FROM a river siding, the railway town,
Or the dull new port there three days down,
Forward and back on the up-hill track,
With a creak of the jinker, a ringing crack,
Slow as a funeral, sure as steam,
Bullocky Bill and his old red team.

Ploughing around by the ti-tree scrub,
Four wheels down to the creeping hub,
Swaying they go, with their heads all low,
Bally, and Splodger, and Spot, and Jo.
Men in the ranges much esteem
Bullocky Bill and his old red team.

Worming about where the tall trees spring,
Surging ahead when the clay bogs cling;
A rattle of lash and of language rash
On the narrow edge of immortal smash.
He’d thread a bead or walk a beam,
Bullocky Bill with his old red team.

Climbing a ridge where the red stars ride;
Straddling down on the other side,
With a whistle and grind, and a scramble blind,
And a thundering gum-tree slung behind.
But they always get there, hill or stream,
Bullocky Bill and his old red team.

Engines or stamps for the mines about,
Tools for the men who are leading out;
Tucker, and boose, and the latest news
Back where the bunyip stirs the ooze.
Pioneers with the best we deem
Bullocky Bill and his old red team.

The Hapless Army

“A soldier braving disease and death on
the battlefield has a seven times better chance
of life than a new-born baby.”—Secretary of
War, U.S.A.

The Hapless Army from the dark
That lies beyond creation,
All blinded by the solar spark,
And leaderless in lands forlorn,
Come stumbling through the mists of morn;
And foes in close formation,
With taloned fingers dripping red,
Bestrew the sodden world with dead.

The Hapless Army bears no sword;
Fell destiny fulfilling,
It marches where the murder horde,
Amid the fair new urge of life,
With poison stream, and shot, and knife,
Make carnival of killing.
No war above black Hell's abyss
Knows evil grim and foul as this.

In pallid hillocks lie the slain
The callous heaven under;
Like twisted hieroglyphs of pain
They fleck earth to oblivion's brink,
As far as human mind may think,
Accusing God with thunder
Of dreadful silence. Nought it serves—
Fate ever calls the doomed reserves!

Still with Death's own monotony
The innocents are falling,
Like dead leaves in a forest dree;
And still the conscript armies come.
No banners theirs, no beat of drum,
No merry bugles calling!
Mad ally in the Slayers' train,
Man slaps and sorrows for the slain!

IN THE MORN when the keen blade bites the tree,
And the chips on the dead leaves dance,
And the bush echoes back right merrily
Blow for blow as the sunbeams glance
From the axe when it sweeps in circles true,
Then the splitter at heart is gay;
He exults in the work he’s set to do,
And he feels like a boy at play.

Swinging free with a stroke that’s straight and strong
To the heart of the messmate sent,
He is cheered by the magpie’s morning song
With the ring of the metal blent,
But the birds in their terror scatter high
When she falls with a rush and bound,
And the quivering saplings split and fly,
And the ranges all roar around.

Who is lord when the axeman mounts his spar,
And the breeze on his brown breast blows,
When the scent of the new wood floats afar,
And the gum from its red wounds flows?
With the bush at his back he laughs at care,
With a pipe and a right good mate—
There is drink in the billy, grub to spare,
And a bunk in the ten-by-eight.

When the sun’s in the west, from nooks aloft
Where the stringy is straight and tall,
Come the strains of a chorus quaint and soft,
Or the clink of the wedge and maul;
From the gully a murmur of broken talk
Or the song that the crosscut sings;
For the bush is a-dream, and high the hawk
Hangs at rest on his cradling wings.

But at night, by the tent, when tea is done
And when euchre’s begun to flag—
In the bush he may hear a distant gun
Or the neigh of a lonely nag—
Then the splitter has thoughts no longer gay,
And sorrows he cannot drown,
For he dreams of a girl who’s far away,
Or the joys of a spree in town.

The Young Lieutenant

The young lieutenant's face was grey.
As came the day.
The watchers saw it lifting white
And ghostlike from the pool of night.
His eyes were wide and strangely lit.
Each thought in that unhallowed pit:
“I, too, may seem like one who dies
With wide, set eyes.”

He stood so still we thought it death,
For through the breath
Of reeking shell we came, and fire,
To hell, unlit, of blood and mire.
Tianced in a chill delirium
We wondered, though our lips were dumb
What precious thing his fingers pressed
Against his breast.

His left hand clutched so lovingly
What none might see.
All bloodless were his lips beneath
The straight, white, rigid clip of teeth.
His eyes turned to the distance dim;
Our sleepless eyes were all on him.
He stirred; we aped a phantom cheer.
The hour was here!

The young lieutenant blew his call.
“God keep us all!”
He whispered softly. Out he led;
And over the vale of twisted dead,
Close holding that dear thing, he went.
On through the storm we followed, bent
To pelt of iron and the rain
Of flame and pain.

His wan face like a lodestar glowed
Down that black road,
And deep among the torn and slain
We drove, and twenty times again
He squared us to the charging hordes.
His word was like a hundred swords.
And still a hand the treasure pressed
Against his breast.

Our gain we held. Up flamed the sun.
“The ridge is won,”
He calmly said, and, with a sigh,
“Thank God, a man is free to die!”
He smiled at this, and so he passed.
His secret prize we knew at last,
For through his hand the jewel's red,
Fierce lustre bled.

A STRAIGHT old fossicker was Lanky Mann,
Who clung to that in spite of friends’ advising:
A grim and grizzled worshipper of ‘pan,’
All other arts and industries despising.

Bare-boned and hard, with thin long hair and beard,
With horny hands that gripped like iron pliers;
A clear, quick eye, a heart that nothing feared,
A soul full simple in its few desires.

No hot, impatient amateur was Jo,
Sweating to turn the slides up every minute—
He knew beforehand how his stuff would go,
Could tell by instinct almost what was in it.

I’ve known him stand for hours, and rock, and rock,
A-swinging now the shovel, now the ladle,
So sphinx-like that at Time he seemed to mock,
Resolved to run creation through his cradle.

No sun-shafts pricked him through his seasoned hide,
Nor cold nor damp could bend his form heroic;
Bare-breasted Jo the elements defied,
And met all fortunes like a hoary Stoic.

Where there were tailings, tips, and mangled fields,
And sluggish, sloven creeks meandering slowly,
Where puddlers old and sluice-sites promised yields,
There Lanky might be found, contented wholly.

Even though they’d worked the field, as Chinkies do,
Had ‘bulled’ each shaft, and scraped out every gutter,
Burnt every stick, and put the ashes through—
Yet Jo contrived to knock out bread and butter,

And something for a dead-broke mate—such men
As he have little love for filthy lucre;
His luxury was a whisky now and then,
And now and then a friendly game of euchre.

They tell me he is dead: ‘On top? That’s so,
Died at the handle, mate, which is accordin’
As he should die and if you’re good, you’ll know
Jo pannin’ prospects in the River Jordan.’

The great men framed the fierce decrees
Embroiling State with State;
They bit their thumbs across the seas
In diplomatic hate;
They lit the pyre whose glare and heat
Make Hell itself seem cold;
The flames bloomed red above the wheat,
Their wild profusion wreathed the street-
Then in the smoke and fiery sleet
The common men took hold.

Where Babel was with Bedlam freed,
And wide the gates were flung;
To chaos, while the anarch breed
In all the world gave tongue,
The common men in close array,
By mountain, plain and sea,
Went outward girded for the fray,
On one dear quest, whate'er they pay
In blood and pain—the open way
To keep for Liberty.

The common men who never tire,
Unsightly in the mirk
Of caking blood and smoke and mire,
Push forward with their work;
A while in foulest pits entombed,
Resistless, still and slow,
Burnt, broken, stifled, seeming doomed,
Past where the flowers of Satan bloomed,
Up gutted hills with shell-breath plumed,
The stubborn armies go.

Contending in the shattered sky
In empyrean wars,
The sons of simple men out-vie
God's splendid meteors;
Where'er the mills of Vulcan roared
And blinked against the night,
Swart shapes with sweat-washed eyes have
The clean, lean lightnings of the Lord
To be a league-long, leaping sword
In this our holy fight.

The small men know the burden well,
The dreadful paths they know,
With fear and death and torture dwell.
And sup and sleep with, woe.
They're riven in the shrapnel gust,
But; blind and reeling, plan
Another blow, a final thrust
To subjugate the tyrant's lust.
So, bleeding, blundering in the dust,
Men fight and die for MAN.

I took to khaki at a word,
And fashioned dreams of wonder.
I rode the great sea like a bird,
Chock full of blood and thunder.
I saw myself upon the field
Of battle, framed in glory,
Compelling stubborn foes to yield
As captives to my sword and shield—
This is another story.

