And now a son has come again
To keep the peace or strike the blow,
And have a long, great, glorious reign,
Through calm or tempest, weal or woe.
And strange things set me wondering –
As man and youth, we knew him here,
The one the only British King,
To see his Southern Hemisphere.

‘Midst pealing bells and cannons’ din
The countless thousands cheer and strive
To catch one glance of their new King
And queenly Mary, his fair bride;
‘Til on their knees, within the Fane,
The Royal couple meekly kneel,
The Great God’s clemency to claim,
And pray Him for their people’s weal.

And so I see, in vision clear,
The long reign of this noble line,
How on and on, from year to year
The star of peace shall brighter shine,
How men and nations, without fear
Shall hope and labour, strive and sing:
“The day of liberty is here!
The King is Dead! Long Live the King”

The Author's Farewell To The Bushmen

Some carry their swags in the Great North-West,
Where the bravest battle and die,
And a few have gone to their last long rest,
And a few have said: Good-bye!
The coast grows dim, and it may be long
Ere the Gums again I see;
So I put my soul in a farewell song
To the chaps who barracked for me.
Their days are hard at the best of times,
And their dreams are dreams of care—
God bless them all for their big soft hearts,
And the brave, brave grins they wear!
God keep me straight as a man can go,
And true as a man may be!
For the sake of the hearts that were always so,
Of the men who had faith in me!

And a ship-side word I would say, you chaps
Of the blood of the Don’t-give-in!
The world will call it a boast, perhaps—
But I’ll win, if a man can win!
And not for gold nor the world’s applause—
Though ways to the end they be—
I’ll win, if a man might win, because
Of the men who believed in me.

As It Was In The Beginning

As it was in the beginning, so we’ll find it in the end,
For a lover, or a brother, or a sweetheart, or a friend;
As it was in the beginning, so we’ll find it by-and-bye,
When weak women hug their babies, and strong men go out to die.
As ’tis written now, or spoken, so we’ll find it yet in deed—
For their State, or for their Country, for their Honour or their Creed;
For the love of Right, or hatred for the Everlasting Lie,
When the women think of some things, and strong men go out to die.

As it used to be in past times, in the future so it must,
We shall find him stretching forward with his face down in the dust,
All his wounds in front, and hidden—blood to earth, and back to sky,
When pale women pray in private, and strong men go out to die.

Rebels all we are, and brothers—rebels to the laws we make—
Rich or poor, or fat or lean man, fighting for another’s sake;
It is all as God decreed it—we shall find it by-and-bye,
When our girls, disguised in boys’ clothes, go to die where strong men die.

The Triumph Of The People

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.

Now, I think there is a likeness 'twixt St Peter's life and mine
For he did a lot of trampin' long ago in Palestine
He was 'union' when the workers first began to organize
And I'm glad that old St Peter keeps the gate of Paradise

When the ancient agitator and his brothers carried swags
I've no doubt he very often tramped with empty tucker-bags
And I'm glad he's Heaven's picket, for I hate explainin' things
And he'll think a union ticket just as good as Whitely King's

When I reach the great head-station -which is somewhere 'off the track'
I won't want to talk with angels who have never been out back
They might bother me with offers of a banjo meanin' well
And a pair of wings to fly with, when I only want a spell

I'll just ask for old St Peter, and I think, when he appears
I will only have to tell him that I carried swag for years
'I've been on the track,' I'll tell him, 'an' I done the best I could'
And he'll understand me better than the other angels would

He won't try to get a chorus out of lungs that's worn to rags
Or to graft the wings on shoulders that is stiff with humpin' swags
But I'll rest about the station where the work-bell never rings
Till they blow the final trumpet and the Great Judge sees to things.

The Wreck Of The `derry Castle'

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

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

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

. . . . .

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

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

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

When The `army' Prays For Watty

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Dons Of Spain

The Eagle screams at the beck of trade, so Spain, as the world goes round,
Must wrestle the right to live or die from the sons of the land she found;
For, as in the days when the buccaneer was abroad on the Spanish Main,
The national honour is one thing dear to the hearts of the Dons of Spain.

She has slaughtered thousands with fire and sword, as the Christian world might know;
We murder millions, but, thank the Lord! we only starve 'em slow.
The times have changed since the days of old, but the same old facts remain –
We fight for Freedom, and God, and Gold, and the Spaniards fight for Spain.

We fought with the strength of the moral right, and they, as their ships went down,
They only fought with the grit to fight and their armour to help 'em drown.
It mattered little what chance or hope, for ever their path was plain,
The Church was the Church, and the Pope the Pope – but the Spaniards fought for Spain.

If Providence struck for the honest thief at times in the battle's din –
If ever it struck at the hypocrite – well, that's where the Turks came in;
But this remains ere we leave the wise to argue it through in vain –
There's something great in the wrong that dies as the Spaniards die for Spain.

The foes of Spain may be kin to us who are English heart and soul,
And proud of our national righteousness and proud of the lands we stole;
But we yet might pause while those brave men die and the death-drink pledge again –
For the sake of the past, if you're doomed, say I, may your death be a grand one, Spain!

Then here's to the bravest of Freedom's foes who ever with death have stood –
For the sake of the courage to die on steel as their fathers died on wood;
And here's a cheer for the flag unfurled in a hopeless cause again,
For the sake of the days when the Christian world was saved by the Dons of Spain.

I gaze upon my son once more,
With eyes and heart that tire,
As solemnly he stands before
The screen drawn round the fire;
With hands behind clasped hand in hand,
Now loosely and now fast—
Just as his fathers used to stand
For generations past.
A fair and slight and childish form,
And big brown thoughtful eyes—
God help him! for a life of storm
And stress before him lies:
A wanderer and a gipsy wild,
I’ve learnt the world and know,
For I was such another child—
Ah, many years ago!

But in those dreamy eyes of him
There is no hint of doubt—
I wish that you could tell me, Jim,
The things you dream about.
Dream on, my son, that all is true
And things not what they seem—
’Twill be a bitter day for you
When wakened from your dream.

You are a child of field and flood,
But with the gipsy strains
A strong Norwegian sailor’s blood
Is running through your veins.
Be true, and slander never stings,
Be straight, and all may frown—
You’ll have the strength to grapple things
That dragged your father down.

These lines I write with bitter tears
And failing heart and hand,
But you will read in after years,
And you will understand:
You’ll hear the slander of the crowd,
They’ll whisper tales of shame,
But days will come when you’ll be proud
To bear your father’s name.

But oh! beware of bitterness
When you are wronged, my lad—
I wish I had the faith in men
And women that I had!
’Tis better far (for I have felt
The sadness in my song)
To trust all men and still be wronged
Than to trust none and wrong.

Be generous and still do good
And banish while you live
The spectre of ingratitude
That haunts the ones who give.
But if the crisis comes at length
That your future might be marred,
Strike hard, my son, with all your strength!
For your own self’s sake, strike hard!

SO, I’ve battled it through on my own, Jack,
I have done with all dreaming and doubt.
Though “stoney” to-night and alone, Jack,
I am watching the Old Year out.
I have finished with brooding and fears,
Jack, And the spirit is rising in me,
For the sake of the old New Years, Jack,
And the bright New Years to be.

I have fallen in worldly disgrace, Jack,
And I know very well that you heard;
They have blackened my name in this place, Jack,
And I answered them never a word.
But why should I bluster or grieve,
Jack? So narrow and paltry they be—
I knew you would never believe, Jack,
The lies that were said against me.

That is done which shall never be undone,
And I blame not, I blame not my land,
But I’m hearing the Calling of London,
And I long for the roar of the Strand.
It was always the same with our race,
Jack; You know how a vagabond feels—
We can fight a straight man face to face, Jack.
But we can’t keep the curs from our heels.

You know I loved women and drink, Jack,
And that’s how the trouble began;
But you know that I never would shrink,
Jack, From a deed that was worthy a man!
I never was paltry or mean, Jack.
And cruel I never could be,
I will give you a hand which is clean,
Jack, When we meet again over the sea.

I will bring a few wrinkles of care,
Jack; I have altered a lot, I am told;
The steel-filings show in my hair, Jack;
But my heart is as young as of old.
I have faith still in women, and men, Jack,
Though selfish and blind they may be.
I still have my soul and my pen, Jack,
And my country seems dearer to me.

I will sail when your summer sets in, Jack,
And good-bye to my own native land;
Oh, I long for a glimpse of your grin, Jack,
And I long for the grip of your hand.
We both suffered sorrow and pain, Jack,
And sinned in the days that are done;
But we’ll fight the old battle again, Jack,
Where the battle is worth being won.

They have eaten their fill at your tables spread,
Like friends since the land was won;
And they rise with a cry of "Australia's dead!"
With the wheeze of "Australia's done!"
Oh, the theme is stale, but they tell the tale
(How the weak old tale will keep!)
Like the crows that croak on a splintered rail,
That have gorged on a rotten sheep.

I would sing a song in your darkest hour
In your darkest hour and mine –
For I see the dawn of your wealth and power,
And I see your bright star shine.
The little men yelp and the little men lie,
And they spread the lies afar;
But we heed them never, my Land and I,
For we know how small they are.

They know you not in a paltry town –
In the streets where great hopes die –
Oh, heart that never a flood could drown,
And never a drought could dry!
Stand forth from the rim where the red sun dips,
Strong son of the land's own son –
With the grin of grit on your drought-chapped lips
And say, is your country done?

Stand forth from the land where the sunset dies,
By the desolate lonely shed,
With the smile of faith in your blighted eyes,
And say, is your country dead?
They see no future, they know no past –
The parasite cur and clown,
Who talk of ruin and death to last
When a man or a land is down.

God sends for answer the rain, the rain,
And away on the western lease,
The limitless plain grows green again,
And the fattening stock increase.
We'll lock your rivers, my land, my land,
Dig lakes on the furthest run –
While down in the corners where houses stand,
They drivel, "Australia's done!"

