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Project Gutenberg Australia
Title: Collected Poems of Henry Lawson
Author: Henry Lawson
eBook No.: 2200591h.html
Language: English
Date first posted: October 2022
Most recent update: October 2022

This eBook was produced by: Colin Choat and Walter Moore

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Collected Poems of Henry Lawson


Lawson, second from right, was very fond of romping with
children, who always came out to greet him. Photo taken by Phillip Harris, 3 weeks before Lawson's death.


Most of Henry Lawson's poems were first published in newspapers throughout Australia. Many were later included in books, however a large number were not.

This ebook aims to to publish all of Henry Lawson's poems which were not included in the many books of his poetry which were published during his lifetime. Poems unpublished at the time of his death have not been included here.

A Capmp-Fire Yarn and A Fantasy of Man, a two-book collection first published in 1984, compiled and edited by Leonard Cronin and very well illustrated, contain all of Lawson's poetry and prose works, including those unpublished during his life.

The poems included here, about 320 in all, are presented in alphabetical order, with the year of first publication (usually in a newspaper) appearing in brackets, after the title. Mostly, a source is provided at the end of the poem.

An index of poems appears below and, for each poem, a link is provided to the poem itself.

The reader can, using an internet browser, search this file for the title of a poem or for a line or part of a line of a poem. Of course the poems represent only those not published in books during Lawson's lifetime.

Lawson, himself, was aware that his poems appeared in many places. In A Fragment of Autobiography he wrote:

I would like to say here, while I think of it—out of place, and before I forget—that there are a great many old rhymes of mine, printed, but lost or forgotten, which may turn up where I am not likely to. I burnt my scrap books and old MSS. in London (in the yard of the house where Micawber and David Copperfield lived, by the way) to get rid of the worry of them; and I'm sorry for it now, for much was political and had an historical value, if nothing else. Much of the stuff contained truer history than Australia is ever likely to see. This can be taken as an advertisement for copies of my old songs, not in the books, which will be gratefully received. They were published over the names of Joe Swallow, and Cervus Wright, and Henry Lawson in the old Truth, Boomerang, Town and Country Journal, Echo, etc.

Colin Choat


[or, go to the start of the poems]

1. A Backward Glance
2. A Dirge of Gloom
3. A Dirge or a Wail, or Something
4. A Few Remarks Concerning A Bear
5. A Hundred and One
6. A Nocturne
7. A Song of Brave Men
8. A Song of General Sick and Tiredness
9. A Song of Southern Writers
10. A Song of the Republic
11. A Song of Yanco
12. A Thousand Friends and None
13. Aaron's Pass
14. Absolution—for the Woman
15. Advertisement for Hean's Essence
16. All Ashore!
17. All Unyun Men
18. An Australian Advertisement
19. Another Song of General Sickness and Tiredness
20. Antwerp (1914)
21. Archibald's Monument
22. Archie Ward
23. Architect
24. Arrers
25. Arthur Desmond
26. As Ireland Wore the Green
27. As It Is in the Days of Now
28. At the Sign of the Rotten Egg
29. Australia's Forgotten Flag
31. Beaten Back
32. Beautiful Maoriland
33. Because of Her Father's Blood
34. Billo's Point of View
35. Billy Boy
36. Black Bonnets
37. Booth's Drum [II]
38. Brighten's Sister-in-Law
39. Brother, You'll Take My Hand
40. Brother-in-law and I
41. Caricatures
42. Charley Lilley
43. Chatswood
44. Cinderella
45. Civilyun
46. Coeurderoi
47. Commodore Blue
48. Conscription
49. Coomera
50. Coralisle
51. Cribs to be Cracked!
52. Cross the Border
53. Cruise of the Crow
54. Dan Wasn't Thrown from His Horse
55. Did You See Us Sailing Past?
56. Dind's Hotel
57. Dog Battler
58. Don't Worry, Little Woman!
59. England
60. England Yet
61. England's Work
62. Eurunderee [II]
63. Evatt's Block: A Drone of the Irrigation Area
64. Exceeding Small
66. Flag of the Southern Cross
67. Forgiveness—for the Strollers
68. From the Strand to the Never
69. Gettin' Back
70. Golden Gully
71. Granny's Specs
72. Gypsy Blood
73. Gypsy Yet
75. Harry Stephens
76. Hawkers
77. He Mourned His Master
78. Helsingfors
79. He's Gone to England for a Wife
80. His Toast and Mine
81. Hold Out!
82. I Patched His Pants
83. If They Win To-night
84. I'll Tell You What, You Wanderers
85. In Flanders
86. In Memory of Claude Marquet
87. In Memory of James J. Salter
88. In the Days When We Were Young
89. In the Street
90. Ireland Shall Rebel
91. Italiano
92. Jack Robertson
93. Jim-Jam Land
94. John Cornstalk
95. Joseph's Dreams and Reuben's Brethren
96. Just Like Home
97. Kangaroo Power
98. Kerosene Bay
99. Kiddies' Land
101. Lachlan Side
102. Laughing and Sneering
103. Lawson's Dream
104. Lay Your Ears Back and Fight
105. Leeton Town
106. Let the Government Determine...
107. Let's Be Fools Tonight
108. Lily
109. Louis Becke
110. Lowe and Bee Hold
111. Mallacoota Bar
112. Mallacoota West
113. Martin Farrell
114. May Day in Europe
115. Me an' Mack
116. Men of Hell and London East
117. Mixed
118. Modern Parasites
119. More Echoes from the Old Museum
120. Mudgee Town
121. Murphy
122. Ned's Delicate Way
123. Nemesis
124. Ninety-one and Ninety-two
125. Cupid, Cupid; Get Your Bow!
126. Old Joe Swallow
127. Old North Sydney
128. Old Portraits
129. Old Southerly Buster Gets Lost
130. Old Tunes
131. On Looking Through an Old Punishment Book
132. On the March
133. On the Night Train
134. On the Summit of Mount Clarence
135. One-Man-One-Vote
136. Only a Sod
137. Optimistic
138. Otherside
139. Our Children's Land
140. Out on the Roofs of Hell
141. Over the Ranges and Into the West
142. Owed (and Paid) to a Bottle
143. Paddy the Ram
144. Peace?
145. Pictures
146. Possum
147. Posts and Rails
148. Poverty
150. Red and Gold
151. Rewi to Grey
152. Republican Pioneers
153. Ripperty! Kye! Ahoo!
154. Romani
155. Ryan's Crossing
157. Scots of the Riverina
160. Shearers' Song
161. Shut Your Head!
163. Soldier Libertine
164. Some New Year Wishes
165. Something Better
166. Spread the Truth!
167. Stand by the Engines
168. Statue of Robert Burns
170. Sweethearts Wait on Every Shore
171. Sydney Town in '91
172. Tally Town
173. The Absent Jack
174. The Australian Marseillaise
175. The Babies in the Bush
176. The Babies of Walloon
177. The Ballad of the Black-Sheep
178. The Ballad of the Hundred and Third
180. The Bard and Disbarred
181. The Beauty and the Dude
182. The Belfries of Strassburg
183. The Black Tracker
184. The Blessings of War
185. The Calling of the Gods
186. The Cliques of the Who'll-Get-In
187. The Cockney Soul
188. The Country Girl
189. The Crucifixion
191. The Delegates
194. The Drums of Ages
195. The Emigration to New Zealand
196. The English Ne'er-do-well
197. The English Queen
199. The Fate of the Fat Man's Son
200. The Fight at Eureka Stockade
201. The First Dingo
203. The Flour Bin
204. The Foreign Legion
205. The Friendless One
206. The Gentlemen of Dickens
207. The Ghost at the Second Bridge
208. The Good Old Concertina
209. The Green Tide
210. The Helpless Mothers
211. The Home of the Gods
212. The Horseman on the Skyline
213. The House of Fossils
214. The Hymn of the Socialists
216. The Iron Wedding Rings
218. The King His Crown
219. The Labour Agitator
220. The Latter End of Spring
221. The Lay-'Em-Out Brigade
222. The Leader and the Bad Girl
223. The League of Nations
224. The Legend of Mammon Castle
225. The Little Slit in the Tail
226. The Local Spirit
227. The Lone Mate
228. The Lost Punch
229. The Lovable Characters
230. The Love of a God
231. The Low Lighthouse
232. The Men Who Sleep With Danger
233. The Morning of New Zealand
234. The Mountain Splitter
235. The Mucklebraeans
236. The Old Head Nurse and the Young Marchioness
237. The Old Horse Ferry
238. The Old Man's Welcome
239. The Old Mile-Tree
240. The Old Pens and the New
241. The Old Push and the New
242. The Old Rebel Flag in the Rear
243. The Old Squire
244. The Old Trouble
245. The Old, Old Story
246. The Origin of the Lone Hand
247. The Other Gum
248. The Parley Voo
249. The Parsin for Edgerkashun
250. The Passing of Scotty
251. The Patriotic League
252. The Pavement Stones
253. The Pink Carnation
254. The Poet's Kiss
255. The Portugee
256. The Press Gang
257. The Rebel
258. The Recruiting Sergeants
259. The Recruits
260. The Reformation of the Eldest Son
261. The Return
262. The Rhyme of the Three Greybeards
263. The Right-O Girl
264. The Road to St Helena
265. The Row at Ryan's Pub
266. The Sacrifice of Ball's Head
268. The Seabolt's Volunteers
269. The Sea-Caves
270. The Secessionist
272. The Sleeping Beauty
273. The Song of Broken English
274. The Song of Many
275. The Song of the Back to Front
276. The Song of the Doodle Doos
277. The Song of the Heathen
278. The Song of the Waste-Paper Basket
279. The Song of Tyrrell's Bell
280. The Song of What Do You Think
281. The Southern Scout
282. The Squatter, Three Cornstalks, and the Well
283. The Squatter's Daughter
284. The Statue of Our Queen
285. The Story of Marr
286. The Studio
287. The Swagman and His Mate
288. The Three Kings [II]
289. The Township
290. The Tragedy
291. The Triumph of the People
292. The Two Poets
293. The Two Samaritans and the Tramp
294. The Universal Brothers
295. The Unknown Patient
296. The Vendetta
297. The Voice from Over Yonder
298. The Vote of Thanks Debate
299. The Watch on the Kerb
300. The Water
301. The Waving of the Red
302. The Way I Treated Father
303. The Western Stars
304. The Windy Hills o' Wellington
305. The Wowsers Are Down and Out
306. The Year Fifteen
307. There's a Bunk in the Humpy
308. They Can Only Drag You Down
309. Those Messages from Mars
310. To a Fellow-Bard Camping Out
311. To a Pair of Blucher Boots
312. To Doc Wylie
313. To Roumania
314. To the Advanced Idealist
315. To the Irish Delegates
316. To the Memory of Louisa Albury
317. To Tom
318. To Tom Bracken
319. Too Old to Rat
320. Trouble Belongit Mine
321. Uncle Harry
323. Victory
324. Wales the First
325. War on Women
326. Watching the Crows
327. When Bertha Comes to Tea
328. When Kitchener Shed Tears
329. When the Bush Begins to Speak
330. When the Duke of Clarence Died
331. When the Irish Flag Went By
332. When the Visitors Go
334. When You Get That Kindly Feeling
335. When You're Bad in Your Inside
336. Who's Dot Pulleteen?
337. Wide Spaces
338. Without the Heart Behind It
339. Women and Children Again
340. Wowserland
341. Write by Return
342. Written Out [II] When his heart
343. You'll Triumph Not in This Land