We sat about in sun and sand,
We broke old Cairo's images,
Met here and there a swarthy band
In little, friendly scrimmages,
And here it is I start to kid
No Moslem born can hit me.
The Germ then that had long laid hid
Came out of Pharaoh's pyramid,
And covertly he bit me.

For some few days I wore an air
Of pensive introspection,
And then I curled down anywhere.
They whispered of infection,
And hoist me on two sticks as though
I bore the leper's label,
And took me where, all in a row
Of tiny beds, two score or so
Were raising second Babel;

But no man talked to any one.
And no bloke knew another.
This soldier raved about his gun,
And that one of his mother.
They were the victims of the Germ,
The imp that Satan pricks in,
First cousin to the Coffin Worm,
Whose uncomputed legions squirm
Some foul, atomic Styx in.

The Germ rides with the plunging shell,
Or on the belts that fret you,
Or in a speck of dust may well
One thousand years to get you;
Well ambushed in a tunic fold
He waits his special mission,
And never lad so big and bold
But turns to water in his hold
And dribbles to perdition.

Where is war's pomp and circumstance,
The gauds in which we prank it?
Germ ends for us our fine romance,
Wrapped in a dingy blanket.
We set out braggartly in mirth,
World's bravest men and tallest,
To do the mightiest thing on earth,
And here we're lying, nothing worth,
Succumbent to the smallest!

THERE ARE tracks through the scrub, there’s a track down the hill,
And a track round the bend from M‘Courteney’s mill,
Where they slyly emerge from the bush and converge,
You’ll discover the humpy—the theme of this dirge—
That is used for the sale of O’Sullivan’s ‘purge.’
And if curses and cries,
And a blasting of eyes,
And a series of blasphemies fearful arise,
And a lunatic din,
And a racket like sin,
You can bet all you own the O’Sullivan’s in.

It’s a bark and slab hut, with a bar and a bunk,
And a man propped before it disgustingly drunk,
And a nameless galoot in a hand-me-down suit,
Straddling out on the grass, grim as death, and as mute,
Trapping millions of rabbits that run from his boot.
When eleven lie round
In all shapes on the mound,
And two navvies are fighting like fiends on the ground,
’Tisn’t needful to say
It’s the sweet Sabbath day,
And that trade at the shanty’s uncommonly gay.

Mrs. O’. makes the drinks, and O’Sullivan’s dart
Is to drink all he can to keep others in heart.
Though he’s old in the hoof, and he reckons he’s proof
’Gainst infernalest liquors, in warp and in woof,
He’s quite frequently seen howling out on the roof.
For from fungus or fruits,
From old rags or from roots,
Grass, cabbages, pickles, old bedding or boots,
Or the leaves of the gum,
Or whatever may come,
Mrs. O’. can extract the most illigant’ rum.

They’ve no peace in the hut and no peace on the hill,
Mrs. O’. never sleeps and her hand’s never still;
And old constable Mack cannot hit on the track
As a man of the law. As a stranger in black
When he finds his way there he can’t find his way back.
There’s no signboard to see,
But those fools on the spree,
Or a man in his shirt shrieking prayers to a tree.
As for licenses—yar!
They don’t know what they are,
For they drink without license at Sullivan’s bar.

A New Girl Up At White’s

THERE’S a fresh track down the paddock
Through the lightwoods to the creek,
And I notice Billy Craddock
And Maloney do not speak,
And The Snag is slyly bitter
When he’s criticising Bill,
And there’s quite a foreign glitter
On the fellows at the mill.

Sid M‘Mahon’s turned out a dandy
With a masher coat and tie,
And the engine-driver, Sandy,
Curls his whiskers on the sly:
All the boys wear paper collars
And their tombstone shirts of nights,
So it’s ten to one in dollars
There’s a new girl up at White’s.

She’s a charmer from the river,
But she steeps the lads in gloom,
With her blue eyes all a-quiver
And her hair like wattle-bloom;
Though she’s pretty and beguiling,
And so lit up, like, with fun
That the flowers turn to her smiling,
Just as if she was the sun.

But I wish she’d leave the valley,
For the camp is dull to me,
Now the mill hands never rally
For the regulation spree,
And there’s not another joker
Gives a tinker’s curse for nap.,
Or will take a hand at poker
Or at euchre with a chap!

Tom won’t stir us with his fiddle
By the boilers as he did
While Bob stepped it in the middle,
And we passed the billy-lid.
Ah! we had some gay old nights there,
But the boys now don’t agree,
And they hang about at White’s there,
When they’ve togged up after tea.

With the gloves we have no battle;
Now they sneak away and moon
Round with White, discussing cattle
All the Sunday afternoon.
There’s a want of old uprightness,
Too, has come upon the push,
And a sort of cold politeness
That’s not called for in the bush.

They’re all off, too, in that quarter;
Kate goes sev’ral times a week
Seeing Andy Kelly’s daughter,
Jimmy’s sister, up the creek;
And this difference seems a pity,
Since their chances are so slim—
While they are running after Kitty,
She is running after Jim.

Peace, Blessed Peace

Here in the flamin' thick of thick of things,
With Death across the way, 'n' traps
What little Fritz the German flings
Explodin' in yer lunch pe'aps,
It ain't all glory for a bloke',
It ain't all corfee 'ot and stoo,
Nor wavin' banners in the smoke,
Or practisin' the bay'net stroke—
We has our little troubles, too!

Here's Trigger Ribb bin seein' red
'N' raisin' Cain because he had,
Back in the caverns iv his 'ead,
A 'oller tooth run ravin' mad.
Pore Trigger up 'n' down the trench
Was jiggin' like a blithered loan,
'N' every time she give a wrench
You orter seen the beggar blench,
You orter 'eard him play a toon.

The sullen shells was pawin' blind,
A-feelin' for us grim as sin,
While now 'n' then we'd likely find
A dizzy bomb come limpin' in.
But Trigger simply let 'er sizz.
He 'ardly begged to be excused.
This was no damn concern of his.
He twined a muffler round his phiz,
'N' fearful was the words he used.

Lest we be getting' cock-a-whoop
Ole 'Ans tries out his box of tricks.
His bullets all around the coop
Is peckin' like a million chicks.
But Trigger when they barks his snout
Don't sniff at it. He won't confess
They're on the earth—ignores the clout,
'N' makes the same old sung about
His brimmin' mug of bitterness.

They raided us there in the mud
One day afore the dead sun rose.
Me oath, the mess of stuff and blood
Would give a slaughterman the joes!
And when the scrap is past and done,
Where's Trigger Ribb? The noble youth
Has got his bay'net in a Hun,
While down his cheeks the salt tears run.
Sez he to me “Gorbli'—this tooth!”

A shell hoist Trigger in a tree.
We found him motherin' his jor.
“If this ache's goin' on,” sez he,
“So 'elp me, it'll spoil the war!”
Five collared Trigger on his perch,
They wired his molar to a bough,
Then give the anguished one a lurch,
'N' down he pitches. From that birch
His riddled tooth is hangin' now.

This afternoon it's merry 'ell;
Grenades is comin' by the peck;
A big gun times us true 'n well,
And, oh! we gets it in the neck.
They lick out flames hat reach a mile,
The drip of lead will never cease.
But Trigger's pottin' all the while;
He sports a fond 'n' foolish smile-
“Thank Gord,” he sez, “a bit of peace!”

To The Theoretical Selector

WOULD YOU be the King, the strong man, first in council and in toil,
To the men who war with nature for possession of the soil?
Take an axe upon your shoulder, take a billy and a rug,
And go forward in the forest where no man has cut and dug,
Where the scrub-ferns grow like magic, and the gum-trees you must fell
Have their topmost boughs in heaven, and their tap-roots deep as hell.

Take the land the Powers would cheerfully devote to Smith or Brown,
Two miles or more from water and a hundred miles from town;
Fell, and scrub, and hew, and hunger, and when seven weeks are gone
You may have a clearing large enough to build a hut upon.
Then you furnish it with saplings and you carpet it with loam,
And you bring the kids and missus to their charming country home!

Rising early with the jackass, like a man of pith and push,
With axe in hand you sally forth to face the stubborn bush.
’Tis a mighty undertaking, and the odds are hard enough,
But the settler must be stubborn, and the settler must be tough,
And he strikes from morn till even with his strong arm bare and brown,
And he counts his gain by inches when the big gum rattles down.

So you slave and strive and suffer, for it’s fearful work and slow
Ere the cabbages are solid and the spuds have room to grow.
By and bye to fruit and fowls and swine, as city swells advise,
You resort to make a fortune; but the venture proves unwise,
For the fruit-trees blight and wither, and the pigs die in their pens,
And the drought destroys the ducklings, and the dingoes eat the hens.