The parasites dine at your tables spread
(As my enemies did at mine),
And they croak and gurgle, "Australia's dead"
While they guzzle Australian wine.
But we heed them never, my land, my land,
For we know how small they are,
And we see the signs of a future grand,
As we gaze on a rising star.

Keeping His First Wife Now

IT’S OH! for a rivet in marriage bonds,
And a splice in the knot untied—
The sanctity of the marriage tie
Is growing more sanctified!
They’re getting mixed up in society,
There’s an awful family row,
For Reginald Jones of “The Fernery”
Is “keeping” his first wife now!

Oh! she belonged to the smart, smart set
(Where reasons are far to seek)—
And the wedding and “crush” are remembered yet
As the “smart” things of the week.
Never an atom of love had she,
But they had a child somehow—
And Reginald Jones of “The Fernery”
Has the love of his first wife now.

Mad for “notice” and “talk” was she—
A butterfly blind as a bat—
She would flaunt for a season a divorcee,
Or divorce him, failing that.
He played his part and she held his heart
As light as her marriage vow—
But Reginald Jones of “The Fernery”
Has a hold on his first wife now.

She swore in Court what the world knew false,
With never a thought of shame—
She was free to flaunt to her heart’s content,
But she found it mighty tame:
The talk of the “town” for a week or two—
The gush, the smirk and the bow—
But Reginald Jones of “The Fernery”
Is the God of his first wife now!

Her soul grew sick of the smart, smart set,
Or her conscience drove her wild—
Or she craved for “notice” and “talk” once more—
Or perhaps because of the child;
But they met at last and they met again—
No matter the where or how—
And Reginald Jones of “The Fernery”
Is in love with his first wife now.

’Tis a “terrible life” for the second young wife,
But she married him too for “place”;
And she mustn’t forget that a smarting set
Belongs to the human race.
They say it’s fixed up in camera,
And, if that is the case, I’ll vow,
That Reginald Jones of “The Fernery”
Will marry his first wife now.

And there is a song of the English world
And a song for the English race:
The second husband and second wife
Must ever take second place.
So cherish the best that you find in the first,
And a margin of width allow:
The future looks after itself too well!
Look after the first ones now.

The Unknown God

The President to Kingdoms,
As in the Days of Old;
The King to the Republic,
As it had been foretold.
They could not read the spelling,
They would not hear the call;
They would not brook the telling
Of Writing on the Wall.
I buy my Peace with Slaughter,
With Peace I fashion War;
I drown the land with water,
With land I build the shore.
I walk with Son and Daughter
Where Ocean rolled before.
I build a town where sea was
A tower where tempests roar.

From bays in distant islands,
And rocks in lonely seas,
With unseen Death in silence
I smite mine enemies!
The great Cathedral crashes
Where once a city stood;
I build again on ashes
And breed on clotted blood!

I link the seas together,
And at my sign and will
The train runs on the ocean bed,
The great ship climbs the hill!
For pastime I flood deserts
With water from the rill;
And in my tireless leisure hours
I empty lakes, and fill.

I plumb the seas beneath us
And fathom skies above,
Yet I make Peace for hatred
And I make War for love.
I race beneath the ranges
And sit where Mystery dwells—
Yet mankind sees no changes,
They ask for “miracles!”

I own the world and span its
Lone lands from Pole to Pole;
I live in other planets,
Yet do not know my soul—
The soul that none may fathom,
Whose secrets none may tell,
The soul that none may humble,
The Soul Unconquerable!

I am the God of Ages!
I am the Unknown God!
My life is written pages
Wherever man hath trod.
From bounds of Polar regions,
To where the Desert reigns,
I’ve left my myriad legions
On countless vanished plains.

And I shall reign for ever
On earth while oceans roll,
In shape of man, or woman,
Through my immortal soul;
Yet I can love and suffer,
Be angry, or be mild,
And I can bow me down and weep
Just like a mortal child.

I conquer Death and Living,
And Fiends in shape of men,
For I rejoice in giving
Not to receive again.
For I am Man!—and Mortal!
And Mammon’s Towers must fall,
Though Greed draws all his pencils through
The Writing on the Wall!

When The Duke Of Clarence Died

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.

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!—where 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.

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

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

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

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

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

A Slight Misunderstanding At The Jasper Gate

Oh, do you hear the argument, far up above the skies?
The voice of old Saint Peter, in expostulation rise?
Growing shrill, and ever shriller, at the thing that’s being done;
More in sorrow than in anger, like our old Jack Robertson.
Old Saint Peter’s had his troubles—heaps of troubles, great and small,
Since he kept the gates of Heaven—but this last one covers all!
It is not a crowing rooster—that’s a sight and sound he’s useter,
Simulated by some impish spirit that he knows full well;
It is simply Drake, of Devon, who is breaking out of Heaven,
With a crew of pirate brethren, to come down once more to Hell!
Oh, do you hear the distant sound, that seems to come and go,
As thunder does in summer time, when faraway and low?
Or the “croon” beneath the church bells, when they’re pealing from the tower—
And the church bells are the battle-call in this dark, anxious hour.
Do you feel the distant throbbing; Do you feel it go and come;
Like a war hymn on horizons, or a centuries-mellowed drum!
Hear it sobbing, hear it throbbing, like some not unhappy sobbing—
By the peaceful Devon landscape and the fair Devonian home!
By the land those spirits meet in—and it’s Drake’s Drum, spirit-beaten,
By perhaps the Rose of Torridge—and it’s calling Drake to come?

Oh, do you feel a cooling hand upon your fevered brow?
That dulls your ears to Hell’s Own Din—or that worse Silence, now?
In the starlight in the Channel, while Destruction lurks below,
Or that Nether-Hell, the Stoke-hole, where you cannot see or know?
Do you feel a soothing presence, keeping sanity in one
Going mad, in Satan’s Nightmare, where the gun-crew works the gun?
It is Raleigh!—Admiral-Poet, who had dreams though few may know it—
Who had dreams of England’s greatness, otherwise than by the sea.
Sorrowful but all-forgiving, bringing courage to the living—
Raleigh’s Spirit, not from London, but his Vanished Colony.

Oh, do you feel a stony calm that you had never known?
With comrades in the firing-line, or “Sentry Go” alone.
When it’s Hellfire all around you, and it’s freezing slush below,
Or you pace in rain and darkness, with Old Death, and “Sentry Go”—
Feel a cold determination that makes all but Now a blank;
That’s half foreign to your nature, and half foreign to your rank?
It is Wellington, where French is, who has broken Heaven’s trenches,
With his purple-blooded captains (who used purple language then)
Come to strengthen with his spirit all the coolness you inherit—
He who took the scum of Europe, and who trained them to be Men.

The Southerly Buster

There's a wind that blows out of the South in the drought,
And we pray for the touch of his breath
When siroccos come forth from the North-West and North,
Or in dead calms of fever and death.
With eyes glad and dim we should sing him a hymn,
For depression and death are his foes,
And he gives us new life for the bread-winning strife—
When the glorious Old Southerly blows.
Old Southerly Buster! your forces you muster
Where seldom a wind bloweth twice,
And your ‘white-caps’ have hint of the snow caps, and glint of
The far-away barriers of ice.
No wind the wide sea on can sing such a poean
Or do the great work that you do;
Our own wind and only, from seas wild and lonely—
Old Southerly Buster!—To you!

Oh, the city is baked, and its thirst is unslaked,
Though it swallows iced drinks by the score,
And the blurred sky is low and the air seems aglow
As if breezes would cool it no more.
We are watching all hands where the Post Office stands—
We are watching out hopefully too—
For a red light shall glower from the Post Office tower
When the Southerly Buster is due.

The yachts run away at the end of the day
From the breakers commencing to comb,
For a few he may swamp in the health-giving romp
With the friendly Old Southerly home.
But he never drowns one, for the drowning is done
By the fools, or the reckless in sport;
And the alleys and slums shall be cooled when he comes
With the weary wind-jammers to port.

Oh softly he plays through the city’s hot ways
To the beds where they’re calling ‘Come quick!’
He is gentle and mild round the feverish child,
And he cools the hot brow of the sick.
Clearing drought-hazy skies, up the North Coast he hies
Till the mouths of our rivers are fair—
And along the sea, too, he has good work to do,
For he takes the old timber-tubs there.

’Tis a glorious mission, Old Sydney’s Physician!
Broom, Bucket, and Cloth of the East,
’Tis a breeze and a sprayer that answers our prayer,
And it’s free to the greatest and least.
The red-lamp’s a warning to drought and its scorning—
A sign to the city at large—
Hence! Headache and Worry! Despondency hurry!
Old Southerly Buster’s in charge

Old Southerly Buster! your forces you muster
Where seldom a wind bloweth twice,
And your ‘white-caps’ have hint of the snow caps, and glint of
The far-away barriers of ice.
No wind the wide sea on can sing such a poean
Or do the great work that you do;
Our own wind and only, from seas wild and lonely—
Old Southerly Buster!—To you!

The Old Bark School

It was built of bark and poles, and the floor was full of holes
Where each leak in rainy weather made a pool;
And the walls were mostly cracks lined with calico and sacks –
There was little need for windows in the school.

Then we rode to school and back by the rugged gully-track,
On the old grey horse that carried three or four;
And he looked so very wise that he lit the master's eyes
Every time he put his head in at the door.

He had run with Cobb and Co. – "that grey leader, let him go!"
There were men "as knowed the brand upon his hide",
And "as knowed it on the course". Funeral service: "Good old horse!"
When we burnt him in the gully where he died.

And the master thought the same. 'Twas from Ireland that he came,
Where the tanks are full all summer, and the feed is simply grand;
And the joker then in vogue said his lessons wid a brogue –
'Twas unconscious imitation, let the reader understand.

And we learnt the world in scraps from some ancient dingy maps
Long discarded by the public-schools in town;
And as nearly every book dated back to Captain Cook
Our geography was somewhat upside-down.