The Collected Poems

A Backward Glance [1897] It is well when you've lived in clover, To mourn for the days gone by-- Would I live the same life over Could I live again? Not I! But, knowing the false from the real, I would strive to ascend-- I would seek out my boyhood's ideal, And follow it to the end. Freeman's Journal ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
A Dirge of Gloom [1915] 'Tis a Dirge of Gloom For an empty tomb Where there's plenty of room For the Things that the War Cannot Kill! (---- the War! As I said before: ---- !-------- !! **** !!!----! -------- *** !!!---- I'm ill!) But these Things that the War Cannot Kill: The sights and the sounds as you go your rounds In search of "trays" or in search of pounds, In a city where beer and thirst abounds; The alarming sights like the sudden lights That bushmen see on recovery nights; And the sudden sounds That ring in your ears like the baying of hounds, Or other more human and terrible sounds Of the Morning After the Month Before. But I'm out of my depth and out of bounds. (---- the War!) The nerve-racking rattle that takes you aback-- Like a rattlesnake in a narrow track Or a snake in the morning in one of your socks-- Of the everlasting collection box For a "Belgian" band that comes from "the Rocks"-- Or a Servian family on the rocks, Or a British blare with a Prussian brogue, Or some other sort of tin-whistle rogue, Playing the tunes that are most in vogue. (I'm sick of the tunes that are most in vogue.) We can't have peace, and we can't have war, Or a prison gate, or a lockup door, Or hospitals for the rich and poor, Or a church wherein to worship God (I've seen the box in the temples, too, Of the Gods of Asia), but this is true; We can't do anything, old or new, But Maud or Marion, Mabel or Madge, From Mosman or somewhere, puts on a badge And goes on the everlasting cadge. And now it is War, and the same old "lay", As if we were Turkey, and couldn't pay, To keep a war going for half a day, Unless We helped Us in every way, From raffling cushions at Watson's Bay To rattling boxes on Circular Quay, And breaking out on a teapot spree, Instead of sewing on hooks and eyes, As we used to do under peaceful skies, And rattling dishes at wash-up time; And nailing us down, from den to block, To a cup at eleven and four o'clock. (I'm short of rhythm and short of rhyme.) And "Red Cross" branches in shop and hall Have "Help!" writ largely on window and wall In letters several inches tall; With notes of hysteria which appal The weak and timid, and raise the gall Of real Australians (damn it all!), And amuse our enemies, great and small. Why can't we have pride and be dignified, And sweep all this feminine rubbish aside? They mostly belong, it can't be denied, To the poodle-christening, Dame-worshipping side, And they seize every ghost of a chance to have Their Little Importance magnified. "Every woman's a barmaid at heart!" But not every one has the barmaid's pride, Nor the barmaid's heart, nor the barmaid's tact, Nor the barmaid's unusual gift to see The General Fitness of Things and Fact, And much less the barmaid's sincerity. I thought political women were dead, But find they are sharpening their axes instead; And each, as hopelessly off her head, Determined to go on just as before, Only more, "After the War". (God bless the War!) In the meantime, Mrs Labour Brown, And Mrs Liberal Half-a-crown, And several Suffragettes of note, Who don't know women have got the vote, Are chasing each other around the town, And pleading wildly for pillowslips And table-napkins and necktie clips, And chocolate creams--the same old stunt-- And other rubbish to send to the Front, To help 'em to bear the battle's brunt. While Tommy Cornstalk, whenever he halts, Is pleading mildly (with all his faults) For "'arf er packet er Epsom's Salts!" Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
A Dirge or a Wail, or Something [1915] They are spouting on the platform, They are droning in the Club, They are clacking o'er their knitting, They are skiting in the pub. They are talking Big in nations, And they won't put in the peg Who don't know the map of Europe From a dog's hind leg! Oh! they talk you blind and silly, And their buzz would addle eggs When they speak of "Mons" and "Lily", And Liége (pronounce it "Legs"). Wherever they may drivel, They will aye come back again By way of Schleswig-Holstein To "Awl-socks-Lawrain". The chattering Red Cross ladies Are disposing of it, too; They're jumping at conclusions, As wimmen always do! It's "My deah, you know, the Allies, I am very much afraid, Would have lost this war if Turkey Hadn't come to our aid!" And the flappers fluff and snivel, Where the washy tea is poured; They pretend to have a cousin Or something else "abrawd"; They are perfectly sus-certain, In spite of Pa and Ma, That something must have happened To the dear (choke) Australiah! And suburban fathers thunder, The family cheers to win: "Why don't England make reprisals? Why don't she just wade in? We ain't satisfied, I tell you, With the conduct of the war!" And he writes demanding reasons From the ed-it-or. And the editor is sitting, Mild and patient, even now, Fingers cramped and body weary, Aching eyes and throbbing brow; The proofs are piled beside him, And the office map hath he-- He is back at school and learning His ge-og-ra-phee. Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
A Few Remarks Concerning a Bear [1916] When Russia was pent and hopeless, And barred by every State, And the Russian a beast of the forest, In the days of Peter the Great; When the Turk was mighty, and Sweden Held the way to the sea, The Bear came out of the marshes, And an angry Bear was he. He was lean and shaggy and starving, And his eyes were reddened and dim; But Sweden found, with a shattered fleet, That the Bear had learned to swim. The church bells rang on the Neva, The peasants conquered the fen; And Peter went to his hard-earned rest, And the Bear went to his den. In the days when the Great Napoleon, His strength and his army whole, Set out for the heart of Russia, The den of the Bear the goal, The cubs were moved to the forest, To hunger the winter through-- And the wolves on the roads from Moscow Could tell what a Bear will do. In the days when the Turk, decaying, Was backed by the nations all, To promise and laugh at the big Slav, And ravish and rob the small, The Bear came down through the passes From as far as Helsingfors, And the Bear swam out on the Danube, And he sank our monitors. The Bear is a clumsy playmate, The Bear is gentle and mild; With a ring through his snuffling nose, the Bear Can be led by a little child. The Bear is honest and faithful As ever a dog could be; But the Bear is a dangerous Bear to meet When an angry Bear is he. Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
A Hundred and One [1922] Oh, once I wrote to a poor friend. And once I wrote to a rich; But I did not write to the righteous, For I was down in the ditch. The ditch that's not like the trenches, Where a man has a chance to fight; But the place he flees from the wenches And drink, and is hid from sight. One friend was a Western bushman From the plains where I had been; And one was a lord from England, Where the trees--and men--are green. I wrote to them both as brothers, For, oh! but the days were grim. But I wrote to one as "Your Lordship", And I wrote to the other as "Jim". The letters were written and posted, And I said to myself, "It's done! Now the chances are one in a hundred, And the odds a hundred to one." And ever the slings and arrows Of Misfortune pelted my hide, And ever the postman's whistle Went past on the other side. And daily I grew more bitter, For the facts weren't known to me, That the Lord was out in the bushland A-seeing what he could see; And Jim was down at the Bourke Hotel On a glorious jamboree. So I wrote to the friend who was righteous, But never a line wrote he. Did ever you watch for the postman, With nothing but that to do? Till he flitted past like a ghost-man In hours when he wasn't due? Or vanished like down from the thistle, Or hope from the passing years-- Till the sound of a phantom whistle Was loud in your haunted ears? But the postman came unexpected, And knocked at the door--he did! And his Lordship sent me a hundred, And Jim, he sent me a quid. And they wrote to me, both, as brothers (Making allowance for rank), Though his Lordship addressed me as "Mister" And Jim as a "Blanky Blank". And Jim's quid went with the jim-quids To the Land of the Bar and Shelf; And a fiver went to the landlord And a fiver went to meself. The ninety bought an allotment, Which went where allotments go-- So I'm down in the same old ditch again, And I'm writing to let yer know. Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
A Nocturne [1911] (To be sung slow and sad-like, and rather wailsomely--I dunno the musical terms.) The night is done and overdone, and burnt a bit at that; It is the time when She puts out the milk jug and the cat; It is the time when bad men rise, prepared to do a crime-- And this, in many a happy home, is Curtain Lecture time. An hour goes past (or we go past, it doesn't matter which), I know the time--the wife's dear voice begins to get its pitch; I burrow deeper, edgeways, as one in slumber deep; Her elbow digs my side: "Now, don't pretend to be asleep!" I doze. She turns away (thank God!) I wake upon the rack; She is at rest, her icy feet are planted in my back! It's no use wriggling off--they'll warm, and that will soon be right! I settle down to listen to the Voices of the Night. Another drowsy interlude, and I'm awake, and wide... I thought she had begun again, but those were sounds outside; Strange voices as in anguish, but I know the voice of him-- I know it's Doily (Thomas cat) engaged in combat grim. I slip out, careful as a cat, and nip the blind aside, And look into the broad moonlight, and there I note with pride, Upon the slippery wash-house roof, unbarracked for, alone, Beset by three great mangy Toms, our Dooly holds his own! He was a hay-and-cornstore cat before he came to me (Or I stole him from his loneliness, and greed and cruelty); To live he had to catch the mice in hay-and-cornstore days, And when he'd nothing else to eat he'd whet his teeth on maize. To save a pint or two of grain ('twould make a stone cat swear) They'd shut him up from Saturday till Monday morning there. On holidays his claws he stropped on hay-and-cornstore bags, Until each bunch of schnapper-hooks could tear a cat to rags. The last strange Tom goes backward from the wash-house roof with growls, And strikes a loosened roost-end (whence complaint of wakened fowls); The dogs cease to congratulate and peace is with the night. And Mrs Doily from a ledge sat looking on the fight. And I retire to rest once more, ere day be well begun; The council clock is striking four, which means it's just on one... I thought I heard the wheels of Time go hast'ning to decay-- 'Tis but two men connected with a lantern and a dray. They take me back to boyhood scenes I ne'er may see again-- The moonlight and the horse and dray and those nocturnal men; The wash-dirt stealers that we caught (but these be just and right), The honest, jovial citizens; the Pilgrims of the Night! Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
A Song of Brave Men [1912] Man, is the Sea your master? Sea, and is man your slave?-- This is the song of brave men who never know they are brave: Ceaselessly watching to save you, stranger from foreign lands, Soundly asleep in your state room, full sail for the Goodwin Sands! Life is a dream, they tell us, but life seems very real, When the lifeboat puts out from Ramsgate, and the luggers put out from Deal! A gun from the lightship!--a rocket!--a cry of, "Turn out, me lad!" "Ship on the Sands!" they're shouting, and a rush of the oilskin-clad. The lifeboat leaping and swooping, in the wake of the fighting tug, And the luggers afloat in Hell's water--Oh, "tourist", with cushion and rug!-- Think of the freezing fury, without one minute's relief, When they stood all night in the blackness by the wreck of the Indian Chief! Lashed to their seats, and crouching, to the spray that froze as it flew, Twenty-six hours in mid-winter! That was the lifeboat's crew. Twice she was swamped, and she righted, in the rush of the heavy seas, And her tug was mostly buried; but these were common things, these. And the luggers go out whenever there's a hope to get them afloat, And these things they do for nothing, and those fishermen say, "Oh! it's nowt!" (Enemy, Friend or Stranger! In every sea or land, And across the lives of most men run stretches of Goodwin Sand; And across the life of a nation, as across the track of a ship, Lies the hidden rock, or the iceberg, within the horizon dip. And wise men know them, and warn us, with lightship, or voice, or pen; But we strike, and the fool survivors sail on to strike again.) But this is a song of brave men, wherever is aught to save, Christian or Jew or Wowser--and I knew one who was brave; British or French or German, Dane or Latin or Dutch: "Scandies" that ignorant British reckon with "Dagoes and such"-- (Where'er, on a wreck titanic, in a scene of wild despair, The officers call for assistance, a Swede or a Norse is there.) Tale of a wreck titanic, with the last boat over the side, And a brave young husband fighting his clinging, hysterical bride; He strikes her fair on the temple, while the decks are scarce afloat, And he kisses her once on the forehead, and he drops her into the boat. So he goes to his death to save her; and she lives to remember and lie-- Or be true to his love and courage. But that's how brave men die. (I hate the slander: "Be British"--and I don't believe it, that's flat: No British sailor and captain would stoop to such cant as that. What--in the rush of cowards--of the help from before the mast-- Of the two big Swedes and the Norse, who stood by the mate to the last?-- In every mining disaster, in a New-World mining town, In one of the rescue parties an Olsen or Hans goes down.) Men who fought for their village, away on their country's edge: The priest with his cross--and a musket, and the blacksmith with his sledge; The butcher with cleaver and pistols, and the notary with his pike. And the clerk with what he laid hands on; but all were ready to strike. And--Tennyson notwithstanding--when the hour of danger was come, The shopman has struck full often with his "cheating yard-wand" home! This is a song of brave men, ever, the wide world o'er-- Starved and crippled and murdered by the land they are fighting for. Left to freeze in the trenches, sent to drown by the Cape, Throttled by army contractors, and strangled by old red-tape. Fighting for "Home" and "Country", or "Glory", or what you choose-- Sacrificed for the Syndicates, and a monarch "in" with the Jews. Australia! your trial is coming! Down with the party strife: Send your cackling, lying women back to the old Home Life. Brush from your Parliament benches the legal chaff and dust: Make Federation perfect, as sooner or later you must. Scatter your crowded cities, cut up your States--and so Give your brave sons of the future the ghost of a White Man's show. Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
A Song of General Sick and Tiredness [1908] I'm tired of raving at wrong things which must still to the end endure; I'm sick and tired of the selfish rich, and I'm tired of the selfish poor. Of the Awful Wrongs of the Social Plan (both sides, and in between)-- I'm tired of The Bulletin's own Fat Man, and I'm also tired of the Lean. 'Tis a weariness born of twenty years of 'rastlin' with Truth and Lies, And of writing on rum and blood-stained tears, that the People might Wake and Rise! I am wild, Damned Wild, at the wages paid for fighting with Freedom's Foes, And the awful blunders the people made when at last they Woke and Rose. The motor car is the Car of Greed, and I've often written it down (With little effect I fear, indeed, for I notice it still in town); But now I'm tired of the Goggled Hog, and his veiled contemptuous "dart". I am also weary of Boko Bill and his fruit and Bottle-O cart. I'm weary of Clara Vere de Vere, and her Bloque at the grand hotel, And the Orphan Girl and the Orphan Boy--and their mother and father as well. It's not their fault, for extremes are fate (and extremes will meet again)-- I'm also disgusted with One-eyed Kate and her Bloke in Red Rock Lane. My soul is sad for the young bards here who rave of a wrong red-hot, And care not a curse, so they get their beer, if the people starve or not. With a fine contempt for the grave and the tomb, for the old books on the shelves, They gibe and sneer at the old bard's gloom--and they straightway weep themselves. I'm tired of the cruel, bleeding welt on the Young Heart Tempest-Tost; Likewise of the love that we never felt, and the friend that we never lost. I'm tired of the long white limbs, small head, and the eyes of unearthly hue; Of the Bride, Rose Red, in her Bridal Bed--and I'm sick of the Other Man, too. I'm tired--O I'm tired--of the bleeding heart of the bride that never was wed; And the Dagger Drave--and the blood-stained grave of the lover who never was dead; Of the wronged young wife, and her blighted life; also of the locket worn With the Golden Curl from the Head of the Girl of the Babe that never was born. To resume: I'm scared of the great strong arms and the breast, and the brute force under control; Of the gloomy eyes, and the head, and the rest--and the hidden heart and soul-- Of the muscle and tan of the awful MAN that our girl bards rave about; The first of his kind since the world began--and I want them to trot him out. Of the Swooning Love, 'neath the stars (above), and the Slumbrous Burning Eyes; Of the Blarst of Skorn from our Bards of Morn, and our girl-bards' DAMN likewise. (And let it be said, ere we go to bed, lest you curse me needlessly, That I do not moan for these things alone, for I'm also tired of ME.) To proceed: I'm sick of the sight of the Single White in the islands far away, Who is jabbed with a poisoned spear by night, and who pots the tribe next day. A club-man dead to the world he knew, and long by his love forgot-- And the innocent swims with the Lithe Brown Limbs, and--the rest of the Thomas Rot. He's mostly a thin brown man in twill and specs (for his sight is dim), And a score of niggers to work his will, and Ah Soon to cook for him. With the steamer in sight (and a drunken white) and the rest of the world within hail, A wife--or the pick of the native girls--and his fairly reg'lar mail. And now to conclude: I'm tired of the sneering at friendship, too, for you'll find in the end, no doubt, When you get run in, and the world looks blue, there'll be one to bail you out-- I'm tired of the Love of the Bygone Day, of Women and Dice and Wine-- You'll find, when his Washup has said his say, 'tis the Missus that pays the fine. You may shriek to High Heaven of love and death and howl of a Soul in Pain, You may curse the Gods with your latest breath till the cows come home again; But Dad plods home from his work to-night--in his bosom a peace profound-- To his bustling wife and his kitchen bright, and he helps the world go round. You may write of revolvers, and nerves of steel, and the eyes of a steel-blue grey, Of the white man banned, with his life in his hand, in those Islands far away; Of his panther limbs and his courage grand, and his deadly aim and true-- But Bill and Jim with perception dim would call him a Jackaroo. You may rave and rave of your fancy loves that go by your fancy names, But the bread you eat and the bills you meet are fixed by Lizzie and James. You may ode your Gladyses and what not--at the rest let your scorn be hurled, But Lucy, and Mary, and Jack, and Fred--O! they are the living world. Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
A Song of Southern Writers [1892] Southern men of letters, vainly seeking recognition here-- Southern men of letters, driven to the Northern Hemisphere! It is time your wrongs were known; it is time you claimed redress-- Time that you were independent of the mighty Northern press. Sing a song of Southern writers, sing a song of Southern fame, Of the dawn of art and letters and your native country's shame. Talent goes for little here. To be aided, to be known, You must fly to Northern critics who are juster than our own. Oh! the critics of your country will be very proud of you, When you're recognised in London by an editor or two. You may write above the standard, but your work is seldom seen Till it's noticed and reprinted in an English magazine. In the land where sport is sacred, where the lab'rer is a god, You must pander to the people, make a hero of a clod! What avail the sacrifices of the battle you begin For the literary honour of the land we're living in? Print a masterpiece in Melbourne, and it will be lost, I ween, But your weakest stuff is clever in a London magazine. Write a story of the South, write it true and make it clear, Put your soul in ever sentence, have the volume published here, And 'twill only be accepted by our critics in the mist As a "worthy imitation" of a Northern novelist. For the volume needs the mighty Paternister Row machine, With a patronising notice in an English magazine. What of literary merit, while the Southern reader glories In "American exchanges", with their childish nigger-stories; In the jokes that ancient Romans chuckled over after lunch; In the dull and starchy humour of the dreary London Punch? Here they'll laugh at Southern humour--laugh till they are out of breath-- When it's stolen from the papers that Australia starves to death! Do we ask why native talent--art and music cannot stay? Why Australian men of letters emigrate and keep away? Do we ask why genius often vanishes beyond recall? From the wrecks of honest journals comes the answer to it all. Over Southern journalism let the epitaph be seen: "STARVED BY CHEAP IMPORTED RUBBISH!--AN AUSTRALIAN MAGAZINE!" Southern men of letters, seeking kinder fields across the waves, Tell a shameful tale entitled "Deniehy's Forgotten Grave". Ask the South of Charles Harpur! Seek the bitter truth, and tell Of the life of Henry Kendall, in the land he loved so well! Sing the songs he wrote in vain! Touch the South with bitter things; Take the harp he touched so gently; show the blood upon the strings! It was kind of Southern critics; it was very brave to mouth At the volume of his boyhood, that was published in the South. Kendall knew it all--he knew it; and the tears were very near When he spoke about the sorrows of "the man of letters here". (And his wail of "O, My Brother!" came again to one who went To his grave before "his brothers" mocked him with a monument.) Banish envy, Southern writer! Strike with no uncertain hand, For the sound of Gordon's rifle still is ringing through the land! Ah! the niggard recognition! Ah! the "fame" that came in vain To the poor dead poet lying with a bullet though his brain! "Gone, my friends!" (he thought it better to be gone away from here), Gone, my friends, with "last year's dead the falling of the year". Pleasant land for one who proses, pleasant land for one who rhymes With the terrible advantage of a knowledge of hard times: To be patronised, "encouraged", praised for his contempt of "pelf", To be told of greater writers who were paupers, like himself; To be buried as a pauper; to be shoved beneath the sod-- While the brainless man of muscle has the burial of a god. We have learned the rights of labour. Let the Southern writers start Agitating, too, for letters and for music and for art, Till Australian scenes on canvas shall repay the artist's hand, And the songs of Southern poets shall be ringing thro' the land, Till the galleries of Europe have a place for Southern scenes, And our journals crawl no longer to the Northern magazines. Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
A Song of the Republic [1887] Sons of the South, awake! arise! Sons of the South, and do. Banish from under your bonny skies Those old-world errors and wrongs and lies. Making a hell in a Paradise That belongs to your sons and you. Sons of the South, make choice between (Sons of the South, choose true), The Land of Morn and the Land of E'en, The Old Dead Tree and the Young Tree Green, The Land that belongs to the lord and the Queen, And the Land that belongs to you. Sons of the South, your time will come-- Sons of the South, 'tis near-- The "Signs of the Times", in their language dumb, Foretell it, and ominous whispers hum Like sullen sounds of a distant drum, In the ominous atmosphere. Sons of the South, aroused at last! Sons of the South are few! But your ranks grow longer and deeper fast, And ye shall swell to an army vast, And free from the wrongs of the North and Past The land that belongs to you. Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
A Song of Yanco [1916] Oh, Devil-may-care for the Wanderlust, For Wanderlust and me; Oh, Devil-may-care for the Wanderlust, In the days when we both are free To wander at will by the salt sea sand, Or climb where the mountains pile; For I have a home in the Western Land, Three Hundred and Sixty Mile. Oh, Devil-may-care for the Wanderlust, The Wanderlust and I, While we can drink in the city depths We knew in the days gone by, And drink to the depths of the days we knew, Every once in a while; For I have a home in the Western Land, Three Hundred and Sixty Mile. When my soul grows sick of the cares of State, Of the just and the most unjust, When I weary awhile of the hens and pigs I go with the Wanderlust; We go by "sleeper" and first saloon, And we do the thing in style; For I have a home in the Western Land, Three Hundred and Sixty Mile. When the fruit is sold and the verse is sold And the money's been paid away, And there's none to borrow for half a year, We worry it out for a day. (For "the Wanderlust" is a mate named Jim, And Jim is a rare old file; And we both have homes in the Western Land, Three Hundred and Sixty Mile.) Then we take the gun and the lines and leave The pumpkins and corn to grow; And we take our swags and we take the track Where the western rivers flow; We shear a bit if we're feeling fit Just to help the billies to bile And the oven to bake and the pans to fry Three Hundred and Sixty Mile. There's a rose-coloured rose by the eastern porch, The last of the winter there (They die ere the summer can come to scorch All things that are fresh and fair); But the channels shall fill and the fields and farms, In spite of the drought shall smile, Where I have a home in the Western Land, Three Hundred and Sixty Mile. Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
A Thousand Friends and None [1915] I saw him march in the line today, And never a girl had he; And he sailed to the Great Grim War away, The clown of his company. They'd crowd his tent in the camp at night When the long day's drill was done; For the ready jest on his lips was light Who'd a thousand friends and none. I heard him laugh in a bar last week, A laugh that the footlights know When the limelight glares on the painted cheek Through the tinsel sham and show. I saw him stand by a grave last year-- He thought that he stood alone-- And the under world through his eyes looked sheer From a face like a face of stone. I saw him smile as he passed me by-- For he saw me and went his way-- And how should he wear for such as I The smile that he wears today? For my face was "plain" for a brave man's bride-- He left me as brave men dare-- And the other girl lived and the other girl died Because her face was fair. I saw his face when the moonlight shone One night by the wind-tossed wood, And once 'neath the stars when the moon was gone, And I thought that the lines were good. And once when the skies were weeping sad To his sick-room door I crept, And the lines were good, and the lines were bad, In the lamplight while he slept. I saw him march through the streets to-day And on through the wharf's wide gates (There's a face for the woman that loves, they say, And a face for the woman that hates), And the memory of the dead past stood In the living present's stead; And I wonder now will the lines be good On his face when he is dead. I saw him march in the line today, And never a girl had he; I saw him sail to the war away, The clown of his company, The saddest man where many are sad, With the good-bye cheerings done, In the Legion Lost of the Good-and-Bad With a thousand friends and one. Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Aaron's Pass [1921] (The tragedy of "Lost Cattle Pup", as told by John Lee while dying in the Coast Hospital, N.S.W.) "And that is all. Well, Father Flynn, I'm glad you've come at last; Sit there and take no notice while I babble of the past-- The nurse would think it nonsense from a mind that runs too fast. "And thank you for the whisky (it will keep the spirit clean); I'11 hide it safely somewhere when the visitors have been-- The Devil be between us and all harm (the Saints, I mean). "Two bush girls worked and sobbed by turns amongst their pots and pans; One was a gaol-breaker's girl, and one a 'mounted man's; We all were schoolmates long ago, and planned our little plans. "The perky soldier-birds came in from out amongst the grass To get the crumbs beneath the seats where sat the infants' class-- The old bark schoolhouse used to stand in sight of Aaron's Pass. "From Aaron's Pass to Granite Peak, from Granite Peak to Bourke, And round to all the southern seas the sympathisers lurk; And close at hand the harbourers are waiting for their work. "They help a member of their class, as was the primal plan, No matter what his nation be, nor what his creed or clan-- It is enough that he's a gaoled or bound or hunted man. "There was a boy when I was young--and both our lives were marred In that dull, dusty cowyard world of shuttered souls and barred-- Who played a wild but manly prank, and he got two years' hard. "He was but sixteen years of age, a madcap, winning lad; And we were proud, hard-working folk, which made the thing so sad. His father died of heart disease. His mother--she went mad. "There was a man, while I grew hard and shared a sister's fears, He took what one had robbed us of--they gave him seven years; And in the neighbours' sympathy I thought I heard the tears. "Some go away and change their name in terror of disgrace; But for the younger children's sakes we worked about the place-- As he'd have done for us, the one most loved of all our race. "And he escaped and led them far by flat and mountain's brow, Till he was caught at Talbragar--asleep, the troopers vow. We heard the news without delay--go, ask our sister how. "The mulga-wires went whispering round where people knew of him, Behind the peak and through the gap and down the gully dim-- The very creek-oaks seemed to sigh in pity: 'They've got Jim.' "I sent the word (no matter how) to only one or two-- The laws of men have many friends, the laws of God so few. And I rode east to do the deed a brother had to do. "And yet again the mulga-wires went flying round about, So touched with lawless pride you'd think 'twould rise into a shout Amongst the hills--'His brother Jack and both his mates are out!' "I met my mates by moonlight on a misty ring-barked flat, Where nothing seemed to live except the spotted native cat-- We'd only muzzleloaders then, and two were cheap at that. "Three mounted men rode up the range (I see as through a glass); Three mounted men rode up the range and through by Aaron's Pass To where three men who had not slept lay waiting in the grass. "And one rode crouched (I see the scene as gypsies see such things), One rode between with handcuffed wrists strapped to the pommel rings-- The heat and dust and flies are in the hatred memory brings. "I strained my eyesight as I rose and stood behind a pine To make sure that the man they'd got was kith or kin of mine I wonder if he had not been would I have made the sign? "But long before they reached the ridge a something not of earth Told me I knew the prisoner well and loved him for his worth. His feet were fast to cords that ran beneath the saddle-girth. "The mounted troopers paused abreast where rocks had formed a cup, In that dry, haunted gully's head they called Lost Cattle Pup. I raised my arm, and at the sign our leader bawled 'Bail up!' "One trooper turned and galloped back as but a coward can, The other drew his Winchester and faced us like a man: The hard blue glinting eyes of Law along the barrel ran. "I heard the shot and saw the smoke, and felt my shoulder burn; And from the grass a Greener gun barked out and smoked in turn. The Law fell in a heap and rolled face up amongst the fern. "His walleyed chestnut reared and pawed, man-killer through and through; He glared the murder from his eye as wall-eyed chestnuts do; And, lest he'd strike us with his hoofs, we had to shoot him too. "I noted all the simple things, as men at such times must. I saw his crimson blood turn red and blacken in the dust, The shoe-marks from his death kick on the road's hard metalled crust. "A pine cone fell, dead gum-leaves turned and rustled in a breeze; I saw the parrots flash from red to crimson in the trees; 'Tis strange the mind at such a time takes hold of things like these. "A great grey kangaroo crashed out and thudded down the hill; The parrots dropped into the road and ran about at will-- The old coach-road...and it seemed strange the trooper lay so still. "It might seem cowardly, and mean, and foreign to our breed To say, for other men to hear (and some perchance to read) That, thanks to one who loved me well, I did not do the deed. "A half-wit lad who loved me well, as one loved Maypole Hugh, Because he thought me strong and kind, and brave and good and true, Had fired the shot that found its mark and left no more to do. "In haste the prisoner's bonds we cut and told him where to go, With every tree a telephone to let his brother know. He raised his head and nodded once; then rode from friend and foe. "About the body in the fern we moved with chastened tread; We covered with his trooper's cap the white face of the dead; And straightened decently his limbs, lest brutal words be said. "The half-wit softly knelt and prayed, as madmen sometimes pray; He broke two bronzing fronds of fern, the while the east grew grey, And crossed them on the dead man's breast, as is the Christian way. "A mind will run at such a time on unexpected lines. I hoped the children left at home had gone to 'Granny' Pines; I wondered if the 'dicky-birds' nipped off the pumpkin vines. "Two girls sobbed in each other's arms when daybreak shamed the sky; And one was a policeman's girl, and one an outlaw's spy-- Oh, yes, there was another girl, but that's long past and by. "We all were schoolmates long ago and in the infants' class; The little soldier-birds came in without a fee or pass-- The schoolhouse stood for forty years in sight of Aaron's Pass. "We went where papers seldom go, where quest and search are vain, And most men go with haunted pasts to suffer and remain-- The other two were buried there, and I came home again. "And no one ever questioned me nor hinted of disgrace; But stranger things had dulled my mind--the world seemed commonplace. The hunted man we never saw till years had changed his face. "He came into the ward the day that I was stricken lame, With blucher boots and bowyangs on and bore another name-- Greyer than I, but in his breast the boy's heart beat the same. "The sea is very calm tonight, and will not let me rest. The old sad things I should forget I still remember best. Nurse, help my friend to turn me with my face...towards...the west. "From Aaron's Pass to everywhere the sympathisers wait To help, whatever fault there be, a brother or a mate-- To help the hunters to go wrong, the hunted to go straight." The priest stood up, and bending low above the sick man's bed, "The bush holds greater mysteries than yours, my son," he said-- "The man you left on Aaron's Pass that day was far from dead." Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Absolution--for the Woman [1918] So there's a woman in the case! I surely should have known it-- Wherever Hatred's weed gains place A woman's hand hath sown it. But for the silent gentler sex I'd no such bad opinion As to conceive that she'd annex Heenzo from my dominion. (Oh, shame upon me old grey hairs, And on me bygone splendour: I thought I was locked in and safe Against the female gender.) But since she was in sore distress And to the deed was driven, I'm glad to know her cold grew less, And so our souls are shriven. Bulletin Advertisement ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Advertisement for Hean's Essence [1916] If yer getter corf about yer, Gotter corf-- Gotter corf-- If yer gotter corf about yer, Gotter corf-- Feelin' orf-- Have some horse sense; Take HEAN'S ESSENCE-- It will rid yer of that corf. That's a cert. Daily Telegraph ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
All Ashore! [1914] The rattling "donkey" ceases, The bell says we must part, You long slab of good-nature, And poetry and art! We'll miss your smile in Sydney, We'll miss your care-free air; Where care-free airs are needed And grins are growing rare. Good health! Good pay! Good liquor, And good pals, night and day, Good morning and good evening-- God bless you, Hugh McCrae! Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"All Unyun Men" [1893] 'Twas a big shed on the Darlin'-- The Unyuns know it well, But mighty few in the Unyuns knew About the thing I tell. 'Twuz a great shed for free labour, And the chaps was all aware, And the rep. wuz told that he'd best not try, His funny bizzness there. But the rep. wuz straight, an' the rep. hed grit-- He tried his funny biz.: He shoved the cause along a bit With three square mates of his. The bunks stood in a corner-- 'Twuz called the "Unyun Den"-- And on the post they pasted The sign: "ALL UNION MEN" Now, 'twuz a shed where Unyun talk Wuz answ'red with a vim, An' each wuz told to take a walk, An' take his swag with him. They lnew the boss had marked 'em-- They knew they'd git the sack-- And they risked their cheque for a convert: Such men are found out back 'Way down along the Darlin' There tramped four Unyun men, An' two-legg'd things from Whitely King's Camped in the "Unyun Den", An' a jackaroo got up ter do A clever thing one day: He started there, before 'em all, To scrape that sign away. Then up rose "Jack the Dingo"-- A rough ole Darlin' slab-- Wuz known among the Unyuns As "Crawlin' Jack the Scab"-- At least, they called him "Crawlin' Jack" When he wasn't in the place-- They called him that behind his back, But never to his face. Then up got "Jack the Dingo", An' nasty was his tone-- He said, in shearing lingo: "You let that sign erlone! You've got a Unyun ticket, You cur! An', what is more, You've got a sneakin' ref'rence From the last shed where you shore! I hate the gory Unyun, An' I'm game ter say I do, But I think them chaps wuz better Than a two-faced jackaroo!" Four bunks stood in a corner-- 'Twuz called ther "Unyun Den"-- An' on ther post wuz written Three words: "All Unyun Men". Free labour thought a mighty lot, But 'twuz not much it sed, An' the sign stopped there while the "Dingo" Wuz shearin' in the shed. Worker ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
An Australian Advertisement (1890) We want the man who will lead the van, The man who will pioneer. We have no use for the gentleman, Or the cheating Cheap-Jack here; We have no room for the men who shirk The sweat of the brow. Condemn The men who are frightened to look for work And funk when it looks for them. We'll honour the man who can't afford To wait for a job that suits, But sticks a swag on his shoulders broad And his feet in blucher boots, And tramps away o'er the ridges far And over the burning sand To look for work where the stations are In the lonely Western land. He'll brave the drouth and he'll brave the rain, And fight his sorrows down, And help to garden the inland plain And build the inland town; And he'll be found in the coming years With a heart as firm and stout, An honoured man with the pioneers Who lead the people out. Boomerang ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Another Song of General Sickness and Tiredness [1913] I'm tired of the cackle of women, At home and in politics too (Of "Labour" and "Liberal" too). Of the clack-clack-clack-clacker and screamer, Of the yell, and the Pouter Goo-Goo. I am tired of the Fearsome III Treated-- You hear of her everywhere; And the Cool One that talks on a platform Two hours without turning a hair. She cares not a curse for her country, She cares not a damn for a cause; She knows what a female baboon does Of politics, justice or laws. 'Tis NOTICE she craves for her antics, And by her the country is cursed. (All women are natural liars But political women are worst.) Oh, I am tired of the whine of the Grievance-- For ages our spirits have longed For rest from the rasp of the Nagger, For peace from the shriek of the Wronged; She will swear she was chased with a wood-axe. You'll find out, when all's done and said, That her husband's a mild sort of Snagsby Who brings her her breakfast to bed. (To Hell with that breakfast in bed.) Oh! I'm sick of the book-writing female!-- As often as not she's a girl Who ought to be helping her mother Or putting her hair up in curl. She slangs all her friends and relations; She's born to disgust and to vex, She pretends to hate all men like poison While she raves of the gender--or sex-- (I refer to the Sex-Problem female; And to Blazes, I say, with her Sex.) I'm sick of the piffle of women-- The actress who fainted, almost, With joy at the scent of the gum leaves Some hours before sighting the coast. Of her mouthing of "dear old Australia", Of the Incident met in the Park; Of the shots that she fired at the burglar, And that night she was lost in the Dark. (Small loss if she'd stayed in the Dark!) I'm tired of the sniff of the Glarer-- And--oh, for our blushes and curls! The bitter old maids in committee For the "better protection of girls"-- (Or Females--that's women and girls.) They see nought but evil in men's work, From babies to laws to provide For the health and pure blood of a nation-- And, Moses, but they've got a hide! (They couldn't be mild if they tried.) And I'm tired of the Ladies' Committee, Of the fads and the fashions they hug, Where the Foundlings go dead or a-missing While the patroness christens a pug In the Board Room got up for the function With flowers and ribbons and rug; With cake, wine and tea for the gushers-- No child, but a damn hairy pug! (----! ***** !! x x x, and the pug.) I'm sad for the page that is wasted, Society columns gone mad, The "Personal" dry hash and rubbish, The Nobodies wild for an Ad. The groan of the Dry Female Faddist Who'd help us all out of our fix. The "Marys", or daughters of Empire And the Mother of Sixty (or Six). And, lastly, I'm wearied, Oh Bully! Of the Letters and Chatter I scan. Of the Blanks who sailed last week for Fog Land And the Damns who are doing Japan; Of the plans of the James Pecksniff-Smith-sons. I'm tired--now I rise to remark, Of Cissy McMullock's engagement To the third son of Wallaby Park-- (Who in Blazes is Wallaby Park?) But I wonder what Asia would think of This incomprehensible fuss; Of our manner of treating our women, Or the way that we let 'em treat us. Of our daughters who prance round in nighties With hobbles and heels past belief: Half dressed, but with things they call "panels" Like the suit of a cannibal chief-- (Fore and aft, like a cannibal chief). Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Antwerp (1914) [1914] Flames through the black smoke shooting--flames to the skies aflame! Hatred and crime that are nameless, and murder without a name! The deeds of a death-doomed nation, and the fury of guilt and shame. And the flames die down in the morning and the black smoke smothers the flame. Blue smoke from the embers curling, and the morning is fresh and fair; And the dead and the charred and the mangled, and the wounded are everywhere. And out on the paths of the fleeing, where the remnants are scattered like chaff, The terrible silence of children, and a soldier's hysterical laugh. War against women and children--war against Progress and Peace! War against all things and nothing--when shall Insanity cease? Only by pride and ambition can such an Inferno be built, Maddened conceit and ambition, and the fear and the fury of Guilt. God's own sky is above us, and God's own fleecy cloud, Like a baby's christening mantle, or an earthly angel's shroud. And God's own stars and planets, and the evening star that beams, By God's own moon, at its fairest, reflected in God's own streams. Death to a peaceful nation! Chaos to town and farm, Of a kindly and friendly people, who never did nation harm. Death to the young folk helpless, to the old folk scant of breath; To the babies in their cradles, says the voice of the Madman--Death! But we press on--the Avengers--each one to play his part, With murder black in our memory, and murder in every heart. Each one sure and determined to win to his goal at length. For we war not on peaceful burghers, but on a Devil of strength. There's a vision of towns rebuilded, or fairer towns in their stead, And flourishing fields and gardens that are waving above the dead. There's a vision of softened sorrow, and the pride that came after the fall, In the Monuments from All Nations to the Bravest Nation of All. There's a vision of one lone Island--known in the books of men, Where there'll be no warships guarding (for none shall be needed then). Down in the milder Atlantic, in days while the future grows fair 'Tis a vision of St Helena, and a madman is gibbering there. Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Archibald's Monument [1919] Doubtless the Old Chief chats tonight With writers and artists who passed from sight To a sanctum lit by as clear a light As the light of that Other Day; With lovable humbugs, all too fond Of the shorter cut to the land beyond-- With Marcus Clarke and "The Vagabond", With Daley and Harold Grey, "The Dipso" and Harold Grey. No tear is needed, nor funeral frown. Empty your glasses in bush and town To a polished glass on the bar turned down And be, as we are, content. The songs we sang to a land unsung As yet, and taught by his guiding tongue, The lines we wrote when our hearts were young, Are Archibald's Monument. Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Archie Ward [1915] He was Archie Ward of Manly, and also Waverley, And several other suburbs by the harbour and the sea; And each place he'd dishonoured by his presence when he called Was in turn extremely anxious to be rid of Archibald. He'd neglect his wife and children, and his family disgrace, And they used to say a bullet would have flattened on his face. He'd drink whisky by the gallon till he was whisky mad, And, recovering, repentant that his life had been so bad, He would take down trusting tradesmen in villages like these, "To fulfil", as Archie put it, "his responsibilities". Then he'd dress the wife and kids, and he'd do what duty bids, And bamboozle some evangelist to lend him Heaven's keys. He was selling things, was Archie, and was always in the swim-- Whisky, prayer books, South Sea Islands, it was all the same to him; He might be kicked downstairs one day by someone who was vexed, But he'd go and sell the party half a chest of tea the next, With a musty ham beside, for the coming Christmastide-- He could nearly always "get them" with a joke or with a text. Archie went from bad to worse, and he went it at a bat; He did time for false pretences, and for something worse than that; And his wife went to her mother, who (as mothers do, you know) From the first years of their marriage always said she "told her so"-- And (as legal mothers do) worked to make her words come true; Down the separated Archie went as far as he could go. Now, I don't know how he did it, nor does any man alive-- He was fifty-three, and must have sworn that he was forty-five; Anyway, he vanished after a long, last drink-lurid storm, And he turned up one fine morning "Corporal Hunt", in uniform! I was glad I'd never cut him like the rest--but, anyhow, His little wife and daughter they could hold their heads up now! But at canvassing the hopeless he'd ne'er been known to fail, And his "cheek" would stop a bullet, and he'd been well-drilled in gaol. So, his last chance coming to him at the end of his last spree, He had sold himself to Glory, as he'd sell a chest of tea. Oh, his wife's face was aglow on the day we saw them go-- And he told the kids he'd bring them back the Kaiser's lovely mo. Scarcely three short months had vanished, and before we were aware Came a pencilled scrawl from some place that he called "Sarah Bare"-- Just to say the Turks had got him (and they had, without a doubt), And to tell his wife and people that the long bill was wiped out. There's a grave by Sari Bair that is neither deep nor wide, And a blackguard's resting there who died as heroes died-- And I wish to-night that I had such another one beside. Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Architect [1914] I don't know if 'twas Bill, or Jim, or Tom who started it, Or if the Boss was in the swim--it matters not a bit. They all were there at Stiffner's pub, the Dry Hole Creek elect, When Bill said it was "Archie Tect", and Jim said "Arky Tect!" There was no Daniel Webster there to put the matter through (And Daniel used to drink himself, if all accounts are true); But, had the Unabridged been there for all hands to inspect, James would have had it "Arky Tect" and William "Archie Tect". Tom said--I think he started it, I'm pretty sure he did-- That "Arky" was a nickname that this chap had when a kid; But still those two mates argued it and gave the lie direct; And some took sides with "Archie Tect" and some with "Arky Tect". They fought it out by Dry Hole Creek, where nothing comes amiss; And men have fought on redder fields for lesser things than this. The constable was referee--and liked it, I expect-- (His name was Archie Brossington, it wasn't Arky Tect). They fought it out by Dry Hole Creek, like bushmen, of the land, Until they both were blind; and then the seconds took a hand And fought until the constable called on them to reflect-- And none knew if 'twas "Archie Tect" or if 'twas "Arky Tect". Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Arrers" [1916] A letter and a protest from a felonious friend, lately on another kind of transport. You seem forever writin' Yer Songs of Victory; An' "Wear the beatin' colours, An' wear them back with me!" You seem forever whinin': "Oh, come an' look at me!" Yer mind forever narrers-- Say anythin' you can, I'm one as wore the arrers, An' wore 'em like a man! While you slept in the mornin' An' 'ad yer cup of tea, An' dreamed, no doubt, with scornin' Of better blokes maybe-- Like Ginger Mick an' Stinker, An' Snorkey, Snout an' me-- Then I was busy fillin' With loo'-warm cornmeal stop, To give me strength fer drillin' For what I mean to do. Ye're very busy writin' Yer bloomin' potery; An' whinin' and recitin' "Oh, come an' look at me!" I'm Drilled an' Dressed fer Fightin', And Somewheres on the Sea! While cows like you is drorin' Yer well-oiled big screws out, The submerines is clorin' For blokes like me an' Snout. While you was motor carrin' With Guv'ment blokes an' that, Then I was busy sparrin' With thumb an' nose an' hat, Salutin' Guv'ment fellers Who knoo what I was at; An' I was wheelin' barrers In trenches at "the Bay"-- I'm one as wore the arrers, As you might do some day! You've got a Guv'ment billet, Way out at Leeton now; I hope to Gord you'll fill it-- 'Twill fill you, anyhow! You'll be a "civil servant", Like any other cow (I thought that that would fetch yer, I reckoned an' I knew). There's arrers on yer stretcher, Mattress an' blankets too. Ye're very busy writin' Yer bloomin' potery; An' whinin' and recitin' "Oh, come an' look at me!" I'm Drilled an' Dressed fer Fightin', And Somewheres on the Sea! While cows like you is drorin' Yer well-oiled big screws out, The submerines is clorin' For blokes like me an' Snout. But never mind, old cobber (I've drored some screws out too), The Lan' Shark an' the Robber Will give you fight to do-- You sneaked me in terbaccer One time--I knoo 'twas you! Where seagulls is, or sparrers, Wherever there's a man, We all is wearin' arrers An' do the best we can. Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Arthur Desmond [1893] They are stoning Arthur Desmond, and, of course, it's understood By the people of New Zealand that he isn't any good. He's a plagiarist they tell us, and a scamp--but after all, He is fighting pretty plucky with his back against the wall. When I see a follow sinner face about and stand his ground, All alone and undefended, while the crowd is howling round-- And his nearest friends forsake him, just because his case is slim-- Why, I think it's time that someone said a word or two for him! They are damning Arthur Desmond for the battle that he fought-- For his awful crime in saying what so many people thought. He was driven from the country--but I like to see fair play-- And to slander absent brothers--why it ain't New Zealand's way. Once I met with Arthur Desmond "and I took him by the hand," But I scarcely think the action spoilt my chance for Promised Land; And I think of Arthur gazing, with his earnest, thoughtful eyes, Out beyond the brighter ages that we cannot realise. He'll be shot or gaoled they tell us (so were others in the van) Be it prison cell or bullet, he will meet it like a man. And 'twere best to have been neutral when his stormy path is trod, And we all are brought together level at the bar of God. Fair Play ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
As Ireland Wore the Green [1891] By right of birth in southern land I send my warning forth. I see my country ruined by the wrongs that damned the North. And shall I stand with fireless eyes and still and silent mouth While Mammon builds his Londons on the fair fields of the South? CHORUS: O must we hide our colour In fear of Mammon's spleen? Or shall we wear the bonnie blue As Ireland wore the green? As Ireland wore the green, my friends! As Ireland wore the green! Aye, we will wear our colour still, As Ireland wore the green! I see the shade of poverty fall on each sunny scene. And slums and alley-ways extend where fields were evergreen. There is a law that stamps the flower of freedom as it springs; And this upon a soil that's trod by prouder feet than kings'. And must I hide my colour In fear of Mammon's spleen? Or shall I wear the bonnie blue As Ireland wore the green? As Ireland wore the green, my friends! As Ireland swore the green! Aye, I will wear my colour yet, As Ireland wore the green! Out there beyond the lonely range our fathers toiled for years 'Neath all the hardships that beset true-hearted pioneers; And our brave mothers journeyed there to do the work of men On those great awful plains that were unfit for women then. Then must we hide our colour In fear of Mammon's spleen? Or shall we wear the bonnie blue As Ireland swore the green? As Ireland wore the green, my friends! As Ireland wore the green! Aye, we shall wear our colour still, As Ireland wore the green! O shall the fields our fathers won be yielded to the few Who never touched the axe or spade, and hardships never knew? Shall lordly robbers rule the land and build their mansions high, And ladies flaunt their jewelled plumes where our brave mothers lie? O must we hide our colour In fear of Mammnon's spleen? Or shall the wear the bonnie blue As Ireland wore the green? As Ireland wore the green, my friends! As Ireland wore the green! Aye, the will wear our colour yet, As Ireland wore the green! What though our stalwart fathers came from every land on earth, We will be loyal to the land that gives our children birth. We'll show our banner to the sun--the Southern Cross displayed-- And join our strength together for the home our fathers made. Let cowards hide their colour For fear of Mammon's spleen! But I will wear my bonnie blue As Ireland swore the green! As Ireland swore the green, my friends! As Ireland wore the green! Aye, I will wear my colour still, As Ireland swore the green! We'll light the lamp of hope above the alley and the slum, And teach the poor and drill them for the war that is to come. We'll send our songs recruiting far beneath the western sky, And wake the towns and let them know the day of deeds is nigh. And the twill wear our colour In spite of Mammon's spleen! O the will wear the bonnie blue As Ireland wore the green! As Ireland wore the green, my friends! As Ireland wore the green! Aye, the will wear our colour yet, As Ireland wore the green! Worker ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
As It Is in the Days of Now [1908] Sir William set sail for the Holy Land, When his good right arm was strong-- (Oh, never was knight with heart so right And head so stubborn and wrong!). He sailed away in the birth of day With a gay and gallant band-- Ah, little they knew there was aught to do In a most unholy land. For love, or country, or faith, or gold-- Or all that men's hearts pursue-- It was always the same in the days of old As it is in the days that are new. The Ladye Clare was his ladye there, And Sir Antony Mark was his friend; And a clerk and a squire watched his honour for hire, And he trusted them all to the end. His ladye gazed out from the castle gate, And Sir William gazed back from the deck; And she sobbed like a bride ere she went inside, With her arms for the other man's neck. 'Twill be always the same in the long to come As it was in the Long Ago-- And they ate his bread, and "What matter," they said, "So long as he does not know?" His father's friend, with his grim grey beard, And his wise old aunt, Dame Ruth, Knew the scandal well, but they dared not tell-- Dared not tell a true man the truth. Sir William is come from the Holy Land, And Sir Antony welcomes him; And the true friend pledges the false friend thrice, With their glasses filled to the brim. There's a banquet to-night, and the ladye is bright, And she clings to "her lord" regained, And the music is heard, and we spake no word-- But say, is his knighthood stained? Oh, I was page to Sir William then, And I knew the shameful thing (To learn to do right from his noblest knight I'd been sent by my sire, the King). Ah, a devil was she. And they knighted me, For I proved in the brute-fight brave, And in council and field my lips were sealed, And say, was I knight or knave? Sir William he lies in the solemn aisle, And his ladye lies by his side-- The bravest of all at his country's call, Sir Antony fought and died. And I ruled well till at last I fell For the wife of my dearest friend; And he fell, too--for his wife was a shrew-- And who shall judge in the end? For love or honour or faith or gold-- For good or for evil, I trove-- It was in men's hearts in the days of old As it is in the days of now. Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
At the Sign of the Rotten Egg [1918] The Rotten Egg is a pub condemned for the sake of the evils it damned, And ghosts have haunted its gloomy bar since last the front door slammed-- Cobwebs and dirt and never a sign of cask or bottle or keg-- They are going to build a warehouse soon on the site of The Rotten Egg. The landlord's wife was a portly dame, with a hard, cold eye on the cash, But a motherly heart for the down-and-out (though to answer her back was rash). The boss was a man with a patch on his eye, one arm and a wooden leg; An old Imperial pensioner--he was boss of The Rotten Egg. The sign outside was yellow and green and a sort of a sickly blue, And more than one of the wrecks inside had a touch of those colours too. They were bad eggs all, but they heard the call, and seven put in the peg; 'Twas a sorrowful day when they marched away from the sign of The Rotten Egg. The heart of the city is granite hard and the weather is cold and damp; So I camped last night in The Rotten Egg (I had nowhere else to camp). With a rusty key and a ragged rug and a flask that was nearly done, I laid awake till the Ghosts came in; and I questioned them, one by one: "Ghost Number One, with the bandaged brow and the ugly blotch on your breast, A pace to the right of the khakied shades and two in front of the rest. Why did you die?" And the spectre spoke (a ghost of the hard-faced dead): "I died that the mother, whose heart I broke, might hold up her old grey head." "Pass friend," I said; "and I'll say no more. Now, speak, Ghost Number Two!" "I died for a dream," the Shade replied; "and they say that my dream came true. Here with a pal and a pot of beer and brooding on bygone Springs, I was a drunkard down and out, who dreamed heroic things." "Pass friend!" I cried, "I have had that dream. Now, speak, Ghost Number Three!" "I was a writer who could not live on a writer's wretched fee. I died for the sake of a bit of land, with a two-roomed house and a shed, Where the wife and chicks might live at peace from the rent when I was dead." "Pass friend!" I said. "Let those who can and the others who may forgive. I died a death--though another death--that the wife and kids might live. Shall the rentlords die, or their victims die for the things we still deplore? Shall the poet or drunkard's dream come true? Speak now, Ghost Number Four." "No matter my class," said Number Four; "no job I followed nor trade. I died for the sake of the work I'd done; for the sake of the name I'd made. I died unknown and I died alone; and I think that the death was grand; A lumper of bombs and the mess-kid scut--a runner to No Man's Land." I woke; and a beam from the rising sun streamed in through a broken pane And gilded a patch on the plastered wall where the pencilled names were plain-- A sketch of a man with a patch on his eye, one arm, and a wooden leg-- 'Twas the Roll of Honour we wrote the night they shut up the The Rotten Egg. Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Australia's Forgotten Flag [1911] [I think the grandest monument in Australia is that at Eureka with the four cannon on the base; and the grandest graveyard where the diggers and soldiers lie side by side. Why doesn't someone cinematograph Eureka? The story presents no difficulties--it is clear and plain and full of dramatic incident and national interest, and it runs without a hitch from start to finish. I have imagined one or two things here which were most likely true.--H.L.] Oh! the Cross of deepest blue, With the bright stars shining through, That was raised, my sons, for you, On a skirt of purest whiteness long ago, Long ago, Long ago, On the field of far Eureka long ago. Oh! the girl that sewed the silk, Blue as skies and white as milk, (Jeanie Scotland--of that ilk) In the hut there by Eureka long ago-- Years agone-- Auld Lang Syne-- With her young dead digger sweetheart on Eureka long ago. Oh! the prayer the diggers said, With the Southern Cross o'erhead! It is whispered by the dead-- In the graveyard by Eureka whispered still-- Whispered still, Murmured still, By the shades that haunt Eureka murmured still. Oh! the brother and the mate, In the bonds of love and hate, Ah! the help that came too late, When the diggers marched from Creswick to the dawn, Years agone! Long years gone, Oh! the midnight march from Creswick to Eureka and the dawn! Few, and taken by surprise, Oh! the mist that hid the skies-- And the steel in diggers' eyes-- Sunday morning in September long ago; And they grapple and they strike-- With the pick-handle and pike-- Twenty minutes freed Australia at Eureka long ago. For the leader won his crown, Though the flag was trampled down, For it rose in Melbourne town, Oh, it rose in Melbourne city that same year, With a clear Ringing cheer Oh! it floated high in Melbourne that same year. When the London strikers starved, While old England's roast was carved, And our loaf with them was halved, Then they bore our flag through London wreathed in flowers, Wreathed in flowers, Wreathed in flowers, In the dreary streets of London, brightest spot in those dark hours. They have stained it mongrel red, And the stars are dull and dead, With a northern cross instead, Oh. the bloodstain like a red star long ago, Long ago-- Long ago-- Oh! the red star that was bloodstain on the goldfields long ago. We're divided--we are curst, By the paltriest and worst, Parties striving to be first. But the shots from far Eureka echo yet, Echo yet,-- Echo yet. And they rattle round my window in the wet. Flag and banner of my dreams! The time is not as it seems, And the tide of freedom streams With the spirit of the people over all. We shall raise the bright flag yet, Ne'er to falter or forget, And 'twill go through many battles ne'er to fall. Worker ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Beaten Back [1888] Beaten back in sad dejection, After years of weary toil On that burning hot selection Where the drought has gorged his spoil. All in vain 'gainst him, the vulture, I have battled without rest-- In the van of agriculture, Marching out into the West. Now the eagle-hawks are feeding On my perished stock that reek Where the water-holes receding Long had left the burning creek. I must labour without pity-- I the pick and spade must wield In the streetways of the city Or upon another's field! Can it be my reason's rocking, For I feel a burning hate For the God who, only mocking, Sent the prayed-for rain too late? Pour, ye mocking rains, and rattle On the bare, brown, grassless plain, On the shrivelled hides of cattle That shall ne'er want grass again! Rush, ye yellow floods, to Murray, Over thirsty creek-banks foam; And o'er all, ye black clouds, hurry; Ye can bring not back my home! Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Beautiful Maoriland Or, Love and the Union) [1894] A shearer came to a blackleg shed, when most of the sheds were full; He'd tramped and tramped till his hope was dead, and never got hands in wool. He'd stuck to the Union, hard and fast, with no one to understand How his heart had longed, as the weeks dragged past, for his love and his Maoriland. "Fern and tussock and flax; range and river and sea. A strain on my heart that will never relax--a heart that will never be free. Oh, why should I break my heart?" he sighs, "Will the Union break thro' me? She draws me back with her great brown eyes, over the leagues of sea. Beautiful Maoriland! Glorious Maoriland! Oh, my heart for my darling waits, down yonder in Maoriland!" "Go in and sign," said the boss once more, "for we can't wait here all day." The shearer turn'd to the office door, and again he turn'd away. His spirit shrank from the dreadful track, and here was a "vacant stand"-- The chance of a cheque that would take him back to his home in Maoriland. "You've nothing to fear," said the boss, again, "for the law protects you now." The shearer turn'd with a twinge of pain, and wearily wiped his brow; His ears grew dull, and his eyes grew dim, as he gazed on the burning sand, And thought of his darling who watched for him, at home in his Maoriland. "Sign yer name there," said the mulga clerk; "write yer name there," he said. The shearer read, and his brow grew dark as the shameful clause he read. The squatters' agreement before him spread--the pen in his trembling hand-- A few short weeks in the shearing shed--then home to his Maoriland. Then never a train too swift could run, nor a ship could sail too fast, When the shed cut out and the cheque was won, and he followed his heart at last. He stooped to sign, when it seemed to him that a cold breath touched his hand, And a sweet, clear voice he knew cried "Jim!" from the past and Maoriland. As you'd drop a snake, so he dropped the pen, and a short, sharp breath he drew, Oh was it a spirit that whispered then: "Be true to your mates; be true!"? He shouldered his swag, and he faced the track--the heat, and the flies, and sand-- To die perhaps in the hell, out back, for the honour of Maoriland. He followed the light of the Union star--his love was a thing apart, But a heavier load than his swag, by far, was the load on the shearer's heart; And long ere the season had passed away his heart was a "vacant stand"-- He leaned that his darling had died that day in his dreary Maoriland. "Fern and tussock and flax; range and river and sea. A strain on my heart that will not relax--a heart that will never be free. Promises fair in the future rise; what are they all to me? She haunts me still with her great brown eyes, over the leagues of sea. Beautiful Maoriland. Dreary Maoriland. Oh! my heart! for my heart lies dead in desolate Maoriland." Worker ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Because of Her Father's Blood [1908] Sir William was gone to the Wars again, That went through the world at large, And he left the Keep with some forty men, And his aunt, Dame Ruth, in charge. The soldiers swore, and each knave looked grave, And the maids shed tears in a flood, For a fearsome mistress she was to serve, Because of her father's blood. There was never a smile on her grim old mouth, Nor a tear in her hard old eye, For her mincing days and her simpering days And her tearful days were by. There was never a siege-starved horse so gaunt, Nor a camel's face less fair; But no court ladye could gaze her down, And never a knight out-swear. She would cuff a maid till the maid saw sense, And a page till the page saw stars-- Oh, she was a queen of the olden time, In spite of her sinister bars. 'Twas a grim time then for the serving men, And the "maids" that we called the girls-- 'Twas hard to be cuffed by a bony fist, With the strength of a hundred earls. Sir William had been for a year away, And the land was a land of woe, When the outlaw Marr came down from afar With a hundred men or so. He cooped us up with the country folk-- And he was a cur in truth-- He knew that the knight was not there to fight-- But he did not know Dame Ruth. He gathered the cattle and gathered the grain, And he promised to leave us be, But he'd heard of gold in the oak chest old, So he sent for his outlaw's fee. We gathered like sheep in a castle keep, And an angry old dame was there-- Oh, we feared Dame Ruth with a tenfold fear On the days when she did not swear. For she felt too much. "Outnumbered?" she cried, "Ye slime, and the spawn of slime!-- Would a Marr for a day in the Westland bide In my father's father's time? There are forked things left that can stand upright, But are no men left in the land? Must I carry you forth? Hold your blades in the fight As I'd hold a babe's spoon in its hand?" So we gat us out through the eastern gate, And down through the old oak trees, Till backward borne in the wintry morn We fought them by twos and threes. We'd gathered to win to the gate again-- The gate of our grim despair-- When Clarence, who fought on my right hand, cried, With a backward glance, "Look there!" Heels first in retreat--for they pressed us close-- Just time to glance back through the trees-- And she sat on her horse on the top of the knoll With her ragged grey hair in the breeze. Her old house gown was the armour she wore, And her old grey hair the crest, And a long, tough whip on the pommel she bore, And--we did not look for the rest. Then Clarence drew sword when his shaft was sped (And he was a mettlesome youth), "I'll face them one to a dozen," he said, "But I will not face Dame Ruth." Her screech was heard in the startled land, And the outlaws paused in affright As she spurred her down to her gallant band, Crying "Fight! ye scullions! Fight!" The outlaws halted like stricken men Who stand ere they strike the sod-- They believed in warlocks and witches then, Far more than they did in God. Their leader looked twice, and their leader looked thrice, And was first to gallop away, Or, in spite of his warlike gear, he'd been A well-whipped cur that day. We drove them clear and we chased them far, And we left a few in the mud, And we hanged a few in the old oak trees As a hint of her father's blood. There was never a tear in her hard old eyes, On her grim face never a smile; But she bound our wounds with her claw-like hands And she swore at the maids the while. But all of us knew, of her battered crew, And we grinned and we winked aside, For her bony old fingers they trembled at times, And the oaths were to hide her pride. Sir William is come from the wars again With his faith and his thick head whole; And Marr is gone to the Holy Land For the sake of his sinful soul. We think too often of women and wine-- Too seldom of cause or creed; But we'd go with Dame Ruth to the gates of Hell, And never a whip she'd need. Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Billo's Point of View [1917] By the rock that's like a pillow And the homes of business fleas Came the bottle merchant Billo With his old horse Socrates. Down the steep hill to the ferry Billo picked his zigzag way; And I thought his face seemed very Thoughtful--for a Saturday. On the kerb his cartwheel grated And the bottles grated too, While he slewed his load and waited As old friendship bade him do; And rethought I heard him mutter Kindly words of blasphemy. And he spat into the gutter-- And I spat in sympathy. Maybe, out amongst the wattles, At a villa spick and span, Where he went for empty bottles, He had met a wowser man. Or a woman with a mission; Or a long speech made last night By a puppy politician Had raked Billo up orlright. But the strength he gave me of it, With an elbow on the shaft; And I listened, to my profit, While the Harbour water laughed. Billo blinked at three-legged Brunno-- Dog that everybody knew-- And he opened out with "Dunno What the world is comin' to. "Wot them wowser blokes is givin' Us is more than I can tell. We don't wanter go ter Heaven, We don't wanter go ter Hell! I'm a fool, an' you are clever; Both is mugs, an' get on fine; Bottles full is your endeavour, Empty bottles is my line. "I ain't one as turns me nose up At each blessed thing I sees; When I dies and turns me toes up I jest want a little ease; I jest only wanter getter Where I'll have a beer, an' kiss, In a world a little better An' a little worse than this. "What the Union crowd is doin' I am damned if I can say; We don't wanter go ter ruin, We don't want a quid a day; We just want a bit er clobber, An' when things ain't goin' right We can always find a cobber Who will buck us up to fight. "This old strike will be forgotten, Like a hundred strikes before, And the War be dead an' rotten When we have another war; And you'll see the landsharks swimmin' On the outskirts of the fray, While weak men an' lyin' wimmin Muck things up the same old way. "For the sum of all this scrappin' When yer use yer comminsense, Is that nothing that can happen Never makes no difference. So I give it to you, knowin' Mates are mates, say what they please-- There's the punt! I must be goin'. So long! Geddup, Socrates!" Then I dreamed a space, and started; For it seemed another day, And we just had met an' parted, Casual, on the Appian Way. Gown and wreath and mail and helmet (Over Time victorious)-- Just two ancient Romans well-met, Billo and Lawsonius. Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Billy Boy [1916] Are you going to the War, Billy Boy, Billy Boy? Are you going to the War, Billy Boy? Yes, I'm going to the War, And I should have gone before; But I hesitate no more-- Billy Boy. Are you sailing on the sea, Billy Boy, Billy Boy? Are you sailing on the sea, Billy Boy? Yes, I'm sailing on the sea, And I'm sick as I can be; But that's all that's wrong with me-- Billy Boy. Are you landed with the girls, Billy Boy, Billy Boy? Are you landed with the girls, Billy Boy? Yes, I'm landed with the girls, With their red and raven curls, And the lords and dooks and earls-- Billy Boy. Are you fighting in the trench, Billy Boy, Billy Boy? Are you fighting in the trench, Billy Boy? Yes, I'm fighting in the trench, And I'm fighting for the French, In the heat and in the stench-- Billy Boy. Oh, he answered to the call, Billy Boy, Billy Boy; Now he answers not at all, Billy Boy. He is sleeping in his grave, With the bravest of the brave, Dead the Christian world to save, Billy Boy! Oh, he sailed to take his chance, Billy Boy, Billy Boy, In retreat or in advance, Billy Boy! Oh, he sailed to take his chance In retreat or in advance-- Dead for Gundagai and France, Billy Boy! Dead for Hay and Yass and France Billy Boy! Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Black Bonnets [1916] A day of peace and innocence, A glorious sun and sky, And, just above my picket fence, "Black Bonnets" passing by In knitted gloves and faded dress Without a spot or smirch, Her worn face lit with peacefulness-- Old "Granny" goes to church. They called it "Service" long ago, When her old eyes were strong; But now they're dim, because, we know, Her service lasted long. By flowing creeks the bushman loves, By stockyard, hut and pen, The withered hands in those black gloves Have done the work of men. Her hair is richly white like milk-- Tho' long ago 'twas fair-- And glossy is the old black silk She keeps for "chapel wear"; Her bonnet, of a bygone style That passes not away, She may have had a weary while Or bought but yesterday. The road is rather rough and steep-- She takes it with a will, For, since she hushed "her first" to sleep, Her way has been up hill. I feel inclined to bare my pate, (A sinful one, alas!) Whene'er I see, above the gate, Her old black bonnet pass. For she has known the cold and heat And dangers of the track, And fought bush fires to save the wheat And little home Out Back. Long, lonely weeks of fear she knew, The men folk all way; And she has faced bushrangers too, And wild blacks in her day. Her grim old faith is firm as when-- The Great Flood rising round-- She dragged the children to the roof And saw their father drowned. And for her loved ones and her dead She'll not have far to search; 'Twas only yesterday she said She "sees them all in church." The eager children--large and small-- Upon their ways have gone, Ere "Mother" passes, last of all, To put her apron on. Black bonnets of the days gone by, Black bonnets of the Past! The mother love that cannot die; The one love that will last! Lone Hand ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Booth's Drum [II] [1917] Our sinful town is calm of nights-- No flag of blood and Fire unfurled-- Except when One-eyed Billy fights, Or hurls his scorn at all the world. He sobers up and prays no more; No more he testifies the Word; Our Army men are at the war, And Booth's old drum is never heard. No more we see the torchlights flare For Ryan's pub when sinners meet; No more we hear the brazen blare Of instruments adown the street; With Billy and his brand-new "save"-- The reddest guernsey in the land-- And with a haircut and a shave, Drum-major of the Army band! No more we see across the "park" The S.A. Barracks all aglow; A single gas-jet lights the dark, A single lassie runs the show. And other shows--she travels round To help them here and there a bit; She knows the Bush, and knows her ground-- She's very small, but she has grit. She said to me the other day: "I wish you would come in to-night; I think 'twould help me, anyway, And give me better strength to fight." I scarce knew what she meant, for she Hath humour in her winsome face-- Unless 'twould help her heart to see A BULLY bard in halls of grace. But I grow tired of doing right. And then I thought I'd let her know That I was saved one strenuous night, In old North Sydney years ago, And "never had no luck" until I got "run in and fined five bob" (And also that I never will Until I lose my stiddy job.) "But that old save's worn out," she said; "And those old days are past and gone. Come in to-night, and clear your head, And get a brand-new save put on. You know that I'm a stranger here, And find it very dull and slow"-- She paused, and brushed away a tear-- "You'd help me more than you can know." And so I went, a sinner grey, And sat amongst the earnest few, And prayed, when she said: "Let us pray" Or, rather, I pretended to. And when the others rose to go (They very seldom stay out late) She sat, for half an hour or so, Beside the Unregenerate. She showed me (sitting by my side) A letter from a chaplain's hand That told her how her sweetheart died A hero's death in No Man's Land. I'd known them both in days gone by, What time the chaplain used to swear. I read the lines and saw that my Unworthy name was mentioned there. Then, blind with tears, she bowed her head; But just as soon the tears were stayed. "Now, brother, let us pray," she said-- And then her "brother" knelt and prayed. And far, or near, it seemed to me, Or yesterday, or long ago, In this town, or across the sea, Booth's drum was sobbing soft and low. But what the Army people lack Shall be in full restored to them; For "Captain Tom" is coming back With one leg and a D.C.M. And Booth's old drum shall wake once more (Good Lord! They'll bang the barracks down!); And One-eyed Billy, as of yore, Shall save the humour of the town. Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Brighten's Sister-in-Law or, The Carrier's Story [1889] At a point where the old road crosses The river, and turns to the right, I'd camped with the team; and the hosses Was all fixed up for the night. I'd been to the town to carry A load to the Cudgegong; And I'd taken the youngster, Harry, On a trip as I'd promis'd him long. I had seven more, and another That died at the age of three; But they all took arter the mother, And Harry took arter me. And from the tiniest laddie 'Twas always his fondest dream To go on the roads with his daddy, And help him to drive the team. He was bright at the school and clever, The best of the youngsters there; And the teacher said there was never A lad that promised so fair. And I half forgot life's battle, An' its long, hard-beaten road, In the sound of the youngster's prattle From his perch on top o' the load. An' when he was tired o' ridin' I'd lift him down for a walk, And he'd say, at my silence chidin', "Now, daddy tell me some talk." And oft by the camp-fire sittin', When the bush was round us wild, I'd yarn by the hour, forgittin' That Harry was only a child. But to-day he'd been strange and quiet, An' lay on the chaff-bags still; An' though he'd bravely deny it, I know'd as the boy was ill. He said he was "only dosey", In his queer old-fashioned way; And I fixed him up warm an' cosey In the hammock under the dray. I fried him some eggs and some bakin' Which I couldn't git him to touch; And it set my heart a-achin For he'd always eaten so much. I wandered about half silly, And thought that my heart would stop; And the tea got cold in the billy, For I couldn't 'a' tasted a drop. I'd seen the same sickness of'en; An' my spirits began to droop, For as soon as he started coughin' I know'd as he'd got the croup. 'Twas fifteen mile to the river; An' Gulgong was twenty-five; An' I thought 'twas a chance if ever I got him back home alive. The thought of the loss was horrid If the young 'un was taken away; And I went and leaned my forehead Against the tire o' the dray. And sudden I started cryin', And sobbed like a woman too; For I felt that the boy was dyin', And I didn't know what to do. All helpless I was, and lonely; But I thought 'twas a coward's cry To call on the Saviour only When trouble or death was nigh. But after a while I lifted My eyes to the steely blue Of the sky where somethin' drifted Like a great white cockatoo. An' nearer it came, and nearer, Right down to the branch of the tree; And it seemed when its shape grew clearer, Like the form of a woman to me. For a moment it seemed to tarry, An' p'int away up the road, An' then seemed pintin' at Harry, A-coughin' beneath the load. I don't want ter arger; there's chances The vision was only the sky, Or the smoke outlin'd on the branches, Or a lonely cloud on high. But I says 'twas a message from glory; I sees as yer goin' to chaff; Just wait till I done my story, An' laugh if yer want to laugh. Away went the vision flyin'; Up into the blue it went; And I stood for a minute tryin' To think what its comin' meant. When it flashed on my brain like lightnin'; An' arter I thought it strange I'd almost forgotten old Brighten Who lived on the top of the range. He lived on a small selection, Or used ter live there I know'd; An' it lay in a west direction, 'Bout five miles back from the road. I harnessed the horses quicker Than ever I'd taken 'em out; An' they must 'a' thought me in liquor, For the way as I shov'd 'em about. I'd allers bin fond o' sneerin' An' laughin' at women's ways; I could see in their lives, I'm fearin', But little as called for praise; But now when I thought he'd smother With croup in the lonely wild, Good God, how I longed for a mother To save the life of my child! I seed in a vision each minit The youngster nursed back into life; An' the hand of a woman was in it; An' the woman was Brighten's wife. There's times when not knowin' a bliss is, As Harry's school-teacher 'ud say: And I didn't know Brighten's missis Had gone to the town that day. In a moment I'd lifted Harry To the bags on top of the load; And I flogged the weary horses Along on the dusty road. But ev'rything seem'd to hinder My hopes when I reached the hut; For there wasn't a light in the winder; And both o' the doors was shut. That moment my heart got hurted; An' I felt it for many a day; For I thought that the place was deserted, An' Brighten had gone away. But I called; and the door was opened, An' I saw that the hut was alight; It hadn't shone in the winders; For the moon was shinin' bright. An' there in the door, with a candle, I saw old Brighten stand, With his fingers grasping the handle Of a pistol he held in his hand. "If any one moves," he shouted, "I'll fire if I've got to hang!" For the moment he never doubted 'Twas a visit from Gard'ner's gang. I didn't move in a hurry; For a man in a fright shoots quick. But I told him he needn't flurry, 'Twas only a youngster sick. "Stan' back," said old Brighten, snatchin' An' shuttin' the door in his fright; "It's typhoid, maybe, he's catchin': An' I can't have him here to-night." But a woman's voice shouted, "What is it?" I'd never seen her before; She was only there on a visit; 'Twas Brighten's sister-in-law. An' nothin' seemed able to frighten This woman so pale an' thin; She pushed from the door old Brighten, An' carried the youngster in. She'd bin hospital nurse in the city, I heard, and had got the sack For havin' a little pity, An' exposin' a doctor quack; Some trumped-up stories agin her All over the town was belled; An' in spite of the fightin' in her They got her at last expelled. An', talkin' o' fight, I'm fearin' There's sudden fightin' in store For the first as speaks in my hearin' 'Gin Brighten's sister-in-law; For, in spite of old Brighten's cussin', She got the youngster to bed; And arter a week's good nussin' She won him back from the dead. And then I began to hanker For a speech to tell her the joy I felt in my heart, and to thank her For givin' me back my boy. The mornin' I left old Brighten's, While puttin' the horses to, I puzzled my brains to make up A speech as I thought would do. She lifted the youngster and kissed him, And helped him into the dray; An' I thought of how I'd 'a' missed him, If he'd only been taken away. An', "Mum," I sez; "I oughter," An' to finish the speech I tries; But all on a sudden the water Kem bubblin' up to my eyes. An' down'ard, like water-courses, The tears began to tear; An' I had to swear at the horses To hide my weakness from her. But the tears was only human An' they seem'd to ha' done some good; For she pressed my hand like a woman, An' said that she understood. Town and Country Journal ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Brother, You'll Take My Hand [1903] Not to the sober and staid, Leading a quiet life, But to men whose paths are laid Ever through storm and strife-- Here is a song from me, Sent to the tragic West, Message of sympathy To the hearts that can never rest. This is the song I send Out to the Western land-- Sinner, and martyr, and friend, Brother! you'll take my hand. To you who have loved and lost; To you whose souls have died Cursing a fair false face And the red warm lips that lied; Loved with a boyish love, With a love that was pure and true, That set one woman above The world that was known to you; Eating your heart out now Alone on a waste of sand-- I have been played with too. Brother! you'll take my hand. To you who were loved too well, And who cast that love aside When your vanity was replete And your passion was satisfied, Haunted now day and night; Haunted in every place By the eyes of a suicide, Set in a dead girl's face. Crouched in your misery Out where the stars are grand-- O I am haunted too! Brother! you'll take my hand. To you who had wealth or name, Friends, love, and a future fair, And who sacrificed all for drink And the nights of Leicester Square: In by the drunken town, Out on the barren tramp, Pacing it up and down Alone by the listening camp; Crouched in your agony, Hiding your eyes with your hand-- I had the ball at my feet-- Brother! I understand. There is a light for all; Hold up your head and live! Forgive the woman who wronged, And the dead girl will forgive. Brood not, but work for good; Work in the world of men-- Strong is the man who fell And rose from the depths again. There shall be peace for you, Sinners, who win the land. I would fight upward too-- Brother! you'll take my hand. The Sun ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Brother-in-Law and I [1915] This world of ours is a mixed-up world, as no doubt you've heard before; And it may be more of a mixed-up world--or it mightn't--"after the war". (I could have managed a middle rhyme with "The battle flags unfurled", But the soiled-white rag and the Red Cross flag are all that count in the world At the present time)--damn the middle rhyme! This song, as you'll agree, When you've read it through has mostly to do with my brother-in-law and me. We shore and swore in the dust and heat of the sheds of a bygone day, And the damper and mutton were always sweet as we marched with our cheques away. We lived the life of the Level Lands out there in the Land of Men (We have known the hills, we have known the sands of the Upsan Downs since then); We had no blasted relationships, for we'd left our tribes behind-- We were mates in the truest sense of the word of the real Australian kind. My brother-in-law and I were mates in the days when our hearts were young; And we knew little of loves or hates, and less of a woman's tongue; We carried our swags on the Mulga Track, and camped 'neath the Starlit Sky-- My name was Jim and his name was Mack (my brother-in-law and I), But names have little to do Outback, as most of your bushmen know; I remember the days when his name was Jack and mine, I think, was Joe. When we came to a "town" where the mirage curls in smoke from the blazing track We shared our money and shared our girls (which was always the way Outback); We bore no signs of the cities' work, we were healthy and young and free, The Darling timber and roofs of Bourke were all that we cared to see. We had no wives and no wasted lives, we had no thoughts of the past, But, alas! and slack! we drifted back to the city streets--at last! Now Mack he married my sister Liz, as brothers-in-law will do, And I, to show 'em what mateship is, I married his sister Lou. Mack found he'd married my tribe, he did, and soon he longed for the tracks; And, before there was ever a thought of a kid, I found I had married the Macks! It was Hell all round with their paltry hates for men from the western sky, So we took to drink, and were boozing mates, my brother-in-law and I. My brother-in-law he got divorced, as brothers-in-law will get (They are mostly helped by a mother-in-law or a sister-in-law, you bet!). My relatives said that if I was a man I'd go and riddle the brute! They seemed to forget, as relatives can, that my brother-in-law could shoot. But I wasn't a man (so it would appear), for less than a month went by When we met again and we had a beer, my brother-in-law and I. I'll tell you a secret, and only you and the rest of the world and Liz: I reckon my people had more to do with the wreck of his life than his. And the years went past, and--anyhow, I got divorced as well; Perhaps on account of the same old row (I'm damned if I can tell). And sometimes after a beer or nip (or maybe more), we'd try To study out our relationship, my brother-in-law and I. "Were we divorced?--Or was it a draw?--Were we mates as in days gone by? Or brothers still in the sight of the Law, my brother-in-law and I? Was he 'Uncle Mack', who had been Outback, and his nephew my son Bill? Was I 'Uncle Jim', who had been with him, and his son my nephew still?" But we'd have another, and give it best with a sort of fraternal sigh-- We still were mates in spite of the rest, my brother-in-law and I. My brother-in-law is off to the war (and I am with him, too); His son and mine in the firing-line are doing what they can do. They are pals we heard from a little bird, and gay in a game that is grim. And they'll be surprised when they get word from Uncles Mack and Jim. It's a mixed-up world, as I said before, and the end I cannot descry, But you can't complain that we've lived in vain my brother-in-law and I. Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Caricatures [1914] [The Lone Hand of 1 May 1914 published a number of caricatures by David Low] There are writers great and writers small, And writers on the spree; And writers short and writers tall, And bards of low degree. There are artists small and artists great, With lines both bold and free-- It takes a Low to illustrate Us bards of low degree. Lone Hand ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Charley Lilley [1892] Oh! who will bear the battle's brunt And lead the ranks of Labour? Our leaders blunder in the front While Victory's a neighbour! We need a man to guide us thro'-- The march is rough and hilly-- The army wants to know if you Are coming, Charlie Lilley? The hand of greed is on the soil And times are growing harder, And soon 'twill break the heart of Toil To fill the workman's larder. Across the sky we hear the cry Of Justice calling shrilly, And we might save her by and by If led by Charlie Lilley. We want the gentleman who'll face The social sham and evil And sacrifice a higher place To seek the people's level. The parasite ne'er led the van To Victory--nor will he: To lead us on we need a man Like brave old Charlie Lilley. So, Charlie Lilley, will you dare The lying papers' fury, With God alone to judge you fair, The people for a jury? Can heart like yours keep warm and true On heights where hearts are chilly? The people want to know if you Are coming, Charlie Lilley. Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Chatswood [1919] 'Twas an old respected settler, in the unrespected days, Who had land along the North Shore, and--we'll say his name was Hayes; And he came there as a young man, when there was great work to do. And his young wife's name was "Chattie" (and no doubt, she chatted, too). 'Twas a "small place in the country"--where he went to be care-free-- Out beyond the pleasant suburb that they now call Willoughby; And a little wood was on it, and the trees were tall and good, And his young wife used to dream there, so he called it "Chattie's Wood". "Chattie's Wood" has long since gone, and shops are standing in a row Where the young wife went a-dreaming in the days of long ago; How the pretty name was altered doesn't matter, anyhow; But the wife is still remembered, as they call it "Chatswood" now. Lone Hand ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Cinderella [1889] A lonely child, with toil o'ertaxed, Sits Cinderella by the fire; Her limbs in weariness relaxed, And in her eyes a sad desire. But soon a wreath is on her brow; A bonny prince has claimed her hand; And she's as proud and happy now As any lady in the land. Ah, then to see a fairy bright, And to have granted what you would, You only needed to do right, You only needed to be good. But this was in the days of old, When man to wiser folk would bow; And though you were as good as gold You'd never see a fairy now. And yet they must have managed well If only half the tales are true, The wondrous tales the writers tell Of what the fairies used to do. But now the world has grown so wise It does without the fairies' aid; And who can find a prince that tries The shoe upon a beggar maid? It must have been a better time When virtue always met its due, And "wicked men who dealt in crime" Were punished by the fairies, too. But never more they'll come again To give the good what they desire; And Cinderellas wait in vain, And weep beside the kitchen fire. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Civilyun [1915] I want a word with you, Thomas Cornstalk, Before you ride, or before you walk; And also with you, Jack, before you caulk Or shiver your timbers. No! you won't balk; But you haven't begun by a very long chalk; And I want to have a serious talk, Though I know you are worth a million. Whatever you do or wherever you go, Or whether you find it swift or slow, Or whatever you know, or you do not know, Blow, if you will, or you have to blow For the sake of the land you have left "below" (Where the gums will still continue to grow) But don't use the word "Civilian". I heard it several times to-day, And it struck my ears in a grating way. A newchum constable down from Hay (Or from Woolloomooloo or Watson's Bay) Who was bait last night for a sly-grog "lay" Would tell his Nibs in an off-hand way Of certain vague "Civilyuns". Tommy Cornstalk! I am not one Who'll turn you down when the war is done (You'll find a few--and it won't be fun)-- I'd rather be sharp ere the row's begun. So I'll tell you there's many an office "clurk" And many a young wharf lumper, And several bards who were out of work, And others who only enlisted to shirk (As they fondly imagined) responsible "lurk", From Melbourne to Brisbane, and Sydney to Bourke, And more than one counter-jumper, Who'd scarcely slipped into their uniforms, When they slipped out the word "Civilian". Now, most of the men from Hannibal down, Who've fought like fiends for Republic or Crown, Or home or village or city or town Or "Right", or religion, from scholar to clown-- The smith in his apron, the priest in his gown-- Yes, most of 'em, were "Civilians". And so, Tommy Cornstalkses, God bless you all! And Long Live the Empire! And May Tyrants Fall!-- But, always remember that stuck in the ruck There are many, like you, who have plenty of pluck But, lacking the strength or the youth--or the luck-- Got the chuck! Now, tired and dusty and misunderstood, They are doing their best for the General Good. And, say, Tommy Cornstalk, how would you've felt Ere you got the order of Khaki and Belt, Or before you had any idea of a war, Had someone you'd never set eyes on before Referred to you as "Civilian"? I don't know exactly, but, anyhow, The chances are you'd have "stoushed the Cow", Have the pride that in Spain is Castilian! Call us Citizens now-- Where "blokes", "fellers", "coves", or plain "Blanks" won't allow For distinction--but never "Civilian". Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Coeurderoi [1922] Three diggers dug in the Long Ago on many a southern field, And they spoke in terms old diggers know, of "bottom" and "wash" and "yield", Of "colour" and "prospect" and "panning-out", of dish and cradle and tub, Of the shallow "duffer" that "petered out", of "fossicking", "wages" and "grub". But they knew no claim by a "Last Hope" name; for ever they followed afar The flag of the "Nil Desperandum" claim and the "Eldorado" star! And one was a Norse, and his eyes were blue--he might have been Finn or Swede, For all three lands have the selfsame look that comes of the selfsame breed. And his hair was brown and his beard was red, he had many a strange old song--- He was one of the Albert Williams' crew that stood by the Dandenong. And ever in good luck or in bad, whatever he sought to win, His face was still and his eyes were sad as the eyes of Russian Finn. And one was a German refugee from the Prussian call to arms-- You'll find them still with the greybeards grey on the South Australian farms. Because of his name for some blue-black stuff, like pipeclay to the touch, He was called Black Vitevash amongst the boys, and he lived and died as such. Often he'd say to the younger mate, of the Franco-Prussian War, "You got a Rebublic, Gorderoy--vot ve vas vighting vor." The German came from Bavaria, and the Norseman came from the sea; And the Frenchman he was a Coeurderoi, and he came from Burgundy. Hearts of kings had the Coeurderoi, and they lived with a kingly zest-- Hearts of kings! They are beating yet under many a peasant's vest. Hearts of kings! And they fought for kings and republics and romance-- For a blind cause, for a lost cause--but they always fought for France. The years went by and the mates grew old, who never had known despair; They found some gold, and they built a hut, and made a garden there. For each one knew--though he spoke no word--it was late to turn towards "Home". So Peter dreamed of the Long Ago when the seas were wide to roam; The Frenchman dreamed of Alsace-Lorraine and the French dream realised; And Herman dreamed of a Germany no longer Prussianised. Old Peter planted his kitchen stuff, as stranded sailors will; And Herman planted a Hamburg vine (it grows on the old hut still). They took it in turns to cook or dream or fossick as days grew late; And Alphonse planted some lily-bulbs by the sapling picket-gate. The busy bees at the pollen worked as they had through all the past; And the setting sun through those lilies burned when I was that way last. Then Alphonse sickened, and Peter sat and watched him all night long (He was one of the Albert Williams' crew that stood by the Dandenong): And Herman tramped to the nearest town--'twas a bitter night and black-- Through creek and scrub, by ridge and hill, and he brought the doctor back. But the dark day came when they took him in, by cart and a longer track, To lie in a ward with the Gulgong sick till the great war-clouds grew black. He heard the worst--and he heard the best, when the fevered weeks were past: How the German host had been driven back and Paris was safe at last. Grey Herman sat at the foot of the bed, and Peter sat by the right; And Herman lived in the bitter past--and Alphonse died that night. On his face was peace; and Herman sobbed, when they told him all was o'er: "You got a Rebublic, Gorderoy, vot ve vas vighting vor!" Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Commodore Blue [1914] Now, Commodore Blue was a boatman true And a pal of Lachlan Macquarie, And he'd take the Governor out for a row Away from the official worry-- (Perhaps from domestic worry). The Governor boy was a lonely lad, And it gave his heart emotion To hear the tales of the sailor man-- Wild tales of the strange wide ocean. Macquarie went out for a row one day, To the Bay that is known as Berry's, And unto Commodore Blue did say, "Why you've got quite a fleet of wherries!" And the old folk say that the Governor said (Though perhaps the tale is silly) "I'11 make you Commodore of the fleet, But look after the smugglers, Billy." "I'11 look after the smugglers," Billy replied, His long arms stretching and crooking-- But he winked with all one side of his face, When the Governor wasn't looking. 'Tomas a wink you could hear, and Macquarie had ears; And perhaps Macquarie was listening. Anyway, he gazed with a faraway look, On a shore that was scrubby and hilly, And added thereto in absent tone: "And I'll keep an eye on you, Billy!" North Shore Times ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Conscription [1916] It has to be, in storm, or calm, or breezes That fan a land in indolence to sleep; It has to be, where poverty or ease is, And vice in hilltop homes or alleys deep. It has to be, in real or fancied danger, In fixed and sure, or false security-- Where Sport is God! 'tis patent to the stranger Who's roamed the world and knows--it has to be! It has to be while city weeds in dozens-- All thoughts of home and manliness forgot-- Stare at the painted star that tempts and cozens, And spit between the race-board and the pot; In city bars, where fat-fed, narrow workers, And well-paid billet loafers, and the like, Can talk--the moral cowards and the shirkers!-- Of nothing but the races or the strike! It has to be, though lying politicians-- While jobs are engineered and billets made-- Drag statecraft down, to save their snug positions, Much lower than the meanest lawyer's trade; And honest institutions--while their founders Turn in their honoured graves amongst the great-- Are used to advertise the blatant bounders And criminals and fools who run the State! It has to be!--while honest eyes grow dim in The wasted West, where strive Australia's friends; And politicians fool our cackling women And lead them on--to serve their wretched ends. While Gent. One plots or in the Chamber drowses, Whence came the laws that prey on misery, O land of mine, accursed by fourteen Houses Of Parliament, Conscription has to be. While each good cause--our own brave sick and wounded-- The widows and the orphans--CHRIST Himself-- Is pounced upon, and its first soldiers hounded, For paltry self-advertisement or pelf; While every scheme conceived to serve Australia Is stolen from the hands that seem to win, And "fathered", spieled, and tinselled with regalia, And staffed by cliques official and their kin. It's got to be! While Greed drags to the city A nation's health and strength and wealth and life To grease the hogs who have no thought of pity For nation, shop-slaves, husband, child or wife; While plate-glass rag-shop windows spreading faster The great importing craze that has no name, Use murder, rape and misery and disaster To advertise their "business"--and our shame. Make men of weeds! Give muscle thought and feeling! Reduce the Fat that goes in making men. Give brains to brawn! The pregnant time is stealing Close to our shores--Ah! you shall know it then! Fear not the plunge! If we can only strike it The track is clear to perfect nationhood. And--you'll get used to discipline and like it, For I was disciplined and found it good. Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Coomera [1891] In spite of a dark and sickening suspicion that the story upon which the following effort is founded is nothing more or less than an advertisement of a well-known brand of whisky, we cannot resist the importunities of the muse. However, we take the precaution to throw the responsibility upon the Logan Witness. There's a pretty little story with a touch of moonlit glory Comes from Beenleigh on the Logan, but we don't know if it's true; For we scarcely dare to credit ev'rything they say who edit Those unhappy country papers 'twixt the ocean and Barcoo. 'Twas the man who owned the wherry at the first Coomera ferry Who was sitting cold and lonely while he counted out his tin; When the cloudy curtain lifting let the moonlight on a drifting Boat, that floated down the river with a pallid form therein. And they say that Sergeant Carey (with the man who ran the ferry), Started down to save the body from the cruel heartless sea, And in spite of wind and water, soon they reached the barque and caught her; And they tied the boat behind them while they wondered "who was he?" O the moon shone bright as ever as they towed him up the river, And they found within the pocket that was nearest to his breast-- Just an antidote for sorrow, that would tide him o'er the morrow-- (Flask of Brandy); but we'd better draw the curtain o'er the rest. Yet, in case the point's too finely drawn (we know we joke divinely), And the reader fails to see it with a magnifying glass, We will say the man who floated, while the moonlight o'er him gloated, Was not dead and gone to heaven, he was only drunk, alas! Boomerang ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Coralisle [1893] Old Fairyland extended far From Russian steppes and hills of pine, From where the frozen water are, And thence across the German Rhine. The British Isles, and Spain and France, The lands along the southern strand, The Greece and Rome of old romance, Were all in ancient Fairyland. But men grew wiser in the north And lost their faith in fairy lore, And all the fairies driven forth Were fain to seek a foreign shore. They left a northern harbour's mouth And sailed for many an ocean mile, And made their home in "Coralisle". But now their hearts are ill at ease, They cannot keep their southern home, For steamships sail across the seas, And traders round their island roam, And Progress--fatal to the bard-- Is fatal to the fairy band. The world must roll, but yet 'tis hard That they must leave New Fairyland. Newspaper Cutting ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Cribs to be Cracked! [1891] "Thieves: It is reported (says the Rockhampton Argus that within the last three or four days a small gang of very clever Melbourne thieves have found their way up to Rockhampton from the south,a nd will doubtless give our 'specials' some work to do. Detective Clark, however, that terror of evil-doers, has not been despatched from Rockhampton as before, so that we have one tower of strength to rely on in these troublesome times. The recent outbreak of burglaries in Rockhampton shows the folly of sending Detective Clark away just when he is most needed. "Cribs to be cracked! There are cribs to be cracked; And this is the spot to be camped on." (Oh! This is the song of the Melbourne Thieves Who at present are doing Rockhampton.) "Cribs to be cracked! There are cribs to be cracked; And d----l a sleuth-hound is near us! The specials are here, but the thief-hunter Clark Has gone to look after the shearers." Boomerang ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