Years go on, and still the bush-wall rings your narrow clearing round,
But you’ve won a few good acres and a crop is on the ground,
And you harvest single-handed, and you rake the stubble clean,
For you lack the cash for wages and the marvellous machine;
Still you’re thankful for small mercies—though you’re often sorely pushed—
When the missus hasn’t sunstroke and the baby isn’t bushed.

Then, at last, when worn with work, and warped with years, and very grey,
When your mastering the mortgage and the railroad runs your way,
When your farm is looking home-like, and your sons are grown-up men,
You may talk to brown-faced farmers—you may try to teach them then.
And if any kid-gloved critic starts to give you points on grain,
And a little hot-house farming does to make your errors plain,
You will rise up with a waddy, and you’ll sympathise with Cain.

The Living Picture

HE RODE along one splendid noon,
When all the hills were lit with Spring,
And through the bushland throbbed a croon
Of every living, hopeful thing.

Between his teeth a rose he bore
As white as milk, and passing there
He tossed it with a laugh. I wore
It as it fell among my hair.

No day a-drip with golden rain,
No heat with drench of wattle scent
Can touch the heart of me again
But with that young, sweet wonder blent.

We wed upon a gusty day,
When baffled fury whipped the sea;
And now I love the swift, wet play
Of wind and rain besetting me.

I took white roses in my hand,
A white rose on my forehead shone,
For we had come to understand
White roses bloomed for us alone.

When scarce a year had gone he sped
To fight the wars. With eyes grown grim
He kissed my lips, and whispering said:
“The world we must keep sweet for him!”

He wrote of war, the soldier’s life.
“’Tis hard, my dearest, but be brave.
I did not make my love my wife
To be the mother of a slave!”

My babe was born a boy. He had
His father’s eyes, his smile, his hair,
And, oh, my soul was brimming glad—
It seemed his father’s self was there!

But now came one who bade me still
In holy Heaven put my trust.
They’d laid my love beneath the hill,
And sealed his eyes with timeless dust.

Against my breast the babe I drew,
With strength from him to stay my fears.
I fought my fight the long days through;
He laughed and dabbled in my tears.

From my poor heart, at which it fed
With tiger teeth, I thrust despair,
And faced a world with shadow spread
And only echoes in the air.

The winter waned. One eve I went,
Led by a kindly hand to see
In moving scenes the churches rent,
The tumbled hill, the blasted lee.

Of soldiers resting by the road,
Who smoked and drowsed, a muddy rout,
One sprang alert, and forward strode,
With eager eyes to seek us out.

His fingers held a rose. He threw
The flower, and waved his cap. In me
A frenzy of assurance grew,
For, O dear God, ’twas he! ’twas he!

I called aloud. Aloft my child
I held, and nearer yet he came;
And when he understood and smiled,
My baby lisped his father’s name.

They say I fell like something dead,
But when I woke to morning’s glow
My boy sat by me on the bed,
And in his hand a rose of snow!

A quaint old gabled cottage sleeps be-
tween the raving hills.
To right and left are livid strife, but on the
deep, wide sills
The purple pot-flowers swell and glow, and
o'er the walls and eaves
Prinked creeper steals caressing hands, the
poplar drips its leaves.
Within the garden hot and sweet
Fair form and woven color meet,
While down the clear, cool stones, 'tween
banks with branch and blossom gay,
A little, bridged, blind rivulet goes touching
out its way.

Peace lingers hidden from the knife, the tear-
ing blinding shell,
Where falls the spattered sunlight on a lichen-
covered well.
No voice is here, no fall of feet, no smoke lifts
cool and grey,
But on the granite stoop a cat blinks vaguely
at the day.
From hill to hill across the vale
Storms man's terrific iron gale;
The cot roof on a brooding dove recks not the
distant gun.
A brown hen scolds her chickens chasing
midges in the sun.

Now down the eastward slope they come.
No call of life, no beat of drum,
But stealthily, and in the green,
Low hid, with rifle and machine,
Spit hate and death; and red blood flows
To shame the whiteness of the rose.

Crack followes crash; the bestial roar
Of gastly and insensate war
Breaks on the cot. A rending stoke,
The red roof springs, and in the smoke
And spume of shells the riven walls
Pile where the splintered elm-tree spawls.

From westward, streaming down hill,
Shot-ravaged, thinned, but urgent still,
The brown, fierce, blooded Anzacs sweep,
And Hell leaps a up. The lilies weep
Strange crimson tears. Tight-lipped and mute,
The grim, gaunt soldiers stab and shoot.

It passes. Frantic, fleeing death,
Wild-eyed, foam-flecked and every breath
A labored agony, like deer
That feel the hounds' keen teeth, appear
The Prussian men, and, wild to slay
The hunters press upon their prey.

Cries fade and fitful shots die down. The
Tumbled ruin now
Smoke faintly in the summer light, and lifts
The trodden bough.
A sigh stirs in the trampled green, and held
And tainted red
The rill creeps o'er a dead man's face and
steals along its bed.
One deep among the lilacs thrown
Shock all the stillness with a moan.
Peace like the snowflake lights again where
utter silence lies,
And softly with white finger-tips she seals a
soldier eyes.

SKIRTING the swamp and the tangled scrub,
Tramping and turning amidst the trees,
Carrying nothing but blankets and grub,
Careless of pleasure and health and ease,
Hither and thither with never a goal,
Heavy, and solemn, and stiff, and slow,
Seeking a track and a long-lost line,
‘Blazed avay to dot lead of mine,’—
Restless and rickety German Joe.

Down in the gully and up the range,
Stung by the gale and the hate-hot sun,
Never a greeting to give in change,
Never a tip from the nearest run,—
Seeking a guide to a golden hole,
Lost in the lone land long ago,
Left in the keep of the hills and trees;
Jealous to have and to hold are these,
Hope you may get it, though, German Joe.

‘Likely old yarn for a horse marine!
Struck it, you say, at the river head—
Back where the bellowing bunyip’s seen,
Out beyond everywhere—rich and red;
Left it for tucker, and lost the track,
Blazed till your arm couldn’t strike a blow;
Gravel that gleams with the golden stuff,
Nuggets ‘shust like as der plums in duff,’—
What are you giving us, German Joe?’

‘Blaze? Yes; you strike for the Granite Stair,
Make to the left when you cross the creek,
South till you meet with a monkey bear,
Tramp in his tracks for about a week;
Then you can travel the sky-line back.
So long, old chap, if you’re bound to go.
Don’t you forget when you’re rich and great
Who laid you on to the lost lead, mate—
Mad as a hatter is German Joe.’

Laugh as they may, they will stand his friends.
Right as rain when the old man takes
Down to his bunk in the hut, and spends
Seven weeks fighting the fever and shakes,
Muttering still of his lucky lead:
‘Vhisper—I leds you all in der know,
Den you pe richer nor as der pank.’
Boys, he’s a man if he is a crank—
Whisky and physic for German Joe.

Now he’s abroad in a wild dream-land,
Baring his breast to the river breeze—
Out where the rock-ribbed ridges stand,
Telling his tale to the secret trees,
Swift as the shadows his visions glide
Over the plains where the mad winds blow.
Cover his face now, and carve a stone,
Henceforth his spirit must seek alone—
Dead as a door-nail is German Joe.

Bushmen have yarned of a ghost that went
Blazing a track from the Granite Stair
Down to a shaft and a tattered tent,
Many days’ journey from anywhere.
Others have said that the bushmen lied.
Liars or not, it is true, we know,
Men have discovered a golden mine
Out in the track of an old blazed line,
Led by the spirit of German Joe.

The Drovers In Reply

We are wondering why those fellows who are writing cheerful ditties
Of the rosy times out droving, and the dust and death of cities,
Do not leave the dreary office, ask a drover for a billet,
And enjoy ‘the views,’ ‘the campfires,’ and ‘the freedom’ while they fill it.

If it’s fun to travel cattle or to picnic with merinoes,
Well the drover doesn’t see it—few poetic raptures he knows.
As for sleeping on the plains beneath ‘the pale moon’ always seen there,
That is most appreciated by the man who’s never been there.

And the ‘balmy air,’ the horses, and the ‘wondrous constellations,’
The ’possum-rugs, and billies, and the tough and musty rations,
It’s strange they only please the swell in urban streets residing,
Where the trams are always handy if he has a taste for riding.

We have travelled far with cattle for the very best of reasons—
For a living—we’ve gone droving in all latitudes and seasons,
But have never had a mate content with pleasures of this kidney,
And who wouldn’t change his blisses for a flutter down in Sydney.