It was "in the book" and so – well, at that we'd let it go,
For we never would believe that print could lie;
And we all learnt pretty soon that when we came out at noon
"The sun is in the south part of the sky."

And Ireland! that was known from the coast-line to Athlone:
We got little information re the land that gave us birth;
Save that Captain Cook was killed (and was very likely grilled)
And "the natives of New Holland are the lowest race on earth".

And a woodcut, in its place, of the same degraded race
Seemed a lot more like a camel than the blackfellows that we knew;
Jimmy Bullock, with the rest, scratched his head and gave it best;
But his faith was sadly shaken by a bobtailed kangaroo.

But the old bark school is gone, and the spot it stood upon
Is a cattle-camp in winter where the curlew's cry is heard;
There's a brick school on the flat, but a schoolmate teaches that,
For, about the time they built it, our old master was "transferred".

But the bark school comes again with exchanges 'cross the plain –
With the Out-Back Advertiser; and my fancy roams at large
When I read of passing stock, of a western mob or flock,
With "James Bullock", "Grey", or "Henry Dale" in charge.

And I think how Jimmy went from the old bark school content,
With his "eddication" finished, with his pack-horse after him;
And perhaps if I were back I would take the self-same track,
For I wish my learning ended when the Master "finished" Jim.

The Jolly Dead March

If I ever be worthy or famous—
Which I’m sadly beginning to doubt—
When the angel whose place ’tis to name us
Shall say to my spirit, ‘Pass out!’
I wish for no sniv’lling about me
(My work was the work of the land),
But I hope that my country will shout me
The price of a decent brass band.
Thump! thump! of the drum and ‘Ta-ra-rit,’
Thump! thump! and the music—it’s grand,
If only in dreams, or in spirit,
To ride or march after the band!
And myself and my mourners go straying,
And strolling and drifting along
With a band in the front of us playing
The tune of an old battle song!

I ask for no ‘turn-out’ to bear me;
I ask not for railings or slabs,
And spare me! my country—oh, spare me!
The hearse and the long string of cabs!
I ask not the baton or ‘starts’ of
The bore with the musical ear,
But the music that’s blown from the hearts of
The men who work hard and drink beer.

And let ’em strike up ‘Annie Laurie,’
And let them burst out with ‘Lang Syne’—
Twin voices of sadness and glory,
That have ever been likings of mine.
And give the French war-hymn deep-throated
The Watch of the Germans between,
And let the last mile be devoted
To ‘Britannia’ and ‘Wearing the Green.’

And if, in the end—more’s the pity—
There is fame more than money to spare—
There’s a van-man I know in the city
Who’ll convey me, right side up with care.
True sons of Australia, and noble,
Have gone from the long dusty way,
While the sole mourner fought down his trouble
With his pipe on the shaft of the dray.
But let them strike up ‘Annie Laurie,’ &c.

And my spirit will join the procession—
Will pause, if it may, on the brink—
Nor feel the least shade of depression
When the mourners drop out for a drink;
It may be a hot day in December,
Or a cold day in June it may be,
And the drink will but help them remember
The good points the world missed in me.
And help ’em to love ‘Annie Laurie,’
And help ’em to raise ‘Auld Lang Syne,’ &c.

‘Unhook the West Port’ for an orphan,
An old digger chorus revive—
If you don’t hear a whoop from the coffin,
I am not being buried alive.
But I’ll go with a spirit less bitter
Than mine own on the earth may have been,
And, perhaps, to save trouble, Saint Peter
Will pass me, two comrades between.

And let them strike up ‘Annie Laurie,’
And let ’em burst out with ‘Lang Syne,’
Twin voices of sadness and glory
That have ever been likings of mine.
Let them swell the French war-hymn deep-throated
(And I’ll not buck at ‘God Save the Queen’),
But let the last mile be devoted
To ‘Britannia’ and ‘Wearing the Green.’

Thump! thump! of the drums we inherit—
War-drums of my dreams! Oh it’s grand,
If only in fancy or spirit,
To ride or march after a band!
And we, the World-Battlers, go straying
And loving and laughing along—
With Hope in the lead of us playing
The tune of a life-battle song!

You ask me to be gay and glad
While lurid clouds of danger loom,
And vain and bad and gambling mad,
Australia races to her doom.
You bid me sing the light and fair,
The dance, the glance on pleasure's wings –
While you have wives who will not bear,
And beer to drown the fear of things.

A war with reason you would wage
To be amused for your short span,
Until your children's heritage
Is claimed for China by Japan.
The football match, the cricket score,
The "scraps", the tote, the mad'ning Cup –
You drunken fools that evermore
"To-morrow morning" sober up!

I see again with haggard eyes,
The thirsty land, the wasted flood;
Unpeopled plains beyond the skies,
And precious streams that run to mud;
The ruined health, the wasted wealth,
In our mad cities by the seas,
The black race suicide by stealth,
The starved and murdered industries!

You bid me make a farce of day,
And make a mockery of death;
While not five thousand miles away
The yellow millions pant for breath!
But heed me now, nor ask me this –
Lest you too late should wake to find
That hopeless patriotism is
The strongest passion in mankind!

You'd think the seer sees, perhaps,
While staring on from days like these,
Politeness in the conquering Japs,
Or mercy in the banned Chinese!
I mind the days when parents stood,
And spake no word, while children ran
From Christian lanes and deemed it good
To stone a helpless Chinaman.

I see the stricken city fall,
The fathers murdered at their doors,
The sack, the massacre of all
Save healthy slaves and paramours –
The wounded hero at the stake,
The pure girl to the leper's kiss –
God, give us faith, for Christ's own sake
To kill our womankind ere this.

I see the Bushman from Out Back,
From mountain range and rolling downs,
And carts race on each rough bush track
With food and rifles from the towns;
I see my Bushmen fight and die
Amongst the torn blood-spattered trees,
And hear all night the wounded cry
For men! More men and batteries!

I see the brown and yellow rule
The southern lands and southern waves,
White children in the heathen school,
And black and white together slaves;
I see the colour-line so drawn
(I see it plain and speak I must),
That our brown masters of the dawn
Might, aye, have fair girls for their lusts!

With land and life and race at stake –
No matter which race wronged, or how –
Let all and one Australia make
A superhuman effort now.
Clear out the blasting parasites,
The paid-for-one-thing manifold,
And curb the goggled "social-lights"
That "scorch" to nowhere with our gold.

Store guns and ammunition first,
Build forts and warlike factories,
Sink bores and tanks where drought is worst,
Give over time to industries.
The outpost of the white man's race,
Where next his flag shall be unfurled,
Make clean the place! Make strong the place!
Call white men in from all the world!

The Old, Old Story And The New Order

They proved we could not think nor see,
They proved we could not write,
They proved we drank the day away
And raved through half the night.
They proved our stars were never up,
They’ve proved our stars are set,
They’ve proved we ne’er saw sorrow’s cup,
And they’re not happy yet.
They proved that in the Southern Land
We all led vicious lives;
They’ve proved we starved our children, and—
They’ve proved we beat our wives.
They’ve proved we never worked, and we
Were never out of debt;
They’ve proved us bad as we can be
And they’re not happy yet.

The Daily Press, with paltry power—
For reasons understood—
Have aye sought to belittle our
Unhappy brotherhood.
Because we fought in days like these,
Where rule the upper tens—
Because we’d not write journalese,
Nor prostitute our pens.

They gave our rivals space to sneer—
Their mediocrities;
The drunkard’s mind is pure and clear
Compared with minds like these.
They sought to damn with pitying praise
Or the coward’s unsigned sneer,
For honour in the “critics’” ways
Had never virtue here.

They’ve proved our names shall not be known
A few short years ahead;
They hied them back through years of moan,
And damned our happy dead.
A newer tribe of scribes we’ve got,
Exclusive and alone,
To prove our work was childish rot,
And none of it our own.

The cultured cads of First Gem cells,
Of Mansion, Lawn and Club,
Not fit to clean the busted boots
Of “Poets of the Pub.”
They prove the partners of the part,
The wholeness of the whole,
The gizzardness of gizzards, and
The Soulness of the Soul.

They’ve proved that all is nought—but there
Are things they cannot do—
The summer skies are just as fair
And just as brightly blue.
They’ve buried us with muddied shrouds,
When our strong hearts they’ve broke.
They can’t bring down yon fleecy clouds
And make them factory smoke.

They’ve proved the simple bard a fool,
But still, for all their pains,
The children prattling home from school
Go tripping down the lanes.
They’ve proved that Love is lust or hate,
True marriage is no more,
But Jim and Mary at the gate
Are happy as of yore.

These insects seeking to unloose
The Bards of Sympathy!
Who strike with the sledge hammer force
Of their simplicity.
(They cannot turn the world about,
Nor damp the father’s joy,
When some old doctor bustles out,
And nurse says “It’s a boy!”)

They want no God but many a god,
And many gods, and none—
The preacher by the upturned sod
Shall pray when all is done.
Amongst the great ’twas aye the same—
The envious crawler’s part—
The lies that blackened Byron’s name
And banished poor Brett Harte.

We’ve learnt in bitter schools to teach
Man’s glory and his shame
Since Gordon walked along the beach
In search of bigger game.
Maybe, our talents we’ve abused
At times, and ne’er been blind
Since Barcroft Boake went out and used
His stockwhip to be kind.

But laugh, my chums, in prose and rhyme,
And worry not at all,
They’re insects whom the wheels of time
Shall crush exceeding small.
Have faith, my friends, who stand by me,
In spite of all the lies—
I tell you that a man shall die
On the day that Lawson dies.

A dusty clearing in the scrubs
Of barren, western lands—
Where, out of sight, or sign of hope
The wretched school-house stands;
A roof that glares at glaring days,
A bare, unshaded wall,
A fence that guards no blade of green—
A dust-storm over all.
The books and slates are packed away,
The maps are rolled and tied,
And for an hour I breathe, and lay
My ghastly mask aside;
I linger here to save my head
From voices shrill and thin,
That rasp for ever in the shed,
The ‘home’ I’m boarding in.

