should weep sae free?
Is harm upon your bonny wife,
The children at your knee?
Is scaith upon your house and hame?'
McThirst upraised his head:
`My bairns hae done the deed of shame --
'Twere better they were dead.
`To think my bonny infant son
Should do the deed o' guilt --
HE LET THE WHUSKEY SPIGOT RUN,
AND A' THE WHUSKEY'S SPILT!'
. . . . .
Upon them both these words did bring
A solemn silence deep,
Gude faith, it is a fearsome thing
To see two strong men weep.
As I pondered very weary o'er a volume long and dreary --
For the plot was void of interest -- 'twas the Postal Guide, in fact,
There I learnt the true location, distance, size, and population
Of each township, town, and village in the radius of the Act.
And I learnt that Puckawidgee stands beside the Murrumbidgee,
And that Booleroi and Bumble get their letters twice a year,
Also that the post inspector, when he visited Collector,
Closed the office up instanter, and re-opened Dungalear.
But my languid mood forsook me, when I found a name that took me,
Quite by chance I came across it -- `Come-by-Chance' was what I read;
No location was assigned it, not a thing to help one find it,
Just an N which stood for northward, and the rest was all unsaid.
I shall leave my home, and forthward wander stoutly to the northward
Till I come by chance across it, and I'll straightway settle down,
For there can't be any hurry, nor the slightest cause for worry
Where the telegraph don't reach you nor the railways run to town.
And one's letters and exchanges come by chance across the ranges,
Where a wiry young Australian leads a pack-horse once a week,
And the good news grows by keeping, and you're spared the pain of weeping
Over bad news when the mailman drops the letters in the creek.
But I fear, and more's the pity, that there's really no such city,
For there's not a man can find it of the shrewdest folk I know,
`Come-by-chance', be sure it never means a land of fierce endeavour,
It is just the careless country where the dreamers only go.
. . . . .
Though we work and toil and hustle in our life of haste and bustle,
All that makes our life worth living comes unstriven for and free;
Man may weary and importune, but the fickle goddess Fortune
Deals him out his pain or pleasure, careless what his worth may be.
All the happy times entrancing, days of sport and nights of dancing,
Moonlit rides and stolen kisses, pouting lips and loving glance:
When you think of these be certain you have looked behind the curtain,
You have had the luck to linger just a while in `Come-by-chance'.
Under the Shadow of Kiley's Hill
This is the place where they all were bred;
Some of the rafters are standing still;
Now they are scattered and lost and dead,
Every one from the old nest fled,
Out of the shadow of Kiley's Hill.
Better it is that they ne'er came back --
Changes and chances are quickly rung;
Now the old homestead is gone to rack,
Green is the grass on the well-worn track
Down by the gate where the roses clung.
Gone is the garden they kept with care;
Left to decay at its own sweet will,
Fruit trees and flower beds eaten bare,
Cattle and sheep where the roses were,
Under the shadow of Kiley's Hill.
Where are the children that throve and grew
In the old homestead in days gone by?
One is away on the far Barcoo
Watching his cattle the long year through,
Watching them starve in the droughts and die.
One in the town where all cares are rife,
Weary with troubles that cramp and kill,
Fain would be done with the restless strife,
Fain would go back to the old bush life,
Back to the shadow of Kiley's Hill.
One is away on the roving quest,
Seeking his share of the golden spoil,
Out in the wastes of the trackless west,
Wandering ever he gives the best
Of his years and strength to the hopeless toil.
What of the parents? That unkept mound
Shows where they slumber united still;
Rough is their grave, but they sleep as sound
Out on the range as on holy ground,
Under the shadow of Kiley's Hill.
Born of a thoroughbred English race,
Well proportioned and closely knit,
Neat of figure and handsome face,
Always ready and always fit,
Hard and wiry of limb and thew,
That was the ne'er-do-well Jim Carew.
One of the sons of the good old land --
Many a year since his like was known;
Never a game but he took command,
Never a sport but he held his own;
Gained at his college a triple blue --
Good as they make them was Jim Carew.
Came to grief -- was it card or horse?
Nobody asked and nobody cared;
Ship him away to the bush of course,
Ne'er-do-well fellows are easily spared;
Only of women a tolerable few
Sorrowed at parting with Jim Carew.
Gentleman Jim on the cattle camp,
Sitting his horse with an easy grace;
But the reckless living has left its stamp
In the deep drawn lines of that handsome face,
And a harder look in those eyes of blue:
Prompt at a quarrel is Jim Carew.
Billy the Lasher was out for gore --
Twelve-stone navvy with chest of hair,
When he opened out with a hungry roar
On a ten-stone man it was hardly fair;
But his wife was wise if his face she knew
By the time you were done with him, Jim Carew.