Night watches are delightful when the stars are really splendid
To the sentimental stranger, but his joy is quickly ended
When the rain comes down in sluice-heads, or the cutting hailstones pelter,
And the sheep drift with the blizzard, and the horses bolt for shelter.

Don’t imagine we are soured, but it’s peculiarly annoying
To be told by city writers of the pleasures we’re enjoying,
When perhaps we’ve nothing better than some fluky water handy,
Whilst the scribes in showy bar-rooms take iced seltzer with their brandy.

The dust in town is nothing to the dust the drover curses,
And the dust a drover swallows, and the awful thirst he nurses
When he’s on the hard macadam, where the wethers cannot browse, and
The sirocco drives right at him, and he follows twenty thousand.

This droving on the plain is really charming when the weather
Isn’t hot enough to curl the soles right off your upper leather,
Or so cold that when the morning wind comes hissing through the grasses
You can feel it cut your eyelids like a whip-lash as it passes.

There are bull-ants in the blankets, wicked horses, cramps, and ‘skeeters,’
And a drinking boss like Halligan, or one like Humpy Peters,
Who is mean about the rations, and a flowing stream of curses
From the break of day to camping, through good fortune and reverses.

Yes, we wonder why the fellows who are building chipper ditties
Of the rosy times out droving and the dust and death of cities,
Do not quit the stuffy office, ask old Peters for a billet,
And enjoy the stars, the camp-fires, and the freedom while they fill it.

The Fact Of The Matter

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Whey our trooper hit wide water every
heart was yearin' back
To the little 'ouse at Coogee or a hut at Bar-
She was 'ookin' up to spike the stars, or rootin'
in the wave,
An' me liver turned a hand spring with each
buck the beggar gave.
Then we pulls a sick 'n' silly smile 'n' tips a
saucy lid,
Crackin' hardy. Willie didn't. Willie
snivelled like a kid.

At Gallip' the steamer dumped us, 'n' we got
right down to work,
Whoopin' up the hill splendacious, playin'
tiggie with the Turk.
When the stinkin' Abdul hit us we curled
down upon a stone,
'N' we yelled for greater glory, crackin' 'ardy
on our own.
Not so Willie. He was cursin', cold ez death
'n' grey ez steel,
'N' the smallest thing that busted made the
little blighter squeal.

In the bitter day's that follered, spillin' life be-
side the sea,
We would fake a spry expression for the things
that had to be,
Always dressin' up the winder, crackin' 'ardy
though we felt
Fearful creepy in the whiskers, very cold be-
neath the belt.
But his jills would sniff 'n' shiver in the mother
of a fright,
'N' go blubberin' 'n' quakin' out to waller in
the fight.

In the West we liked the weather, 'n' we fat-
tened in the mud,
Crackin' 'ardy, stewed together, rats an'
slurry men 'n' blood.
Weepin' Willie wouldn't have it these was
pleasin' things abed,
'N' he shuddered in his shimmy if they passed
him with the dead.
When he cried about his mother, in a gentle
voice he'd tell
Them as dumb-well didn't like it they could go
to sudden 'ell.

There was nothin' sweet for Willie in a rough-
up in the wet;
But if all things scared him purple, not a thing
had stopped him yet.
If some chaps was wanted urgent special dirty
work to do
Willie went in with a shudder, but he alwiz
saw it through.
Oh, a busy little body was our Willie in a
Then he'd cry out in the night about the faces
in the slush.

Well they pinked him one fine mornin' with
a thumpin' 'unk iv shell;
Put it in 'n' all across him. What he was
you couldn't tell.
I saw him stitched 'n' mended where he
whimpered in his bed,
'N' he'd on'y lived because he was afraid to
die, he said.
Sez he “Struth, they're out there fightin',
trimmin' Boshes good 'n' smart,
While I'm bedded here 'n' 'elpless. It fair
breaks a feller's 'eart.”

But he came again last Tuesday '-n' we go it
in a breath—
“London's big 'n' black 'n' noisy. It would
scare a bloke to death.”
He's away now in the trenches, white 'n'
nervous, but, you bet,
Playin' lovely 'ands of poker with his busy
'Fraid of givin' 'n' of takin', 'fraid of gases,
'fraid of guns—
But a champion lightweight terror to the gor-
forsaken 'Uns!

As bullets come to us they're thin,
They're angular, or smooth and fat,
Some spiral are, and gimlet in,
And some are sharp, and others flat.
The slim one pink you clean and neat,
The flat ones bat a solid blow
Much as a camel throws his feet,
And leave you beastly incomplete.
If lucky you don't know it through.

The flitting bullets flow and flock;
They twitter as they pass;
They're picking at the solid rock,
They're rooting in the grass.
A tiny ballet swiftly throws
Its gossamer of rust,
Brown fairies on their little toes
A-dancing in the dust.

You cower down when first they come
With snaky whispers at your ear;
And when like swarming bees they hum
You know the tinkling chill of fear.
A whining thing will pluck your heel,
A whirring insect sting your shin;
You shrink to half your size, and feel
The ripples o'er your body seal-
'Tis terror walking in your skin!

The bullets pelt like winter hail,
The whistle and they sigh,
They shrill like cordage in a gale,
Like mewing kittens cry;
They hiss and spit, they purring come;
Or, silent all a span,
They rap, as on a slackened drum,
The dab that kills a man.

Rage takes you next. All hot your face
The bitter void, and curses leap
From pincered teeth. The wide, still space
Whence all these leaden devil's sweep
Is Tophet. Fiends by day and night
Are groping for your heart to sate
In blood their diabolic spite.
You shoot in idiot delight,
Each winging slug a hymn of hate.

The futile bullets scratch and go,
They chortle and the coo.
I laugh my scorn, for now I know
The thing they cannot do.
They flit like midges in the sun,
But howso thick they be
What matter, since there is not one
That God has marked for me!

An Eastern old philosophy
Come home at length and passion stills-
The thing will be that is to be,
And all must come as Heaven wills.
Where in the swelter and the flame
The new, hot, shining bullets drip;
One in the many has an aim,
Inwove a visage and a name-
No man may give his fate the slip!

The bullets thrill along the breeze,
They drum upon the bags,
They tweak your ear, your hair they tease,
And peck your sleeve to rags.
Their voices may no more annoy-
I chortle at the call:
The bullet that is mine, my boy,
I shall not hear at all!

The war's a flutter very like
The tickets that we took from Tatt.
Quite possibly I'll make a strike;
The odds are all opposed to that.
Behind the dawn the Furies sway
The mighty globe from which to get
Those bullets which throughout the day
Will winners be to break or slay.
I have not struck a starter yet

The busy bullets rise and flock;
They whistle as they pass;
They're chipping at the solid rock,
They're skipping in the grass.
Out there the tiny dancers throw
Their sober skirts of rust,
Brown flitting figures tipping toe
Along the golden dust.

I saw the Christ down from His cross,
A tragic man lean-limbed and tall,
But weighed with suffering and loss.
His back was to a broken wall,
And out upon the tameless world
Was fixed His gaze His piercing eye
Beheld the towns to ruin hurled,
And saw the storm of death pass by.

Two thousand years it was since first
He offered to the race of men
His sovran boon, As one accurst
They nailed Him to the jibbet then,
And while they mocked Him for their mirth
He smiled, and from the hill of pain
To all the hating tribes of earth
Held forth His wondrous gift again.

To-day the thorns were on His brow,
His grief was deeper than before.
From ravaged field and city now
Arose the screams and reek of war.
The black smoke parted. Through the rift
God's sun fell on the b1oody lands.
Christ wept, for still His priceless gift
He held within His wounded hands.

The Living Picture
He rode along one splendid noon,
When all the hills were lit with Spring,
And through the bushland throbbed a croon
Of every living, hopeful thing.

Between his teeth a rose he bore
As white as milk, and passing there
He tossed it with a laugh. I wore
It as it fell among my hair.

No day a-drip with golden rain,
No heat with drench of wattle scent
Can touch the heart of me again
But with that young, sweet wonder blent.

We wed upon a gusty day,
When baffled fury whipped the sea;
And now I love the swift, wet play
Of wind and rain besetting me.

I took white roses in my hand,
A white rose on my forehead shone,
For we had come to understand
White roses bloomed for us alone.

When scarce a year had gone he sped
To fight the wars. With eyes grown grim
He kissed my lips, and whispering said:
“The world we must keep sweet for him!”

He wrote of war, the soldier's life.
“'Tis hard, my dearest, but be brave.
I did not make my love my wife
To be the mother of a slave!”