The heat and dirt and wretchedness
With which their lives began—
Bush mother nagging day and night,
And sullen, brooding man;
The minds that harp on single strings,
And never bright by chance,
The rasping voice of paltry things,
The hopeless ignorance.

I had ideals when I came here,
A noble purpose had,
But all that they can understand
Is ‘axe to grind’ or ‘mad.’
I brood at times till comes a fear
That sets my brain awhirl—
I fight a strong man’s battle here,
And I am but a girl.

I hated paltriness and deemed
A breach of faith a crime;
I listen now to scandal’s voice
In sewing-lesson time.
There is a thought that haunts me so,
And gathers strength each day—
Shall I as narrow-minded grow,
As mean of soul as they?

The feuds that rise from paltry spite,
Or from no cause at all;
The brooding, dark, suspicious minds—
I suffer for it all.
They do not dream the ‘Teacher’ knows,
What brutal thoughts are said;
The children call me ‘Pigeon Toes,’
‘Green Eyes’ and ‘Carrot Head.’

On phantom seas of endless change
My thoughts to madness roam—
The only thing that keeps me here,
The thoughts of those at home—
The hearts that love and cling to me,
That I love best on earth,
My mother left in poverty,
My brother blind from birth.

On burning West Australian fields
In that great dreadful land,
Where all day long the heat waves flow
O’er the seas of glowing sand.
My elder brother toils and breaks
That great true heart of his
To rescue us from poverty—
To rescue me from this.

And one is with him where he goes,
My brother’s mate and mine;
He never called me Pigeon Toes—
He said my eyes were ‘fine’;
And his face comes before me now,
And hope and courage rise,
The lines of life—the troubled brow,
Firm mouth and kind grey eyes.

I preach content and gentleness,
And mock example give;
They little think the Teacher hates
And loathes the life they live.
I told the infants fairy tales
But half an hour since—
They little dream how Pigeon Toes
Prays for a fairy Prince.

I have one prayer (and God forgive
A selfish prayer and wild);
I kneel down by the infants’ stool
(For I am but a child),
And pray as I’ve prayed times untold
That Heaven will set a sign,
To guide my brother to the gold,
For mother’s sake and mine.

A dust cloud on the lonely road,
And I am here alone;
I lock the door till it be past,
For I have nervous grown.

God spare me disappointment’s blow.
He stops beside the gate;
A voice, thrill-feeling that I know.
My brother! No! His mate!

His eyes—a proud, triumphant smile,
His arms outstretched, and ‘Come,
‘For Jack and I have made our pile,
‘And I’m here to take you home’!

The Ballad Of The Rousabout

A Rouseabout of rouseabouts, from any land—or none—
I bear a nick-name of the bush, and I’m—a woman’s son;
I came from where I camp’d last night, and, at the day-dawn glow,
I rub the darkness from my eyes, roll up my swag, and go.
Some take the track for bitter pride, some for no pride at all—
(But—to us all the world is wide when driven to the wall)
Some take the track for gain in life, some take the track for loss—
And some of us take up the swag as Christ took up the Cross.

Some take the track for faith in men—some take the track for doubt—
Some flee a squalid home to work their own salvation out.
Some dared not see a mother’s tears nor meet a father’s face—
Born of good Christian families some leap, head-long, from Grace.

Oh we are men who fought and rose, or fell from many grades;
Some born to lie, and some to pray, we’re men of many trades;
We’re men whose fathers were and are of high and low degree—
The sea was open to us and we sailed across the sea.

And—were our quarrels wrong or just?—has no place in my song—
We seared our souls in puzzling as to what was right or wrong;
We judge not and we are not judged—’tis our philosophy—
There’s something wrong with every ship that sails upon the sea.

From shearing shed to shearing shed we tramp to make a cheque—
Jack Cornstalk and the ne’er-do-weel—the tar-boy and the wreck.
We learn the worth of man to man—and this we learn too well—
The shanty and the shearing shed are warmer spots in hell!

I’ve humped my swag to Bawley Plain, and further out and on;
I’ve boiled my billy by the Gulf, and boiled it by the Swan—
I’ve thirsted in dry lignum swamps, and thirsted on the sand,
And eked the fire with camel dung in Never-Never Land.

I know the track from Spencer’s Gulf and north of Cooper’s Creek—
Where falls the half-caste to the strong, ‘black velvet’ to the weak—
(From gold-top Flossie in the Strand to half-caste and the gin—
If they had brains, poor animals! we’d teach them how to sin.)

I’ve tramped, and camped, and ‘shore’ and drunk with many mates Out Back—
And every one to me is Jack because the first was Jack—
A ‘lifer’ sneaked from jail at home—the ‘straightest’ mate I met—
A ‘ratty’ Russian Nihilist—a British Baronet!

I know the tucker tracks that feed—or leave one in the lurch—
The ‘Burgoo’ (Presbyterian) track—the ‘Murphy’ (Roman Church)—
But more the man, and not the track, so much as it appears,
For ‘battling’ is a trade to learn, and I’ve served seven years.

We’re haunted by the past at times—and this is very bad,
And so we drink till horrors come, lest, sober, we go mad—
So much is lost Out Back, so much of hell is realised—
A man might skin himself alive and no one be surprised.

A rouseabout of rouseabouts, above—beneath regard,
I know how soft is this old world, and I have learnt, how hard—
A rouseabout of rouseabouts—I know what men can feel,
I’ve seen the tears from hard eyes slip as drops from polished steel.

I learned what college had to teach, and in the school of men
By camp-fires I have learned, or, say, unlearned it all again;
But this I’ve learned, that truth is strong, and if a man go straight
He’ll live to see his enemy struck down by time and fate!

We hold him true who’s true to one however false he be
(There’s something wrong with every ship that lies beside the quay);
We lend and borrow, laugh and joke, and when the past is drowned,
We sit upon our swags and smoke and watch the world go round.

I am back from up the country -- very sorry that I went --
Seeking for the Southern poets' land whereon to pitch my tent;
I have lost a lot of idols, which were broken on the track,
Burnt a lot of fancy verses, and I'm glad that I am back.
Further out may be the pleasant scenes of which our poets boast,
But I think the country's rather more inviting round the coast.
Anyway, I'll stay at present at a boarding-house in town,
Drinking beer and lemon-squashes, taking baths and cooling down.

`Sunny plains'! Great Scott! -- those burning
wastes of barren soil and sand
With their everlasting fences stretching out across the land!
Desolation where the crow is! Desert where the eagle flies,
Paddocks where the luny bullock starts and stares with reddened eyes;
Where, in clouds of dust enveloped, roasted bullock-drivers creep
Slowly past the sun-dried shepherd dragged behind his crawling sheep.
Stunted peak of granite gleaming, glaring like a molten mass
Turned from some infernal furnace on a plain devoid of grass.

Miles and miles of thirsty gutters -- strings of muddy water-holes
In the place of `shining rivers' -- `walled by cliffs and forest boles.'
Barren ridges, gullies, ridges! where the ever-madd'ning flies --
Fiercer than the plagues of Egypt -- swarm about your blighted eyes!
Bush! where there is no horizon! where the buried bushman sees
Nothing -- Nothing! but the sameness of the ragged, stunted trees!
Lonely hut where drought's eternal, suffocating atmosphere
Where the God-forgotten hatter dreams of city life and beer.

Treacherous tracks that trap the stranger,
endless roads that gleam and glare,
Dark and evil-looking gullies, hiding secrets here and there!
Dull dumb flats and stony rises, where the toiling bullocks bake,
And the sinister `gohanna', and the lizard, and the snake.
Land of day and night -- no morning freshness, and no afternoon,
When the great white sun in rising bringeth summer heat in June.
Dismal country for the exile, when the shades begin to fall
From the sad heart-breaking sunset, to the new-chum worst of all.

Dreary land in rainy weather, with the endless clouds that drift
O'er the bushman like a blanket that the Lord will never lift --
Dismal land when it is raining -- growl of floods, and, oh! the woosh
Of the rain and wind together on the dark bed of the bush --
Ghastly fires in lonely humpies where the granite rocks are piled
In the rain-swept wildernesses that are wildest of the wild.

Land where gaunt and haggard women live alone and work like men,
Till their husbands, gone a-droving, will return to them again:
Homes of men! if home had ever such a God-forgotten place,
Where the wild selector's children fly before a stranger's face.
Home of tragedy applauded by the dingoes' dismal yell,
Heaven of the shanty-keeper -- fitting fiend for such a hell --
And the wallaroos and wombats, and, of course, the curlew's call --
And the lone sundowner tramping ever onward through it all!

I am back from up the country, up the country where I went
Seeking for the Southern poets' land whereon to pitch my tent;
I have shattered many idols out along the dusty track,
Burnt a lot of fancy verses -- and I'm glad that I am back.
I believe the Southern poets' dream will not be realised
Till the plains are irrigated and the land is humanised.
I intend to stay at present, as I said before, in town
Drinking beer and lemon-squashes, taking baths and cooling down.

I am back from up the country -- very sorry that I went --
Seeking for the Southern poets' land whereon to pitch my tent;
I have lost a lot of idols, which were broken on the track --
Burnt a lot of fancy verses, and I'm glad that I am back.
Further out may be the pleasant scenes of which our poets boast,
But I think the country's rather more inviting round the coast --
Anyway, I'll stay at present at a boarding-house in town
Drinking beer and lemon-squashes, taking baths and cooling down.

Sunny plains! Great Scot! -- those burning wastes of barren soil and sand
With their everlasting fences stretching out across the land!
Desolation where the crow is! Desert! where the eagle flies,
Paddocks where the luny bullock starts and stares with reddened eyes;
Where, in clouds of dust enveloped, roasted bullock-drivers creep
Slowly past the sun-dried shepherd dragged behind his crawling sheep.
Stunted "peak" of granite gleaming, glaring! like a molten mass
Turned, from some infernal furnace, on a plain devoid of grass.