'Cross the Border [1892] Albury, Wednesday. The body of the man who committed suicide in the Murray has been identified as that of a German named F. Frank or F. Frahm. Five weeks since the man came to Albury from Rutherglen, Victoria, in search of work, and had been stopping at a private boarding-house. Latterly he bad been in a despondent condition of mind, and complained to his landlady that he had had trouble with his relatives. He was unable no pay for his board through failing to obtain work. At the magisterial inquiry held today a verdict was recorded that deceased committed suicide by drowning, but there was no evidence to show what his mental condition was at the time. He was but a poor mechanic, and from Germany he came, But the paragraphs in papers seem in doubt about his name; "Fralm" or "Frank" I think they spell it, I don't know exactly how-- There's a doubt about his surname. but it doesn't matter now. He was looking for employment, but it wasn't to be got, And the bill for board and lodging seemed to trouble him a lot, And in such a case, we fancy, it was neither safe not right To go strolling dawn the river with his misery at night. By himself? ah, well--we know not--there are things we do not know, For perhaps he saw his mother as in days of long ago: And perhaps he saw that father who, beneath a porch of vine. Smoked a long pipe in the gleaming, by a cottage 'cross the Rhine. What remains? In human nature there are many chords to strike, Let the reader paint the picture: you can fancy if you like That the Murray, and the starlight, put the lonely man in mind Of the river of his boyhood--and the girl he letf behind. He was unemployed and friendless and he hadn't any gold. And the "aching void" was greater than his manly breast could hold; So he drifted by the Murray when the day was growing dim, And the river on its journey took to drifting over him. Ah! we say the deed was sinful, but the Master will forgive, For he knows it's getting harder for a working man to live; Frank was done with care, and nothing kept his body from its bed-- Save, of course, the formal inquest on the cold sarcastic dead. Let us trust, in spite of cynics, that he knelt upon the sward Just to send a last petition "on approval" to the Lord. And, if our religion's questioned, 'tis enough that Frank replied With the bitter, cold, sarcastic silence of the suicide. Workmen struggle, and are beaten, and they give it best and go, And like Frank they cross the Border where the mighty waters flow. But I rather think the Master will inquire the reason why In the universal inquest--'cross the Border, by-and-by Truth ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Cruise of the "Crow" [1892] A "Recruiting" Yarn 'Tis a tale of the land and the sea of the south, and a tale of the times, When the country was starved for the greed of the wealthy--and cursed for the crimes; Of the days when the healthy young heart of the south was beginning to bleed, And the flesh of the white man was growing too dear for the coffers of greed. On the deck of the Crow that was ploughing the luminous billow to yeast, Alexander Steersoftly sail'd out to the islands that lie in the east, And he swept the horizon as tho' for a friend, or a prize, or foe, Yet the flag of the pirate was not on the mast, nor the plunder below. He had water, tobacco, and rum, and provisions for double the crew, And the hull was as sound as a bell, and the masts and the rigging were new. Now, it all was according to law, and the law had an agent on board, Tho' they say that for most of the trip the said agent was drunk as a lord. Perhaps it was strange that the captain should doctor the agent with rum, That he always avoided a port where a vessel was likely to come; But he anchor'd in lonelier bays, where he sighted the huts of "the boys", And he landed with clothing and rum (and revolvers and rifles) and toys. There were dark bloody scenes on the shores of those beautiful islands at night; There was crime in the day, when no sail save the sail of the Crow was in sight; There were rescues attempted by men who, tho' black, had their dear ones to lose; And the marks of the bullets are still to be seen on the careen canoes. There was innocent blood on the sand, on the tropical green of the turf; There were murdered Kanakas, who rolled by canoes overturn'd in the surf. There are tales to be told of the cowardly wrongs of the islanders' girls, (Who had eyes that were brighter than stars, who had teeth that were purer than pearls), Of the graces in bronze, finely fashioned by nature, untrained and free, Who swam out thro' the rollers to gambol and dive in the luminous sea-- Swimming out in the glorious day, when the beautiful sea was aglow, To be trapped and most foully ill-used by the well-chosen crew of the Crow. Alexander Steersoftly sailed westward, and fair were the breezes that blew, But he loitered awhile on high seas, for a reason well known to the crew; Of the scenes on the deck of the Crow there are tales that shall never be told-- Of the sounds like the struggle of slaves, battened down in the depths of the hold-- There are truths that shall never be heard, or officially hinted--at least, Not while England has honour at stake in the islands that lie in the east. There were lessons to teach on the Crow ere the captain could steer for the land, And he drilled his "recruits" ev'ry day with a loaded revolver in hand. There were obstinate spirits to weaken, or break with the aid of the lash, Or to vanish for good, to the sound of a shot, or a thud--and a splash. Then the captain steer'd west till the coastline of Queensland was sighted at last, And the glorious flag of the English was rais'd to the head of the mast. The "recruits" were sent out to plantations, where broken-in islanders saw That 'twas not for "three moons" they must serve--they were slaves for three years by the law. And the crew of the Crow had a rest and spree for a season, and then Alexander Steersoftly sailed out to the beautiful islands again, And he anchor'd once more in a bay to the sound of the islanders' drum, And he rowed to the shore with his toys (and revolvers and rifles) and rum. But a just and poetical fate was in store for those civilzed brutes. For the captain was killed, and the mate, while in chase of unwilling "recruits". And the carpenter "potted a nigger" and barely escaped with his life, And the cook of the vessel was clubbed for ill-using an islander's wife. (It is said in the fo'c'sle of vessels that trade in those latitudes low, That the lady in question assisted in cooking the cook of the Crow.) So a warship was sent for the sake of the "honour" that must be upheld, And the sailors had sport with the blacks who escaped when the village was shell'd. And we fancy the tribe is extinct, for a sailor was heard to declare That the captain bombarded the huts, while the women and children were there. But a national crime is avenged to the full, as our children shall know, And the fields of the south shall be red for the crimes of the cruise of the Crow. But all this was in times when we knew by the Bible that went with the sword-- When we knew by the crimes that were done in the name of the Son of the Lord-- When we knew by the bayonet, red with the blood of the "children of Ham", By the toady who crawled in the slime of hypocrisy, falsehood and sham-- When we knew by a people's decay - when we knew by the national blare-- When we knew--by the drivel o'er all--that the Flag of the English "was there"! The Truth ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Dan Wasn't Thrown From His Horse [1891] They say he was thrown and run over, But that is sheer nonsense, of course: I taught him to ride when a kiddy, And Dan wasn't thrown from his horse. The horse that Dan rode was a devil, The kind of a brute I despise, With nasty white eyelashes fringing A pair of red, sinister eyes. And a queerly-shaped spot on his forehead, Where I put a conical ball The day that he murdered Dan Denver, The pluckiest rider of all. 'Twas after the races were over And Duggan (a Talbragar man) And two of the Denvers, and Barney Were trying a gallop with Dan. Dan's horse on a sudden got vicious, And reared up an' plunged in the race, Then threw back his head, hitting Dan like A sledge-hammer, full in the face. Dan stopped and got down, stood a moment, Then fell to the ground like a stone, And died about ten minutes after; But they're liars who say he was thrown. Sydney Mail ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Did You See Us Sailing Past? [1910] Did you see us sailing past, past, past? Did you see us sailing past? Syd. Allan sat by the little toy wheel And your lover by the mast. We'd raced the glass from Gabo To save an Autumn day; We dared not run for Disaster Bay, So we ran for Twofold Bay. Did you see us flying past, past, past, By the rocks of black'ning brown? With the hoods slipped up, and the doors made fast, And the motor broken down? We'd raced the glass from Gabo To save an Autumn day; We dared not run for Disaster Bay, So we ran for Twofold Bay. Did a face grow white or a heart grow sick? And the lighthouse seem to reel? Your lover stood by the foremast stick And Allan by the wheel. We'd raced the glass from Gabo To save an Autumn day; We dared not run for Disaster Bay, So we ran for Twofold Bay. Did you see us plunging past, past, past, On Friday afternoon? Did we seem flying all too fast From the grave of the Lye-e-moon? We'd raced the glass from Gabo To save an Autumn day; We dared not run for Disaster Bay, So we ran for Twofold Bay. We dared not think of Batangabee; But, darling, do not fret, For the Love Trail runs by land and sea, And we'll meet in Eden yet. We'd raced the glass from Gabo To save an Autumn day; We dared not run for Disaster Bay, So we ran for Twofold Bay. Sydney Mail ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Dind's Hotel [1921] (This was written a few months before the poet's death, while he was an inmate of the Coast Hospital. It was his last long production in verse.) One New Year's eve, in ninety-one or two--I'm not sure when-- (Ah, me! How many New Year's eves have come and gone since then!) I lived--or died--at Milson's Point, in Campbell-street, I think; And I was dying there alone that evening for a drink. The landlady was out to buy our New Year's leg of swine, The others on their own affairs; and I was in on mine. I sat alone till half-past eight--alone with thirst and sin-- When one who'd blown across the strait--Fred Broomfield--thundered in. Vice-editing The Bulletin, Fred thought my verse "not bad"; He "chanced" my first and so became my literary dad-- A wayward dad who sometimes led his joyous child astray, To our most mutual delight and subsequent dismay. Remember Fred in those old days--the days we used to love? With pointed beard and fierce moustache, yet harmless as a dove, Save when his walking-stick came down or whirled to point a rhyme And missed the barmaid's head--or ours--by hairbreadths every time. He wore beneath his fixed left wing amid those festive scenes, In scorn of sober knotted string, the latest magazines. He'd "thank whatever gods there be" and tell the jovial crowd Out of the night that covered him his head was still unbowed. But Fred was flush that New Year's eve and things were more than well; We hurried out of Campbell-street, and round to Dind's hotel, Where, after two long beers apiece, we found the world "orright", And told the boss our bleeding heads were pretty fair that night. We went to think "Where next?" and get a breath of air outside, When down the street from Blue's Point-road we saw two bushmen ride. I could have sworn by "larstin-sides" and trousers, shirts and hats, That they were from the Hawkesbury and farmed the river flats. They got down by the water-trough and asked "Would you chaps here Jist mind our horses for us while we go and have a beer? If yer don't mind"--I am not sure (and detail is a gem) If they said "hold" their horses, or "jist lend an eye" to them. So they went in and had their drinks, for they had ridden far; And they came out and sent us in--they'd left two on the bar. Then we came out and sent them in; and each two held debates Till each one got "fed up" with each, and started swapping mates. My native from the Hawkesbury was all I could desire; He said his name was McIntosh--the other's McIntyre. So we shook hands; and then he said he'd "give it to me straight"-- He told me that I didn't know what he'd done for his mate. He said "Yer don't know what it is to have a mate--like me-- Without no spark o' gratitood, nor commin decency." We needn't mind the horses now; they'd be orright, he said. His horse we saw was fast asleep, the other horse was "dead". We sought, and found, and lost back gates. We stumbled over stools. We wept and swore because our mates were such damn silly fools. We'd stuck to them through thick and thin and fought for them--damned hard We'd helped them with their missuses--and this was our reward! But that was past. We would not go and drink with them, we swore-- And next we all were in the bar and mixing mates some more. We argued over and explained--apologised for--sunk The little things of mountainous importance to a drunk; But only to refloat, refit, beg-pardon for, explain, Forget and laugh at them and sink or "drop it all" again. Our enemies were not so bad; our friends began the row-- The wives that nagged us into pubs were Noble Women now. Then somehow Fred and I were both outside, and there was he Mounted on one horse while he held the other one for me. He sat his horse in studied style, and held, you may be sure, His everlasting stick, and damned imported literature. I'd not been on a horse since first I left my native scene, And to this day I don't believe that Fred had ever been. So I hopped on. We both resolved to gallop fast and far (The natives from the Hawkesbury had new mates in the bar); And as we turned for Neutral Bay, where roads ran through the scrub, Two other New Year chaps rode up and halted at the pub. They hung their horses by the trough, they cleared their throats of phlegm, And asked a casual cove outside to "give an eye to them". But we jogged slowly up the track our horses side by side; And Fred declared that, though "unbowed", his head enjoyed the ride. Then suddenly I had a thought--"Those last two chaps," I said, "Might ask the two from Hawkesbury to mind their horses, Fred!" And, even as I spoke, upon what poets call the "wind" There came a sound above the beer of horses close behind. "Freelances to the front!" cried Fred. "The night has called for deeds! The Hawkesbury is out for watr on other captured steeds! Ride for The Bulletin!" he cried; and where the night grew thick He shot ahead with all his legs and wings and whirling stick. I caught him up and on we raced, in spite of ruts and holes, And thanked the gods that were for our unconquerable souls. We heard the hoofbeats and the yells. The path with shade was blind. "Ride, Harry, ride!" the Broomfield cried, "the clans are hard behind!" His charger slithered on the sward and fell with feet outspread; But he was up as soon as down, and on the top was Fred. He waved his stick as 'twere the sword of mighty Saladin, And still he held the printed tripe (imported for our sin). The natives caught us somewhere near the head of Neutral Bay, Beside a little ancient pub that knew the whalers' day. At first their words were harsh and wild--unpleasant, on the whole-- "They didn't come to Sydney for to git their horses stole"; But when we asked them in to drink before we had the fight, They stared and said, "Well I'11 be damned"; and then they said "Awe-right." When we got back to Dind's hotel, by light of star and moon-- (I used to write by moon and star, but wish to change the tune. The poets wear out countless stars on pleasant "lands afar"; But I'm content to work with one, and let it rhyme with bar. To tell the truth, I would not swear that we had any light Except the inner lamp of beer on that old New Year's night). When we got back to Dind's hotel, with or without a star, The Adam of all rows was making history in the bar, Was giving new tradition birth and legend heretofore Unknown, except to whalers, in the story of the Shore; And by the scuffling, bumping sound, and by a voice we knew, 'Twas very plain the publican was in the trouble too. We heard remarks like "Shanghai pub", "horse thieves" and "lambin' down". And "push an' crooks when decent coves like us come into town," And "chuckers-out and talents with the publicans behind!" To which the publican replied "Stow that, young fellers--mind! Yer horses ain't behind the bar nor on the blanky shelves. Git out, yer jumped-up fools, and find yer carrion yerselves." Outside, Ah Soon, the Chinese cook, stood gazing at the Point As calmly as a cop surveys a dark and silent joint. He dropped his dream as we got down--he'd known us for a week-- And spoke as one who'd suddenly been galvanised to speak: "Me take two horse! Say puttem yard--me fix him up all li; You fo' go home--some other pub! Too much, by kli', insi'!" But we did not. At Dind's hotel--for those were days of sin-- Six horsemen drank the Old Year out and drank the New Year in. We made new friends, we hugged old mates, laughed, wept or raised a cheer-- For hills appear like Everest when measured up by beer. Our wives were "right", our mates were "white", 'twas we began the row; But all in this old foolish world was "fixed up orright now". Four horses by the water-trough touched noses now and then-- They'd long since ceased to wonder at the windy ways of men-- But whether Fred went home with me, or I went home with him, I can't recall. Those dear dead days are too far off and dim. Our wives would always "save a drop" and never make a fuss; For they were just to our old mates and lenient with us. As I lie stricken here for sins that were not sinned in vain, I thank whatever gods may be for freedom from the pain; And if there's truth in doctor's talk--and all the signs are plain-- Then neither Fred nor I shall walk, much less ride out again. But you, who write when we are gone, go tell the passing crowd That to the last each bleeding head was very much unbowed! Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Dog Battler [1919] There's a dog named "Battler" that was littered long ago, And he travels on the Outside Track, Where the miles are endless and the feet are slow, And the plains lie bare in the drought's white glow, To the Great North-west that Drovers know-- O, he travels on the plains Outback! There's a dog named "Battler" (singing any song you like), And he travels on the Outside Track; And he might have been a bull-dog or a dingo or a tyke, But he seemed to know the packhorse as he learned to know the bike; And he never asked for wages, and he never went on strike When he led them to the wide Outback. He's a half-bred mongrel, with a little man named Smith, (And he travels on the Outside Track); And pure-bred mongrels are the men he travels with, Whose futures are decided, and whose past lives are a myth; They are finished for the present with the hearts that fight and writhe, They are shadows on the Outside Track. There's a dog named "Battler", who was never seen at all, (Or mistaken for a dog named "Pride"), But you'll feel that he is near you when your back's against the wall, In some madness born of trouble that you'll care not to recall, As I felt him on a past day, when the sky seemed like a pall, Pulling strongly at the sleeve of Suicide. He always seems to urge you, though he never seems to "rouse", O, he travelled with Old Jacob's caravan! When he's in the room beside you he's as quiet as a mouse, And his presence seems indulgent when you blame your friends and "grouse", He is waiting in the back-yard of the common boarding-house Where I'm waiting for the chance to be a man. There's a dog named "Battler", and he's always working hard On the back ruins by the Dead Beat Track; O, the drifter and the waster and the rest beneath regard, They are stock for him to muster, they are sheep for him to yard, He's the spirit of your dead friend, comrade, chum, or mate, or pard, And he often brings a lost soul back. There's a dog whose name is "Battler", that was littered long ago, And he travels on the Outside Track; Through the rain and mud for ever, or the drought's white, dazzling glow, Where the blazing miles are endless, and the dusty feet are slow, Where the plains spread to horizons that the Overlanders know-- O, he travels on the plains Outback! Smith's Weekly ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Don't Worry Little Woman [1917] France is a beautiful country...France is worth fighting and dying for...The whole of France is home to the Frenchman... --Letters from Anzacs. Don't you worry, Lady Ethel, don't you worry--not at all, As the breezy hours blow by, For a dapper little gunner who was pluckiest of all (As the breezy hours blow by); The fairest girls in Flanders may kiss him on the train, But in your home in Darling Point you'll find my meaning plain-- The Mosman lights and Harbour lights shall beckon him again As the years go rolling by. Don't you worry, Sarah Johnson, don't you worry--not at all, As the lurid days go by; Don't you worry for your Billo who was "Stousher" to them all (As the gory days go by); The bar at Ryan's corner, the old "school" at Balmain, The thoughts about his old 'uns in their home in Red Rock Lane, And how you used to stick to him shall bring him back again, As the years go rolling by. Don't you worry, Mary Kelly, don't you worry--not at all, As the sultry days drag by, For the careless, reckless rider who could climb the mountain wall (As the drowsy days droop by). Don't worry when the gullies and hills are dark with rain; The thoughts of where he kissed you first for ever shall remain. The she-oaks in the upper bend shall sigh him back again, As the years go rolling by. Don't you worry, Ruth McLaughlin, don't you worry--not at all, As the lazy days lag by; Don't you worry for the plainsman who was through and knew it all, (As the drowsy days dozed by); In summer, or in winter, you shall not wait in vain; The fogs that sweep like mighty hosts across the Red Soil Plain, The swishing of the red duststorm shall call him back again As the years go rolling by. Don't you worry, Annie Turner, don't you worry--not at all, As the blazing days rush by; Don't you worry for the shearer, who was bronzed and straight and tall While the sandstorm hides the sky. The grand old Darling timber, the camps of mateship's reign, Where Federation had its birth, and Bourke's great soul was slain-- The memories of mulga-land shall call him back again, As the years go rolling by. Don't you worry, wide Australia, don't you worry--not at all, As the breathing hours swell by, From the sea-cliff and the sea-beach and the mighty mountain wall To "out where the dead men lie!" To plains that came by conquest, and towns that came by chance, From fighting for the homeland and the sake of old romance-- They'll come to make their land a land worth dying for, like France, As the years go rolling by. Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
England [1911] A Coronation Ode Two islands in the Northern Sea Lay solitary, bleak and wild-- The people there that used to be As simple as a savage child. They lived and fought in savage bands, Left naught to praise nor to condemn, For they knew naught of other lands, And other lands knew naught of them. And thence Phoenician sailors came, New lands to seek, new trade to win-- Brave traders known to ancient fame-- And traded there for lead and tin. They sailed again to lands they knew, Whence, tempted by the tales they told, New settlers came till Britons grew A people, hardy, brave and bold. They fought five hundred years with Rome, From Kent all round and back to Kent, Till ruin called the Romans home, And so the Romans came and went, And left small mark except in stone, And warlike arts, and tricks of State, And dress and arms--but these alone Can never make a nation great. And then the Saxons--and a girl A Prince of Britain took to wife-- The Norse and Danes, and then a whirl Of wrongs and sorrows, storm and strife; But these things live in all the lands, And they shall never pass away-- The dawn of England as she stands Dates back to the Great Alfred's day. You've read the tale, O King? how she, His mother--she, a Queen indeed-- In days of Learning's infancy, Would teach a son of hers to read? The first who learned should get the prize Illuminated, rare to see, And precious to their boyish eyes-- A Book of Saxon Poetry. And Alfred learned, and many a night He laboured hard when he was young, Translating by his "lanthorn's" light, That he might save the Saxon tongue-- Translating by his lanthorn's light When racked with pain and eyes grown And many an English word we write Would have been lost were't not for him. He fought nine battles with the Dane In that young first year of his reign; He fought with arm and heart and brain, And fought and fought and fought agail. He suffered for his people's sake, A hunted man, but won the right; And though he could not bake a cake, King Alfred well knew how to fight. Peace came at last with all its joys, The conquered Danes by kindness school'd; And Danish girls loved Saxon boys, And they the girls--and Alfred ruled. He taught his people many things; He taught of other lands beside-- A man of men, a King of Kings, And England mourned when Alfred died. Alfred the Great! Think well, O King! Now going to your throne in state! With pride and paltriness within, And jealousy without your gate. We mind the rise and fall of Rome-- Save England from such other fate! The past still calls the future home. As in his days--Alfred the Great. Down the long list of Kings we come, Thro' storm and struggle, greed and pride Thro' evil loud and virtue dumb, 'Til William lived and Harold died. 'Til Harry fought, and not for home, But mortal vanity, I wis-- Not for the past, nor time to come, But for a crown that was not his. Down the long line of life and death, Of love, and hate, and vanity, To the great gaunt Elizabeth, And England's glory on the sea. Then literature was high in fame, And, to preserve the English tongue, Immortal William Shakespeare came, And wrote, while yet the land was young. Coronation Ode and Retrospect ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
England's Yet [1917] She's England yet! The nations never knew her; Or, if they knew, were ready to forget. She made new worlds that paid no homage to her, Because she called for none as for a debt. The bullying power who deemed all nations craven, And that her star of destiny had set, Was sure that she would seek a coward's haven-- And tempted her, and found her England yet! We learn our England, and we soon forget, To learn again that she is England yet! They watched Britannia ever looking forward, But could not see the things her children saw. They watched in Southern seas her boats pull shoreward, But only marked the eyeglass, heard the "Haw !" In tents, and bungalows, and outpost stations, Thin white men ruled for her, unseen, unheard, Till millions of strange races and far nations Were ready to obey her at a word. We learn our England, and in peace forget, To learn in storm that she is England yet. She's England yet; and men shall doubt no longer; And mourn no longer for what she has been. She'll be a greater England and a stronger-- A better England than the world has seen. Our own, who reck not of a king's regalia, Tinsel of crowns, and courts that fume and fret, Are fighting for her--fighting for Australia-- And blasphemously hail her "England Yet!" She's England yet, with little to regret-- Ay, more than ever, she'll be England yet! Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
England's Work [1919] From dens in forests dark and deep, Wraith charcoal-burners rise, And grisly shades of swineherds creep With anger-reddened eyes; Into the light of beach and bird They burst, a grimy flood-- Boadicea's prayers are heard, Her daughters washed in blood! Oh, limbs like forest limbs and roots Oh, boar-spear, club and dirk-- The common cause of men and brutes And these did England's work! The Romans came and went again By conquered land and sea; The Saxon, Norman and the Dane Are British, and are we. The blood absorbed each conquering host, And now for us they fight; The ghost of Harold guards the coast, And Saxons rest to-night. The beacons burned, the captains turned And put to sea again; And where were all the men and gold, And great tall ships of Spain? The Prussian sneered at England's death, Before his sun had set; The Shade of Queen Elizabeth Rides down to Dover yet! It was a dour and bitter way, The path that Cromwell rode; But he made England clean at home, The English safe abroad. And once again the king of Spain, In sorrow and in tears, Could curse each Englishman he'd caught And sold into Algiers. The Prussian scorned the Britisher, In sunshine and in rain; Nor deemed he'd dare to throw a troop Across the Straits again. He fixed the eyeglass of the fool And said, "Eh, what?" and "Haw!" And what to-day is Prussian rule Compared with English law? The spirit of a single race, From London round to Bourke-- The slouch hat and the careless jest; And these did England's work. Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Eurunderee [II] [1914] Author's note: These simple lines must not be considered as in any way written from a personal standpoint; they are merely a poor attempt to express the feelings of a middle-aged, or elderly man on his return to his native district, which he left as a boy.--H.L. Seen plainly from O'Brien's Hill, That stands by our old home, Mount Buckaroo is standing still, And likewise old Mount Frome; Lowe's Peak and all its hills are ranged Just as in memory, And Granite Ridge is little changed As far as I can see. The creek that I can ne'er forget Its destiny fulfils, The glow of sunrise purples yet Along the Mudgee hills; The flats and sidings seem to lie Unchanged by Mudgee town, And with the same old song and sigh The Cudgegong goes down. The little town is just as fair As when I steered the plough (The same old sign-boards seem to need The same re-touching now); And though the gigs have mostly left The spring-cart in the lurch, The same old sort of country folk Go driving in to church. The German farmers seem the same About Eurunderee, And others careless as of yore Except for two or three. The people are, as ever, kind, And old and young are dear; But, tell me, Spirit of the Past! What change is written here? I gaze upon an old mate's face And hear an old mate's voice, And cannot realise 'tis one Of my old school-mate's boys! I look into a fair girl's eyes And half expect a sign-- 'Tis but the youngest daughter of A school sweetheart of mine. I meet an old mate growing grey, And sorrow thrills me through, Because I cannot recollect That I am greying too. We see not with the young folks' eyes, Nor hear with young folks' ears; We never seem to realise We're getting on in years. See yonder line of bleaching posts-- A panel here and there-- (By moonlight seen, like passing ghosts That seem to pause and stare) 'Twas there I thought a fence should be, I did not seem to know-- It was a fence that I put up Some thirty years ago. See yonder ruin in the pines (The wonder 'tis they grew), 'Tis blackened, warped and gone to wreck As empty houses do. A neighbour's house--a good man's house, Though he found little joy-- It was a house my father built (I helped him as a boy). Behind me to the eastward lie, While sunset's fading fast, The darkened haunts of tragedy-- Weird Gullies of the Past: The waste-heaps, ghostly in the bush, Of that wild rush for gold Remind me that I've "seen the Days"* That I am growing old. I'm lonely on O'Brien's Hill, Though friendship waits all round: The dead and lost are calling still-- The children make no sound. The light that lies on Mudgee Hills Before the sunset dies Is just above the very spot Where my fair sister lies. Would my sad heart have now been light? Would none for me have grieved? Ah! would my life have different been Had Henrietta lived?-- A sister's influence and her tears, A brother's stubborn pride!-- She'd dead, these eight and thirty years-- 'Tis very well she died. But moonlight on a cottage shines To banish maudlin tears, O'ergrown with grape and ivy vines Through those neglected years, It stands as good, of stout hardwood, As it stood in the past-- My father built it for a home, And built the place to last! And I'll go slave to win it back-- I'll make a garden fair-- I'll hold it for my father's sake And meet my children there. And here amongst the folks I knew And never yet could doubt, We'll live like our brave fathers through Good seasons, and through drought. Mudgee Guardian ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Evatt's Block [1917] A Drone of the Irrigation Area The day is hot, and Saturday, and sorry; The time is little after three o'clock. The pub is fourteen miles from Care-and-Worry, Where toil-tired men are ploughing Evatt's block. They brought their ploughs by spring-cart, dray and lorry They mostly come of Riverina stock. Some are too old, and some found "nothin' doin'" When trying to enlist, for, it appears, The smart young doctor dropped on something new in Their well-worn works or in their eyes or ears-- Because they'd stared too hard through drought and ruin; And ridden through the rain too many years. We're men who fought and failed in many places, And moved and fought again through many ills; And though you'd never guess it by our faces-- Which almost seem to grin against our wills-- We're making furniture of packing-cases. And selling what we had to pay our bills! Our auctioneer, of sad imagination, Sells grimly our domestic overplus; He pauses sometimes in his peroration (Or litany--or psalm--or syllabus), And gazes long upon his congregation, And thinks of things--for he is one of us. But Evatt's at the Front for all, and this is The least that we can do, as you'll agree. We're men who'll never share the flappers' kisses; And none will know us after victory. We take our cups of tea from Evatt's missus, And plates of bread-and-butter, gratefully. The time has come at last to cast asunder; The narrow gathering days have missed the 'bus. But now, beneath the stars, I sit and wonder If, free from all domestic fret and fuss, Dug in the quaking earth, the hell-clouds under, Somewhere in France does Evatt think of us. Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Exceeding Small [1908] Swing round the motor cars to where The tall Australia stands-- The female bronzes light you there To take the ladies' hands-- And from your silver sovereign case Slip out the careless gold-- The gay world, for a little space, Is yours to have and hold. Our home, it is a bonny place, The hills and bush are near, And picnic parties camp along The water frontage here. Our guardian is a kindly man, To comfort and forgive-- For three of us are doomed to die, And one is doomed to live. There's one of us--our hope and joy-- Who'd thirty years of strife; He thinks he is a "naughty boy", And plays the part to life. There's one who cannot read or write, Yet studied ancient bards-- He seeks his fortune all day long From endless rows of cards. So "grind" to win your high degrees While runs the new world round, And win the Chair! You'll not be sunk In wisdom more profound Than some of us. We're from all schools-- One's an M.D. Alas!-- We bachelors, but not of Arts, And widowers--of Dried Grass. We've fought the merry fight where gaps In firing lines grow wide (And one of us is doomed to live To tell how others died). And one of us is doomed to grow In gruesome terror old-- One, breathing, died two years ago, And so the tale is told. So prattle through your four o 'clocks And Thursday afternoons, And never read the thing that shocks, But toy with silver spoons, And show your arms, so fair and white, And coo and smile to please: But I could write of things to-night Would give you little ease. We four can jest at little things, We worry not at all; We're mortals whom the mills of God Have ground exceeding small. There's one who'd, with his latest breath, Keep black Depression out, And he is doomed to die the death We dare not write about. There's one who never lifts his eyes And ne'er a word has said-- Our living dead lies still in bed Till he is changed and fed. There's one of whom the Fear is set The jail presentiment; Undrugged, he's never rested yet, And--he is innocent. So lie abed, ye gentlemen, And rest, ye ladies too, While servants trained in voice and step Bring breakfast in to you. Then seek the Stock Exchange or Course, The ball, or grand hotel-- There's space for many and many a bed In wards where we folk dwell. The trained attendants glide about To tend the "paying guests"; They drug the night with sleeping draughts, We pass the day with jests-- Or brood or rave--or mouth and grin-- Or think and ply the pen-- For some of us are First, and some Third Generation men. Some pray all day who never prayed And rise to no command (Ah! this, my children, is a song That doctors understand). We are the scapegoats of the world, The wrongs the world shall rue; We're Freethinkers and Atheists Who found the Bible true. So speed your flying cars and build Your mansions strong and tall-- Be sure the mills of God will find And grind exceeding small. Though Man or Nation or the World May dream and rave and doubt-- Ah, God! the words are true. Be sure Thy sins shall find thee out. Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Flag of the Southern Cross" [1887] Sons of Australia, be loyal and true to her-- Fling out the flag of the Southern Cross! Sing a loud song to be joyous and new to her-- Fling out the flag of the Southern Cross! Stain'd with the blood of the diggers who died by it*, Fling out the flag to the front, and abide by it-- Fling out the flag of the Southern Cross! See how the toadies of Austral throw dust o'er her-- Fling out the flag of the Southern Cross! We who are holding her honour in trust for her-- Fling out the flag of the Southern Cross! See how the yellow-men next to her lust for her, Sooner or later to battle we must for her-- Fling out the flag of the Southern Cross. Beg not of England the right to preserve ourselves, Fling out the flag of the Southern Cross, We are the servants best able to serve ourselves, Fling out the flag of the Southern Cross. What are our hearts for, and what are our hands for? What are we nourished in these southern lands for? Fling out the flag of the Southern Cross. Shall we in fear of the Dragon or Bruin+ now Keep back the flag of the Southern Cross? Better to die on a field of red ruin now, Under the flag of the Southern Cross. Let us stand out like the gallant Eureka men-- Give not our country the sorrow to seek her men-- Fling out the flag of the Southern Cross! See how the loyal are storing up shame for us Under the light of the Southern Cross. Never! Oh! never be coward a name for us-- Fling out the flag of the Southern Cross! England's red flag will bring hatred and worse to it, Murder and rapine hath brought a black curse to it; Fling out the flag of the Southern Cross! Have we not breasts for the bullets of thunderers? Fling out the flag of the Southern Cross! Have we not steel for the bosoms of plunderers? Fling out the flag of the Southern Cross! Prove ourselves worthy the land we inherit now, Feed till it blazes the National spirit now! Fling out the flag of the Southern Cross! Let us be bold, be it daylight or night for us-- Fling out the flag of the Southern Cross! Let us be firm--with our God and our right for us, Under the flag of the Southern Cross! Austral is fair, and the idlers in strife for her Plunder her, sneer at her, suck the young life from her! Fling out the flag of the Southern Cross! Fling out the flag to the front, and abide by it-- Fling out the flag of the Southern Cross! Stand by the blood of the diggers who died by it-- Fling out the flag of the Southern Cross! Fling out the flag to the front, and be brave for it. Liberty! Light! or a battle-field grave for it! Bonny bright flag of the Southern Cross! [* Ballarat Riots, 1854] [+ China and Russia] Truth ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Forgiveness--for the Strollers [1918] So they write to confess, and they write in distress, And each letter increases the gloom; For I didn't let on that on different nights There were two bottles pinched from my room. Well, a mate's but a man who is fighting his fate, And a crook has his sorrow and grief; So the mate I'll forgive for the sake of a mate, And the thief for the sake of a thief. And I'll let the Gallipoli Strollers go free To pile up the takings (or bolt); All players and strollers have had claims on me Since the generous days of Bland Holt. Bulletin Advertisement ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
From the Strand to the Never [1899] Last glass of the last of our revels! Last song to be sung without ruth! Let us give what is due to our devils Ere the curtain comes down on our youth! In the old lands we're vagabonds ever, In the new such as we bear the brunt, And the path from the "Strand to the Never"-- Why ashamed of it?--lights up in front! Then here's to the cross-bearer silent, To the lips that are grim to the end, To the pledge that was broken for friendship, And the lie that was sworn for a friend; To the lie for the lie that was noble-- To the heart that would perjure the soul For the sake of a woman in trouble, For the sake of a mate "in a hole". We drifted and saw not the dangers Of wearing the heart on the sleeve; We saw the fresh kindness of strangers And deemed it was best to believe. If we borrow'd and passed when we needed, If we loved for a while and were gone-- In the end 'twill be surely conceded That we gave all we had--and passed on! On the stage set for good or for evil-- In the Youth-play we're leaving behind-- Were the prompter man angel or devil, For the most part the promptings were kind! And whatever the future before us, And whatever the heart-burn it brings, Here's a glass to the spirit that bore us! And--the "rag" is waved down from the wings. Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Gettin' Back [1910] When we've arrived by boat or rail, and feeling pretty well, And humped our heavy gladstones to the Great Norsouth Hotel; And when we've had a wash and brush and changed biled rags for soft-- And ate a hearty country meal--our spirits go aloft! (Damn the city!) When we've walked out a mile and back along the old bush track, And dropped into the letter-box our last damned letters back; When we've turned in and slept half through the soft white beds all night To start, at daylight toy the coach--we're getting back all right. (Damn the city!) When we have crossed the nearer heights through box and stringy-bark, And traced the newer tree-marked track above the gullies dark; When we begin to ask how far it is to tucker yet-- Where clear streams whet our appetites--we're getting back, don't fret. (Damn the city!) We try to draw the driver out (a 'case' as like as not), For we don't know how much he knows, or how much we've forgot. And we make bloomers, and the seats seem narrow slippery shelves-- Until we find he's just a liar, like ourselves. (Damn the city!) When we can take an interest in all and everything, When we begin to drop the 'g' in words that end in 'ing', When good old oaths come 'back again, and we can sleep at night, And eat our fish with knives and forks--we're gettin' back all right. (Damn the city!) I'm staying at a lake-side home, down here at Nevermind, The small hand 'separator' is the only change I find, And there's a girl with kind grey eyes and hair of reddish gold, And she's read somewhere in a book that poets don't grow old. (Damn the city!) She's twenty-two, I'm forty-three; but, ere the week is done, She's only in her eighteenth year, and I am twenty-one! I'm younger than the younger men, who can't be young--or won't-- She heard that poets don't grow old--and now she knows they don't. (DAMN THE CITY!) The dandy tourists wonder how the old town had got in-- The straight young bushmen wonder how that poet bloke could win. But the grand old bush life backed me up, when they were hard to rouse, And I turned out at six o'clock and helped her milk the cows! (DAMN THE CITY!) Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Golden Gully [1887] No one lives in Golden Gully, for its golden days are o'er, And its clay shall never sully blucher-boots of diggers more, For the diggers long have vanished--nought but broken shafts remain, And the bush, by diggers banished, fast reclaims its own again. Now, when dying Daylight slowly draws her fingers from the "Peak", The Weird Empress Melancholy rises from the reedy creek-- In the gap above the gully, while the dismal curlews scream Loud to welcome her as ruler of the dreary night supreme-- Takes her throne, and by her presence fills the strange, uncertain air With a ghostly phosphorescence of the horrors hidden there. None would think, by camp-fire blazy, lighting fitfully the scene, In the seasons that are hazy, how in seasons gone between, Diggers yarned or joined in jolly ballads of the field and foam, Or grew sad and melancholy over songs like "Home, Sweet Home"-- Songs of other times, demanding sullen tears that would not start, Every digger understanding what was in his comrade's heart. It may seem to you a riddle how a poet's fancies roam, But methinks I hear a fiddle softly playing "Home, Sweet Home" 'Mid the trees, while meditative diggers round the camp-fire stand. (Those were days before Australians learned to love their native land.) Now the dismal curlew screeches round the shafts when night winds sough; Startling murmurs, broken speeches, shake each twisted, tangled bough, And whene'er the night comes dreary, darkened by the falling rain, Voices, loud and dread and eerie, come again and come again-- Come like troubled souls forbidden rest until their tales are told-- Tales of deeds of darkness hidden in the whirl of days of gold-- Come like troubled spirits telling tales of dire and dread mishaps, Kissing, falling, rising, swelling, dying in the dismal gaps. When the coming daylight slowly lays her fingers on the "Peak" Then the Empress Melancholy hurries off to swamps that reek. But the scene is never cheery, be it sunshine, be it rain, For the Gully keeps its dreary look till darkness comes again. As you stand beside the broken shafts, where grass is growing thick, You can almost hear a spoken word, or hear a thudding pick; And your very soul seems sinking, foetid grows the morning air, For you cannot help believing that there's something buried there. There's a ring amid the saplings by a travelling circus worn, That amused the noisy diggers e'er the rising race was born; There's a road where scrub encroaches that was once the main highway, Over which two rival coaches dashed in glory twice a day; Gone--all gone from Golden Gully, for its golden days are o'er, And its clay shall never sully wheels of crowded coaches more. Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Granny's Specs [1920] Anti-Soldier, Anti-All; Politicians every one; There are things they can't recall, For they never saw them done. There are thoughts that come about, When the Digger's dad reflec's-- 'Tis the troopship goin' out, And the mist on Granny's specs. Things the smug cold-footer missed, Just because he wouldn't see 'Tis the Casualty List In the old home after tea. Dad is walkin' to and fro, In the moonlight by the shed; Mum is sobbing soft and low, Granny's hand is on her head. To the wharf again they come, From the glad homes near and far; It is Granny, Dad, and Mum, First time in a motor car. Hear the Harbour traffic's din! (Say no word to mar or vex) 'Tis the troopship comin' in, And the light on Granny's specs. To the honour of the brave Other signs shall come perchance-- 'Tis the picture of the grave Of that other son, in France. Other Grannies shall grow old, To the glory of their sex-- Far more lustrous than the gold Round the rims of Granny's specs. Other politicians claim Credit for the glory shed, Who insult, but cannot shame, The brave memory of our dead. Anti-War, and Anti-All, Saving sordid Self, and Bribe-- Who in future shall recall One great name in all their tribe? Aussie ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Gypsy Blood [1910] Be it wide as half Australia, yet a boundary you define, And the Gypsy is in prison if he cannot cross the line; He may camp awhile in cities, though he never makes a home, And he'll rest and wait contented, for he knows the call will come! For the Gypsies starved in prison, dying hard and dying slow, Just for loving God's own sunshine in free England, long ago; But the spirit broke the prisons, and the spirit kept the vow, Till they are the only people who are free in England now. "You go West!" says Law or Custom, and he heeds not in the least-- Save that face to face the daybreak meets the Gypsies tramping East! "Go you North!" say Law and Custom--sign or screed, or word of mouth; And the ghastly daybreak darkens on a Gypsy faring South! "This is Truth," says fair-faced friendship, and we ask not how, nor why He says nothing, but he always acts as though it were a lie. "You do this," say Law and Custom, soft and gentle, sharp or flat, And his camp-fire after midnight shows the Gypsy doing that. (For they've sold us through the ages till a cunning race are we, And we camp not and we tramp not with their pale-eyed treachery; We stay longest where we may not, only going when we must, And our people follow swiftly by the pateran in the dust.) He has wisdom old as China--let the world think as it will-- And, in spite of his wild spirit, he has patience older still; There are many signs, my children, by which you may recognise, But the heartache, pain, or hunger never shows in Gypsy eyes. He has fire and food and shelter, when it rains, for hunted men, And from out his store of cunning he can help them on again; For the craft of being hunted, and of hiding, has been his, Since the gallows trees of England groaned with Gypsy carcases. They had brats beneath the gallows who should take the place of these, And their queens divided England 'twixt the tribes and families-- They marked out the land and shared it, holding silent, sullen sway, And lived over it, and on it, as they do unto this day. Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Gypsy Yet [1917] Oh, take it from the harness-room and from the dust and dirt, The old side-saddle and the old black riding skirt. A girl as God had made her, and a Bush girl of the World, How strongly glowed her brown eyes, how close her black hair curled! My hand it was her stepping-stone, my heart beneath her knees-- And Granny rode before us with her grey hair in the breeze. We came from far as Ryan's Rise, from far as Reedy Creek, And picnicked in the gully at the back of Granite Peak. The belle was Tottie Johnson and the joker Bentley's Jim, In hiding in the Ranges with blue paper after him. We saw young trooper Campbell pass against the sunset red; His heart was in his girl-wife's grave, his cap-peak square ahead. We rode to warn and succour and to lie for one who sinned, And Mother rode before us with her dark hair in the wind; Because we came of Gypsies and of long and dark descent, And for because our grandfathers dared English laws in Kent. And Granny stayed at home and prayed for just one sinner more The housemaid at the rectory in Dorset long before. How strangely and how changefully do memories come to me, Like raindrops on the hot, white dust, or dust on decks at sea. They come like sunset islands seen in the afterglow, Or glimpses of white sunlight in the gully long ago. The young men dream of futures far more fair than life at home, The old man dreams of his young days as though they were to come. And four are left of Gypsy blood--a grey-haired, dark-eyed set; A sister and three brothers who have never quarrelled yet. And one is nursing wounded men who fought across the sea, And one is preaching words of love that are not Romany. And one in high society has learned how to behave-- But one by stolen candle-light is writing in a cave. Since Gypsies went a-wandering, and landless folk were they, They marked the land and shared the land, and hold the land to-day. Since gallowses of England groaned with the Gypsy best, And Gypsy mothers sat in stocks all day with brat at breast-- Since English law held Gypsy law as but the law of brute-- The housemaid at the rectory has taught us how to shoot. "My brothers, oil your Winchesters, and see they work all right, A haunted man is starving out by Granite Peak to-night." This message goes by mulga-wire, with face as black as sin, This message flies on brumby back, and he half-broken in. You'll take it from a girl's white hand and tell it to a mate. (Be sure you bring the preacher, for his saintliness shoots straight.) The outline of an old grey horse that other eyes would miss-- No trooper's horse could climb the ridge so quietly as this. The low tones of a sister's voice break clear from yonder tree-- My brothers from the gullies' head are working up to me. Sharp shots at daybreak in the Gap, the last scene swift and clear. The break-neck ride adown the spur--and I am dying here. Two dead men lie by Granite Peak, and troopers more than two; And, sister, I must say my last and long good-bye to you. So tell the story to your sons as on through life they push. And tell the reason, if you like, why we took to the Bush. And tell of spirits broken by the laws that puppies make, Nor plague in stock nor blight in crop nor drought on soil could break, O tell the story of our homes and of Australia's past-- The red tape round our father's neck that strangled him at last. Red tape or rope--'twas much the same, but, sister, do not fret, I shot the son of him who killed our father--Gypsy yet! Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Harry Stephens [1891] Harry Stephens, shearer, discovered lying on a sheet of bark by the Camboon-road, with his bluey wrapped around him, dead. Identified by a union "Loyalty ticket". So the world of odds and evens ceased to trouble Harry Stephens, and the niggard road no longer echoes to his lonely tread. For another bushman found him with his 'bluey' wrapped around him, sleeping like a bushman, only sleeping with the mighty dead. And the shadows were upon him, and they found a ticket on him-- just a relic of a battle that was lately lost and won. And it told the stray Camboonian he'd been loyal to his union (right or wrong)--he had been loyal to the strike of '91'. Boomerang ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Hawkers [1917] Dust, dust, dust and a dog-- Oh! The sheep-dog won't be last. When the long, long, shadow of the old bay horse With the shadow of his mate is cast. A brick-brown woman with the brick-brown kids, And a man with his head half-mast, The feed-bags hung and the bedding slung, And the blackened bucket made fast Where the tailboard clings to the tucker and things-- So the hawker's van goes past. Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
He Mourned His Master [1890] INTRODUCTION The theme is ancient as the hills, With all their prehistoric glory; But yet of Corney and his friend, We've often longed to tell the story; And should we jar the reader's ear, Or fail to please his eye observant, We only trust that he'll forgive The bush muse and, your humble servant. THE STORY Old Corney built in Deadman's Gap A hut, where mountain shades grow denser, And there he lived for many years, A timber-getter and a fencer. And no one knew if he'd a soul Above long sprees, or split-rail fences, Unless, indeed, it was his friend, Who always kept his confidences. There was a saw-pit in the range; 'Twas owned by three, and they were brothers, And visitors to Corney's hut, 'Twas seldom visited by others. They came because, as they averred, "Old Corney licked, a gent infernal." "His yarns," if I might trust their word, "Would made the fortune of a journal." In short, the splitter was a "cure", Who brightened up their lives' dull courses; And so on Sunday afternoons, At Corney's hut they'd hang their horses. They'd have a game of cards and smoke, And sometimes sing, which was a rum thing, Unless, in spite of legal folk, The splitter kept a "drop of something". If, as 'twas said, he was "a swell" Before he sought these sombre ranges, 'Twixt mother's arms and coffin gear He must have seen a world of changes. But from his lips would never fall A hint of home, or friends, or brothers; And if he told his tale at all, He must have told it as another's. Though he was good at telling yarns, At listening he excelled not less so, And greatly helped the bushman's tales With "yes", "exactly so", or "jes' so". In short, the hut became a club Like our Assembly Legislative, Combining smokeroom, hall, and "pub", Political and recreative. Old Corney lived and Corney died, As we will, too, on some to-morrow, But not as Corney died, we hope, Of heart disease, and rum, and sorrow. (We hope to lead a married life, At times the cup of comfort quaffing; And when we leave this world of strife We trust that we may die of laughing.) One New Year's Eve they found him dead, For rum had made his life unstable, They found him stretched upon his bed, And also found, upon the table, The coloured portrait of a girl, Blue eyes of course. The hair was golden, A faded letter and a curl, And, well, we said the theme was olden. The splitter had for days been dead And cold before the sawyers found him, And none had witnessed how he died Except the friend who whimpered round him; A noble friend, and of a kind Who stay when other friends forsake us; And he at last was left behind To greet the rough bush undertakers. This was a season when the bush Was somewhat ruled by time and distance, And bushmen came and tried the world, And "gave it best" without assistance. Then one might die of heart disease, And still be spared the inquest horrors. And when the splitter lay at ease, So, also, did his sins and sorrows. "Ole Corey's dead," the bushmen said; "He's gone at last, an' ne'er a blunder." And so they brought a horse and dray, And tools to "tuck the old cove under." The funeral wended through the range, And slowly round its rugged corners; The reader will not think it strange That Corney's friend was chief of mourners. He must have thought the bushmen hard, And of his misery unheeding, Because they shunned his anxious eyes, That seemed for explanation pleading. At intervals his tongue would wipe The jaws that seemed with anguish quaking; As some strong hand impatiently Might chide the tears for prison breaking. They reached by rugged ways at last, A desolate bush cemetery, Where now (our tale is of the past), A thriving town its dead doth bury. And where the bones of pioneers Are found and thrown aside unheeded, For later sleepers, blessed with tears Of many friends, the graves are needed. The funeral reached the bushmen's graves, Where these old pioneers were sleeping, And now while down the granite ridge The shadow of the peak was creeping, They dug a grave beneath a gum And lowered the dead as gently may be As Corney's mother long before Had laid him down to "hush-a-baby". A bushman read the words to which The others reverently listened, Some bearded lips were seen to twitch, Some shaded eyes with moisture glistened. Perhaps this weakness was because Their work reminded them in sorrow Of other burials long ago, When friends "turned in to wait the morrow." The boys had brought the splitter's tools, And now they split and put together Four panels such as Corney made, To stand the stress of western weather. Perhaps this second weakness rose, From some good reason undetected; They may have thought of other graves Of dearer friends they left neglected. "Old Corney's dead, he paid his bills" (These words upon the tree were graven) "And oft a swagman down in luck, At Corey's mansion found a haven." If this an explanation needs, We greatly fear we can't afford it; Unless they thought of other dead, Whose virtues they had not recorded. The day had crossed the homeward track, And as the bushmen turned to tread it, They thought and spoke of many things, Remembered now to Corney's credit; And strange to say, above their heads The kookaburra burst with laughter. (Perhaps he thought of other friends Whose virtues they remembered, after.) But now the bushmen hurried on Lest darkness in the range should find them; And strange to say they never saw That Corney's friend had stayed behind them. If one had thrown a backward glance Along the rugged path they wended, He might have seen a darker form Upon the damp cold mound extended. But soon their forms had vanished all, And night came down the ranges faster, And no one saw the shadows fall Upon the dog that mourned his master. Town and Country Journal ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Helsingfors [1912] White and pure by the Northern Sea in the Arctic day it lies, Fairer far than St. Petersburg, and greater in Finnish eyes: By snow-drift and floe-drift where the distant bergs are grand, And the ice blink and the northern lights, like a frozen fairyland; And still they cleave to the Swedish church, the Norseman of the Norse, In, not a collection of greasy huts--but the city of Helsingfors. Big and blond, and with flaxen hair, and a grin for his downs and ups, And a womanish seeming affection, unknown to an Englishman, in his cups, Was Oscar Ackmann, the Russian Finn, who came to dese lands to dwell, And he'd brought his widdered old warder with him, and his words began with Ve-ell. Dusty and hot, and the sweat that rained from their foreheads made 'em blink, Two strong teams wrought in a tug-of-war in the Darlinghurst Skating Rink; One was British, and we were there to pull for the South like sin, But the foremost man in the foreign team was Oscar Ackmann, the Finn. Ere the word was given, a blooming Swede stood up in a front-rank chair, And, "Pull for all Finland, Oscar," he cried, "for your father's sitting there!" "Turn him out! Sit down!! You're drunk, yer blank!" the gallery yelled as one, And the big Swede slumped in his chair again--but Sweden's work was done. We hauled and we heaved like five men each, but Oscar hove like ten, And a Forest Devil of largest size was the thing we needed then. For a bundle of whiskers in front row chairs--as rough as the mountain gorse Was yelling, in Finnish, "Pull, Oscar! Pull! for the honour of Helsingfors." The old man howled till his old voice broke, and the cracked voice rose to a scream, In desperation, `Boo1! Oscar! Boot! Dere's a Russ in der English team!" 'Twas a damned Finn lie! but we couldn't speak--it was played low-down on us-- We pulled for Australia and England, too, but Oscar wanted the "Russ". Well--over we went--he'd have got us all--and that's how we lost the day-- As someone explained to our ignorance: we wiped the sweat away. But we shouted for Oscar till he shed tears--'twas a most un-English fuss-- We even treated the old man, too, while cursing his phantom "Russ". The Irish praise was unprintable, and the Scottish a Language Test-- And the Welshman spoke in his native tongue, so of course we gave him best. Said Britain: "Bai Jove"; said the Bush: "My oath!" and Sydney spoke with a vim: "It's no use Pullin' a Blanky Bloke when his old 'un pulls for him!" How often and often in peace and war--how often by board and bed-- Do the spirits of our dead parents pull--the absent and the dead! I don't infer that they'd raise a Russ--at least not in the realms above. (Though I think that the shade of a love would lie for the sake of a living love.) My father's picture hangs on the wall, and his father-in-law's as well, One was a Bushman, and one a Norse from the seaport of Arundel. They were true men--true, on the tracks they came, whether by land or sea, And I sometimes trust, in the worst of times, that one of them pulls for me. White and cold by the frozen sea, in the Arctic night it lies, Fairer far than St. Petersburg, and greater in Finnish eyes. By snow-drift and floe-drift, where the distant bergs are grand, And the ice blink and the northern lights, like a frozen fairyland, She cleaves to her ancient customs still, and thrives on her frozen shores, With her still, white lights in the Winter nights--the city of Helsingfors. Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
He's Gone to England for a Wife [1889] He's gone to England for a wife Among the ladies there; And yet I know a lass he deemed The rarest of the rare. He's gone to England for a wife; And rich and proud is he. But he was poor and toiled for bread When first he courted me. He said I was the best on earth; He said I was "his life"; And now he thinks of noble birth, And seeks a lady wife! He said for me alone he'd toil To win an honest fame; But now no lass on southern soil Is worthy of his name! I think I see his lady bride, A fair and faultless face, And nothing in her heart beside The empty pride of race. And she will grace his gilded home, The wife his gold shall buy; But will she ever dream of him, Or love as well as I? Town and Country Journal ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
His Toast and Mine [1907] Only Wealth between us-- Wealth and place and sham Custom class and station Dry-rot where I am! Mockery to bow to Cheques to fill and sign-- Only that between us-- His love and mine Sandy plains and grey soil-- Grey soil in the drought-- Round in West Australia, Six hundred miles out In behind Coolgardie He toils in the sand, While a Queen of Nothing Here alone I stand I have won a moment From the "paint" and all, From the tailored dummies-- Wooden at a ball. Here I fill a glass with Riverina wine: We two, and Australia! His toast and mine. Worker ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Hold Out! [1915] Hold out for five days. --Allies' message to Servia. Thus King Peter to his people, thinned by everlasting war: "I am old, and grey, and feeble, I can lead my troops no more. I can see no sign of succour on the earth, or in the sky; Fight alone! and to the last man!--and, if Servia falls, I die!" Once again the grand old signal flashes from the distant hills, Wireless, as of old, and hopeless, yet it heartens and it thrills! "Hold them back, for we are coming!" and the Hopeless dare not doubt, And the heartsick Servian general answers, "We are holding out." "Hold them back, for we are coming, we, the greatest and the least, From the Stately Homes of England and the slums of London East! From the depths of wicked Paris and the halls where ladies dance-- From the sunny southern vineyards of the pleasant land of France. "From the blunders of our masters, beaten once, but undismayed; From the Dardanelles and Egypt we are coming to your aid! From the sandwastes of the Never, from the wool barge and the track, From the hills of fern and tussock, we are coming. Hold them back!" Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
I patched his pants [1920] I patched his pants. The day was fine, The fish would bite without a rest; The ducks were flying "on the line", I patched his pants to save his best. What time he fished and shot in mine To save him from the flies and ants (I had no best, nor prospects fine), I sat in camp and patched his pants. I wondered once, I wonder yet, As I'm afraid we always shall, Why folk with brains so often set A puppy on a pedestal. He country-edited for quids-- From books of cranks on dusty shelves-- A rag they ran on Union funds To suit their small suburban selves. But I was green, and did not know How well the ranter often rants; He spouted our ideas, and so That holiday I patched his pants. He plagiarised from ten to three, And sometimes longer, for his sins; His lordly staff was big enough To run two Sydney Bulletins. He wore his paper everywhere-- His name was Mudd, the paper's Muck; I drew advances (to be fair) And cursed our sweating rag, but stuck. I'd copy-paper in my bag-- A worn-out grip they'd lent to me. He had pyjamas in the swag He carried for democracy. He put up at the Club Hotel-- Eight bob a day for "tone" alone. I took him down to Cooper's pub, Where there was tucker, but no "tone". For Cooper's one idea appear'd To keep his rooms and kitchen clean And turn out grub, and that was all-- Except that Cooper wasn't mean. Some sleeper-cutters from the scrub That runs to Mallacoota Bar Got Mudd to speak at Cooper's pub And represent them--there you are! I patched his pants. And he "made good" In politics. They always do. And turned us down. I knew he would When I knew him--and so did you. The Prince arrived. It seems a dream That Mudd was bit by soldier-ants-- By Christ! you couldn't see for steam The part that once wore out his pants! Now Mudd is Minister for Skite And Swank, and draws the screws of both; He's dining with the Prince to-night-- In brand-new pants, I'll take my oath, Not that I worry over it Amongst my kitchen-garden plants. But one day he turned round and bit The hand that patched his blasted pants. I wondered once, I wonder yet, As I'm afraid we always shall, Why folk with brains so often set A puppy on a pedestal. Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
If They Win To-night [1910] 'Tis the day of our great battle! We must lose or we must win! Strike for justice, strike for freedom from the tyranny within, Not for freedom for our pleasure, but the freedom to do right. Oh our country shall be crippled if the wowsers win to-night. Twenty years through storm and sunshine we have followed our old drum, And the mighty work of long years shall be lost for years to come; Throw the old drum on the dust heap! Put the banners out of sight! Never face my Western Bushmen if the wowsers win to-night! Where we won our old grim battles we are just as sure to win For the Liberty of Manhood--not the liberty to sin. Brothers, there's the breath of evil over all that's good and bright. Hide your heads in shame and sorrow if the wowsers win to-night! Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
I'll Tell You What, You Wanderers [1894] I'll tell you what you wanderers, who drift from town to town; Don't look into a good girl's eyes, until you've settled down. It's hard to go away alone and leave old chums behind-- It's hard to travel steerage when your tastes are more refined-- To reach a place when times are bad, and to be standing there, No money in your pocket nor a decent rag to wear. But be forced from that fond clasp, from that last clinging kiss-- By poverty! There is on earth no harder thing than this. Worker ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
In Flanders [1916] Soldiers of Australia, hoe in hand, assist the stalwart maidens of Flanders in the field, but I wot (sic) not from love of agricultural pursuits. Love and friendship bridge the linguistic gap.--JACK SOMMERS 13/7/16 It's Oh! to be in Flanders, In Flanders, In Flanders; It's Oh! to be in Flanders Where our brown soldiers are! With love and hate and hellfire, And hellfire, And hellfire; With love and hate and hellfire, And sun and moon and star. Our soldiers fight like devils, Like devils, Like devils; Our soldiers fight like devils, Then rest a day or two. The wide-hipped girls of Flanders, Of Flanders, Of Flanders; The laughing girls of Flanders They help them to pull through. They help the girls at farming, At farming, At farming; They help the girls at farming, Those six-foot-odd galoots. 'Tis not for love of agri- Of agri- Of agri- Not all for love of agri- Cultural persoots. Now there are lanes and hedges, And hedges, And hedges; Now there are lanes and hedges, And barns and other nooks. And warm, soft nights in Flanders, In Flanders, In Flanders; And warm soft nights in Flanders, And cornfields full of spooks. In fifteen years, or twenty, Or twenty, Or twenty; In fifteen years, or twenty-- If I'm not dead, I'll take a walk in Flanders, In Flanders, In Flanders; I'l1 take a walk in Flanders Before I go to bed. I'll see a son of Flanders, Of Flanders, Of Flanders; I'll see a son of Flanders A-standing near the inn, And through my specks I'll know him, I'll know him, I'll know him; And through my specks I'll know him I'll know him by his grin. He'll have some words of English, Of English, Of English; He'll have some words of English, Of English--so they'll say. And he will say "Gorblime! "Gorblime! "Gorblime!" And he will say "Gorblime!" And think it means "Good-day!" He'll say the word for blanky, For blanky, For blanky; He'll say the word for blanky, And think it means "Good-night!" And he will say the adverb, The adverb, The adverb; He'll say our second swear-word, And think it quite polite. I'll get a priest to help us, To help us, To help us; I'll get a priest to help us-- Interpret, as you know. I'll croak: "I knowed yer father, Yer father, Yer father"; I'll croak: "I knowed yer father In Australia long ago." He'll say I'm quite mistaken, Mistaken (Mistaken!); He'll say I'm quite mistaken (He'll say it through the priest). "My father was a Billjim, A Billjim A Billjim; My father was a Billjim, And they came from the East. So then the priest, explaining, Explaining, Explaining; So then the priest explaining, In history well versed, Will tell me that the Billjims, The Billjims, The Billjims; Will tell me that the Billjims Came out of Egypt first. But, anyway, I'm certain, I'm certain, I'm certain; But, anyway, I'm certain, Along on History's track, There'll be a king in Flanders, In Flanders, In Flanders; There'll be a king in Flanders Whose fathers' shore Outback. Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
In Memory of Claude Marquet [1920] (Who was drowned on the 17th of April while sailing home across Botany Bay) His friends will look across the bay With eyes grown sad and dim-- The bay that drowned the fighting face And the big kind heart of him-- To where a woman weeps to-night, In a cottage by the sea, And mourns the grave they'll never dig In the sands of Waverley. Oh, the sympathy in simple things, Like good Australian wine, And the ready coin for down-and-out And thirsty souls like mine! The bay is grey and the bay is gone, And the sea is dark and near, Where the great cliff-breakers rise like wraiths To one who cannot hear. The moon is up and the moon is high, And the sea is broad and bright, Where a strong soul in a silvered boat Goes sailing East to-night. He sails to meet the morning star, And meet the morning light Where none need draw for politics And none of us need write. Cartoons By Claude Marquet ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
In Memory of James J Salter [1920] [WHO DIED JANUARY 1920, AGED 26] A quiet lad who knew his trade, And always smart and clean-- None knew the name he might have made Or what he might have been Upon the stage or in the ring, If fate had willed it so, For he could box and he could sing, But three short years ago. And yet he left his work well done, His master's praises loud; A first-class tradesman, and a son To make a mother proud. A cheerful, straight and sober mate, A good all-round athlete: Ah! would that men who longer live Were nearly so complete! ABC Broadcast ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
In the Days When We Were Young [1922] In an old north-western suburb that was once beyond the pale, Where on pub and shop and office mostly Irish names prevail, Stands a public-house that's sacred to the memories of Truth And of Mateship, Love and Toohey, back in "mine hilarious youth"-- When each dear old pal as yet was out of chokey and unhung, And the Landlord was McDonald, in the days when we were young! He conducted business strictly without ken of creed or clan, And the pub's name, as it happened, was "The Honest Irishman". My old mates--they all were workmen--when they'd got outside a few, Each was certain to do something--and the unexpected too; And the week-end rows were mostly--as it afterwards appeared-- Over nothings of great moment in the bylaws of the beered. There was Cassidy, my cobber, who stood looking at the sign In the moonlight on a pay-night, about half-past eight or nine; "Does McDonald think," he muttered (he'd been somewhat in the sun)-- "Does McDonald think!" (he shouted) "he's the only honest one In the world-wide Irish Quarter?" and, still shouting as he ran, He went in and stoushed the landlord of "The Honest Irishman". (It was not surprise that angered, it was not so much the pat That he'd got upon his boko--Mac was used to things like that-- Not the sudden interruption; but in this there lay the sting-- 'Twas the blasted impoliteness and injustice of the thing. You should never, uninvited--and no matter where you are-- Stoush a Celt behind his grievance or a Gael behind his bar.) Several pints of beer with froth on and a bottle of Three Star Struck the floor with sad disaster as McDonald leapt the bar With his chucker-out behind him and a peeler cousin too, And a damned outlander joined them, so we had enough to do; But the license was in danger and the lock-up very near, So the cousin called a parley--and it ended up in beer. And Tim Cassidy begged pardon and explained it was his pride That the Irish all were Scotsmen back upon the mother's side. And the Scots were likewise Irish, tribe for tribe and clan for clan, So we each took home a bottle from "The Honest Irishman". And we quarrelled and were friendly as our homeward course we steered, Over trifles of great moment and importance to the beered. Now McDonald is forgotten in the Days of Long Ago, And the old mates are all scattered, and the landlord's name is Crowe, And we see no more the day-break in the lane or on the block, Free from shame and free from censure--for we're "shot" at six o'clock In a sea of sour faces that seems evermore to swell!-- O for old nights in your parlour, "Honest Irishman Hotel!" In the parlour of the only "Honest Irishman Hotel" I am sitting sad and lonely and I'm feeling far from well; Cruel Fortune has bereft me of the quids willed by the dead, And the passing years have left me one old pipe-fang in my head; But the spirit of my work-days--work and rest and booze and plan-- Seems to help me in the parlour of "The Honest Irishman". Whence the sunset on the Ranges seems a sea of golden isles And its burnished capes and headlands seem to run for miles and miles; Where the old-time bullock-waggon groaned beneath its mighty load As it started for the Northern Rivers by the Great North Road; Past the city's Home of Learning--go and find it if you can-- Stands a pub of happy seasons called "The Honest Irishman". Aussie ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
In the Street [1894] Where the needle-woman toils Through the night with hand and brain, Till the sickly daylight shudders like a spectre at the pain-- Till her eyes seem to crawl, And her brain seems to creep-- And her limbs are all a-tremble for the want of rest and sleep! It is there the fire-brand blazes in my blood; and it is there That I see the crimson banner of the Children of Despair! That I feel the soul and music in a rebel's battle song, And the greatest love for justice and the hottest hate for wrong! When the foremost in his greed Presses heavy on the last-- In the brutal spirit rising from the grave-yard of the past-- Where the poor are trodden down And the rich are deaf and blind! It is there I feel the greatest love and pity for mankind: There--where heart to heart is saying, though the tongue and lip be still: We've been through it all and know it! brother, we've been through the mill! There the spirits of my brothers rise the higher for defeat, And the drums of revolution roll for ever in the street! Christ is coming once again, And his day is drawing near; He is leading on the thousands of the army of the rear! We shall know the second advent By the lower skies aflame With the signals of his coming, for he comes not as he came-- Not humble, meek, and lowly, as he came in days of old, But with hatred, retribution for the worshippers of gold! And the roll of battle music and the steady tramp of feet Sound for ever in the thunder and the rattle of the street! Worker ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Ireland Shall Rebel [1890] While tyrants rule the land, Beneath the Irish skies; While e'er the iron hand Upon our people lies; While sons are driven forth In other lands to dwell, Still in the South and North Old Ireland will rebel! Rebel, rebel! Old Ireland will rebel! While fanlike from below, And pale against the skies, That light of shame--the glow Of burning homes--shall rise; While hot indignant tears From Irish hearts shall swell-- Be it a thousand years, Old Ireland will rebel! Rebel, rebel! Old Ireland will rebel! Until the tyrant's rod Shall broken be in twain, And on the dear old sod Blest freedom treads again; Or till our masters learn To rule our country well, The fires of hate shall burn! Old Ireland will rebel! Rebel, rebel! Old Ireland will rebel! Freeman's Journal ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Italiano [1915] The tinted heights of Genoa are glorious in the sun That sets on peace that war has brought--new history begun; New history for Italy, new history for the world, The Flag of Honour high above dishonoured flags unfurled. The message came to Naples, the message came to Rome, To Florence and to Venice to call past glories home; The deep, cool streets of Genoa hold hearts with fire a-glow, Where women by the fountain wash fair linen white as snow. Vesuvius glows by Naples now on her midsummer nights; The moon hangs full o'er Naples with her long, straight lines of lights; On barren coasts of Italy and islands strangely lone That won this heart of mine because they seemed so like our own. The moonlight gleams in Rome to-night on living statues there; The glorious stars in Venice are mirrored everywhere; And thoughts of Florence and the past make my dimmed eyes more dim, Whence marched a mate of mine to war--and I would I were with him! Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Jack Robertson" [1891] How oft in public meetings past, Where sense was not and talk was loud, We caught a glimpse of long white hair Upon the outskirts of the crowd; And then the tide of talk ebbed back, While here and there above the din, A workman cried, "Here's old Sir Jack," And made a path to let him in. Now Peter sitting at the gate, While crowds of souls are waiting there, Perchance upon the outer fringe May catch a glimpse of silvery hair; While some rough soul who went from here To that great meeting in the blue Will cry aloud, "Here's old Sir Jack," And make a path to let him through. Boomerang ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Jim-Jam Land [1912] O a wondrous land is the Jim-Jam Land to one who has been there, Where the Grim Past drags you by the feet, and the Future by the hair; Where the Ghastly Present grasps your throat and sits on your stifling chest And Imps of the Blue-Funk prod you up when you would seek your rest. Ask any man in the Public Bar. If he only grips your hand And says no word, it may be inferred that he's been in Jim-Jam Land. When it's Ten O'Clock in the Public Bar, and you've left off Beer for Rum, And the Landlord's face is an evil place in the lurid clouds that come; When you seek to fight your dearest friend, and you hug your foe instead; When you sit down hard, and you find yourself three miles away in bed-- And the bed swings round to its proper place to the bang of the Fiend's own band, And the door and the window waltz to theirs--then you're bound for Jim-Jam Land. When the plastered ceiling's centre-piece is a Devil's grinning face, And round and round the skirting-board the little Fantods race; When your clothes behind the bedroom door, no matter how hard you look, Are either a man who has hanged himself or a shrouded, skull-faced spook; When a Caliban squats and glowers and glows where stood the mild washstand, And the arm of the lounge is a coilsome snake--'tis the Border of Jim-Jam Land. When a grisly Something nudges you in the early morning mirk, And yelps your name in your startled ear, as you sit up with a jerk-- When a Something taps as you settle down and try to sleep once more, And a Lurk looks in with a cheerful grin at your balcony bedroom door; When a hairy arm comes reaching round with a monstrous claw-like hand-- And its mate comes in through the nearest wall--O then you're in Jim-Jam Land. When an old hen roosts on the rod o'erhead with the face and the beak of a hag, And in spite of the Jim-Jam chorus round continues to nag--nag--nag; While the friends of your Dead Past barrack for you--those dear old friends long dead-- And your aunts, and the rest of your living kin have a row behind the bed; When the wife that divorced you takes you back, and your future lot is planned, And her friends come round to congratulate--O-o-o-h!! then you're in Jim-Jam Land. When you're out, far out, in the Mulga Scrub (or you think that you are there), And you've blued your cheque at the Take Down Pub, and you've lost your swag somewhere; When the Nothing slaps you on the back, and your kick-out bottle's done, And the Voices wail in your maddened brain till you shed your pants and run; When the Jumps and the Screamers race abreast across the burning sand, And your feet are scorched by the floors of Hell--O then you're in Jim-Jam Land. When the short, thick serpents pave the ground, and they shoot their tongues and hiss, And their black heads wave to the sky-line round--O there is no land like this. When you climb a tree and the limbs are snakes, and you drop down in despair-- And they cross like swords, and your shirt's a kilt, and you dance the sword dance there; When you streak at last for the Edge of Things, and chance their fangs--it's grand! You're glad to catch up with the Leaps again in the heart of Jim-Jam Land. Yet cheer, my friend, keep your pecker up--in a week you'll be all right. And you'll learn to know as the years go by that the Jim-Jam snakes don't bite. And the Lurks and the Howls are a jovial crowd, all born of the jovial cup, And the little Fantods, if you only know, are trying to help you up. You'll come back fresh to the world again with a Will at your command, With a kinder heart and a clearer brain for a night in Jim-Jam Land. Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