My babe was born a boy. He had
His father's eyes, his smile, his hair,
And, oh, my soul was brimming glad—
It seemed his father's self was there!

But now came one who bade me still
In holy Heaven put my trust.
They'd laid my love beneath the hill,
And sealed his eyes with timeless dust.

Against my breast the babe I drew,
With strength from him to stay my fears.
I fought my fight the long days through;
He laughed and dabbled in my tears.

From my poor heart, at which it fed
With tiger teeth, I thrust despair,
And faced a world with shadow spread
And only echoes in the air.

The winter waned. One eve I went,
Led by a kindly hand to see
In moving scenes the churches rent,
The tumbled hill, the blasted lee.

Of soldiers resting by the road,
Who smoked and drowsed, a muddy rout,
One sprang alert, and forward strode,
With eager eyes to seek us out.

His fingers held a rose. He threw
The flower, and waved his cap. In me
A frenzy of assurance grew,
For, O dear God, 'twas he! 'twas he!

I called aloud. Aloft my child
I held, and nearer yet he came;
And when he understood and smiled,
My baby lisped his father's name.

They say I fell like something dead,
But when I woke to morning's glow
My boy sat by me on the bed,
And in his hand a rose of snow!

In days before the trouble Jo was rated as
a slob.
He chose to sit in hourly expectation of a job.
He'd loop hisself upon a post, for seldom
friends had he,
A gift of patient waitin' his distinctif quality.
He'd linger in a doorway, or he'd loiter on the
Edgin' modestly aside to let the fleetin'
moments pass.

Jo' begged a bob from mother, but more often
got a clout,
And settled down with cigarettes to smoke the
devil out.
The one consistent member of the Never
Trouble Club,
He put a satin finish on the frontage of the
His shoulder-blades were pokin' out from
polishin' the pine;
But if a job ran at him Joey's footwork was

Jo strayed in at the cobbler's door, but, scoffed
at as a fool,
He found the conversation too exhaustin' as
a rule;
Or, canted on the smithy coke, he'd hoist his
feet and yawn,
His boots slid up his shinbones, and his pants
displayin' brawn:
And if the copper chanced along 'twas beauty-
ful to see
Joe wear away and made hisself a fadest

Then came the universal nark. The Kaiser
let her rip.
They cleared the ring. The scrap was for the
whole world's championship.
Jo Brown was takin' notice, lurkin' shy be-
neath his hat,
And every day he crept to see the drillin' on
the flat.
He waited, watchin' from the furze the blokes
in butcher's blue,
For the burst of inspiration that would tell him
what to do.

He couldn't lean, he couldn't lie. He yelled
out in the night.
Jo understood—he'd all these years been
spoilin' for a fight!
Right into things he flung himself. He
took his kit and gun,
Mooched gladly in the dust, or roasted gaily
in the sun.
“Gorstruth,” he said, with shining eyes, “it
means a frightful war,
'N' now I know this is the thing that Heaven
meant me for.”

Jo went away a corporal and fought again the
And like a duck to water Joey cottoned to the
If anythin' was doin' it would presently come
That Joseph Brown from Booragool was there
or thereabout.
He got a batch of medals, and a glorious
Attached all of a sudden to the name of
Sergeant Brown.

Then people talked of Joey as the dearest
friend they had;
They were chummy with his uncles, or ac-
quainted with his dad.
Joe goes to France, and presently he figure as
the best
Two-handed all-in fighter in the armies of the
And men of every age at home and high and
low degree,
We gather now, once went to school with
Sergeant Brown, V.C.

Then Hayes and Jo, in Flanders met, and very
proud was Hayes
To shake a townsman by the hand, and sing
the hero's praise,
“Oh, yes,” says Jo, “I'm doin' well, 'n' yet
I might do more.
If I was in a hurry, mate, to finish up this war
I'd lay out every Fritz on earth, but, strike me,
what a yob
A man would be to work himself out of a
flamnin' job!”

Now Jo's a swell lieutenant, and he's keepin'
up the pace.
Ha “Record” says Lieutenant Brown's an
honor to the place.
The town gets special mention every time he
scores. We bet
If peace don't mess his chances up, he'll be
Field-Marshal yet.
Dad, mother and the uncles Brown and all our
people know
That Providence began this war to find a grip
for Jo!

Since Nellie Came To Live Along The Creek

MY HUT is built of stringy-bark, the window’s calico,
The furniture a gin-case, one bush-table, and a bunk;
Thick as wheat on my selection does the towering timber grow,
And the stately blue-gums’ taproots to the bedrock all are sunk;
Then the ferns spring up like nettles,
And the ti-tree comes and settles
On my clearing if I spell-oh for a week;
But I work for love of labour
Since I’ve got a handy neighbour,
And Miss Nellie’s come to live along the creek.

Time was when Death sat by me, and he stalked me through the trees;
Then my arm was weak as water, and my heart a weary thing;
I was sullen as a wombat on such still, wan days as these,
And my wedges all were rusty, and my axe had lost its ring.
Then a fear like sickness bound me,
And I cursed the trees around me,
For quite hopeless seemed the struggle I’d begun
And at night-time, cowed and sinking,
I would sit there thinking, thinking,
Gazing grimly down the barrels of my gun.

Then I felt the bush must crush me with its dreadful, brooding wings,
And its voices seemed to mock me, till I thought that I was mad
Like the mopoke, and the jackass, and the other loony things;
For beside my old dog, Brumbie, not a living mate I had.
Then each sapling was a giant,
And the stumps were all defiant,
And my friends were very few and far to seek;
But the bush is bright and splendid,
And my melancholy’s ended,
Since Miss Nellie came to live along the creek

I would swear she was the sweetest if the world was full of girls:
She’s as graceful as a sapling, and her waist is neat and slim;
She is dimpled o’er with smiling, and has glossy, golden curls,
And her eyes peep out like violets ’neath her sunhat’s jealous rim.
If I think I see her flitting
On the sun-crowned hill, or sitting
’Neath the fern-fronds where the creek sleeps, deep and cool,
Then my stroke is straight and steady,
And the white chips run and eddy,
And I laugh aloud at nothing, like a fool.

Now my axe rings like a sabre, and my heart exults with pride
When the green gums sweep the scrub down, and they thunder and rebound,
And then lie with limbs all shattered, reaching out on either side,
Like giants killed in battle, with their faces to the ground.
Now the bush has many pleasures,
And a wondrous store of treasures,
And a thousand tales its eerie voices speak;
But its strange night hushes, seeming
Sent to lure to mystic dreaming,
Have no terrors, now Miss Nellie’s on the creek.

I am happy when the thunder bumps and bellows on the hill,
And the tall trees writhe and wrestle with the fury of the gale,
Or when sunshine floods the clearing, and the bushland is so still
That I hear the creek’s low waters tinkle, tinkle on the shale.
In the thought that she is near me
There’s a charm to lift and cheer me,
And a power that makes me mighty seems to flow
From Miss Nellie’s distant coo-ey,
Or her twin lips red and dewy
When she comes by here, and shyly calls me ‘Joe.’

She can work from dawn to nightfall, and look handsome all the day;
At her smile my garden flourished, and the vines grew green and strong,
And the bush falls back before it, and it strikes the scrub away,
For it lingers ever with me, and it stirs me like a song.
Now I labour in all weathers,
And the logs are merest feathers,
Nor my heart nor yet my hand is ever weak,
And a higher thing my prize is
Than all else that life comprises—
Pretty Nell, who’s come to live along the creek.

Bashful Gleeson

FROM HER HOME beyond the river in the parting of the hills,
Where the wattles fleecy blossom surged and scattered in the breeze,
And the tender creepers twined about the chimneys and the sills,
And the garden flamed with colour like an Eden through the trees,

She would come along the gully, where the ferns grew golden fair,
In the stillness of the morning, like the spirit of the place,
With the sunshafts caught and woven in the meshes of her hair,
And the pink and white of heathbloom sweetly blended in her face.

She was fair, and small, and slender-limbed, and buoyant as a bird,
Fresh as wild, white, dew-dipped violets where the bluegum’s shadow goes,
And no music like her laughter in the joyous bush was heard,
And the glory of her smile was as a sunbeam in a rose.

Ben felt mighty at the windlass when she watched him hauling stuff,
And she asked him many questions, ‘What was that?’ and ‘Why was this?’
Though his bashfulness was painful, and he answered like a muff,
With his foolish ‘My word Missie!’ and his ‘Beg your pardon, Miss.’

He stood six foot in his bluchers, stout of heart and strong of limb;
For her sake he would have tackled any man or any brute;
Of her half a score of suitors none could hold a light to him,
And he owned the richest hole along the Bullock Lead to boot.