Miles and miles of thirsty gutters -- strings of muddy waterholes
In the place of "shining rivers" (walled by cliffs and forest boles).
"Range!" of ridgs, gullies, ridges, barren! where the madden'd flies --
Fiercer than the plagues of Egypt -- swarm about your blighted eyes!
Bush! where there is no horizon! where the buried bushman sees
Nothing. Nothing! but the maddening sameness of the stunted trees!
Lonely hut where drought's eternal -- suffocating atmosphere --
Where the God forgottcn hatter dreams of city-life and beer.

Treacherous tracks that trap the stranger, endless roads that gleam and glare,
Dark and evil-looking gullies -- hiding secrets here and there!
Dull, dumb flats and stony "rises," where the bullocks sweat and bake,
And the sinister "gohanna," and the lizard, and the snake.
Land of day and night -- no morning freshness, and no afternoon,
For the great, white sun in rising brings with him the heat of noon.
Dismal country for the exile, when the shades begin to fall
From the sad, heart-breaking sunset, to the new-chum, worst of all.

Dreary land in rainy weather, with the endless clouds that drift
O'er the bushman like a blanket that the Lord will never lift --
Dismal land when it is raining -- growl of floods and oh! the "woosh"
Of the rain and wind together on the dark bed of the bush --
Ghastly fires in lonely humpies where the granite rocks are pil'd
On the rain-swept wildernesses that are wildest of the wild.

Land where gaunt and haggard women live alone and work like men,
Till their husbands, gone a-droving, will return to them again --
Homes of men! if homes had ever such a God-forgotten place,
Where the wild selector's children fly before a stranger's face.
Home of tragedy applauded by the dingoes' dismal yell,
Heaven of the shanty-keeper -- fitting fiend for such a hell --
And the wallaroos and wombats, and, of course, the "curlew's call" --
And the lone sundowner tramping ever onward thro' it all!

I am back from up the country -- up the country where I went
Seeking for the Southern poets' land whereon to pitch my tent;
I have left a lot of broken idols out along the track,
Burnt a lot of fancy verses -- and I'm glad that I am back --
I believe the Southern poet's dream will not be realised
Till the plains are irrigated and the land is humanised.
I intend to stay at present -- as I said before -- in town
Drinking beer and lemon-squashes -- taking baths and cooling down.

The Captains sailed from all the World—from all the world and Spain;
And each one for his country’s ease, her glory and her gain;
The Captains sailed to Southern Seas, and sailed the Spanish Main;
And some sailed out beyond the World, and some sailed home again.
And each one for his daily bread, and bitter bread it was,
Because of things they’d left at home—or for some other cause.
Their wives and daughters made the lace to deck the Lady’s gown,
Where sailors’ wives sew dungarees by many a seaport town.

The Captains sailed in rotten ships, with often rotten crews,
Because their lands were ignorant and meaner than the ooze;
With money furnished them by Greed, or by ambition mean,
When they had crawled to some pig-faced, pig-hearted king or queen.

And when a storm was on the coast, and spray leaped o’er the quays,
Then little Joan or Dorothy, or Inez or Louise,
Would kneel her down on such a night beside her mother’s knees,
And fold her little hands and pray for those beyond the seas.
With the touching faith of little girls—the faith by love embalmed—
They’d pray for men beyond the seas who might have been becalmed.

For some will pray at CHRIST His feet, and some at MARY’S shrine;
And some to Heathen goddesses, as I have prayed to mine;
To Mecca or to Bethlehem, to Fire, or Joss, or Sol,
And one will pray to sticks or stones, and one to her rag doll.
But we are stubborn men and vain, and though we rise or fall,
Our children’s prayers or women’s prayers, GOD knows we need them all!
And no one fights the bitter gale, or strives in combat grim,
But, somewhere in the world, a child is praying hard for him.

The Captains sailed to India, to China and Japan.
They met the Strangers’ Welcome and the Friendliness of Man;
The Captains sailed to Southern Seas, and “wondrous sights” they saw—
The Rights of Man in savage lands, and law without a law.
They learnt the truth from savages, and wisdom from the wild,
And learned to walk in unknown ways, and trust them like a child.
(The sailors told of monstrous things that be where sailors roam . . .
But none had seen more monstrous things than they had seen at home.)

They found new worlds for crowded folk in cities old and worn,
And huts of hunger, fog and smoke in lands by Faction torn.
(They found the great and empty lands where Nations might be born.)
They found new foods, they found new wealth, and newer ways to live,
Where sons might grow in strength and health, with all that God would give.
They tracked their ways through unknown seas where Danger still remains,
And sailed back poor and broken men, and some sailed back in chains.
But, bound or free, or ill or well, where’er their sails were furled,
They brought to weary, worn-out lands glad tidings from the World.

The Seasons saw our fathers come, their flocks and herds increase;
They saw the old lands waste in War, the new lands waste in Peace;
The Seasons saw new gardens made, they saw the old lands bleed,
And into new lands introduced the curse of Class and Creed.
They saw the birth of Politics, and all was ripe for Greed.
And Mammon came and built his towers, and Mammon held the fort:
Till one new land went dollar-mad, and one went mad for Sport.

Where men for love of Science sailed in rotten tubs for years,
To hang or starve, while nought availed a wife or daughter’s tears—
Where men made life-long sacrifice for some blind Northern Power,
Now Science sinks a thousand souls, and sinks them in an hour.
You would be rich and great too soon—have all that mortal craves;
The day may come ere you have lived when you’ll be poor and slaves.
You heeded not the warning voice, for Self and Sport prevailed;
You yet might wish, in dust and dread, those Captains had not sailed.

The Song Of A Prison

Now this is the song of a prison—a song of a gaol or jug—
A ballad of quod or of chokey, the ultimate home of the mug.
The yard where the Foolish are drafted; Hell’s school where the harmless are taught;
For the big beast never is captured and the great thief never is caught.
A song of the trollop’s victim, and the dealer in doubtful eggs,
And a song of the man who was ruined by the lie with a thousand legs.
A song of suspected persons and rouge-and-vagabond pals,
And of persons beyond suspicion—the habitual criminals.

’Tis a song of the weary warders, whom prisoners call “the screws”—
A class of men who I fancy would cleave to the “Evening News.”
They look after their treasures sadly. By the screw of their keys they are known,
And they screw them many times daily before they draw their own.

It is written on paper pilfered from the prison printery,
With a stolen stump of a pencil that a felon smuggled for me.
And he’d have got twenty-four hours in the cells if he had been caught,
With bread to eat and water to drink and plenty of food for thought.

And I paid in chews of tobacco from one who is in for life;
But he is a decent fellow—he only murdered his wife.
(He is cherub-like, jolly, good-natured, and frank as the skies above,
And his Christian name is Joseph, and his other, ye gods! is Love!)

The Governor knows, and the Deputy, and all of the warders know,
Once a week, and on Sunday, we sit in a sinful row,
And bargain for chews of tobacco under the cover of prayer—
And the harmless Anglican chaplain is the only innocent there.

Staircase and doors of iron, no sign of a plank or brick,
Ceilings and floors of sandstone, and the cell walls two feet thick;
Cell like a large-sized coffin, or a small-sized tomb, and white,
And it strikes a chill to the backbone on the warmest summer night.

For fifteen hours they leave you to brood in the gloom and cold
On the cheats that you should have cheated, and the lies that you should have told;
On the money that would release you, you lent to many a friend,
And the many a generous action you suffered for in the end.

Grey daylight follows softly the heartless electric light
That printed the bars of the window on the wall of the cell all night
The darkness has vanished “hushing” when there is nothing to hush—
And I think of the old grey daylight on the teamster’s camp in the bush.

I think of the low bark homestead, the yard and the sinister bail,
And the shed in a hole in the gully—a pigsty compared with gaol;
The drought and the rows and the nagging; the hill where a flat grave is—
The gaol of my boyhood as dreadful and barren and grey as this.

We rise at six when the bell rings, and roll up our blankets neat,
Then we pace the cell till seven, brain-dulled, and with leaden feet.
Bolts clank, and the iron doors open, light floods from an iron-barred arch—
And we start with a start galvanic at the passionless, “Left—Quick march!”

Down the crooked and winding staircase in the great wrong-angular well,
Like the crooked stairs that of late years we have stumbled down to Hell;
We empty the tubs and muster, with the prison slouch and tread,
And we take to the cells our breakfast of hominy and of bread.

The church in its squat round tower, with Christ in His thorny wreath—
The reception house is below it, so the gates of Hell are beneath,
Where sinners are clad and numbered, when hope for a while has
And above us the gilded rooster that crowed when Peter lied.

What avail is the prayer of the abbess? Or the raving of Cock-eyed Liz?
The holy hermit in his cell, or the Holy Terror in his?
Brothers and sisters of Heaven, seen through the bars in a wall,
As we see the uncaught sinners—and God have mercy on all.

A day of seeming innocence,
A glorious sun and sky,
And, just above my picket fence,
Black Bonnet passing by.
In knitted gloves and quaint old dress,
Without a spot or smirch,
Her worn face lit with peacefulness,
Old Granny goes to church.

Her hair is richly white, like milk,
That long ago was fair --
And glossy still the old black silk
She keeps for "chapel wear";
Her bonnet, of a bygone style,
That long has passed away,
She must have kept a weary while
Just as it is to-day.

The parasol of days gone by --
Old days that seemed the best --
The hymn and prayer books carried high
Against her warm, thin breast;
As she had clasped -- come smiles come tears,
Come hardship, aye, and worse --
On market days, through faded years,
The slender household purse.

Although the road is rough and steep,
She takes it with a will,
For, since she hushed her first to sleep
Her way has been uphill.
Instinctively I bare my head
(A sinful one, alas!)
Whene'er I see, by church bells led,
Brave Old Black Bonnet pass.