John Cornstalk [1890] John Cornstalk lives in the Southern Land, What says Cornstalk John? Jack Cornstalk says in a loud firm voice: "Land of the South, lead on." CHORUS: Land of the South, lead on, lead on, Land of the South, lead on! Land of the South, lead on, lead on, Lead on, Land of the South! John Bull lays claim to the Southern Land. Jack, is the South Land thine? John Cornstalk cries in a loud, firm voice: "The Land of the South is mine!" Land of the South, lead on, lead on, Land of the South, lead on! Land of the South, lead on, lead on, Lead on, Land of the South! "By the long, long years my father toiled In the pioneering band; By the hardships of those early days, I claim the Southern Land!" Land of the South, lead on, lead on, Land of the South, lead on! Land of the South, lead on, lead on, Lead on, Land of the South! But where shall the Land of the South lead to? Where lead the nation's van? Jack Cornstalk cries from his strong young heart: "To the Dynasty of Man." Land of the South, lead on, lead on, Land of the South, lead on! Land of the South, lead on, lead on, Lead on, Land of the South! Freeman's Journal ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Joseph's Dreams and Reuben's Brethren [1904] A RECITAL IN SIX CHAPTERS CHAPTER I I cannot blame old Israel yet, For I am not a sage, I shall not know until I get The son of my old age. The mysteries of this Vale of Tears We will perchance explain When we have lived a thousand years And died and come again. No doubt old Jacob acted mean Towards his father's son; But other hands were none too clean, When all is said and done. There were some things that had to be In those old days, 'tis true, But with old Jacob's history This tale has nought to do. (They had to keep the birth-rate up, And populate the land, They did it, too, by simple means That we can't understand. The Patriarchs' way of fixing things Would make an awful row, And Sarah's plain, straightforward plan Would never answer now.) This is a tale of simple men And one precocious boy, A spoilt kid, and, as usual, His father's hope and joy (It mostly is the way in which The younger sons behave That brings the old man's grey hairs down In sorrow to the grave.) Old Jacob loved the whelp, and made, While meaning to be kind, A coat of many colours that Would strike a nigger blind! It struck the brethren green, 'twas said, I'd take a pinch of salt Their coats had coloured patches too, But that was not their fault. Young Joseph had a soft thing on, And, humbugged from his birth, You may depend he worked the thing For all that it was worth. And that he grafted not but crowed, You don't need to be told, And he was mighty cocky, with His "Lo!" and his "Behold!" He took in all his brothers said, And went and told his Dad, And then, when someone split on him, No wonder they were mad. But still he wasn't satisfied, And it would almost seem He itched to rile his brethren, for He went and dreamed a dream, And told it to his brothers straight (So Genesis believes):, "Lo! we were working in the field, And we were binding sheaves, And my sheaf rose and stood upright, And, straightway, for a sign, Your sheaves came round about and made Obeisance to mine!" The brethren stared and made comment In words that were not mild, And when the meaning dawned on them You bet that they were wild! And Joseph left those angry men To boil and blow off steam, And ambled, chuckling, home agen To dream another dream. "Behold! I've dreamed a dream once more!" He told 'em, frank and free, "The sun, moon, and eleven stars Have likewise bowed to me!" (Perhaps Astronomy has changed Since Joseph saw the light, But I have wondered what the sun Was doing out at night.) And when they dropped!, you never heard, In sheds or shanty bars, Such awful language as escaped From those eleven stars. You know how Jacob-Israel loved His hopeful youngest pup; But, when he heard the latest dream, It shook the old man up. But Joseph talked his father round, Who humoured every whim (Perhaps old Jacob half-believed They would bow down to him): But, anyway, as always was, He backed the youngest son, And sent the others with the sheep Out to the Check-'em run. CHAPTER II Now Jacob, with that wondrous tact That doting parents show, Or, anxious for his sons out back, Sent, of all others, Joe! To see if it was well with them (And they were not asleep), With one eye on his brothers' camp, And one eye on the sheep. He drew a blank on Check-'em run, Got bushed, too, you'll be bound. A certain cove, there's always one, Saw Joseph mooning round. He asked him how it came to pass, And what it was about, And said, "They're trav-lin' now for grass In Doothen, further out." He also muttered, "Strike me blue!" While staring at the clothes, He'd never seen a jackaroo With such a coat as Joe's. He set the nameless on the track, And scratched his head to think, But gave it best, and, riding back, Said firmly, "Strike me pink!" 'Twas blazing hot in Doothen then, The sweat ran down in streams, It melted out the memory Of even Joseph's dreams! They'd had some trouble with the sheep, Some Arabs and a "shirk", It was a favourable time For Joe to get to work. They saw him coming, "afar off", In this case, you might note, Their eyesight wasn't wonderful, Considering the coat. And what with sheep, and dust, and flies, And damned shirks in the swim With sheep stealers, the brethren were For absenteeing him. And, add to that, he scared the kine With his infernal coat, They trampled on the sheep and swine And startled every goat. The brethren had to round up then As fast as ass could go, And when they got to camp agen They'd fixed it up for Joe. Save poor old Rube, he had the blight, But, grafting all the same, He only looked on family rows As just a blooming shame. Like many an easy-going man, He had a cunning soul. He said, "We will not kill the kid, But shove him in a hole, And leave him there to dream o' things", There's not the slightest doubt He meant to slip round after dark And pull the youngster out, And fill his gourd and tucker-bag, And tell him "Not to mind", And start him on the back-track with A gentle kick behind. Some 'Tothersider prospectors Had been there poking round; You may depend that Reuben knew 'Twas "dry and shallow ground". They dropped young Joseph in a hole, The giddy little goat, And left him there, to cool his heels, Without his overcoat. (Don't think that Moses, such a whale On dry facts, thought it wet To say, when they'd chucked Joseph in, It was an empty pit! So many things are preached and said Where'er the Bible is To prove that Moses never read The "proofs" of Genesis.) But let's get on. While having grub, A brethren sniffed and "seen" Some Ishmaelites pass through the scrub, Or O-asses, I mean. They'd been right out to Gilead, A rather longish trip, For camel-loads of balm, and myrrh, And spicery for 'Gyp. (I've often seen the Afghans pass With camel strings out back, And thought 'twas somewhat similar On that old Bible track. I don't know much of balm and myrrh, Whatever they may be, But e'en when sheepskins were not there, I've smelt the spicery.) It was the same in Canaan then As it is here to-day: A sudden thought jerked Judah up For "brofit "straight away. The brethren got on one end too When Judah jumped and said, "We'll sell the kid for what he brings! He's no good when he's dead." And, to be short, they being Jews, The "chosing" of the earth, They sold him to the Ishmaelites For more than twice his worth. (Some Midianitish auctioneers Were also on the job.) 'Twas "twenty bits of silver", which I s'pose was twenty bob. So they most comfortably got Young Joseph off their hands, For Ishmael never bothered much About receipts or brands. (They spake not of his dreams and cheek, His laziness, or "skite"; No doubt they thought the Ishmaelites Would see to that all right.) Then Reuben came; he'd been around To watch the sheep a bit, And on his way back to the camp He slipped round by the pit To give young Joe a drink. He stared, And, thinking Joe was dead, He rent his gown like mad, and ran For ashes for his head. (As if that would do any good! I only know that I Cannot afford to rend my clothes When my relations die. I don't suppose they would come back, Or that the world would care, If I went howling for a year With ashes in my hair.) You say he counted on a new Rig-out? Yes? And you know That Jacob tore his garment too, So that old cock won't crow. Look here! You keep your smart remarks Till after I am gone. I won't have Reuben silver-tailed, Nor Pharaoh, later on. The brethren humbugged Reuben well, For fear he'd take the track, And sneak in on the Ishmaelites, And steal young Joseph back, Or fight it out if he was caught, And die, as it might be, Or, at the best, go down with Joe And into slavery. Young Simeon slipped into the scrub, To where the coat was hid, And Judah stayed and wept with Rube, While Levi killed a kid. So they fixed up the wild-beast yarn, And Hebrews sadly note, Considering the price of cloth, They had to spoil the coat. (There was a yam about old Rube That all true men despise, Spread by his father's concubines, A vicious strumpet's lies. But I believe old Moses was, As we are, well aware That Reuben stood in this last scene The central figure there.) I feel for poor old Israel's grief, Believing all the same (And not with atheist unbelief) That Jacob was to blame. 'Twas ever so, and shall be done, While one fond fool has breath, Fond folly drives the youngest son To ruin and to death. The caravan went jogging on To Pharaoh's royal town, But Genesis gives no account Of Joseph's journey down. I wouldn't be surprised to hear He found it pretty rough, But there's a bare chance that his hide, As well as cheek, was tough. I see them toiling through the heat, In patches and in dirt, With sand-grooved sandals on their feet, And slaves without a shirt, The dust-caked thirst, the burning ground, The mad and maddening flies, That gathered like black goggles round The piccaninnies' eyes. The Ishmaelites had tempers brief, And whips of hide and gut, And sometimes, p'raps, for Hagar's sake, Gave Joe an extra cut. When, fainting by the way, he felt The stimulating touch, I have no doubt he often wished He hadn't dreamed so much. He didn't dream much on that trip, Although he thought a lot. However, they got down to 'Gyp In good time, where he got A wash and rest, he needed both, And in the old slave-yard Was sold to Captain Potiphar, Of Pharaoh's body-guard. INTERLUDE I pause to state that later on (And it seems worth the halt) Smart Judah gat into a mess, Though it was not his fault. And I would only like to say, In this most thankless task, Wives sell to husbands every day, And that without a mask. But, what with family rows and drought, And blessed women too, The fathers of terrestrial tribes Had quite enough to do. They had to graft both day and night, With no rest, save the last, For when they were not grafting they Were populating fast. CHAPTER III The Captain was a casual man, But seemed a shrewd one too; He got young Joseph's measure soon, And saw what he could do. The Lord was with Joe, Moses said, I know that Joe had pluck, But I believe 'twas mostly check, And his infernal luck. The Captain made him manager, Housekeeper, overseer, And found that this arrangement paid, That much at least is clear. And what with merchants, clerks, and slaves, Joe led a busy life, With one eye on the maid-servants, And "Jeames" and Potty's wife. The Captain seemed a casual man, And "'Gyp" was on the glide: There was a growing tendency To live and let things slide. He left all things in Joseph's hands, According to old Mose, And knew not what he had besides His tucker and his clothes. I guess he had a shrewd idea, For it is now, as then, The world most often makes mistakes With easy-going men. The Captain often went away For quietness and rest, And, maybe, for some other things, Well, Potiphar knew best. Perhaps the missus knew it too, At least, she should have known, And Joe was handsome, strange, and new, And she was much alone. It seems a funny business now, But I was never there, Perhaps so long as cheques came in The Captain didn't care. 'Tis strange that Moses, such a whale On details out of joint, Should always come, in such a case, So bluntly to the point. He says Joe had a goodly form, Or person it should be, He says that she cast eyes on Joe, And she said, "Lie with me." It took young Joseph sudden like. He'd heard, while on the run, Of other women who could lie, And in more ways than one; Of men who had been gaoled or hanged, As they are here to-day, (Likewise of lovers who were banged), And so he edged away. She never moved, and so he stayed While she was there to hear, For his infernal vanity Was stronger than his fear. He bragged his opportunity, His strength, and godliness: "There is no greater in the house Than I." (She made him less.) 'Twas cant to brag of purity And right in that household, For what was he if not a slave, And basely bought and sold? Unmanly for a man to treat A love-starved woman so, And cowardly to humiliate A spirit thrust so low. She knew that Joseph was a spy On her and all the rest, And this, with his outspoken "scorn", Made reasons manifest. She had her passions (don't be shocked, For you have yours, no doubt), And meant to take young Joseph down And pay her husband out. He was a slave, and bought and sold, And I will say right here His preaching was too manifold And glib to be sincere, When youth and "looks" turn goody-good, You'll see it at a glance, They have one eye to woman's help And both on the main chance. Now, had old Rube been in his place (All honour to his name), I'll swear he would have taken things Exactly as they came, And kept it dark, or fought it out, As the ungodly can, But, whatsoe'er he might have done, He would have been a man! Howbeit, the missus stuck to Joe, Vindictive, vicious, grim, And bore his sermons and rebuffs Until she cornered him. . . . He left his garment in her hand, And gat him out of that. . . . About the merits of the case I'll say no more, that's flat. (He knew all right what she was at, And Potiphar was out, He went alone into the house When no one was about. He may have been half-drunk or mad, He certainly was blind, To run no further than the yard, And leave his coat behind!) But, seeing how our laws are fixed, If I get in such dirt, I'll straightway get me out of that If, I've to leave my shirt. But I will keep the running up, If I have common-sense, Nor stop this side of Jericho To think of my defence. Joe should have streaked for Suez straight, And tried his luck in flight For Canaan, where they looked on things In quite another light. Old Jacob had experience, And he'd have stuck to Joe. He was a match for women's lies That flabbergast us so. The missus told the self-same tale, And in the self-same way, As our enfranchised females do In police courts every day. Too cowardly to breathe a breath Against the vilest rip, We send straight men to gaol or death, Just as they did in 'Gyp. Now, Potiphar was wondrous mild, Suspiciously, to say The least. He didn't operate On Joseph straight away. Perhaps he knew his wife no less Than Joe, yet had regard For his own peace and quietness, So Joe got two years' hard. CHAPTER IV The Lord was with him, Moses said, Yet his luck didn't fail, For he got on the right side of The governor of the gaol. Perhaps he'd heard of Mrs P., And cases like to Joe's, And knew as much of woman's work As anybody knows. He made Joe super-lag, a sort Of deputy-retained (The easy-going tendency In Egypt seemed ingrained), Left everything in Joseph's hands, Except, maybe, the keys; And thereafter he let things slide, And smoked his pipe in peace. Now Pharaoh had some trouble with His butler and his cook, But Pharaoh seemed most lenient With asses bought to book, He didn't cut the weak end off Each absent-minded wretch, But mostly sent the idiots up To "chokey" for a "stretch". They found themselves in Joseph's care, And it would almost seem They'd got wind of his weaknesses, For each one dreamed a dream. "They dreamed a dream; both of them. Each Man his dream in one night: Each man according to his dream" (And his own dream), that's right. Next morning they made up their "mugs", And Joseph, passing through, Asked them if they were feeling cronk, And why they looked so blue? They told him they had dreamed two dreams (One each), and any dunce Can understand how such remarks Would int'rest Joe at once. And there was no interpreter, They said, and that was why Joe said that that belonged to God, But he would have a try. I've noticed this with "Christians" since, And often thought it odd, They cannot keep their hands from things They say belong to God. The butler dreamed, or, anyway, He said so (understand), He'd made some wine in Pharaoh's cup, And placed it in his hand, And Pharaoh placed the wine inside, I s'pose. But, anyways, There were three branches in the dream, Which were, of course, three days. The butler might have one again, And Joseph, going strong, By evil chance get wind of it, And diagnose it wrong! The cook had been the butler's mate, And he thought (was it odd?) That nightmare students such as Joe Were safer far in quod. He did repent him of his fault, Though it was rather late, For Pharaoh's dreams had called a halt, A reason of some weight. The butler hoped to score, but 'twas A risky thing to do, And you will wonder, later on, If Joe "forgat" him too. 'Twas plain to any fool, so Joe Said: "Yet within three days Shall Pharaoh lift thine head up, and Restore thee to thy place. Thou shalt deliver Pharaoh's cup Into his hand once more. (And he shall drink the liquor down Just as it was before.) "But promise, when thou art all right, And nothing is amiss, To speak to Pharaoh of my case, And get me out of this. For I was kidnapped, likewise gaoled, For nothing that I know." (And, granting his celibacy, 'Twould seem that that was so.) The cook, he was a godless cook, But quietly he stood, 'Til Joseph's inspiration came, And he saw it was good. And then his dream he did unfold, All straight and unrehearsed (Without a "Lo!" or a "Behold!" Or windmill business first): "I'd three old baskets on me 'ed, Now I ain't tellin' lies!, The top 'un full of fancy bread An' pork 'n' kidney pies. I didn't bother looking up, For it was blazin' 'ot, There come a flock of crimson crows And scoffed the bleedin' lot." The cook he was a clever cook, But he'd been on the spree, He put the case as man to man, And put it frank and free. He patted Joseph on the back, Told him to go ahead, And Joseph met the cook half way, And (man to man) he said: "Within three days shall Pharaoh lift Thine head from off of thee, And he shall hang thee by the heels To the most handy tree. A flock of crows shall pick thy bones (And, to be trebly sure, His slaves shall pound them up with stones And use them for manure)." The butler passed an anxious night, He wanted matters fixed, For what if Joe's prescriptions should By some fool chance get mixed? The cook, who was a careless cook, Wrote scoff words on the wall, But, when the time was up, he wished He hadn't dreamed at all. And Pharaoh gave a feast, he'd got Another chef this trip, And his old butler he restored Unto his butlership; But hanged the cook. And after that, Or this is how it seems, The butler straight away forgat Young Joseph and his dreams. And maybe he was wise, for all That anybody knows, He'd seen the headless baker hanged, And picked clean by the crows. It struck him, too, when looking back While calm and free from cares, That Joseph had an off hand way Of fixing up nightmares. CHAPTER V The gaol did Joseph little good, Except by starts and fits, But saved old Egypt for a while, And brightened up his wits. And, lest you thought me most unjust In matters lately gone, You read and know how holy Joe Sold Egypt later on. Her weather prophets were as good As ours are, every bit, But Pharaoh took to dreaming dreams, And made a mess of it. (And but for that, I do not care What anybody thinks, I'd not have lost my overcoat, And watch and chain, and links.) Now Joseph's and the prisoners' dreams Were plain as dreams could be, And more especially Pharaoh's dreams, As far as I can see, The same man who invented them Could well have read them too, But any third-rate showman knows That that would never do. There must be "Lo's", "Beholds", and "Yets", And "It must come to pass", 'Til floods are gone, and tanks are dry, And there's no crops nor grass. And "Likewise", "Alsoes", "Says unto", And countless weary "Ands", Until Japan sends Chinamen To irrigate the lands. And Pharaoh must take off his ring (The one from off his hand), To put upon Joe's little fin, That all might understand. And they must ride in chariots, Have banquets everywhere, And launch trips up the Hawkesbury, To see Australia there. (I dreamed last night that cattle fed Along the river flats, They bore the brands of all the States, And looked like "Queensland fats". And lo! a mob of strangers came, All bones, from horn to heel, But they had nostrils breathing flame, And they had horns of steel. I dreamed that seven sheep were shorn That went by seven tracks, And strove to live the winter through With sackcloth on their backs. And lo! I dreamed, from east and west There came two blades of heat, One blackened all the towns like fire, Like drought one burnt the wheat. A black slave and a white slave laid A golden carpet down, And yellow guards stood round about, And he that came was brown. Men slaved beneath the whip in pits, Who now slave willingly, They sold their birthright for a "score". Now read those dreams for me!) But Joseph fixed up Pharaoh's dreams As quick as I can tell, And, for Australia's sake, I wish That mine were fixed as well, And nationalized from trusts and rings And shady covenants; But, we have thirteen little kings Of thirteen Parliaments. The years of plenty soon run out, And, from the cricket score, We'll turn to face the years of drought And might-be years of war. With neither money, men, nor guns, With nothing but despair, But I get tired of printing truths For use, no matter where. Joe said to seek a wise man out, And Pharaoh took the Jew, Adventurers fix up our dreams, And we elect them too. I mean no slur on any tribe (My best friend was a Yid), But we let boodlers shape our ends, And just as Pharaoh did. But Joseph did spy out the land, If not for his own good (He only boodled on the grand, It must be understood). He made a corner first in wheat, And did it thoroughly, No "trust" has ever seen since then So great a shark as he. And when the fearful famine came, And corn was in demand, He grabbed, in God's and Pharaoh's name, The money, stock, and land. (He knew the drought was very bad In Canaan; crops were gone; But never once inquired how his Old Dad was getting on.) CHAPTER VI And after many barren years Of spirit-breaking work, I see the brethren journeying down From Canaan's West-o'-Bourke And into Egypt to buy corn, As, at this very hour, My brethren toil through blazing heat The weary miles for flour. 'Twas noble of our Joseph then, The Governor of the land, To bait those weary, simple men, With "monies" in their hand; To gratify his secret spite, As only cowards can; And preen his blasted vanity, And strike through Benjamin. He put a cup in Benny's sack, And sent them on their way, And sent the Pleece to bring 'em back Before they'd gone a day. The constable was well aware Of Joseph's little plan, And most indignant when he caught The wretched caravan. He yelped: "Have such things come to pass? Howld hard there! Jerk 'em up! Put down yer packs from every ass, And fork out Phairey's cup! It makes me sick, upon my soul, The gratichood of man! Ye had the feast, and then ye shtole His silver billy-can." They swore that they had seen no cup, And after each had sworn They said the sandstorm coming up Would simply spoil the corn. They begged that he would wait until They reached the nearest barn. He said, "O that's a wind that shook The barley sort of yarn! "(Now I'm no sergeant, understand, Ye needn't call me that, Oi want no sugar wid me sand Whin Joseph smells a rat.) Take down yer sacks from off yer backs, The other asses too, And rip the neck of every sack, The boys will see yer through." The cup was found in Benjamin's, As all the world's aware, The constable seemed most surprised, Because he'd put it there. "A greenhorn raised on asses' milk! Well, this beats all I know!" And then, when he had cautioned them, He took the gang in tow. And when they started out to rend Their turbans and their skirts, He said, "Ye drunken lunatics, Ye needn't tear yer shirts, Ye're goin' where there's ladies now, So keep yer shirts on, mind. (The Guvnor got in trouble wanst For leavin' his behind.)" And Joseph gaoled and frightened them. (The "feast" was not amiss: It showed him most magnanimous With all that wasn't his.) He took some extra graveyard pulls At his old Dad's grey hairs, 'Til Judah spoke up like a man, And spoke up unawares. Then Joseph said that he was Joe, With Egypt in his clutch, You will not be surprised to know It didn't cheer them much. And when he saw they were afraid, And bowed beneath the rod, He summoned snuffle to his aid, And put it all on God. And now the brethren understood, With keen regret, no doubt, That sin is seldom any good Unless it's carried out. For after that heart-breaking trip Across the scorching sands They found themselves in Joseph's grip, With Benny on their hands. (Poor Reuben, to persuade his dad To let the youngster come, Had left his own sons' lives in pledge For Benjamin, at home. But life is made of many fires And countless frying-pans, As fast as we get rid of Joe's We're plagued by Benjamin's.) Joe had a use for them, so he Bade them to have no fear. He said to them, "It was not you, But God, who sent me here. He sent me on to save your lives; He hath sent you to me, To see to you and all your wives, And your posterity. "The Lord God hath exalted me, And made me His right hand, A father unto Pharaoh, and A ruler in the land, And likewise lord of Egypt", He said a few things more, And then he got to business straight, I've heard such cant before. Those who have read will understand I never mean to scoff, But I hate all hypocrisy And blasted showing-off. How cunningly our holy Joe Fixed up his tribe's affairs For his own ends, and sprang the job On Pharaoh unawares. "The fame was heard in Pharaoh's house," Where peace and kindness thrived, Saying, "Joseph's brethren are come" (Joe's brothers have arrived). And Pharaoh heard, and was well pleased, For he was white all through. (And Moses says, without remark, It pleased the servants too.) But Pharaoh promptly put an end To Joseph's mummery. He said, "Send waggons up, and bid Thy people come to me. Thou art commanded! Furnish them With money and with food; And say that I will give them land, And see that it is good." And Jacob's sons chucked up their runs With blessings short and grim, And Jacob took the stock and gear And all his seed with him. They sent the family tree ahead, And Pharaoh read that same (They found him very tired, 'twas said, And misty when they came). And Pharaoh unto Joseph spake Most kind, though wearily: "Thy father and thy brethren all Are now come unto thee; And Egypt is before thee now, So in the best land make Thy father and thy brethren dwell, The land of Goshen take; "And there, unhindered, let them thrive, In comfort let them dwell, Apart and free. My people love All shepherds none too well, But if thou knowest amongst them men Of proved activity, Then make them rulers over all My flocks and herds for me." They brought five brethren unto him, And he was very kind, Perhaps he looked those brethren through, And saw what lay behind. His head he rested on his hand, And smoothed his careworn brow, He gazed on Israel thoughtfully, And asked, "How old art thou?" And Jacob told him, and was touched. He said his days were few And evil. They had not attained To those his father knew. But Jacob only had himself, And no one else, to thank If Joe had given his grey hairs A second graveyard yank. I think that Pharaoh was a man Who always understood, But was content to stand aside If for his people's good, And seem not missed the while. He knew His merits, and no pride, And 'twas a grievous day for Jew And Gentile when he died. You know the rest of Joseph's tale, And well the poor Egyptians knew, House agent on the grand old scale, He boodled till the land was blue. He squeezed them tight, and bled them white, . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Until a Pharaoh came in sight Who didn't know him from a crow. The Patriarchs, right back from Dad To where the line begins, Were great at passing "blessings" on, Together with their sins. Old Noah was about the first, Cursed Ham till all was blue, But 'twas with some effect he cursed, And with good reason too. And when the time had come to pass For Jacob to be gone, He polished up his father's sins And calmly passed them on. He called his twelve sons round his bed (Lest some good might befall), He called his twelve sons to be blessed, And cursed them, one and all Save Joseph; and the rest had cause To curse him ere they got The English, who have every day More cause to damn the lot. And if they crossed the Red Sea now, I guess we'd let them go, With "Satan hurry Kohenstein" And "God speed Ikey Mo!" And lest my Jewish friends be wroth, As they won't be with me, I'll say that there is Jewish blood In my posterity. This verse, I trust, shall profit him When he has ceased to grow, My firstborn, who was known as "Jim", But whose true name is "Joe". AFTERWORD I've written much that is to blame, But I have only sought to show That hearts of men were just the same Some forty centuries ago. All kindness comes with woman's love, That which she claims is due to her, Not man! not man! but God above Dare judge the wife of Potiphar. And Jacob shall be ever blind To reason and posterity, In that "fond folly" of mankind That is born of impotency. No parents' love or parents' wealth Shall ever fairly portioned be, Faith shall not come, except by stealth, Nor justice in one family. And Joseph proved unto this hour, Just what he was in Holy Writ, A selfish tyrant in his power, And, up or down, a hypocrite. And Joseph still, whate'er befall, But gives his place to Benjamin, And Reuben bears the brunt of all, Though Judah does the best he can. The hearts of men shall never change While one man dies and one is born, We journey yet, though ways seem strange, Down into Egypt to buy corn. Some prosper there, and they forget; And some go down, and are forgot; And Pride and Self betray us yet, Till Pharaohs rise that know us not. But kindliness shall live for aye, And, though we well our fate deserve, Samaritans shall pass that way, And kings like Pharaoh rule to serve. We're fighting out of Egypt's track, And, ah! the fight is ever grand, Although, in Canaan or Out Back, We never reach the Promised Land. Truth ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Just Like Home [1915] I got a letter the other day from a scribbling, sketching pal of mine, In a foreign country, far away--somewhere out in the firing line. It seems the censor won't let them say where they are bearing the battle's brunt, So he dates, in the good Australian way, from "Some Old Place at the Blanky Front". He says it stinks, and he says it's Hell, and there seems no hope of earthly release: But somehow the scream of a passing shell carries him back to the Days of Peace. Where the soldiers howl in the camp at night, and the groaning and cursing wounded come, He says "it's no use trying to write--it's just like trying to work at home!" I wanted to go to the Front myself to write a book on the war of wars, To stand on many a learned shelf, and be translated in Helsingfors; But I've funked it now, though you need not tell (you never know how the news might roam), For I'm perfectly sure that it must be Hell if "it's just like trying to work at home". God help the woman! She does not know the glorious heights that our minds can scale-- The Inspirations that come and go while her life is dead and her home is gaol. The Poet and Artist booze and swear, and wander at will 'neath the sunlit dome; She must struggle and pinch and be worried there--and no man ever should "work at home". Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Kangaroo Power [1891] (Suggested to the office Muse by the Kangaroo Dance) Now, Yankee inventors can beat a retreat, And German professors may take a back seat, For their colours we're going to lower: They've invented a wonderful plough in the West, The scientists call it "the latest and best"; It ploughs, sows, and reaps without taking a rest, And they drive it by kangaroo power. Sing hey! Sing ho! Then it's bully for kangaroo power! O wondrous the changes our children shall meet, For soon we may travel the principal street In something far short of an hour. The traffic shall flow without stoppage or jambs And sharp little screeches and naughty big damns, For soon all the hansoms and 'busses and trams Shall travel by kangaroo power. Sing hey! Sing ho! Then it's bully for kangaroo power! Advance, Young Australia, thy banner unfurled, And jump through the years and astonish the world; Thou art of all nations the flower. And Bismarck with envy shall grind his old stumps, And Yankee inventors shall sit in the dumps, To see young Australia advancing by jumps, When driven by kangaroo power. Sing hey! Sing ho! Then it's bully for kangaroo power! Boomerang ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Kerosene Bay [1914] 'Tis strange on such a peaceful day With white clouds flying o'er, That foreign boats are in the bay As prisoners of war. The Harbour, where they quietly lay; Smiles brightly as of yore. Where never angry shot was fired To alter peaceful plans; Where British lumpers worked till tired With Yacob and with Hans, And "shouted" when their work was done For other "sailormans". And while we think of other lands And what is doing there, And while we think of what red hands May wreak in our despair-- How can the Harbour be so blue, And the sky above so fair? Lone Hand ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Kiddies' Land [1915] The street is old and built of stone-- And other things beside; And though in length it's very short, The roadway's fairly wide. Our street is blind and at the top Are "Grounds" where gnarled trees stand, Like gnomes against the evening sky-- Down here in Kiddies' Land. Our street is an asphated street, And when the school-day's done, You hear the sounds of little feet, And little go-carts run; And at the bottom, by the Bay, Are strips of scrubby sand And grass where children love to play-- Down here in Kiddies' Land. And still with war and thoughts of war Their little souls are vexed-- The Allies of the day before Are enemies the next. They charge with pop-guns and with sticks, Retreat, and make a stand-- They imitate our grown up tricks, Down here in Kiddies' Land. Our street, it hath a lolly shop, As you'll have guessed before; Where every hard old "lollie-pop" Is new-named from the War. It buys their empty bottles, too; And so, you'll understand The kids are a commercial crew, Down here in Kiddies' Land And all the little sunflowers That in my garden grow, Are nodding to each other, And talking soft and low; They're holding mothers' meetings, As you might understand, While all the children are at play, Down here in Kiddies' Land. And when the honours of War and Trade, Of Peace and Strife, are sped, And all the working mothers of ou street Call kiddies home to bed; The branches moving in the breeze, While the stars are shining grand, Seem Some Things in the gnarled old trees, That watch o'er Kiddies' Land. Lone Hand ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Lachlan Side [1888] Region of damper and "junk" and tea, Region of pastures wide! The fairest spots in the world to me Are out on the Lachlan Side. CHORUS: I'm off to the Lachlan Side, Where the bright lagoons are wide; I long for river and grass and tree, And someone dearer than all to me, Far out on the Lachlan Side. My heart was hardened against advice And reason I would not see, For by the ocean a paradise The city appeared to me. CHORUS: I'm off to the Lachlan Side, etc. "Not I for a bumpkin's fate," I cried, "I'll not be a country clown! A life's too slow on the Lachlan Side; I'll go to the shining town!" CHORUS: I'm off to the Lachlan Side, etc. I've lost the battle, I strike the flag, The town may sink in the tide; A wiser head and a lighter swag I take to the Lachlan Side. CHORUS: I'm off to the Lachlan Side, etc. When crops of wool on the plains shall grow, Shall flourish in drought or rain, And when the shearers begin to mow I'll come to the town again. CHORUS: I'm off to the Lachlan Side, etc. But now I go to a kinder fate, If her love still conquers pride; Her heart was true when she sobbed, "I'll wait For you on the Lachlan Side." CHORUS: I'm off to the Lachlan Side, Where the bright lagoons are wide; I long for river and grass and tree, And someone dearer than all to me, Far out on the Lachlan Side. Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Laughing And Sneering [1889] What though the world does me ill turns And cares my life environ; I'd sooner laugh with Bobbie Burns Than sneer with titled Byron. The smile has always been the best; 'Tis stronger than the frown, sirs: And Venus smiled the waves to rest; She didn't sneer them down, sirs. Town and Country Journal ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Lawson's Dream [1915] I dreamed I lay shot through and mutilated, And buried in the trench we filled again, And all the heaps above the loved and hated Were levelled down and flattened by the rain. I dreamed I saw the daily-paper posters, I watched the Sydney people stand and stare-- The Blankers, By-Joves and the Holy-Ghosters; The Well-I-Nevers and Just-Fancies fair-- To see "The Death of Henry Lawson" printed, In letters tall and black and fairly stout; To read he died a hero, hear it hinted That all his debts were paid--the Bill Wiped Out! I dreamed I lay beneath the briny ocean, And mothers blessed my name with one accord, And hearts I loved were moved with great emotion To hear I volunteered to stay abroad; And how I cheered the still-faced doomed, and fed them On tales of hope, a "message from the sea". I dreamed the Ly-ee-moon's sad bell had led them-- Had led a nation's bells that tolled for me. I dreamed my boyhood's dream that long had faded, To glow in clouds of selfish war at last; I dreamed I fought in cities barricaded With all my dream-companions of the past. I dreamed I died for Justice and was honoured By all the sister nations near and far-- And woke to thirst and reek and oaths and spittle; For these were day-dreams in a Public Bar. Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Lay Your Ears Back and Fight [1891] When you drink of what the poets rave about as "sorrer's cup", And yer mouth, in spite of laughin', gits a curve the wrong way up, Do not whine for help or pity; never cringe at fortunes frown-- Lay yer list'ners back and fight until you fight yer sorrers down! Though the world on empty pockets is at times a little harsh And the weights of care are clinging to the ends of your mustarsh, Never let yer grief boil over; it is nothing to the town-- Lay yer list'ners back and battle till you fight yer sorres down! When the law of gravitation lays a hand upon yer heart, An' the "slings an' arrers" fetch yer and you feel 'em pretty smart, When you cannot find a billet, and you haven't half-a-crown-- Lay yer list'ners hack and fight until you fight yer sorrers down! When the gilt upon the future wears in places very thin, Look as if there's nothink crooked, try an' summon up a grin; There's a mask that you must always wear the other way about-- Lay yer list'ners back and battle till you knock yer sorrers out. Boomerang ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Leeton Town [1916] We lie at rest when the day is late, on stretchers set on verandahs wide, With a clear canal by our garden gate, and fruit-trees growing on either side; With native saplings that seem to look to a future grand with a faith that's blind, And a clear canal like an English brook with a rustic bridge to the lane behind. And the pine-trees run by the long red road, straight to the rim where the sun went down-- And we, for a season, have dropped each load of care and sorrow by Leeton Town. We come from ages of fruitless work--from hopes and day-dreams that perished there-- From the North of Queensland, and West-o'-Bourke, from seas of sand and the prickly pear, From plains where the strongest are fighting still, as our fathers fought in the long ago-- From the poisonous surface of Broken Hill, as deadly to life as the depths below. Through blinding heat and the dust and sand, or winter's cold and the rain and bog, We come with the trap and the three-in-hand; the wife and furniture, "kids" and dog, From loss and ruin, from far and wide, a beaten band but a fighting band;-- From the southern coasts and the Queensland side--a long month's drag to the Promised Land. We fought grim battles 'gainst lies and greed, and lost and won in the brave years dead, When the Union Flag was a flag indeed, and men were hunted from shed to shed. And some might weaken and men might tire of gaol and black list and baited trap; But we straightened our lines by Mulga Wire that none could censor, for none could "trap". (We call each other by different names we "went by" then when my hair was brown-- And my mate's black--and like steel our frames--long years ere they dreamed of a Leeton Town.) And we often talk in voices low of hard and soft cases we used to know; And many a bounder and many a "cow" who is "holding a good position now". And straight men vanished and straight men dead--and some because of the lives they led; And it's sad to think--Ah! it's sad to think that the best and the bravest were ruined by drink! Their graves are found--or they are not found--long ways Northward and long ways round; But, sometimes, after the sun goes down, their shades seem to hover by Leeton Town. The shearer and farmer we know by sight--can tell by the way that they walk or stand; The miner--strong in his miner's right, and the drover--once of the Overland. We are grey men, grizzled before our time--we are young men old, but with boys' hearts yet; We know the strength of the Truth sublime--and laugh at the rest while they fume and fret; We have done our duty and do it still, while blatant bounders go up, go down; And from Broken Promise to Broken Hill we claim our places by Leeton Town. Murrumbidgee Irrigator ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
["Let the Government Determine..."] [1891] We have read the country paper by the sunlight and the taper, and the burden of the "leader" lays upon our heart a weight. This the substance of the sermon, "Let the Government determine that the public time and money isn't wasted on debate. Let it go for irrigation, or make easy immigration of desirable and wealthy farmers from across the seas; Open lands to free selection, have a moderate protection, thus encouraging the progress of our local industries. "Let the Government," and so on. That's the way the papers go on-- let them go as indicated. But the bother is they don't. That's the path, we always knew it; why the members don't pursue it is because they're not inclined to, or in short because they won't. Why they won't?--But it is treason to attempt to give a reason. We're inclined to fancy rather that they've got into a mess. But the pathway would be lighted and the wrongs would all be righted, if the Government included--Yours to order, JOSEPH S----. Boomerang ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Let's Be Fools Tonight [1888] or, "The Three Partners" We, three men of commerce, Striving wealth to raise, See but little promise In the coming days; Though our hearts are brittle, Hardened near to stone, We can think a little Of the seasons flown. Lily days and rose days: Youthful days so bright; We were fools in those days, Let's be fools to-night. We, three men of commerce, Men of business we, Gave but little promise Of what we would be When we wandered urchins-- Foes of law and rule-- Fearing only birchings And the village school. Lily days and rose days, Boyhood's days so bright; We were fools in those days, Let's be fools to-night. We, three men of commerce, Men of business we, Gave but little promise Of ability When we lived in riot; Never drew the line, Hating peace and quiet, Loving maids and wine. Days when money goes--days When men's hearts are right; We were fools in those days, Let's be fools to-night. We must wear to-morrow All our worldly marks, Calm looks for our sorrow, Stern looks for our clerks, Who, from trouble shrinking, Tasting earthly joys, Hate us, little thinking Ever we were boys. Days when kindness flows--days When men's hearts are white; We've been wise since those days, Let's be fools to-night. Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Lily [1890] I scorn the man, a fool at most, And ignorant and blind, Who loves to go about and boast "He understands mankind." I thought I had that knowledge too, And boasted it with pride, But since, I've learned that human hearts Cannot be classified. In days when I was young and wild I had no vanity, I always thought when women smiled That they were fooling me. I was content to let them fool, And let them deem I cared; For, tutored in a narrow school, I held myself prepared. But Lily had a pretty face, And great blue Irish eyes, And she was fair as any race Beneath the Northern skies, The sweetest voice I ever heard, Although it was unschooled. So for a season I preferred By Lily to be fooled. A friend embittered all my life With careless words of his; He said I'd "never win a wife With such an ugly phiz." I laughed the loudest at the wit. Though loud the laughter rung, So be it to his credit writ, He never knew it stung. As far as human nature goes, The cynic I would teach That fruit's not always sour to those For whom none hangs in reach. I only gazed as captives might Gaze through their prison bars, Fair women seemed to me as bright Though far away, as stars. And Lily was to me a star As fair as those above, As beautiful but just as far From my revengeful love. The love I bore was not exempt From hate, if this might be; I hated her for that contempt I thought she had for me. The "sour grapes" are often sweet To lips that cannot touch, And it is soothing to repeat: "It does not matter much." But O to think that fruit so dear To me in manhood's prime, Though seeming far, was clustered near And red-ripe all the time. My fault, perhaps, in Heav'n above May not be deemed a sin. I never thought that she would love Or I'd the power to win. And even now it puzzles me, The butt of station chaff, For I was plain as man could be And awkward as a calf. I would have liked to break the bow That Lily never bent, I thought she'd only laugh to know How well her shafts were sent. If my contempt had power to gall Or careless sneers to touch The heart that loved me after all, She must have suffered much. Ah! I was blind, and could not see The plain things in my way. When Lily's mistress twitted me About the "wedding day", I answered with a careless word And half-unconscious sneer, I never thought that Lily heard, Nor dreamed that she was near. We talked of other things and joked, Till tongues began to tire, Then I and Lily's master smoked Our pipes beside the fire. The day wore on, and then she brought The kettle to the hob, And as she turned to go I thought I heard a stifled sob. I spoke; she never answered me. I sneered, "I'll not forget; Above all things I hate to see A woman in a pet!", Those cruel words, that were the last That Lily ever heard, I've heard them shrieking in the blast And twittered by the bird. Deep in the creek that wandered near There lay a grassy pool, 'Neath oaks that sighed through all the year And kept the water cool. The stars that pierced the reedy bower Made water lilies bright, And underneath her sister flower Our Lily slept that night. She'd brought a pole the pool to sound (It must have tried her strength). We found it lying on the ground And wet for half its length. We found it there upon the grass, But ah! it was not all! An open prayer book lay, alas! Beside poor Lily's shawl. We drew her out and laid her down Upon a granite ledge, The water from her dripping gown Went trickling o'er the edge. Like drops into a pool of fears I saw the crystals dart, Or one by one like scalding tears That plash upon the heart. The circles died upon the shore, The frogs began to croak. The wind that passed to list once more Went sighing through the oak, The oak that seemed to say to me (I think I hear it yet), "Above all things I hate to see A woman in a pet!" The blackest thoughts are swift to fill The evil minds of men, I knew the meaning of the looks They bent upon me then; And then I did as cowards do: I vanished like a cur; For many years I never knew Where they had buried her. But, drawn by that same power that brings The slayer to the slain, Or driven like the bird that wings Against the storm in vain, I journeyed from another shore Across the weary wave And wandered by the creek once more, And sought for Lily's grave. I rode across the ridges brown And through a rocky pass, And took the track that led me down To great white flats of grass. I passed the homestead's skeleton That rotted in the sun, And by the broken stockyards on The long-deserted run. Whole beds of reeds were covered o'er With coats of yellow mud, And all along the creek I saw The traces of a flood. I reached the place where Lily died. The banks were washed away; Before me on the other side There rose a wall of clay. I saw a thing that seemed a weed Outgrowing from the "face"; I stood and marvelled that a seed Had grown in such a place. I climbed the bank, and with a rod I pushed the weed about, And from the dry and crumbling sod I saw a skull roll out! I started back from where I stood, For she was buried there! I'd seen the coffin's rotting wood. The weed was Lily's hair! They'd laid her in the rushes dank Upon a sandy bend; The floods had washed away the bank And reached the coffin's end. Ah, coward heart and conscience, too! Did I reclaim the dead? Ah, no, I did as cowards do, A second time I fled! And still I see the flying form, I see myself again, A madman riding through the storm With terror in his brain. That night the rain in torrents dashed, The sky seemed flushed with blood, And here and there the she-oaks crashed Beneath the yellow flood. And still I see the murderous sky That never seems to change, And hear the flood go growling by That thundered from the range. My inner sight as years went o'er Grew sharp instead of dull, And nearly every night I saw The coffin and the skull. Three ghastly things, unaltered still, I knew would haunt my night, I knew would fill my dreams until I buried them from sight. I journeyed to the creek once more When five long years had flown, And buried in the sand I saw A piece of fashioned stone: And bit by bit and bone by bone In those long years of rain, The cruel creek had claimed its own And buried it again! I clambered down the bank and knelt And scraped away the sand, And graven on the stone, I felt Her name beneath my hand; And in the she-oak over me The wind was sneering yet: "Above all things I hate to see A woman in a pet." Freeman's Journal ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Louis Becke [1913] They're at their age-long harvest still--the angel Death and Time-- But ebb or flow, we all must go, and leave the broken rhyme. Wide blue with whitecaps here and there--the glory of the day-- A space of seascapes wond'rous fair, in Islands far away; Faint silver on the distant reef, on skylines scarce a fleck, But fleecy clouds of blest-relief that welcome Louis Becke. Who'll miss the well-loved stuttering speech? Who'll mind the distant date When by the mast and palm-fringed beach those halting words had weight! Who'd dream those sad, kind, manly eyes, when traders were "in hilts", In summer Isles of Paradise could glint behind a Colt's? We only know "By Reef and Palm"--the world he made his own (The later wounds, without a balm, are better never known). We live and fight by day and night in carking care and strife, And take our pen in death to write the story of our life. Farewell, my friend--'twill ne'er be told--or told in printed line (Your destiny in days of old was strongly linked with mine). I trust my track shall run as true, though come it late or soon, When my name shall be missing, too, from "Some Birthdays in June". Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Lowe and Bee Hold [1916] Lowe and Bee Hold were actors twain in the days when the wars were young; They played in the towns of the black-soil plain--and went to the red, unhung. They played in the towns of the old stock route, and in sheds to "houses" fair; Till they worked their way to Narrandera and were badly stranded there. Lowe and Bee Hold were man and wife, and their daughter played Little Nell And Eva and Willie and all to life--and the rest of the frauds as well. A red-headed boy, who had joined the co., played almost every thing. (And the red-headed boy, if you'd like to know, with a struggling boss, is King!) They worked their way with a horse and trap that carried their scenery; And mostly trudged in the dust beside with their dog and their "company". (The daughter "hacted Eliza" too, with the dog for a bloodhound grim-- He played for the bones of the mutton stew--and nothing mattered to him.) Life was a farce and a comedy to the five (for the horse stood out), Whether in winter's cold and slush or the dust and heat of drought; Drought or flood (for tucker was sure), their wide world seemed all right So long as they came to a waterhole or could get the camp fire alight. Their life was a grizzly tragedy, but none of them seemed aware, Till they came, as I said, to Narrandera, and were badly stranded there. 'Twas the terrible nineteen-fourteen drought, of which you have all been told, And things looked black for the sad old horse--and blue for Lowe and Bee Hold. They camped that night on the river bank, where all was bare and dry; And the dog crept into the mud to live, and the horse lay down to die. The brave Bee Hold knocked up at last--'twas an old attack agen-- And the girl "took sick" and was queer in her head and, my oath! They acted then! Then Lowe stood up in camp and clutched at his long, drought-faded hair; He thrust his hands at the blazing stars, but he read no answer there. And Bee sat down on the blanket roll, and never a word she spoke; But the red-headed boy went into town to hunt for a doctor bloke. A doctor came, and he did what he could--though he'd been the round of the bars. (He left some silver upon a stump that shone in the light of the stars.) But Lowe broke down, and he said to his wife: "Now, God help you and me! There's only enough for the medicine, and we're out of tucker, Bee." But a teamster passed in the dawning hour who had nearly run his course, And he slung the party a fifty-four and some bran for the poor old horse! "I must lighten me load for the pinch a bit, for me leader's nearly dead; I remember seein' you actin' blokes someroheres up North," he said. Then a bushman came on a swerving horse with a dismal cattle pup-- He stood in the shade of the river gums and he loudly asked "What's up?" He forced a couple of notes on Lowe, and he shortly said, "Good day!" And vanished into the red dust-storm on his hot, blasphe-mous way. They had plenty of baking powder left; and Lowe stood up agen-- He'd have made a hit upon any stage had he acted as he did then! "Now, hang the world and the universe! And bless our country, Bee; Here is enough for the paper man and to rent the hall!" cried he. He wrote all day and he wrote all night by the light of the hurricane lamp; And the four rehearsed till they scared the blacks from that debil-debil camp! The girl was quite recovered by this and the red-headed boy in form; And they played three nights in Narrandera and they took the town by storm! They thrived in the towns of the red-soil plains, and, later on, none could guess In city suburbs--and cities, too--the reason of their success. But you'll hear of them yet on the London boards, when the war is past and by, In their Great Australian Dramatic Play: "When the Murrumbidgee's Dry". Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Mallacoota Bar [1910] Curve of beaches like a horse-shoe, with a glimpse of grazing stock, To the left the Gabo Lighthouse, to the right the Bastion Rock; Upper Lake where no one dwelleth--scenery like Italy, Lower Lake of seven islets and six houses near the sea; 'Twixt the lake and sea a sandbank, where the shifting channels are, And a break where white-capped rollers bow to Mallacoota Bar. Gabo, of the reddist granite, cut off from the mainland now-- "Gabo", nearest that the black tongue ever could get round "Cape Howe"; Gabo Island, name suggestive of a wild cape far away, And a morning gale by sunlight, or a sea and sky of grey; Gabo, where cold chiselled letters on the obelisk record How the Monumental City sank with forty souls on board. To the west the lonely forests, on the levels dense and dark Native apple tree and bloodwood, wattle, box, and stringybark; Land of tree-marked tracks and hunters--to their glory or their shame-- For a law makes Mallacoota sanctuary for native game; To the east the rugged Howe Range, running down without a scar To the mighty moving sandhills--close to Mallacoota Bar. And the folk are like their fathers--bushmen-sailors, fishermen-- And they live on fish and tan-bark, with a tourist now and then; And of hunting? Well, I know not. And what matter if we know That they did a bit o' smugglin' or o' wreckin' years ago? For I love these kindly people, and 'twill give my heart a jar When I see the figures fading on the sandbank by the bar. There's the old grey house of hardwood that seems built for mighty floods, With the broad thick slabs laid lengthwise 'twixt the great round tree-trunk studs That are slotted to receive them - and with shingles six foot long! There's the house of hand-dressed timber that is nearly half as strong, There's the rather modern cottage--but, as far as one can see Everything in Mallacoota is as clean as it can be. There are pictures in the parlour for three generations back: There are Grandfather and Granny, there are Syd, and Dave, and Jack; There is father, that is mother, one each side the mantel hung, And the girls, and bridal parties - mother, too, when she was young; That is all. Is that sufficient? 'Tis for yourself to decide-- And the girls ride after cattle, and they always ride astride. All is blue and gold this morning--green and gold and "Bar all right", And three blurred sticks under Gabo to the sunlight show the white, Bringing groceries from Eden, bringing all that we require-- Bringing flour and tea and sugar, roofing iron, and barbed wire, Copper nails, and small inventions in machinery from afar, And the little fleet of cutters run for Mallacoota Bar. And we see the green, transparent light show through the heaving brine-- Waiting with two oars stuck upright on the sand "to give 'em line". Comes the S.E.A. and, rising, pauses, swan-like, half in doubt, While her skipper from the ratlines spies the bar and goes about; "Now she comes," and "now she's coming," and, ere we know where we are, She is snug beside the sandbank inside Mallacoota Bar. Warren brings the water with him on the cutter Clara next (When he doesn't, then his language speaks a sinful spirit vext); Next the little lugger Lightning darts and misses, grounds and floats, Finds the channel with a flutter of her draggled petticoats, Snuggles up beside the Clara, clattering down her little spar, Like a naughty drab that scrambles over Mallacoota Bar. But the days are not all sunny--there are anxious times on decks, When the cutters run for shelter to the graves of ancient wrecks, Round "the Cape," or under Gabo, Tamboon, or Disaster Bay, For they won't insure the hulls that cross the 'Coota Bar to-day. But the elders of the people sadly think in days like these Of the days when strange things happened to Ike Warren's enemies; In the days of border duties there was glory to his name, Who is well liked--and mistrusted--from Green Cape to Cunninghame, Twenty years by stormy "shelters", where the festive porpoise frisks, Sailin' out of Mallacoota, buildin' trade, an' takin' risks. Risks from Acts of God--and monarchs--risks that were (and maybe are) Altogether unconnected with the weather or the bar; Wrecks were left where it was lonely; things would float, and things would strand-- Out of sight of Custom Houses, out of sight of sea or land-- To be found--or drift convenient under light of moon and star-- For the most erratic currents ran by Mallacoota Bar. No, the Bar's not always playful, nor the weather always clear, And the little Orme with six men has been overdue a year; Oh the Gippsland Lakes are kindly, and the Gippsland people good, And the widows and the orphans never shall want clothes nor food; But the Government are fossils, slow to mend and sure to mar, And the widows and the orphans blame the Mallacoota Bar. Half a mile, or rather more, from Captain's Point and Brady's Camp, Backed by rotten "native apple trees" and coast scrub, dark and damp, With a garden filled with thistles--haunted on the brightest day-- Stands a little match-board cottage, empty, going to decay (Like they build in western places--towns that end in 'gar and 'dar), With its two black, sightless windows turned to Mallacoota Bar. There's a little cliff before it, with a level verge and straight, Topped by sunny grass and shady, and a rustic fence and gate, Framed by trees that frame "the Entrance", where the white-capped rollers pour 'Tis a picture for an artist from the closed-up cottage door; From a sandbank by the "landing", looking back, the poet sees How one broken window's hidden by a handkerchief of trees. It may be a bit o' wreckin' or of smugglin' you'd prefer, But I write of young Lin Lawson and of Captain Mortimer; There the Captain built his cottage, fitting it with everything In the days when roofing iron was a costly thing to bring. The brick chimney came as ballast, and he laid the hearth with pride, And, when all was finished neatly, there the Captain brought his bride. Trading out of Mallacoota--there he bore an honoured name-- Taking wattle bark to Eden, taking fish to Cunninghame, He would venture out in weather when the others dared not go, Bring flour and tea and sugar when the Lakes' supply was low; When the back country was flooded, and the tracks were worse than bad, Captain Mortimer and Warren were the only hopes they had. Mortimer was two years married, though he didn't think it two, When he sailed for Eden taking young Lin Lawson for a crew; Young Lin Lawson--sailor-bushman, bushman-sailor like the rest On the Lakes. They would be new to my own bushmen of the west. Ah, those careless sailor-bushmen seem endowed with pluck sublime, For they can't imagine danger - when it comes they haven't time. One I know who trusts the devil, one I know who trusts the Lord, With the hatches on and battened, and the dinghy hauled on board; Both have sailed long years in safety where the Green Cape boomers break In such boxes as you'd scarcely trust your wife in on a lake. It would set you dumbly praying, if a passenger you be, Just to hear Ike Warren cursing out of Gabo in a sea. Captain Mortimer (the Em'ly) whistling some old Scottish tune, Sailed again for Mallacoota on an autumn afternoon, Rather later than was usual. He had been a deep-sea tar, And the skippers take their chances down by Mallacoota Bar. He was warned about the weather, but he always stood alone, So the Captain sailed from Eden to an Eden of his own. And the dread nor'-easter struck him, somewhere off Cape Howe, they say, And he ran for under Gabo, but let that be as it may; 'Twas a wild dark night for autumn, and it blew as it can blow; There's a rock above the Entrance, and the Bastion Rock below, And they found the Em'ly's dinghy, and some decking and a spar Some days later, on the sandbank, outside the Mallacoota Bar. He had brought a little brother from a southern town to stay, As a comfort to his young wife when the Em'ly was away; All that day they watched and waited, all that day they watched in vain, For a small white sail off Gabo that would never gleam again; All night long, white-faced and staring, she who was the sailor's star Watched the hellish phosphorescence leap on Mallacoota Bar. And next day a strange thing happened. Strange! It cannot be denied: For they saw a black speck tossing through the Entrance on the tide, Drifting in between the sandbanks, and it drifted sure as fate, Till it stranded on the shingle just below the rustic gate; And the wife ran down and seized it--it was Hope's death sign to her-- 'Twas her husband's cap--a cloth cap worn by Captain Mortimer. She is dead maybe, or married, there seemed nothing then on earth, So they bought her goods and chattels for much more than they were worth, And they drove her round to Eden, to go home to Castlemaine. And the driver says he wouldn't like to have that job again. And the sight for days thereafter that brought pain to all and each Was, each tide, Lin Lawson's father riding up and down the beach. There's the Howe Range, steep and rugged, running down to granite red, There's sunny slopes and shady, where the fishing nets are spread; There are channel posts and net poles by the sea-weed thick and strong, Where the silly shags sit watching, watching nothing all day long; There's the story of a cottage, growing ever faint and far, With its two black windows watching, watching Mallacoota Bar. Sydney Mail ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Mallacoota West [1910] A SONG OF THE TELEPHONE It is one long ring for Kiah; it is two rings for Green Cape; It is three for Gabo Island; and to have it all ship-shape, One for Eden. Four rings quicken Mallacoota's interest; And a long ring and a short one gives you Mallacoota West. Oh, the folk are never lonely that the telephone can reach! There are three undreamed of places with a telephone at each, 'Twixt the bedroom and the kitchen, to be handy night or day, For the women mostly tend it while the men folk are away. Stripping wattle-bark, or fishing, sleeper-cutting--any game; Trading in the little cutters to "the Bay" or Cunninghame, Loaded deep with bags of tan-bark--bags of wattle bark to tan Leather to make ladies's shoes or bluchers for a labouring man. It was show time up at Eden, and a gala time for all-- Some were in the pubs, others at a Cinderella Ball. On the Lakes the fish were barrelled, and the fishermen at rest-- Slumber fell on Mallacoota, and on Mallacoota West. In the west of Mallacoota, where the night was dark and deep, In her room behind the office, Mrs Allan lay asleep Until wakened by a ringing--someone ringing up in vain: Eden!--Green Cape!--Eden!--Green Cape!--and again, and yet again. "Someone ringing for a doctor." And a flash came of the days When they had to ride for doctors on those lonely tree-marked ways. And at last she rose and answered, and she must have thought it odd When a woman's voice in anguish sent the message through: "Thank God!" Voice of one who seemed with terror to be more dead than alive, And she said she was at Kiah with a little girl of five; All the folk away in Eden, and the awful bush seemed black, And the girl who had been with her had gone home and not come back. She was lonely, she was frightened, she'd been very ill indeed, And the haunting fear was on her that the bush at night can breed. She was nearing her confinement and had thought that she would die; And the terror grew upon her when she could get no reply. And she had the little girl dressed, and would send her in her fright To the nearest lonely neighbour, three bush miles off through the night. There could be no help till sunrise, when the neighbour's wife might come, Or till later in the forenoon, when her husband would be home. And so Mrs Allan held her while the small hours chilled the room-- Tired, hard working woman standing in her night dress in the gloom, Till the other one grew calmer, speaking quiet, even low, And they talked of other children they had each borne years ago. "Ring again," said Mrs Allan "if you feel too much alone. I will ring again at daybreak." and advised her to lie down. And the other woman lay down, and she slept till break of day, Just through talking to a woman more than forty miles away. Women, down in Mallacoota, must be early out of bed. Milking, cooking, making butter, and they have to bake their bread, For the fishermen and tourists, and the frequent reverend "guest"-- And their life is one hard routine, down in Mallacoota West. There's a telephone to Kiah, Green Cape, and the Gabo Light-- But down here in Mallacoota, one hears rings at dead of night-- 'Tis an angel's touch responding to the kindest deeds and best, Ringing Eden, ringing Gabo--ringing Mallacoota West. The Worker ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Martin Farrell [1894] Just before the last elections, and the chaps were fighting well Round about the Paroo River, on the borderland of hell-- But the story of the struggle doesn't matter anyhow, For a Parliament of angels couldn't save the country now. But a poor old fellow struggled to a hut one broiling day, And his ragged swag fell off him in a hopeless kind of way. He was sick and very shaky, and his eyes were blurr'd and dim-- It was plain to all the fellows that 'twas nearly up with him. He was stiff and out of tucker (all the fellows understood); He wanted medicine and rest before he wanted food. He was making for the border, underneath the blazing sun-- Old, and weak, and ill, he tottered, and but half his journey done. "If I could put the time in up at Hungerford," he said, "Until after the election--I'd be ready to be dead. I wouldn't care so much," he sighed, "my time is nearly past-- But I've got a vote for Hughie, and I s'pose 'twill be my last." And the rough and noisy bushmen gathered round. Their manner grew In a moment soft and gentle, for their hearts, of course, were true; And they said, "What's up, old fellow?" and "What can we do for you?" Then he raised his head a moment, and the tired answer came: "There is nothing you can do, lads, but I thank you, all the same; I am pretty cronk and shaky--too far gone for hell or heaven, An' the chances are I'm goin'--that I'm goin' to 'do the seven'. "But it isn't that that gripes me, an' I'll tell you what it is-- Life ain't over bright an' rosy, battlin' round in times like this; For many a year I've knocked round here, where livin' is a crime, An' couldn't get a vote--not once, tho' I tried it every time. But I got in on 'em this time, an' when I did, said I, This belongs to Hughie Langwell, an' I'll vote before I die. An' I can't reach Yantabulla--that's the thing that makes me fret. Chaps, I've got a vote for Hughie--but it ain't no monte yet." And it wasn't, chaps; he knew it. That same night he "did his seven", But no doubt the swagman's name is safe upon the list in heaven. Worker ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
May Day in Europe [1892] Bar the gates of Mammon Castle! See that troops are posted there! I have seen the crimson banner of the children of Despair! Here they come! Oh! here they come! And their eyes are cowed no longer and their bloodless lips are dumb. Here they come! Let the monarchs make a treaty, for the pregnant hours declare War against the social system by the Army of Despair! Here it comes! Oh! here it comes! Now defiant hymns are growling like the "roll of muffled drums". Here it comes! This is not the petty struggle of a State against a State, But a universal rising of the victims of the Great! Here they come! Oh! here they come! They have lived, my God! and suffered in the cabin and the slum! Here they come! They will stop the Car of Progress, for its wheels have gone too long Over human hearts while loaded with the passengers of wrong-- Here they are! Oh! here they are! They will stop the Car of Progress, for its wheels have rolled too far. Here they are! Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Me an' Mac [1920] Mack an' me was trgmpin' mates from Mulga to the sea; I won't say what I done for him, or what he done for me; But Mack an' me was trgmpin' mates on many an outside track-- I thought that we'd be mates for life, misunderstandin' Mack. We tramped from Hell to Hungerford an' shore on the Paroo, We battled on the tucker tracks, an' done some drovin', too. We poked up bullicks in the trucks from Hell to Nevermine, An' worked from Mallacoota once to Eden, drovin' swine. The yows go gossipin' ahead with all the lies they hear, The station scandals that outstink the old rams in the rear; The pigs come gruntin' up the track, old pig-mates two by two, An' stick together 'till they're pork like human mates should do. But pigs at large is gentlemen, an' pigs at large is clean; They don't go in for politics or treat an old mate mean. I little dreamed, the times we tramped by sandy plain or beach, That Mack, the days we didn't talk, was makin' up a speech. He's travelled round the world to learn "conditions" everywhere; He ain't bin down in Sydney slums to learn "conditions" there. He's travelled sleeper and saloon for weeks, but, I'll be sworn, His mind ain't travelled half a mile from Glebe, where he was born. I'm weak an' ill an' down without the spirit of a mouse; I'm lyin' in the hospital, he's lyin' in the House-- For Mack is now a Minister, the Minister for Skite; I read that he was dinin' with the Prince of Wales last night. I wrote to Mack three weeks ago, and simply called him Mack, An' asked him for a quid or two to put me on the track; I said when I got out of here I'd soon be fit for work, An' mentioned that I'd heard the drought was pretty bad round Bourke. I've got an answer from a bloke he keeps about the place To tell me that the Minister's considerin' me case... Me an' Mack was battlin' mates, in battlin' days Outback-- And so I lay awake to-night considerin' of Mack. Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Men of Hell and London East [1912] Listen to me, for a moment, though I may not say a word That you have not felt and suffered, that you have not read or heard! Standing there beneath your glare-lamps, shivering on the cold damp flags While the wheel-flung slush bespatters your poor, washed and mended rags. Washed and mended, patched and mended--coarse and colourless and creased-- Say! what fingers clicked the stitches? Men of Hell and London East! What are those that slip behind you, blurred against the blackened walls; Women-shapes whose heads are shrouded in their ragged wisps of shawls? They're the wives of coves and cobbers, dead to love and gratitude, Buying bricks of tar and shavings to warm farthing-worth's of food; Braver, stronger than the highest, reckoned lower than the beast-- They're our wives, and we are helpless, men of Hell and London East. What are they beneath the street-lamp, some with faces sharp and old, Aping hagdom! aping childhood, dancing to keep out the cold? Street-lamps in the mud reflected are their lights of fairyland, None has ever trod on grass or picked a flower with its own hand; None has ever seen the country for one little hour at least-- They're our children--they're your children, men of Hell and London East. No, not mine. You know I followed--(let me see, 'twas Sunday last)-- Two small coffins in a cheap hearse with the horses trotting fast. Oh! they hurry us in London, living, dying or the dead, But it's better over quickly, and the prayers or curses said: What use had I or my children for a parson or a priest? They were dead, and I was soulless, men of Hell and London East. And she's dying, too, the mother! God! if this be motherhood (There's a Catholic sister with her, but she will not take her food). Some of us this very winter have a chance to emigrate To a land where men are wanted--I am one, but--such is Fate! Tell me, what have I to take them--childless, wifeless and "released"-- Save a storm of bitter feelings, men of Hell and London East. Say Good-night, for I am weary, and our usual time is past; Some of you and I've been working in the dock since midnight last. We heard much of foreign nations, and our Realms Across the Seas; We hear much of strained relations and our blarsted colonies; Of the dignity of England, and of armaments increased-- What of Home, Sweet Home? Oh, tell me! Men of Hell and London East. Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Mixed [1919] Take us back to mellerdrarmer, more than twenty years ago, When our faith was yet untainted and the "gods" still ran the show; When She wasn't Bought and Paid For (you can bet yer blarsted life!) And the only lies we knew of were the Lies he Told his Wife. (Or the lies he told his friend's wife just to set that lady right, As to who her husband was with--as to where he stayed last night; To corroborate a cobber in the sinful Days of Drink, When our wives--unpoliticted--had too damn much time to think.) Take us back to mellerdrarmer, nearly thirty years ago, When the things we saw were real and the rest we didn't know; When we never dreamed that sweethearts (not the dead flat things on screens) Ever slapped each other's faces when they got behind the scenes. When the hero was a hero, and the heroine his "life", And the good stage never hinted at the pair's domestic strife; At the dirty private problem or the great eternal nag-- But I prose. The gods are whistling, "Cut it out! Up with the rag!" Send us back to mellerdrarmer, for our hearts are simple yet, And, in spite of Her Confession, 'tis the Man who Pays, you bet! Send the old Face to the Winder, let its eyeballs roll and glare-- Oh, the Lies he Told her Husband had no chance to get in there! Give us back the Wrong we hated and the Justice that we loved Ere the playwright put the problem: "Did She Fall or Was She Shoved?" (It was half-and-half, I reckon; but they'll tell you in that town That, whichever way it happened, 'twas the Woman Dragged Him Down.) Give us back our brown-cloaked outcast with the hood to hide her hair, And the local drunk who helped her in the depths of her despair. Our More Sinned against than Sinning (though the poor girl knew all through Just how many beans made seven--and the villain knew she knew). Give us back our well-dressed villain, just to show what good suits are, With his card-case, mo., and nail-knife, and his eyeglass and cigar. Club and bind and gag the hero in a cellar in a slum, With two likely souls to fix 'im--Mother Snark and Bill the Bum. Send us back the village "loony" from the sea, or from the hay, To protect the leading lady while the leading man's away. Let her cry: "I will, I must know!" Likewise: "He is in-no-cent!" Send a message to decoy her, and the gods will be content. Then, to make things doubly certain, kill the faithful servant dead; Send the witness to a rat-house, strap him down and shave his head. (He's a universal nuisance, or a danger dark and grim-- Let a few days on low diet knock the nonsense out of him.) Lastly, let the local "loony" free the hero in the slum, What time Mother Snark, repentant, makes it warm for Bill the Bum. Fish the Wronged Girl from the river by the moonbeam's misty light, Get her married to the Villain. (That'll finish him all right.) Send us Silence to our woman to the measure of her brain. (Oh, the World was Not Against Her till the "pictures" made it plain.) And, you babbling fools who always leave off just where you commence, Find, Oh, find the missing will of cabbage-garden common-sense! Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Modern Parasites [1892] I hate the wretched toady what is always bowing down, An' crawls to them as glitters in the shadow of a crown; Who'd almost grovel on the ground an' lick the very muck From boots of titled loafers what are only great by luck. I hates 'em one, I hates 'em all--I do abhor 'em quite; But, most of all, I hate that sneak, the Labour Parasite! I hate the man because he gits his joy from labour's woes, And makes us laughing-stocks, and gives a handle to our foes. When nothing's on he yells the most, an' looks the reddest look: But he's got "private business" when there's action to be took. I rather think a bitter foe on whom you can depend Is better than an enemy what dodges as a friend. We'll fight the foes of Labour's rights, and lick 'em by-an'-by, We'll lift oppression from the land, or have a liftin' try; We've got a mighty host to fight, but we must first commence With men whose pockets bring 'em down on our side of the fence. So be they damn'd in speech an' prose, and be they damn'd in song: The crawlin', sneakin' loafers what grow fat upon a wrong. The Labour Parasite when young is mostly at his club, Or, if he's poor, he earns his bread a-loafin' round a pub, At first he'll sing "God Save the Queen", an' cheer the English flag, An' rush to meet a lord, and hump the creature's carpet bag; But, when the working-man's ahead, a different man is he: He stows away his shiny tile an' yells for "Liberty". He raves of equal rights, and damns the "tyrant" with a vim, An' none of freedom's gory sons kin yell so loud as him; He hates the starve he never starved; he hates oppression's weight; He hates the gory tyrant with a blarstin'-powder hate; And he is spoilin' all the while to take a sword in hand, An' lead the toilers on, an' drive oppression from the land. To hear him rave for "bread and work", an' gasp, an' catch his breath, You'd think he'd seen his missis an' the children starve to death! You'd think his father was a man of toil, an' want, an' woe, You'd think his aged granny starved in London long ago; You'd think the social system had come on him pretty rough; But, like as not, his family is doin' right enough. So long's it fills his pockets he won't let the movement lag, An' often gets a billet on a blood an' thunder rag; He'll steep his brains in rum, and writte of wrongs he never felt, Until the paper scorches an' the type begins to melt; But when a public meeting's called, where something's to be done, He's "workin' for the people" at a place across the run. Oh yes! when time is ripe to storm the robber in his lair, And there is danger in the camp--the twicer isn't there: The Chairman gets a letter from the crawlin' lyin' skunk; To-day his aged grandmother is recently defunk, Or else the kids have measles, or there's private things at home-- And he is dreadful sorry just because he couldn't come. He's mostly got the gift of gab, an' so of course he draws-- You'd think, to hear him speak, his heart an' soul was in the cause. He lifts the crowd with parrot cries, an'--that's all very well-- A man kin yell for Freedom when he gets a bob a yell. (Give me a pound a column, and a drop to clear my throat, An' I will write the reddest song as ever poet wrote.) While grieving for the Toilers he gets fatter all the while, (His kindly smile, I notice, is a greasy kind of smile;) There's little that for Labour's cause he wouldn't sacrifice, (But, all the same, his residence is furnished very nice;) He's proud to shake a horny hand; he never gets the hump; (And yet, I notice, he prefers the platform to the stump). The Labour Parasite's the curse of this explodin' age; You'll find him now in fiction, an' you'll find him on the stage; You pay him for a novel like a fish that's got a bite, And help to fill his pockets at the theatre to-night. To get the stuff he'll stage a play on Democratic lines, And give the girls a pound a week--an' get half back in fines. And here, of course, I now admit, the people are to blame-- "The people" and "the audience" are pretty much the same-- They're sorry for the hero when he gets into a fix, And rents a garret for a while, an' has to carry bricks; And they are glad, an' cheer him, when he gets his fortune back, And loafs in his ancestral hall dressed up in shiny black. The people's too impatient yet: they will not think an' wait, But rush behind a leader if his talk is only straight; And here I give a little rule, as should be taught in school: Tho' made up of the wisest men, a crowd's an awful fool. A crowd will trust a speaker, whom a single man would fail To trust as far as one could fling a bullock by the tail. But, after all, the true and straight reformers needn't fret; No fear but what the Sons of Toil will find the best men yet, An' foller them, an' stick to them, an' strike beside 'em too: A man can mostly reach the van, when he is straight an' true. But in the fight, I rather think, our rifles will not fail To sight the Labour Parasite, a-sittin' on the rail. Truth ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
More Echoes from the Old Museum [1892] A merry lot of lunies in a Government asylum-- That Upper House of "Fossils", as the working classes style 'em. The present writer lately was constrained to write about 'em, He wants to know the reason why we cannot do without 'em. We analyzed the Fossilized. and from their talk selected Some reasons why the People's Bill by them should be rejected; And, as a fresh incentive to consign them to the d----, We give some more examples of their everlasting drivel. First we see the mighty Lucas--man of weight among his brothers-- Rise to add his wretched drivel to the drivel of the others; And he said "I think--" (Great Homer! Pray excuse the muse for winking! Shades of all the ancient wizards! Just imagine Lucas thinking!) 'Cording to his speech, he rather seemed to think it was a pity That they couldn't have the measure mutilated in committee; "Necessary alterations...thought desirable," he muttered-- But we scarcely see the reason for the utters that he uttered; He desired (at least we think so--for his words appear to show it) That the Bill be mutilated till its father wouldn't know it. Then another Jewish ruler of the working people's Tophet-- Rather bolder than his fellows--rose and claimed to be a prophet; When the late reforms were started, breaking down the old class-fences, He and other men predicted the most fearful consequences; He regards attempted changes in the sacred "Constitution" As the reddest kind of treason, leading up to revolution; Others threatened, others cautioned, but the Jew put no restrictions On his fancy. What the dickens do we care for his predictions? He, perhaps, for selfish reasons fears the Democratic shake-ups. (If the crimson flag was hoisted 'twould be bad for prophets such as Jacobs.) And then "Senile de Salis" rose--another hoary filcher, And spoke awhile in favour of the "'on and learned Pilcher". He wept for bleeding PROPERTY--this venerable talker; He gave a case in point--he took the case of Mr Walker, Who robbed the toilers of the world, to leave his heirs in clover, And went to Heaven, having died a millionaire twice over. They paid one hundred thousand (Salts says), in income taxes; "And didn't such a man deserve his extra votes?" he axes; "Attacks on PROPERTY portend the ruin of the nation;" And--well, in short. he "would support Financial Reformation". Then another fossil--Bowker--waking from his mental slumber, Gravely tells us that "the working people are the greatest number", Property supports the workman; and he wants it understood, sir, That he'll always vote for measures which will work the greatest good, sir; But he asks the same old question that the rich have asked for ages, "Now, if Property is ruined. how can workingmen get wages?" For the House to pass the measure would, he thinks, be "suicidal", "Property's the 'ma' of wages" (Property is Bowker's idol); '"Twas his duty to the country, and the Queen across the ocean, To oppose the second reading." He would "vote against the motion". And behold! As writ in Hansard, 'twas the "Sheepish Shepherd's" pleasure To have "very great objections to the clauses of the measure"; "Property" was "overlooked"! (Good Lord! how property lies bleeding,) Therefore, it was his intention to "oppose the second reading". He has had control of workmen since he was a little kiddy, And he has "got no objection to the workers". Neither did he In the past or in the present--this the substance of his gabble-- "Ever look upon the Workers, as a class, objectionable"; And he talks of thieves and loafers being voters,--rot and gammon: For the real Loafers, suffrage is the Robber-vote of Mammon. A Wesleyan rose with gabble--on1y fitted for his hearers; He lied about our leaders: lied about the Queensland shearers; He, who claims to teach the lessons of the father and the teacher, Rose to lie about his brother; slandered mankind like--a preacher. And still they talked, and yet they talked: for then another wizard-- It was the Seer of Windsor--rose with something in his gizzard; And boss of all the arguments was that which he selected 'Twas that the Bill would stop some gents from being re-elected; But let the people wait and hope--a coming time shall free 'em From the reservoirs of drivel in the stagnant old museum. And so the People's Bill was squashed, and "Moneybags" exulted. The people and the people's friends were slandered and insulted. One-Man-One-Vote it may not be, but if the wealthy trifle With Labour's rights and God's decree, we'll try "One-Man-One-Rifle". We have another boat afloat, and plenty hands to pull it; And if it ain't "One-Man-One-Vote," 'twill be--"One-Man-One-Bullet". Truth ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Mudgee Town [1911] (To be read or sung with a touch of the brogue.) I'm not standing on the platform for the gaping fools to see: Every train that comes to Mudgee is an empty train to me-- Ah! me boy was quite contented to stay West and settle down, Till the damned Progress Committee brought the railway to the town. I am sitting by the river, list'ning to the sad old song, Where a sigh seems floating ever down the willowed Cudgegong-- Oh! I hate the cruel cuttings an' embankments round Mount Frime, For they took me sweetheart from me and they took my heart from home. For he went by rail to Sydney, an' he ne'er come back again; An' he left, where my poor heart was, just a dull an' useless pain. Oh! his arm was firm around me, an' his eyes were truest brown-- An' I curse the day whin Progress brought the railway to the town. On the old coach road to Sydney there's a mile-tree by the track, With a green branch pointing forward, an' a dead branch pointing back; An' the granite peaks behind it seem to wait in vain and frown-- They were grand before misfortune brought the rail to Mudgee Town! I was fresher in me girlhood--yes! an' greener than the bough, But me hands an' heart are withered, an' me life's the dead branch now. Ah! I wonder does he flourish? Does his path lie up or down? Does he curse the day whin fortune brought the rail to Mudgee Town? Ah, I used to know in those days that a woman's heart could ache, But I niver b'lieved the rubbish that woman's heart could break-- Ah, but my heart was a girl's heart! an' a lovin' heart at worst, An' a true heart to a devil! an' I know that that can burst. Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Murphy [1922] I never thought I'd drag my pen through politics again, But certain dear good friends of mine have Murphy on the brain. And Murphy is a good French name as you will all agree, Besides a mate believes in him and that's enough for me-- So vote for Cecil Murphy in the morning. He was two years in Parliament when times were pretty grim-- He must be fairly straight because I never heard of him. He'll build a bridge to Hell and back and put the tunnel through; He'll wake up old North Sydney, and, Good Lord, it wants it too. So vote for Cecil Murphy in the morning. He taught a school in Regent Street, and that should be a test; And he has been a corporal and cobbers with the best. I don't know what it's all about. I thihk we never shall-- I simply ask each fellow mug and cobber, skirt and pal To vote for Cecil Murphy in the morning. I never voted in my life--I'd rather breast the bar, Though I might jolt a "Minister" "when I touch my guitar". I've never been in Parliament because I never tried, But I'm for any one that's out and wants to get inside. So vote for Cecil Murphy in the morning. All little men are little men when standing in a row, But some of them can fight all right (I fought one and I know), And what is needed in the House is just a blooming row-- And Murphy is a likely name, so make your minds up now-- And vote for little Murphy in the morning. Henry Lawson by His Mates ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Ned's Delicate Way [1892] Ned knew I was short of tobacco one day, And that I was too proud to ask for it; He hated such pride, but his delicate way Forbade him to take me to task for it. I loathed to be cadging tobacco from Ned, But, when I was just on the brink of it; 'I've got a new brand of tobacco", he said-- "Try a smoke, and let's know what you think of it." Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Nemesis [1904] It is night-time when the saddest and the darkest memories haunt, When outside the printing office the most glaring posters flaunt, When the love-wrong is accomplished. And I think of things and mark That the blackest lies are written, told, and printed after dark. 'Tis the time of "late editions". It is night when, as of old, Foulest things are done for hatred, for ambition, love and gold. Racing from the senseless city down the dull suburban streets, Come again the ragged newsboys yelping with their paltry sheets, Lying posters meaning nothing, double columns meaning less, Twisted facts and reckless falsehoods, dodges of the Daily Press. In the town the roar and rattle of the great machines once more, Greedy for the extra penny, while the "Public" howls for war. War because of one poor blunder made in panic far away, While a thousand men were lying on the battlefield to-day: Dead heaped on the helpless dying, blinded eyes and brains that swim, Parched or choked with their own life-blood, battered head and broken limb. Wounds too ghastly to be pictured. Things to seem like men no more, Crying out to Christ for water, and oblivion, that is war. And the poets of the nation, singing-birds or carrion-birds, Bluff with cheap alliteration and the boom of empty words, Catch the crowd with cheating phrases, as a jingo laureate flings Recklessly his high defiance in the "grinning teeth of Things". They pretend to lead who follow this day's crowd with lying tact; Let them fling their high defiance in the stony face of Fact. And so Russia, maimed and baited, seeing nought but storm to come, Sailed upon a desperate venture, cursed by treachery at home; Seeing danger in each shadow, thinking doubtless now and then Of the swift fate of her warship with its seven hundred men; And she struck out in the darkness at the ally of her foe, Struck out blindly as a wounded dying bear might strike a blow. Ah, we well might howl for vengeance, we who killed for killing's sake, Murdered helpless men in daylight, in cold blood by no mistake, We who burnt the homes of women when the nights were cold and damp; We who murdered little children in the concentration camp! (When the farmers downed the lion for a season in his pride, Say, did Russia take advantage then, while England's hands were tied?) Wipe away the blood that binds you!, struggle to your feet again, Shake them from your shoulders, Ivan, Ivan nearly mad with pain. You must fight it single-handed on the deck or in the trench. Look not to the boorish German! Look not to the fickle French! Rather look to blinded England when her sight is clear again. (And remember in the future there is chivalry in Spain.) Scoff at Russia on the ocean and her helplessness forget, But on land the braggart Mongol has not done with Ivan yet; He's a fierce and cruel tyrant (we are not as others are); But his slaves would die by thousands for their country and the Czar, While a single broken column drags a battery through the mire, And a single battered cruiser has a gun that she can fire. Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Ninety-one and Ninety-two [1920] A MORNING GHOST STORY The Lone Hand asked me for a song, To publish when the year is old, And so I puzzled all night long For something set in green and gold-- (Or blue and gold)--yet smart and bright, The very best that I can do; But not the stuff I used to write In Ninety-one and Ninety-two. I sought no sad house by the sea, No lone grave in the afterglow; I sought no "dead girl's memory"-- (We all had dead girls, long ago); No vanished mate I tried to bring-- Where living mates are much the same-- And all that day I strove to sing The clever thing that never came. The song I've dreamed about of late, Of work held low and dreams held high! The Song of Passion, Love and Hate, (Yet with no poison in the pie), A song of strength and martyrdom, And not of saint nor engineer; A song of other Christs to come-- To finish with a god-like sneer. But Ninety-one and Ninety-two Were very faint and far away; The honest things we used to do, Seemed childish things the other day. And so I hunted through the night For something simple, plain and true-- Some verses like I used to write In Ninety-one and Ninety-two. I sought a common public bar Up somewhere on the Northern Shore, To drown the thoughts of days afar And simple songs that come no more; And there he sat with whiskers white And faded dog and faded swag-- He must have travelled all that night To fill a phantom tucker-bag. The beer he drank seemed spectral, too-- I scarcely thought that it was beer; His eyes were very bright and blue, His face was very fresh and clear. (The dog went underneath a seat To wait for what the day might bring; They seemed to come back all complete To teach the song I cannot sing.) His voice was startling--clear and sharp, In beer-stained air 'twixt dingy walls; (Yet something had it of the harp That sounds no more through Tara's Halls.) He said, "I met yer West o' Bourke-- 'Twas Ninety-one when I met you; You useter rousabout--an' work At poetry at night-time, too. "When we cut out and made for town-- Or blued our cheques and went on tramp-- We'd hear yer walkin' up and down An' croakin' songs outside the camp. I nigh remembered all yer stuff It useter make the chaps rejoice; Yer poetry was right enough-- But Jumpin' Sawpits! Wot a voice! "I useter know yer father too, In Mudgee Hills--Ah, many a year; He'd trouble ten times worse nor you-- I never saw him tackle beer. You're only fifty-three an' all-- I never seen a case so bad-- He'd take his wedges an' his maul, An' go an' fight it down, my lad! "You used to work--an' well yer might; An' you could build an' fence and plough, You hated loafin', beer an' skite-- Now tell me what yer doin' now? I've seen them go, dead an' alive, In town an' country an' Out-Back; An' look at me! I'm eighty-five-- Git up from there and take the Track." That morning's barmaid on "the Shore"-- She served the old man like a prince-- I'd never seen her there before, And I have never seen her since. She brought some water for his dog, A thing that barmaids seldom do-- It all reminded me of Bourke And Ninety-one and Ninety-two. I dreamed in peace--or boozy fog, Till wakened by a hand unseen-- The old man, and his swag and dog, Had gone as though they'd never been. But at my elbow on the bar, There stood a new-born mug of beer; I really thought the Western Star Glowed in its amber, deep and clear. The Lone Hand asked me for a song, To publish when the year is old; And so I hunted all day long For something framed in green and gold. Perhaps an echo, or a note, Will find me when the year is new Of something like the things I wrote In Ninety-one and Ninety-two. Lone Hand ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