Yet while Charley Mack and Hogan, and the Teddywaddy Skite
Put in many pleasant evenings at ‘The Bower,’ Ben declined,
And remained a mere outsider, and would spend one half the night
Waiting, hid among the trees, to watch her shadow on the blind.

He was laughed at on the river, and as far as Kiley’s Still
They would tell of Bashful Gleeson, who was ‘gone on’ Kitty Dwyer,
But, beyond defeating Hogan in a pleasant Sunday mill,
Gleeson’s courtship went no further till the morning of the fire.

We were called up in the darkness, heard a few excited words;
In the garden down the flat a Chow was thumping on a gong;
There were shouts and cooeys on the hills, and cries of startled birds,
But we saw the gum leaves redden, and that told us what was wrong.

O’er ‘The Bower’ the red cloud lifted as we sprinted for the punt.
Gleeson took the river for it in the scanty clothes he wore.
Dwyer was madly calling Kitty when we joined the men in front;
Whilst they questioned, hoped, and wondered, Ben was smashing at the door.

He went in amongst the smoke, and found her room; but some have said
That he dared not pass the threshold—that he lingered in distress,
Game to face the fire, but not to pluck sweet Kitty from her bed—
And he knocked and asked her timidly to ‘please get up and dress.’

Once again he called, and waited till a keen flame licked his face;
Then a Spartan-like devotion welled within the simple man,
And he shut his eyes and ventured to invade the sacred place,
Found the downy couch of Kitty, clutched an armful up, and ran.

True or not, we watched and waited, and our hearts grew cold and sick
Ere he came; we barely caught him as the flame leapt in his hair.
He had saved the sheets, a bolster, and the blankets, and the tick;
But we looked in vain for Kitty—pretty Kitty wasn’t there!

And no wonder: whilst we drenched him as he lay upon the ground,
And her mother wailed entreaties that it wrung our hearts to hear,
Hill came panting with the tidings that Miss Kitty had been found,
Clad in white, and quite unconscious, ’mid the saplings at the rear.

We’re not certain how it happened, but I’ve heard the women say
That ’twas Kitty’s work. She saw him when the doctor left, they vow,
Swathed in bandages and helpless, and she kissed him where he lay.
Anyhow, they’re three years married, and he isn’t bashful now.

The Prospectors

WHEN the white sun scorches the fair, green land in the rage of his fierce desires,
Or looms blood red on the Western hills, through the smoke of their waning fires;
When the winds at war strew the mountain side with limbs of the mangled trees,
Or the flood tides wheel in the valleys low, or sweep to the distant seas,
We are leading back, and the faintest track that we leave in the desert wild
Or we blaze for fear through the forest drear will be tramped by the settler’s child.

We have turned our backs on the City’s joys, on the glare of its myriad lights,
On the measured peace of its bloodless days, and the strife of its shining nights;
We have fled the pubs in the dull bush towns and the furthermost shanty bars,
And have camped away at the edge of space, or aloft by the brooding stars.
We have stirred the world as our dishes swirled and we drummed on the matted gold,
And from East and West we beguile their best with a wonderful tale oft-told.

We go pushing on when the mirage glints o’er the rim of the voiceless plain,
And we leave our bones to be finger posts for the seekers who come again.
At the jealous heart of the secret bush, we have battered with clamour loud
And have made a way for the squatter bold, or a path for the busy crowd.
We have gone before through the shadowy door of the Never, the Great Unknown,
And have journeyed back with a golden pack, or as dust in the wild winds blown.

In the chilling breath of the ice-bound range, we have laboured and lost and won;
On the blazing hills we have striven long in the face of the angry sun.
We have fallen spitted with niggers’ spears in the graves ourselves have dug,
And have bitten grass, with a cloven skull, and the turf in our arms to hug.
From our rifled dead have the natives fled, blood-drunk, to their camping place,
Whilst the crows enthroned on a limb intoned to the devil a measured grace.

We have butchered too when the camp ran wild, with a mad, malignant hate,
For the lust of gold, or the hope we had, or the love of a murdered mate.
We have shocked the night with our ribald songs in the sullen, savage lands,
And have died the death that the lone man dies in the grip of the reeling sands,
Or have lived to die in a city sty, with the help of a charity prayer,
Or to do the swell at a grand hotel on our thousands of pounds a year.

We are moving still, and not love, nor fear, nor a wife’s nor mother’s grief,
Can distract the longing that drives us forth on the track of the hidden reef.
Some will face the heathen in lands afar by rivers and looming peaks,
Some will stay to ravage their own home bills, or to dig by the sluggish creeks,
Some go pushing West on the old, old quest, and wherever their tents abide
Will the world flow in and its swift tide spin till it scatter them far and wide.

Is it greed alone that impels our ranks? Is it only the lust of gold
Drives them past where the sentinel ranges stand where the plains to the sky unfold;
Is there nothing more in this dull unrest that remains in the hearts of man,
’Till the swag is rolled, or the pack-horse strapped, or the ship sails out again?
Is it this alone, or in blood and bone does the venturous spirit glow
That was noble pride when the world was wide and the tracks were all Westward Ho?

We are common men, with the faults of most, and a few that ourselves have grown,
With the good traits too of the common herd, and some more that are all our own;
We have drunk like beasts, and have fought like brutes, and have stolen, and lied, and slain,
And have paid the score in the way of men—in remorse and fear and pain.
We have done great deeds in our direst needs in the horrors of burning drought,
And at mateship’s call have been true through all to the death with the Furthest Out.

As the soft breeze stirs all the tender green of the bush that is newly born,
And the wattles blaze on the flats and gladden the hills with the glow of morn.
We are trenching high in the stony slopes, or turning the creeks below,
Or the gorge re-echoes the thud of picks and the songs that the miners know.
When the lode strips clean with a yellow sheen our fortunes are fairly won;
When the dish pans bare, up with tents and ware, and hurrah! for the outward run.

Peter Simson's Farm

Simson settled in the timber when his arm was strong and true,
And his form was straight and limber; and he wrought the long day through
In a struggle, single-handed, and the trees fell slowly back,
Twenty thousand giants banded ’gainst a solitary jack.

Through the fiercest days of summer you might hear his keen axe ring
And re-echo in the ranges, hear his twanging crosscut sing;
There the great gums swayed and whispered, and the birds were skyward blown,
As the circling hills saluted o’er a bush king overthrown.

Clearing, grubbing, in the gloaming, strong in faith the man descried
Heifers sleek and horses roaming in his paddocks green and wide,
Heard a myriad corn-blades rustle in the breeze’s soft caress,
And in every thew and muscle felt a joyous mightiness.

So he felled the stubborn forest, hacked and hewed with tireless might,
And a conqueror’s peace went with him to his fern-strewn bunk at night:
Forth he strode next morn, delighting in the duty to be done,
Whistling shrilly to the magpies trilling carols to the sun.

Back the clustered scrub was driven, and the sun fell on the lands,
And the mighty stumps were riven ’tween his bare, brown, corded hands.
One time flooded, sometimes parching, still he did the work of ten,
And his dog-leg fence went marching up the hills and down again.

By the stony creek, whose tiny streams slid o’er the sunken boles
To their secret, silent meetings in the shaded waterholes,
Soon a garden flourished bravely, gemmed with flowers, and cool and green,
While about the hut a busy little wife was always seen.

Came a day at length when, gazing down the paddock from his door,
Simson saw his horses grazing where the bush was long before,
And he heard the joyous prattle of his children on the rocks,
And the lowing of the cattle, and the crowing of the cocks.

There was butter for the market, there was fruit upon the trees,
There were eggs, potatoes, bacon, and a tidy lot of cheese;
Still the struggle was not ended with the timber and the scrub,
For the mortgage is the toughest stump the settler has to grub.

But the boys grew big and bolder—one, a sturdy, brown-faced lad,
With his axe upon his shoulder, loved to go to work ‘like dad’,
And another in the saddle took a bush-bred native’s pride,
And he boasted he could straddle any nag his dad could ride.

Though the work went on and prospered there was still hard work to do;
There were floods, and droughts, and bush-fires, and a touch of pleuro too;
But they laboured, and the future held no prospect to alarm—
All the settlers said: ‘They’re stickers up at Peter Simson’s farm.’

One fine evening Pete was resting in the hush of coming night,
When his boys came in from nesting with a clamorous delight;
Each displayed a tiny rabbit, and the farmer eyed them o’er,—
Then he stamped—it was his habit—and he smote his knee and swore.