Gentleman Jim in the stockmen's hut
Works with them, toils with them, side by side;
As to his past -- well, his lips are shut.
`Gentleman once,' say his mates with pride;
And the wildest Cornstalk can ne'er outdo
In feats of recklessness, Jim Carew.
What should he live for? A dull despair!
Drink is his master and drags him down,
Water of Lethe that drowns all care.
Gentleman Jim has a lot to drown,
And he reigns as king with a drunken crew,
Sinking to misery, Jim Carew.
Such is the end of the ne'er-do-well --
Jimmy the Boozer, all down at heel;
But he straightens up when he's asked to tell
His name and race, and a flash of steel
Still lightens up in those eyes of blue --
`I am, or -- no, I WAS -- Jim Carew.'
The Swagman's Rest
We buried old Bob where the bloodwoods wave
At the foot of the Eaglehawk;
We fashioned a cross on the old man's grave,
For fear that his ghost might walk;
We carved his name on a bloodwood tree,
With the date of his sad decease,
And in place of `Died from effects of spree',
We wrote `May he rest in peace'.
For Bob was known on the Overland,
A regular old bush wag,
Tramping along in the dust and sand,
Humping his well-worn swag.
He would camp for days in the river-bed,
And loiter and `fish for whales'.
`I'm into the swagman's yard,' he said,
`And I never shall find the rails.'
But he found the rails on that summer night
For a better place -- or worse,
As we watched by turns in the flickering light
With an old black gin for nurse.
The breeze came in with the scent of pine,
The river sounded clear,
When a change came on, and we saw the sign
That told us the end was near.
But he spoke in a cultured voice and low --
`I fancy they've "sent the route";
I once was an army man, you know,
Though now I'm a drunken brute;
But bury me out where the bloodwoods wave,
And if ever you're fairly stuck,
Just take and shovel me out of the grave
And, maybe, I'll bring you luck.
`For I've always heard --' here his voice fell weak,
His strength was well-nigh sped,
He gasped and struggled and tried to speak,
Then fell in a moment -- dead.
Thus ended a wasted life and hard,
Of energies misapplied --
Old Bob was out of the `swagman's yard'
And over the Great Divide.
. . . . .
The drought came down on the field and flock,
And never a raindrop fell,
Though the tortured moans of the starving stock
Might soften a fiend from hell.
And we thought of the hint that the swagman gave
When he went to the Great Unseen --
We shovelled the skeleton out of the grave
To see what his hint might mean.
We dug where the cross and the grave posts were,
We shovelled away the mould,
When sudden a vein of quartz lay bare
All gleaming with yellow gold.
'Twas a reef with never a fault nor baulk
That ran from the range's crest,
And the richest mine on the Eaglehawk
Is known as `The Swagman's Rest'.
[From the section of Advertisements at the end of the 1911 printing.]
THE MAN FROM SNOWY RIVER,
AND OTHER VERSES.
By A. B. Paterson.
THE LITERARY YEAR BOOK: "The immediate success of this
book of bush ballads is without parallel in Colonial literary annals,
nor can any living English or American poet boast so wide a public,
always excepting Mr. Rudyard Kipling."
SPECTATOR: "These lines have the true lyrical cry in them.
Eloquent and ardent verses."
ATHENAEUM: "Swinging, rattling ballads of ready humour, ready pathos,
and crowding adventure. . . . Stirring and entertaining ballads
about great rides, in which the lines gallop like the very hoofs
of the horses."
THE TIMES: "At his best he compares not unfavourably with the author
of `Barrack-Room Ballads'."
Mr. A. Patchett Martin, in LITERATURE (London): "In my opinion,
it is the absolutely un-English, thoroughly Australian style and character
of these new bush bards which has given them such immediate popularity,
such wide vogue, among all classes of the rising native generation."
WESTMINSTER GAZETTE: "Australia has produced in Mr. A. B. Paterson
a national poet whose bush ballads are as distinctly characteristic
of the country as Burns's poetry is characteristic of Scotland."
THE SCOTSMAN: "A book like this . . . is worth a dozen of the aspiring,
idealistic sort, since it has a deal of rough laughter
and a dash of real tears in its composition."
GLASGOW HERALD: "These ballads . . . are full of such go
that the mere reading of them make the blood tingle. . . .
But there are other things in Mr. Paterson's book besides
mere racing and chasing, and each piece bears the mark
of special local knowledge, feeling, and colour.
The poet has also a note of pathos, which is always wholesome."
LITERARY WORLD: "He gallops along with a by no means doubtful music,
shouting his vigorous songs as he rides in pursuit of wild bush horses,
constraining us to listen and applaud by dint of his manly tones
and capital subjects . . . We turn to Mr. Paterson's roaring muse
with instantaneous gratitude."