O Cupid, Cupid; Get Your Bow! [1889] Arming down along the stream, Along the sparkling water, And past the pool where lilies gleam, There comes the squatter's daughter. Her eyes are kind; her lips are warm; And like a flower her face is; The habit shows her bonny form As graceful as a Grace's. O I'll be mad of love, I know; My head she'll surely addle; O Cupid, Cupid; get your bow; And shoot her from the saddle! For, like a bird on breezes waft, She quickly, quickly passes; O Cupid, Cupid, draw your shaft; And bring her to the grasses! O she is worthy game for you; And there is none to match her. So, Cupid, send your arrow true; And I'll be there to catch her! Town and Country Journal ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Old Joe Swallow [1894] Old Joe Swallow, with his short clay pipe-- With his hat pushed back from his brow-- He loves for to linger by the hut fireside, And pitch about the old days now. CHORUS: Old Joe Swallow, in the days gone by, When his form was as straight as a lance-- He'd bring bright sparkles to each bush girl's eye When he came to the gay bush dance. There wasn't a drover in the back countree With old Joe Swallow as could ride: With a flick of his stockwhip he could cut the brand Clear out of an outlaw's hide. With his cabbage-tree hat on the back of his head, Strapped breeches, and bright red sash, And his devil-care style--in the days that are dead Young Joe Swallow cut a dash. Says old Joe Swallow: "Ah! them days is dead-- Them rare old times gone by!" And he pauses a moment just to shake his head, For the smoke gits into his eye. CHORUS: Old Joe Swallow, in the days gone by, When your form was straight and tall, You'd bring bright sparkles to each lassie's eye When you came to the gay bush ball. Worker ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Old North Sydney [1904] They're shifting old North Sydney, Perhaps 'tis just as well, They're carting off the houses Where the old folks used to dwell. Where only ghosts inhabit They lay the old shops low; But the Spirit of North Sydney, It vanished long ago. The Spirit of North Sydney, The good old time and style, It camped, maybe, at Crow's Nest, But only for a while. It left about the season, Or at the time, perhaps, When old Inspector Cotter Transferred his jokes and traps. A brand new crowd is thronging The brand new streets aglow Where the Spirit of North Sydney Would gossip long ago. They will not know to-morrow, Tho' 'twere but yesterday, Exactly how McMahon's Point And its ferry used to lay. The good old friendly spirit Its sorrows would unfold, When householders were neighbours And shop-keeping was old; But now we're busy strangers, Our feelings we restrain, The Spirit of North Sydney Shall never come again! North Shore and Manly Times ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Old Portraits [1915] Though you tramp the wide land over, Though you sail in many climes, There is nothing half so precious As the portraits of old times; Of old Grandfather and Granny In the clothes that then were worn; Of the house that knew our boyhood, Or the hut where we were born. Of our parents, stiff and staring, In some portrait-taker's den, On the morning of their wedding-- God, they've seen some times since then! O they wake the dead within us, And they bring us back at last To the courage of our fathers And the best part of the past. Lone Hand ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Old Southerly Buster Gets Lost [1914] At seven o'clock last night a red light was shown on the G.P.O. tower, indicating the approach of a southerly. Before long the light disappeared, suggesting that the arrival of the southerly had been postponed on account of the weather. At eight o'clock the heat had gone up to 80 deg. --Sydney Sun Southerly Buster turned up next evening well and hearty, and proceeded at once to his business of clearing and cooling the stifling atmosphere of the city. --H. L. Oh have you not heard-- And the thing seems absurd, Though the citizens knew to their cost-- As they dragged through the street In the sweltering heat-- That Old Southerly Buster was Lost! Oh! we stared for an hour At the Post Office tower, Where the red lamp was plainly in view; Where it hangs from the rope Like a signal of hope When Old Southerly Buster is due. But as certain as Fate, He was half an hour late; And blankly we turned to the sea; For we couldn't make out, As we turned us about, Where Old Southerly Buster could be! But early next night We were filled with delight, As we gazed on the harbour afoam, For we felt--and we knew By the paper that flew, That Old Southerly Buster was home! Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Old Tunes [1897] When friends are listening round me, Jack, to hear my dying breath, And I am lying in a sleep they say will end in death, Don't notice what the doctor says, and let the nurse complain, I'll tell you how to rouse me if I'll ever wake again. Just you bring in your fiddle, Jack, and set your heart in tune, And strike up "Annie Laurie", or "The Rising of the Moon"; And if you see no token of a rising in my throat, You'll need to brace your mouth, old man--I'm booked by Charon's boat. And if you are not satisfied that I am off the scene, Strike up "The Marseillaise", or else "The Wearing of the Green"; And should my fingers tremble not, then I have crossed the line, But keep your fingers steady, Jack, and strike up "Auld Lang Syne". Freeman's Journal ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
On Looking Through an Old Punishment Book [1914] AT EURUNDEREE SCHOOL A DIRGE I took the book of punishment, And ran its columns down; I started with an open brow And ended with a frown; I noted long-forgotten names-- They took me unaware; I noted old familiar names. But my name wasn't there! I thought of what I might have been, And Oh! my heart was pained To find, of all the scholars there, That I was never caned! I thought of wasted childhood hours, And a tear rolled down my cheek-- I must have been a model boy, Which means a little sneak! "Oh, give me back my youth again!" Doc Faustus used to say-- I only wish the Powers could give My boyhood for a day. A model boy! Beloved of girls! Despised by boys and men! But it comforts me to think that I've Made up for it since then. Newspaper Cutting ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
On the March [1904] So the time seems come at last, And the drums go rolling past, And above them in the sunlight Labour's banners float and flow; They are marching with the sun, But I look in vain for one Of the men who fought for freedom more than fifteen years ago. They were men who did the work Out at Blackall, Hay, and Bourke-- They were men who fought the battle that the world shall never know; And they vanished one by one When their bitter task was done-- Men who worked and wrote for freedom more than fifteen years ago. Some are scattered, some are dead, By the shanty and the shed, In the lignum and the mulga, by the river running low; And I often wish in vain I could call them back again-- Mates of mine who fought for freedom more than fifteen years ago. From the country of their birth Some have sailed and proved their worth; Some have died on distant deserts, some have perished in the snow. Some are gloomy, bitter men, And I meet them now and then-- Men who'd give their lives for Labour more than fifteen years ago. Oh, the drums come back to me, And they beat for victory, But my heart is scarcely quickened, and I never feel the glow; For I've learnt the world since then, And the hopelessness of men, And the fire it burnt too fiercely more than fifteen years ago. Lucky you who still are young, When the rebel war-hymn's sung, And the sons of slaves are marching with their faces all aglow, When the revolution comes And the blood is on the drums-- Oh! I wish the storm had found me more than fifteen years ago! Bear the olden banner still! Let the nations fight who will! 'Tis the flag of generations--the flag that all the peoples know; And they'll bear it, brave and red, Over ancient rebel dead, In the future to the finish as a thousand years ago! Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
On The Night Train [1922] Have you seen the bush by moonlight, from the train, go running by? Blackened log and stump and sapling, ghostly trees all dead and dry; Here a patch of glassy water; there a glimpse of mystic sky? Have you heard the still voice calling--yet so warm, and yet so cold: "I'm the Mother-Bush that bore you! Come to me when you are old"? Did you see the Bush below you sweeping darkly to the Range, All unchanged and all unchanging, yet so very old and strange! While you thought in softened anger of the things that did estrange? (Did you hear the Bush a-calling, when your heart was young and bold: "I'm the Mother-bush that nursed you; Come to me when you are old"?) In the cutting or the tunnel, out of sight of stock or shed, Did you hear the grey Bush calling from the pine-ridge overhead: "You have seen the seas and cities--all is cold to you, or dead-- All seems done and all seems told, but the grey-light turns to gold! I'm the Mother-Bush that loves you--come to me now you are old"? Birth ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
On the Summit of Mount Clarence [1890] On the top of Mount Clarence, Albany, W.A., stands a tall flagstaff, which was erected for signalling purposes before the telephone was laid from the town to Breaksea Island. Wherefore the Muse: On the summit of Mount Clarence rotting slowly in the air Stands a tall and naked flagstaff, relic of the Russian scare, Russian scare that scares no longer, for the cry is "All is well", Yet the flagstaff still is standing like a lonely sentinel. And it watches through the seasons, winter's cold and summer's heat, Watches seaward, watches ever for the phantom Russian fleet. In a cave among the ridges, where the scrub is tall and thick With no human being near him dwells a wretched lunatic: On Mount Clarence in the morning he will fix his burning eyes, And he scans the sea and watches for the signal flag to rise; In his ears the roar of cannon and the sound of battle drums While he cleans his gun and watches for the foe that never comes. And they say, at dreary nightfall, when the storms are howling round Comes a phantom ship to anchor in the waters of the "Sound", And the lunatic who sees it wakes the landscape with his whoops, Loads his gun and marches seaward at the head of airy troops, To the summit of Mount Clarence leads them on with martial tread, Fires his gun and sends the Russians to the mustering of the dead. Boomerang ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
One-Man-One-Vote [1891] "ONE-MAN-ONE-VOTE!" You hear the people shouting. The walls of Mammon tremble ere they fall. ONE-MAN-ONE-VOTE! Is this a time for doubting? The poets have been prophets after all. ONE-MAN-ONE-VOTE! The cry is growing stronger! ONE-MAN-ONE-VOTE! It echoes o'er the wave! ONE-MAN-ONE-VOTE! The Wealthy dead no longer Shall rule us through their children from the grave! ONE-MAN-ONE-VOTE! The knell of Retrogression! The greatest triumph of the tongue and pen! ONE-MAN-ONE-VOTE! The right of long possession Is right no longer in the minds of men! ONE-MAN-ONE-VOTE! There's lightning in the thunder! ONE-MAN-ONE-VOTE! The reign of Greed is o'er! ONE-MAN-ONE-VOTE! The cursed Vote of Plunder Shall rule the plundered slaves of earth no more. ONE-MAN-ONE-VOTE! We're waking from our slumbers, ONE-MAN-ONE-VOTE! To rule the fields we farmed! If thus we triumph with diminished numbers, What will the triumph be when all are armed? Worker ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Only a Sod [1887] "A party of Irish immigrants arrived at a Melbourne wharf the other day. The first thing one of them, a young man, did was to open his box and take out a hard-baked sod which he gave to an old woman (evidently the mother of some of them), who received them on the wharf. She kissed it and 'blessed herself'. It was part and parcel with the grand ould sod to which her heartstrings clung."--Melbourne Newspaper. It's only a sod, but 'twill break me ould heart Nigh hardened wid toilin' and carin', And make the ould wounds in it tingle and smart. It's only a sod, but it's parcel and part Of strugglin', sufferin' Erin. It's only a sod, but it rakes the ould pain-- The ould love in me heart that still lingers, That Time has been soothing and docth'ring in vain; And now he must soothe it and heal it again Wid his kindly and gentle ould fingers. It's only a sod, but I see a big ship Through the gallopin' waters come tearin', And a lass that looks back on the horizon dip, Wid eyes full of tears and a thrimblin' lip, On the last that she saw of ould Erin. It's only a sod, but wid care it will keep Till me brooms and me brushes are silint Put it into me arms ere they bury me deep, And tell them old Biddy the "slavey" does sleep 'Neath a sod from the bogs of ould Irlint. Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Optimistic [1915] The German troops are said to be far from optimistic. --S.M. Herald Now, while our hopes go up and down, And Evan's line is shaken, Thank God, there is one Russian town The Germans haven't taken! Though Warsaw fell in evil days, Our friends antagonistic (The Sydney Morning Herald says) Are far from Optimistic. With silver spires and golden domes It stands against the dawning, Its mat the snow that softly comes, The grey clouds for an awning; A town of fantasy and dreams, A city realistic-- For many later years, it seems, I've dwelt in Optimistic. Though brightest hopes are over all, Though storm or battle rages; The pessimistic cities fall, In peace or war through ages; But I will take my oath (and back My words in combat-fistic), No matter where the foes attack, They won't take Optimistic. Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Otherside [1891] Somewhere in the mystic future, on the road to Paradise, There's a very pleasant country that I've dreamed of once or twice, It has inland towns, and cities by the ocean's rocky shelves, But the people of the country differ somewhat from ourselves; It is many leagues beyond us, and they call it Otherside. And there is among its people more Humanity than Pride. Now, a social system never was complete, without a flaw, And among the Othersiders there is love and gold and war. But if one is fairly beaten he can turn upon the track, For in such a case there isn't any shame in going back; And a broken-hearted mortal never thinks of suicide, For he finds amongst his brothers more Humanity than Pride. And the lords of that creation never scoff at simple things, Never scorn the lad who's tethered to his mother's apron-strings. He will speak of "home" and "mother" without shame when he's inclined, Yet the blow he strikes in battle mostly leaves a mark behind. They are brave against invasion; they can die in Otherside, Though there is among the people more Humanity than Pride. Poets sing in simple language that a child might understand, Yet their songs are sung for ages by the elders of the land; And the people know that Freedom never shall be wanting guards, For the foremost in the vanguard waves the banner of the Bards. O the poets march together, and at home in peace abide, For there is amongst the people more Humanity than Pride. And when I am very weary, 'neath a load of "worldly care", There are times when I've a longing just to hump my bluey there; But alone I could not reach it, for the track is barred to one-- I must take the nations with me--all mankind must go, or none-- And we'd trample one another on the way to Otherside, For I find among my brothers less Humanity than Pride. Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Our Children's Land [1892] [A NATIONAL HYMN] Children of the South, march onward! for they come the land to bleed With the cruel whip of Hunger and the brazen lies of Greed. See the landlord's fences stretching o'er the plain and thro' the gums. See the building of the mansions and the spreading of the slums. Roll a wave of battle music thro' the wide Australian West, Till it finds the furthest bushman; till it fires his lowly breast. Brave the wealthy people's fury! claim the rights that they begrudge! Have the angels for a jury and the King of All for Judge. It is not so much the present as the future that we fight. Time may see the Southern peasant sink beneath the heel of Might. Children of the South, march onward! for your country's cause is grand. You are loyal to Creation, fighting for your children's land. Break away from foul old systems while you yet are young and strong. Spread the truth till tens of thousands march together hating wrong. Slowly, surely, and resistless, thro' the rising arch of dawn, As the floods flow down the Darling, let the tide of truth flow on. Send a peal of battle music thro' the breadths of this wide land Till it croons across the borders where the lowly homesteads stand. Till the poet reads, in fancy, INDEPENDENCE! written high In the grassy leaves of sheoaks traced against a sunset sky. Freeman's Journal ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Out on the Roofs of Hell [1898] Sing us a song in this cynical age, Sing us a song, my friend, While the Flesh and the Devil are all the rage And Death seems the only end. Give it the clatter of hoof-clipped bones And a note like a dingo's yell, And the long, low sigh when the big mob moans Out on the roofs of hell. For Wool, Tallow, and Hides and Co., For Wool, Tallow, and Hides, Over the roofs of hell we go For Wool, Tallow, and Hides. We take the route or we take the track, Hell-doomed by the greed of man, And we leave our wives in the scrubs out back To struggle as best they can. For the credit is short and the flour is low, And this is the tale we tell, A check must be made and the stock must go Over the roofs of hell. Wake ere the burst of the great white sun Into the blazing skies, Our limbs are stiff and the lids are gummed Over our blighted eyes. But our souls have perished in dust and heat, And this is the tale we tell, Our lives are ever a grim retreat With Death on the roofs of hell. They drivel and say how the bushman drinks, But what do the townsfolk know? The life is a hell to the man who thinks, He must drink or his reason go. Drink and drink, as the bushman knows, Till he strip to the skin and yell; Down for a change! for a rest! he goes Down through the roofs of hell. For Wool, Tallow, and Hides and Co., For Wool, Tallow, and Hides, Down through the roofs of hell they go For Wool, Tallow, and Hides. Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Over the Ranges and Into the West [1890] Let others sing praise of their sea-girted isles, But give me the bush with its limitless miles; Then it's over the ranges and into the West, To the scenes of wild boyhood; we love them the best. We'll ride and we'll ride from the city afar, To the plains where the cattle and sheep stations are; Where stockmen ride hard, and the drover starts forth On his long, lonely journey 'way up in the North. When your money is low, and your luck has gone down, There's no place so lone as the streets of a town; There's nothing but worry, and dread and unrest, So we'll over the ranges and into the West. The drought in the West may spread ruin around, But the dread drought of life in the city is found; And I'd far sooner tread on the long dusty way, Where each one you meet says, "Good day, mate, good day." Freeman's Journal ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Owed and Paid to a Bottle [1910] I've sung of the wattle Since long, long ago; But an ode to the bottle Is the ode that I owe-- An ode to a bottle, And I ought to know. I've carried it home On nights dark and wild, Well hugged to my bosom, Like a mother her child. I've fought for it raging And fought for it mild. I've stuck to it empty, When friends were in vain, Till I had the tray bit To fill it again. And it stuck to me Both in sunshine and rain. I've sung of the wattle Since long, long ago; But a song to the bottle Is the song that I owe-- An ode to a bottle, And I ought to know. Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Paddy the Ram [1917] Paddy-the-Ram was a cankered spud and he was a matured egg, With a leg that went straight as a leg might go, and a sort of a circular leg. He worked his way with his shoulder blades, and his turret would sometimes jamb; And he screwed his dial at every step; and that was Paddy-the-Ram. He'd shout for himself and he'd bum for beer, and tobacco he'd seldom buy, But Paddy-the-Ram was the Only Joke in the township of Blankydry. He'd shake his stick and he'd snort contempt and his mildest word was damn, Till the constable as a last resource would lock up Paddy-the-Ram. The folks had gathered one day in force to watch the train go through, As they mostly do in the country towns (it's the only thing to do), When the Constable's toddler fell on the line, perhaps because of the cram; And no one thought of the special train, and none saw Paddy-the-Ram. But a figure leapt from the platform's edge, at the mother's piercing cry, And snatched the child from between the rails as the special thundered by. "Who is the hero?" the people cried, and they saw it was Wilson's Sam-- The grocer's son of the blameless life. And it wasn't Paddy-the-Ram. 'Twas the parson's daughter who slipped one day on the treacherous river bank; And the townsfolk watched, with their faces grey, while twice in the stream she sank. But a swimmer clutched at her long wet hair and he towed her safe to the dam. 'Twas the draper's assistant who went to church. And it wasn't Paddy-the-Ram. No. I can't make a hero of Paddy-the-Ram, though Paddy-the-Ram is dead, And a constable wrote in his pocketbook the very last words he said: His views were large, but he died in charge, and he died in a Sydney tram Of rum and whisky and beer and bash--and he finished Paddy-the-Ram. Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Peace? [1918] Now is all business stopped, and work and traffic, To give a doubly needless holiday; Now do cold-footers howl and yell and "maffick" And "flappers" fling all modesty away. This is the Antis' day, the day for Shirkers, And racecourse scum, and touts--and worse than they-- For monkey tricks that shame all honest workers, And pranks no decent larrikin would play. The senseless jangle wakes the senseless city, And, till the night, no wit nor humour clean-- No gleam of real sentiment or pity, Or nations's pride illuminates the scene. And, to complete it all, from alleys rotten, Where nought save memories of vice remain, The wretched "talent" and the long forgotten Slum "push" creep out into the light again. They bleat their ignorance to walls that smother, While beach and breaker call for them aloud; And sad-eyed strangers--strangers to each other-- Our soldiers go unnoticed through the crowd. Our soldiers pass, unnoticed and unheeding-- These are no more to them than "dugout rats"-- They only dream of working and succeeding And shake confetti from their honoured hats. (The dear old face, crape-framed, but wanly brightened-- God-shielded on the kerb she stands alone-- The dear old faith--her load to-day is lightened; The dear old smile--her pride is all her own. All this is for her sons, she thinks; and hither She drifted with the crowd, a tiny blur. Mother of Men! Are shades of soldiers with her? Does any of this rabble notice her?) Now will each practised turncoat and seceder, Of any class or party, clique or sect, Say to his followers: "You can trust your leader! Did I not tell you what you might expect?" This is the time the perfect politician Is always on the platform (and the job); And glib, and smug in his assured position He periods the obvious to the mob. Now will the Parties rave, and every faction, And fighting sect, devoid of gratitude, Refreshed by four years' rest go into action With all its old vindictiveness renewed. Now we shall hear the things that danger banished, The selfish crank, the shrieking suffragette; And all such nightmares that we thought had vanished Shall rush upon our sleep--lest we forget! I ask myself: "Are these the things they fought for? The boys who trained and gripped and died like men?" I ask myself: "Are these the things we wrought for?" And think of long grim battles with the pen. I raise my window sash, and sit and wonder, While gazing upwards at the starry dome, Will men say in their hearts, that grand sky under-- "If this be peace, God send us war at home?" Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Pictures [1919] She is washing up dishes at home now And cooking the dinner--all but. She has no inclination to roam now That her "world" and "the pictures" are shut. No more may she stare at that other False world, for her dummies are still; Unmarried, she's helping her mother, Or, married, she's mending for Bill. No longer she wastes half her days now In smothering darkness and heat, Contemplating the Woman that Pays, now, As shown on a Yankeefied sheet, Where all life is pictured above her, And nothing is true or alive-- Where the glory and shame of all lovers Are aped that a showman may thrive. (Oh! the cunning impostors that screen them, To work unspeakable harm! "Jest as if yer jest ackshilly seen 'em!" As squawked by the girl from the farm. Ask hundreds of fathers and mothers To show what such teaching has done-- The runaway girl with her story; The runaway boy with the "gun".) She is mending a sheet or a curtain; She finds it a novelty, too, And she grows more uncertain--or certain-- As to what a "reel hero" would do. She is cutting Bill's lunch in the morning; She has brushed the brick-dust from his coat; No more she regards him with scorning As he plods down the hill to the boat. He has stuck to his mates and the missis; He has toiled in the city and bush-- Were the heroes of smoodging and kisses Much nobler than Bill and his "push"? She is done with all flappers and friskers, She is thinking of Mum in her prime; She remembers that Dad, in his whiskers, Was different once on a time. ?? longer the handsome white-slaver Lurks round where the shadows are still, Just to drop on her sudden and save her From washing-up dishes--and Bill. She arranges the plates on the dresser She used to stick up anyhow. Though she does not know it (God bless her!), Oh, she is a picture-girl now. Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Possum" [1890] A LAY OF NEWCHUMLAND Will you allow me space in your columns to refer to a social question of some importance, and that is with regard to the utterly reckless way in which young men are drafted off from England to Australia! Not a steamer reaches us in the colonies without bringing scores of these unfortunates, who are simply run out of their homes by their parents. The situations they occupy in the colonies are potato-peelers at inferior hotels, washers-up at sixpenny restaurants, billiard markers and similar menial and degrading positions. Let anyone take a turn along the Yarra and the wharves in Melbourne, or through the domain in Sydney, and he will find new chums by the score. In all the cities and bush towns of the colonies they are the outcasts of our civilisation, without money and without a trade. We are told that these young men come here to seek their fortunes, but from what they say, it is evident that, in reality, their parents and relatives pay their passage to Australia in the hope of never seeing them again. Let me say in conclusion that to send to Australia a poor young man without a good trade is to confuse him to hopeless drudgery in the centres of civilisation, or to oblivion and death in the vast silent wastes where even the blacks sometimes die for want of water. --Sydney correspondent, London Field. "The poem 'Newchumland' was founded on the diary of a newchum in West Australia, and is at least true as a description of newchum life in Australia. The verses, which are by a member of the Boomerang staff, were printed in an Albany tri-weekly paper last winter." So yer trav'lin' for yer pleasure while yer writin' for the press? An' yer huntin' arter "copy"?--well, I've heer'd o' that. I guess You are gorn ter write a story that is gorn ter be yer best, 'Bout the "blunders an' advenchers ov a new chum in the west?" An' you would be very thankful an' acknowledge any hint? Well, I karn't say as I hankers fur ter see my name in print; But I know a little story an' I'll tell it out ov hand If yer'll put it down in writin' that the swells kin understand-- (It's a story ov a new chum, and a story ov the land.) He had lately kum from Ingland--you cud tell it by 's cap-- Fur "kerlonial exper'ence" (an' he got it, too, poor chap). 'Twas in town he met the squatter, an' he asked, as if in fun, "If the boss 'ud want a flunkey or a coachy on the run?" Well, it riz the boss's dander, an' he jumps clean orf 'is 'oss-- "Now, me fresh, sweet-scented beauty, watyer giv'nus?" sez the boss; "I hev met yer kidney often, an' yer mighty fresh an' free, But yer needn't think yer gorn ter come a-lardin' over me!" But the new chum sed that 'onest he was lookin' for a job, An' in spite of his appearance he had blued 'is bottom bob. An' as beggars karn't be choosers same as people wot are rich, Said he'd go as stoo'rd or gard'ner, but he warn't partickler which. Well, the joker seemed in earnest, so the boss began ter cool, An' he only blanked the new chum for a thund'rin' jumpt-up fool. Then he sed, "Well, there's the fencin', if yer'll tramp it up from Perth, The boys 'll find yer su'thin p'r'aps, an' giv' yer wat yer worth." Ov course the squatter never thort ter see 'im any more, But he wa'n't the kind ov new chum that the squatter tuk 'im for; No, he wa'n't the kind er cockeroach that on'y kums ter shirk, That wants ter git the sugar, but is fri'tened ov the work; For he sold 'is watch 'n' jool'ry, 'n' lardi-dardy suits, Stuck a swag upon his shoulder, 'n' 'is feet in blucher boots; An' I dunno how he did it, he was anythin' but strong, But he 'umped his bluey ninety mile an' kum to Bunglelong. He earnt 'is pound and tucker borin' holes an' runnin' wire, An' he'd work from dawn to sunset, an' he never seemed to tire; But he must have suffered orful from the tucker an' the heat, An' the everlastin' trampin' made 'im tender in the feet, An' he must hev thort ov England w'en the everlastin' flies Ware a-worrit, worrit, worrit, an' a-knawin' at 'is eyes; An' he used to swear like thunder w'en the yaller sergeant ants Took a mornin' stroll, promiscus, on the inside ov 'is pants. He uster make 'is damper six or seven inches thick-- It was doughey on the inside an' the shell was like a brick, An' while the damper made 'im dream ov days ov long ago, The little boodie rats 'ud kum an' nibble out the dough. He biled 'is taters soggy, an' 'is junk was biled to rags (The little boodie rats 'ud kum an' chew 's tucker bags), But he took 'is troubles cheerful, an' he fixed 'em like a pome, An' writ 'em in his darey to amuse the folks at home. At first he flashed a coller an' was keerful with 'is hat, An' he'd black 'is boots ov Sundays, but he soon grew out of that; An' he lernt ter bake 'is damper, an' he leant to bile 'is junk An' sleep without a-getting up all night ter shake 'is bunk. He soon got out ov takin' "shorter cuts" across the flats, An' he learnt to fling ole bottles to the sorror of the rats, An' learnt to sling kerlonial and like the bushman's way, An' it did us good to see 'im smoke 'is "nigger" in a clay. He would sing an' play 'is fiddle when we gathered round the blaze, Till ole Frenchy got excited while he'd play the Mascylays; An' Bill 'ud take 'is hat off while he'd spout the Light Brigade, An' Scotchy got oneasy when the "Bony 'Ills" was played. So we got ter like the new chum for we'd met with many wuss, An' we made it easy for 'im an' he seemed to take to us: The toilin' an' the trampin' was a-cookin' 'im we found, So we made 'im cook an' stoo'rd just ter keep the chap around. Well, the months went bakin' broilin' on until Christmas nex', When we tramped it down to Perth to spend our 'ollyday (and cheques); But Possum sed he'd save 'is tin an' stay and mind the camp, So we left 'im in possession an' we started on our tramp; (We useter call 'im Possum, but for short we called 'im Poss, For 'is eyes was black an' twinklin' and a little chap he was), We never would have left 'im if we'd know'd (but that's the rub), Comin' back we found 'im dyin' in 'is gunyah in the scrub. We fixed 'im up an' nursed 'im; but we seen without a doubt That consumption was the matter, an' the chap was peggin' out; But the lion heart inside 'im was as strong an' stout as six, An' while he'd smile an' thank us he would joke about 'is fix; An' he said 'twas very jolly to be dry-nursed in a tent, An' he reckoned that the Christmas was the best he'd ever spent; He would talk of 'ome and Inglan' when 'is head began ter swim, But he never blamed the country that had been so 'ard on him. He would say, "I like the country; if a feller's blind er halt, Or if he's got konsumption, why it ain't the country's fault. The tea that's boil'd in billies is far sweeter stuff, I know, Than the cursed drink w'at blasted all my chances long ago. I would hev cum out sooner if it was my destiny, An' I daresay that the country would have made a man ov me. But w'at's the good ov energy, an' wat's the good er 'push' W'en a feller's sick an' dyin' in a gunyah in the bush." But he tole me all about it as I sat beside 'is bunk-- How he'd spent 'is tin in Melbourne an' was allers gettin' drunk; How he thort he'd take it easy while he had a little gold, And, before he turned the new leaf, how he scribbled on the old; An' among a lot ov nonsense w'en 'is mind began to drift, He told me that the new leaf was a heavy leaf to lift. But w'ats the good er writin' this, it's nothin' very new, The land will see enough ov it an' suffer for it, too. An' he said w'en he was dying, (when his lung was spit away) An' we all was standin' round 'im in the gunyah where he lay, An' he said, "I've watched the sunset when the wind began to 'woosh', Like a layer ov coals a-glowin'--on the dark bed ov the bush; An' I felt my fingers slippin'--slippin'--slowly--from the ropes, Wen the West was cold--like ashes--like the ashes of my hopes; An'--I Sit--beside me--Peter--let me 'old--a--bushman's hand, For I'm--gorn to--'ump--my bluey--thro' the gates ov--Newchumland." Boomerang ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Posts and Rails [1917] He stumbled up the ridges With his old cattle-dog; He took his maul and wedges From underneath a log-- His wedges, maul and crosscut, So light to drive and draw; And he rubbed well with suet The dew-rust on the saw. He marked a tree and felled it, As lone-hand splitters do; He measured it and cut it-- The cuts were straight and true. And all day in December, When dust and heat prevails, From out the groaning timber He belted posts and rails. He'd come across the water; His thoughts were far away-- His little fair-haired daughter Was buried yesterday, And till the sun was setting, And milk-cows sought the yard, He worked like one forgetting, And never worked so hard. His hope was now a far light And dim across the seas; He would have worked by starlight His aching heart to ease; But up the dark'ning siding, Beneath the fading dome, His eldest son came riding To take his father home. The posts and rails are rotten, And vanished is the plough; The homestead is forgotten-- The place a "stud farm" now. And sullen touts are shirking, Where men, in days gone by, Died hopeless, but died working, When their turn came to die. I'd rather--oh, I'd a rather, When weary and way-worn, My little foreign father Had died where he was born. I know not what the curse is; But I, when daylight fails, From long years of reverses Sit splitting posts and rails. Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Poverty [1897] I hate this grinding poverty, To toil, and pinch, and borrow, And be for ever haunted by The spectre of to-morrow. It breaks the strong heart of a man, It crushes out his spirit, Do what he will, do what he can, However high his merit! I hate the praise that Want has got From preacher and from poet, The cant of those who know it not To blind the men who know it. The greatest curse since man had birth, An everlasting terror: The cause of half the crime on earth, The cause of half the error. Freeman's Journal ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Red and Gold [1912] When Christmas bush is pulsed with red, And wattle all abloom with gold, Our truant thoughts are homeward led To friends we knew in days of old; The friends of old, True friends of old, When blood was red and hearts were gold. Worker ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Rewi to Grey [1894] THE OLD MAORI CHIEF'S LAST MESSAGE We have lived till these times, brother, We who lived in this; We have not grown old together, Soon our lives must close-- Rewi's first! For I am dying Ere I got where all is true From my heart a wish is flying-- This is my great word to you: Mine to you and those who love us-- Be they white or brown-- Let there be one stone above is When they've laid us down; Let us rest together, brother, When our gods recall us two. Grant my wish--I have no other: This is my great word to you. Let there be one stone above us, Standing for a sign: On one side your name be written On the other mine. In my heart your name is lying; We shall meet where all is true-- From my heart this wish is flying This is my great word to you. Worker ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Republican Pioneers [1894] We're marching along, we're gath'ring strong' We place on our right reliance, We fling in the air, for all who care, Our first loud notes of defiance! We fling in the air, For all who care, Our first loud notes of defiance! Laugh long and loud, you toady crowd, At the men you call benighted, In spite of your sneers, we are pioneers Of "Australian States United"! In spite of your sneers, We are pioneers Of "Australian States United"! Not long we'll stand as an outcast band, And be in our country lonely, For soon to the sky shall ring our cry, Our cry of "Australia only"! For soon to the sky Shall mount our cry, Our cry of "Australia only"! And we'll sleep sound in Australian ground, 'Neath the blue-cross flag star lighted, When it freely waves o'er the grass-grown graves Of the pioneers united! When it floats and veers O'er the pioneers Of "Australian States United"! Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Ripperty! Aye! Ahoo! [1917] There was a young woman, as I've heard tell (Ripperty! Kye! Ahoo!), Lived near the sea in a nice little hell That she made for herself and her husband as well; But that's how a good many married folk dwell-- Ripperty! Kye! Ahoo! She kept a big mongrel that murdered his fowls (Ripperty! Kye! Ahoo!) And kept him awake with his barks and his growls-- (Ripperty! Kye! Ahoo!) She also had cats that assisted with yowls. She gave him old dishcloths and nightgowns for tow'ls, And called in the neighbours to witness his growls-- Ripperty! Kye! Ahoo! You'd think 'twas the limit, but she didn't--quite (Ripperty! Kye! Ahoo!); He had to sleep out in the fowlhouse at night (Ripperty! Kye! Ahoo!), And make his own breakfast before it was light; Then go to his work and keep out of sight When he came home to dinner--and that wasn't right. Singing: Ripperty! Kye! Ahoo! She'd find him and chase him with potstick and fist (Ripperty! Kye! Ahoo!); He'd an arm like a navvy, and also a wrist (Ripperty! Kye! Ahoo!). Why didn't he give her a jolt or a twist? Then because she so crowed for the hiding she missed, She'd shriek: "You great coward! Why don't you enlist?" Ripperty! Kye! Ahoo! She'd invite all her relatives down for the day (Ripperty! Kye! Ahoo!), And also invite his relations to stay (Ripperty! Kye! Ahoo!). He found his own worst, as is often the way (They told her his father was locked up one day); His red beard went white and his brown hair went grey. (Sadly:) Rip-per-ty! Kye! A-hoo! Her parents were German, as he was aware. (Ripperty! Kye! Ahoo!) He said to himself: "I had better be there!" (Ripperty! Kye! Ahoo!) He went to the Depot and made himself bare, And was straightway accepted, and passed then and there. He clapped his great wings, and he crowed (so they swear); Ripperty! Kye!!! A-hoo!!!! He came home for "final" and filled up with rum. (Ripperty! Kye! A-hic-hoo!) She said, when she saw him "I thought you would come!" (Ripperty! Kye! Ahoo!) "You'd best make yer will, and make over the home, And arrange the allowance, and don't look so glum!" He did as she told him, and went away, dumb-- Ripperty! Kye! Ahoo! He went to the Front, and he fought for the French. (Ripperty! Kye! Ahoo!) He went for the Germans and cleared out a trench (Ripperty! Kye! Ahoo!); They tumbled like drunken men over a bench He finished them off with a jab and a wrench; 'Twas said that he yelled, in the mix-up and stench: "Ripperty! Kye! Ahoo!" He came back at last with ideas that were new. (Ripperty! Kye! Ahoo!) He went for the mongrel and ran him right through-- Ripperty! Kye! Ahoo! He potted three cats on the ridge-capping, too; North, southward and eastward the relatives flew. Then he said: "Now, old woman, I'm coming for you!" RIPPERTY! KYE! AHOO! Three times round the house and the fowlyard she fled-- (Ripperty! Kye! Ahoo!) Three inches in front of his bayonet red-- (Ripperty! Kye! Ahoo!) He yelled and she shrieked fit to shriek off her head-- He fired at the house and the fowlhouse and shed, Till she fell on the dungheap quite three-quarters dead. (Ripperty! Kye! Ahoo!) Now, there's a young woman, as I've heard tell (Sing gently: Ripperty! Kye! Ahoo!), Lives near the sea in a nice little shell (Sing softly: Ripperty! Kye! Ahoo!) That is built of brick, wood and red tiles from Rozelle; She's fond of her husband, and he's doing well-- And that's how a good many married folk dwell. (Sing exultantly: Ripperty! Kye! Ahoo!) Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Romani [1917] The Turkish prisoners of war in Egypt express themselves delighted with their camp. They have no complaints to make.--Cable We've had a scrap with Abdul--'twas friendly, understand; He came out like a gentleman and met us on the sand, And we were glad to see him and took him by the hand. ('Twas not like when we met him on Anzac's tragic heights. It was a day of Eastern days, a night of Eastern nights. The desert seemed reflecting the golden points of lights.) We didn't feel embarrassed, we didn't feel alarm; We joined the Cross and Crescent with a bright star for a charm-- And then waltzed round the desert, like old pals, arm in arm. We had a game of cricket, and a game of football, too, And then went to the races just as gentlemen should do, And swore about it coming home, all just like me and you. (It was not like the Landing on Anzac's tragic height. It was a day of Eastern days, with a golden-starry night; The sands, like lakes, reflected those golden points of light.) His uniform was ragged (or, rather, it was rags); His marching boots were tennis shoes, and sometimes soogee bags-- The same in which they put their kits, and carried them like swags. We took him in to Cairo, we took him to Port Said, And gave him canned Australian pork, which, we swore, was sheep's head, And beer that we called "sherbet"--or something else instead. We shouted shoes and slippers for his desert-blistered feet; We stole some gaudy awnings to wrap him from the heat, And hats like blanky flower-pots to rig him out complete. We did the Block with Abdul, 'neath Egypt's starry dome; We did the Block with Abdul, and we took him for a roam-- He saw the things and smelt the things he'd seen and smelt at home. And when we found the "sherbet" was going to his head To an unbelieving publican his Faithful feet we led, And we laid him in a hammock and his prayers for him we said. It's sunrise--or it's sunset. Our heads are far from clear (It might as well be midday to one that's lying here). But Abdul prays to Mecca, and we pray for a beer. And Abdul shouts a gallon--all just as if he knew-- And we drink deep to Abdul, as all good Anzacs do. For (by the Beard!) old Abdul's a good Australian too. So we go forth--"the Hatted"--to breakfast and a swim; And Abdul squats reflecting, with hat without a brim, So's he can see Mahomet when Mahomet comes for him. Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Ryan's Crossing" [1893] It's cosy in the private bar, the frosted lamps aglow, I thought you would be gone, Jack Dean. You remember how you met me up the country, years ago, Up at Ryan's, by the Crossing? Why, you never let us know How you were getting on, Jack Dean. Did you camp at Ryan's Crossing, coming down the other week? There was water there, and grass, Jack Dean; Well, I thought 'twas very likely that another track you'd seek, For below the piney ridges on the banks of Cattle Creek There's a grave you couldn't pass, Jack Dean. There's a dismal little clearing in the dark scrub to the west-- I suppose you know the place, Jack Dean? Where a country girl was buried with her baby at her breast-- Buried like a mangy mongrel! But you know the story best. (You are thinner in the face, Jack Dean.) 'Tis a track that's barred against you, who were never very brave, But, when last I came that way, Jack Dean, It was raining hard at Ryan's, and the she-oaks seemed to rave Down beyond the sodden siding--it was raining on her grave, And I saw the spot next day, Jack Dean. O'er the grave for many summers ran a dusty cattle track, For the mound was trodden flat, Jack Dean; Now a hollow in the surface marks the resting place, "Flash Jack", And the hole is full of water, stained by dead leaves reddish black, Would you like a drink of that, Jack Dean? How I worshipped her and loved her, when you drifted in the way, With your polished city style, Jack Dean. She was highly educated for a bush girl of the day, And you know I dropped my "h's", and my grammar was astray, Yet she loved me, for a while, Jack Dean. She was murdered by your meanness (not the sin, if it be such) And another woman's tongue, Jack Dean; Ah, to think that I was timid, with the fruit within my clutch (I would never have imagined that a man could feel so much) We are fools when we are young, Jack Dean. You were sensual by nature, young and thoughtless, we'll agree, But my blood was just as warm, Jack Dean; Your experience with women gave advantage over me, And the new ideas of "honour" brought from cities by the sea, And you carried her by storm, Jack Dean. Had our fathers brought the spirit of a less enlightened race When they came from other lands, Jack Dean, We'd have stood among the saplings up at Ryan's, face to face, With a faint hope in our bosoms that our souls might compass grace-- And revolvers in our hands, Jack Dean. It was better--I had reason to be glad of your retreat-- There was hell between "us twain", Jack Dean, When she perished, and my anger blazed with mad, revengeful heat, And I might have seen you lying pale and bloody at my feet, With a bullet in your brain, Jack Dean. 'Twas thought that either he who made his fellow's life a hell, Or the deadly wronged should die, Jack Dean; It was pistols in the morning, and it mattered not who fell, So that one died; and 'twas fancied that they managed very well In the merry days gone by, Jack Dean. But what matter now the sinning and the pain of long ago, I have learnt the world since then, Jack Dean, And might be the greater villain if I had but half the show. Nothing matters much nor mattered! Have a drink before you go; We are worse, but wiser men, Jack Dean. Truth ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Scots of the Riverina [1917] The boy cleared out to the city from his home at harvest time-- They were Scots of the Riverina, and to run from home was a crime. The old man burned his letters, the first and last he burned, And he scratched his name from the Bible when the old wife's back was turned. A year went past and another. There were calls from the firing-line; They heard the boy had enlisted, but the old man made no sign. His name must never be mentioned on the farm by Gundagai-- They were Scots of the Riverina with ever the kirk hard by. The boy came home on his "final", and the township's bonfire burned. His mother's arms were about him; but the old man's back was turned. The daughters begged for pardon till the old man raised his hand-- A Scot of the Riverina who was hard to understand. The boy was killed in Flanders, where the best and bravest die. There were tears at the Grahame homestead and grief in Gundagai; But the old man ploughed at daybreak and the old man ploughed till the mirk-- There were furrows of pain in the orchard while his housefolk went to the kirk. The hurricane lamp in the rafters dimly and dimly burned; And the old man died at the table when the old wife's back was turned. Face down on his bare arms folded he sank with his wild grey hair Outspread o'er the open Bible and a name re-written there. Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Shearers' Song [1888] The season is over; The shearing is done; The wages are paid; and The "sprees" have begun. But never a shanty Gets sight of my cheques; For far down the Murray My Annie expects A heart that is faithful, A head that is clear, And sufficient provisions To last for a year Town and Country Journal ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Shut Your Head [1919] 'Tis the wail of the male of the Anglo-Saxon race-- "Shet your head!"-- Who is hurled round the world and then hurtled into space-- "Shet your head!"-- To his cackling, harping woman, Who with vigor superhuman (Or endurance granted few men) Clacks and rags at him for ever. (Shet yer head!) Shut your head! Shut your head! Shut your head! Shut yer head. Shut your head, shut your head; Shet yer head! Shut your--shut your head! Shut yer head. Shut your head! Shet yer something, something, Something, something HEAD! Why'd I marry yer? Why'd I marry yer? (Shet yer head, shet yer head!) Why'd I marry yer? Why'd I marry yer? (Shet yer head!) Oh, yer married to ill-treat me, But yer mustn't think you've beat me. Now, yer needn't try ter eat me... (Shut your head!) I'm in rags, I'm in rags! (Shut your head. Shut your head.) I'm in rags, I'm in rags! (Shet yer head!) Never have a decent hat, Like that next-door soldier's cat-- Oh, a lot yer care fer that! (Shet yer head!) If I was like other wimmin! (Shet yer head! Shet yer head!) Now, just look at Missis Scrimmin! (Shet yer head!) She can gad about, she can-- Never cooks a meal for Dan. But Dan Scrimmin is a Man! (Shet yer head!) Oh, we wimmin's come to stay! (Shut your head!) And you men have had your day! (Shet yer head! Shet yer head!) Mrs Walsh'll make it hot, For the lazy, loafing lot (Shut your head; you're talkin' rot! Shut your head!) We want Hughes! We want Hughes! (Shut your head! Shut your head!) We want Hughes. We want Yoos!! (Shet yer head!) Billy Hughes'll put yer through And protect us women too From the likes of such as you! (Shet yer head!) Hoh, yes! Git yer hat, yer skunk! (Shet yer head!) Go 'n' get drunk! Go 'n' git DRUNK! (Shet yer head!) Throw yer dinner on the floor, Kick the cat and bang the door, Hope yer don't come home no more! (Shet yer head!) 'Tis the wail of the male of the Anglo-Saxon race-- "Shut your head!"-- Who is whirled round the world and then hurtled into space-- "Shut yer head!" When his wife states the position, Or the crank unfolds his mission To the Shrieks of each condition-- "Shut your head!" (Do the thing, and shut your head!) Shut your head, shut your head, Shut your head, shut your head; Shet yer head! Shut your head--shut your head! Shut yer head, shut your head. Shet yer blanky, crimson, something, Something HEAD! Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Soldier Libertine [1914] (The author has followed the popular pronunciation of Libertine.) Oh, he was very handsome When he went to the war-- His eyes would haunt an angel They'll haunt the pure no more. He's sleeping out to-night beside The old road to the Rhine, From me who should have been his bride, My Soldier Libertine. I hope they shot the brute before He looked in French girls' eyes I like to think that he went pure From me to Paradise; Or to the Hell he strove to win Through women, lies and wine, And all the girls he led to sin My Soldier Libertine. I hope a bullet set him free From all his lofty pride, And he had time to think of me In pain before he died; I hope they did not mangle him-- He was so tall and fine-- I never saw his eyes grow dim-- My Soldier Libertine. And he hath left a son behind Beneath the Southern skies, Perhaps to grow with Satan's mind And angel-haunting eyes. And he hath left a bonny girl, His bonny girl and mine, Perchance to fall as once I fell, My Soldier Libertine. His heart was like to Satan's Before he went to war; His eyes would haunt an angel-- They'll haunt the good no more. He's sleeping far away beside The old road to the Rhine, Who ne'er kept faith with any bride-- My Soldier Libertine. Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Some New Year Wishes [1914] The moan of starving cattle, The glare of brassy skies, The Darling is a mud-hole, The Murrumbidgee dries; Our lakes are blazing phantoms, And War is drawing near-- I wish we had the Old Rhine, I wish we had it here. I wish I had the snow peak And had the mountain wall-- They do no good in Europe; They do no good at all. I'd set them up in Queensland, Along the Condamine; I'd clear the Darling country, And flush it with the Rhine. Oh! had it been in China-- In China, old and strange-- They'd long have locked the Darling, And built the mountain range; They'd dig a sea to build it, Where we can't float a scow; But we'd take ten times longer To lock the river now. They've gone to loaf till April, The Parliamentary crew, Who drive their little nails in And draw their rusty screw. I wish we had a Kaiser, I wish we had a Czar, I wish we had a bloomin' Chow To alter things that are. (The Empress of old China would Soon fix up things that are.) Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Something Better [1893] Though the workers' bitter struggle for a better state of things May not touch the man in reach of all the joys that money brings, There are times, and very often, when such joys begin to pall, And his better nature rises in revolt against it all, Stirring up the nobler manhood that is in him even now, Like the hand of some pure woman on a dying blackguard's brow. 'Tis the hope of something better than the present or the past-- 'Tis the wish for something better strong within us till the last-- Stronger still in dissipation--'tis the longing to ascend-- 'Tis the hope of something better that will save us in the end. Give a man all earthly treasures--give him genuine love and pelf*-- Yet at times he'll get disgusted with the world and with himself; And at times there comes a vision in his conscience-stricken nights, Of a land where "Vice" is cleanly, of a land of pure delights; And the better state of living which we sneer at as "ideal", Seems before him in the distance--very far, but very real. 'Tis the hope of something better than the present or the past-- 'Tis the wish for something better--strong within us till the last. 'Tis the longing for redemption as our ruined souls descend; 'Tis the hope of something better that will save us in the end. * "Pelf" refers to money or wealth, usually in a contemptuous manner, especially regarding wealth having been acquired by dishonest means; from the Old French pelfre (booty or stolen goods), it is related to "pilfer". New Australia ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Spread the Truth [1891] Brave the anger of the wealthy! Scorn their bitter lying spite! Tell the Truth in simple language, when you know that you are right! And they'll read it by the slush-lamps in the station huts at night, I have seen the People's triumph in the visions of my dreams; It as pictured by the campfires down the lonely western streams, And the teamsters talk about it as they tramp beside their teams. Write the Truth in simple language, and you shall not write in vain! Sing a ringing song of freedom, and you'll hear the same refrain Where the drovers ride together far across the western plain. Write of wrongs that you are hating with the grand old burning hate! For the lonely digger reads it when the western day is late, And he marks it in the paper he is sending to his mate. Spread the Truth in simple language when you feel it in your breast! It will reach the far selections in the wild Australian west, Where the bushmen yarn together on a sunny day of rest. O the workers' new religion spreads beneath the southern skies, And the bearded fathers read it, for its words are kind and wise, And the little children listen to the Truth with wond'ring eyes. Worker ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Stand by the Engines 1890 At the wreck of the Quetta the engineers went down with the vwessel. Some of the saved speak of the rush of steam as the vessel sank, and it isd supposed that the engineers remained at their post to open the valves and prevent explosion. On the moonlighted decks there are children at play, While smoothly the steamer is holding her way; And the old folks are chatting on deck-seats and chairs, And the lads and the lassies go strolling in pairs. Some gaze half-entranced on the beautiful sea, And wonder perhaps if a vision it be: And surely there journeys no sorrow nor care, For wealth, love, and beauty are passengers there. But down underneath, 'mid the coal dust that smears The face and the hands, work the ship's engineers. Whate'er be the duty of others, 'tis theirs To stand by their engines whatever occurs. The sailor may gaze on the sea and the sky; The sailor may tell when the danger is nigh; But when Death his black head o'er the waters uprears, Unseen he is met by the ship's engineers. They are thrown from their feet by the force of a shock; They know that their vessel has struck on a rock. Now stand by your engines when danger appears, For all may depend on the ship's engineers! No thought of their danger! No mad rush on deck! They stand at their posts in the hull of a wreck, Firm hands on the valves; and the white steam appears; And down with their ship go the brave engineers! Freeman's Journal ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Statue of Robert Burns [1887] To a town in Southern land Light of purse I come and lone; And I pause awhile, and stand By a pedestal of stone; And I bend my head and bow While my heart to Scotland turns, For I know I'm standing now 'Neath the form of Robbie Burns. Round the corners of the lips Lines of laughter seem to run; From the merry eye there slips Just a twinkle as of fun. Living in the sculptor's art, Set in stone, mine eye discerns All the beauty, and a part Of the soul, of Robert Burns. One of Caledonia's sons, Coming lonely to the land. Well might think he'd met a friend Who would take him by the hand, And the tears spring to his eyes, While his heart for friendship yearns; And from out that heart he cries, "Heaven bless ye, Bobbie Burns. "Unto me, as unto you, Has a hard world done ill turns; And the sorrows that you knew I am learning Bobbie Burns. But I'll keep my heart above Until, after many moons, I return to friends I love, And to banks like bonnie Doon's." ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Sweethearts Wait on Every Shore [1890] She sits beside the tinted tide, That's reddened by the tortured sand; And through the East, to ocean wide, A vessel sails from sight of land. But she will wait and watch in vain, For it is said in Cupid's lore, "That he who loved will love again, And sweethearts wait on every shore." Town and Country Journal ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Sydney Town in '91 [1891] FROM A JOURNALISTIC POINT OF VIEW (The author is not responsible for opinions expressed by the Muse.) Let us sing a song as not a Solitary poet sings, For our seething brain has got a Mighty grip on earthly things; We can feel the strength within us, And our soul is bounding high, And our hissing pen shall win us Wealth and Beauty by-and-bye. Listen to the thunder swelling Till the mighty west vibrates! 'Tis the horny-handed yelling For the Labour candidates! Hear the language of the frisky "Push" assisting at the fun: Liberty, and rum and whisky! Sydney town in '91. Whack the poor and cut a caper, Turn the taps and shout wharroo! For each Sydney leading paper Has a candidate or two. Every new one is an ember, Lighting up this land of sin, Clever little B----k is member For the Sydney Bulletin. Wherefore hang our curls in sloppy Mats of ink upon our brow? Hark! the devil yells for copy, And the comps are swearing now. Put in Parkes and Dan O'Connor While the nation swears and laughs, They are good--upon my honour They are good for paragraphs! Stone them, egg them, flour-bag them, Pelt and whelt them black and blue! Swear at them, and bully-rag them, Vote for them, and put them through! What is fame, and what is money While the sky is still o'erhead? I would vote for Garden Honey,* Only Garden Honey's dead. "Every man's as good's his neighbour," "We will lead the nations' van." (If he'd swear to fight for Labour We'd return a Chinaman.) Squash the hills and shout "Hosanna!" Wake the nations! New South Wales! Nail the shining Southern Banner To the Pole with two-inch nails! Renegades! our hearts grow lighter As the roving seasons flow. Time will teach, for e'en the writer Yelled for Freedom long ago; Yelled unto the hungry toiler, Fought to break the tyrant's power, Till his over-heated boiler Needed wetting ev'ry hour! What care we for Federation? And the loan may float or drown; Will a brother in the nation Only lend us half-a-crown? Heavens! but our heads are aching, There's a throbbing in our brows; Let us go to gaol for taking Part in federated rows. Ah! the land without elections Is a lonely land indeed; We must take our joy in sections, While our flaming countries bleed! Glorious harvest for reporters, Load your pens and fire away, While the railway guards and porters Get a jolly holiday. Let us think and rave and borrow Yards from poets who are dead-- Bards who died of ruin and sorrow In the gutter and the shed. Federate the hanged creation! (Snake that's born of rum! what's that?) Lo! the throes of inspiration Scare the mangy office cat! Though the scythe of Time is brittle, Taking every sweep a year, We shall jog his arm a little In the Southern Hemisphere. Let the northern nations squabble, We will row another boat; Lord, we'll make the planet wobble When we get "One Man One Vote". We will hold this Eldorado Island of the evergreen; Let the soldiers and Recardo** Go to hell--or Argentine! We've the power, and we are waiting; Why the day of deeds defer While our sons are emigrating To the planet Jupiter? Brightest spot upon the planet Is the land where I was born, And the lunatics who man it Are the rising sons of morn. Take the song and sing it gaily, For the times are very ripe; Let the "crawling, lying daily" Set it up in mortgaged type. The muse was forcibly ejected at this point. * Garden Honey: A well-known Sydney street character ** Recardo: Queensland's "fiery major" of the shearer's war. Truth ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Tally Town [1893] A shearer tramped from Borderland When Sunset shed cut out; He scarcely felt the miles of sand, The hot plains baked with drought. His cheque was in his ragged clothes. The future wore no frown, When blazing white before him rose The roofs of Tally Town. From Tally Town the shearer fled When Christmas time was past; His cheeks were drawn, his eyes were red, His breath came rough and fast; Along the track he ran and yelled Till devils struck him down. The landlord banked the cheques he held That day in Tally Town. Freeman's Journal ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Absent Jack [1917] The swagmen never troubled him While they had strength to live; They knew his fame, and it was grim; He'd give not, nor forgive. Caretaker at the Ten-mile Tank, He'd "tackle ane or baith"-- A big man and an ugly man, And dour was Mucklewraith. The clouds had formed a lurid bank That told of death and drought; The drover camped beside the tank And turned his horses out. The pallid moon was rising higher-- The long, hot day was gone-- The drover made a "bit er fire", And put his quart-pot on. The old man came out to inquire What private tanks were dry; The drover said (a little dryer): "They all are. So am I... And you are Mister Mucklewraith-- I've heard of you Outback!" And then he added, in good faith: "I worked with your son Jack." "So you knew Jack?" the old man snarled In his suspicious way (His form was tall, and gaunt and gnarled; His beard was iron-grey). "Yes, I knew Jack," the drover said-- "I shore with him awhile." The old man stood and bent his head, And watched the quart-pot "bile". "We're shorter grub," the old man said; "The goodwife's gone for more; The ration team is at the shed-- She's drove in to the store." The drover never said a word; The whole thing was a bore-- With variations he had heard The selfsame yarn before. "So you knew Jack?" the old man sighed (His mood was softened now). "I did," the droving man replied-- "For six weeks, anyhow." He pushed the coals up with his foot, Not anxious to begin. He took the quart-pot off and put The tea and sugar in. "So you knew Jack?" The old man woke As from a reverie. The drover said "I never spoke", A tired man was he. He twirled the quart-pot once--just so-- To give the tea a stir; He pressed some coals down with his toe And placed the quart-pot there. The old man might have "had a shot" At football long ago-- He raised his foot and kicked the pot A dozen yards or so. "That there's the missus comin' back-- Come to the house," he cried; "No man that worked with my son Jack Shall bile his tea outside!" Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Australian Marseillaise [1890] OR, A SONG FOR THE SYDNEY POOR Rouse ye, O woman! The laggard men will not act; they say we ourselves may act. --Thomas Carlyle Sing the strong, proud song of Labour, Toss the ringing music high; Liberty's a nearer neighbour Than she was in days gone by. Workmen's weary wives and daughters Sing the songs of liberty; Men hail men across the waters, Men reply across the sea. We are marching on and onward To the silver-streak of dawn, To the dynasty of mankind We are marching on. Long the rich have been protected By the walls that can't endure; By the walls that they erected To divide them from the poor. Crumbling now, they should not trust them, For their end is drawing near; Walls of Cant and walls of Custom, Walls of Ignorance and Fear. Tyrants, grip your weapons firmer, Grip them firmly by the helves; For the poor begin to murmur Loudly now among themselves. Hear us dare to say that Heaven Gave us equal rights with you, Dare to say the world was given Unto all and not the few. Tell us that the law has risen, Make us bend beneath its sway, Throw our leaders into prison, Wrong us in the light of day. Drive us to our dens, forgetting All our woe as greed forgets, While our weapons we are whetting On your levelled bayonets. Treat us like the beasts you'd make us, Pen us close in wretched sties. 'Til our patience shall forsake us, And like wolves we will arise. Louder still for this shall rattle Rifle shots, and sword blades ring On the blood-wet fields of battle In the days of reckoning. We shall rise to prove us human, Worthy of a human life, When our starved and maddened women Lead our armies on to strife. When our war hymns wake the valleys, And the rushing missiles shriek From your barricaded alleys, 'Til your cannon cease to speak. Then when Mammon Castle crashes To the earth and trampled lies, Then from out the blood and ashes True Republics shall arise. Then the world shall rest a season (First since first the world began) In the reign of right and reason And the dynasty of man. Truth ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Babies in the Bush [1899] They trotted away from the homestead fair, Ere the leaves in the noon-tide drooped-- They trotted along by the stockyard bare, And under the rails they stooped; Each chubby brown hand "lest a bad wind blowed" Held fast to a sailor hat-- They had begged to go "where the daisies growed" And the buttercups out on the flat. Oh, sing me a song of a fairy bright, Of a spirit the bell-birds know, That guides the feet of the lost aright, Or carries them up through the starry night, Where the bush-lost babies go. We wander away as our fortune needs, When our feet are strong to roam; But what is the spirit that always leads The toddler's feet from home? A belt of timber, and, miles beyond, The awful scrubs aglow-- Oh, plead in prayer that it is not there That the bush-lost babies go! We thought of the tales that the bush can tell, As the awful suns went round-- "And we'll find those babies asleep and well As bush-lost babes are found." We searched all night and we searched all day, We searched thro' the broiling week, But never a sign of a baby's foot Was found by that lonely creek. The mother waits 'neath the noon-tide glare, And under the midnight skies, Till the wild fixed look of a life's despair Comes into her hopeless eyes. But the strong man kneels by her side and turns Her face from the clearing bare, To the stars above, with a husband's love-- And "Our bush-lost babes are there!" And she sings in her heart of a fairy bright, Of a spirit the bell-birds know, To guide the feet of the lost aright And lead them on to a land of light Where the bush-lost babies go. Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Babies of Walloon [1891] Two little girls aged six and nine, the daughters of a lengthsman on the railway at Walloon, near Ipswich, Queensland, were sent on an errand by their parents and it is supposed they were attracted by some water-lilies in a pool near their home. They were found drowned in six feet of water. He was lengthsman on the railway, and his station scarce deserved That "pre-eminence in sorrow" of the Majesty he served, But as dear to him and precious were the gifts reclaimed so soon-- Were the workman's little daughters who were buried near Walloon. Speak their names in tones that linger, just as though you held them dear; There are eyes to which the mention of those names will bring a tear. Little Kate and Bridget, straying in an autumn afternoon, Were attracted by the lilies in the water of Walloon. All is dark to us. The angels sing perhaps in Paradise Of the younger sister's danger, and the elder's sacrifice; But the facts were hidden from us, when the soft light from the moon Glistened on the water-lilies o'er the Babies at Walloon. Ah! the children love the lilies, while we elders are inclined To the flowers that have poison for the body and the mind. Better for the "strongly human" to have done with life as soon, Better perish for a lily like the Babies of Walloon. For they gather flowers early on the river far away, Where the everlasting lilies keep their purity for aye, And while summer brings our lilies to the run and the lagoon May our children keep the legend of the Babies of Walloon. Dawn ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Ballad of the Black-Sheep [1900] A black-sheep, from England, who worked on the run-- Riding where the stockmen ride-- He sat by the hut when the day's work was done-- Lone huts where the black sheep bide. "I'm tired of my life!" to his lone self said he, "My girl and my country are both done with me!" "I'm tired of my life!" to the wide scrubs said he-- "My girl and my country are long done with me!" He took from a packet a portrait and curl-- Such things as the exiles keep-- And sadly he gazed at the face of the girl-- Lost girl of a lost black-sheep. "I'll go where there's fighting and die there!" said he; "My girl and my country are well rid of me. "I'll go where there's fighting and die there," said he; "For heart-break and country that's well rid of me!" He rode with a thousand, he rode with the best-- Riding as bushmen ride-- Who'd ridden alone on the wastes of the West-- Wide wastes where the drought-fiends bide, They rode as they'd ride to an up-country ball, And the laugh of the black-sheep was lightest of all! As gaily as though to an up-country ball, And the laugh of the black-sheep was lightest of all. The road was a shambles, the hill was a hell-- Red rosed where the reckless ride-- And he with the foremost lay torn by a shell-- (Die hard where your father died!) "The death of a rebel!" he laughed as he groaned-- "For the land that adoptee--the land that disowned!" The death of a black-sheep!--they laugh as they groan-- For the lands that adopt and the lands that disown! Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Ballad of the Hundred and Third [1917] One hundred and three ex-patients from the Victorian inebriate asylum have gone to the Front, and seven are reported killed. There was never a great disaster yet, on the sea or underground, But the name of a man whose star had set in the heroes' list was found; There was never a war-strum yet that beat, or a battle-flag unfurled, But a leader sprang, in the field or street, from the depths of the Underworld. They slipped away from the country town, from the scene of their life's disgrace; They left the streets, where their feet went down, with a light on each ruined face. They slunk from prison and slunk from slum; they crept from the carriage gates Of their fathers' homes, when their chance had come--the Chance for Inebriates! Some lived the lives of their fathers dead, who drank because of a song; And some were driven, and some were led, in the grip of a shameful wrong. Some of my legion were bought and sold for a reason they never knew; Some lived in a world too narrow and cold for hearts so warm and true. There was seldom a parting sign to whirl their thoughts to a higher fate, Save the streaming tears of a white-faced girl or the grip of a faithful mate. (But some had a mother's arms, at least, or a father's look that stirred, Or the warm hand-clasp of the township priest or a manly padre's word.) The neighbours think, though their lips be dumb, "He'd a good heart, anyhow, And his womenfolk and the friends at home can hold their heads up now." (They hold their heads up, often enough, it always appears to me, For worse and weaker and meaner stuff than a drunkard knows how to be.) Some got the waster's send-off, true, from the upright, the just and exempt (I got it myself and I left a few with the waster's bitter contempt). Oh, cant of Business! while seasons roll, with the Legal cant in the van-- I've shrunk, at my worst, from the rotten soul of the "Upright Business Man"! A Hundred and Three; and the blue sky arched. It is nearly always three; And I knew two of the three that marched, and their troubles were known to me. With a grin for the world, when all was done, they marched down to the waiting ships, One with a lady's kiss and one with a harlot's kiss on his lips. You who never could rise or fall, who never were good or bad, Lying women and weak men all, flapper and puppy and cad-- You, where the poodle is combed and curled, and each pitiful sham endures. There are stars down here in the Underworld that are brighter than all in yours! The "drunkards" and "wasters" go by scores from the city's shade and sun; The soldiers are marching fours by fours, but these march one by one. One by one with their faces still, seeing what they can see-- There shall be plenty your gaps to fill. Salute! A Hundred and Three. Visions of club, and third-rate pub, sound of the tram or bird; Visions of plain and hill and scrub, haunt the Hundred and Third. A few months more and the song is sung, here and in lands afar-- Some blood-stained rags on the barbed-wire flung, and a brave soul breasts the Bar! Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Bard and Disbarred [1920] There's a little old pub that I go to, And one or two others as well; And thirsty souls tram, walk and row to That little amphibious hotel. It stands somewhere down where the whalers Held more than high revel of yore, (And the jetty is handy to sailors On days when their skipper's ashore.) There's a sort of an outcast physician, Because he had stuck to a mate. There's a sort of thrown-out politician, Because he had tried to go straight; An old actor--and he's our reciter-- As long as his audience endure-- A pianist, an artist and writer (Art, music and lit-er-a-ture). There's a boxer that we call "the Feather"-- He never showed white in his time-- He lost on a foul, and, well, whether-- (I'm stuck up just here for a rhyme.) He lost on a foul, and, well this is A thing that might hurt 'em and vex; The foul, I know, came from his missis, To the honour of all of her sex. To the honour of all of her gender-- (Oh, love in the spring-time is sweet); There's a hard-working waster and spender, And so we are nearly complete. But the other one lives for his life's sake, And his honour--and he finds it hard; He was struck off the rolls for his wife's sake, And he's known to us all as "Disbarred". There are only two more I might mention, Though I don't know why they come here; There's a water policeman, on pension, And a wrecker (whose mostly on beer). And they can't understand how it rankles In the hearts of the young of "the force" The floating ashore of brass ankles And davit, blown out of their course. (Ain't it marvellous, weary world-ranger? So true that it sounds like a hymn-- Ain't it marvellous, shipmates in danger? Did you know that red herrings can swim?) The Disbarred gives advice in all evil, Free gratis to husbands of sin. (And in things merely local and civil-- Oh, that's where "the Feather" comes in.) She made your embezzlement easy, She made your embezzlement hard, Your "victim" was rich, fat and greasy, And so she divorced you Disbarred! I am one of the few friends that knew you, And how you fought upwards--how hard; A young married daughter stuck to you-- But she died in childbirth Disbarred! ("In the wild wood a fountain is springing In the desert there still is a tree-- And a bird in the wilderness singing That speaks of thy spirit to me".) Last New Year (my recollection), Or, maybe 'twas three years ago, There was someone took up a collection In the little old pub that we know. Said the Feather, "I ain't got the science Of sparrin' with clack be ther yard-- Here's a coupler quid from yer clients Ter see yer past New Year, Disbarred". And you went, like a lost soul that's banished And you slunk like a coward, outside. And you went as you lately have vanished, To where fallen angels have pride. But a bloke without principle saw yer By the little place down in the yard, There were tears in the eyes of a lawyer, Though he'd been a long time disbarred. Truth ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Beauty and the Dude [1891] A fresh sweet-scented beauty Came tripping down the street; She was as fair a vision As you might chance to meet. A masher raised his cady (I don't want to be rude) He raised it to the lady-- That fresh sweet-scented dude. They met and talked and simpered And giggled in the street; They were as bright a vision As you might wish to meet. I don't know what they're good for, But don't want to be rude To the fair sweet-scented beauty Or the well-upholstered dude. Boomerang ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Bellfries of Strassburg [1918] At the salon of M. DE DEITRICH, Mayor of Strassburg, was sung, in April, 1792, the song of 'The Army of the Rhine', by Rouget de Lisle, which was eventually immortalised under the name of The Marseillaise'."--S. M. Herald, 21/11/1918 The Statue of Strassburg is flooded with light, The people of Strassburg are joy-mad to-night; The belfries, vibrating like ships on the sea, Peal back through the Ages that Strassburg is free! Three hundred brave thousands rejoicing to tears, Their firm faith unshaken through forty dark years! Look back through five hundred, like haze on the sea, And Strassburg was great and her people were free! The fame of her marshals was known to the world; The armies of Greed from her grey walls she hurled. She sang to the Nations, for your sake and mine, The Song of the Army that watched on the Rhine. Her belfries are rocking that pealed to the Gauls: "In peace or in danger, keep ward on the walls!" For Crown and Republic--Republic or Crown-- Oh, Strassburg held out after Paris went down! Her belfries are silent, her people asleep; Her poets are dreaming of rampart and keep; On dream-scapes of walls that were long swept away, The shades of her burghers keep watch till the Day! Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Black Tracker [1890] OR, WHY HE LOST THE TRACK There was a tracker in the force Of wondrous sight (the story ran):-- He never failed to track a horse, He never failed to find his man. They brought him from a distant town Once more to gain reward and praise, Nor dreamed the man he hunted down Had saved his life in bygone days. Away across the farthest run, And far across the stony plain, The outlaw's horse's tracks, each one, Unto the black man's eyes were plain. Those tracks across the ranges wide Right well he knew that he could trace, And oft he turned aside to hide The tears upon his dusky face. Now was his time, for he could claim Reward and praise if he prevailed! Now was the time to win him fame, When all the other blacks had failed. He struggled well to play his part, For in the art he took a pride. But, ah! there beat a white man's heart Beneath his old, black wrinkled hide. Against that heart he struggled well, But gratitude was in the black-- He failed--and only he could tell The reason why he lost the track. Freeman's Journal ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Blessings of War [1899] I'm in favour of the war, and of half-a-dozen more; And I think we should have had one long before-- There is nothing to deplore; I'm in favour of the war Independent of all statements made by Briton or by Boer. 'Tis a healthy stirring up of the dregs of sorrow's cup; 'Tis a joyful thing, as I have always held, For it brings us something new. And I'm looking forward to The festive time when Sydney shall be shelled! Oh, the bush is dull and brown, and it's duller still in town, And the Bush Bard and his reader crave for change, For they're sick of Bill and Jim, and the dusty Track and grim, And they're tired of chasing brumbies in the range. We need ne'er in rhyme again carry swag across the plain-- We need never fight the "'ploorer", drought and flood, For Jack Cornstalk gone to war (as Bill Shakespeare said before) Shall "be copy now to men of grosser blood". Shall be copy now at home both in story, sketch and "pome"-- In the new Australian drama he'll be great. Both in letters and in art he will play the paying part (And 'tis farewell to the swagman and his mate). When he's sick of grubbing stumps, of the posts and rails he humps, And the old man keeps him grafting all the while, We won't send him off Out Back with a swag or with a pack, But we'll send him to South Africa in style. And he'll come back in the drought, and he'll farm the old man out, And he'll take his mother home to live with him; And a billet or a grant will be all on earth he'll want-- And he'll wed the squatter's daughter fair and slim. When his life is hard and grim, and his best girl's false to him, And he's sick and tired and mad about it all-- We will ship him with three cheers and the Dingo Volunteers, And his manly breast expanding for the ball. But he'll come back with the rest, and his V.C. on his breast (Oh we'll bring him back in glory and in rhyme), And the girl, her blue eyes dim, who has pined and longed for him-- She will tell him that she loved him all the time. The Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Calling of the Gods [1916] I dreamed a dream of greatness in the dreary long ago, I dreamed the Gods would call me, but I didn't seem to know. It was not for Ambition or the selfishness of clods, I dreamed--but didn't listen for the calling of the Gods. The circle stretched like tinted clouds, towards the southern skies, I dreamed a wife and daughter sat with brimming eyes, While sober, clean and manly, and proud, as it might be I stepped upon the stage and bowed in all humility. The Gods were cheering from the roof, they cheered from every side; A lonely, little woman sat in sorrow more than pride. Ah me! low in this world of mine, where most men say "what odds!", How many drunken wasters miss the calling of the Gods! It may be in a palace set or in a city slum, It may be on the Stage of Life where strong men go and come; It may be in the trenches, or on the Western plain, But I'll be there to meet them when my Gods shall call again! Newspaper Cutting ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Cliques of the Who'll-Get-In [1905] Cackle of women of either sex--of either sex or none-- Shriek and gibber of beings complex, that Time from the Ooze hath won. Brainless blockheads, with never a doubt that theirs are the only ways-- Oh! but we grimly kept them out, in the stern old union days. Selfish "problems" who lust for gold, for "purity", or for sin-- But the shameless doers of harm untold are the Cliques of the Who'll-Get-In. Society things of the Anti-Sosh, with the silly, empty lie, Picking the frosted cakes of Bosh (that will hurt 'em by-and-bye). Society frills to be trifled with, when a Government fall seems near, Used to-day by a Reid or Smith to sweep their pathways clear; Freetrade dames of the Gracious-Me's, and the gushing Doodle-Doos-- Darlings that worship the Anything-ese--and the Anti-Sosh Goo-Goos. Women-and-Girls-Protection Frights (whose looks protected too well), Hating the innocent Out-o'-Nights, when the stuffy rooms are hell; Saviours of children who are not lost--hounds where the frail have trod-- (Leaving a trail by infanticide crossed), who have none of their own, thank God! These are the Scares of the healthy life, these are the ghouls of sin, These are the tools of "our chief" (good Lord!), and the cliques of the Who'll-Get-In. There is another (as I've heard tell), fair and forty and fat, With the purr and the velvet that hide too well the spit and claw of the cat. As an angel of Peace and Love she comes, with a sigh for the human race. In her heart she would ruin a hundred homes that her name might take first place. To Lobby and Office mysteriously she goes where are barred the thin, With a purr and a sigh and a veiled false eye--and the whisper of "Who'll-Get-In?" With never a thought for their country's sake are their selfish bosoms vexed-- But, "Agent-General?--who will they make?" and "Who'll be Prime Minister next?" They follow to Melbourne and Downing-street with letters from Lord knows who, With the tricks of the harlot for all they meet; so long as their names get through. With the wriggle and smile for the big man's while wherever "a word's" to win-- With the lecture and screed for the people's need, and the whisper of "Who'll-Get-In?" The Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Cockney Soul [1918] From Woolwich and Brentford and Stamford Hill, from Richmond into the Strand, Oh, the Cockney soul is a silent soul--as it is in every land! But out on the sand with a broken band it's sarcasm spurs them through; And, with never a laugh, in a gale and a half, 'tis the Cockney cheers the crew. Oh, send them a tune from the music-halls with a chorus to shake the sky! Oh, give them a deep-sea chanty now--and a star to steer them by! Now this is a song of the great untrained, a song of the Unprepared, Who had never the brains to plead unfit, or think of the things they dared; Of the grocer-souled and the draper-souled, and the clerks of the four o'clock, Who stood for London and died for home in the nineteen-fourteen shock. Oh, this is a pork-shop warrior's chant--come back from it, maimed and blind, To a little old counter in Grey's Inn-road and a tiny parlour behind; And the bedroom above, where the wife and he go silently mourning yet For a son-in-law who shall never come back and a dead son's room "To Let". (But they have a boy "in the fried-fish line" in a shop across the "wye", Who will take them "aht" and "abaht" to-night and cheer their old eyes dry.) And this is a song of the draper's clerk (what have you all to say?)-- He'd a tall top-hat and a walking-coat in the city every day-- He wears no flesh on his broken bones that lie in the shell-churned loam; For he went over the top and struck with his cheating yard-wand--home. (Oh, touch your hat to the tailor-made before you are aware, And lilt us a lay of Bank-holiday and the lights of Leicester-square!) Hats off to the dowager lady at home in her house in Russell-square! Like the pork-shop back and the Brixton flat, they are silently mourning there; For one lay out ahead of the rest in the slush 'neath a darkening sky, With the blood of a hundred earls congealed and his eye-glass to his eye. (He gave me a cheque in an envelope on a distant gloomy day; He gave me his hand at the mansion door and he said: "Good-luck! Good-bai!") Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Country Girl [1907] The Country Girl reflects at last-- And well in her young days-- For she is learning very fast, The worth of City ways. The emptiness of Tailors men The women's paltry strife The Sham of 'Smart Society' Compared with Country Life. The novelty wore off at length, And flattered at the Ball, She things of one who has the strength And brains above them all. She things of men who Live and Work For sweetheart and for wife. And though it be as far as Bourke, Are true to Country Life. Sunday Times ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Crucifixion [1904] "THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD" They sunk a post into the ground Where their leaders bade them stop; It was a man's height, and they spiked A crosspiece to the top. They bound it well with thongs of hide, To make it firm and good; Then roughly, with His back to this, Their enemy they stood. They held His hands upon the piece, And they spiked them to the wood. They mocked Him then--the while He rocked In agony His head-- With things that He had never done, And He had never said-- With that which He had never been-- And in His face they spat. They placed a plank beside the post, And they spiked His feet to that. They pelted Him, but not with stones, Lest He should die too soon; They stayed to mock His agony All through the blazing noon. They did not pelt with stones, lest they Might kill Him unaware, But with foul things that lay about The filthy hovels there. And this was how they murdered Him They killed Him in his youth Because He had been good to men, Because He told the truth, Because they did not understand The things He felt and knew: He only said the world-old words, "They know not what they do." The flaunting harlots taunted Him; He only bowed His head, And prayed for public women then, While "Save Thyself!" they said. They went with soldiers to the camp, And the rest went by-and-bye, When they were weary of the sport-- And they left Him there to die. He lingered yet, for He was strong, But He shut His blighted eyes, And shuddered oft, for round Him swarmed The loathsome desert flies. His throat was parched, His temples throbbed, And when He drooped, the pain That shot from all His wounds tenfold Would draw Him up again. Two thieves were nailed beside Him there-- They raved, their wounds they tore, And though they both were stronger men, They seemed to suffer more; And while with agony great beads Of sweat stood on His brow, He'd comfort them in words like these: "'Twill soon be ended now." His friends had all deserted Him-- They fled in deadly fear (As friends desert a friend to-day, Afraid of jibe and sneer): The same poor human nature now, As it has ever been-- Small credit to be crucified Beside a Nazarene. But when the people in the town And the drunken soldiers slept, From some mean huts that stood hard by Three wretched women crept; Like thieves, across the stony ground, They came with stealthy tread, And they had water in a gourd-- But they found that He was dead. They brought some still more wretched men, And O their hearts were good: In terror, and with pains, they wrenched The strong spikes from the wood; They washed His body hurriedly, For they had lives to save, And they bore it off and hid it well, Where none might find his grave. His name is known where'er the foot Of Christian man has trod. They worship in cathedrals now, They call Him Son of God. They ask for aid in His dear name When they suffer care and pain, And if He came on earth to-day, They'd murder Him again. Newspaper cutting ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Delegates [1920] I THEN I spent a year in Junee, I spent a year in Bourke; And one I spent revising The year I spent in work. They seemed so close together They nearly broke my heart; And yet those fateful two years Were twenty years apart. Oh, down the Lachlan River Where father used to camp, The old grey horse is missing And I'm too old to tramp. No Union flag was flying, Because it never flew; The cause was dead or dying Round Bourke in 'ninety-two. Through bogs of sodden black soil We fell back, down and done, Heart-broken from the battle We'd lost in 'ninety-one. From Union camps of hunger, And cold and sodden beds, Our leaders followed after; Black-listed at the sheds, They tramped and worked for tucker To live for higher aims; And round the furthest stations Shore under other names. Oh, greybeard meeting greybeard! Oh, hearts of younger men! 'Tis long since I was called by The name I "went by" then. We'd meet and know each other-- No matter how we knew; We'd spies amongst the squatters Right back in 'ninety-two; And safer than the wireless, Or any means for hire, And surer were the messages We sent by mulga wire. Tall, gaunt and quaintly solemn, To mask the lurking grin, Matilda up at sunset, Our delegate came in; He'd look the rep. up (casual), And, after tea, perhaps, He'd say by light of slush-lamp "A few words to you chaps". The few short words were spoken And mulga'd further on; The shed-bell rang at sunrise Our delegate was gone. No par. was in the Herald, He wrote not to the Sun To tell the world what he had Or what he had not done. We had no grand head-office, Where staffs are mild and meek And bosses fight for freedom On fifteen pounds a week; Where pen-cranks blur the lessons We'd learned in 'ninety-three, And well-dressed Union bullies Sludge on Democracy. Headquarters then were anywhere Where headquarters might be-- The skillion of a shanty Or underneath a tree. In sheep or cattle country, Drought-blaze or freezing rain, Oh! there we fought the battles We'll have to fight again! Way down the Murrumbidgee And up the Lachlan side Are young bay horses saddled-- I'm not too old to ride. II NOW I spent a year in Junee, The railway runs to Hay, And up at Cootamundra It runs the other way. And there are many hardships And many wrongs to meet; But puppy politicians Go on to Spencer-street. (Ah me! in all this weary world, Of all the lines that run There is no line that runs to Bourke In eighteen-ninety-one.) They come from much or nothing, Blue or plebeian blood; But mostly from their cad-hood Their beds are soft as mud. But certes there's no doubting They're fitted for their job-- Born with the gift of spouting The obvious to the mob. No great ideas they pilfer, Because they never heed; They steal no words of wisdom, Because they never read; If higher lights should beacon They always keep in mind, For the safety of their Billets, The level of their kind! They work a small man's mischief And draw a big man's screw-- We'll never know how little, Or how much harm they do, Till their conceit unseats them-- An end that's always plain-- And they go "organising" Or "whispering" again. Oh! they outblight all blighters In tram or motorcar-- Exploit then drop the writers Who put them where they are. They're first to stumble over Their big splay feet and say "Me Lord!" likewise "Ver Lordship!" For ever and a day. They travel first and sleeper, At sea they go saloon-- They go without a keeper, But they shall need one soon. They buzz where strife is stirring Like flies to rotten meat; It is their Billets and the soul Of pitiful Conceit. 