Two years later Simson’s paddock showed dust-coloured, almost bare,
And too lean for hope of profit were the cows that pastured there;
And the man looked ten years older. Like the tracks about the place,
Made by half a million rabbits, were the lines on Simson’s face.

As he fought the bush when younger, Simson stripped and fought again,
Fought the devastating hunger of the plague with might and main,
Neither moping nor despairing, hoping still that times would mend,
Stubborn-browed and sternly facing all the trouble Fate could send.

One poor chicken to the acre Simson’s land will carry now.
Starved, the locusts have departed; rust is thick upon the plough;
It is vain to think of cattle, or to try to raise a crop,
For the farmer has gone under, and the rabbits are on top.

So the strong, true man who wrested from the bush a homestead fair
By the rabbits has been bested; yet he does not know despair—
Though begirt with desolation, though in trouble and in debt,
Though his foes pass numeration, Peter Simson’s fighting yet!

He is old too soon and failing, but he’s game to start anew,
And he tells his hopeless neighbours ‘what the Gov’mint’s goin’ to do’.
Both his girls are in the city, seeking places with the rest,
And his boys are tracking fortune in the melancholy West.

Marshal Neigh, V.C.

He came from tumbled country past the
humps of Buffalo
Where the snow sits on the mountain 'n' the
Summer aches below.
He'd a silly name like Archie. Squattin'
sullen on the ship,
He knew nex' to holy nothin' through the gor-
forsaken trip.

No thoughts he had of women, no refreshin'
talk of beer;
If he'd battled, loved, or suffered vital facts
did not appear;
But the parsons and the poets couldn't teach
him to discourse
When it come to pokin' guyver at a pore,
deluded horse.

If nags got sour 'n' kicked agin the rules of
things at sea,
Artie argued matters with 'em, 'n' he'd kid
'em up a tree.
“Here's a pony got hystericks. Pipe the word
for Privit Rowe,”
The Sargint yapped, 'n' all the ship came
cluckin' to the show.

He'd chat him confidential, 'n' he'd pet 'n'
paw the moke;
He'd tickle him, 'n' flatter him, 'n' try him
with a joke;
'N' presently that neddy sobers up, 'n' sez
“Ive course,
Since you puts it that way, cobber, I will be
a better horse.”

There was one pertickler whaler, known
aboard ez Marshal Neigh,
Whose monkey tricks with Privit Rowe was
better than a play.
He'd done stunts in someone's circus, 'n' he
loved a merry bout,
Whirlin' in to bust his boiler, or to kick
the bottom out.

Rowe he sez: “Well, there's an idjit! Oh,
yes, let her whiz, you beauty!
Where's yer 'orse sense, little feller? Where's
yer bloomin' sense iv duty?
Well, you orter serve yer country!” Then
there'd come a painful hush,
'N' that nag would drop his head-piece, 'n', so
'elp me cat, he'd blush.

We was heaped ashore be Suez, rifle, horse,
'n' man, 'n' tent,
Where the land is sand, the water, 'n' the
gory firmament.
We had intervals iv longin', we had sweaty
spells of work
In the ash-pit iv Gehenner, dumbly waitin'
fer the Turk.

We goes driftin' on the desert, nothin' doin',
nothin' said,
Till we get to think we're nowhere, 'n' arf
fancy we are dead,
'N' the only 'uman interest on the red hori-
zon's brim
Is Marshal Neigh's queer faney fer the lad
that straddles him.

Plain-livin's nearly, bored us stiff. The Major
calls on Rowe
To devise an entertainment. What his
charger doesn't know
Isn't in the regulations. Him 'n' Rowe is
brothers met,
'N' that horse's sense iv humor is the oddest
fancy yet.

But the Turk arrives one mornin' on the outer
edge iv space.
From back iv things his guns is floppin' kegs
about the place,
'N' Privit Artie Rowe along with others iv
the force
Goes pig-rootin' inter battle, holdin' converse
with his horse.

Little Abdul's quite a fighter, 'n' he mixes it
with skill;
But the Anzacs have him snouted,, 'n', oh,
ma, he's feelin' ill.
They wake the all-fired desert, 'n' the land for
ever dead
Is alive 'n' fairly creepin', and the skies are
droppin' lead.

When they've got the Ot'man goin', little
gaudy hunts begin.
It fer us to chiv His Trousers. 'n' to round
the stragglers in.
Cuttin' closest to the raw, 'n' swearin' lovin'
all the way,
Is Artie from Molinga on his neddy, Marshal

We're pursuin' sundry camels turkey-trottin'
With the carriage iv an emu 'n' the action iv
a cow,
When a sand dune busts, 'n' belches arf a
million iv the foe.
They uncork a blanky batt'ry, 'n' it's, Allah,
let her go!

We're not stayin' dinner, thank you. Lie
along yer horse 'n' yell,
While the bullets pip yer britches 'n' you
sniff the flue of Hell.
Here it is that Artie takes it good 'n' solid in
the crust,
He dives from out the saddle, 'n' is swallered
in the dust.

I got through 'n' saw them pointin' where the
Marshal faced the band.
He was goin' where we came from, sniffin'
bodies in the sand.
Till he found Rowe snugglin' under, took him
where his pants was slack,
'N' be all the Asiatic gods, he brought his
soldier back!

With a bullet in his buttock, 'n' a drill hole
in his ear,
He dumped Artie down among us. Square
'n' all, how did we cheer!
There's no medals struck fer neddies, but we
rule there orter be,
'N' the pride iv all the Light Horse is old
Marshal Neigh, V.C.

The Old Whim Horse

He's an old grey horse, with his head bowed sadly,
   And with dim old eyes and a queer roll aft,
With the off-fore sprung and the hind screwed badly,
   And he bears all over the brands of graft;
And he lifts his head from the grass to wonder
   Why by night and day the whim is still,
Why the silence is, and the stampers' thunder
   Sounds forth no more from the shattered mill.

In that whim he worked when the night winds bellowed
   On the riven summit of Giant's Hand,
And by day when prodigal Spring had yellowed
   All the wide, long sweep of enchanted land;
And he knew his shift, and the whistle's warning,
   And he knew the calls of the boys below;
Through the years, unbidden, at night or morning,
   He had taken his stand by the old whim bow.

But the whim stands still, and the wheeling swallow
   In the silent shaft hangs her home of clay,
And the lizards flirt and the swift snakes follow
   O'er the grass-grown brace in the summer day;
And the corn springs high in the cracks and corners
   Of the forge, and down where the timber lies;
And the crows are perched like a band of mourners
   On the broken hut on the Hermit's Rise.

All the hands have gone, for the rich reef paid out,
   And the company waits till the calls come in;
But the old grey horse, like the claim, is played out,
   And no market's near for his bones and skin.
So they let him live, and they left him grazing
   By the creek, and oft in the evening dim
I have seen him stand on the rises, gazing
   At the ruined brace and the rotting whim.

The floods rush high in the gully under,
   And the lightnings lash at the shrinking trees,
Or the cattle down from the ranges blunder
   As the fires drive by on the summer breeze.
Still the feeble horse at the right hour wanders
   To the lonely ring, though the whistle's dumb,
And with hanging head by the bow he ponders
   Where the whim boy's gone -- why the shifts don't come.

But there comes a night when he sees lights glowing
   In the roofless huts and the ravaged mill,
When he hears again all the stampers going --
   Though the huts are dark and the stampers still:
When he sees the steam to the black roof clinging
   As its shadows roll on the silver sands,
And he knows the voice of his driver singing,
   And the knocker's clang where the braceman stands.

See the old horse take, like a creature dreaming,
   On the ring once more his accustomed place;
But the moonbeams full on the ruins streaming
   Show the scattered timbers and grass-grown brace.
Yet HE hears the sled in the smithy falling,
   And the empty truck as it rattles back,
And the boy who stands by the anvil, calling;
   And he turns and backs, and he "takes up slack".

While the old drum creaks, and the shadows shiver
   As the wind sweeps by, and the hut doors close,
And the bats dip down in the shaft or quiver
   In the ghostly light, round the grey horse goes;
And he feels the strain on his untouched shoulder,
   Hears again the voice that was dear to him,
Sees the form he knew -- and his heart grows bolder
   As he works his shift by the broken whim.

He hears in the sluices the water rushing
   As the buckets drain and the doors fall back;
When the early dawn in the east is blushing,
   He is limping still round the old, old track.
Now he pricks his ears, with a neigh replying
   To a call unspoken, with eyes aglow,
And he sways and sinks in the circle, dying;
   From the ring no more will the grey horse go.