For she has known the cold and heat
And dangers of the Track:
Has fought bush-fires to save the wheat
And little home Out Back.
By barren creeks the Bushman loves,
By stockyard, hut, and pen,
The withered hands in those old gloves
Have done the work of men.


They called it "Service" long ago
When Granny yet was young,
And in the chapel, sweet and low,
As girls her daughters sung.
And when in church she bends her head
(But not as others do)
She sees her loved ones, and her dead
And hears their voices too.

Fair as the Saxons in her youth,
Not forward, and not shy;
And strong in healthy life and truth
As after years went by:
She often laughed with sinners vain,
Yet passed from faith to sight --
God gave her beauty back again
The more her hair grew white.

She came out in the Early Days,
(Green seas, and blue -- and grey) --
The village fair, and English ways,
Seemed worlds and worlds away.
She fought the haunting loneliness
Where brooding gum trees stood;
And won through sickness and distress
As Englishwomen could.


By verdant swath and ivied wall
The congregation's seen --
White nothings where the shadows fall,
Black blots against the green.
The dull, suburban people meet
And buzz in little groups,
While down the white steps to the street
A quaint old figure stoops.

And then along my picket fence
Where staring wallflowers grow --
World-wise Old Age, and Common-sense! --
Black Bonnet, nodding slow.
But not alone; for on each side
A little dot attends
In snowy frock and sash of pride,
And these are Granny's friends.

To them her mind is clear and bright,
Her old ideas are new;
They know her "real talk" is right,
Her "fairy talk" is true.
And they converse as grown-ups may,
When all the news is told;
The one so wisely young to-day,
The two so wisely old.

At home, with dinner waiting there,
She smooths her hair and face,
And puts her bonnet by with care
And dons a cap of lace.
The table minds its p's and q's
Lest one perchance be hit
By some rare dart which is a part
Of her old-fashioned wit.


Her son and son's wife are asleep,
She puts her apron on --
The quiet house is hers to keep,
With all the youngsters gone.
There's scarce a sound of dish on dish
Or cup slipped into cup,
When left alone, as is her wish,
Black Bonnet "washes up."

Captain Von Esson Of The “sebastopol”

Of his beauty, or stature, or colour of hair I hadn’t the slightest hint,
But he comes to me as a little man, with a scrubby beard and a squint,
With a heart somewhere if it wasn’t there, and an Irish terrier nose,
With a bark or a yelp for his friends and his crew, and a bull-dog grip for his foes.
The Japs had taken a permanent fort at the price of ten thousand sons,
And they shelled the ships in the harbour there with their landed naval guns.
Through sand bags laid on the upper deck, the shells went through with a whelt—
And some (because of ballistic curve) out under the armoured belt.

Till each was sunk that the Russians left—while the buildings reeled with the shock,
Save the last of the Russian ships of war—the Sebastopol—in dock.
And this is the reason—told in a line—why there is a tale to tell:
The Sebastopol had a man for boss, and a crew that knew it well.

He rousted them out from the dens ashore, and they didn’t engage in prayer,
For dear men pray when the fight is done, and there wasn’t a cheap man there.
He rooted the dock-hands out, when crouched, in deadly fear of the Jap,
But they stood in greater immediate fear of Von Esson’s squint and his yap.

She groped her way in the gathering dusk, out under the time-dulled din,
And nothing was heard save a whispered word, and the laugh of a Russian Finn.
He took her out from the harbour trap, where the shells came down like hail,
For a chance to fight for the Wrong or Right round under the “Lizard’s Tail.”

My fathers came from the North, my friends, when there was a world to win;
And something hints of the Northern Wolf in the laugh of a Russian Finn;
A sailor he was, with gorilla arms, and a mighty, hairy chest—
’T was a laugh of love for his captain man, and a laugh of hate for the rest.

There is neither the time nor the space to tell of the deeds that those Russians did;
Three days on the toppling lid of hell, like an ill-made cauldron’s lid.
The breathless pause ere the flashlight fell where the creeping foe was hid,
The blood-streaked decks, and the grunt or yell, when the stricken slipped and slid.

The faces white in a sudden light, and the ghostly dying grin,
The great relief when the silence broke, and they revelled in Hell’s own din.
The blinding flash and the stunning crash—strained ears—strained eyes—dry skin—
The short sharp yelp of that captain man, and—the laugh of the Russian Finn.

’T was not for Cause nor for Liberty, Religion, or Glory, or Land—
He fought for love of a captain man he could crush with his big right hand.
Till five torpedo boats round her lay, in the mud, the slush, and the ooze—
She sent them down for the Old Greek Church, with the whole of their monkey crews.

But the last one gave her a last thrust home, and left by a friendly tide,
She lay like a man on his elbow raised, with a hand on her wounded side.
She was left to be called for later on, with a solid bank beneath—
The Japs were short of torpedo boats, and—they’d had enough of her teeth.

But, safe from the landed naval guns, and the last torpedo boat,
Von Esson worked with his squint and bark till he got his vessel afloat.
He’d marked her a grave with his level eye where the open sea was fair,
And he steered her out to the deep water, and he grimly sank her there.

(It’s oh, for a chance when a man of men must live the living lie—
For a chance to live as a man might live, and die as a man might die!
When one is a slave to paltry things in a life that never can change,
It’s oh! for a cause, and a decent gun, and a hundred rounds, and the range!)

The boats slipped in in the gathering dusk, and under the time-dulled din,
And vanished from us to a yap of command, and the grunt of a Russian Finn.
But somewhere down in a seamen’s den (maybe, perhaps within hail),
There’s a drunken rabble of sailor men, and a Finn that tells a tale.

The God-Forgotten Election

Pat M'Durmer brought the tidings to the town of God-Forgotten :
‘There are lively days before ye—commin Parlymint’s dissolved!’
And the boys were all excited, for the State, of course, was ‘rotten,’
And, in subsequent elections, God-Forgotten was involved.
There was little there to live for save in drinking beer and eating;
But we rose on this occasion ere the news appeared in print,
For the boys of God-Forgotten, at a wild, uproarious meeting,
Nominated Billy Blazes for the commin Parlymint.

Other towns had other favourites, but the day before the battle
Bushmen flocked to God-Forgotten, and the distant sheds were still;
Sheep were left to go to glory, and neglected mobs of cattle
Went a-straying down the river at their sweet bucolic will.
William Spouter stood for Freetrade (and his votes were split by Nottin),
He had influence behind him and he also had the tin,
But across the lonely flatlands came the cry of God-Forgotten,
‘Vote for Blazes and Protection, and the land you’re living in!’

Pat M‘Durmer said, ‘Ye schaymers, please to shut yer ugly faces,
‘Lend yer dirty ears a momint while I give ye all a hint:
‘Keep ye sober till to-morrow and record yer vote for Blazes
‘If ye want to send a ringer to the commin Parlymint.
‘As a young and growin’ township God-Forgotten’s been neglected,
‘And, if we’d be ripresinted, now’s the moment to begin—
‘Have the local towns encouraged, local industries purtected:
‘Vote for Blazes, and Protection, and the land ye’re livin’ in.

‘I don’t say that William Blazes is a perfect out-an’ outer,
‘I don’t say he have the larnin’, for he never had the luck;
‘I don’t say he have the logic, or the gift of gab, like Spouter,
‘I don’t say he have the practice—BUT I SAY HE HAVE THE PLUCK!
‘Now the country’s gone to ruin, and the Governments are rotten,
‘But he’ll save the public credit and purtect the public tin;
‘To the iverlastin’ glory of the name of God-Forgotten
‘Vote for Blazes and Protection, and the land ye’re livin’ in!’

Pat M‘D. went on the war-path, and he worked like salts and senna,
For he organised committees full of energy and push;
And those wild committees riding through the whisky-fed Gehenna
Routed out astonished voters from their humpies in the bush.
Everything on wheels was ‘rinted,’ and half-sobered drunks were shot in;
Said M‘Durmer to the driver, ‘If ye want to save yer skin,
‘Never stop to wet yer whistles—drive like hell to God-Forgotten,
‘Make the villains plump for Blazes, and the land they’re livin, in.’

Half the local long-departed (for the purpose resurrected)
Plumped for Blazes and Protection, and the country where they died;
So he topped the poll by sixty, and when Blazes was elected
There was victory and triumph on the God-Forgotten side.
Then the boys got up a banquet, and our chairman, Pat M‘Durmer,
Was next day discovered sleeping in the local baker’s bin—
All the dough had risen round him, but we heard a smothered murmur,
‘Vote for Blazes—and Protection—and the land ye’re livin’ in.’

Now the great Sir William Blazes lives in London, ’cross the waters
And they say his city mansion is the swellest in West End,
But I very often wonder if his torey sons and daughters
Ever heard of Billy Blazes who was once the ‘people’s friend.’
Does his biassed memory linger round that wild electioneering
When the men of God-Forgotten stuck to him through thick and thin?
Does he ever, in his dreaming, hear the cry above the cheering:
‘Vote for Blazes and Protection, and the land you’re livin’ in?’

Ah, the bush was grand in those days, and the Western boys were daisies,
And their scheming and their dodging would outdo the wildest print;
Still my recollection lingers round the time when Billy Blazes
Was returned by God-Forgotten to the ‘Commin Parlymint’:
Still I keep a sign of canvas—’twas a mate of mine that made it—
And its paint is cracked and powdered, and its threads are bare and thin,
Yet upon its grimy surface you can read in letters faded:
‘Vote for Blazes and Protection, and the land you’re livin’ in.’

Booth's Drum [1]

They were “ratty” they were hooted by the meanest and the least,
When they woke the Drum of Glory long ago in London East.
They were often mobbed by hoodlums—they were few, but unafraid—
And their Lassies were insulted, but they banged the drum—and prayed.
Prayed in public for the sinners, prayed in private for release,
Till they saved some brawny lumpers—then they banged the drum in peace.
(Saved some prize-fighter and burglars)—and they banged the drum in peace.
Booth’s Drum.
He was hook-nosed, he was “scrawny,”
He was nothing of a Don.
And his business ways seemed Yiddish,
And his speeches “kid”—or kiddish;
And we doubted his “convictions”—
But his drum is going on.