'Tis all tone and no tucker The pubs they call their own-- The pubs wherein we rested Were tucker and no tone. The greatest mateship treaty Was signed, when we grew strong, In Mother Minty's shanty Down by the Billabong. And oh! to see the lounging In smoke-rooms free of charge! And oh! to watch the ageing Of gentlemen at large! The playful condescending To empty-headed girls; And hear the patronising Of bards who dined with earls. They have a separate table Wherever they may go, And boast that they are able To keep their gulls in tow; They shout, or else they mutter, They tolerate or hate, They drag down to the gutter The name of delegate. They shame the honest memory Of working mums and dads; They simply have the minds without The dirt of "undercads". They scamp the Grand Old Union's work, Ragtime the songs we sung; Ah me! 'Twas well that Donald Macdonell died so young. A grey ghost far behind us-- The old grey horse that glides, North, south and eastward veering, No spectral horseman rides. Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Drums of Ages [1903] Drums of all that's right and wrong--of love and hate and scorn, And the new-born baby hears them and it wails when it is born. Drums of all that is to be, and all that has gone by, And we hear them when we're dreaming, and we hear them while we die. Drums of martyred innocence and drums of driven guilt Beating backward from the future when the first rude town was built; Beating louder through the slave days and the dark and hungry nights, While the hovels filled the valleys and the castles crowned the heights; Beating louder while the mansions shifted east from miles of slums-- Don't you hear them? Don't you hear them? Don't you hear the alley drums? Drums of human sacrifice and drums of war at home-- While the Romans conquered nations they were beating loud in Rome. Children heard them through the ages, mothers paused and glanced behind, Madmen saw and heard the drummers, but the rest were deaf and blind. Peasants starved on fields of plenty, workmen rotted in the slums-- Till the drummers came to Paris and the nations heard the drums. Drums of hope and bursting hearts--the drums of Westward Ho!-- From the homes of generations and their native land they go. 'Groom and bride and grey-haired mother, bent old men who go alone-- Fleeing bitter persecution for the terrible unknown: Seeking freedom, rest, or justice--and the peace that never comes-- And the wilderness was conquered when the pilgrims beat their drums. Drums of Greed that followed fast where men had made the way, Waking drums of stern rebellion when the exiles turned at bay, Spreading death and desolation, breeding old-world hells anew, Until England lost a nation for the blindness of a few. Still the dirty Jewish talon reached from palaces and slums Till a hundred thousand English died to stop the farmers' drums. Drums of tortured hearts o' men--the drums that never ceased-- Throbbing through the British Empire from the heart of London East; Growling louder still wherever, in the wake of those who lead, Comes the murmur of the board-room and the stealthy steps of greed; Growling through the Southern cities, murmuring in the Western gums, Till the Empire falls to pieces at the beating of the drums! Drums of all that's right and wrong--of love and hate and scorn; And the new-born baby hears them, and he wails when he is born. Drums of all that is to be, and all that has gone by-- And we hear there when we're dreaming, and we hear then while we die. Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Emigration to New Zealand [1893] I've just received a letter from a chum in Maoriland, He's working down in Auckland where he says he's doing grand, The climate's cooler there, but hearts are warmer, says my chum, He sends the passage money, and he says I'd better come. (I'd like to see his face again, I'd like to grip his hand), He says he's sure that I'll get on first-rate in Maoriland. An' tho' he makes the best of things (it always was his style), You mostly get on better in a new land for a while, An' when I see the fading line of my own native shore, I'll let it fade, and never want to see it anymore. I'm tired of Sydney pavements, and the Western scrub and sand, I'd rather fight my troubles for a change in Maoriland. I'm off to make inquiries as to when the next boat sails, I'm sick of all these colonies, but most of New South Wales, An' if you meet a friend of mine who wants to find my track, Say you, "He's gone to Maoriland, and isn't coming back". An' should it be the landlord or the rates, you understand, Just say you'll find him somewhere knocking round in Maoriland. Truth ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The English Ne'er-do-well [1893] We are sick and we are weary of the tales the poets tell Of the country's great affliction--otherwise the "Ne'er-do-well"; His mind is mostly narrow, and his principles are bad, Yet the poets make a hero of the selfish little cad. They give him strength and beauty--azure eyes and flaxen hair-- (Which we fancy is a libel on men described as "fair"); They give him mighty muscles and a firm decisive mouth (And he loafs on his relations or on the sunny south). But we've found him rather "stumpy", with the visage of a lout (His bloated face was blotchy and his eyes were bulging out, He was ignorant and selfish, poodle-nosed and bandy-legged, And he wouldn't spare a penny if his aged mother begged). He tells us of the glory of the country whence he came, Where he "tapped the guv." for money and disgraced his father's name; Of the helpless girls he ruined, and from whom he had to part, And the jolly days in Hingland--when he broke his mother's heart. When at home he never ordered less than half a dozen suits, He had a private tutor, and he never blacked his boots; He comes to make his fortune, without working, and gets "stuck", And then the blawsted country is the worst he ever struck. His family is ancient, for he swears his blood is blue-- And he swears a trifle harder than the common bushmen do. His death is sad and frequent, yet he never dies in town, And he mostly kicks the bucket when the sun is going down. In various situations he pumps his dying breath, But he never dies the common bush variety of death; (The awful, bearded bushman is mostly standing by, With sorrow in his features and a tear-drop in his eye). Sometimes his death is lonely, but he never dies in vain, Even when he has to "perish" on the "bare and barren plain", With his dying horse beside him and the everlasting dog, And a speculative eagle perched upon a "blackened log". He repents the selfish sinning which has left him in the lurch, And he sees the English village, and the ivy-mantled church; And he thinks of "home" and "mother" (such the memories that come To the mind that's been disordered by the shanty-keeper's rum). And the idiotic mongrel sits and eyes the dying man While he scratches last impressions on a battered billy-can. (And here it might be mentioned that the faithful dog of song Very often eats the body ere the poet comes along). Other times we find the sinner in a lonely little shed-- Slowly dying of consumption (of whisky--be it said). And he gazes on a locket with a tress of golden hair, And he whines about his mother and the girl who isn't there; Or he goes to bring a doctor to the squatter's dying child And is thrown among the saplings where the granite rocks are pil'd; Then he crawls a little further--there is none to hear his groans-- Till the fancy bushmen track him by his blue blood on the stones. First they view the spot and reckon that his thorough-mongrel swerved Where a jagged stump was standing (and it ought to be preserved), And he faintly falters "Alice" on his whisky-laden breath, Murmurs "Mother", and the country is richer for his death. And the stockmen stand bareheaded when they hear his dying moan (His mother's in the workhouse, if the truth is only known), And they find some faded letters--rather soiled with blood and dirt-- And the portrait of an actress on the inside of his shirt. But a cross-examination of the story makes us sick, For the never-do-well's in gaol for getting money by a trick; And there wasn't any "buster" where the granite rocks are piled; The squatter was unmarried, and he never had a child. We hate the noble spieler and the fool that holds his hand When he's dying, and the sunset's slowly fading from the land. We think the bards had better give the never-do-well a rest, For a meaner little mongrel never crawled across the west. The bards are soft on villains, but the weakness isn't new, For the ancient poet had it in the days of Joe the Jew (Who flashed a coloured square-cut while his brothers were at graft, And loafed around and bossed 'em till they put him in a shaft). And the prodigal who vanished--to his maudlin girl's alarm-- While his brother did the grubbing and the fencing on the farm; And returning after harvest--when the wheat and stuff was sold-- Had a banquet, while his relative was left out in the cold. Maidens read about the sorrows of the noble never-do-well, Till their lovely eyes are clouded and their gentle bosoms swell; Where there is no cant or humbug, there are tons of tommy-rot, But we mean to rise in anger and sit down upon the lot. Truth ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The English Queen [1892] A BIRTHDAY ODE There's an ordinary woman whom the English call "the Queen": They keep her in a palace and they worship her, I ween; She's served as one to whom is owed a nation's gratitude; (May angels keep the sainted sire of her angelic brood!) The people must be blind, I think, or else they're very green, To keep that dull old woman whom the English call "the Queen", Whom the English call "the Queen", Whom the English call "the Queen",-- That ordinary woman whom the English call "the Queen". The Queen has reigned for fifty years, for fifty years and five And scarcely done a kindly turn to anyone alive; It can be said, and it is said, and it is said in scorn, That the poor are starved the same as on the day when she was born. Yet she is praised and worshipped more than God has ever been-- That ordinary woman who. the English call "the Queen", Whom the English call "the Queen", Whom the English call "the Queen",-- That cold and selfish woman whom the English call "the Queen". The Queen has lived for seventy years, for seventy years and three; And few have lived a flatter life, more useless life than she; She never said a clever thing or wrote a clever line, She never did a noble deed, in coming times to shine; And yet we read, and still we read, in every magazine, The praises of that woman whom the English call "the Queen", Whom the English call "the Queen", Whom the English call "the Queen",-- That dull and brainless woman whom the English call "the Queen". They say that she is "Gracious", and that she's inspired with love, They also say that she's inspired with wisdom from above. They say that she's a noble Queen, and can do nothing wrong, They call on God to bless her, and they hope she'll reign for long; And where her foot has never trod, her heart has never been, There's many a statue raised to her whom English call "the Queen", Whom the English call "the Queen", Whom the English call "the Queen",-- That ordinary woman whom the English call "the Queen". They magnify her sorrow, too (it goes beyond belief), She lost her husband and was called "Pre-eminent in Grief"; And now she's more pre-eminent because her son is dead, Tho' pauper widows starve and hear their children cry for bread. The cares of those who starve and freeze--the hungry-eyed and lean-- Are nothing to the grief of one, whom people call "the Queen", Whom the English call "the Queen", Whom the English call "the Queen",-- That fat and selfish person, whom the English call "the Queen". She's lived a "virtuous life", 'tis true, but then there's nothing in The useless life of one who ne'er had heart enough to sin. She's lived a blameless life, they say--she thinks it not a crime To take her thousands while the poor are starving half the time. And when they blow the final trump, we rather think Faustine Will stand as good a show as she whom English call "the Queen", Whom the English call "the Queen", Whom the English call "the Queen",-- That pure and selfish woman whom the English call "the Queen". The Prince of Wales is worshipped next (it is a funny thing) For he will be the loafer whom the fools will call "the King". They keep the children of "the Queen", and they are not a few; The children of "the Queen" and all her children's children too. The little great-grandchild is great because the nation's green And Grandmama's the person whom the English call "the Queen", Whom the English call "the Queen", Whom the English call "the Queen",-- The dull, yet gilded dummy whom the English call "the Queen". And yearly, on "the Queen's" birthday they praise her and rejoice, And even far across the sea is heard the toady's voice. They gammon Christianity, they go to church and pray, Yet thrust HER in the sight of God, an idol of to-day, And she is praised and worshipped more than God has ever been-- That ordinary woman whom the English call "the Queen", Whom the English call "the Queen", Whom the English call the Queen",-- That selfish, callous woman whom the English call "the Queen". Truth ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Fate of the Fat Man's Son [1895] The Fat Man's sire was a leaner man from the Northern hemisphere; He lived in a day ere the fat began to smother us all out here; He worked for years in the building trade, when the trades were good estates, And grafted still when his "pile" was made, but he and his men were mates. He paid them well when the times were good--he never put on the screw; His words were short, and his manners rude; but his heart was right, they knew. And they knew the price of each job he took, in the days when a job meant "graft", For the book he kept was an open book, as fitted that grand old craft. His foremen's rule was firm, but fair, the rules of his shop were just; His eldest son was a workman there--'twas much to the son's disgust. "The boss" had houses and land in town--a fact he wouldn't deny; But when times were flinty the rents came down--they never were extra high. He kept his houses in good repair; what he promised was always done; He always knew how his tenants were, for he knew them every one. He steadily, honestly, ran his race, and finished and went to rest-- Some tears were shed for the hard old case with a heart in his hairy chest. He lay for weeks, so the foremen tell, but his men's respect he had; And the work had never been done so well as it was "when the boss was bad". The workman came in their Sunday best, they were men from many lands, The boss's coffin was borne to rest by four of his oldest hands. The hopeful son, in the sight of men, some crocodile tears let drop; He never put on the clothes again that he wore in his father's shop. His father's friends and his father's ways were a lot too slow for him; He joined in booms and he spent his days with men who were in the swim. He lowered the wages and raised the rents, and he voted straight for greed, For law and order and cent per cent were parts of the Fat Man's creed. He turned the widows and orphans out for the shillings they failed to find, The tenants went to the right about if the rent was a week behind. The girls that slaved in his sweating mills, the rents of the pubs he owned, And many a brothel paid the bills when the Fat Man's table "groaned". The Fat Man's son to a high school went as his father's weight increased, And several years of his life he spent in the study of tongues deceased. He shone as "stroke" in the sculling race, the match of his day he won; He sowed his oats and he went the pace--he lived like a Fat Man's son. The Fat Man died one day in his chair, as many a Fat Man dies; His bloated body was packed with care in a coffin of extra size. The ghouls of death in their human shape, with looks severely grave, And damp, limp women in yards of crape prevailed at the Fat Man's grave. The will was read by a lawyer mild. The property all was--gone! The son was left with a wife and child, and nothing to keep them on. He cursed his fate and he blamed the dead that he had never learnt a trade; He worked in his father's father's shed for the wage that his father paid. He led a strike, and he got the sack when the paltry point was won; They offered bribes, but he turned his back, though he was a Fat Man's son. To tell it all were a lengthy task--his poverty's black despair-- Go out in the world yourself and ask poor devils who have been there. His life embittered and health destroyed ere half of his years had run, The saddest case with the unemployed was that of the Fat Man's son. His daughter worked in a sweating den, where the pure and the vile were mixed, A shilling a day was the wages then by her fat grandfather fixed. His senses swam in a lurid mist as desperate things he thought-- The Fat Man's son was an Anarchist, a couple of shingles short. His poor wife died, and his son was gaoled; his daughter--she didn't go right. And he blew up a ship that his sire had sailed with a cartridge of dynamite. The papers never exactly knew how the fiendish deed was done, When the good ship Greed and its blackleg crew went down with the Fat Man's son. Worker ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Fight at Eureka Stockade [1890] "Was I at Eureka?" His figure was drawn to a youthful height, And a flood of proud recollections made the fire in his grey eyes bright; With pleasure they lighted and glisten'd, tho' the digger was grizzled and old, And we gathered about him and listen'd while the tale of Eureka he told. "Ah, those were the days," said the digger, "twas a glorious life that we led, When fortunes were dug up and lost in a day in the whirl of the years that are dead. But there's many a veteran now in the land--old knights of the pick and the spade, Who could tell you in language far stronger than mine 'bout the fight at Eureka Stockade. "We were all of us young on the diggings in days when the nation had birth-- Light-hearted, and careless, and happy, and the flower of all nations on earth; But we would have been peaceful an' quiet if the law had but let us alone; And the fight--let them call it a riot--was due to no fault of our own. "The creed of our rulers was narrow--they ruled with a merciless hand, For the mark of the cursed broad arrow was deep in the heart of the land. They treated us worse than the negroes were treated in slavery's day-- And justice was not for the diggers, as shown by the Bently affray. "P'r'aps Bently was wrong. If he wasn't the bloodthirsty villain they said, He was one of the jackals that gather where the carcass of labour is laid. 'Twas b'lieved that he murdered a digger, and they let him off scot-free as well, And the beacon o' battle was lighted on the night that we burnt his hotel. "You may talk as you like, but the facts are the same (as you've often been told), And how could we pay when the license cost more than the worth of the gold? We heard in the sunlight the clanking o' chains in the hillocks of clay, And our mates, they were rounded like cattle an' handcuffed an' driven away. "The troopers were most of them new-chums, with many a gentleman's son; And ridin' on horseback was easy, and hunting the diggers was fun. Why, many poor devils who came from the vessel in rags and down-heeled, Were copped, if they hadn't their license, before they set foot on the field. "But they roused the hot blood that was in us, and the cry came to roll up at last; And I tell you that something had got to be done when the diggers rolled up in the past. Yet they say that in spite o' the talkin' it all might have ended in smoke, But just at the point o' the crisis, the voice of a quiet man spoke. "'We have said all our say and it's useless, you must fight or be slaves!' said the voice; "'If it's fight, and you're wanting a leader, I will lead to the end--take your choice!' I looked, it was Pete! Peter Lalor! who stood with his face to the skies, But his figure seemed nobler and taller, and brighter the light of his eyes. "The blood to his forehead was rushin' as hot as the words from his mouth; He had come from the wrongs of the old land to see those same wrongs in the South; The wrongs that had followed our flight from the land where the life of the worker was spoiled. Still tyranny followed! no wonder the blood of the Irishman boiled. "And true to his promise, they found him--the mates who are vanished or dead, Who gathered for justice around him with the flag of the diggers o'erhead. When the people are cold and unb'lieving, when the hands of the tyrants are strong, You must sacrifice life for the people before they'll come down on the wrong. "I'd a mate on the diggings, a lad, curly-headed, an' blue-eyed, an' white, And the diggers said I was his father, an', well, p'r'aps the diggers were right. I forbade him to stir from the tent, made him swear on the book he'd obey, But he followed me in, in the darkness, and--was--shot--on Eureka that day. "'Down, down with the tyrant an' bully,' these were the last words from his mouth As he caught up a broken pick-handle and struck for the Flag of the South An' let it in sorrow be written--the worst of this terrible strife, 'Twas under the 'Banner of Britain' came the bullet that ended his life. "I struck then! I struck then for vengeance! When I saw him lie dead in the dirt, And the blood that came oozing like water had darkened the red of his shirt, I caught up the weapon he dropped an' I struck with the strength of my hate, Until I fell wounded an' senseless, half-dead by the side of 'my mate'. "Surprised in the grey o' the morning half-armed, and the Barricade bad, A battle o' twenty-five minutes was long 'gainst the odds that they had, But the light o' the morning was deadened an' the smoke drifted far o'er the town An' the clay o' Eureka was reddened ere the flag o' the diggers came down. "But it rose in the hands of the people an' high in the breezes it tost, And our mates only died for a cause that was won by the battle they lost. When the people are selfish and narrow, when the hands of the tyrants are strong, You must sacrifice life for the public before they come down on a wrong. "It is thirty-six years this December--(December the first*) since we made The first stand 'gainst the wrongs of old countries that day in Eureka Stockade, But the lies and the follies and shams of the North have all landed since then An' it's pretty near time that you lifted the flag of Eureka again. "You boast of your progress an' thump empty thunder from out of your drums, While two of your 'marvellous cities' are reeking with alleys an' slums. An' the landsharks, an' robbers, an' idlers an' --! Yes, I had best draw it mild But whenever I think o' Eureka my talking is apt to run wild. "Even now in my tent when I'm dreaming I'll spring from my bunk, strike a light, And feel for my boots an' revolver, for the diggers' march past in the night. An' the faces an' forms of old mates an' old comrades go driftin' along, With a band in the front of 'em playing the tune of an old battle song." [* The 1st of December was the date that the diggers swore an oath by the Southern Cross to defend their liberties; the date of the battle at the Eureka Stockade was the 3rd of December, 1854.] Freeman's Journal ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The First Dingo [1907] The kangaroo was formed to run, but not from man alone-- it ran before the horse or gun or native dog was known. It ran when drought left waterholes three hundred miles between-- from great floods and greater fires than we have ever seen. The blacks beside the coastal springs, where mountain sides are steep, they bred and kept their kangaroos much tamer than are sheep. And when the men fought inland tribes, or when they roamed at large, they drove their flocks down to the sea and left the gins in charge. And so, alert, with startled eyes, the shepherdess in fear perceives with wonder and surprise some foreign boats appear. She watches, creeping through the trees, and round the blackened logs, the strangest sight by southern seas-- the stranded Dutchmans's dogs. Town and Country Journal ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Flour Bin [1914] By Lawson's Hill, near Mudgee, On old Eurunderee-- The place they called "New Pipeclay", Where the diggers used to be-- On a dreary old selection, Where times were dry and thin, In a slab and shingle kitchen There stood a flour bin. 'Twas "ploorer" with the cattle, 'Twas rust and smut in wheat, 'Twas blight in eyes and orchards, And coarse salt-beef to eat. Oh, how our mothers struggled Till eyes and brain were dull-- Oh, how our fathers slaved and toiled To keep those flour bins full! We've been in many countries, We've sailed on many seas; We've travelled in the steerage And lived on land at ease. We've seen the world together Through laughter and through tears-- And not been far from baker's bread These five and thirty years. The flats are green as ever, The creeks go rippling through; The Mudgee Hills are showing Their deepest shades of blue; Those mountains in the distance That ever held a charm Are fairer than a picture As seen from Cox's farm. On a German farm by Mudgee, That took long years to win, On the wide bricked back verandah There stands a flour bin; And the dear old German lady-- Though the bakers' carts run out-- Still keeps a "fifty" in it Against a time of drought. It was my father made it, It stands as good as new, And of the others like it There still remain a few. God grant, when drought shall strike us, The young will "take a pull", And the old folk find their strength anew To keep those flour bins full. Western Post ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Foreign Legion [1915] They must not tread on the soil of France, Or the land of their hot, wild youth long vanished; They have no share in the world's romance, They only live with the banned and banished. Their ranks are filled with the world-wide scamps, From the Melbourne crook to the fair Norwegian-- From the Golden Gate to the Cossack camps They send recruits to the Foreign Legion. They are only known to a mother's heart, With a weight of years and sorrow on her; She only knows he will play his part With a brave boy's grit and a black sheep's honour. She wonders where he is fighting now (As the friends of the Legion often wondered), For the world and France, and a name disgraced And lost to him when his hot youth blundered! Somewhere down, I think, by the Suez banks, In the burning sand of that torrid region, She could surely find in the Allies' ranks Her well-loved scamp of the Foreign Legion! Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Friendless One [1917] The Light Of Other Days (a little faded), The Star of Other Nights (a trifle dim)-- One mule and one horse (both a wee bit jaded), But, by the tilt behind of his hat's brim And by the way he travelled all unaided, And by his old sheep-dog, I knew 'twas him. His hair, that once was black, is on the grey side; His figure, once so straight, is now inclined; He's hawking from Narrandera to the Hay side, And out along the lonely tracks, and blind. Just picking up the crumbs along the wayside; And always leaving smiles and grins behind. They'll say at camps and settlers' homes and stations, Where all know Dan the Hawker--"Crutchy Dan": "'E's got no friends, poor chap, an' no relations, An' so we allers helps him all we can." (Gaunt, casual plainsmen, best of all God's creatures!) So Daniel goes through life--a friendless man! 'E's got no friends. With summer insects humming, And twittering birds all round, magpies half tame, The half-wild Outpost children hail his coming, And to their brick-burnt mother shriek his name. And after supper, with the family chumming, Drought, war and rheumatism get the blame. They take his horses out and groom and feed them; They wash his duds, and mother mends and darns. All things are his to use if he should need them-- And he repays with his untruthful yarns. God bless these people and the Plains that breed them, Where, travelling through a world that never ends, I could be happy if I "'ad no friends"! Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Gentlemen of Dickens [1909] The gentlemen of Dickens Were mostly very poor, And innocent of grammar, And of parentage obscure; But rich or poor or thriving, Of high or lowly birth, The gentlemen of Dickens Were the grandest on the earth. The gentlemen of Dickens, They wore no fancy names, Like Reginald or Percy Fitzgerald or FitzJames; But names for fools to laugh at, That sound like hob-nailed boots, Like Newman Noggs and Knubbles, Toodles and Mr Toots. They'd little save their kindness, Their honesty and truth; They mostly came embarrassed, And stammering and uncouth; But the gentlemen of Dickens, Their women and their girls, Could speak their minds if need be To ladies and to earls. But one who wore a title A lesson, too, could teach: Lord Feenix, Cousin Feenix Of wandering legs and speech. O he might teach a lesson A gentleman could give, Where he stands by his "lovely And accomplished relative". The gentlemen of Dickens Were gamblers now and then (And looked upon the ladies, No doubt, like other men); And some of them were drunkards, It cannot be denied; But one washed all their sins away When Sidney Carton died. The gentlemen of Dickens Are round us here to-day, For their self-sacrificing Brave spirits live for aye. They cheer my heart and lift it, They set my blood aglow, For I was once a gentleman, Though it was years ago. Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Ghost at the Second Bridge [1891] You'd call the man a senseless fool,-- A blockhead or an ass, Who'd dare to say he saw the ghost Of Mount Victoria Pass; But I believe the ghost is there, For, if my eyes are right, I saw it once upon a ne'er- To-be-forgotten night. 'Twas in the year of eighty-nine-- The day was nearly gone, The stars were shining, and the moon Is mentioned further on; I'd tramped as far as Hartley Vale, Tho' tired at the start, But coming back I got a lift In Johnny Jones's cart. 'Twas winter on the mountains then-- The air was rather chill, And so we stopped beside the inn That stands below the hill. A fire was burning in the bar, And Johnny thought a glass Would give the tired horse a spell And help us up the Pass. Then Jimmy Bent came riding up-- A tidy chap was Jim-- He shouted twice, and so of course We had to shout for him. And when at last we said good-night He bet a vulgar quid That we would see the "ghost in black", And sure enough we did. And as we climbed the stony pinch Below the Camel Bridge, We talked about the "Girl in black" Who haunts the Second Bridge. We reached the fence that guards the cliff And passed the corner post, And Johnny like a senseless fool Kept harping on the ghost. "She'll cross the moonlit road in haste And vanish down the track; Her long black hair hangs to her waist And she is dressed in black; Her face is white, a dull dead white-- Her eyes are opened wide-- She never looks to left or right, Or turns to either side." I didn't b'lieve in ghosts at all, Tho' I was rather young, But still I wished with all my heart That Jack would hold his tongue. The time and place, as you will say, ('Twas twelve o'clock almost)-- Were both historically fa- Vourable for a ghost. But have you seen the Second Bridge Beneath the "Camel's Back"? It fills a gap that broke the ridge When convicts made the track; And o'er the right old Hartley Vale In homely beauty lies, And o'er the left the mighty walls Of Mount Victoria rise. And there's a spot above the bridge, Just where the track is steep, From which poor Convict Govett rode To christen Govett's Leap; And here a teamster killed his wife-- For those old days were rough-- And here a dozen others had Been murdered, right enough. The lonely moon was over all And she was shining well, At angles from the sandstone wall The shifting moonbeams fell. In short, the shifting moonbeams beamed, The air was still as death, Save when the listening silence seemed To speak beneath its breath. The tangled bushes were not stirred Because there was no wind, But now and then I thought I heard A startling noise behind. Then Johnny Jones began to quake; His face was like the dead. "Don't look behind, for heaven's sake! The ghost is there!" he said. He stared ahead--his eyes were fixed; He whipped the horse like mad. "You fool!" I cried, "you're only mixed; A drop too much you've had. I'll never see a ghost, I swear, But I will find the cause." I turned to see if it was there, And sure enough it was! Its look appeared to plead for aid (As far as I could see), Its hands were on the tailboard laid, Its eyes were fixed on me. The face, it cannot be denied Was white, a dull dead white, The great black eyes were opened wide And glistened in the light. I stared at Jack; he stared ahead And madly plied the lash. To show I wasn't scared, I said-- "Why, Jack, we've made a mash." I tried to laugh; 'twas vain to try. The try was very lame; And, tho' I wouldn't show it, I Was frightened, all the same. "She's mashed," said Jack, "I do not doubt, But 'tis a lonely place; And then you see it might turn out A breach of promise case." He flogged the horse until it jibbed And stood as one resigned, And then he struck the road and ran And left the cart behind. Now, Jack and I since infancy Had shared our joys and cares, And so I was resolved that we Should share each other's scares. We raced each other all the way And never slept that night, And when we told the tale next day They said that we were--intoxicated. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Good Old Concertina [1891] 'Twas merry when the hut was full Of jolly girls and fellows. We danced and sang until we burst The concertina's bellows. From distant Darling to the sea, From the Downs to Riverina, Has e'er a gum in all the west Not heard the concertina? 'Twas peaceful round the campfire blaze, The long white branches o'er us; We'd play the tunes of bygone days, To some good old bush chorus. Old Erin's harp may sweeter be, The Scottish pipes blow keener; But sing an old bush song for me To the good old concertina. 'Twas cosy by the hut-fire bright When the pint pot passed between us; We drowned the voice of the stormy night With the good old concertina's. Though trouble drifts along the years, And the pangs of care grow keener, My heart is gladdened when it hears That good old concertina. Town and Country Journal ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Green Tide [1899] The loud, brave laugh and the well-worn jest-- Or we'll fail at the pinch to smile-- You'll be dull to-day if I know you best, And I'll feel sore-heart awhile. A grip over rail with your hand in mine For the future and what has been; And the wharf and the deck roaring Auld Lang Syne, As the green tide slips between. As the green tide slips between, old man, And the green tide flows between; "You'll drop me a line," and "I'll drop you a line," When the South Sea rolls between. But you'll be afloat on a New Year's boat, For I seek good luck for two; And you start a cheer when you sight the pier, And I'll raise one there for you. A grip over rail with your hand in mine For the future and what has been. And the wharf and the deck roaring Auld Lang Syne, While the green tide spreads between. And the green tide runs between, old man, And the green tide flows between, "I drop you a line," and "You drop me a line," When the South Sea rolls between. Town and Country Journal ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Helpless Mothers [1891] I walked with Man in his Paradise, That lies in the city street; The air is foul, and the Halls of Vice Are free to his children's feet. The children fall where the father fell, Where the snares of ruin are; The son goes down through the gates of Hell By the father left ajar. The mother works "as the woman should", But weeps when the day is done And hides her face in the hands that could, But may not, save her son. I walk with Man in his Paradise, And ask if his rule be just. Small vengeance follows the sacrifice Of the daughter's soul to lust! The mother shares in the shame, but not In the rule that lets it live, She fights unarmed, and the tears are hot For the shield she cannot give. She breaks her heart for the boy astray Or the girl that is defiled. But has not even the right to say; "They shall not tempt my child!" I say to Man in his Paradise That justice must now be done To her who's slave (says the Arab) thrice; To the father, husband and son. A poor wife hungers in rooms that are As bare as the barren street, And longs for a law that would close the bar To her husband's wavering feet. "'Tis I who suffer for all," she sobs, "O why is the landlord free To thrive on my hushand's vice, that robs My little ones and me?" The streets are filled with the snares that lurk In the wayward children's path. Yet people say that a woman's work Is still by the homely hearth. But the stagnant air of the world is srirred By the voice despised so long: The woman's voice in the land is heard,-- The words of a strange new song. We'll know the worth of a purer youth When the women rule with men, For love virtue and peace and truth Shall save the world again. Dawn ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"The Home of the Gods" [1894] In the mellifluous language of Maori, "Pahiatua", it is popularly supposed, means "The Home of the Gods". That fact is responsible for the following effusion from the pen of our office poet. The Home of the Gods was as wild as could be, When man was a "savage" and nature was free, (And beauty was charming, because, we suppose, Its troubles were small on the subject of clothes); When the Maori who came with a conquering band Could live for a year on the "fat" of the land; When your wrongs were avenged and your feelings were oiled By a dish of "stuffed enemy", roasted or boiled, And the Maori girl robbed of the best of her chaps-- By a rival whose beauty was barer, perhaps-- Could wait for her turn and find ease from the sting, While gnawing a shank of the brazen-faced thing. The friend of the husband (we say to his shame) On the latter might dine with the wife of the same; Or the husband might slaughter a lover or two, And force the wife to partake of the stew. Or the wives and husbands might fix it, of course, By eating each other by way of divorce; Thus the husband, by eating a missus untrue, Had her all to himself, and was rid of her, too. In fact, in the chances that married life brings, There was scarcely a limit to possible things. The jilted young buck of the period, no doubt, Could lay for his rival and flatten him out; And afterwards say to the girl of his oath, "I've eaten your bloke, will you marry us both?" And she'd marry 'em both; there was no need to say, "How happy with either were t'other away!" And all things were lovely and lively, but ah! The white man set foot on the track to the pah, Ran the fire through the bush and plough through the sods, And altered the face of the Home of the Gods. There is no God but money, for changed is the scene, The fat of the country live high on the lean; The councillors sit on the boundary fence; The law is explained to the stubborn and dense, Where the chiefs of a nation once met to decide As to which of the prisoners first should be tried. And Moore he keeps tally where Perham, long odds, Draws wonderful plans for the Home of the Gods. And Reeve upon paper keeps count of our sins And virtues, where records were tattooed on skins, And Skinner collects in the streets and the scrub, Where bills were collected and paid with a club. We murder our foes just by "running them down" When they are not there; and the belles of the town Fight rivals with words that are harder than stones, And hurt them far worse than by picking their bones. And we toil through the week, and on Saturday nights We murder our sorrows in beery delights, Till Constable Cooper appears on the scene And puts in a word on behalf of the Queen. And we lend and we borrow our vanishing wads Of tobacco in the Home of the Gods. And Baillie, the editor, sits in his den, And writes it all up with a magazine pen; And the horrible punster who says "I have come To bail'ee out, Baillee --" (The editor returned unexpectedly at this point and shortly afterwards the poet and his mate left the office under sudden and painful circumstances.) Pahiatua Herald ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Horseman on the Skyline [1906] Who's that mysterious rider, Full-sized, yet far away, Seen by the Western-sider-- A spectre of the day? On ridge or seeming high line Where East the plain expands, The horseman on the skyline Is known in many lands. With summer insects drumming And summer skies aglow, He's there--none saw him coming-- He's gone--none saw him go. Too plain for superstition, Too blurred for one we sought, He rides across our vision To vanish like a thought. He never halts nor hurries, But slowly, in broad day, Along the skyline eastward He seems to pick his way. He rides against the sunrise, He rides against the gloom, Where suddenly, in summer, The lurid storm-clouds loom. He never rides in starlight, Nor underneath the moon, But often in the distant And dazzling haze of noon. The sad Australian sunset (Too sad for pen or tongue) Has often seen him riding Out where the night was young. Our rolling cattle ranches, In "country" far away, Where cowboys took their chances, They saw him every day. And many try to find him Where riders never tire-- He leaves no trail behind him And never lights a fire. On run and ranch and veldtland He leaves them all in doubt-- A cowboy, or a stockman, A horse thief, or a scout. The glass brings him no nearer, Nor hints the way he came; His features are no clearer, He vanishes the same. Too blurred and dark his clothing To hint of his degree; Inquiries lead to nothing, No hoof-marks do we see. He leaves the watcher puzzled, Or leaves the watcher pained: The horseman on the skyline Has never been explained. Still, where by foot or saddle, Or train or motor car, The people hurry westward-- It matters not how far-- And, plainly seen by many, The greatest and the least-- The rider on the skyline Is scouting to the east. The Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The House of Fossils [1892] Behold! above the people all an old museum stands, The ancient House of Fossils which is mighty in the lands, And there, as in the days gone by, when ancient rulers lied, Invulnerable ignorance and cheek are petrified; And, though the God of property might grit his teeth and frown, I think it's time the people pulled the old museum down. I think that we've been fooled enough by venerable lies-- I think it's time that Workmen wiped the verdure from their eyes. Why send our men to Parliament? There's nothing to be won, For all the good they do is by the FOSSILIZED undone; We start the car of progress, and we see it coming back, For lo! the old museum stands for ever in the track. We cannot pass the measures that the people talk about, And there'll be no reform until we clear the Fossils out. We battled for One-Man-One-Vote; the PEOPLE passed the Bill; But listen how the Fossilized can thwart the People's will. Now P(h)ilcher, first, denied in terms, sarcastically choice. That Labour Members represent the working People's voice; He went a little further, and he spiked their guns--to wit, He did deny their right to say they represented it. He drew his sword of argument from out its rusty sheath, And dared the champions who "threw the Assembly in his teeth". And he denied--well, he denied the TRUTH to all intents And purposes--I want to know what P(h)ilcher represents. Then Combes must add his drivel to the everlasting flood; He hoped that they would stop the bill and "nip it in the bud", (But aye the plant shall bud again and Time, the Grand old Thief Shall nip the House of Fossils in the sear and yellow leaf); A Fossil he, and so, of course he thinks that it is best That any man should vote whate'er "he has an interest". He gave a case in point; he said, in other days (lang syne) He "went into the wilderness" and opened up a mine; The place is populated now by thousands--"mostly fools"-- (He even gave the number of the children in the schools,) And if the bill was passed--well then--what then? well--anyhow He couldn't represent--or help to boss--the district now! I really think the man who craves so much for place and pelf* Should go and dig another hole, and undertake himself. Then Ironmonger Macintosh addressed the Fossilized! He claimed the rights of property--they should be recognized. He lives, like other rocks. as though the past has never been; He really cannot say he has, since last election, seen A single public meeting called on purpose to discuss The question of One-Man-One-Vote. But it was ever thus; For if the whole creation let the reign of wrong behind, The Fossils wouldn't see, for the Petrified are blind. And in his inconsistency he thinks it is too much That he be asked to give a vote to parasites and such. Alas, for human arguments, when these enlightened men Deny the starving thief a vote, while wealthy thieves have ten. If honest Labour can't outvote the spieler and the tout, 'Tis time the Lord got up in wrath and wiped the nations out. Then Joseph rose to "caution the community at large" (I really think the God of Greed was left in Israel's charge). He did not hesitate to say that if the Bill was passed We'd turn and put a cruel tax on property at last. He looked into the future, just as far as he could see, And drew a painful picture of poor "helpless Property". He mouthed about "Frugality" and says, as bold as brass. That that which injures capital will damn the working-class. He drivelled, and he cautioned, and--we do not say he lied-- He cautioned mankind just as much as P(h)ilcher had denied. Then purblind Lawyer Piggott rose with something in his throat, He said the Bill was never meant to give One-Man-One-Vote. The gist of Piggort's argument was that the Bill was meant To make a pauper equal to an "honourable" gent. And then upon the Bill there tell another of the rocks With thirty thousand acres of the People's land--'twas Coin He said, etcetera. But why repeat the senseless bosh agen: (As Antony remarked; "They all are 'honourable' men.") And still above the people all the House of Fossils stands, The greatest of phenomena in these enlightened lands; And there as in the grand old days, when Roman Fossils lied, Invulnerable ignorance and cheek are petrified. And though it shelters property, and helps to prop the Crown, I think it's time the toilers pulled the old museum down. I think that we've been fooled enough by venerable lies, I think it's time the people cleansed the verdure from their eyes. [* Wealth or riches, especially when dishonestly acquired.] Truth ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Hymn of the Socialists [1887] By the bodies and minds and souls that rot in a common stye In the city's offal-holes, where the dregs of its horrors lie-- By the prayers that bubble out, but never ascend to God, We swear the tyrants of earth to rout, with tongue and with pen and sword! By the child that sees the light, where the pestilent air stagnates, By the woman, worn and white, who under the street-lamp waits, By the horror of vice that thrives in the dens of the wretched poor, We swear to strike when the time arrives, for all that is good and pure! By the rights that were always ours--the rights that we ne'er enjoyed, And the gloomy cloud that lowers on the brow of the unemployed; By the struggling mothers and wives--by girls in the streets of sin-- We swear to strike when the time arrives, for our kind and our kith and kin! By our burning hate for men who rob us of ours by might, And drive to the slum and den, the poor from the sun and light, By the hell-born greed that drives our sons o'er the world to roam, We swear to strike when the time arrives, and strike for our friends and home. By the little of manhood left in a world of want and sin, By the rift in the dark cloud's brow where the light still struggles in, By the love that scarce survives in a stream that is sluggish and thin, We swear to work till the time arrives for ourselves and our kind and kin. The little of love may dry in its stream that scarcely flows, The little of manhood die and the rift in the dark clouds close, And hope may vanish from earth and all that is pure and bright, But we swear to strike eer that time has birth with the whole of our gathered might! Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Iron Wedding Rings [1909] In these days of peace and money, free to all the Commonweal, There are ancient dames in Buckland wearing wedding rings of steel; Wedding rings of steel and iron, worn on wrinkled hands and old, And the wearers would not give them, not for youth nor wealth untold. In the days of black oppression, when the best abandoned hope, And all Buckland crouched in terror of the prison and the rope, Many fair young wives in Buckland prayed beside their lonely beds For the absent ones who knew not where to lay their outlawed heads. But a whisper went through Buckland, to the rebels only known, That the man across the border had a chance to hold his own. There were men that came in darkness, quiet, grim and travel-worn, And, by twos, and threes, the young men stole away to join Kinghorn. Slipping powder-horns and muskets from beneath the floors and thatch, There were boys who kissed their mothers ere they softly dropped the latch; There were hunters' wives in backwoods who sat strangely still and white Till the dawn, because their men-folk went a-hunting in the night. But the rebels needed money, and so, through the Buckland hills, Came again, by night, the gloomy men of monosyllables; And the ladies gave their jewels to be smuggled out and sold, And the homely wives of Buckland gave their wedding rings of gold. And a Buckland smith in secret, and in danger, in his shed Made them rings of baser metals (from the best he had, to lead), To be gilt and worn to market, or to meetings where they.prayed, Lest the spies should get an inkling, and the husbands be betrayed. Then a silence fell on Buckland; there was peace throughout the land, And a loyalty that puzzled all the captains in command; There was too much Law and Order for the men who weren't blind, And the greatest of the king's men wasn't easy in his mind. They were hunting rebels, certes, and the troops were understood To be searching for a stronghold like a needle in a wood; But whene'er the king was prayed for in the meeting-houses, then It was strange with how much unction ancient sinners cried "Ah-men!" Till at last, when all was quiet, through the gloomy Buckland hills Once again there came those furtive men of monosyllables; And their message was--"Take warning what the morrow may reveal, Death and Freedom may be married with a wedding ring of steel." In the morning, from the marshes, rose the night-mist, cold and damp, From the shipping in the harbour and the sleeping royal camp; From the lanes and from the by-streets and the high streets of the town, And above the hills of Buckland, where the rebel guns looked down. And the first one sent a message to the camp to fight or yield, And the wintry sun looked redly on a bloody battlefield; Till the man from 'cross the border marched through Buckland once again, With a charter for the people and ten thousand fighting men. There are ancient dames in Buckland with old secrets to reveal, Wearing wedding rings of iron, wearing wedding rings of steel; And their tears drop on the metal when their thoughts are far away In the past where their young husbands died on Buckland field that day. Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The King His Crown [1918] Our fathers they were rebels by backwood, bog and glen; Our fathers and their fathers were hanged and hunted men; Our fathers marched from Creswick to die by Digger Town, And we joined up for England and the King his crown! We'd fought with tongue and pen For years the wrongs of men-- And then we fought for England and the King his crown. Now Scotty was a black Scot, cursed England with his clan; His feyther's gre't-gran'-feyther had been "a Charlie's man". But Scotty left in Flanders, wi' blackest curse and frown, A hairy leg for England and the King his crown. O'er hills by richt his ain He stumps wi' micht and main And monny a curse for England and the King his crown. Now Paddy was a red Celt and known in any land (His heart he always carries in the heel of his right hand). He went to gaol for Ireland before the moon went down, And left his scalp in Egypt for the King his crown. And now, with silver pate, He voices Ireland's hate For everything in England and the King his crown. My father was a Norseman, and the Norseman was a Dane (It was a Queen of England left Denmark in her pain). A rebel while my beard was red and while my hair was brown, I've yapped four years for England and the King his crown-- "Flag-flapper, turncoat, clown!" Old comrades wince and frown! I sold their cause for England and the King his crown. The King he was a married man, as most of us should be; The King he had his children, and we had two or three. We heard the screaming women when the German sacked the town-- And so we fought for England and the King his crown. We played our little part-- A rebel has a heart To keep, as well as England, or a King his crown. Perhaps we'll find that we betrayed the rebel cause in vain; Perhaps some day we'll dare to raise the rebel flag again. Remember then, in our defeat, before you shoot us down, That once we strove for England and the King his crown-- You'll shoot us just the same, But we shall die as game, As any died for England and the King his crown. We're not all saints and martyrs; we're not all eyes and hair (One failed to fight a wrong because he found a girl too fair). We're rebels to ourselves at times and sin by field and town; And yet we'd fight for Nazareth--and the King His crown. Dear King, so meek and mild! We're each a little child-- 'Tis not ourselves, but Someone and--a queen her crown. Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Labour Agitator [1891] Let the liar call me liar, And the robber call me thief. They can only fan the fire That is born of my belief. While I'm speaking, while I'm writing, To reform the wrongful laws, Well I know that I am fighting For the grand old Cause. See the army of the rebels Marching on for evermore. We are countless as the pebbles That are strewn along the shore. Agitating, agitating, Till the Truth has sealed the fate Of the wrongs that I am hating With the grand old Hate. Though no battle banner rustles In a smoke that blurs the blue, As when "heroes" poured from Brussels To the field of Waterloo, Though we do not hear the rattle Of the rifles in the wars, There is glory in the battle For the grand old Cause. See the army of the rebels Marching on for evermore. We are countless as the pebbles That are strewn along the shore. Agitating, agitating, Till the Truth has sealed the fate Of the wrongs that I am hating With the grand old Hate. No! I look not to the reaping In the dynasty of men, For I know that I'll be sleeping In a slandered grave e'er then. Till his right to man is given We'll rebel, and we'll rebel As we would rebel in heaven If it proved a hell. See the army of the rebels Marching on for evermore. We are countless as the pebbles That are strewn along the shore. Agitating, agitating, Till the Truth has sealed the fate Of the wrongs that I am hating With the grand old Hate. No! There's neither creed nor nation Where the Labour flag's unfurled, For the Labour agitation Breaks the barriers of the world. Let the rulers fly in terror With their scornful lips uncurled, One by one the gods of error From their thrones are hurled. See the army of the rebels Marching on for evermore. We are countless as the pebbles That are strewn along the shore. Agitating, agitating, Till the Truth has sealed the fate Of the wrongs that I am hating With the grand old Hate. Worker ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Latter End of Spring [1894] The wild wet waves of winter time were drifting o'er his head, He wrote to her from Maoriland, and, this is what he said: "It's hard to make a living, but, whatever fate may bring, I'll come to meet the summer in the latter end of spring. To my lips your kisses cling. You to me are everything-- I will come to clasp my darling in the latter end of spring." She wrote, and if she waited, then she waited all in vain-- The spring went by and summer, and the autumn came again. The autumn passed and winter, and the youth of whom we sing Was felling bush for tucker in the latter end of spring. When your heart is on a string, And small rest the night can bring-- Oh, it's weary, weary waiting in the latter end of spring. She wrote, but, ah, his hopes were crushed as often as they rose-- (Otago's winds blow mighty cold through old Australian clothes). The year went round again, and he - what sorrows fate can bring!-- Was digging gum in tatters in the latter end of spring. He would lose his head and sing Of his blue-eyed Lily King-- 'Twas a brown-eyed girl that loved him in the latter end of spring. But luck will change however and wherever you may roam; An uncle left him money, and the calf grew fat at home-- Then never ship can sail too fast when love is on the wing-- He came to claim his sweetheart in the latter end of spring, And his footstep had a swing When he asked for Lily King.... She was married to a banker in the latter end of spring. His brow went cold with pain, and then with anger it grew hot-- "I'll love the girl who loves me since the girl I loved forgot!" He turned to her unto whose soul his love was everything, And married her in Maoriland before the end of spring. Then fill the glass and sing, For time is on the wing-- It's jolly, jolly living in the luring months of spring. Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Lay-'Em-Out Brigade [1892] When first this rum old world began to suffer for its sins, The Tyrant and the Rebel rose, and they, we know, were twins; The Rebel was "more numerous", and he and Greed were foes, And so to keep him in his place the "hired assassin" rose. Thus, when the first foundation stone of Mammon-tower was laid, The wealthy idlers organised the "Lay-'Em-Out" Brigade. Where'er a man of noble mind, but lacking gold or "birth", With indignation eloquent, attacked the wrongs on earth; Where'er he left his place and urged the children of the soil To claim a fairer portion of the harvest of their toil, As like as not his fiery blood of eloquence was stayed, And he was perforated by the "Lay-'Em-Out" Brigade. Old Greed called out the troops where'er the wolves began to howl-- "Call out the Troops," he cries today when workmen strike and growl, Or "Call the Military out,"--it's pretty much the same: The Guards of Mammon shoot as straight by any other name-- And when the coward robbers call the soldiers to their aid, The call is nobly answered by the "Lay-'Em-Out" Brigade. When peasants find they cannot "live", no matter how they try, They stick a pike upon a pole, and strike a blow and die. They seldom get a victory, but then, what matters it? 'Tis well the "Lay-'Em-Out" Brigade should thin 'em out a bit. What matters if, before 'tis due, Dame Nature's debt is paid? Some misery is ended by the "Lay-'Em-Out" Brigade. Britannia learned the lesson from the New World in its youth, That Truth behind the cannon is a pesky kind of Truth. The men of Bunker's Hill, behind their barricade of logs-- They startled some of those who came to shoot 'em down like dogs. Britannia came to Bunker's Hill, and--"Lay 'em out!" she said; But there she found another kind of "Lay-'Em-Out" Brigade. And when the "Lay-'Em-Out" Brigade received a check in France, The Potentates were taught to dance the dodge-the-bullet dance-- When, scarce a hundred years ago, the Frenchmen turned about, And taught the world that two could play the game of "Lay-'Em-Out". The common people took a hand and quickly learned the trade, And had an explanation with the "Lay-'Em-Out" Brigade. We'll take a lesson from the rich, and try that "good old plan", That "they shall take, who have the power, and they shall keep who can", For as the planet rolls along, emerging from its night, The toilers of the world grow strong; and Right, at last, is Right. The theory's in practice now, and rebel barricades Are growing more unhealthy for those "Lay-'Em-Out" Brigades. The "Shoot-'Em" Brigadier is here; he swaggers past us now; (I love the little "drake-tails" that are curled upon his brow.) He's got 'em on--the "cheek" and all--he's here, without a doubt (He lately went to Africa to lay the Arabs out.) The "military spirit" now is here in every grade, From "privates" to the cads who boss the "Lay-'Em-Out" Brigade. But, in the land we love to call the region of the Dawn, I do not think the "Shoot-'Em-Downs" had better try it on: They tried it once in years gone by, 'way down on Ballarat And shot some early patriots down--but we'll remember that. The monument, where diggers fought, and died in their Stockade Reminds us still of what we owe the "Lay-'Em-Out" Brigade. The thing might pass in Europe, where rebellious peasants lie With dead eyes staring up into the chilly northern sky-- They're used to that in Europe--but the Southern rouseabout Has not been educated up to being stiffened out. Our drama's just begun, and when the after-part is played, The Queensland shearers won't forget the "Lay-'Em-Out" Brigade. The milingtary spirit! whoop! A pretty day, b' gob! When we must play "civilyun" to the military snob; We do not want the men who swear allegiance to the "Crown", And loaf, at our expense, and learn the way to shoot us down; We'll pay to keep the men who'll fight for us when foes invade, But let the wealthy pay to keep their "Lay-'Em-Out" Brigade. P.S.--I do not mean to sneer at all our Workmen volunteers, They mightn't shoot according to their "hofficers' idears", For when the battle thunder wakes the "Workman's Paradise", I think they'll fire a little high, and miss, in spite of Price; Some rifles of Her Majesty's will join the "underpaid", And shoot in opposition to the "Lay-'Em-Out" Brigade. Truth ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Leader and the Bad Girl [1903] Because he had sinned and suffered, because he loved the land, And because of his wonderful sympathy, he held men's hearts in his hand. Born and bred of the people, he knew their every whim, And because he had struggled through poverty he could draw the poor to him: Speaker and leader and poet, tall and handsome and strong, With the eyes of a dog for faith and truth that blazed at the thought of a wrong. They thought in his country's crisis that his time had come at last, For they measured his brilliant future by the light of his brilliant past. At every monster meeting the thousands called his name, And a burst of triumphant cheering greeted him when he came. They had faith in the strength of a single man, when their fighting lines were weak, And a pregnant silence fell on all whenever he rose to speak. But just when his power was greatest and the people's cause went well, And just as they needed their leader most, the leader stumbled and fell; And his pitiful rivals exulted, for they thought that his star had set, And the hearts of the people who worshipped him were filled with a keen regret; The cowardly sneer was printed, and whispered the shameful word, And the scandal was heard by thousands, the world and a bad girl heard. Down in the frowsy alley, in a dark and narrow room, On a mattress the shattered drunkard lay ghastly in his gloom; And the bad girl nursed him and kept him from the drink for which he craved, And she gave him broth and she watched him, and she soothed him when he raved, For she'd heard the boast of his rivals and had sworn to lift him above, And by day and by night she held him with the strength of a woman's love. They were holding a monster meeting, and the hour was close at hand When his rivals would be triumphant and bad laws rule the land; His people swayed and wavered and scattered like storm-swept birds, For they needed his magical presence and the sound of his burning words. But he heard the Drums of the Alley and the feeble answering cheer, And he felt the strength to his limbs return, and his brain grow cool and clear. He rose, and the bad girl dressed him well in the den where the lights were dim, And her eyes grew bright as an angel's might, for she knew the strength in him. They had sneered when his name was mentioned in the hall with lights aglare. But the crowd surged back to the platform when 'twas whispered that he was there. Like the cry of a crowd from a sinking ship, his people called his name, And gaunt and white but with eyes alight with the fire of old he came. He spoke of the shameful sacrifice of the land where he was born; Spoke with the burning words of truth and the withering words of scorn. He spoke as he never had done before and his rivals were stricken dumb, For the little men knew their master, and they knew that he had come; His song of salvation went through the land in a loud, triumphant strain, He held them all in the palm of his hand, and he was a king again. So a man might fall to the gutter, though he be a king of men, But a man might rise from the gutter with the strength of ten times ten; And the people's poet and leader for a long time led them all, Wiser because of his weakness and stronger because of the fall. They found the girl in the river, the river that flowed by the town, She died that her spirit might strengthen him, where her love would drag him down. Sun ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The League of Nations [1919] Light on the towns and cities, and peace for evermore! The Big Five met in the world's light as many had met before, And the future of man is settled and there shall be no more war. The lamb shall lie down with the lion, and trust with treachery; The brave man go with the coward, and the chained mind shackle the free, And the truthful sit with the liar ever by land and sea. And there shall be no more passion and no more love nor hate; No more contempt for the paltry, no more respect for the great; And the people shall breed like rabbits and mate as animals mate. For lo! the Big Five have said it, each with a fearsome frown; Each for his chosen country, State, and city and town; Each for his lawn and table and the bed where he lies him down. Cobbler and crank and chandler, magpie and ape disguised; Each bound to his grocery corner--these are the Five we prized; Bleating the teaching of others whom they ever despised. But three shall meet in a cellar, companions of mildew and rats; And three shall meet in a garret, pungent with stench of the cats, And three in a cave in the forest where the torchlight maddens the bats-- Bats as blind as the people, streaming into the glare-- And the Nine shall turn the nations back to the plain things there; Tracing in chalk and charcoal treaties that none can tear: Truth that goes higher than airships and deeper than submarines, And a message swifter than wireless--and none shall know what it means-- Till an army is rushed together and ready behind the scenes. The Big Five sit together in the light of the World and day, Each tied to his grocery corner though he travel the world for aye, Each bleating the dreams of dreamers whom he has despised alway. And intellect shall be tortured, and art destroyed for a span-- The brute shall defile the pictures as he did when the age began; He shall hawk and spit in the palace to prove that he is a man. Cobbler and crank and chandler, magpie and ape disguised; Each bound to his grocery corner--these are the Five we prized; Bleating the teaching of others whom they ever despised. Let the nations scatter their armies and level their arsenals well, Let them blow their airships to Heaven and sink their warships to Hell, Let them maim the feet of the runner and silence the drum and the bell; But shapes shall glide from the cellar who never had dared to "strike", And shapes shall drop from the garret (ghastly and so alike) To drag from the cave in the forest powder and cannon and pike. As of old, we are sending a message to Garcia still-- Smoke from the peak by sunlight, beacon by night from the hill; And the drum shall throb in the distance--the drum that never was still. Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Legend of Mammon Castle [1889] In the days that will be olden after many years are gone, Ere the world emerged from darkness floating out into the dawn, On a mountain rising steeply from the depth of marsh and wood Raised in scorn above the lowlands Mammon Castle proudly stood, Mammon Castle, built of marble that was cut and reared with pain By the poor and starving wretches who were serfs on that domain-- All the jewel-studded windows shone at sunset like a fire, And a diamond was flashing from the needle of the spire. Now the nobles held the castle by a title that was old, And they drank from crystal goblets and they ate from plates of gold; The coffers of the castle they were plenished by the thralls, And many were the revels that were held in Mammon's halls. And the plunder from the toilers more than paid for silks and wine, So the flower-beds were bordered with the jewels of the mine, All the serfs were taught to worship both the lady and the lord, And the nobles taught their children to be wiser far than God. But a vassal preached sedition and in a gloomy hour Came the wild and haggard vassals to the gate of Mammon Tower; They asked for food and shelter and were answered by a blow, And, rising in their anger, soon they laid the castle low. The jewels of the castle went to buy the people bread, And according to his labour was the toiler clothed and fed. And with the wood and marble, my dreaming tells me so-- Many little homes were builded in the valleys down below. Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Little Slit in the Tail [1909] I'm glad that the Bushmen can't see me now A-doing it tall in the town; I've an inch-brimmed hat on my sun-burnt brow-- And my collar jumps up and down. I'm wearing a vest that would charm a snake, And a tie like a lost soul's wail; And I'm dressed in a coat of the latest make, With a little slit in the tail: With a little slit in the tail of it, With a little slit in the tail. My pants alone are a thing of joy, And they're built to show my bends, With a crease behind and a crease before, And a little curl in the ends. I carry my nose-rag in my cuff, And the lot should get me gaol-- I paid five guineas for my rig-out, And one for the slit in the tail: For the little slit in the tail of it, For the little slit in the tail. Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Local Spirit [1914] The Local Spirit never dies, Though it is mostly rotten, For Local Spite and local lies Can never be forgotten; The local truth dies very young When wed to local merit: 'Tis murdered by the envious tongue, And--that's the Local Spirit. The General Good is sacrificed, In spite of all petitions To paltry private interests And local mean ambitions. And when we lose 'neath fortune's frown The manhood we inherit, The Local Spirit treads us down-- For that's the Local Spirit. But, though they may be very few, And poor as autumn stubble, The local friends are leal and true Whenever one's in trouble. They make a man hold up his head And face the world and dare it! And that's--when all is done and said-- The other Local Spirit. Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Lone Mate [1916] Are you looking from the sky, Billy Boy, Billy Boy? Are you looking from the sky, Billy Boy? O the Red Soil Plains are green, For the winter rains have been, And all splendid is the scene, Billy Boy! Are you squinting out at dawn, Billy Boy, Billy Boy? Are you squinting out at dawn, Billy Boy? I am sitting in the camp, Hearing not the horse's tramp, Nor the wild duck in the swamp, Billy Boy! For my heart is like a stone, Billy Boy, Billy Boy, And I cannot shoot alone, Billy Boy; Though the gun is lying here, With the cartridges and beer, And the ducks are flying near, Billy Boy! Are you up amongst the stars, Billy Boy, Billy Boy? Are you up amongst the stars, Billy Boy-- Looking down from Heaven's ranks On the Murrumbidgee banks, And the "whalers" and the cranks, Billy Boy? O the fire is flaring high, Billy Boy, Billy Boy, On the boughs against the sky, Billy Boy! It is all as God designs In the gum-trees and the pines-- But I hate to bait the lines, Billy Boy! They don't know what mateship is, Billy Boy, Billy Boy; They don't know what mateship is, Billy Boy-- What a mate can say or do When there's something wrong with you, Ah! "the old mate and the new!" Billy Boy! It will all come out all right, Billy Boy, Billy Boy; I will dig me in and fight, Billy Boy! And no matter how they wrench At my heart so very French-- Die as you did, in the trench, Billy Boy! There's a woman in the world, Billy Boy, Billy Boy-- One whose life on rocks was hurled, Billy Boy! There are children to be fed, Of the crippled and the dead-- There are kind words to be said, Billy Boy! Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Lost Punch [1911] He is slogging away at the trees ahead, And sadly thinking and thinking and thinking Of the battles he fought in the years that are dead, But it's better than blowing and loafing and drinking. He is slogging away at the trees that stand On the further side of a northern clearing, And his thoughts are back in a distant land, And he hears his barrackers loudly cheering. In the song of the saws and the giants' crash That are singing for him the forgotten story, How thousands flocked in the days of bash To see him fight for his country's glory. Then he had his punch, and his gold was free To the wasters and parasites flocking round him, But now he must slave for a dollar a tree In the lonely wilds where the rhymer found him. Camp and coffee, and pork and beans-- Junk and damper, and tent and billy-- May you never know what it means, When the pug is stale and the bard is silly! Pug or poet, 'tis much the same-- Bar or the bush--you can choose your haven; But I reckon it's better to play the game Be you a poet or Paddy Slavin. Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Lovable Characters [1917] I long for the streets but the Lord knoweth best, For there I am never a saint; There are lovable characters out in the West, With humour heroic and quaint; And, be it Up Country, or be it Out Back, When I shall have gone to my Home, I trust to be buried 'twixt River and Track Where my lovable characters roam. There are lovable characters drag through the scrub, Where the Optimist ever prevails; There are lovable characters hang round the pub, There are lovable jokers at sales Where the auctioneer's one of the lovable wags (Maybe from his "order" estranged), And the beer is on tap, and the pigs in the bags Of the purchasing cockies are changed. There were lovable characters out in the West, Of fifty hot summers, or more, Who could not be proved, when it came to the test, Too old to be sent to the war; They were all forty-five and were orphans, they said, With no one to keep them, or keep; And mostly in France, with the world's bravest dead, Those lovable characters sleep. I long for the streets, but the Lord knoweth best, For there I am never a saint; There are lovable characters out in the West, With humour heroic and quaint; And, be it Up Country, or be it Out Back, When I shall have gone to my Home, I trust to be buried 'twixt River and Track Where my lovable characters roam. Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Love of a "God" [1892] She stood with the tall, painted turrets above her, While I lingered and worshipped the boards where she trod-- From the rose in her hair to her instep I love her, But what does she care for the love of a "god"? Ah, belle of the stage! if the gods should forsake you Your bright star would fall like a stone from the sky; You know 'tis the cheers of their godships that make you And yet you begrudge them a blink from your eye. While we sit in the darkness, and pay you our duty, You give not e'en that which our worship demands; You have eyes for the dress-circle swell and the beauty Who think 'twould be "vulgah" to clap their white hands. Yet, we have romances, and we have our trouble; 'Tis only the stage of our lives is so wide. My Queen! I'm as worthy as any gay noble Who strutted thro' Rome with a sword at his side! Yet, bless her! God bless her! our fair prima donna A lily, a daisy, a willow, a rose! And brightly and long may the limelight shine on her As belle of the ballet wherever she goes. From the crown of her head to her instep I love her With love that shall rest only under the sod-- For, search thro' the world and you'll never discover A queen of the footlights in love with a "god". Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Low Lighthouse [1921] I think if you've lived the average life, And been fair to everyone, 'Twill matter little what you have done Or what you have left undone When you sail by the South West Cape of Life Where the baffling West Winds blow, By the reefs of Doubt that run far out To a Lighthouse sadly low, The low Lighthouse, The low Lighthouse, To a Lighthouse sadly low. But 'twill matter a lot the brave, wise words, The words that you left unsaid-- The kind, forgiving, repentant words That you can't say when you're dead; How many hearts, and one, they'd help You'll surely never know, Till your pride has died when the waves break wide Out there by the Lighthouse low, By the low Lighthouse, The low Lighthouse, By the Lighthouse sadly low Those poor, pale ghosts of the Wish-we-had Shall haunt while the Home Fires burn-- The kindly letters we always should Have answered by return. Oh, we meant to write and we meant to write Till it is (or seems) too late-- There's a mail ashore where the breakers roar, Ere you pass through the South-West Gate. By the low Lighthouse, The low Lighthouse, By the Lighthouse sadly low There were "straight wire" scrawls from the good old mate And the mate that I never met; Perhaps in an outback hell they wait, For a line from the "inside" yet; And I lie and think in Hospital here With aching limbs and brow How she begged for a sign, if only a line-- And I wish I could write it now. Near the low Lighthouse, The low Lighthouse, Down here near the Lighthouse low. No business to press, but we "lose the address", Or pleasure--and then we forget Till a dark day of rain finds us searching in vain For his or for her address. Yet I'm back from death and I feel the breath Of a glorious East Wind blow, And I'll do my bit to make up for it When we've weathered the Lighthouse low. The low Lighthouse, The low Lighthouse, When I've rounded the Lighthouse low. Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Men Who Sleep With Danger [1912] The men who sleep with Danger Are mostly quiet men; And one may use a rifle, And one may use a pen. And some meet wrong with patience And some arise and strike; But in the big essentials They're pretty much alike. The men who go with Danger Are mostly dreamy-eyed; Upon the swooping fo'c's'le, Or by the camp-fire side, You'll find them grouped together; And always where they are You'll see a a pipe-bowl glowing, And savour a cigar. The men who camp with Danger Have jests that are their own, And songs that you've forgotten, And yarns you've never known. There's little you can tell them Of deeds good, wicked, mean, That men who've lived for danger Have neither done nor seen. The men who sleep with Danger Sleep soundly while they may, But always wake at midnight Or just before the day. A Something in the darkness That shudders at the dawn-- A side-mate softly wakened, A pistol swiftly drawn. The men who sail with Danger, As actors, at command-- They lightly laugh to fool you When Terror is at hand. The men who sail with Danger A wondrous insight have; They know if you are timid, They know if you are brave. The man who's lived with Danger Has knowledge all his own; The instinct of a woman-- Of men who fight alone. He learns from peace and comfort, He learns from care and strife; He studies, night and morning, The book that men call Life. The men who live with Danger See sermons in a log; They have the horse's swiftness, The instinct of the dog. When illness comes to loved ones, They know where'er they roam-- Have you seen, without for reason, A bushman start for home? They know and feel our "warnings" As only Gipsies do. They know the Norse Fore-Goer, Have heard and seen it, too. They know when Death has passed them, And the Death Watch is at end. And they know when he is coming-- The Unexpected Friend. The men who live with Danger, They take things as they go-- In seeming unpreparedness, To those who do not know. They sleep when work is over, And mind and body ache; But Danger whispers gently, And they are wide awake! Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Morning of New Zealand [1893] In the morning of New Zealand we should sing a Marseillaise! We should sing a hymn of triumph, we should sing a song of praise! For our women are ennobled! The narrow days are o'er, And the Fathers of New Zealand shall be famous evermore. Men, you cannot comprehend it! Men, you do not understand That the actions of your leaders have immortalised the land! For the filthy gods of ages from our shoulders shall be hurled, And the influence of women revolutionise the world! Many years may pass in error ere the nations realise; And the South awhile is silent with the silence of surprise; But the victories are coming, and the tribute is to come In a roar of exultation from the hearts of Christendom. 'Tis the glory of New Zealand that her sons were first to see That there never was a free land where the women were not free! Time shall hear the nations asking why it was not ever thus, For the freedom of our women comes with liberty to us. New Zealand Mail ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Mountain Splitter [1889] He works in the glen where the waratah grows, And the gums and the ashes are tall, 'Neath cliffs that re-echo the sound of his blows When the wedges leap in from the mawl. He comes of a hardy old immigrant race, And he feels not the rain nor the drouth. His sinews are tougher than wire; and his face Has been tanned by the sun of the south. Now doomed to be shorn of its glory at last Is the stately old tree he attacks; Its moments of life he is numbering fast With the keen steady strokes of his axe. Loud cracks at the butt; and the strong wood is burst; And the splitter steps backward, and turns His eyes to the boughs that move slowly at first Ere they rush to their grave in the ferns. He strips off the bark with slight effort of strength And stretches it out on the weeds, And marks off the trunk with a measure the length Of the rails or the palings he needs. The teeth of his crosscut so truly are set That it swings from his elbow at ease; And the song of the saw, I am hearing it yet, Has the music of wind in the trees. Strong blows on the wedge, and a rip and a tear, And the log opens up to the butt; And, spreading around through the pure mountain air, Is the scent of the wood newly cut. A lover of comfort and cronies is he; And when the day's work is behind, A fire, and a yarn, and a billy of tea, At the hut of the splitter you'll find. His custom is sought in the town by the range; For well to the future he looks: His cheques in an instant the storekeepers change; And his name is the best on the books. Town and Country Journal ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Mucklebraeans [1917] McPheerson came from Mucklebrae Long, weary whiles ago-- In Scotland, somewhere, far away, If you should want to know. His pants were patched about the knees, His beard was reddish grey; But you'll remember, if you please, He came from Mucklebrae. He couldn't keep his farm-hands, so McPheerson made a plan: He wrote the Government Bureau To send him out a man. The Bureau Agent, for his sins, Had "travelled", once, Outback; And so he "had his glimmerins'", And sent along a Mac. The homestead lay 'twixt Gundagai And where the wombats roam. McPheerson drove from Blankydrai, To fetch the new man home. The train drew up to Evatt's Gap, A siding on the plain, And dropped a small man in a cap, And ambled on again. A small man with a "muckle kist" They'd trundled from the van. "Are ye the man?" McPheerson hissed. He answered, "I'm the man." "What is veer name?" McPheerson speered-- Wi' caution, understand. "McDonald! An' I am not feared To say it!" said the "hand". "Where cam' ye from?" McPheerson said. The man said: "Mucklebrae." McPheerson stared, and scratched his head-- "Ye'11 come across the way!" "Across-the-way" was Ryan's pub, With Wilson's store hard by; And all outside was plain and scrub And roads to Blankydrai. They took the carrier, McBride-- He'd only have one more. A yearling on the married side, He'd stayed the night before. He stretched himself and shook his head And belted up his waist. McPheerson to the new man said: "Ye'll ha' another taste." The hour went past and home was far; But neither minded that, While in the room behind the bar The Mucklebraesns sat. And "Did ye ken?" and "Did ye ken?" They heard McPheerson say-- 'Twas very plain his heart was then Far back in Mucklebrne. McPheerson's English grew less plain, To tell the simple truth; For, as old foreigners regain The language of their youth Or I might pick up word and phrase From my past, growing dim, The dialect of his young days, Full-kilted, came to him. "An' leevin' yet!" "An' deid langsyne!"-- You'd think 'twould never end! The more McPheerson ca'ed to min', The more the new-chum kenned. He knew the fancies and the fads, And all the children, too, Of half the lasses and the lads That once McPheerson knew. "The night's a bairn!" McPheerson cried; "There'll be no need for haste; I sent yeer box on with McBride-- Ye'll ha' aeither taste. So auld McCausland's leevin' yet And drams the winter through?" The new man had another wet; McPheerson had one too. Now, Ryan, dealing with a Scot, Had more than once been stung; He said: "Sit up arl night Oi'll not, For all the Scots unhung!" McPheerson said: "Ye're but a wean That learned the world too soon... Ye ken 'The Wearin' o' the Green' Is an auld Scottish tune!" About the row at Ryan's pub I find I'm not so clear. (The new man told me, cuttin' scrub, It ended up in beer-- As rows at Ryan's pub will end.) But twelve o'clock had gone, McPheerson said: "Aweel, ma friend, We'd best be getting on." "What hae ye got? For to be plain, I'll say it to ma shame, I only haud enough for ane-- We'll take twa bottles hame." They took two bottles in the straw And one "wee flask" as well; But how McPheerson's place they saw Is more than I can tell. 'Twas Peter--Mac's old wall-eyed horse-- That drew the heavy load. And it was at a watercourse He spilled them in the road. McPheerson sprawled in sinful pride, The new man set things right. "But now we're doon," McPheerson cried. "We'd better bide the night." They seemed to sober up in haste About the homestead gate; McPheerson sighed: "Ye'll ha' a taste It must be gettin' late." A friendly sheep-dog, black-and-tan, Came down, inquiring who; He sniffed McPheerson, and the man, And stayed to help them through. McPheerson said: "I see no light. The goodwife's gone to bed. Ye'll tak' the harness-room to-night An' I'll sleep in the shed. Lord knows how long she waited up We daurna wake her now. But, mon! ye had veer bite an' sup At Ryan's, onyhow." They planted the full bottle where A shed loomed in the gloom; They took old Peter out with care And sought a skillion room. "Noo, there's yeer bunk," McPheerson said-- "I'll leave one on the shelf." And then he went into the shed, And had a nip himself. And later, somewhere in the straw, The new man heard him croon: "The cock sal craw, the day sal draw-- "Noo, bairnies, coodle doon!" And then he "got the wordies right," And then he got the tune: "Noo, bairnies, coodle doon the night; Noo, bairnies, coodle doon!" The new man woke at break of day-- And, oh, his head was sore! The false awakening, and grey, That scorns the Night before. The room seemed going, pitch and toss, To match his heaving brains; He rose and blinked his first across The Riverina plains. He sought the cowyard and he found McPheerson at the bail; McPheerson told him, turning round, "Ye'll get another pail. Ye'll find it on the kitchen stoop; An' outside, on a stool, Anint the tank beside the coop, There's dish an' soap an' too'l." "Go cannily, ma new-found son, Gang saft, upon yeer life! For, till we get the milkin' done, We mauna wak' the wife. She'll be an angry wife indeed-- We've got no time to waste. (The whisky's in old Peter's feed-- Ye'd better ha' a taste!") "Ye'll ha' a taste?" McPheerson says, At Ryan's pub to-day; And it's the son-in-law who pays-- The man from Mucklebrae. "Ye'll ha' a taste?" The old man squints Along the bottled shelf, A cautious Scot who never hints That he'll have one himself. Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Old Head Nurse and the Young Marchioness [1911] I saw her first from a painful bed, Where I lay fresh from a fearful fall, With a broken leg and a broken head, In the accident ward of the hospital. Some women are hard as the road to grace, That natural sinners are doomed to tread, And as beautiful as a camel's face-- But our head nurse was the limit, they said. You have seen some of the sort, no doubt-- The buck-teeth kind with the three-haired mole: There are British lady tourists about (Conducted by Cook from pole to pole). You've felt the blast of their monocle, You've heard them asking: "What do you mean?" Had these been gathered together and--well, Then our head nurse would have been the queen. She walked like a trestle, with toes turned in, And she was as gaunt as a drought-baked horse, With big buck teeth and a downy chin-- And the three-haired mole--and the nose, of course. She had us there where we could not strike, And she could punish in many ways too; She was hated by nurses and patients alike-- But she knew more than the doctors knew. And they would respectfully wait for her, In a desperate case where the chance was slim, To take her place in the "Theatre" Of the hospital with its secrets grim. Of many a ghastly grapple with death-- When doctors paled--she could tell no doubt: Of the hours she fought for the fluttering breath. Yes!--she knew mankind, inside and out. Of course my heart must get broken there (Though I had a wife and kids in the town) For a pretty young nurse with auburn hair And eyes of the deepest, richest brown. We called the old head nurse "The Hen"--(I beg You'll pardon me if I stick to fact)-- I reckon the head nurse saved my leg-- Though friends declare that my head's still cracked. And, speaking of nurses, now's my chance To put in a word for the sisterhood, For they have little or no romance; The work is grand, but their hearts are good. 'Tis sometimes better, and sometimes worse, But, when the Head is a Tartar, I know, Between the patients and that head nurse The nurses have got a hard row to hoe. They must be angel and slave in one, Servant and student--and gritty! you bet, And they cannot be sick till their work is done, And--you'd open your eyes at the wages they get. O they must stick to it, early and late, They must be ever a class apart From human feelings like love and hate. (Though I once knew a nurse with a broken heart.) The same dull routine day after day The sores unsightly, the fetid breath, The shrivelled limbs and the faces grey When the air is laden with sordid death. The skip at the beck of a doctor lout, The run for the screen--or whatever it be, The same dull patients, week in, week out, "Till our brains get rusty," a nurse told me. The striving evermore to be kind, The doubt if a patient dies or lives, "Because we never know what's behind In the ignorance of the relatives." A few may chance as a private nurse To marry for love or marry for gold, But as years go over the lot grows worse, "For nobody wants a nurse when she's old." A tragedy fades like the fading scar And marks of stitches above your eye, And I've seen much and I've travelled far Since the day when I wished they would let me die. "Back to the world again!"--Where were we-- O the Head Nurse!--We called her "The Hen"--Ah well! Set your stage for a comedy, For this is "The Tale of a Hen" I tell. I lived in "Thelma" in Belgrave Street, Off Belmont Park--'Twas a good address When sending a memo short and sweet To the editors of a crawlsome press. 'Twas a four roomed shanty, built in a plain Style of architecture--Australian quite; The local pound was just down the lane, The Mongolian Gardens were opposite. We kept a servant, a stunted freak I caught at a Government Bureau, She might have been seventeen last week-- Or six and twenty for aught I know She'd been trained backward! (of immigrant stock-- A midland county--I know no more) She started each morning at six o'clock By scrubbing a hole in the kitchen floor. Intentions excellent. Short of breath, Our trouble caused her the greatest distress-- She was known to the wife as Elizabeth And known to me as "The Marchioness" "Master's narrer" (she meant "The Boss") She'd say to the wife when I could not eat, "He's nearly as narrer as father was; I wish that master would take his meat." She never could understand at all That this was a Land of Democracy. She'd bully the "tradesmin" great and small Till those sons of freedom appealed to me. They had to "go round to the kitching door"-- Butcher and Baker, and Milk! no less-- A thing that they never had done before But they all were afraid of the Marchioness. You could always tell what she was thinking about, That red-haired weed with a heart of gold. When the duns came round and "Master" was out, She'd spar like a good 'un without being told. Empress or Peasant--Collie or cur-- Heart of a Female!--It's hard to tell-- I fancy we must have been kind to her Or she wouldn't have stuck to us so well. The sledge-hammer force of simplicity And truth was hers by an ancient right, Hard, practical kindness and sympathy, And a great love somewhere--but out of sight. Kiddies obeyed her, and, what is more, They loved her and came to her early and late And she'd dole out alms at her "kitching door" With the air of a Dame at her castle gate. "They never came singly", to palace or tent, Twins or troubles, or "human ills", And I think that wherever a man pays rent The same thing mostly applies to bills. And so, one Monday, when all behind With the rent (or ahead of it--which you will) And the Butcher and Baker had been unkind-- And a story declined--little Joe fell ill. The doctor came, and he shook his head And he looked at the child for a moment or two; He listened and nodded to what we said, And told the wife what she must not do. He said we must keep the child in bed-- (As if we'd stand him outside on his head-- It was bitter cold and 'twas raining too) And then he wrote a prescription and fled-- A district doctor must earn his screw. I looked in the kitchen--don't know for what-- The Marchioness there, with an altered face, Was hurriedly making water hot In every kettle and pan in the place. She plucked a rug from her skimpy bed And dragged in a tub on the bedroom floor, And, when I protested, she only said, "I know it, Master--I seen it before." The first night's battle was tough, I guess, With only hot water and mustard to win it; The wife, and I--and the Marchioness-- I reckon she didn't let death begin it. The doctor came when we'd pulled Joe through-- 'Twas sickly time, and he'd only a minute-- He squinted and sniffed as good doctors do And prescribed a hot bath with mustard in it. Ten o'clock in the morning found Joe still doubtful, and in distress. I was bracing up for the second round-- "Same time to-night," said the Marchioness. I felt that my face was drawn and white. No doubt you'll think I'm a womanish one, But have you ever been up all night Fighting death for your first-born son? Or seen your child in convulsions, you chaps? I rose, and I went to the door at last-- To look for the Unexpected perhaps-- And who should I see but the "Hen" go past! In plain dress too--but you'd know her walk If you saw her passing on Paradise track. 'Twas a desperate case--I don't want to talk-- I was clean knocked out, so I called her back. She was having a holiday--first in her life-- And resting, of course, on her restless feet-- She was staying a week with her brother's wife On the heights overlooking Belgrave Street. This much I gathered--my wits were slow; I was faint and ill, and as dull as a dunce; But she took charge of the wife and Joe And the Marchioness, "Thelma" and me at once. The Marchioness looked at the Head Nurse hard; And the Head Nurse looked at the Marchioness-- (So the wife whispered to me out in the yard) Why they chummed up at once I never could guess. We hadn't yet told the old Head Nurse about How the Marchioness saved Joe from Paradise, And to this very hour I could never make out What those two saw in each other's eyes. She packed the pair of us into a room To sleep for an hour by the Blessed Grace. And she sent the priestess of our old broom For a lot of things from her brother's place. By hidden signs that were known to men (And known perhaps to Elizabeth) And her hardening eyes--I could see that the "Hen" Was bracing herself for a scrap with Death. Ah, well! There's nothing to drivel about In those grim battles without a sound. All I need say is that Death went out, Early and clean in the second round. The "Hen" steered me to our guest chamber (A stretcher there, and a chair, and shelf) I fell on the mattress, pushed by her, And slept like a dozen dead myself. In the grey of the morning I crept by stealth To listen and peep in the passage gloom, And the cleverest nurse in the Commonwealth Was sweeping and dusting the "dining room". Eyes of a hawk! She caught me, and said, "What do you here in the dead of night? Get on with your writing, or go to bed-- Your wife is asleep, and the boy's all right." Eyes half blinded with--Well, 'tis a poor Unmanlike, unwriterlike thing to do. I've had always a fancy, but couldn't be sure That some of the tears were in her eyes too. But she only muttered "Confound the man!" Giving her duster a vicious twirl-- "Go back as quietly as you can; Elizabeth is asleep--poor girl." (What of you, with your nurseries, And dainty nurses, as bright as stars, And prim trained maids to attend on these, And doctors twain in their motor cars. Death could tell you--He's not so bad: A good old sport, though he loves his joke-- Of many a harder fight he had With poverty and the hearts of folk.) Long years ten, and the Nurse is dead, Forgotten by hundreds she helped to live; You gave her her uniform and her bread, I gave her a headstone ('twas little to give). But I want you to know that preachers and pugs, Doctors and editors (publishers too), Likewise spielers, and also mugs; And nurses and poets have hearts--like you. On the fair allotment where "Thelma" stood A villa's been standing for quite a while, The timber is hard Australian wood, And it's built in the new Australian style. Called "Thelma" (I wonder who she was at all?) But one is there, you can easily guess-- A fearsome tyrant who rules us all, And she's known to me as the Marchioness. Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Old Horse Ferry [1914] The old horse ferry is a democratic boat, For she mixes up the classes more than any craft afloat; And the cart of Bill the Bottlo, and the sulky of his boss, Might stand each side the motor car of Mrs Buster-Cross. O the old horse ferry is a parliament of man, Where everything is settled, or left just where it began; But the old horse ferry is a very peaceful scow, For you seldom hear a swear-word, and you never hear a row. It's a rest for weary horses from the hot hard roads and steep; And the young ones shake their winkers, and old "Geddup" goes to sleep, Just to wake up short and sudden when she bumps the landing stage, Like a slamming door might wake you when you nod in your old age. The old horse ferry is a private way between For the down-and-out and shabby who care not to be seen, And the man who shakes and suffers from the reckless night before And shuns the eyes of passengers who know him on the Shore. He'll mostly find his dodging and repentance is in vain-- He'll get outside a drink or two, and do the same again; But, same again, or not again, you'll have to go to town, And the old horse ferry will never turn you down. North Shore Times ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Old Man's Welcome [1891] (A Sequel to "The Shame of Going Back") So you've been a bit unlucky, and you're dashed hard up, And you blame "Humiliation" and his "poisoned cup"; And "your heart is in a shadow"? Why, you must be drunk! Light the fire and boil the billy while I fix your bunk. There's very little doing here, but don't you fret: There is plenty junk and damper in the gin-case yet. What the devil set you rhyming? You're a damn'd fool, Jack! Never talk about the sorrow of a coming back; You have had a lot of trouble, but the "pome" was worst, And you never thought of coming to the old man first. You'll deserve the "frowns of Fortune", you'll deserve her licks, If you go without a dinner while the old man kicks. I am mighty glad to see you, for the boys are gone, And it's lonely in the humpy when the night comes on; There's a pipe and good tobacco on the corner shelf, There's a sprinkle in the bottle--you must help yourself. I will hunt you up a billet, Jack, but don't forget That there's plenty junk and damper in the gin-case yet. Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Old Mile-Tree [1897] Old coach-road West by Nor'-ward, Old mile-tree by the track: A dead branch pointing forward, And a dead branch pointing back. And still in clear-cut romans On his hard heart he tells The miles that were to fortune, The miles from Bowenfels. Old chief of Western timber! A famous gum you've been. Old mile-tree, I remember When all your boughs were green. There came three boyish lovers When golden days begun; There rode three boyish rovers Towards the setting sun. And Fortune smiled her fairest And Fate to these was kind, The truest, best and rarest, The girls they'd left behind. By the camp-fire's dying ember They dreamed of love and gold; Old mile-tree, I remember When all our hearts were bold. And when the wrecks of those days Were sadly drifting back, There came a lonely swagman Along the dusty track; And save for limbs that trembled, For weak and ill was he, Old mile-tree, he resembled The youngest of the three. Beneath you, dark and lonely, A wronged and broken man He crouched, and sobbed as only The strong heart broken can. The darkness wrapped the timber, The stars seemed dark o'erhead, Old mile-tree, I remember When all green leaves seemed dead. Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Old Pens and the New [1908] I wish that Time could bring again To Letters--and so give to Art-- The healthy humour of Mark Twain, The kindly scamps of poor Bret Harte! This worship of the Things That Are, These lazy pens of Let it Bide-- These would-be makers who but mar Have held their sway since Dickens died. Oh, we are wise, and "realise", We study men and things, and know-- Just in the sense that fools grew wise Three thousand weary years ago. We sit beneath the fraud and fool, With poisoned minds in manhood's prime, While children prattle home from school, As happy as in Pharaoh's time! We want no God, but many a god, And we want many gods and none-- The preacher by the upturned sod Shall pray, when all is said and done. We make a noble thing of sin-- We've found the "Truth" (for aught I know), Since we, as children, tip-toed in When late to "chapel" long ago. We part the husband and the wife, And make a filthy thing of love. We make a "problem" of grand Life! Despite the shining signs above. We "scoff at gale" or "rail at fate", Or rave and rant with rotten lung, But Jim and Mary at the gate Are young as when the world was young. There's gold, and passing fame in store For those with "clever books" to give, But I would win me back once more To where my working people live. Where evening, coming on apace, Brings father and the boys to see The mother bustling round the place, And Mary "dishing" up the "tea". Newspaper Cutting ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Old Push and the New [1912] You will find, when over forty, man was made but to repine, And I sadly sit reflecting on that sinful past of mine; When the trade that I've forgotten paid far better than the pen, And when I too, for a season, was a leader amongst men: When in townships on the Mountains, in the nearer, dearer Bush, I--by virtue of my "writin's"--was a captain of a push. Then, the city pushes flourished--lived and flourished as they ought, For they blanked the world they lived in, and they worked, and loved and fought; And they worked for carcase butchers, "blanked" and worked the whole day long, Or they worked in iron foundries, they were big and they were strong: Feel them bleedin' muscles (blimy!), black with grime and red with rust-- And they belted out their clobber and they belted out a crust. They were faithful to a clinah, they were loyal to a pal, And they stuck to their Old 'Un, and they stuck to their old Gal: She must have the splosh (Gorblimy) and his sledge goes clonk-and-clonk-- For the (bleedin') rest is married, and the Old 'Un's pins is cronk. And right here I'll have to tell you, though it pains and grieves and shocks, That the old Gal and the Old 'Un, were his parents on "th' Rocks". And perhaps he'd tell you proudly, as he wiped away the grime, That the Old 'Un was a grafter and a tough 'un in his time. That he did his share of scrappin' and he'd won his share of scraps, And he took his share of "tangle" (and his "gruel", too, perhaps), And he worked for his "Old Woman" when her "lamps" was gettin' dim, And he stuck to his own Old 'Un when his pins went crook on him . And--well, what can man do better e'er he joins the married ranks, Than be loyal to a cobber and to deal it out to Blanks (And his clinah on occasion--when it might be good for her)? And to work for his old people and their sticks of "furnicher", To be good to his "Old Woman", who has suffered for his sins, And to battle for his Old 'Un when he's shaky on his pins? When the Push fared forth to battle--when their dignity was hurt Over Stinker's bit of muslin or the Captain's bit of skirt-- Then the cobbers got off early from the workshop and the dray, And they togged and took in "ballast" and they hurried to the fray: Then the fringed and bustled Helen found the purest kind of joy Where blue metal flew like blazes underneath the walls of Troy! Oftentimes the Sunday picnic, by the bay or river reach, Heard the howl of many demons from the cliff and from the beach, And they ran and screamed and fainted, and maybe they said their prayers, But their buns were not the object, and the danger was not theirs; And the Sunday-school conductor found his courage when he knew It was but "the Rocks" descending on the serried ranks of "'Loo"! There were anxious eyes, my brothers, watching every ferry boat, On the day when "'Loo" and "Redfern" had the Rocks Push by the throat; When the sullen Glebe was neutral, and when Waterloo turned tail, And the Push, by misadventure, had embittered Annandale-- Watching from the scrub at Clontarf--and they did not watch in vain-- For belated "Stinker" Blucher, and our Allies from Balmain. Those were lively days (Gorblimy!) as compared with days like these-- And the old Push? Some are fathers of respected families! For a sign of what they had been it would be in vain to search, For their boys are steady tradesmen, and their daughters go to church: And they little think that Father, sitting smoking, in the past Was the captain of a push and wore the clobber of his caste! Bob-tailed coat and bell-mouthed trousers, wire-rimmed hat of long ago, Boots, with stern-posts well amidships, that were laced up from the toe. Biled-rag Sundays, with no collar--a red riband for a tie-- And a fringe well oiled and plastered! That was Dad in days gone by! Brand-new uniform on Sunday, and the old one all the week, Worn to show he was no "blanker", worn to show he was no sneak. What is this? Ye gods and fishes--weedy--more than undersized; Weak and humped and bottle-shouldered--Man's descendant realized! Neither cripple, dwarf nor midget, nor trained ape, though, be it said, Dressed to ape the latest fashions: with a straw pot on its head. Seemingly for ever idle, still its clothes are new, and yet, From its mouth for ever dribbles the eternal cigarette. Cuffs and collars mostly spotless--clothes well made and shirts well "done"-- Say! what mother bore and keeps it? Say, what father owns it son? See it hiding from the sunlight, see it hiding from the stars; See it, with its fellows, drinking ginger-beer in public bars! Magpie minded: yet they're harmless, though you meet them one to ten-- Only fit to flock and gibber, after hours, at drunken men. 'Tis the newer "Push", my masters, shaming you and shaming me, Born of newer times and cities and our blind prosperity; Only gathered where our critics peer in at Australia's gate-- Reason, they, why Foster Frasers think that we degenerate. There'd have been a screech and scatter, ruined togs and mended ways, Had a Blanky Bloke met fifty, in the old Gorblimy days. Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Old Rebel Flag in the Rear A May-Day Song Henry Lawson, 1892 Whenever the march of oppression Reduces a land to despair, No matter how mighty the victors, The flag of Rebellion is there. The might of coercion may triumph, And Freedom be laid on her bier-- Yet over the graves of the conquered there waves That Old Rebel Flag in the Rear A king may be great in a country That cheers when a monarch is crown'd But still, in his capital city, The flag of the rebel is found. A people may boast a Republic, Where Liberty dies in a year; But close on their flag comes that old stubborn rag, The Old Rebel Flag in the Rear We sing of the Queen of England, Her banner that flaunts in the van, Yet out from the slums of her capital comes That vengeful red banner of man! Lift up the proud Union of England, And bear it along with a cheer, But England! take care in your triumph, for there Is the Old Rebel Flag in the Rear. There's the great cruel Eagle of Russia, Where thousands are sunk in despair, And the hand of the tyrant is mighty, But the flag of rebellion is there! There's the bloodthirsty flag of the Kaiser, A monarch whom nations can fear, But William will pause ere he marches, because Of the Old Rebel Flag in the Rear. There's the Red, White and Blue of the Frenchmen, Where soldiers of Freedom are true, But lo! from the rear comes a banner, Whose skirts lack the white and the blue! There's the flag of a boastful republic, A country where freedom is dear-- But still, in the States there's an army that waits 'Neath the Old Rebel Flag in the Rear. There's a new mongrel flag in Australia, And the "Banner of Britain" is here, But, to break from the past, we are gathering fast 'Neath the Old Rebel Flag in the Rear. There are men in the ranks who are traitors, And men who will falter and fear, Yet on thro' the arch of the morning we march 'Neath the Old Rebel Flag in the Rear. Some men, for the sake of their conscience, Will join and be true in the strife, And some for the sake of a moment to break The terrible dullness of life! They march 'neath the flag of the rebels, With lives overburden'd and drear, And fling them away on a terrible day 'Neath the Old Rebel Flag in the Rear. A spirit calls out of the future, And bids us to strike in our youth-- And the voice of to-day is appealing For Liberty, Justice, and Truth; And the blood that was shed by old rebels, For rights that shall ever be dear, Drips down from the red of the flag overhead, Of the Old Rebel Flag in the Rear. Oh! brothers of mine and of mankind! The banner I sing of is red With life-blood of men who were foemen To wrong, and oppression, and dread. Then march 'neath the flag of the rebels, The red days of battle are near, Let your feet never lag as you march 'neath the flag, 'Neath the Old Rebel Flag in the Rear. Perhaps there'll be no reformation, But Oh! for a moment to rise And ride on the storm of rebellion, And strike at the things that I hate and despise! When Progress is stayed by a red barricade, And down in the city we hear The roll of a hymn of defiance That ends in a desperate cheer, And on, for a day they'll remember, Comes the Old Rebel Flag from the Rear. It rose from the birth of the lords of the earth, That Old Rebel Flag in the Rear; The rebels are bred by the tyrants who dread That Old Rebel Flag in the Rear. 'Twill never be furl'd while there's wrong in the world, It never will fall till there's Justice for all, THAT OLD REBEL FLAG IN THE REAR! Truth ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Old Squire [1908] Sir William rode to Virland-- He rode to join my sire; And stubbornly behind him Rode Swithin, his old squire. Sir William would have left him To rest in peace, behind; But horse and sword were ever More to the old man's mind. Old Swithin was a grey-beard, Still strong of heart and lung, Who'd fought and loved and wassailed When old Dame Ruth was young. But, overlooked, neglected, His heart was ever pained, Because of that old knighthood That once he should have gained. My knighthood, new upon me, Still made me chafe and fret-- That fair new coat of honour Had not worn easy yet. But he was more impatient At any evil done, Because of that lost knighthood That he had fairly won. And surely to the thoughtless Some mirth it did afford, To look on that old grey-beard Who wore his father's sword. The grand old soul of honour! For long years tempest tost-- But many men are noble For knighthoods that were lost. We met the King, my father-- A quiet man to meet-- And his men looked like soldiers That marched to sure defeat, With many carts and litters, And we knew what they meant, And lean apothecaries, And physicians militant. And--well, we took the city, The city that was ours, Although there stood no rebels On all its walls and towers. Our men hung back a moment As from a thing accurst, And Swithin begged a favour, That he should ride in first. But thus they rode together-- The king and squire and knight-- Sir William on the left hand, And my father on the right. I followed that old grey-beard, And our men followed me, There was in all my lifetime No better sight to see. The Black Death held the city, With plague and famine there-- With misery, pain, and terror, And helpless, dumb despair. 'Twas held, in other cities, A horror that was vague, But here strong men had shrieked it-- The Plague! The Plague! The Plague! We built the fires, and fought it With reeking smoke for shields, And bore the sick in hundreds Into the open fields. Into the blackest quarters Old Swithin led his men, And, with some ghastly burden, He led them out again. We cleansed and fumed the houses, The streets and alleys then-- And lean apothecaries Can fight like other men. For they and the physicians In the tents fought side by side ('Twas strange, when all was ended, How few of our men died). But, often, for the noblest, 'Gainst death there are no charms; I saw old Swithin stagger With a sick child in his arms. We bore him to the open-- 'Twas but a swoon we thought-- And we laid him very gently On that last field he'd fought. My father, in a gentle Or in a bitter mood-- Because he thought of Swithin's Old King's ingratitude-- With his own sword touched him lightly, While each man felt a thrill, And he said, "Rise up, Sir Swithin"-- But he lay very still. Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Old Trouble [1917] Now Adam built the Fowl House strong, And built it high and fine; He drove in billets deep along Where hens might undermine, He fitted door and wicket well With wooden locks and keys; He told his wife to "shet her head"-- And then he sowed his peas. Now, Adam's wife was there, of course, And prigged and prigged about, Until she opened all the doors And let the fowls all out. She said because of lice and fleas They ought to have a run; And so they dug up Adam's peas And ate them--every one. Now, Adam built his homely shed, And furnished it with care; He placed a table and a bed And kitchen-dresser there; So Eve, she let the fowls come in To warm their blessed selves; They laid in the potato bin And roosted on the shelves. Young Eggbert--youngest rooster there-- He fought old Addlebert; They broke a lot of earthenware And made a deal of dirt; But Eve, she cleaned it up, and then, While Adam shifted rocks, She set the broody speckled hen In Adam's figleaf box. Young Eggbert and the pullets took The footrail of the bed, With Addlebert and his old chook Just over Adam's head; The old bird dropped his ragged tail And tickled Adam's nose, And, ere the stars began to pale, He'd wake him with his crows. And so began domestic strife-- Eternal nags and growls; The gardener Adam and his wife Fell out about the fowls. When Adam stopped, his wife's tongue kept Its nagging, nagging way; Till Adam in the Fowl House slept-- He's roosting there to-day. No Hags were there to sympathize, So Eve grew pale and thin-- Until she called, to hear her lies, The Baboonesses in. The Baboons--who were only men-- They got it hot and soon; They sympathized with Adam then-- They did, to a baboon. And, though I know I am a brute, I'll say it, frank and free, It was a hen that pecked the fruit On the Forbidden Tree, And so the bailiff, Jerry Bimm, (Somewhat to Eve's alarm) Came down one morning grey and grim, And turned them off the farm. And so to-day, you'll find it true, Where pampered wives are found, They lie about their husbands to The Baboonesses round. They leave the broken plates and let The fowls roost on the shelves, Till men (they're only baboons yet) Fall out amongst themselves. The human Baboonesses stir The muck of married life, And force the poisoned cup on her-- "The poor ill-treated wife" Until she takes the case to court, Assisted to the tune Of dirty Costs by any sort Of legalized baboon. And Eve goes in for politics (She goes in more and more) Until she piles and lights the sticks And fans the flames of War. Nor all the folk with common-sense, Nor all the men unhung, Nor famine stark, nor pestilence Can stop her blessed tongue. Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Old, Old Story [1913] There was a king with a large jaw and a queen with a plain face on the throne of England; there was a king with a large jaw and a queen with a fair face on the throne of France. In both countries it was as clear as crystal to the lords of the State preserves of loaves and fishes that things in general were settled for ever.--CHARLES DICKENS, in A Tale of Two Cities. This is the old, old story--story of Life and Fate: Of love surpassing a woman's, and fiercer than woman's hate; Of love for one's home and country--fighting with one intent: Be it as small as a country, or as wide as a continent. Be it republic or kingdom--snow-waste or sand-waste or sod-- Subject to gods or idols, or Christ or Allah--or God! Black men, and brown men and white men; captains of realms brought low-- Slaves of the basest nations, and princes with youth aglow. Chiefs of the sword--or the boar-spear--the lance or the nullah or axe; From the Saxon Alfred and Harold, to the last of Tasmania's Blacks! Strong men and brave men, and weaklings, who fought on the Weaker Side, Till their bones gleamed white to the Heavens, and the country was "pacified". Cave or hut in the forest, or tent on the desert, was home-- Bare breasts of brave "Barbarians" barring the roads from Rome; Shafts of the hairy Norsemen, ringing on plate and mail; Spears from the shrouded desert, reddened to tell the tale, Till our hammers rang on their statues, as we camped by temple and dome, When we'd taught their shattered legions that all roads lead to Rome! Red eyes watch from the branches (what ape-like men are these?) Matted heads from their burrows in the roots of the giant trees: Shapes that are human glide from the depths of the forest boles-- Oh! the straightened scythes and sickles and the plough-shares bound to poles! Oh! the rush to certain slaughter, because of a monarch's crime, Of the bands that bore no banner, and the feet that kept no time! Oh! the back-to-back resistance of the stubborn "boor" and "clown"-- Oh! the wild song growing fainter, as the volleys mowed them down! Oh! the yell from Hell to Heaven, of a peasant fighting yet, And the gasp of a throttled horseman, and the thrust of a bayonet! Oh! the blood-soaked coat of sheep-skin, and the hair thrust back to see The triumph of blind oppression and the murder of Liberty! And the folk of the peasant village flee to the marsh and mire, Where the wives of charcoal burners are crouching afar from a fire. And the old men and children huddle--while the village flames, for a sign-- Where the daughters of slaughtered swine-herds hide from the greater swine, A-tremble at every hoof-beat. Nobles! the time is near, When your dainty ladies in terror shall hide them with less to fear! This is the old, old story (tear out the bricks and flags) Shrilled by the starving children, screeched from the throats of hags: Shrieked by the maniac mothers, roared by the maddened men, Down from the roofs of hunger, and up from the sewered den! Storm in the streets of Paris! Fire in village and town! The blood of the "Vermin" is up and the blood of oppression is down! Fire to the roofs of Moscow! wider and fiercer and higher-- (Holland could fight with water, but Moscow must fight with fire.) We have different uses for fire.--Serfs! 'tis your country still! Nobles of Russia! (or Poland!) Tyrants--or what you will-- We are patriots still, Oh Invasion! Where is your boasted might? With the Russian Wolf on your left--and the Russian Bear on your right! A horseman waits by the ferry, where no boat waits for a load-- Three lanterns hang from a belfry, and four hoofs ring on the road! A call to the sleeping homesteads--men who have made a vow "If they want war and must have it, let it be here and now." Lightly they tread on the grasses, grasping the flintlock gun, Shadowy figures of farmers in the woods of Lexington! (America boasts no longer; this is the turning tide-- We have outgrown our Freedom, we have outgrown our pride; We have outgrown our honour, we have outgrown our truth-- We of the younger nations--We have outgrown our youth! Flintlock and truth and honour, "pepper-box," pistol and pike, Gave way to a race of liars, made way for the insane strike.) Dawn on the slopes of Eureka! misty and cold and grey, Clay-stained sons of the Nations (and their leader said "Let us pray.") Dawn on the slopes of Eureka--and Day in a Commonwealth? Still as the years go over, tyranny creeps by stealth. It is not day, my brothers, all is not well and right; The volley from far Eureka is echoing here to-night! Allah be praised! They'd wake us! Wake us if that must be! Spear from the rock waste and desert and ages of mystery. The Lion, the Bear and the Jackal, in the goat's blood their thirst would slake. Tripoli, Turkey and Persia, say, are these all you'll wake?? Beware of the East, Oh Christian, for the sake of your fairest and best; It is written, and, written, remembered that the tide of Invasion goes West. You builded a wall, Oh China! to keep your enemies out; You cradled the mightiest river and you conquered the flood and the drought. Patient and peaceful and honest--children of Industry-- Wise with the wisdom of ages--yet they could not let you be! Nor wall nor mountain nor ocean justice or peace could win. You builded a wall, Oh China! Let them see that it keep you in. England! Preserved from invasion through the stormy latter years-- Blind to the crimes of nations, and blind to their victims' tears! Leave to the little people the barren and useless mile , Turn to your own and save them, saving yourself the while! Starved in the streets of London, children of misery-- England! do you not hear them? The Drums of Battersea! Giving our youth and our old age, staking our best and our all-- Fighting in jungle and desert, firing from window and wall; Whether we plan in a cellar, whether we plot in a den, Or write while we starve in a garret, we are the leaders of men. Hunted and murdered wherever the foot of Oppression has trod. For the sake of Humanity aid us! We are thy rebels, Oh God! Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Origin of the Lone Hand [1920] In vanished days of want and sin The Lone Hand was the Bulletin. And, far and wide throughout the land, The Bulletin was a lone hand. The lone hand in the days of old, He worked alone in search of gold; The lone hand in the days of youth, He worked alone in search of truth; The lone hand in the days of might, He strikes alone to shield the right; And countless scores in high command Through all their lives play the lone hand. O men and women, lined of brow! And boys and girls who play it now! Though cold looks freeze and hot tears scald, Stick to the right like Archibald And guide your future by the past-- A loving lone hand till the last. Lone Hand ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Other Gum [1893] Well Boory, I have read your "grin", And listened to your whine; I only wish you'd sent it in Before I printed mine. You see, I never meant to hit The new-chum Jackaroo; I only tried to write a skit On poets--such as you. We're sinners all--the world knows that, But damned mean sinners some-- (The 'possum you are barking at is up the other gum). But sneer in safety if you choose I've no hand in the game; I will not fight the crawlers who's Afraid to sign his name. I never strike without a mark-- 'Tis safer in the end; For he who hits back in the dark Might chance to hurt a 'friend'! The game is stale, your jokes are flat, You might as well be dumb-- (The 'possum you are howling at Is up another gum). Truth ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Parley Voo [1914] Should auld acquaintance be forgot?--but only for a while-- We met them at Trafalgar once--we met them at the Nile; We met them too at Fontenoy--but that was nothing new-- We even met at Patay once to have a Parley Voo. Sometimes our say-so used to go, and sometimes theirs made good-- They all were friendly arguments, it must be understood; We never had a serious row by any sort of chance-- We always found a gallant foe beneath the flag of France. We both were right and always right--save when we were allied; As when we fought the Russian Bear, and fought him side by side. But Ivan has forgotten that, as all good fellows do. We three shall meet ere Christmastide, and have a Parley Voo. But, let it pass--our folk rejoice by throne and blacksmith's forge. The saints have fought--St Nicholas, St Pierre and St George. The world was good; we'll rest again, and all things shall be bright-- I'd like to hear the Parley Voo in Paris streets to-night. Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Parsin for Edgerkashun [1921] "An epigram which was faintly redolent of Oscar Wilde gave Mr Mutch (minister for Education) a good start at the opening of the first interstate school teachers' conference, held in the Education Building this morning. "'No Australian ever realises how good an Australian he is until he leaves the country.' declared Mr Mutch. 'When I was returning from the United States last year I was showing a party of returned soldiers through Honolulu. After visiting the quaint old Parliament House I said, "There's a little bit of Australia over there!" pointing to a huge gum tree with branches here, there and everywhere. One of the soldiers turned round and saw it and then ran for his life to it, flung his arms round the bark and kissed it. That is what Australia means when we are away from it. I'll guarantee that man didn't know how much he loved Australia until he got outside the country.'" (Reported in the Sun, deleted in the Sydney Morning Herald. Note: "Transplanted eucalypti" do not grow ragged with branches "here, there and everywhere"; no matter how they grow at home.--H.L.) He took a trip when all was done (And Skite, as usual, had won) To Philadelphiah, my son. A wider field he hoped to find-- The native land he'd left Was far too small for such a mind. He showed the Quakers, soft and slow, The way in which they ought to go; He told them things they didn't know; Until the Quaker barkeep said, "O, come thee in and go to bed-- Or sit thee down and shut thy head." He left that city in disgust As all true politicians must And washed his feet of Yankee dust. At Honolulu, homeward bound, Where Echo hath a "dahlah" sound, He "showed returning soldiers round". He thrust his arm out rigidly At one old blanky blue-gum tree-- 'Twas very plain for all to see. A stately blue-gum, straight and tall, That never sent for Tom to call, Nor did him any harm at all-- A startled digger gave a yell And ran to catch it ere it fell, And kissed the bark to make it well. His weeping mates pried loose his clutch-- 'Twas the true politician's touch; But they said It Was Too Dam Much. They wrapped his body in a sheet And laid it at Tom Mutch's feet To make the Incident complete. I wrote the story long ago,* But didn't "pull the sob-stuff" so; As Tom has read and ought to know. By plain and mountain, cliff and beach, We also wrote for those who teach, The rest of Mutch's famous speech. I only write to show the stuff-- The sort of "guyver", "bluff" or "guff"-- We pay them for--and that's enough, Excepting this,--That I have heard That when Australian hearts are stirred, They think a lot, but say no word; Save, in a flagrant case, maybe, To blank the song, or thing or tree That stirred their blanky memory. Lone Hand *His Country After All. Written in exile in Toadylend--New Zealand--in 1893, and published in one of my books.--H.L. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Passing of Scotty [1903] We throw us down on the dusty plain When the gold has gone from the west, But we rise and tramp on the track again, For we're tired, too tired to rest. Darker and denser the shadows fall That are cramping each aching brow, Scotty the Wrinkler! you've solved it all, Give us a wrinkle now. But no one lieth so still in death As the rover who never could rest; And he's free of thought as he's free of breath, And his hands are crossed on his breast. You have earned your rest--you brave old tramp, As I hope in the end we will. Ah me! 'Twas a long, long way to camp Since the days when they called you "Phil". What have they done with your quaint old soul Now they have passed you through? But we can't but think, as our swags we roll, That it's right, old man, with you; You learned some truth in the storm and strife Of the outcast battler's ways; And you left some light in the vagabond's life Ere you vanished beyond the haze. One by one in the far ahead, In the smothering haze of drought, Where hearts are loyal and hopes are dead, The forms of our mates fade out. 'Tis a distant goal and a weary load, But we follow the Wrinkler home, As, staggering into the short, straight road, From the blind branch tracks we come. We leave our mark and we play our part In the nation's pregnant days, And we find a place in the Bushman's heart Ere we vanish beyond the haze. Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Patriotic League [1891] Behold! the biased foes of Right Are conscious of their danger, They're startled by the dawning light, So very long a stranger. And fearing for their rotting laws, Whose reign is nearly ended, To study out the People's cause At last they've condescended. "And this they call the 'People's Cause', Why this is insurrection! They would revoke the very laws We made for our protection! An equal right with us they claim! They'll rob us by and by, sir! We'll form a league and steal a name And tell another lie, sir." They took to gloss a base intrigue A name that was demotic. They stole a name and formed a league And called it "Patriotic". They've resurrected ancient lies, The world had most forgotten, The liars think the world will rise To back a Cause that's rotten. I know their creed, and know it well, Too mean are its creators To hope for heaven, or fear the hell They'd make for agitators. Old as the hills, and quite as dense Though shaking like a jelly. Time honoured to magnificence, Religion of the Belly! Worker ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Pavement Stones [1890] (A SONG OF THE UNEMPLOYED) When first I came to town, resolved To fight my way alone, No prouder foot than mine e'er trod Upon the pavement stone; But I am one in thousands, And why should I repine? The pavement stones have broken springs In stronger feet than mine. I brought to aid me all the hope And energy of youth; And in my heart I felt the strength Of plain bucolic truth: The independence nourished Amid the hills and trees-- But, ah! the city hath a cure For qualities like these. I wonder oft how e'er I made The efforts that I made, For after three long weary years I taught myself a trade. And two more years and I was free With strength and hope elate, For "he that hath a trade," they say, "Hath also an estate." I tramped the streets and looked for work And begged for work in vain, Until I recked not, though I ne'er Might touch my tools again. I tramped the streets despairing; My cheeks grew white and thin; I felt the pavement wearing through The leather, sock, and skin. The bitter war goes on between The idlers and the drones, Until the hearts of men grow cold And hard as pavement stones; But I am one amid the crowd, Then why should I repine? The pavement stones have broken springs In stronger feet than mine. Truth ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Pink Carnation [1905] I may walk until I'm fainting, I may write until I'm blinded, I might drink until my back teeth are afloat, But I can't forget my ruin and the happy days behind it, When I wore a pink carnation in my coat. Oh, I thought that time could conquer, and I thought my heart would harden, But it sends a sudden lump into my throat, When I think of what I have been, and the cottage and the garden, When I wore a pink carnation in my coat. God forgive you, girl, and bless you! Let no line of mine distress you-- I am sorry for the bitter lines I wrote; But remember, and think kindly, for we met and married blindly, When I wore a pink carnation in my coat. Amateur Gardener ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Poet's Kiss [1909] A comedy--a tragedy-- A broken head, or egg-- And some of us would laugh to see A blind man's wooden leg. So much that seemeth sad is gay-- That seemeth weal is woe-- That, till it's sung, I cannot say If this song's sad or no. Her freckled face was small and sweet, Her large grey eyes were sad; Through cold and slush, and dust and heat, She slaved to help her dad. By ridges brooding ever now, And gullies deep and dark, She milked the everlasting cow Out there at Stringybark. It was a fearsome life indeed, That few might understand; Her only pleasure was to read The poets of the land-- The songs of drovers far away, Of love, and city strife; And Men that Might Have Been--'twas they Who brightened her young life. And when the evening milk was set, And poddy calves were fed, And when she'd cooked what she could get For Dad and Tom and Ted, And when she'd penned the calves and bought The morning's firewood in, She had a rest (as so she ought) And read The Bulletin. There was a bard who sang the Bush, The ocean wide and wild, The bushmen and the city push-- She'd read him when a child: He sang of Hope and grim despair, Of backs bent to the rod, Of fights for freedom everywhere, And--oh! he was her god. He sang of gaunt bushwomen slaves, Of bush girls sad and lone; Of broken hearts and lonely graves (Of others' and his own); He sang of many a noble deed, And many an act of grace: And, all her life, since she could read, She'd longed to see his face. She pictured him with burning eyes, And heavy hair thrown back From gloomy brows so worldly wise And sadly on the rack. A wasted form--transparent hands That angels might caress; A heart that ached for many lands, And clean but careless dress. She longed to take those hands of his, And, with her spirit, bow, And kiss them, if she dared not kiss His lips, or gloomy brow. She longed to look into his eyes, And ask him, with a sigh, If they might meet in Paradise-- And then go home and die. They'd three green seasons after brown (So runs the world away); They sent her down to Sydney town To have a holiday. In fear and trembling--yet with joy-- In fluttering hope and doubt, And, eager-hearted as a boy, She sought her poet out. She found him too, no matter how, Nor does it matter where; The gloom upon his grimy brow Was hidden by his hair. The poet's words were thick and slow, The poet's chin was slack; His bloodshot eyes were burning, though, And one of them was black. His clothes were careless, right enough, But they were far from clean, And he was, briefly--in the rough-- The Man He Might Have Been. He heard her worship with a laugh, Her sorrow with a frown-- He scrawled a drunken autograph, And borrowed half-a-crown. The sky is lead--storm-waters whirl Down gullies deep and dark, And there's a disillusioned girl Far out at Stringybark. And, after all, there is a chance, This is a song of woe-- 'Twas sung to buy a pair of pants, And that is all I know. Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Portugee [1916] There was wild cheering in the Portuguese Parliament when it was announced that Germany had declared war against Portugal.--Cable Allies of ours for a hundred years--'tis written on parchment old-- Allies of ours for three hundred years, and their word is as good as gold. Pirates like us in the days gone by, when we sailed the Southern Seas With one eye out for the coral reefs and one for the Portuguese. Pirates like us in the days of "peace", in a different sense of the word; Though it had been long on the Southern Sea since the Portuguese oath was heard, Pirates like us in the days that be; and the Prussian's eyes rolled wide With rage and surprise when the Portugee came nimbly over the side. The Dutch were bluffed and the Turks were bought in spite of the Bygone Years; Mahomet growled--but the Hindu fought by the turbans from Algiers. The "lying Greek", he would live enslaved, while the Serb died to be free, And the Bulgar snapped at the hand that saved--but not so the Portugee! Ships were scarce on the Southern Sea, and the Foe seemed far away-- And it well may be that the Portugee had dreams of another "Day". And he gazed long down on the German ships that were left to rust and rot-- It was too much for the Portugee. "We have need," he said, "of the lot." Allies of ours in the days of old (and the Spaniard loots at ease)-- Wellington knew, in his hour of need, the worth of the Portuguese! They sailed of old by the Cape of Storms, and our ships sailed in their wake-- They are sailing now by a stormier cape, and they sail for England's sake! Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Press Gang [1892] Poets talk of "darker ages", of the reign of Tyranny, Of the days before the toilers had the name of being free. Poets say the world is rolling through the "regions of the dawn", And they think it is a blessing that the ancient times are gone; But I rather think this planet must have been a better place When the sons of Greed were honest, and the "tyrant" showed his face; He thought that he was in the right, and he, at least, was brave, And the lord was called the master, and the slave was called a slave. But the lord degenerated as his arm (through vice) grew weak; He's a hypocrite and liar, and a coward, and a sneak; He will pay the "hired assassin" to protect his cherished gold, But he will not face the music as he used to do of old-- As of old, when rebels threatened to attack his precious hoard, And he marched with his retainers--argued matters with his sword-- He dare not draw it now and help to raise the "battle din", For his castles and his acres and his concubines and tin. Now the wealthy have discovered that the pen's the strongest tool, So they fight in lying "leaders" to preserve the ancient rule; Or they organise, from members of the journalistic trade, A newer and a finer kind of "Shoot-'Em-Down" Brigade. Now they know the wrong their fathers called the "right divine" must die, And they know that truth would damn them, so they lie, of course, they lie; They LIE until they think it truth, they lie until it ends In the wealthy loafers posing as the "working people's friends". We're commencing with digression, you will think; but what we say Leads us on to "lying leaders" in the papers of today: And before we start exposing, we would like to give a hint To those who have a great respect for what they see in print. The journalist is mortal--he must earn his bite and sup, And the comps are earning tucker while they set his copy up; There's a sort of halo round us, and, perhaps, you'll think it queer, That the present writer's rhyming for his bread and cheese--and beer. (And here we might apologise, because our voice is rough-- You cannot wait for grammar when you're rhyming for the "stuff".) The majority of papers, I am very much afraid, Only go to make a modern kind of "Lay-'Em-Out" Brigade; And I think the Southern papers, to the outskirts of the bush, Mostly crawl beneath the fingers of the "Bunkum Boodle" push. There are brilliant exceptions, which, of course, we mustn't miss; There are straight and honest papers (cast your optic over this); But I think the vast majority of any country's rags Have to pander to the wealthy, being ruled by money-bags. Now we'll take the case of "Sweater", and suppose that he has tin, And plenty influence behind the Daily Rake-It-In. Now, suppose the men at Sweater's should be treated very bad, While the Rake-It--In is subsidised by Sweater's column ad., Would the rag support the workmen if they struck in Sweater's shop? Would the rag come down on Sweater? (Catch a flea upon the hop!) Yet a lot of constant readers would declare the strike a sin, Being influenced by leaders in the Daily Rake-It-In. And a syndicate of papers, scattered broadcast thro' the lands, How can they support the workman, or the right that he demands, When the syndicate employs him, and the crawling, sneaking rags Represent the fat employers, represent the money-bags? Yet the wooden-headed reader blames the journalistic tribe, While the family for tucker is depending on the scribe; Like the workman he's a victim of the worshippers of pelf, And his bed is very stony--be a journalist yourself. If a bunkum boodle paper told the truth, it soon would die, For it lies to live--you understand--because it lives to lie. And it sinks to paltry lying; here's an instance, if you like: Let the workmen hold a meeting that's in favour of a strike, And the thousands who attended--as was known beyond a doubt-- Will appear in print as hundreds when the Rake-It-In comes out. I've respect for people's feelings, and I only want to hint That a lot of paper-owners tell the damnedest lies in print. Now, a Tory reads a leader in the paper of his heart, And he thinks the leader-writer stings the "agitator" smart; While a "Son of Light" who's reading in the Dawn of Liberty Thinks if all were like his writer this old world would soon be free. Yet, perhaps--as often happens in the world of pen and ink-- Both the leaders emanated from a solitary "think", Written by a single writer for his bread and cheese and "rint". Yet a lot of knowing people put unbounded faith in print. But you mustn't blame the writer; he must live, you understand; P'r'aps he'd yell as loud for freedom as the reddest in the land; He perhaps, when young and frisky, raves of Liberty and Truth, But he learns that empty stomachs rather quench the fires of youth. If they offered him a billet on an anti-progress rag, Would he say, "I am no liar. I would rather hump my swag!" Would he sing a song of freedom as he passed the billet by? No! I rather think the verdure ain't apparent in his eye. He has got to slave for Mammon same as lumpers have to do, And I think he'd take the billet--and I think you'd take it too; You would slobber on her Gracious, you would bless the Prince of Wales, You would say that agitators should be hung or put in gaols; You would damn the common people in the leader every time, And the strength of England's greatness would be running thro' your rhyme. You would mingle with the Tory; seek the smiles of jewelled dears, Till a Civil Service billet buttered your declining years. Yet a mighty lot of people think that "Truth" is never ripe, Till a sheet of common paper has been jammed agin the type; They'd be very much astonished, to discover that they knew just as much as many writers on the Bunkum Boodle do. When you read a "business paper", you must bear in mind, my lad, That the truth will never answer to support a cause that's bad. Truth ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Rebel [1891] Henry Lawson, 1891 Call me traitor to my country and a rebel to my God. And the foe of "law and order", well deserving of the rod, But I scorn the biassed sentence from the temples of the creed That was fouled and mutilated by the ministers of greed, For the strength that I inherit is the strength of Truth and Right; Lords of earth! I am immortal in the battles cf the night! My religion is the oldest; it was born upon the earth When to curse mankind for ages pride and tyranny had birth. 'Tis the offspring of oppression, born to suffering and strife, Born to hate, above all other hate, the things that gave it life; And 'twill live through all the ages, while a son of man is blind, In the everlasting rhythm of the story of mankind! From the Maker's battered image, where the bloody helmet gleams, From the graves of beaten armies rise the heroes of my dreams. I am ever with the weaker in the battles for the right. And I fight on vessels sinking 'neath the cruel blows of might; But I hear of coming triumph in the tramp of flying feet And the wild, despairing music of the army in retreat. I am plunged in bitter sorrow at the sinking of a star, For I mourn among the murdered where the broken lances are; Souls of earth who rule with iron, raining death on farm and town, Sacrificing lives uncounted, putting just rebellions down, Ye shall answer for the murders of the slaves compelled to bleed For the commonwealth of idlers and the common cause of greed. I have come for common justice to the castles of the great, And the people who have sent me crave assistance at the gate; They obeyed the Maker's sentence--whey have ploughed and tilled the soil. Yet they go in rags and hunger in the harvest of their toil. I demand the rights of Labour in the law of God defined; Pause and weigh the pregnant answer!--there is peace or war behind. Are we slaves beneath the power that our industry hath given? Are we fuel to feed the engines of your artificial heaven? I am come to warn the idlers at the castles of the great, For the army that has sent me grows impatient at the gate: They have gathered now in thousands from the alley and the den, And the words of fire are breaking from the lips of quiet men! Yield, and save the lives of thousands! for the rebels' eyes are bright, And the god of revolution is abroad on earth to-night. Truth ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Recruiting Sergeants [1915] Twenty-four from Blue's Point Sailed to War away-- Twenty-four from our Point Enlisted in a day. Some for their country Went to risk their lives, And some sailed to glory Because of their wives! Many great recruiters Sound the nation's call: But the Wives of Our Street Are greatest of all. Bells ring from London, Bells ring from Rome; Bells ring from Petrograd, And bells ring from Home; Bells ring from Paris-- That feared the city's fall-- But the Wives' Tongues of Our Street Are loudest of all! Many great recruiters Sound the nation's call; But the Wives of Our Street Are greatest of all. All the Front a-frozen, Or a flaming Hell; Grey sky, or lurid, Shriek of passing shell; Shocks like an earthquake Where "Jack Johnsons" fall-- But the Wives' Tongues of Our Street Are dreader than all! Many great recruiters Sound the nation's call; But the Wives of Our Street Are greatest of all. An old mate of my mate's (How the lists increase!) Sailed to the Front to Get a little peace-- Little peace and quietness, For (you and me between) His wife, like the rest, is A super-submarine. (Many great recruiters Sound the nation's call; But the Wives of Our Street Are greatest of all!) He was doing nicely Somewhere out with French, Or with Ian Hamilton, Happy in the trench; Roasting or freezing, Where guns never cease, Burrowing and dodging-- But his life was Peace! (Many great recruiters Sound the nation's call, But the Wives' Tongues of Our Street Are grandest of all.) Only the shrieking shell, Like a haunting "pome", Now and then reminded him Vaguely of home; But remembrance made him glad That his leg was "free"; Till at last he got it Badly in the knee. (Many great recruiters Sound their country's call, But the Wives of Our Street Are greatest of all.) Now the bloke is back again, Back from shot and shell, Back from sounds he learned to love-- Back again to Hell! Maimed and at the mercy of The tongue of his wife, And the neighbours' poisoned tongues-- And Sich Is Life. Many great recruiters Sound their country's call, But the Wives' Tongues of Our Street Are damnedest of all! Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Recruits [1915] They come from the city counter; They come from the sandy West; They come from the South Sea Islands-- Our bravest and our best. They rush from the pen and the tiller, The shearing machine and the plough; And the Star of Australasia Is high in the Heavens now. Riding, tramping, and sailing-- From home or from never a home; Over distance and hardship prevailing-- With money, or not, they come. And each with his secret story, And all with a common aim: To sail to a foreign country, And fight for England's name. Melba's Gift Book ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Reformation of the Eldest Son [1911] (When I wrote those pieces, "The Eldest Son" and "The Good Samaritan"--which last I consider one of the purest and most religious things I ever wrote--some alleged critics, and, notably, an individual in Melbourne, whom I understand to be a poet, and who signs himself Gyles Turner, accused me of Blasphemy and other things. When I publish my forthcoming ballad, "Joseph Dreams", he may have something more to say on the subject. Now, I never said or wrote a blasphemous thing in my life, nor thought one as far as Christ and Christianity are concerned--heathen though I may be, and as my old Norse fathers were (I feel very Norse of late years), I consider the Christian Bible to be one of the truest books ever written--a book of life and human nature described by men who knew it. I consider the tales of Joseph, the Prodigal Son, and others (excepting that grand story, the Good Samaritan) to be vivid sketches of real life--realism such as a Zola might have written--human nature with all its weaknesses, and not to be taken as object lessons at all. All things considered, Gyles Turner and his brethren might well have studied the Good Samaritan, and learnt a little from him.) The Eldest Son was a young man still, Though toil and worry had told on him. The land and the people were hard to till, His back was bowed and his eyes were dim (Dimmed by the long, long years of drought) And his heart was tired of beating alone. The home was barren within and without, The ground was hard and the hearts were stone. The Youngest Son went to the world away With a tenner, a horse, and a good rig-out, (And his horse was stuffed with the last of the hay, And he left the farm in a blazing drought. But the Eldest fought till the fight was won, With despair in his heart and dust in his throat; 'Twas never he heard from the Youngest Son, Unless he wanted a five pound note. The second son and the third were "good", Though born in a measure resentful too. But the second was married (to Sarah Wood) And the third was lame--so what could they do? There were bickering, quarrels, and venom, you bet-- You know how the run of large families run: (The Eldest inherits the Nothing-to-Get) But one sister stuck to the Eldest Son. The long drought broke and good seasons came; And after each harvest the cheques flowed in. And the money was banked in the Old Man's name, But the Son toiled on--'twas a thankless sin. The seasons held and the folk grew rich, There were regular crops--there was regular rain, Till in one grand season, no matter which, The Prodigal Son strolled home again. Let the parable here take up the theme Bring it up to date, and it fills the bill. The Eldest woke from a life-long dream, Or a life-long stupor--which as you will. He was quite fed up, for the scales were gone From his blighted eyes (and he saw, of course). He left the selection one day at dawn, But he took no tenner and took no horse. The Eldest travelled the great wide world-- The world where his spirit by right belonged-- That was manned and womaned and boyed and girled, And wronged and righted, and righted and wronged. He worked for wages--he worked for a boss-- He drifted by many a town and run, Till a woman there was (as there always was) Who saw a man in the Eldest Son. The woman she took him and dressed him right, And made him shave, as a woman can; And his eyes grew bright in a single night, And the Eldest Son was a handsome man. (He seemed a stranger without his beard). But women were quick since the race began; She talked to him till the cobwebs cleared, And the Eldest Son was a thinking man. The woman took him and taught him guile (She taught him guile as a woman can), And "manners" to hide it--after a while-- And the Eldest Son was a clever man. And the woman took him and stroked his fur, As women have done since the world began. Till he looked from superior heights on her, And the Eldest Son was a confident man. The woman took and taught him love-- The love for a woman, as women can, From the realms below and the realms above, And the Eldest Son was a watchful man. And the woman took him and taught him hate; She showed him he'd wasted his life's short span, And she told him to wait till a day too late; And the Eldest Son was a vengeful man. She sent him away to a seaport town (A woman of old and wise was she), And a cheque from an aunt (resurrected) came down And he travelled by land and city and sea. He wore no rags and he felt no cold, He turned to neither the right nor left, Nor failed like the Prodigal Son of old-- He ate no husks from the hogs bereft. He found some swine where the wild cats stink And the toiler is done on a toasting fork; But the wise men found, when they came to think, That he'd ground the grain and he'd cured the pork. And mail by mail as the swift years passed The woman she wrote as a woman can, And when he came back to her side at last The Eldest Son was a wealthy man. The woman took him and bore him sons, To fill to the brimming his joyful cup. He purchased the pick of the southern runs, For them to people when they grew up. But he went to the old selection first, And Oh! they were glad to see him come, For he found things there at their very worst, So he brought his Prodigal Father home. He found that nothing to save the wreck Had ever been done by the Prodigal Son, So he took him sternly by the neck And set him to work on his richest run. And he left him there with every chance To rise in time to be overseer, And the Eldest Son--this is no romance-- You'll see him down at the Cup next year. Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Return [1916] And I watch the track on the Red Soil Plain. To the east when the day is late, For one who shall surely come back again, In summer's heat or in winter's rain, Limping under his swag in pain-- For a wounded Anzac mate. Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Rhyme of the Three Greybeards [1921] He'd been for years in Sydney "a-acting of the goat", His name was Joseph Swallow, "the Great Australian Pote", In spite of all the stories and sketches that he wrote. And so his friends held meetings (Oh, narrow souls were theirs!) To advertise their little selves and Joseph's own affairs. They got up a collection for Joseph unawares. They looked up his connections and rivals by the score-- The wife who had divorced him some twenty years before, And several politicians he'd made feel very sore. They sent him down to Coolan, a long train ride from here, Because of his grey hairs and "pomes" and painted blondes--and beer. (I mean to say the painted blondes would always give him beer.) (They loved him for his eyes were dark, and you must not condemn The love for opposites that mark the everlasting fem. Besides, he "made up" little bits of poetry for them.) They sent him "for his own sake", but not for that alone-- A poet's sins are public; his sorrows are his own. And poets' friends have skins like hides, and mostly hearts of stone. They said "We'll send some money and you must use your pen. "So long," they said. "Adoo!" they said. "And don't come back again. Well, stay at least a twelve-month--we might be dead by then." Two greybeards down at Coolan--familiar grins they had-- They took delivery of the goods, and also of the bad. (Some bread and meat had come by train--Joe Swallow was the bad.) They'd met him shearing west o' Bourke in some forgotten year. They introduced him to the town and pints of Wagga beer. (And Wagga pints are very good--I wish I had some here.) It was the Busy Bee Hotel where no one worked at all, Except perhaps to cook the grub and clean the rooms and "hall". The usual half-wit yardman worked at each one's beck and call. 'Twas "Drink it down!" and "Fillemup!" and "If the pub goes dry, There's one just two-mile down the road, and more in Gundagai"-- Where married folk by accident get poison in the pie. The train comes in at eight o'clock--or half-past, I forget, And when the dinner table at the Busy Bee was set, Upon the long verandah stool the beards were wagging yet. They talked of where they hadn't been and what they hadn't won; They talked of mostly everything that's known beneath the sun. The things they didn't talk about were big things they had done. They talked of what they called to mind, and couldn't call to mind; They talked of men who saw too far and people who were "blind". Tradition says that Joe's grey beard wagged not so far behind. They got a horse and sulky and a riding horse as well, And after three o'clock they left the Busy Bee Hotel-- In case two missuses should send from homes where they did dwell. No barber bides in Coolan, no baker bakes the bread; And every local industry, save rabbitin', is dead-- And choppin' wood. The women do all that, be it said. (I'll add a line and mention that two-up goes ahead.) The shadows from the sinking sun were long by hill and scrub; The two-up school had just begun, in spite of beer and grub; But three greybeards were wagging yet down at the Two-mile pub. A full, round, placid summer moon was floating in the sky; They took a demijohn of beer, in case they should go dry; And three greybeards went wagging down the road to Gundagai. At Gundagai next morning (which poets call "th' morn") The greybeards sought a doctor--a friend of the forlorn-- Whose name is as an angel's who sometimes blows a horn. And Doctor Gabriel fixed 'em up, but 'twas not in the bar. It wasn't rum or whisky, nor yet was it Three Star. 'Twas mixed up in a chemist's shop, and swifter stuff by far. They went out to the backyard (to make my meaning plain); The doctor's stuff wrought mightily, but by no means in vain. Then they could eat their breakfasts and drink their beer again. They made a bond between the three, as rock against the wave, That they'd go to the barber's shop and each have a clean shave, To show the people how they looked when they were young and brave. They had the shave and bought three suits (and startling suits in sooth), And three white shirts and three red ties (to tell the awful truth), To show the people how they looked in their hilarious youth. They burnt their old clothes in the yard, and their old hats as well; The publican kicked up a row because they made a smell. They put on bran'-new "larstin'-sides"--and, oh, they looked a yell! Next morning, or the next (or next), from demon-haunted beds, And very far from feeling like what sporting men call "peds", The three rode back without their beards, with "boxers" on their heads! They tried to get Joe lodgings at the Busy Bee in vain; They did not take him to their homes, they took him to the train; They sent him back to Sydney till grey beards grew again. They sent him back to Sydney to keep away a year; Because of shaven beards and wives they thought him safer here. And so he cut his friends and stuck to powdered blondes and beer. Until the finish came at last, as 'twill to any "bloke"; But in Joe's case it chanced to be a paralytic stroke; The soft heart of a powdered blonde was, as she put it, "broke". She sought Joe in the hospital and took the choicest food; She went there very modestly and in a chastened mood, And timid and respectful-like--because she was no good. She sat the death-watch out alone on the verandah dim; And after all was past and gone she dried her eyes abrim, And sought the head-nurse timidly, and asked "May I see him?" And then she went back to her bar, where she'd not been for weeks, To practise there her barmaid's smile and mend and patch the streaks The only real tears for Joe had left upon her cheeks. Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Right-O Girl [1917] She says "Right-O!" She never smirks Nor simpers, nods, nor shakes her head; She rises with the dawn and works For those who want a meal or bed. And when they come in late at night And hint of supper, meek and low, Like big, bad boys, well, that's alright-- She pokes the fire and says "Right-O!" I met her first at Goondah camp Three months ago, or maybe more; Where tourists trip and navvies tramp Like elephants across the floor. But bound for Burke, or Burrinjuck, No class distinctions doth she know-- Corn beef to boil? or fowls to pluck? Best bed, or bunk? She says "Right-O!" I'd been where poultry farmers skite, And pigs are mighty in the State; But eggs or ham--you'll find I'm right-- Most seldom grace your breakfast plate; Where you get half-a-spud a day, And jim-jam vegetables grow-- But I digress--as is my way-- I asked for eggs. She said "Right-O!" On these great plains there're prizes few, And failures are the common stroke, I've come to take a broader view, And better thought of human folk-- O, land of mine! and people mine! Wherever we he flag unfurl I'll drink the Riverina wine A toast unto the Right-O Girl. Aussie ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Road to St Helena [1911] How far is St Helena from a little child at play?
--KIPLING, "A St Helena Lullaby." Drink and rave and bluster, but why should WE prevail? The Road to St Helena is a road that many sail! The cliffs of St Helena, Oh, saddest cliffs they be, Where the Ruined Men at sunset stand a-gazing out to sea! Oh, the boy with soul in torture thinking of the Present Time! Oh, the young man in his glory, and the strong man in his prime! Oh, the old man in his wisdom, where the naked idols fall, And the Road to St Helena lieth plain for one and all! You may make a little money, you may build a little fame, Be it War, or Art or Letters, it is evermore the same; You may sail alone and bitter, you may take the one last friend; But the Road to St Helena, you shall sail it in the end. When your life-long work is finished and the "World" turns down the page, And you sail for St Helena by the Cape of Middle Age, When the Good-bye Coast is fading faster than all other scenes, And the sailing wind is fairest--Oh, you'll know then what it means! Ah! the Road to St Helena is a lonely road and sore, Where the track runs up behind you and the track runs down before; And you see the end as plainly as high Heaven could reveal, Or the stolid, silent steersman smoking calmly by the wheel. Mother, father, toiling ever, working late and struggling hard; Worn-out granny in her corner, grand-dad pottering round the yard-- But we have no time to listen, while the old folk croak the tale How the Road to St Helena is a road that all must sail. Rushing down the road to Fifty on the track of No Return-- Oh, the withered hands of women where the hot tears fall and burn! Oh, the old maid or old mother (all pretend and no one cares)-- Say! how far is St Helena from the dot who says her prayers? From the highest to the lowest we must sail it for the sake Of the France that claims Napoleon, or the Devon that claims Drake! Bear the poor bones back, ye nations. Raise your monuments and shout; But the roads you sent your saviours you shall never wipe them out. We may drink and rave and bluster, but say can we prevail, While Roads to St Helena are the roads that all must sail? As with men, so with the nations, all must stand and gaze again From the heights of St Helena on the Past made very plain. Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Row at Ryan's Pub [1919] Let all those about to marry listen to their Uncle Harry, Whether they are under twenty, or have jibbed at sixty-nine; When your sweetheart, or the missus, gives you gab instead of kisses, Don't talk back--it's worse than useless; and, for God's sake never whine. Don't get ropable, or moony--and, above all, don't get spoony; Do not whistle "Annie Rooney" sitting calmly on your chair (For it's likely to be risky); don't go out for beer or whisky; Think about the Row at Ryan's, and of other rows out there. Ryan's Pub is on the Hay line, which you'd scarcely call a gay line, Whether in the blazing sunlight, or the sad, majestic rain. Folk are there in strange conditions, men who once held high positions, Comps, and poets and musicians, who have spent their pasts in vain. Men of every strain and station, who, to study irrigation, Meet each Saturday at Ryan's in the township on the plain. Some are struggeling with vexations on the Murrumbidgee stations, Smilers from the Out-Back Nineties, and the studiest and the best. Some who would not brook restrictions, fled the city's contradictions-- With their "previous convictions" and are tramping ever west. Some have cow-farms, dry and dusty, for out from the quiet untrusty Rusty nightmare things called railways, some have sections in the scrub; Some are storemen set to edit every pennyworth of credit-- But the week-end's always brightened by the row at Ryan's Pub. Even Bummer Smith might start it, indirectly and beer-hearted, And a word of his might end it--wars have raged for Bummer Smith. Or some drover might remember he had words, say last December, With another whom he now is, and he then was, drinking with. Or the row be still more silly, and connected with King Billy, Or the habits and the customs of his dark and ancient line. Or be started in like manner by the snake, or the "gohanner", Or some rarer freak that worries this old land of yours and mine. And two others--more than brothers, though they did have different mothers, Likewise fathers--start a quarrel when they're full up to the neck; And with arms that wave like windmills wrangle till they waken Ryan As to whether it is Ah Kee (hic, hic!) Tect or Archie-tect. And when Ryan tells them plainly, then they, even more insanely, Argue wether it is Awk-Chester or Orchy--Damn the rhyme! With old Bummer Smith protesting, half in tears and unarresting, That it ish--what Ryan --sheshitish--I tell yer--every time. But the biggest row at Ryan's was outside the realm of Science, Or the English tongue and grammar, though Australian had a show. 'Twas between two old hard-cases who had been in many places, And were mostly mates together since the golden long ago. They had hoofed on the Never-Never, when they both were young and clever-- Cobbers in each mad endeavour on the station, tack and claim, They were true, and loyal-hearted, but they fought and nearly parted, That bright moonlit night at Ryan's, and the Bunyip to blame. So when sweetheart, wife, or woman gets her tongue on you uncommon, Or a mate is short, or silent, or blasphemes without the grin, Or the good old Boss attacks you without reason, and then sacks you For the hundredth time in ten years--just sit tight, and take it in. Don't flare up and get ungracious, for your father was pugnacious, And he sort of suffered for it every month of the year. Have philosophy or patience for the feud of men and nations Are but cyclones in a teacup, are but tempests in a tub, And however they may veer, yet they mostly end in beer, Like the rows in our old Township, and the Row at Ryan's Pub. Smith's Weekly ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Sacrifice of Ball's Head [1916] They're taking it, the shipping push, As all the rest must go-- The only spot of cliff and bush That harbour people know. The spirit of the past is dead North Sydney has no soul-- The State is cutting down Ball's Head. To make a wharf for coal. Where picnic parties used to go To spend a glorious day, With all the scenery of a coast And not a cent to pay. The deep cool tangle shall be cleared To make the glaring roads And motor lorries jolt and grind And drag their sordid loads. And strings of grimy trucks shall run In everlasting trains And on the cliffs where wild trees are Shall stand the soulless cranes, To dump their grimy loads below, Where great brown rocks are grand; And the deep grass and wild flowers grow-- And boating couples land. No more shall poorer families Give "Grandma" and "Grandad" A glimpse of nature's mysteries To make their old hearts glad. No more our eyes shall be relieved In the city's garish day-- A sordid crime has been achieved! And none has aught to say. Newspaper Cutting ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The "Seabolt's" Volunteers [1889] They towed the Seabolt down the stream, And through the harbour's mouth; She spread her wings and sailed away To seek the sunny South. But, ah! she met with storm on storm Ere half her course had run; And all her masts were torn away, And all her boats save one. The good old ship had settled far Beneath her cargo line, Her riven sides were drinking deep The draughts of ocean brine. There gathered round the only boat The women pale with fear, And trembling little ones, who clung To those who held them dear. Then spoke the captain, brave and true, His voice rose o'er the roar; "The boat will save us all but five, She cannot float with more!" And backward from the side he stepped-- (He had been born at sea) "Now who will seek in ocean's depths A sailor's grave with me?" Then up there stepped a merchant stout, His face was brown and tan: "I'll volunteer to stay on board, For I'm an Englishman!" Then spoke a gallant gentleman, A lover of romance: "Remain I for the ladies' sake, For I'm a son of France!" And next there spoke a Highlander: "Go search the wide world round, You'll find no spot where on the earth A Scotsman is not found!" And then there spoke a lad to whom Killarney's lakes were dear: "It won't be said that Ireland found No place of honour here!" The boat pushed from the vessel's side Amid the ringing cheers; And now beneath Old Ocean sleep The Seabolt's volunteers. Illustrated Sydney News ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Sea-Caves [1914] The sea-caves boom on the eastern coast, And the sea-caves sound on the west, Where the phantom sails of the Dutchman's Ghost Are bound for the port of Rest. Three hundred years and a hundred years Full sail for the Port of Rest. The sea-caves sound by the Cape of Storms, Where the sprays of the Two Seas fly; And the Ghost of the Sea-Past fades and forms, And the phantom ships go by-- The English ship and the square Dutch ship And the tall-pooped Spaniard by. There's the ghost of the great East Indiaman, Bound Home from the China Sea, By the Cape of Storms where the Portingales Sailed to their spicerie. ("By this wild Cape goe the Portingales Untoe their spicerie.") The sea-caves sound by the Northern Strait That Torres failed to find; The sea-caves sound by the Southern gate That Tasman left behind. (His sweetheart's name was in his heart And the New World on his mind.) The grand old spirit in the South prevails, The spirit of the Old Sea Days-- Of the Spaniard, Dutch and Portingales, And it sails where the ghost of the Waratah sails, And the sea-caves sing its praise. Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Secessionist [1907] I worked awhile with the Anti-Sosh, and I've lived with the Anti-Truth; I shared a room with a saved young man in the days of my sinful youth: I've camped with a raving atheist and tramped with an anarchist, But I wouldn't be scen in a public place with a damned secessionist! I've smoked a pipe with a burglar-man and a man who was in for life; I've had a yarn with a murderer (I heard he had killed his wife); I've had a drink with a petty thief and a "three-pea" specialist-- But I wouldn't be seen in a lonely place with a mean secessionist. O he is as small as Australia's great, and as narrow as she is wide! O he is as mean as the crimps that wait for ships by the harbour's side! His carpeted office or gaol-like home (where the kids are coldly kissed) Are the only spots in this wide, bright world to the narrow secessionist. Grandfather, father, and son toiled on, and struggled from sea to sea, And not for the sake of themselves at all, but the nation that was to be; And the work of men of a hundred years, and Australia's chance to exist, He'd damn for the sake of his insect self, would the base secessionist. O the grand green Bush from the western spurs, and the farmers firm and fond! O the rolling plains to the skyline fair, and the rolling plains beyond! O the rolling blue of the sea all round 'neath the morning's rising mist! But these are things that can never be seen by the mole secessionist. By the strength of the Out-Back vote our name as a Commonwealth we wrote, And the pestering Anti-Australian swarm shall be swept by the Out-Back vote, He'll be cracked as a thumb-nailed flea is cracked, with a turn of the careless wrist, And we'll wipe the specks from Australia's name of the crawling secessionist. Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Sleeping Beauty [1889] "Call that a yarn!" said old Tom Pugh, "What rot! I'll lay my hat I'll sling you a yarn worth more nor two Such pumped-up yarns as that." And thereupon old Tommy "slew" A yarn of Lambing Flat. "When Lambing Flat broke out," he said, "'Mongst others there I knew A lanky, orkard, Lunnon-bred Young chap named Johnny Drew, And nicknamed for his love of bed, The 'Sleeping Beauty' too. "He sunk a duffer on the Flat, In comp'ny with three more, And makin' room for this and that They was a tidy four, Save when the eldest, Dublin Pat, Got drunk and raved for gore. "This Jack at yarnin' licked a book, And half the night he'd spout. But when he once turned in, it took Old Nick to get him out. And that is how they came to cook The joke I tell about. "A duffer-rush broke out one day, I quite forget where at (It doesn't matter, anyway, It didn't feed a cat), And Johnnie's party said they'd say Good-bye to Lambing Flat. "Next mom rose Johnnie's mates to pack And make an early shunt, But all they could get out of Jack Was 'All right,' or a grunt, By pourin' water down his back And, when he turned, his front. "The billy biled, the tea was made, They sat and ate their fill, But Jack upon his broad back laid, Snored like a fog-horn still; 'We'll save some tea to scald him,' said The peaceful Corney Bill. "As they their beef and damper ate And swilled their pints of tea A bully notion all at wonst Dawned on that rowdy three. And Dublin Pat, in frantic mirth, Said, 'Now we'll have a spree!' "Well, arter that, I'm safe to swear, The beggars didn't lag, But packed their togs with haste and care, And each one made his swag With Johnnie's moleskins, ev'ry pair, Included in the bag. "With nimble fingers from the pegs They soon the strings unbent, And off its frame as sure as eggs They drew the blessed tent, And rolled it up and stretched their legs, And packed the lot, and went. "And scarcely p'r'aps a thing to love, The 'Beauty' slumbered sound, With nought but Heaven's blue above And Lambing Flat around, Until in sight some diggers hove, Some diggers out'ard bound. "They sez as twelve o'clock was nigh, We'll say for sure elev'n, When Johnnie ope'd his right-hand eye And looked straight up to Heav'n: I reckon he got more surprise Than struck the fabled Sev'n. "Clean off his bunk he made a bound, And when he rubbed his eyes I'm safe to swear poor Johnnie found His dander 'gin to rise. For there were diggers standin' round, Their missuses likewise. "O Lor'! the joke, it wasn't lost, Though it did well-nigh tear The sides of them as came acrost The flat to hear Jack swear, They sez as how old Grimshaw tossed His grey wig in the air. "Some minutes on the ground Jack lay, And bore their screamin' jeers, And every bloke that passed that way Contributed his sneers; Jack cursed aloud, that cursed day Seemed lengthened into years. "Then in a fury up he sprung, A pretty sight, you bet, And laid about him with his tongue Advising us 'to get', And praying we might all be hung, I think I hear him yet. "Then on a sudden, down he bent, And grabbed a chunk of rock, And into Grimshaw's stomach sent The fossil, with a shock, And Grimshaw doubled up and went To pieces with the knock. "And in the sun that day Jack stood Clad only in his shirt, And fired with stones and bits of wood, And with his tongue threw dirt; He fought as long as e'er he could, But very few were hurt. "He stooped to tear a lump of schist Out of the clinging soil, By thunder, you should hear him jist, And see the way he'd coil Upon the ground, and hug his fist, And scratch and dig and toil! "'Tis very plain he'd struck it fat, The dufferin' Lunnon muff; The scoff and butt of Lambing Flat, Who always got it rough, Could strike his fortune where he sat; The joker held the stuff. "Well, that's the yarn, it ain't so poor; Them golden days is o'er, And Dublin Pat was drowned, and sure It quenched his thirst for gore; Old Corney Bill and Dave the Cure I never heard on more. "The Sleepin' Beauty's wealthy, too, And wears a shiny hat, But often comes to old Tom Pugh To have a quiet chat; I lent him pants to get him through His fix on Lambing Flat." Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Song of Broken English [1910] (And by this Cape goe the Portingales to their Spicerie.) 'Tis a Song of Broken English--German and Russian and Dane-- Sung by a bush-bred mongrel, as mad as the Prince--or as sane; Austrian, Swiss and Pole--and a song of greater things, By a "beery Bulletin scribbler" with the blood of Danish kings. Henry the son of Peter; Peter the son of Lars, Through a race of poets and pirates under the frozen stars. Back to the Thirteen, sailing on Friga's Day to war, To the pillage of Scotland and England, and the worship of Odin and Thor. Northward they went from Holland, round by the frozen sea, Seeking a phantom passage to "goe to their spicerie". Read the tale of the White Waste, where the splintering iceberg floats, The tale of a Dutchman, Barents! his ship and his open boats! Holland! half-drowned, but triumphant, in the spirit that never shall yield, When the sea drove back her invaders, and her fleet sailed over the field! Dutchmen, as lean as coolies, fighting for Liberty, And Holland, at peace, reclaiming the whole of the Zuyder Zee! Southward they sailed from Lisbon, the track of the "Portingales", By Cabo Tormentosso where the ghost of the Waratah sails; By the Cape of Storms and Magellan--capes of good hope and despair; Carl and Hans with their captains, old Dunder-und-Plitzen, were there, Down in the frozen silence, close to the spinning Pole; Sweltered in Indian forests where the Service has never a soul. Deep in the mighty Rockies--on the sands of the carrion bird-- In the conquered McDonell Ranges their Broken English is heard. (Hark! through our Civil Service, choked in a dry despair, The sound of Broken English is heard in high places there, Roundly denouncing "Humpug", stirring official dirt, Daring to say, for Australia, "more than his pillit is wort!") Voices in Broken English ever defied the Fates-- Saving a State to the Union--saving the South to the States. Steel in his self-made duty, deaf to the world at large-- Voice of a Foreign Father: "Moof up, my poys, und--Sharge!" Foreign father and husband, foreign children and wife, Thoughts in a different language, and Past in a different life. He cares not a jot for "der shtory" we "pack-worts to frontworts tell"; We smile at his Broken English--but we'd go with old Blitz to Hell! Lights of the placid Liner, a mass of iron and steel, A little Norse on the look-out and a big Swede at the wheel; A thousand lives and a palace, and a fortune in merchandise Depend on a pair of the mildest and bluest Norwegian eyes. Nuggety, fair and placid (he turns for three paces, thus); But uneasy as that old sailor on the schooner Hesperus . ("Light on the starport bow, sir!") He thinks of his native town As she shifts a point--and he notes it. And the smoky smother comes down. Open boat from the liner, on the far-flung Shark Reef hurled! Laden with women and children, and manned from all the world! Swooping to sky and axis we with the glass discern A little Norwegian for'ard and a big Swede in the stern. Shoutings in Broken English to the driftwood fire aglow, Holding her back for "der next vun"--"peaching her vedder or no "-- Boat in the grip of Bushmen, ropes to the line and row-- "Now for the vomans and shildren! Pully poys--Dot vas so!" Proud of the Broken English, and proud to be a son Of men who to vagabond British said "Do dot!" and it was done-- Proud of the scrubby red beard, of the wiry muscles and thin, And proud of the tinted veining shown through a Northern skin. Henry the son of Peter, Peter the son of Lars, Through a race of pirate poets under the Northern stars. And the Thirteen Sailors sailing on Friga's Day to land-- Joseph, the son of Henry, shall read it and understand. Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Song of Many [1910] Spoken through the world in kindness--through the universe in thunder! When the world-folk would not listen, while the world was growing grey: "Those whom God or Fate hath mated, let no mortal put asunder!" And the Thousand seek to do it, spite of Satan, every day. Perish by the Sword, or Slander! They shall feel it, they shall know it, Who, when from a sky of azure that dread thunderbolt was hurled, Made me drunkard who was sober, made me devil who was poet, Made the Girl-wife and Boy-husband, Man and Woman of the World! In an interval of Business, read, or do not read it, Annie, (Annie Ward and Harry Lawrence were but names--and what are names?) Not alone the Song of Us Two--'tis the song of very many, And maybe a song that comforts, and, maybe, a song that shames. Born of different States--no matter. We were bred amongst the wattles, But the single room in lodgings was to us a house and grounds With no fear for any future, spite of sowing hop-beer bottles To get pennies to make shillings when the baker came his rounds. So we struggled, and were happy, till, the pennies growing fewer, One true Friend of Both assisted, and we knew not what he spent, So we emigrated gaily from a new land to a newer Where a harder class of people had a kinder government. And a Native School they gave us, with but few white people near us Save the minister and doctor, and a woman who was strong: We grew nearer to each other with our daily work to cheer us, Children teaching native babies till our baby came along. To our own land, town and people, and in quest of an Ideal, Children still--the People's children--from a brighter Bush we came And I wrote about our Dreamland--which to me was very real, Till, in place of love and pennies, came the curse of pounds and fame. Talk of faults on one, or both sides--of life stories and their morals! Of the changes wrought by Sorrow--we had never sipped the cup. We were children! and our elders should have hushed our childish quarrels Or have left you to your fierce little makings-of-it-up! To the little three-roomed cottage that to Us Three was a palace Came the Friend of Both and neither, came the Mother and the Aunt, Came the twisted mind of envy and the crooked smile of malice, Came the white face and stooped shoulders of the Want-to-write-and-can't! So we parted as our mothers and our fathers did before us-- As our little son and daughter may be married yet and part While adown the road to ruin runs the fiendish cackling chorus Of a Land without a Purpose and a town without a heart. They shall feel it--I am bitter! They are married and they carry All the burden of a sorrow that they could not let alone. They were friends of Henry Lawrence--not the dear old chums of Harry-- And the sexless and self-seeking hearts of poison-coated stone. "Tempers too antagonistic! "Every day the Sneak discovers New excuses for old actions. We have said all to be said; In the Islands, seen in Sunset, we may meet again as lovers, And, till that time, let all bitterness be dead as love is dead. My Henry Lawson by Bertha Lawson ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Song of the Back to Front [1908] The Finn stokes well in the hot Red Sea, where the fireman damns his soul; And the played-out sons of a warm country went furthest towards the Pole. The grief is oft to the topside pub--and the "first" runs out of the hunt-- And--this is the song of the downside up, and a song of the back to front. Yes--grunt! And a song of the back to front. Oh! this is the way that it all begun since first on one end we trod. The short girl yearns for the six-foot-one, and the long for the four-foot-odd; Or this is the way that it all began (if my grammar's misunderstood), The good girl loveth the bad, bad man, and the bad girl loves the good. Yo-o-u--would!-- And the bad girl loves the good. The thin girl seeketh the stout boy oft when the slight boy's there to win; And often the man who is fat and soft gets roped by the hard and thin. The slave-wife loveth her "boss" and house, and everything seems to suit, And the pampered wife leaves a generous spouse and sticks to a drunken brute. Ye-es--shoot! And she sticks to a drunken brute. The woman says "Yes" when she meaneth "No", and "No" when she meaneth "Yes" But the blithering fool who would take her so is about to fall in, I guess. The mother sticks fast to the worthless one who treated her with contempt, And often she hateth the good old son of whose "feelings" she never dreamt-- Yes! dreamt-- Of whose feelings she never dreamt. The low comedian's glum off-stage, and the heavy tragedian's gay, With the artist or poet at Pint or Page, 'tis ever the self-same way. The fool looks wise, and the wise a fool, and the extra-"open" looks sly, The smart and the cunning is oft the tool that the plain and the simple ply. They're fly-- So the plain and the simple ply. The hard man's "soft" when the crisis comes, though the whole of his life be marred, And often as not, in our peaceful homes, are the "soft" men mean and hard. The excitable man--when the crisis arrives--is cool--as often as not. And the calm, mild men with the fiend's own wives are wild to the world, and hot-- Yes! Ge-e-t hot! Are wild to the world and hot. The weeds go through where the strong men fail--be it office or desert or trench, And the fattest coward in England's tale brought tucker slap through the French! The coward dies for his king and gods, and he throws his men away, But the brave man runs from the doubtful odds--that his foe may run next day-- Wotcher say? That his foe may run some day. The pig is clean, and the bulldog kind, but the man is a brute or hog. 'Tis starve, sty, or bludgeon, you'll mostly find, that spoileth the man, pig and dog. The poet is generous, noble and clean, and he singeth by day and night, But the edit--er--publisher? Woddidimean?--well, I didn't mean that way quite. *** --! --! --!!----All right --!!-- But I didn't--mean--thatwayquite. FROM THE FOOT OF THE STAIRS: The Low is Up, and the Small is Great--and-- (Now-I'm-goin'-quietly-don't you-lay-a-hand-on-me.) OUTSIDE: --and the scissoring fool is wise-- (All right, constable!) BY TELEPHONE: The car must run, but the hound can wait, and-- (cut off) BY POST: and The Bulletin's mostly lies. Tho' nothing is much, and the much is less, and the staring are always blind, And the front is as good as the back, I guess, when the editor's back's behind. Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Song of the Doodle Doos [1907] Oh, this is a song of the present time and a Ballad of Freedom's Foes-- A song more fitted for careless rhyme than it is for honest prose; For this is the song of the Goo-Goo push, and the city-bred yahoos, Of things that seldom are seen in the bush--and a song of the Doodle Doos. --'Dle Doos-- And a song of the Doodle Doos. Oh, this is the song of the great O Mys! that ever have been since Rome, Of the Sanctity of the Marriage Tie and the Safeguards of the Home. Of the Better Protection for Women and Girls--the song of the Female Gel-- Of the voice that shrieks and the arm that whirls--and it's sung by the Great H. L.! Oh L--! It is sung by the great H. L. Oh, this is the song of the Women's League, and the Brutal Neglect of Man; Of his Talk-dulled ears and his great fatigue--and a dirge for the Black and Tan. Of the Wrongs of the Wife, and the Husband's Place--and a song of the Selfish White-- And the penalties husbands shall have to face who'll be out after ten at night. That's right-- There'll be Acts after ten at night. Oh, this is the song of I Told You So, and a ballad of Who'd Have Thought? Of the duty on Whatsisname, Don't You Know, and the Battle That Women Fought. The song of "Just Fancy!" "You Don't Say So!" and "Nevah!" and "Ain't it a Shame!" And whether Our Chief will get in or no--and the voting for Whatsisname. It's a shame!-- She's voting for Whatsisname! Of the Letter of Introduction, too, and the letters from Eminent Men, Of the Clack in the Office, till all is blue, and the siege of the Editor's Den. And the flying fur, and the pleasant purr when the Eminent's hand she pats. And the smile (for Her Country's Good) of her, unknown to the other Cats. Oh that's For the Patriotic Cats. There are some because they have nought to do, and Democracy is "The Thing," The fashion and fad of the fluff-fluff crew, and the craze of the Maundering. "We really should Study the People now,"--and so they flutter and friv. "And Broaden Our Minds," and they wonder how the Wo-o-rking Pe-o-ple live. Would they give? Nary give. Oh, this is the song of the Awful Shock, and the rise of the Silver Spoons, For this is the song of the Four O'clock, and the Thursday Afternoons. Oh, this is the song of the Yellow and Pink - till winter comes round again-- "This Aw-w-ful Drought," and "Do-on't you Think that the country's in Need of Rain?" They explain That the country's in need of Rain. Like hysterical girls, or a loony wife, there are some who were always wronged, And they made it Hell, as they went through life, for the folk to whom they belonged. They shriek for justice on all that is, they weep for the world and moan; And their only complaint in the world is this: that men have left them alone. None would own-- They left them severely alone. There are some who never have had a child nor a girl about the place, Who'd rush into print, with a letter wild, for a lane-brat's dirty face. Neglected Children and Brutal Men and Young Unprotected Girls! Are the cries of the Awful Neglected Hen - and that is the way it whirls. Yes, it whirls, And that is the way it whirls. They'd burst up homes and the marriage-tied, and they'd sell their country too; And they always accuse the opposite side of doing the things they do. They are on the Be, they are on the Make, with seldom a thought of others. So this is a song for Australia's sake, and her girls and her wives and mothers. Her husbands and fathers and brothers-- Her sons and her daughters and mothers. Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Song of the Heathen [1911] We must not kiss in the gardens, We must not sing in the street, We must not jump with a joyous shout When a long-lost friend we meet. We must not race by the sea-shore, We must not sit on the sand, We must not laugh on a New Year Night, For this is the Wowsers' land. O this is the Wowsers' land, And the laughing days are o'er, For most of the things that we used to do We must not do any more! We mustn't be glad on a Sunday now, For fear of a fine or gaol; We must not eat the fruits of the earth, Nor drink of the ginger ale: We must not go to a picture-show, No matter how pure it be: On a moonlit night, when the stars are bright, We scarce dare stroll by the sea. We scarce dare stroll by the sea, For the plain clo. "John's" about, And the she-male's nigh with an evil eye, And the Wowseradite is out. We dare not walk in the park by dark, We dare not sit on a seat, For the kill-joy is there with a baleful glare, And the night "cop" off his beat: We dare not pause to talk to our girl, At her door we scarce dare halt, Lest she be fouled by a gimlet bird, And we run in for assault. And heavily fined for assault, For the thing is everywhere, With its rusty coat and scraggy throat-- O the holy bird is there! The little boys mustn't play marbles, They mustn't trundle a hoop; We must not cheer for the Senate, Nor yet for our nation whoop! O tell me in cursing anger, O tell me in grief and tears, O tell me if this is Australia I wake to after the years! I wake to after the years-- The land that I thought was free; O tell me whatever in Heaven Or Hell can the matter be! O glorious skies above us, O spring-green earth beneath, O kindly gods that love us, O the open air we breathe! O song of the mighty Bushland, O light of the wild bush-flowers, O the surge of the grandest ocean At the gate of this land of ours! At the gate of this land of ours By religious mania cursed; Say what has brought clouds upon us? Who brought the germ in first? If this be the end of our striving, The reward of the fighting years; If this be the goal of the Commonwealth. I go with the Cavaliers; I go with the drinking fighters, With laughing rakes and carls-- If this be the work of Cromwell, Ride hard! Ride hard for King Charles! Ride hard! Ride hard for King Charles, Nor think of the useless slain; Then back to the world and nature-- The truth and the devil again! Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Song of the Waste-Paper Basket [1889] O bard of fortune, you deem me nought But a mark for your careless scorn. For I am the echo-less grave of thought That is strangled before it's born. You think perchance that I am a doom Which only a dunce should dread, Nor dream I've been the dishonoured tomb Of the noblest and brightest dead. The brightest fancies that e'er can fly From the labouring minds of men Are often written in lines awry, And marred by a blundering pen; And thus it comes that I gain a part Of what to the world is loss, Of genius lost for the want of art, Of pearls that are set in dross. And though I am of a lowly birth My fame has been cheaply bought, A power am I, for I rob the earth Of the brightest gems of thought; The Press gains much of my lawful share, I am wronged without redress, But I have revenge, for I think it fair That I should plunder the Press. You'd pause in wonder to read behind The lines of some songs I see; The soul of the singer I often find In songs that are thrown to me. But the song of the singer I bury deep With the scrawl of the dunce and clown, And both from the eyes of the world I keep, And the hopes of both I drown. Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Song of Tyrrell's Bell [1920] Hangs a bell in Tyrrell's shop With some letters round the top-- Tap it with your walking cane And its tones are clear and plain, Telling of the distant reign Of Wun Li (or maybe two): 'Tis Old China talks to you. Here we have, in dusty nooks, Old and long forgotten books, Telling in a simple way Things we learned the other day; And upon the polished shelves, In bright bindings in a row, Books that let the people know Things that we found out ourselves, And we thought were very new, And that China printed, too, Some two thousand years ago. Here in cabinets apart Work of lifetimes and of art; Carvings from the wood of trees Dead for many centuries; Fragile ware from China's shores That outlasted Emperors; Some were saved, for aught we know, When Aladdin's lamp was new, From old caravans attacked And scattered where the four winds blow Or the flames of cities sacked, Bloody centuries ago. Here's a knife that killed a king (One who could not hold his own), Here's a dart that saved a queen When the queen fled from her throne-- Relics, maybe, from the reign Of the Conqueror Charlemagne Or the demon Tamerlane; Bronzes from the dust and sand Of forgotten Samarkand Scattered over sea and land. Here are carpets, spread them wide By your winter fireside, And they'll take you back again From the darkness and the rain To Damascus and Bagdad-- When the world was young and glad And the good Haroun-al-Raschid Hamstrung all the profiteers. There's a bell in Tyrrell's shop (Tyrrell's shop in Sydney Town) With a legend round the top-- Bell of ancient bronze and brown. Tap it with your walking cane And its notes are clear and plain-- Plain as China and as true-- Telling of the ancient reign Of Wun Li--an' of Li II-- 'Tis old China speaks to you. Best respects to Li the First From a soul of his athirst Li the Second speaks to you. Old Books, Old Friends, Old Sydney ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Song of What Do You Think [1909] Oh this is the song of What-Do-You-Think, and it's sung from a safe "retreat", And the copy was written in bilious ink to the rhythm of pacing feet. Oh this is the song of Old Green Pen, and the Tea-Cup revolution; Of the Stolen Ideas of Other Men, and it's sung from an Institution-- A legalised institution, A sort of an Anti-club-pub-and-shanty-avadrink Institution. Oh this is the song of Advanced Ideas, and the song of the Latest Fad, Of the 'Osophys and the 'Losophys--the phees of the Crazy Mad. They grip the tail of the Thing that is Dead, and believe they will save the Nation, For they think they are flying far ahead on the wings of a revelation. (We have all had a revelation), And they think they are flying o'er centuries dying on the wings of a revelation. Oh this is the song of Boy Author Clubs, and their old-maid Presidents (And it isn't a lay of the low-down pubs, nor a trill for the navvies' tents); 'Tis a song of the Greenery Yallery Schools, and Culchaw in all its glory, Of the Diddle-dee, Daddle-dee, Scratch-me-Back fools and Physiological Story! Oh, the Physiological Story! The hemale and shemale, sash-wearing old female and daring young new-girly story. Of Debates on "Free Love" in the Realms (above), and the Readings from exercise books On the Things that are Hid and the Woman-Wot-Did--likewise of the Man-Wot-Looks; Of the things that are known to the spooks and the gnomes, and the Ers and the Ists and Isms, And the Creatures that writhe in Maternity Homes and the Catmittee's catechisms-- Oh, those awful catechisms! But Fred Brown, the prophet, shall picture in Tophet the end of those ghoul catechisms. Oh, this is the song of the Tea-room and Lawn, where the slang of the nicest is heard, Where "Oh Bothah" in favour of "Dam" is withdrawn, which they think an original word. Where the grammar and slang of the Donah is spoke, by a sort of a flank retrogression, And the splutter, worn out and despised by the Bloke, is considered a novel expression-- Is thought quite a smart expression; And the gushing young woman says "filthy" for "common", and for ought that might cause her depression. Oh, this is the song of the "Push" that has gone, and of Dear Lady Who's-This to come; Of our work with the Poor (by the Paid carried on)--and of dear Mrs Upstart's At Home. And Sir Hyphen and--Oh!--that Tariff You Know; and that What's This?--Freetrade and Protection We are voting for--Who's-This--Papa told us so; but I'm sick of the silly election. Then they "fluff" in another direction. And I hope, when all's ended, and broken and mended, that I'll fluff in another direction. But this is the song of the Who'll Get In, and the song of the Who'll Go Out-- And as to their votes, when they know who'll win, they haven't the slightest doubt. Oh this is the trill of the What D'you Think, and the croon of the What Would You Say; And they take it all down in their mental ink to use as their own next day. She's so awfully clever next day, And her cackle and capers are all in the papers with owlish approval next day. They wheedle to cackle and pump to spout, and they read, on the cheap, to write: All day they are rooting the Libraries out, for the "lecture" they're giving to-night; For the Meetings they hold, and the Papers they read--the Committee-Room cackle they cackle, The League-Room's Debates, and, in fact and indeed, there is no subject they wouldn't tackle. (They're a difficult subject to tackle) It's a plucky male-human who'll tackle a woman, and some take a hero to tackle. So this is the song of the coax to clack, and a song of the pump to spout, Of the climbing on men who have brains and a pen, by impostors entirely without. Of the Ask Him and Know, Get It Out Of Him So--or whatever you like to style 'um. Of the Who? and the What? and the Whether Or Not--and it's writ in a drink asylum. (They call it a drink asylum) And I say in this chanty, the damned Dilettanti drive men to a drunks' asylum. Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Southern Scout [1892] or, THE NATIVES OF THE LAND* Ye landlords of the cities that are builded by the sea-- You toady "Representative", you careless absentee-- I come, a scout from Borderland, to warn you of a change, To tell you of the spirit that is roused beyond the range; I come from where on western plains the lonely homesteads stand, To tell you of the coming of the Natives of the Land! Of the land we're living in, The Natives of the Land. For Australian men are gath'ring--they are joining hand in hand! Don't you hear the battle cooey of the Natives of the Land? I've watched the march of Humbug here, I saw each evil sign With eyes that ran a banker filled with hot, rebellious brine. I saw the city mansions built on misery in slums-- The March of Greed and Poverty far out beneath the gums; I saw the southern slaver-ship go sailing from the strand, And listened for the war-cry of the Natives of the Land-- Of the land we're living in, The Natives of the Land; But Australian men are coming for the rights that men demand; There's the blood of many nations in the Natives of the Land. "It's live or die!" you'll hear 'em sing, "so let the war begin For the rights of man and woman, and the land we're living in. It's right or wrong," you'll hear 'em sing, "we'll test it once again Ere Greed shall rob the gardens where our mothers worked like men." And Eastward shall the army come with eyes all flashing grand When Freedom's marching orders reach the Natives of the Land-- Of the land we're living in, The Natives of the Land. They'll sing a rebel chorus yet and play it on a band, For the spirit of the country moves the Natives of the Land. [* The writer wishes to state, for the benefit of the majority of the English people, that Australians born of Europeans have been called "natives" for many years. Also that Australians are not all black, or even brown, neither are they red. Likewise, that the progeny of Marster "Jarge" or "Willum" as went "abrard" and came to Australia, are not necessarily little savages, unless, indeed, the Marster Jarge or Willum aforesaid happens to live with a black gin.] Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Squatter, Three Cornstalks, and the Well [1890] (A Dirge of Sin and Sorrow, Sung by Joe Swallow) There was a Squatter in the land-- So runs the truthful tale I tell-- There also were three cornstalks, and There also was the Squatter's Well. Singing (slowly): "Sin and sorrer, sin and sor-rer, sin and sor-r-r-rer." The Squatter he was full of pluck, The Cornstalks they were full of sin, The well it was half full of muck That many rains had drifted in. Singing (with increased feeling): "Sin, &c." The Squatter hired the Cornstalks Three To cleanse the well of mud and clay; And so they started willing-lee At five-and-twenty bob a day. Singing (apprehensively): "Sin, &c." At five-and-twenty bob the lot-- That's eight-and-four the day would bring To each; and so they thought they'd got A rather soft and easy thing. Singing (sadly): "Sin, &c." The Cornstalks cleaned the well within A day or two, or thereabout-- And then they worked an awful sin-- A scheme to make the job last out. Singing (reproachfully): "Sin and sorrer, &c." For when the well was cleaned out quite Of all its logs and muck and clay They tipped a drayload down at night And worked to haul it up next day. Singing (dismally): "Sin, &c." But first the eldest, christened Hodge, He greased the dray-wheel axles, so The super wouldn't smell the dodge And couldn't let the Squatter know. Singing (hopelessly): "Sin and sorrer, &c." The stuff they surfaced out each day With some surprise the Squatter saw. He never dreamt the sand and clay Was three miles off the night before. Singing (mournfully): "Sin and sorrer, &c." But he got something in his eye; It wasn't green, that's very plain. He said the well was rather dry, And they could fill it up again. Singing (mournfully and dismally): "Sin and sorrer, &c." The Cornstalks went to work next day In hope, of course, of extra tin-- The Squatter watched, and, sad to say, The mullock wouldn't all go in. Singing (with great pathos): "Sin and sorrer, &c." And though the Cornstalks twigged the ruse Whereby the boss had done 'em brown, They argued that the clay was loose, And wanted time to settle down. Singing (hopelessly): "Sin and sorrer, &c." The boss began to rave and tear, And yelled with a most awful frown, "I will not settle up, I swear, Till that there clay is settled down!" Singing (hopefully): "Sin, &c." "Before my cheques yer'Il pocket, boys, Yer'll put a mountain in a well"-- The Cornstalks didn't make a noise, They only murmured sadly --! Singing (triumphantly): "Sin and sorrer, &c." MORAL: There is a moral to my rhyme-- A moral to the dirge I sing-- That when you do go in for crime You mustn't overdoo the thing. Singing (more dismally than ever): "Sin and sorrer, s-i-n and sor-r-r-r-rer!" Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Squatter's Daughter [1889] Out in the west, where runs are wide, And days than ours are hotter, Not very far from Lachlan Side There dwelt a wealthy squatter. Of old opinions he was full, An Englishman, his sire, Was hated long where peasants pull Their forelocks to the squire. He loved the good old British laws, And Royalty's regalia, And oft was heard to growl because They wouldn't fit Australia. This squatter had a lovely child, An angel bright we thought her; And all the stockmen rude and wild Adored the squatter's daughter. But on a bright eventful morn, A swell of northern nation, A lordling, brought his languid yawn And eyeglass to the station. He coveted the squatter's wealth; He saw the squatter's daughter: And, what is more than heart or health, His empty title bought her. And "Yes", the father made her say In spite of tears and kissing; But early on the wedding day The station found her missing. And madder still the squatter grew, And madder still the lover; When by-and-by a-missing too, A stockman they discover. Then on the squatter's brow the frown Went blacker still and blacker; He sent a man to bring from town A trooper and a tracker. The dusty rascal saw the trail; He never saw it plainer; The reason why he came to fail Will take a shrewd explainer. A day and night the party lose; The track the tracker parried; And then a stockman brought the news, "The runaways were married!" The squatter swore that he'd forgive, Perhaps, when he forgot her; But he'd disown her while he'd live, And while they called him squatter. But as the empty months went o'er, To ease his heart's vexation He brought his bold young son-in-law To manage stock and station. And glad was he that he forgave, Because a something had he To keep his gray hairs from the grave, And call him "Dear Grand Daddy". To Democratic victories In after years he'd listen; And, strange to say, to things like these His aged eyes would glisten. The lordling took another girl Not quite of his desire, And went to where the farmers twirl Their forelocks to the squire. Now often to the station comes An old and wrinkled tracker: They cheer his heart with plenty rum, And "plenty pheller bacca". Town and Country Journal ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Statue of Our Queen [1890] Pride, selfishness in every line, And on its face a frown, It stands, a sceptre in its hand, And points forever down. And who will kneel? The unemployed! Small homage pay, I ween, The only men who gather 'neath The Statue of our Queen. I'd scarcely wonder if the sun, That rises with good grace, Should sink and leave the day undone At sight of such a face. But no! The day will still have birth In all its golden sheen, When antiquarians unearth The Statue of our Queen. Then if you'd have us loyal bide As we have loyal been, Great Parkes! for love of England, hide The Statue of our Queen. Freeman's Journal ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Story of Marr [1909] Now Marr was come back from the Holy Land With his soul absolved from sin-- And he robbed a fat abbot to pay his band, And to keep his left hand in; He took a wife from the wives around, And he raided and robbed afar-- And the curse of Rome came over the foam And after the scalp of Marr. A Sea King landed in Seabolt Bay One day when the skies were blue-- The King and his army were far away And Sir William's men were few. Sir William, he gazed on the fearful odds And the land he held so dear, And he muttered, sore driven, "I would to Heaven That Marr and his thieves were here!" The Sea King gathered his men to raid, They out-numbered us three to one; There was never a sign of hope or aid, And we deemed that our day was done. We saw red visions of blazing roofs, Dragged women and corpses then, When a stripling shrill from the top of the hill Cried, "Marr, and a hundred men!" And Marr rode down to the stout old knight-- He had ridden fast and far; He'd heard of the sinister sail in sight Where the northward headlands are. Sir William gave hand to the outstretched one, Though it gave his soul a jar: "We'll hang thee after the fight is done, But I'm glad to see thee, Marr." "You may hang and be damned for a glass of wine, But the first thing to do is fight. I'll charge their front with these thieves of mine, You charge by the rocks on the right. Let each man ride with his practised band, And the hinds make show on the hill. I'll rob as I please in my own good land, But I'll swear no sea-thief will." He paused for a space: "'Tis an evil case, And a desperate chance," said Marr; "Now the gates of Hell they are open wide, And the gates of Heaven ajar! Honest or not, there are souls I wot Shall fly ere the hour is done. Let each man pray who a god hath got, For I'm cursed if I've got one!" We glanced once more on the doubtful odds, Then knelt on the fallen leaves; And our men prayed to the Christian gods, And Marr's to the gods of thieves. And then we charged. For the next half hour It was curse and struggle and bleed; And thief, or Pagan, or Christian knight Had little to do with creed. Some fight for country, or "honour" or "right", And the boldest fight for pelf; 'Twas a wonderful sight how a thief could fight For the land that he robbed himself. We drove them back, and we burned some ships, And we slew them by the score. And a man of Marr's with a world of scars Took the Sea King on the shore. There was revel and light in the hall that night Ere the weary went to sleep; And a cursed outlaw and a Christian knight And a heathen king drank deep. Sir William was shamed when the morning came; He mourned for his bad old age, And he loudly swore that he would drink no more, And he'd go on a pilgrimage. Sir William he sent the Sea King home To sail and harry again, And Marr was freed of the curse of Rome To raid the North with his men. Sir William is fighting in Palestine With a hot and a thirsty band-- (The Sea King promised before he sailed That he'd go to the Holy Land). Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Studio [1912] He painted a face on the studio door And a jest on the window pane-- Those strong, brown hands that shall paint no more-- And I'll never go there again. They'll clean the window and colour the wall, And they'll paint the face away; For they raised the rent when my money was spent. And I gave up the key to-day. The Waratah sails and she cannot sink-- She sails in the Indian Sea; Now down, far down by the cold ice-blink, And now far up by the Cape, I think, The Waratah sails and she cannot sink-- She floats and sails for me. His brush was clever, his hopes were high, And he in his youth aglow; But few in his native land would buy, Though the prices were always low. "I'll follow the others to London," he said, "The place where we all pull through; And, when I am certain of board and bed, O then I will send for you!" The spirit lamp served, and the folding bed, The boxes and cheap cretonne; And the fat, plain faces of wealthy dames Were themes that he worked upon. We pinched and slaved in the long years dead, Ere he sailed for wealth and fame; "And I'll go by the Waratah, girl," he said-- "'Tis a good Australian name." I worked for the journals night and day, (O the Waratah's overdue), For I used to think in my small, poor way That I was an artist, too. Sketch and doggerel, skit and par, Satire on show and ball; "Guest "perforce where the upstarts are. (And the Waratah sails through all.) The hand-lines run on the sloping decks, And the passengers cling once more; And they stare and stare at the drifting wrecks Where ships never sailed before. And I see a face on the bridge above That never sea could drown, The brave, brave face of my husband love, And his pitying eyes look down. And the Waratah sails on starlit nights Past the palms on a tropic strand; And I lie in the dark and I watch her lights, Like a scene in fairyland. She is sailing home as a good ship should, But she steams with a broken screw; And it's long to wait, and I would, I would That I'd sailed with the Waratah too. The Waratah sails and she does not sink, She sails on the Indian Sea; Now down, far South by the strange ice-blink, And now far up by the Cape, I think, The Waratah sails and she does not sink-- She will never sink for me. Lone Hand ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Swagman and His Mate [1896] From north to south throughout the year The shearing seasons run, The Queensland stations start to shear When Maoriland has done; But labour's cheap and runs are wide, And some the track must tread From New Year's Day till Christmastide And never get a shed! North, west, and south, south, west and north, They lead and follow Fate, The stoutest hearts that venture forth, The swagman and his mate. A restless, homeless class they are Who tramp in Borderland. They take their rest 'neath moon and star, Their bed the desert sand, On sunset tracks they ride and tramp, Till speech has almost died, And still they drift from camp to camp In silence side by side. They think and dream, as all men do; Perchance their dreams are great, Each other's thoughts are sacred to The swagman and his mate. With scrubs beneath the stifling skies Unstirred by heaven's breath; Beyond the Darling Timber lies The land of living death! A land that wrong-born poets brave Till dulled minds cease to grope, A land where all things perish, save The memories of Hope. When daylight's fingers point out back (And seem to hesitate) The far faint dust cloud marks their track-- The swagman and his mate. And one who followed through the scrub And out across the plain, And only in a bitter mood Would seek those tracks again, Can only write what he has seen, Can only give his hand, And greet those mates in words that mean "I know", "I understand." I hope they'll find the squatter "white", The cook and shearers "straight", When they have reached the shed to-night, The swagman and his mate. Town and Country Journal ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Three Kings [II] [1915] [An earlier poem, in Verses Popular and Humorous, had the same title] The three Scandinavian kings (Haakon of Norway, Gustav of Sweden, and Christian of Denmark) met recently at Malmo to "discuss economic difficulties". Three kings have met by the Northern Sea (And it seems the kingdoms are less by two), And I wonder what the idea can be-- And, somehow or other, I wish I knew. For one has come from my father's land, That used to be mighty in days of yore, And one has come from the Danish strand, And the three have met on the Swedish shore. Considering Europe, the war and all, And floating mines that have raised their ire, It can hardly be only a casual call To talk about whales by the kitchen fire. And it scarcely could be to discuss the Crops, And it scarcely could be to discuss the Cow; For "butter is normal" in Danish shops, And fields are frozen in Norway now. It surely can't be to discuss a loan, For things in Denmark are not "behind", And my father's people (unlike my own) Have never been folk of the borrowing kind. They've a liking for work--and they work all right, As you may have noticed in lands like these (What though their fathers preferred to fight For the missus and kids on the Lord's high seas!). It is not land-hunger (their world is wide), It is certainly not on account of Fat, Or kingly humbug or national "side"-- The Norse have never been noted for that. We had an example (or I'm mistook) In recent years, and the tale is prized, Of a Swedish king who raced his cook, And none of his people were scandalised. There wasn't a "gate", for he made no charge-- He wanted to show, in a manly way, That his legs were quick if his girth was large, And his wind was good if his hair was grey. And he won the race from a younger man, Who had six yards' start - lest they might forget That, though he had passed his three-score span, There was life in the legs of the old king yet. He's a happy shade in Valhalla now (Three kingdoms are one that were always one), And they part and forgather without a row, And the kingly work of his race is done. (The rhythm has gone like the Channel "chops", And I can't make out, so I cannot say, What old King Karl and his kingly props Has got to do with this rambling lay.) Three kings have met on the Swedish shore (Now the rival kingdoms are less by three), And I wonder what they were meeting for, For it seems to have something to do with me. But our mines have hoisted a barque or two-- Or the German mines ('tis a similar tune), And, somehow or other, I felt I knew We'd hear from Norway and Denmark soon. Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Township [1919] Let us sing in careless measures of the days of long ago, Like the trot-trot-trot of horses in the times of Cobb and Co. When the sun was on the branches, and the frost was on the grass, And the passengers sniffed breakfast as they came through Aaron's Pass, And the water in the gullies glimmered up like darkened glass. Let us make er piece er po'try outer our old sinful 'ead, For the sake of Youth long vanished, for the sake of things long dead; When the bark hut was the homestead, and all things were most uncouth, When the bags that lined the skillion were the tapestry of Truth In the fairyland of Childhood and the distant homes of Youth. There's a township on the skyline, and our fathers knew it well, For its pubs were half-way houses on the roads to Bourke and Hell, (Hay and Hell--or Eldorado--or the place you have in mind)-- It has two pubs and a shanty, and a store of every kind, And it also has a blacksmith's and a wheelwright's shop combined. There are no "kids", save when Bummer Smith can get outside "a few" With old Jones the harness-mender, who's the local bootsmith, too. But on work-days, in fine weather, to a school along the line, Go some twenty ancient people, aged from fourteen up to nine On old spring-carts, shaky sulkies, and on scenery equine. 'Tis a town of class-distinctions, swift descents, and sudden turns. One hotel is called the Shamrock, one is called the Robert Burns; Jock McPherson keeps the Shamrock, and he's doing fairly well, While a son of old Pat Ryan keeps the Robert Burns Hotel. Old Pat Ryan (Saynior) kept it when the place was mostly scrub, And in spite of Scottish settlers, it is known as Ryan's Pub. The Hotel is for officials and the tourist, sad and lone; It is all tone and no tucker, while the Pub has got no tone. It has tucker for the traveller, and tobacco on the shelf-- Ryan's cook looks after these things, independent of "Himself"! No outsiders go to Ryan's save lost souls in search of beer, Or a party politician when election-time is near. I might add, our worthy landlords dream of days of long ago, Of the gold-rush and Bushrangers, and the lights of Cobb and Co., But they don't; the world has altered since the old Bush Inns, no doubt, Daily bread and daily shouter are the things they dream about; Or that blanky booze consignment that has somehow gone astray, And should have been at the station by the mail-train yesterday. Just four years ago, a dozen bushmen from the Wild and Wide Rode in to the little township with their girls, who rode astride; Some were reared in German districts, where the Prussian got a chance; So they took the train to Sydney, and they sailed to fight for France. And you'll see the Roll of Honour, for adjacent lands and scrub, In the parlour of the Shamrock, and the bar of Ryan's Pub. Smith's Weekly ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Tragedy [1918] Oh, I never felt so wretched, and things never looked so blue, Since the days I gulped the physic that my Granny used to brew; For a friend in whom I trusted, entering my room last night, Stole a bottleful of Heenzo from the desk whereon I write. I am certain sure he did it (though he never would let on), For he had a cold all last week, and to-day his cough is gone: Now I'm sick and sore and sorry, and I'm sad for friendship's sake (It was better than the cough-cure that our Granny used to make). Oh, he might have pinched my whisky, and he might have pinched my beer; Or all the fame or money that I make while writing here-- Oh, he might have shook the blankets and I'd not have made a row, If he'd only left my Heenzo till the morning, anyhow. So I've lost my faith in Mateship, which was all I had to lose Since I lost my faith in Russia and myself and got the blues; And so trust turns to suspicion, and so friendship turns to hate, Even Kaiser Bill would never pinch his Heenzo from a mate. [An advertisement poem for Hean's Essence, a cough medicine] Bulletin Advertisement ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Triumph of the People [1891] Lo, the gods of Vice and Mammon from their pinnacles are hurled By the workers' new religion, which is oldest in the world; And the earth will feel her children treading firmly on the sod, For the triumph of the People is the victory of God. Not the victory of Churches, nor of Punishment and Wrath, Not the triumph of the sceptic, throwing shadows on the path, But of Christ and love and mercy o'er the Monarch and the Rod, For the harvest of the Saviour is the aftermath of God. O the Light of Revelation, since the reign of Care began, Has been shining through the ages on the darkened eyes of man. And the willing slave of Error, he is senseless as a clod, For the simple Book of Nature is the written scroll of God. Who will dare to say the sunlight on the pregnant Earth was shed That the few might rest and fatten, while the many fight for bread? Lo, there springs a common garden, where the foot of Greed hath trod, For the victory of Labour was the prophecy of God. Mother Earth, in coming seasons, shall fulfil her motherhood; Then the children of her bosom never more shall want for food, And oppression shall no longer grind the people iron-shod; For the lifted hand of Labour is the upraised hand of God. Boomerang ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Two Poets [1905] Two poets were born where the skies were fair, To live in the land hereafter; And one was a singer of sorrow and care, And one was a bard of laughter. With simple measure and simple word, The feelings of mankind voicing-- And light hearts listened and sad hearts heard, And they went on their way rejoicing. The glad rejoiced that the world was gay-- Who took no thought of the morrow-- And it ever has lightened the sad hearts' way To hear of another's sorrow. The poets died while none were aware, (For no one could see the token), That light of heart was the bard of care, But the heart of the other was broken. Lone Hand ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Two Samaritans and the Tramp [1890] A tramp was trampin' on the road-- The afternoon was warm an' muggy-- And by-and-by he chanced to meet A parsin ridin' in a buggy. Said he: "As follerers ov the Loard, To do good offices we oughter!" An' from a water-bag he poured, An' guv the tramp, a drink er water. The parsin he went rattlin' 'ome To ware his fam-i-lee was thrivin', The tramp went on until he met A bullick-driver, bullick drivin'-- "It's bilin' 'ot," the driver sed As soon's the dirty tramp drawed nearer, And from a little keg he poured, And giv the tramp a pint of beer--"ah!" (P.S.--The "ah" is meant to stand for the tramp a-drinking ov it.) I ain't agin the temperance cause, Nor yet no advocate ov drinkin'-- I only tells the yarn because-- Well, at the time it somehow seemed Ter kind ov set me thinkin'. Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Universal Brothers [1911] The Fool of the Family played with a fad, And a knife, and deal, and a piece of wire, In the midnight hours, till they thought him mad, And they turned him out to a brute for hire. And the years went by, and the world was blind, And he lived or starved, and they did not care-- Till a great invention was given mankind, And the Family Fool was a millionaire! The Family Coward was thin and white, More contemptible than the Family Fool-- A cur that would neither swear nor fight, And they mocked in his shrinking face at school. The years went by, and a charge was made That altered a nation's destiny, In the dust and blood of a Light Brigade-- And the leader was Colonel Kerr, VC. The Family Dunce was a delicate lad, And he could not spell, and he scarce could write, And they deemed him an idiot born, or mad, For he'd dream and dream by the fire at night: And the years went by and a song was writ, And the music was made by the "Idiot's" friend-- And armies of Liberty marched to it And won through a hundred defeats in the end. The Wise Man gave to the Brave Man's cause His money and brains for war or peace. And the Poet he sang of juster laws That come and come as the war-drums cease. The red, red flags for a while are furled And stored away with the guns and tents; And the Brothers are sleeping all over the world, And under a thousand monuments. Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Unknown Patient [1915] (Henry Lawson was recently an inmate of the Walker Hospital for Convalescents--"Founded by the late Thomas Walker of Yaralla in the Hope that Within Its Walls Sufferers should be Restored to Health". This is by way a song of gratitude). The moonlight breathes on Walker House and softens scrub and hill; The native trees are strangely stirred, the pines are very still; The nurse's lantern flits and flits, and pain and sorrow cease, For all the patients are asleep, and all is Rest and Peace. Not class nor creed nor race debars, and even Wealth is free-- The suffering miser shares alike the Home with Poverty; The felon's past is never known when kindness "sends him through"-- The stone says "many sufferers, but it means "sinners", too. Within a corner of the grounds, where patients seldom go, Well screened by firs and shrubbery a sandstone ledge runs low, And, pencilled by an unknown hand upon the yellow stone, Is "God Bless Thomas Walker" - four simple words alone. I know not who the writer was, and I may never know, It may have been but yesterday, maybe was long ago. 'Tis near the pathway that divides the women from the men-- It may have been a tortured Christ or a suffering Magdalen. Perhaps some shy and shrinking soul, relieved awhile from care, Crept out of sight of "sterner stuff" to pay a tribute there. Or maybe an Impenitent, and many such there be. For hard men often drop a tear where none but God may see. But good or bad, or high or low--or were he anything (Or even traitor to his creed, and rebel to his king)-- I trust the unknown patient went with softened care and pain, With health and honesty restored, to fight the world again. There is a stately home of Rest where all the scene is fair, And in the sun the ripples run along the river there; 'Twas builded in the noonday dream of one of kindly wealth, "In the Hope that Many Sufferers Should be Restored to Health". Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Vendetta [1913] He wears no armour, he bears no crest, No high hopes swell in his manly breast; He is not plighted to ladye fair (Though Liz of the factory may be there); He hath not given his knightly word, Nor taken an oath on his knightly sword. No princelings ride in his glittering train, For he's Ginger Smith of the Red Rock Lane. He is not a pirate of days gone by, Who holds his crew with an eagle eye; He is no smuggler of lace and rum-- Though he might have had dealings in opium. No loyalist, rebel, or bandit, he; Nor patriot fighting for Liberty. Yet he meets his band when the shops are shut, And they've taken an oath by the Argyle Cut. No oath that was sworn by the men of old, When they went in search of the Inca's gold, Was ever so strong or could bind so fast, Or ever so surely and grimly passed As the oath of revenge ('tis a theme well worn) That Ginger Smith and his push have sworn, And the track he'll follow--though pals may fail, And it leads him thrice through the walls of gaol. For his Old 'Un's pension was stopped last week, Because of the tale of a bloomin' sneak, And his moll was stole by the bloomin' same, And his pal was smashed in the bloomin' game-- And the bloomin' crawler, a pimp is he, With the law behind him and secrecy, But I'd rather each D. in the cities three Than Ginger, with reason, was after me. Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"The Voice from Over Yonder" [1897] "Did she care as much as I did When our paths of Fate divided? Was the love, then, all onesided, Did she understand or care?" Slowly fall the moments leaden, And the silence seems to deaden, And a voice from over yonder answers sadly: "I've been there." "Have you tramped the streets of cities Poor? And do you know what it is, While no mortal cares or pities, To have drifted past ambition; To have sunk below despair? Doomed to slave and stint and borrow; Ever haunted in your sorrow By the spectre of To-morrow?" And the voice from over yonder answers sadly: "I've been there." "Surely in the wide Hereafter There's a land of love and laughter? Say: Is this life all we live for, Say it! think it, if you dare! Have you ever thought or wondered Why the Man and God were sundered? Do you think the Maker blundered?" And the voice, in mocking accents, answered only: "I've been there." ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Vote of Thanks Debate [1891] The other night I got the blues and tried to smile in vain. I couldn't chuck a chuckle at the foolery of Twain; When Ward and Billings failed to bring a twinkle to my eye, I turned my eyes to Hansard of the fifteenth of July. I laughed and roared until I thought that I was growing fat, And all the boarders came to see what I was laughing at: It rose the risibility of some, I grieve to state-- That foolish speech of Brentnall's in the Vote of Thanks debate. O Brentnall, of the olden school and cold sarcastic style! You'll take another Worker now and stick it on your file; "We're very fond of poetry,", we hope that this is quite As entertaining as the lines you read the other night. We know that you are honest, but 'twas foolish to confess You read and file the Worker; we expected something less. We think an older member would have told the people, so, "My attention was directed to a certain print" (--you know). The other night in Parliament you quoted something true, Where truth is very seldom heard except from one or two. You know that when the people rise the other side must fall, And you are on the other side, and that explains it all. You hate the Cause by instinct, the instinct of your class, And fear the reformation that shall surely come to pass; Your nest is feathered by the "laws" which you of course defend, Your daily bread is buttered on the upper crust, my friend. "We aim at broader interests," you say, and so we do; We aim at "vested interests" (the gun is loaded too). We hate the wrongs we write against. We've felt the curse of Greed. There's little nonsense in the school where Labour earns its creed. But you know little of the Cause that you are running down. You would deny there's misery and hardship in the town; Yet I could take you through the hells where Poverty holds sway, And show you things you'd not forget until your dying day. O Brentnall! Have you ever tramped the city streets within? And felt the pavement wearing through the leather, sock, and skin; And looked for work, and asked for work, and begged for work in vain, Until you cared not though you ne'er might touch your tools again. O Brentnall! Have you ever felt the summer sun and dirt? And wore the stiffened socks for weeks, for weeks the single shirt? And shunned your friends like small-pox, passing on the other side, And crept away in shadows with your misery and pride? Another solemn member rose encouraged by the cheers, And talked of serving medals to our gallant volunteers, And extra uniforms, that they might hand the old ones on "As heirlooms in the family" when they are dead and gone. But since the state of future times is very much in doubt, They'd better wear their uniforms, they'd better wear them out; They may some day be sorry for the front that they have shown, And, e'er the nap is worn away, they mightn't like it known. The children of a future time shall read, with awe profound, How goslings did the goose-step while a gander led 'em round. O Brentnall! Speak your periods into a phonograph, That generations yet to rise may lay them down and laugh. I wouldn't trust the future much; Posterity might own That sense of the ridiculous that you have never shown; And not the smiles of Mammon, nor the pride of place and pelf, Can soothe the thought that one has made a jackass of one's self. We're low, but we would teach you if you're willing to be taught, That in the wilderness of print are tartars still uncaught; And if you hunt in such a way, believe we do not jest, Your chance to catch one is as good, and better than the best. Be very sure about the mark before you cast the stone, And, well, perhaps 'twould be as well to leave the muse alone. You'll call it egotism? Yes: but still I think that I Might hit a little harder if I only liked to try. Worker ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Watch on the Kerb [1888] Night-lights are falling; Girl of the street, Go to your calling If you would eat. Lamplight and starlight And moonlight superb, Bright hope is a farlight, So watch on the kerb. Watch on the kerb, Watch on the kerb; Hope is a farlight; Then watch on the kerb. Comes a man: call him-- Gone! he is vext; Curses befall him, Wait for the next! Fair world and bright world, Life still is sweet-- Girl of the night-world, Watch on the street. Dreary the watch is: Moon sinks from sight, Gas only blotches Darkness with light; Never, Oh, never Let courage go down; Keep from the river, Oh, Girl of the Town! Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"The Water" [1905] Let others make the songs of love For our young struggling nation; But I will sing while e'er I live The Songs of Irrigation; For while the white man shall beget The white man's son and daughter, The two most precious things for us Shall still be wheat and water. We've been drought-ruined in the West, And ever in my dreaming I see wide miles of waving crops And sheets of water gleaming, On plains where fortune died of thirst When my brave father sought her, I see the painted barges pass Along the winding water. And now the glorious scheme's afoot, Our country to deliver From drought and death on blazing waste, By long neglected river. You'll see the boodlers of the world Rush in from every quarter: They want the land,, the gold-reefed sand, And now they'll want the water. Bright intellects will plan the dykes, With little gold to gild them, Bright intellects will plan the dykes, The people pay to build them; And when we've made our long canals, And lakes in every quarter, Then ours would be the "guarantee", The Trust would own the water. They'd hold the bores and aqueducts, The water-ways and barges, And we would live, or we would starve According to their charges; From all the Edens in the West They'd bar our sons and daughters, They'd hold the land, ten leagues or so, Each side the rippling waters. But those who fight to hold their own, The Lord and time delivers; As we have held our railway lines, So we shall hold our rivers. We'll find the money, as was found The money spent in slaughter, To build our dykes and build our dams, And we shall own the water. Amateur Gardener ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Waving of the Red [1893] It is a sad and cruel fate the country's coming to, And there's no use in striking, 'so what are we to do?' "I know what we could do, but then, there might be traitors near, And things are running in my head that only mates should hear!" The world cannot go on like this, in spite of all that's said, And millions now are waiting for--the Waving of the Red. "Last night as I lay slipping out a vision came to me; A girl with face as fair and grand as ever man might see-- Her form was like the statues raised to Liberty in France, And in her hand a blood-red flag was wrapped around a lance. She shook the grand old colour loose, she smiled at me and said; "Go bid your brothers gather for the Waving of the Red." Worker ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Way I Treated Father [1891] I worked with father in the bush At splitting rails and palings. He never was unkind to me, Although he "had his failings:" And now his grave is old and green, And now at times I'm rather Inclined to think 'twas very mean The way I treated father. The mother had for years been dead, And Dad and I and Stumpy Were living in a little shed-- What bushmen call a humpy; And now I think when day began, And it was cold and chilly, 'Twas mean to see a grey old man Get up and boil the billy. And though my lazy limbs were stiff; And though 'twas winter weather. And though my eyes were shut as if The lids were glued together, I think 'twas mean to lie in bed; I think that I was silly, Because I growled if father said, "Git up and bile the billy!" I didn't help the cooking much For I was always "tired"-- 'Twas strange that I could eat with such An appetite as I had; But now I mind I never growled When father shouted, "Willie! It's gittin' on for dinnertime; Go home and bile the hilly." His grave is growing old and green And things have altered rather; But still I think 'twas mighty mean The way I treated father. He left a tidy sum to me, But I'd give all the money To hear him say, "Will you get up And bile the billy, Sonny?" Boomerang ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Western Stars [1893] On my blankets I was lyin' Too tired to lift my head, An' the long hot day was dyin' An' I wished that I was dead. From the West the gold was driven. I watched the death of day, An' the distant stars of Heaven Seemed to draw my heart away. Freeman's Journal ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Windy Hills o' Wellington [1894] The windy hills of Wellington were black and cold that night, The rain came down at times enough to drown the 'lectric light; An' like a hymn of hate an' want from black misfortune's choirs I heard the cruel, spiteful wind go snarling through the wires, An' from the winches by the wharf a rattle and a clank, While sitting by a Sydney chum who'd drawn New Zealand blank! He'd sent for me in all the land the only chum he knew, His health and hope and cash were gone--and he was going too. His frame was shrunk, and his face was drawn, his eyes were bleared and dim, For drink and poverty and want had done their work for him; And when I came, he turned to me, his features pale an' lank-- "I'm glad you've come, old chum," he said, "I've drawn New Zealand blank!" "'New leaf, new land', my motto was--I did my very best. 'Twas want of work that threw me back--an' liquor did the rest. But nothing matters now, old man--it never did, no doubt-- (Excuse a little nonsense when a fellow's peggin' out). I'd live and fight if I had hope or money at the bank; I've lived too long in '94, I've drawn New Zealand blank." I looked out through the window as the rain came pelting down; The great black hills they seemed to close and loom above the town. And in a strained and tired voice, that filled my heart with pain, He said, "Old man, I'd like to stroll down George Street once again. I had myself to `battle' for; I've got myself to thank. Perhaps it ain't New Zealand's fault I've drawn New Zealand blank." The breezy hills of Wellington are fair as they can be. I stand and watch a Sydney boat go sailing out to sea. And while the sun is setting low on blue and brown and green, I think of cruel things that are, and things that might have been, And while the same old sun goes down in clouds a golden bank, I sadly think of my old chum who drew New Zealand blank. No headstone marks his resting-place--no autumn grasses wave, And not a sign of loving hands is seen above his grave; For he recovered from the spree--the doctors pulled him through; His health came back and his luck turned (and so did my luck, too). He now has houses, land and shares, and thousands in the bank; He doesn't know me now, because--I've drawn New Zealand blank. New Zealand Times ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Wowsers Are Down and Out [1910] O fill me a glass of the Riverine! And sit on your lover, my sinful queen: We'll drink to the days that have always been-- The wowsers are down and out! Without a fear of a "warning", love, We'll have a swim in the morning, love. Where the rollers break in their scorning, love-- The wowsers are down and out. We'll sun-bathe there till the noon, and go In the afternoon to a sinful show, With wine to follow, and joy shall flow-- The wowsers are down and out. We'll moan no more for the rarity Of Christian (or heathen) charity; The Truth has come in its clarity-- The wowsers are down and out. We'll breathe with freedom on Sunday now, While laughing at old Mrs Grundy now-- O there shall at least be one day now The wowsers are down and out. Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Year Fifteen [1915] In Nineteen Fifteen times are old, And times are deadly slow; I feel as if I had been born A thousand years ago. And all the things are nothing now Those million years have seen, And all the men shall be as nought-- In a billion and fifteen. You build and build as children build, Admittedly in vain, A tower of cards, or dominoes, To topple down again. No matter what the first may be, In numbers or in rank. The last card is a rotten card, Last domino a blank. You build your Empires one by one, And deem the world your own; And nothing lasts but papyrus, And nothing lasts but stone. And they last only till the new Has swept away the old, And Mankind's history is told, To be again retold. But, let the Empires live or rot, The kingdoms rise and fall, We have a world of work to do, Who never lived at all. Who never had a history Must make and keep one clean, If they would live Australian! Yes, I'm your year Fifteen. Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
There's a Bunk in the Humpy [1892] THE SPLITTER'S SONG The bush was too lonely--the life was too slow, And Johnny, my son, to the city would go; He knew that his father was lonely and grey, And he might have gone there without running away. There's a bunk in the humpy--a glass on the shelf, Which have never been used since he used them himself And that bunk in the humpy will stand till he comes To his father's old hut in the depth of the gums. 'Tis true that my temper was soured long ago, But old men have sorrows that sons do not know; I "jawed" him one day when my temper was stirred, An' he left his old father with never a word. There's a bunk in the humpy, etc. Did he think it was kind--did he think it was right To the lonely old man in the humpy that night? Who sat with the sound of the rain in his ears, And thought till his eyes ran a banker with tears? There's a bunk in the humpy, etc. His mattress and pillow and bluey are there-- He'll never sleep sounder on feathers, I'll swear, Or eat better stews than I warmed by the blaze 'Neath the old chimney gutter on cold, rainy days. There's a bunk in the humpy, etc. An' should he come back when the old man is out He never need linger a moment in doubt: He'll know where the key of the padlock is hid, An' there's grub in the gin-case for lifting the lid. There's a bunk in the humpy, etc. Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
They Can Only Drag You Down [1903] Leader, poet, singer, artist, who have struggled long and won, Though the climbing is behind you, now the battle has begun, Shut your ears unto the empty parrot phrases of the town, Shun the hand-grips of your rivals, they can only drag you down. See the bush or quiet chamber, work--for you have work to do, Though the city shall be lighted and the table spread for you-- Work through ease and pleasure call you, work when you have care to drown, Shun the wine-cup like a serpent, it can only drag you down. And the star eyes and the red lips, luring ever to a wreck, And the beauty of the white arms clinging closely round your neck! Golden head thrown back and white arms clinging closer when you frown, Tear them from your neck if need be--they can only drag you down. Sunday Times ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Those Messages from Mars [1918] They talk about them in the clubs, and in the public bars, They talk about them in the scrubs, those messages from Mars (Not messages from missuses that keep the kiddies clean, Not messages from mothers, but the planet Mars, I mean). They puzzle scientific gents as well as common blokes (The latter are inclined to think it's one of Billjim's jokes). Some read their answer in their beer, some read it in the stars, But none have read their answer right, those messages from Mars. But I, a poet and inspired, could read them instantly (Although at first Hean's manager would not believe in me): Those messages from Mars that come by shortest of short cuts Are simply, "Send some Heenzo, and Hean's Nerve Nuts." Newspaper Clipping ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
To a Fellow-Bard Camping Out [1910] For the sake of those few pleasant Sunny weeks we lately spent, Linking old times with the present, There by ocean, tree and tent; From the hard streets of a city, Where the times seem out of joint, I am sending you a ditty For your camp on Captain's Point! Where no jarring note may find you, You can hunt and fish and dream, With your forest wilds behind you And the wealth of lake and stream; And the glorious curve of beaches, Like a panorama spread, Of your grand front yard that reaches From red Gabo to Ram's Head; Where the fisher folk are botching Nets that never were too strong, And the silly shags sit watching, Watching nothing all day long; Free from Fortune's slings and arrows, From all thoughts of rent or meal, Where the islets, creeks and narrows Teem with fish and swarm with teal. Where no tree marked track seems lonely, Where the best of tourists come, And the gate is barred that only Little cutters may get home. Where your finest fancies now range, And your songs ring dear and true, And the steep and rugged Howe Range Is a garden wall for you. Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
To a Pair of Blucher Boots [1890] Old acquaintance unforgotten, Though you may be "ugly brutes", Though your leather's cracked and rotten, Worn-out pair of Blucher boots. 'Tis the richer man before you, Dearer leathers grace his feet; 'Twas the better man that wore you In the tramps through dust and heat! Oft rebuffed by "super's" snarling, When I asked him for a "show", On that long tramp to the Darling In the days of long ago; Tell me, if you know it, whether, As I sadly tramped away, Bore I heavy on your leather, Worn-out pair of Bluchers, say? Though your leather's cracked and rotten, Though you may be ugly brutes, I'll preserve you unforgotten, Worn-out pair of Blucher boots! Freeman's Journal ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
To "Doc" Wylie [1890] AN ECCENTRIC BUSH DOCTOR Though doctors may your name discard And say you physicked vilely, I would I were as good a bard As you a doctor, Wylie! How often, when your skill subdued The fever ranging highly, You won a bushman's gratitude, Though little more, Doc Wylie! How oft across the regions wide Where scrub for many a mile lay The bushman rode, as bushmen ride, To seek your aid, Doc Wylie! But now, when bushman's wife or child Lies ill and suffering direly, He'll need to ride a weary while Before he finds Doc Wylie. I hope where they have made your bed, And where these verses I lay, They'll raise a board above your head-- And write your name--Doc Wylie! Freeman's Journal ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
To Roumania [1916] Rifles of the Rear Guard, Rattling through the rain, Falling back and falling back To make a stand again-- Rifles of the Rear Guard, Shall you die in vain? Rifles of the Rear Guard. In the cold and wet; Rifles of the Rear Guard, We're coming--do not fret! The rifles of the Rear Guard Shall be the Vanguard yet. Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
To the "Advanced Idealist" [1895] Days that "are to be" for ever! What are they to you or me? I am tired of the drivel of the days that "are to be". Better than the barren present of the land we're living in, Better days than have been even, or the world that might have been. Not of Tennysonian heroes most impossibly insane, But the Launcelot, the King Arthur, and Miles Hendon of Mark Twain. Who are they who come to lead us, on the same hard-trodden track, Which we fancied led to Freedom--while the world is rolling back? Who are you, who come to teach us in the barren thirteenth hour? Boys with College educations--younger sons of wealth and power, Dazzled by the light of ages, penetrating through the mists You have raised about you--posing as "Advanced Idealists". You should know who raked your learning from the ashes and the mould Of your "dead and vanished" ages that your "new ideas" are old. "New Ideas"? We trace them plainly, as an ancient lava flow, Burning out the hearts of god-like heroes centuries ago! Men who lived beyond your wisdom, men who thought and fought alone! Fought for future generations, while the world went rolling on. Thought, and fought alone, and suffered every ignorant attack. What of future generations, while the world is rolling back? "Sing for us a Song of Freedom; sing a hymn of love and hate," So you cry as for the People, but the people come too late. Round the graves of vanished poets, who were starved along the track, Clings a cold sarcastic silence--while the world is rolling back. And your "Leader of the People", "Saviour", "King of Nature's Kings", Stands among his broken idols, brooding over bitter things. Faith betrayed and trust mistrusted--Saviour branded as a thief. Eyes of Truth for ever meeting steady eyes of unbelief. "Trust me!" "Trust each other!" cried he. "Throw all selfish ends behind." And democracy made answer, turning sideways, "Axe to grind." Elector ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
To the Irish Delegates [1889] Farewell! The gold we send shall be a token Of that which in our hearts is growing strong; You asked our sympathy, and we have spoken, "They wrong us who our brothers rob and wrong." Tell Ireland, tell her in her desolation, That hearts within the South for her have bled, That scalding tears of helpless indignation By eyes that read her cruel wrongs are shed. Helpless no more! but strong to act hereafter, For silenced arc the "loyal subjects'" sneers, Too long have Ireland's wrongs been words of laughter, Arch-mockery to tickle British ears. Tell Ireland that they lie of us, they slander, Who say we care not for another's wrong; For we are not the men to kneel and pander To tyranny, because the tyrant's strong. Take back across the waves Australia's message, And say our hearts are big, and strong our hands, Tell Ireland that for her is surest presage Of fate as fair as of these Southern lands. Freeman's Journal ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
To the Memory of Louisa Albury [1920] I might have raved in verse and prose The wrongs of one bush woman dead, To shame the smug, smug smiles of those Who sit in peace where tape is red; I might have sung a song of pride For things their souls shall never know-- I only see a bush girl ride Through rugged ranges long ago. I might have worn a band of crape; But this is foreign to our breed. (The face and crape we wear at home Are very real things indeed.) I might have said--well, anything, Of things that were and things that are. I only hear a bush girl sing To diggers from the lands afar. I might have done what I shall do And had done in the days gone by. So hold me true who held me true, And let them lie who love to lie. I yet may be what I have been-- And was before the fools could see A sober gentleman, and clean, For my Girl-Mother's memory. Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
To Tom [1921] These rough rhymes were written heavily and with difficulty in hospital because of other verses, published elsewhere, which I have since found to be unfair and unjust. They would, if I let them stand now, be simply a cowardly attack on an old friend and mate whom I have since proved, in illness and in adversity, to be a better man than I am.--HENRY LAWSON, Coast Hospital, Little Bay, September 1921 It is superficial smartness wins the mob that rules the hour, And their vulgar, brutal laughter lifts the Nobody to power. So the "smart" or "clever" verses in the most unjust attack Bring the mean and wavering `friends" of your opponent to your back. Leave my enemy and me to fight it out--to make amends-- I have no time for the plaudits of his once admiring friends. Do you mind the tent and camp-fire in the moonlight by Cape Howe? Do you ever pause and ponder, were we happier then than now? Yes, of course we were. 'Twas only one new shore and one new sea Marked to meet us and to pass us as these times were marked to be. We had both had bitter boyhoods with no tender light or touch; And you told me half your story--I had lived the rest, Tom Mutch. 'Twas the same old sunset splendid and the same old set of sun: I with my ambitions ended, you with yours but just begun. Did you dream that you were drifting to the House of cunning tricks? Did I dream, with my undying hatred for all politics, Of the home by red-tape ruined and the hopes dragged in the dust? I was maddened by injustice till my anger grew unjust. For I thought from past experience that, in spite of track and tent, You would soon seek Tone and Comfort by the ways that others went. You would soon avoid Obstruction and let Trouble pass you by On the smoother tracks I hated by the coward's red-tape lie; And be bitter and vindictive if a fool-friend told you so-- Holding place and party higher than old mateship long ago. But you didn't, and were neither to be bluffed nor to be bought. You're a bigger man than I am! You are bigger than we thought! I was older and suspicious as an elder man might be, For a free pass on the railway spoils your native scenery, And a salary that covers everything that you require Robs your zeal for the Downtrodden of a lot of ancient fire. And the Devil whispers, "Why not do as all the others do?" And the parliamentary picnic finishes corrupting you. In a fit of bitter brooding I had rounded on a mate, But no friend of mine nor kindred dared to hint you were not straight. In our different ways we struggled upwards from the underside; In our different ways we boasted--call it pardonable pride; But before you found your station and before you found your feet Others used you for your straightness and what they thought your conceit, And they sneered and winked and snickered with the ignorance of such. You're a bigger man than they are--and they know it now, Tom Mutch. And I jibbed about your "talking" and your advertising too, But of course you had to do it for a chance to think and do. When a case of real deserving hardship from a friend or foe, (Or a mate who's not deserving--there are plenty such we know) Needs a dip into your pocket or a short note from your pen-- Oh! you do no advertising and you leave out talking then. Once you had a sense of humour as the Tom of long ago-- (How a man can be a Member and have humour I don't know): But if politics has failed to kill your sense of humour yet-- It's a sort of late repayment of a boomeranging debt. From the memories of my boyhood that have never been in print, And the depths of my old wisdom I'll give you a useful hint. When you walk into a schoolroom, mighty man above the law, And you see the childish faces with their big eyes filled with awe, When you've said your "Sit down, children" (feeling somewhat like a fool) To Australia's future voters standing there by desk and stool-- While you look as if each penny of your screw is doubly earned, Wink severely at the children when the master's back is turned. And when votes are sadly needed on some distant day, I think They will plump for Mutch like blazes for the memory of that wink! Life is like when we were rowing home between the channel stakes. Politics are but the joggle when the wind blows on the lakes. But the lantern on the boatshed by the shore that we come from Leads to rest and the forgetting--never mind the joggle, Tom! Aussie ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
To Tom Bracken [1894] The Sunny South at best is hard An' cold to Southern writers-- But oh! it's frozen to the bard Amongst the othersiders. They hear the song, but not the groan Whilst horses they are backin'. He asks for bread--they grudge a stone When he is dead! Tom Bracken. He's left to starve when stony broke, To put his trust the Lord on-- To hang himself, like Barcroft Boake, Or shoot himself, like Gordon. He's left to battle in the ruck, With poverty attacking-- You should be glad that you have struck A softer spot, Tom Bracken! Oh! had you tracked where Kendall trod I think you would be kneelin' Three times a week and thankin' God That you are of New Zealan'! For this I'll say, to make it short, An' keep my tongue from clackin', The people are a kinder sort You're singin' for, Tom Bracken. Worker ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Too Old to Rat [1912] or, THE OLD UNIONIST I don't care if the cause be wrong. Or if the cause be right-- I've had my day and sung my song, And fought the bitter fight. In truth, at times I can't tell what The men are driving at, But I've been Union thirty years, And I'm too old to rat. Maybe, at times in those old days Remembered now by few, We did bite OR in various ways Much more than we could chew-- We paid, in sodden strikers' camps Upon the black-soil flat; We paid, in long and hungry tramps-- And I'm too old to rat. The Queensland strike in Eighty-nine, And Ninety's gloomy days-- The day the opera comp'ny sang For us the "Marseillaise", The sea of faces stern and set, The waiting "bitter cup", The hopeless hearts, unbeaten yet, The storm cloud rushing up. The fighting, dying Boomerang Against the daily Press; The infant Worker holding out; The families in distress; The sudden tears of beaten men-- Oh! you remember that!-- Are memories that make my pen Not worth its while to rat. I've wept with them in strikers' camps Where shivered man and beast; I've worn since then the badge of men, Of Hell! and London East! White faces by the flaring torch! Wraith wives!--the slaves of Fat! And ragged children in the rain-- Yes!--I'm too old to rat! Westralian Worker ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Trouble Belongit Mine [1914] ON LOOKING THROUGH AN OLD PUNISHMENT BOOK Old Billy the blackfellow lived by a log-- With a sheet of bark leaned to the same-- With his old black gin and his old black dog, In the days ere the railroad came; And, no matter whatever his troubles might be, He was not the blackfellow to whine; He would turn him away from your forced sympathy With "Trouble belongit mine!" His old dog died when he'd had his day (And the blackfellow loves his cur), But Blackfellow Billy had nothing to say As he gazed where the blue ridges blur. We said we were sorry that "Darky" was dead, And he might have said, "Thank you!--I'm fine!" But he turned from the range and impatiently said, "Trouble belongit mine!" His old gin died when her time had come, And was fixed in the old black way; They buried her squatting and Billy was dumb, She'd "jump up white phella" some day. We said we were sorry that Mary was gone, But Billy, he gave us no sign-- He turned and he gazed on the streak of the dawn With "Trouble belongit mine!" His tribe was dead and his time was past, Old Billy was out of the swim, But he camped and he fished and he worked till the last-- With troubles belongit him. He went last night, and he went alone, Where the brave man weareth a crown, And he'll rest, no doubt, by the dusky Throne Where he layeth his troubles down. And I'm thinking now by the Pipeclay Bridge, Where the farmers are sorely tried-- As I thought last night on that Rylstone ridge, Where Billy the blackfellow died-- That we of the city, and I of the world, Have damned little cause to repine; And when I go back, by whichever the track, 'Twill be "Trouble Belongit Mine!" Worker ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Uncle Harry [1920] Oh, never let on to your own true love That ever you drank a drop; That ever you played in a two-up school Or slept in a sly-grog shop; That ever a bad girl nursed you round-- That ever you sank so low. But she pulled you through, and it's only you And your old mate Harry know. "Billy the Link" they called you then, And it makes me sad to think Of the strenuous days when it took three cops And a pimp to couple the Link. "Mister Linkhurst" they call you now, And your kitchen garden grows; And no one knows in your family, But your Uncle Harry knows. Oh, never let on to your fair young bride How a "straight" girl stabbed your heart With a devilish wire to the Western side Where we were a world apart. With pick and shovel you fought it out Where the red sirocco blows; And no one knew in the gang save you-- But your old mate Harry knows. Oh, never let on to your own good wife, For a tender heart has she, Of the girl that loved and the girl that lies In the graveyard there by the sea! 'Twas not for his "manners" she loved the cad, 'Twas not for his verse or prose, But the pity she felt for the country lad-- And your Uncle Harry knows. The bad girl went where the bad girls go And I see her dark eyes yet; The good girl left me her broken heart, But I trow that their souls have met. The cry of the heart we send not forth On every wind that blows; You are hiding a sorrow from someone now-- But your Uncle Harry knows. Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Victory [1919] The schools marched in procession in happiness and pride, The city bands before them, the soldiers marched beside; Oh, starched white frocks and sashes and suits that high schools wear, The boy scout and the boy lout and all the rest were there, And all flags save Australia's flag waved high in sun and air! The Girls' High School, and Grammar School and colleges of stone Flew all flags from their walls and towers--all flags except our own! And down here in the alleys where Premiers never come, Nor candidate, nor delegate, nor sound of fife and drum, They packed them on the lorries, seared children of the slum. Each face seemed soiled and faded, though scrubbed with household soap, And older than a mother-face, but with less sign of hope: The knowledge of things evil, of drunken wreck and hag, Of sordid sounds and voices, the everlasting "nag"-- Oh, men without a battle-song! Oh, men without a flag! They breed a nation's strength behind each shabby little door, Where rent-collectors knock for aye, and Christ shall knock no more; The sounds that hurt the mother's heart affright the children there-- Alarm-clocks on an empty tin, the tin tray on a chair; For weary folk are hard to wake in hot and heavy air. They sang in Pride's Procession that Mammon might endure-- Oh, wistful singing faces, the children of the poor! Oh, hideous fiends of commerce! Oh, ghouls of business strife! I wait the coming of the things to wake the land to life; The flag without a cross or bar, the drum without a fife! Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Wales the First" [1892] A bloated prince of parasites, a libel on the past: We hail him as the coming king when kings are going fast-- The end of England's royal line--the last perhaps and worst; We'll set him up on England's throne, and call him "Wales the First". I'd like to see that future--what changes will it bring? I think 'twill he a funny time when "Wales the First" is king. I wonder how the crown will suit the thick fat head of "Tummy"; I wonder how he'll fit the throne where sits his royal mummy: I'd like to see him sitting there, for 'twould be royal sport To see his bulgy eyes upon the "ladies of the court"! O ladies of the Fancy, fling out your legs and sing A royal tune for prostitutes, when "Wales the First" is king. We cannot say he's "Gracious", and neither can we say The Prince of Wales is "noble", for he isn't "built that way". We cannot say he's much "inspired with wisdom from above"; And, as for "love", we've had enough of England's royal love: His poet laureate must make another song to sing; The "anthem" will not fit the case when "Wales the First" is king. We're safe to hear the angels weep up there beyond the skies, We're right for songs of drivel when the "Selfish Woman" dies; But England's bands must buckle up and chase the Muse around; They'll need their inspiration when the Prince of Wales is crowned; But king he mightn't be, perhaps; the great might feel the sting Of terrible Democracy ere "Wales the First" is king. Truth ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
War on Women [1915] He loved a girl when his hair was brown, And his heart was young and tender, And she took him up and she took him down, So he's got no time for that gender. He's a "whaler" now with a patched-up boat, By a Murrumbidgee station, With an old he-dog and a William-goat And a cat of the Thomas persuasion. There's a Nanny-goat's skin with the head and horns On a gum-tree tall and shady; And hair like a long-lost gin's that warns The native dusky lady. There's the skin of a female dog as well, And, nailed up a little bit higher, The skin and tail of a tortoise-shell They used to call Maria. There is also a tale with the station gins, Who are scarcely ornamental, Of a shot-gun charged with the coarsest salt, That "went off accidental". So he lives in peace, with his patched up boat By that Murrumbidgee station-- And his old he-dog and his William-goat And his cat of the Thomas persuasion. Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Watching the Crows [1891] A bushman got lost in a scrub in the North, And all the long morning the searchers went forth. They swore at the rain that had washed out the tracks And left not a trace for the eyes of the blacks; But, trusting the signs that the blackfellow knows, A quiet old darkey stood watching the crows. The solemn old blackman stood silently by; He stood like a statue, his face to the sky. Black Billy was out of the bearings--we thought-- If he looked above for the bushman we sought; For we rather suspected the spirit would go In--well, quite another direction, you know. Most bushmen on solemn occasions will joke, And unto Black Bill 'twas the super who spoke. He asked, as he cocked his red nose in the air, "You think it old Harrison sit down up there?" "I'm watching the crows. Where the white man lies dead The crows will fly over," the blackfellow said. The blackfellow died, and long years have gone round Since the day when old Harrison's body was found; But still do I see, in my vision at night, A faint figure come like a shadow in sight, And nearer and nearer it comes till it grows Like the form of that blackfellow--"watching the crows". Freeman's Journal ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
When Bertha Comes to Tea [1902] When Bertha comes to tea (The kettle sings in glee) The cups and saucers clatter As they hear her chatter, chatter, And you wonder what's the matter When Bertha comes to tea. When Bertha comes to tea (Her age, I think, is three) She keeps you in a flutter, Cutting cake and bread and butter. "Where does it go?" you mutter, When Bertha comes to tea. When Bertha comes to tea (She isn't shy, not she) The house cat sees, clearly, She loves him very dearly, But--he's suffocated, nearly, When Bertha comes to tea. When Bertha comes to tea (Along with you and me) She's sure to bring her dolly; Then away with melancholy, And let us all be jolly When Bertha comes to tea. Newspaper Cutting ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
When Kitchener Shed Tears [1910] Thus the Sirdar had reached his goal, seized the prize after years of work and privation. He had crushed Mahdism--and avenged Gordon. As the hero stood on the ruins of Gordon's house, while the flag flew aloft and the cannon thundered, he could not repress his feelings, and the tears rolled down his weather-bronzed face! Happy the man to whom such an hour of life is given. --A Mayor on Kitchener. I was away from Sydney, Dan, The first time, too, for years, And far from any Sydney man, When Kitchener shed tears-- I'm speaking of the third time, Dan, That Kitchener shed tears. The first was in his cradle laid-- When Kitchener shed tears: Maybe he shed them several times In those few early years-- I'm speaking of the periods When Kitchener shed tears. The second time, I understand, They were not tears of gloom-- 'Twas on the wreck of Gordon's House In the ruins of Khartoum, While left and right, and in the front He heard his cannon boom. (The spot where Britishers have since Erected Gordon's tomb)-- And now I reach the third time, Dan, And these were Tears of Doom. Better take another sheet of foolscap to it. They were not born of memories, Nor yet of many beers, He'd not been reading Lawson's pomes-- When Kitchener shed tears. He'd not sat under George Reid's jokes Nor charged through Bingi's spears-- He'd seen a real Australian fort! When Kitchener shed tears. Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
When the Bush Begins to Speak [1892] They know us not in England yet, their pens are overbold; We're seen in fancy pictures that are fifty years too old. They think we are a careless race - a childish race, and weak; They'll know us yet in England, when the bush begins to speak; When the bush begins to speak, When the bush begins to speak, When the west by Greed's invaded, and the bush begins to speak. "The leaders that will be", the men of southern destiny, Are not all found in cities that are builded by the sea; They learn to love Australia by many a western creek, They'll know them yet in England, when the bush begins to speak; When the bush begins to speak, When the bush begins to speak, When the west by Greed's invaded, and the bush begins to speak. All ready for the struggle, and waiting for the change, The army of our future lies encamped beyond the range; Australia, for her patriots, will not have far to seek; They'll know her yet in England when the bush begins to speak; When the bush begins to speak, When the bush begins to speak, When the west by Greed's invaded, and the bush begins to speak. We'll find the peace and comfort that our fathers could not find, Or some shall strike the good old blow that leaves a mark behind. We'll find the Truth and Liberty our fathers came to seek, Or let them know in England when the bush begins to speak; When the bush begins to speak, When the bush begins to speak, When the west by Greed's invaded, and the bush begins to speak. Truth ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
When the Duke of Clarence Died [1892] Let us sing in tear-choked numbers how the Duke of Clarence went, Just to make a royal sorrow rather more pre-eminent. Ladies sighed and sobbed and drivelled--toadies spoke with bated breath, And the banners floating half-mast made a mockery of death, And they said Australia sorrowed for the Prince's death--they lied! She had done with kings and princes ere the Duke of Clarence died. What's a death in lofty places? What's a noble birth?--say I-- To the poor who die in hundreds, as a man should never die? Can they shed a tear, or sorrow for a royal dunce's fate? No! for royalty has taught them how to sing the songs of hate; O'er the sounds of grief in Europe, and the lands across the tide Rose the growl of revolution, when the Duke of Clarence died. We, it matters not how lonely our o'er-burdened lives are spent-- Claim in common with a Clarence, straight from Adam our descent! Even the man they call a "bastard" has a lineage to himself, Though he traces not his fathers through the sordid line of Guelph, And, perhaps in some foul garret in his misery and pride, One of Nature's Kings was dying when the Duke of Clarence died. Ah! the workgirl's bloodless fingers, in the plundered human hive, Sew the banners of rebellion, while the kings and princes thrive; In the cold of northern winter, in the south in dust and heat-- Weary workmen preach sedition at the corners of the street. They pre-eminent in sorrow! 'tis pre-eminence in cheek; We shall hear what care and pain is when the slums begin to speak; Hundreds starved to pay the shadow of a crown upon his head! Yellow gold (at last impotent) fought with death beside his bed. And, perhaps, a Prince of Nature sat despairing by the side Of a noble mother STARVING when the Duke of Clarence died. Ignoble living--splendid dead! behold the pomp of royal woe! Lo, the funeral! battle-hero never yet was buried so. Who and what was he? What has he done to benefit mankind? Has he nought to show Saint Peter save a royal race behind? Who is worthy? Who is noble? God! shall gold alone decide? Better men like dogs were buried ere the Duke of Clarence died. Thrones of earth and earthly rulers soon shall all be swept aside, And 'twere better for his comfort that the Duke of Clarence died. Truth ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
When the Irish Flag Went By [1891] 'Twas Eight-Hour Day, and proudly Old Labour led the way; The drums were bearing loudly, The crowded streets were gay; But something touched my heart like pain, I could not check the sigh That rose within my bosom when The Irish Flag went by. Bright flags were raised about it And one of them my own: And patriots trod beneath it-- But it seemed all alone. I thought of ruined Ireland While crystals from the sky Fell soft like tears by angels shed, As the Irish Flag went by. I love the dark green standard As Irish patriots do; It waves above the rebels, And I'm a rebel too, I thought of Ireland's darkest years, Her griefs that follow fast; For drooping as 'twere drenched with tears The Irish Flag went past. And though 'twas not in Erin That my forefathers trod; And though my wandering footsteps Ne'er pressed the "dear old sod", I felt the wrongs the Irish feel Beneath the northern sky. And felt the rebel in my heart When the Irish Flag went by. I tell you, men of England, Who rule the land by might; I tell you, Irish traitors Who sell the sons of light, The tyranny shall fail at last, That changeful days are nigh; And you shall dip your red flag yet, When the Irish Flag goes by. Freeman's Journal ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
When the Visitors Go [1922] When the house is full--and it holds a score-- And you've known them all for a week or more; And the last day comes and they crowd the hall, With babies and baskets and rugs and all. When the time is close, and the train is near, And startlingly shrill the whistle you hear, When "Good-byes" are said and handkerchiefs wave, The house is as dead as a bushman's grave. With a sinking feeling you can't resist You go outside and see in the mist Through something nearly akin to tears-- The hurrying ghosts of the vanished years. Henry Lawson By His Mates ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
When You Get That Kindly Feeling [1919] (Written Under Great Domestic Difficulties.) When you get that kindly feeling, after having one or two, All the faith in human nature that you lost comes back to you; Then your editor seems human and your publisher the same, And you think the little woman not so very much to blame. (The aforesaid little woman, who's been squinting at my scrawl, With a gulp and eyelids brimming says she's "not to blame at all!") When you get that kindly feeling (she's still "doing up" the room; Finds new inkstains on the oilcloth, bangs the skirting with the broom)-- When you get that kindly feeling (I repeat it as I write), Even party politicians find some favour in your sight. ("Now!" she says, "I'm glad you're finding someone safer to abuse! Go on sneering at our best friends--poor Tom Mutch and Billy Hughes.") When you get that kindly feeling, after having three or four, With your trusty low companions (she's gone out and banged the door), Then your heart aches for the married geniuses you're boozing with, And you have a kindly feeling even for poor Bummer Smith; For you'll think you were as he is in the days when all was blue-- (Or blue-black, or black--no matter), and he'll rise again--like you. Comes a clatter from the kitchen as of saucer, plate and cup, Danger-signals indicating most emphatic washing up. When you get that kindly feeling--but it's vanished into air; So I'll sneak round to the wash-house for a nip I planted there. With her eyes no longer brimming and with finger small but grim, She's rehearsing to the dresser what she's "going to say to him". Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
When You're Bad in Your Inside [1896] (A Sequel to "When Your Pants Begin to Go") I remarked that man is saddest, and his heart is filled with woe, When he hasn't any money, and his pants begin to go; But I think I was mistaken, and there are many times I find When you do not care a candle if your pants are gone behind; For a fellow mostly loses all ambition, hope, and pride, When--to put the matter mildly--he is bad in his inside. Bobby Burns was down on toothache, and it troubled him no doubt; But you know a man can always have a molar taken out, And be all right then, excepting for the duller pain that comes To the hollow that is lying like a gully in the gums. But you can't extract your innards--they must stay within your hide, And you've got to moan and cuss it--when you're bad in your inside. You dunno what to take for it--you dunno what to do: You are puzzled to remember what has disagreed with you, You lie in all positions, there is none will give you ease; And you think an aching stomach is the king of agonies. You feel as though your innards in a double knot are tied, While the devil ties it tighter--when you're bad in your inside. Then you send that boy--that Harry--and you tell him to be quick, For a shilling's worth of brandy, "for a person who is sick". You make him swear to hurry, and he goes off like a shot; But you wait an hour and suffer, and the brandy cometh not; Then you look out through the window, and you swear to bust his hide, For the wretch is playing football, while you're bad in your inside. Then there's mostly some old woman, with your aunt or mother, too, And it's really quite indecent how she cross-examines you. She insists on giving physic, and will hear of no excuse; And dilates upon your bowels till you wish her to the deuce. You wish she'd go and leave you--let you be and let it slide, And go about her business, when you're bad in your inside. But she's come to see you through it, and she bustles in and out; And she talks of private matters that she oughtn't talk about. She proceeds to pill and dose you, and she vows that you'll be ill Till you've swallowed every nostrum--castor oil, and draught and pill, And you wish, good Lord! that she would pass across the Stygian tide, And nurse the gory Devil, when he's bad in his inside. But the hag is interested, and she bustles out and in; And in various disguises give you nauseous medicine. Till she's shifted all obstructions, and has soothed your keenest pain (Though her remedies may leave you a much sicker man again); But she's done her best to help you, for her sympathy is wide, And you'll bless that same old woman when you're right in your inside. Truth ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Who's Dot Pulleteen? [1890] To the Editor of The Albany Observer Dear Sir, Smarting from the effects of a neat back-hander administered to it by the Sydney Bulletin, the W.A. Bulletin prints the following: "Says the S. Bulletin--'The talented Henry Lawson has left Sydney for Western Australia.' Who's Henry Lawson?" The W.A. Bulletin might reasonably ask this question, but it is not right that an unknown writer should be used as a weapon of spite by one paper against another, and this mysterious individual in question, who might be a German, could easily relieve his injured feelings as follows: O my prow vas plack mit curses, Ven I dries to write dose verses; Ven I dries to write dot boem, Dot de best was effer been. All in vain my peer I guzzles, But I gannod solve dot broblem, "Who's dot Western Pulleteen?" Und I swear mit pleets and dvonder, Und I ferry often wonder, Would dot paber's cirgulation Shusta little pigger been, If dey toog deir seissor-pinchers, Shust to cut some leetle inches From that smarty-smarty writer Of dot Western Pulleeteen. "Let dose mountains fall and hide us" Gry benighded odersiders, Shame come round and woe betide us, Und our fellow men deride us If we effer yet can find oud "Who's dot Western Pull-it-in?" HENRICH HERTZBERG LAWSON I remain, Yours etc., JOE SWALLOW Albany Observer ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Wide Spaces [1918] When my last long-beer has vanished and the truth is left unsaid; When each sordid care is banished from my chair and from my bed, And my common people sadly murmur: "'Arry Lawson dead," When the man I was denounces all the things that I was not, When the true souls stand like granite, while the souls of liars not-- When the quids I gave are counted, and the trays I cadged forgot; Shall my spirit see the country that it wrote for once again? Shall it see the old selections, and the common street and lane? Shall it pass across the Black Soil and across the Red Soil Plain? Shall it see the gaunt Bushwoman "slave until she's fit to drop", For the distant trip to Sydney, all depending on the crop? Or the twinkling legs of kiddies, running to the lollie-shop? Shall my spirit see the failures battling west and fighting here? Shall it see the darkened shanty, or the bar-room dull and drear? Shall it whisper to the landlord to give Bummer Smith a beer? Will they let me out of Heaven, or Valhalla, on my own-- Or the Social Halls of Hades (where I shall not be alone)-- Just to bring a breath of comfort to the hells that I have known? Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Without the Heart Behind It [1908] The world is won by Action-Men, And told by Clever Writers: 'Tis mimicked by the tongue and pen And mocked by glib reciters; But, work or rest or take or give-- Or rush to death self-blinded-- I tell you nought will ever live Without the heart behind it. A cause seems lost on fields of blood Against the rich World-Spanners, When thousands drag through slush and mud Beneath their beaten banners: The wise will smile, and fools will jeer; Let faint hearts never mind it: No cause was ever lost a year That had the hearts behind it. And you may overawe the town And triumph for the present-- Ay! you may shoot the people down And flog and hang the peasant, And you may take young Liberty And bind her, yet you'll find her With flame and steel on land and sea, And all her hearts behind her. Some, bound to some old "masters" faint, Or fearing owlish strictures, Will "study" all their lives to paint Their unconvincing pictures. While one will paint with methods crude And not for fame--but win it; And win the wide world's gratitude, Because his heart was in it. And some will ply the brilliant pen Or make their grand orations, And never touch the hearts of men-- While one shall wake the Nations! For he shall write a simple song. To rouse men's hearts and cheer them, And thousands roar the words along! And kingdoms quake to hear them. However faint and frail the form. The strong heart has succeeded. (No ship alone can live the storm.) Nor gold nor "gifts" are needed. No sorrow bringeth Truth to nought-- No leaders' cares can bind them: The grandest battles have been fought With broken hearts behind them. Worker ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Women and Children Again [1916] [A soldier, writing from somewhere on the rim of Greece, says that, while in a poverty-stricken village there, a bright little fellow ran up to "one of our chaps", shook him by the hand and said something to him in Greek. The soldier ends his letter with: "Oh, but it's good to be amongst women and kiddies again!"] From the Great North-West and the Saltbush Plain, from the Never Never land, From the dead, dry "lakes" and the lignum swamps, from the mulga and the sand; From the tank and the bore and the station-huts, from the Black or the Red Soil Plains-- Wherever you've been it is good to be amongst women and children again! From the Western Hell that we know full well, or the Hell that we do not know, From the blinding glare of the desert there, or the blinding glare of the snow-- Wherever on earth with their stubborn hearts go men and the sons of men; Wherever you've been, it is good to be amongst women and kiddies again! It matters little what creed they hold, and little what language they speak-- Though they talk in the good Australian tongue, or they talk to you in Greek, In English or German or Wotuplese, the meaning is always plain-- Wherever you've been, it is good to be amongst women and kiddies again. Wherever on land or sea you go, where strong men grimly die; When Death creeps up from the depths below or Death swoops down from the sky; From the earthly Hell that the Huns have made, from the reek of the shattered slain, God grant us grace; but it's grand to be amongst women and children again! Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Wowserland [1910] O have you been in Wowserland?--But I forgot. I'll swear That I was told there's nothing short of saints and angels there. Perhaps you went a penitent. They say the faith is grand, And all is pure and all is clean up there in Wowserland. O yes, I'd been in Wowserland, for many a fearsome year; And I escaped from Wowserland, per medium of beer. I was a living skeleton, I'd scarcely any sand, My hair was grey that desperate day I cut from Wowserland. But is there faith in Wowserland, and is there faith and truth? And is there love in Wowserland, and is there love and youth? The good folk here, they tell me things I cannot understand, They say they have no use for such as we, in Wowserland. There is no youth in Wowserland, there's nothing clean and sweet; There is no faith in Wowserland, but treachery and deceit. There is no truth in Wowserland, where shamming never dies-- Those half and those three quarter lies--the slimiest kind of lies. But is there love in Wowserland--for love is everywhere? There must be some full-blooded men and warm-eyed women there? And are there men in Wowserland--men of the rebel brand? They're found in every other land--why not in Wowserland? There is no love in Wowserland, but bloodlessness and dust; And where there's strength in Wowserland there's hidden hate and lust. But there are men in Wowserland, and I know one at least, A leader of a rebel band who should have been a priest. Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Write by Return [1896] Clerk, corresponding, "Rooster and Comb", Here I sit idle "Thinking of home"; I must be grafting-- Living to earn, More correspondence, "Write by return." Clerk in employ of "Shoddy and Woods", Thinks that we have not Forwarded goods. Parcel we sent them-- Missing, I learn, Says in his postscript: "Write by return." Here is another Letter from Bland-- "Cheque he expected Isn't to hand." How we forgot it Cannot discern, "Forward remittance, Write by return." Here is another-- O how they come? Treats of a "Bender" Planned by a chum. See on the margin, Big letters: "Burn After perusal-- Write by return." Mail in from England, Letters for me-- Dear little sweetheart Over the sea. "Quite broken-hearted, O how I yearn Only to see you. . . . Write by return." One who will "never Think that I'm bad" Writes me a letter Tearful and sad. Thinks that I'm starving, Filled with concern, Sends me some money-- "Write by return." Letter from father, Sent to his son, "All is forgiven-- Fat calf for one." O that I ever Thought he was stern-- Money for passage-- Write by return. Truth ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Written Out (II) [1910] When his heart is growing bitter and his hair is growing grey, And he hears the debt-collector knocking several times a day, And the shrill voice of the Missus blame, reiterate, accuse-- Then the poet who was famous feels inclined to damn the Muse. When he's trying to be cheerful, and the ancient joy is dead, And where themes for laughter found him comes a brooding fit instead; When he tries for hours to think of something good to write about, Then the writer realises that he's getting written out. When the Lost Love is forgotten that he sung of when a boy, And the Graves of Girls Departed bring no longer tears of joy; Nor the battlefields of fancy where his fights were lost or won-- Then the singer realises that his singing days are done. When the visage of the landlord--or the landlady, maybe-- Can suggest not as aforetime sweetest flowers of poesy, When the presence of the bailiff's man inspires his pen no more-- Then he's pretty well decided that his writing days are o'er. When he thought he was beginning and the end seems come at last, And his struggling for the future thrusts him back into the past, When there isn't any Wonder and he hasn't any Doubt-- Then he wakes up some fine morning and he finds he's written out. When he hears a sudden rapping--rapping at his chamber door, Then he knows it's no good trying to write poems any more; And he bursts from out his chamber and he grabs his battered hat, And he cadges Two Bob somewhere and gets beered up on his pat. Or he meets an old admirer--or a chum in bardic ways Who has other bobs and sorrows, and they drink to other days, Till the Years Between, the Present, and the Future they forget, And he feels convinced he hasn't even started writing yet. But the morning--Oh, the morning!--And the weary world is grey, And his striving for To-morrow only brings him Yesterday! And if he had his life over, he would damn all prose and rhyme: He'd stick to trade or business and write pomes in his spare time. Bulletin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
You'll Triumph Not in This Land [1892] You who speculate in Labour--whether land or mines your spoil-- You who gamble with the harvests of the children of the soil! We impeach you as embezzlers--we--the Southern sons of toil. In the peace of long possession you are blind and you are bold, You have fortified the mountains, and your guns are manifold; But you'll triumph not in this land as you triumphed in the old! Go and boast of "our resources", but the land shall not progress In the poverty of labour and the wealth of idleness! Even tho' the nations pass us while we struggle for redress. Shear us while you can in comfort--not for long you'll rob and rest, There are men of settled purpose in the regions of the West, Hearts of gold to be discovered when the proper spring is press'd. In the dim and hazy regions that are opposite the morn There's the spirit of a nation!--there's the patriotism, born In the darkness of your blindness and the silence of your scorn. And the land-shark will not stop it with the wealth at his command, Nor his everlasting fences stretching out across the land (Driving farmers and selectors to the barren soil, and sand). You have conquered for a season; we are bought and we are sold, You have strength as yet to rule us, and your selfish hearts are cold, But you'll triumph not in this land as you triumphed in the old. Bulletin


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