In a gully green, where a dam lies gleaming,
   And the bush creeps back on a worked-out claim,
And the sleepy crows in the sun sit dreaming
   On the timbers grey and a charred hut frame,
Where the legs slant down, and the hare is squatting
   In the high rank grass by the dried-up course,
Nigh a shattered drum and a king-post rotting
   Are the bleaching bones of the old grey horse.

The Deserted Homestead

PAST a dull, grey plain where a world-old grief seems to brood o’er the silent land,
When the orbéd moon turns her tense, white face on the ominous waste of sand,
And the wind that steals by the dreamer feels like the touch of a phantom hand,

Through the tall, still trees and the tangled scrub that has sprung on the old bush track,
In a clearing wide, where a willow broods and the cowering bush shrinks backs,
Stands a house alone that no dwellers own, yet unharmed by the storm’s attack.

’Tis a strange, sad place. On the shingle roof mosses gather and corn-blades spring,
And a stillness reigns in the air unstirred by the beat of a wild bird’s wing.
He who sees believes that the old house grieves with the grief of a sentient thing.

From the charmed gums that about the land in a reverent circle throng
Comes no parrot’s call, nor the wild cat’s cry, nor the magpie’s mellow song,
And their shadows chill with an icy thrill and the sense of an awful wrong.

And the creek winds by ’neath the twisted briar and the curling creepers here;
In the dusky depths of its bed it slips on it’s slime-green rocks in fear,
And it murmurs low to its stealthy flow in a monotone quaint and drear.

On a furrowed paddock that fronts the house grow the saplings straight and tall,
And noxious weeds in the garden ground on the desolate pathways crawl;
But the briar twists back with the supple-jack ’tween the rocks of the rubble wall.

On the rotting wall of the gloomy rooms bats gather with elfin wings,
And a snake is coiled by the shattered door where a giant lizard clings,
For this house of care is the fitting lair of a myriad voiceless things.

Once I camped alone on the clearing’s edge through the lapse of a livelong night,
When the wan moon flooded the house and land in a lake of her ghostly light,
And the silence dread of a world long dead filled my credulous soul with fright.

For no wind breathed by, but a nameless awe was abroad in the open there,
And the camp-fire burned with a pale, thin flame in the chill, translucent air,
And my dog lay prone, like a chiselled stone, with his opaline eyes a-stare.

In the trancéd air was an omen felt and the sway of a subtle spell,
And I waited long for I know not what, but the pale night augured well—
At a doleful hour, when the dead have power, lo! A hideous thing befell.

From the shadows flung by the far bush wall came a treacherous, phantom crew,
Like the smoke rack blown o’er the plain at morn when the bracken is wet with dew.
Not a sound they made, and their forms no shade on the moonlit surface threw.

And the night was changed to the quiet eve of a beautiful summer’s day,
And the old house warmed as with life and light, and was set in a garden gay,
And a babe that crawled by the doorway called to a kitten that leapt in play.

But the black fiends circled the peaceful home, and I fathomed their evil quest;
From the ground up-springing they hurled their spears, and danced with a demon zest,
And a girl lay dead ’neath the roses red with a wound in her fair, white breast.

Through the looped wall spat a rifle’s flame, and the devilish pack gave tongue,
For a lean form writhed in a torment dire, on the crimsoned stubble flung.
Many echoes spoke, and the sluggish smoke on the shingles rolled and clung.

Yet again and oft did the flame spring forth, and each shaft from the dwelling shore
Through a savage heart, but the band unawed at the walls of the homestead tore,
And a man and wife fought for love and life with the horde by the broken door.

Then ghostly and grey, from the dusky bush came a company riding fast.
Seven horses strode on the buoyant air, and I trembled and gazed aghast,
Such a deadly hate on the forehead sate of each rider racing past.

With a cry they leapt on the dusky crew, and swept them aside like corn
In the lusty stroke of the mower’s scythe, and distracted and overborne
Many demons fled, leaving many dead, by the hoofs of the horses torn.

Not in vain—not all—though a father lay with the light on his cold, grey face,
And a mother bled, with a murdered maid held close in a last embrace,
For the babe laughed back at a visage black death drawn to a foul grimace.

Came a soft wind swaying the pendent leaves, like the sigh of awakening day,
And the darkness fell on my tired eyes, for the phantoms had passed away;
And the breezes bore from a distant shore faint echoes of ocean’s play.

Past a dull, grey plain, through the tall, still trees, where the lingering days inspire
An unspoken woe in the heart of man, and the nights hold visions dire,
Stands a house alone that no dwellers own, yet unmarred by the storm or fire.

Waiting For Water

’TWAS old Flynn, the identity, told us
That the creek always ran pretty high,
But that fossicking veteran sold us,
And he lied as his quality lie.
Through a tangle of ranges and ridges,
Down a track that is blazed with our hide,
Over creeks minus crossings and bridges,
High and low, mere impertinent midges
Trying falls with the mighty Divide,

We came, hauling the boxes and stampers,
Or just nipping them in with a winch;
Now and then in unfortunate scampers
Missing smash by the eighth of an inch;
Round the spurs very daintily crawling,
With one team pulling out in a row,
And another lot heavenward hauling,
Lest the whole bag-of-tricks should go sprawling
Into regions unheard of below,

We came through with the shanks and the shafting,
And the frames, and the wonderful wheel;
Then we put in a month of hard grafting
Ere we nailed down the last scrap of deal.
She beat true, and with scarce a vibration,
And we voted her queen of the mills,
And a push from the wide desolation
Drifted in to our jollification
When her drumming was heard in the hills.

Now the discs by the cam-shaft are rusting,
And the stamps in the boxes are still,
And a silence that’s deep and disgusting
Seems to hang like a pall on the mill.
Just a fortnight she ran—then she rested,
And we’ve little to do but complain;
For a bird in the feed-pipe has nested,
And we’ve spent every stiver invested,
And are praying for tucker and rain.

Billy’s Creek—theme of eloquent fables—
Drips like sweat on the breast of the wheel,
And the blankets are dry on the tables,
And the sluice-box is warped like an eel;
Sudden dust-clouds run lunatic races
In the red, rocky bed down below,
And the porcupine scrambles in places
Where Flinn swears by the faith he embraces,
Fourteen inches of water should flow.

For a time we were proof against sorrow,
And we harboured a cheerful belief
In the plenteous rains of to-morrow
As we belted away at the reef.
We piled quartz in the paddocks and hopper,
And the pack-horse came in once a week:
Now our credit is not worth a copper
At the township, and highly improper
Is the language the storekeepers speak.

We no longer talk brightly, or snivel
Of our luck, but we loaf very hard,
Too disgusted to care to be civil,
And too lazy to look at a card.
Only George finds some slight consolation
Crushing prospects—a couple a day—
And then proving by multiplication
How much metal is in the formation,
And the ‘divvies’ she’ll probably pay.

But our leisure is qualified slightly
By the cattle from over the Fly—
Who have taken to pegging out nightly
In our limited water supply.
And the snakes have assisted in keeping
Things alive, for the man, you’ll agree,
Will be spry who may find he’s been sleeping
With a tiger—or chance on one creeping
In the water he wanted for tea.

Though our sweltering sky never changes,
Squatter Clark, up at Crowfoot, complains
That prospectors out over the ranges
Have been chased out of camp by the rains.
Veal, the Methodist preacher at Spence’s,
Who the Cousin Jacks say is ‘some tuss’
As a rain-making parson commences
To enlarge on our sins and offences,
And to blame all his failures on us.

We don’t go to his church down the mountain:
Seven miles is a wearisome trot,
With the glass playing up like a fountain,
And the prayers correspondingly hot.
So on Sunday each suffering sinner
Has a simple, convivial spree,—
A roast porcupine, maybe, for dinner;
For we daily grow thinner and thinner
On the week’s bread and treacle and tea.

We’ve been scared, too, of late by Golightly,
Him who kept up his chin best of all,
And predicted with confidence nightly
Heavy rains that neglected to fall,
And enlarged on the sure indications
(While we listened, and wearily groaned)
Of tremendous climatic sensations,
Fearful tempests, and great inundations,
That, it happened, were always postponed.

He’s gone daft through our many reverses,
Or the sun has got on to his brain,
For he cowers all day, and he curses
To a fretful and wearing refrain;
And at midnight he dolefully screeches
In the gloom of the desolate mill;
Or he goes in his shirt, making speeches
To the man in the moon, whom he reaches
From the summit of Poverty Hill.

So we’re waiting, and watching, and longing
With an impotent, bitter desire,
And new troubles and old ones come thronging,
Drought, and fever, and famine, and fire;
And we know—our misfortunes reviewing—
All the pangs that in Hades betide,
Where the damned sit eternally stewing,
And, through days never ending, are suing
For the water that’s ever denied.