Oh, they drummed it ever onward with old Blood-and-Fire unfurled,
And they drummed it ever outward to the corners of the world.
Till they banged the drum in Greenland and they banged in Ispahan,
And they banged it round to India and China and Japan.
And they banged it through the Islands where each seasoned Son of Rum
Took them for new-fangled Jim Jams when he heard the Army Drum.
(For a bran’ new brand of Horrors, when he saw the Army come.)
So they banged it in the desert, and they banged in the snow—
They’d have banged the Drum to Mecca! with the shadow of a “show.”
(But Mohammed cut their heads off, so they had to let it go.)

Somewhere in the early eighties they had banged the drum to Bourke,
Where the job of fighting Satan was white-hot and dusty work.
Oh, the Local Lass was withered in the heat that bakes and glares,
And we sent her food and firewood but took small heed of her prayers.
We were blasphemous and beery, we were free from Creed or Care,
Till they sent their prettiest Lassies—and they broke our centre there.
So that, moderately sober, we could stand to hear them sing—
And we’d chaff their Testifiers, and throw quids into the ring.
(Never less than bobs or “dollars”—sometimes quids into the ring.)

They have “stormed” our sinful cities—banged for all that they were worth—
From Port Darwin to Port Melbourne, and from Sydney round to Perth.
We’d no need for them (or woman) when we were all right and well,
But they took us out of prison, and they took us out of Hell.
And they helped our fallen sisters who went down for such as we,
And our widows and our orphans in distress and poverty.
And neglected wives and children of the worst of us that be;
And they made us fit for Glory—or another Glorious Spree.
(So I rather think there’s something that is up to you or me.)

Oh! the Blindness of the Future!—Ah, we never reckoned much
That they’d beat the quids we gave them into bayonets and such.
That the coin would be devoted, when our world was looking blue,
To another kind of orphan—wife, or child, or widow too.
But the times have changed a sudden, and the past is very dim;
They Have Found a Real Devil, and They’re Going After Him.
(With a Bible and a Rifle they are going after him.)

For the old Salvation Army, and their Country, and their King,
They are marching to the trenches, shouting, “Comrades! Let us Sing!”
They’ll find foreign “Army” soldiers here and there and everywhere,
Who will speak their tongue and help them. And they’ll surely breathe a prayer
For the Spy—before they shoot him; and another when he’s still.
And they’re going to “fire a volley” in the Land of Kaiser Bill.
But, when all is done and quiet—as before they march away—
They will kneel about their banner, saying “Brethren. Let us pray.”

They have long used army rank-terms, and oh, say what it shall be,
When a few come back the real thing, and when one comes back V.C.!
They will bang the drum at Crow’s Nest, they will bang it on “the Shore,”
They will bang the drum in Kent-street as they never banged before.
And At Last they’ll frighten Satan from the Mansion and the Slum—
He’ll have never heard till that time such a Banging of the Drum.

He was lonely with his thousands,
Lonely in his household too,
For his children had deserted,
And his captains, not a few.
He was old and white and feeble
And his sight was nearly gone,
And he “could not see his people,”
But his drum is rolling on.
Booth’s Drum.

Hannah Thomburn

They lifted her out of a story
Too sordid and selfish by far,
They left me the innocent glory
Of love that was pure as a star;
They left me all guiltless of “evil”
That would have brought years of distress
When the chance to be man, god or devil,
Was mine, on return from Success.

With a name and a courage uncommon
She had come in the soul striving days,
She had come as a child, girl and woman—
Come only to comfort and praise.
There was never a church that could marry,
For never a court could divorce,
In the season of Hannah and Harry
When the love of my life ran its course.

Her hair was red gold on head Grecian,
But fluffed from the parting away,
And her eyes were the warm grey Venetian
That comes with the dawn of the day.
No Fashion nor Fad could entrap her,
And a simple print work dress wore she,
But her long limbs were formed for the “wrapper”
And her fair arms were meant to be free.

(Oh, I knew by the thrill of pure passion
At the touch of her elbow, or hand—
By the wife’s loveless eyes that would flash on
The feeling I could not command.
Oh, I knew when revulsion came rushing—
Oh, I knew by the brush strokes that hurt
At the sight of a sculptor friend brushing
The clay from the hem of her skirt.)

She was mine on return from succeeding
In a struggle that no one shall know;
She only knew my heart was bleeding,
She only knew what dealt the blow.
I had fought back the friends that were clutching,
I had forced back the heart-scalding tears
Just to lay my hot head to her touching
And to weep for Two Terrible Years.

Oh! the hand on my hair that was greying!
Oh! the kiss on my brow that was lined!
Oh! the peace when my reason was straying
And the rest and relief for my mind.
Till, no longer world shackled or frightened,
The voice of the past would be stilled,
Hearts quickened, cheeks flushed and eyes brightened,
And the love of our lives be fulfilled!

It was Antwerp, and Plymouth—th’ Atlantic
And, so well had Love’s network been laid,
That I heard of her illness, grown frantic,
At Genoa, Naples—Port Said.
I was mad just to reach her and “tell her”,
But a sandbank at Suez tripped me,
And we limped, with a crippled propeller,
Through all Hades adown the Red Sea.

Through the monsoon we rolled like a Jumbo
With a second blade shaken away,
There was never a dock in Colombo
So the captain drank hard to Bombay.
Then a “point” in the south like an anthill
Or seawastes—then hove into sight—
I called for no news at Fremantle
For I wanted to hope through the Bight.

There’s a gentleman, reading, shall know it,
There’s an earl who will now understand
Why I “slighted” the son of their poet
(And a vice regal lord of the land)—
Semaphore—and a burst through the wicket
On platform left guards in distress—
A run without luggage or ticket,
A cab, and the Melbourne Express.

’Twas a brother-in-grief of mine told me
With harsh eyes unwontedly dim,
With a hand on my shoulder to hold me
And a grip on my own—to hold him.
A dry choke, and words cracked and hurried,
A stare, as of something afraid,
And he told me that Hannah was buried
On the day I reached Port Adelaide.

They could greet me—let Heaven or Hell come,
They could weep—for the grave by the sea
Oh! the mother and father could welcome
And the kinsfolk without fear of me.
For they watched her safe out of a story
Where she slaved and suffered alone—
They could weep to the tune of the hoary
Old lie “If we only had known”.

But I have the letter that followed
That she wrote to England and me—
That crossed us perchance as we wallowed
That birthday of mine on the sea,
That she wrote on the eve of her going,
Hopeful and loving and brave,
To keep me there, prosperous, knowing,
No care save the far away grave.

They have lifted her out of a story
Too sordid and selfish by far,
And left me the innocent glory
Of love that was pure as a star:
That was human and strong though she hid it
To write before death in last lines—
And I kneel to the angels who did it
And I bow to the fate that refines.

In The Days When The World Was Wide

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

. . . . .

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

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

The Man Who Raised Charlestown

They were hanging men in Buckland who would not cheer King George –
The parson from his pulpit and the blacksmith from his forge;
They were hanging men and brothers, and the stoutest heart was down,
When a quiet man from Buckland rode at dusk to raise Charlestown.

Not a young man in his glory filled with patriotic fire,
Not an orator or soldier, or a known man in his shire;
He was just the Unexpected – one of Danger's Volunteers,
At a time for which he'd waited, all unheard of, many years.

And Charlestown met in council, the quiet man to hear –
The town was large and wealthy, but the folks were filled with fear,
The fear of death and plunder; and none to lead had they,
And Self fought Patriotism as will always be the way.

The man turned to the people, and he spoke in anger then.
And crooked his finger here and there to those he marked as men.
And many gathered round him to see what they could do –
For men know men in danger, as they know the cowards too.

He chose his men and captains, and sent them here and there,
The arms and ammunition were gathered in the square;
While peaceful folk were praying or croaking, every one,
He was working with his blacksmiths at the carriage of a gun.

While the Council sat on Sunday, and the church bells rang their peal,
The quiet man was mending a broken waggon wheel;
While they passed their resolutions on his doings (and the likes),
From a pile his men brought to him he was choosing poles for pikes.

(They were hanging men in Buckland who would not cheer King George –
They were making pikes in Charlestown at every blacksmith's forge:
While the Council sat in session and the same old song they sang,
They heard the horsemen gallop out, and the blacksmiths' hammers clang.)

And a thrill went through the city ere the drums began to roll,
And the coward found his courage, and the drunkard found his soul.
So a thrill went through the city that would go through all the land,
For the quiet man from Buckland held men's hearts in his right hand.

And he caught a Charlestown poet (there are many tell the tale),
And he took him by the collar when he'd filled him up with ale;
"Now, then, write a song for Charlestown that shall lift her on her way,
For she's marching out to Buckland and to Death at break o' day."

And he set the silenced women tearing sheet and shift and shirt
To make bandages and roll them for the men that would get hurt.
And he called out his musicians and he told them what to play:
"For I want my men excited when they march at break o' day."

And he set the women cooking – with a wood-and-water crew –
"For I want no empty stomachs for the work we have to do."
Then he said to his new soldiers: "Eat your fill while yet you may;
'Tis a heavy road to Buckland that we'll march at break o' day."

And a shout went through the city when the drums began to roll
(And the coward was a brave man and the beggar had a soul),
And the drunken Charlestown poet cared no more if he should hang,
For his song of "Charlestown's Coming" was the song the soldiers sang.

And they cursed the King of England, and they shouted in their glee,
And they swore to drive the British and their friends into the sea;
But when they'd quite finished swearing, said their leader "Let us pray,
For we march to Death and Freedom, and it's nearly dawn of day."

There were marching feet at daybreak, and close upon their heels
Came the scuffling tread of horses and the heavy crunch of wheels;
So they took the road to Buckland, with their scout out to take heed,
And a quiet man of fifty on a grey horse in the lead.

There was silence in the city, there was silence as of night –
Women in the ghostly daylight, kneeling, praying, deathly white,
As their mothers knelt before them, as their daughters knelt since then,
And as ours shall, in the future, kneel and pray for fighting men.

For their men had gone to battle, as our sons and grandsons too
Must go out, for Life and Freedom, as all nations have to do.
And the Charlestown women waited for the sounds that came too soon –
Though they listened, almost breathless, till the early afternoon.

Then they heard the tones of danger for their husbands, sweethearts, sons,
And they stopped their ears in terror, crying, "Oh, my God! The guns!"
Then they strained their ears to listen through the church-bells' startled chime –
Far along the road to Buckland, Charlestown's guns were marking time.

"They advance!" "They halt!" "Retreating!" "They come back!" The guns are done!"
But the calmer spirits, listening, said: "Our guns are going on."
And the friend and foe in Buckland felt two different kinds of thrills
When they heard the Charlestown cannon talking on the Buckland hills.

And the quiet man of Buckland sent a message in that day,
And he gave the British soldiers just two hours to march away.
And they hang men there no longer, there is peace on land and wave;
On the sunny hills of Buckland there is many a quiet grave.

There is peace upon the land, and there is friendship on the waves –
On the sunny hills of Buckland there are rows of quiet graves.
And an ancient man in Buckland may be seen in sunny hours,
Pottering round about his garden, and his kitchen stuff and flowers.

The Star Of Australasia

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

. . . . .

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

. . . . .

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

. . . . .

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

. . . . .

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

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

. . . . .

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

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

The Writer's Dream

A writer wrote of the hearts of men, and he followed their tracks afar;
For his was a spirit that forced his pen to write of the things that are.
His heart grew tired of the truths he told, for his life was hard and grim;
His land seemed barren, its people cold—yet the world was dear to him;—
So he sailed away from the Streets of Strife, he travelled by land and sea,
In search of a people who lived a life as life in the world should be.
And he reached a spot where the scene was fair, with forest and field and wood,
And all things came with the seasons there, and each of its kind was good;
There were mountain-rivers and peaks of snow, there were lights of green and gold,
And echoing caves in the cliffs below, where a world-wide ocean rolled.
The lives of men from the wear of Change and the strife of the world were free—
For Steam was barred by the mountain-range and the rocks of the Open Sea.

And the last that were born of a noble race—when the page of the South was fair—
The last of the conquered dwelt in peace with the last of the victors there.
He saw their hearts with the author’s eyes who had written their ancient lore,
And he saw their lives as he’d dreamed of such—ah! many a year before.
And ‘I’ll write a book of these simple folk ere I to the world return,
‘And the cold who read shall be kind for these—and the wise who read shall learn.

‘Never again in a song of mine shall a jarring note be heard:
‘Never again shall a page or line be marred by a bitter word;
‘But love and laughter and kindly hours will the book I’ll write recall,
‘With chastening tears for the loss of one, and sighs for their sorrows all.
‘Old eyes will light with a kindly smile, and the young eyes dance with glee—
‘And the heart of the cynic will rest awhile for my simple folk and me.’

The lines ran on as he dipped his pen—ran true to his heart and ear—
Like the brighter pages of memory when every line is clear.
The pictures came and the pictures passed, like days of love and light—
He saw his chapters from first to last, and he thought it grand to write.
And the writer kissed his girlish wife, and he kissed her twice for pride:
‘’Tis a book of love, though a book of life! and a book you’ll read!’ he cried.

He was blind at first to each senseless slight (for shabby and poor he came)
From local ‘Fashion’ and mortgaged pride that scarce could sign its name.
What dreamer would dream of such paltry pride in a scene so fresh and fair?
But the local spirit intensified—with its pitiful shams—was there;
There were cliques wherever two houses stood (no rest for a family ghost!)
They hated each other as women could—but they hated the stranger most.

The writer wrote by day and night and he cried in the face of Fate—
‘I’ll cleave to my dream of life in spite of the cynical ghosts that wait.
‘’Tis the shyness born of their simple lives,’ he said to the paltry pride—
(The homely tongues of the simple wives ne’er erred on the generous side)—
‘They’ll prove me true and they’ll prove me kind ere the year of grace be passed,’
But the ignorant whisper of ‘axe to grind!’ went home to his heart at last.

The writer sat by his drift-wood fire three nights of the South-east gale,
His pen lay idle on pages vain, for his book was a fairy tale.
The world-wise lines of an elder age were plain on his aching brow,
As he sadly thought of each brighter page that would never be written now.
‘I’ll write no more!’ But he bowed his head, for his heart was in Dreamland yet—
‘The pages written I’ll burn,’ he said, ‘and the pages thought forget.’

But he heard the hymn of the Open Sea, and the old fierce anger burned,
And he wrenched his heart from its dreamland free as the fire of his youth returned:—
‘The weak man’s madness, the strong man’s scorn—the rebellious hate of youth
‘From a deeper love of the world are born! And the cynical ghost is Truth!’
And the writer rose with a strength anew wherein Doubt could have no part;
‘I’ll write my book and it shall be true—the truth of a writer’s heart.

‘Ay! cover the wrong with a fairy tale—who never knew want or care—
‘A bright green scum on a stagnant pool that will reek the longer there.
‘You may starve the writer and buy the pen—you may drive it with want and fear—
‘But the lines run false in the hearts of men—and false to the writer’s ear.
‘The bard’s a rebel and strife his part, and he’ll burst from his bonds anew,
‘Till all pens write from a single heart! And so may the dream come true.

‘’Tis ever the same in the paths of men where money and dress are all,
‘The crawler will bully whene’er he can, and the bully who can’t will crawl.
‘And this is the creed in the local hole, where the souls of the selfish rule;
‘Borrow and cheat while the stranger’s green, then sneer at the simple fool.
‘Spit your spite at the men whom Fate has placed in the head-race first,
‘And hate till death, with a senseless hate, the man you have injured worst!
‘There are generous hearts in the grinding street, but the Hearts of the World go west;
‘For the men who toil in the dust and heat of the barren lands are best!
‘The stranger’s hand to the stranger, yet—for a roving folk are mine—
‘The stranger’s store for the stranger set—and the camp-fire glow the sign!
‘The generous hearts of the world, we find, thrive best on the barren sod,
‘And the selfish thrive where Nature’s kind (they’d bully or crawl to God!)

‘I was born to write of the things that are! and the strength was given to me.
‘I was born to strike at the things that mar the world as the world should be!
‘By the dumb heart-hunger and dreams of youth, by the hungry tracks I’ve trod—
‘I’ll fight as a man for the sake of truth, nor pose as a martyred god.
‘By the heart of “Bill” and the heart of “Jim,” and the men that their hearts deem “white,”
‘By the handgrips fierce, and the hard eyes dim with forbidden tears!—I’ll write!

‘I’ll write untroubled by cultured fools, or the dense that fume and fret—
‘For against the wisdom of all their schools I would stake mine instinct yet!
‘For the cynical strain in the writer’s song is the world, not he, to blame,
‘And I’ll write as I think, in the knowledge strong that thousands think the same;
‘And the men who fight in the Dry Country grim battles by day, by night,
‘Will believe in me, and will stand by me, and will say to the world, “He’s right!”’

When I Was King

The second time I lived on earth
Was several hundred years ago;
And—royal by my second birth—
I know as much as most men know.
I was a king who held the reins
As never modern monarch can;
I was a king, and I had brains,
And, what was more, I was a man!
Called to the throne in stormy times,
When things were at their very worst,
I had to fight—and not with rhymes—
My own self and my kindred first;
And after that my friends and foes,
And great abuses born of greed;
And when I’d fairly conquered those,
I ruled the land a king indeed.

I found a deal of rottenness,
Such as in modern towns we find;
I camped my poor in palaces
And tents upon the plain behind.
I marked the hovels, dens and drums
In that fair city by the sea.
And burnt the miles of wretched slums
And built the homes as they should be.

I stripped the baubles from the State,
And on the land I spent the spoil;
I hunted off the sullen great,
And to the farmers gave the soil.
My people were their own police;
My courts were free to everyone.
My priests were to preach love and peace;
My Judges to see justice done.

I’d studied men and studied kings,
No crawling cant would I allow;
I hated mean and paltry things,
As I can hate them even now.
A land of men I meant to see,
A strong and clean and noble race—
No subject dared kneel down to me,
But looked his king straight in the face

Had I not been a king in fact,
A king in council-hall and tent,
I might have let them crawl and act
The courtier to their heart’s content;
But when I called on other kings,
And saw men kneel, I felt inclined
To gently tip the abject things
And kick them very hard behind.

My subjects were not slaves, I guess,
But though the women in one thing—
A question ’twas of healthy dress—
Would dare to argue with their king
(I had to give in there, I own,
Though none denied that I was strong),
Yet they would hear my telephone
If anything went very wrong.

I also had some poets bright—
Their songs were grand, I will allow—
They were, if I remember right,
About as bad as bards are now.
I had to give them best at last,
And let them booze and let them sing;
As it is now, so in the past,
They’d small respect for gods or king.

I loved to wander through the streets—
I carried neither sword nor dirk—
And watch the building of my fleets,
And watch my artisans at work.
At times I would take off my coat
And show them how to do a thing—
Till someone, clucking in his throat,
Would stare and gasp, ‘It is the king!’

And I would say, ‘Shut up, you fools!
Is it for this my towns I burn?
You don’t know how to handle tools,
And by my faith you’ll have to learn!’
I was a king, but what of that?
A king may warble in the spring
And carry eggs home in his hat,
Provided that he is a king.

I loved to stroll about the town
With chums at night, and talk of things,
And, though I chanced to wear the crown,
My friends, by intellect, were kings.
When I was doubtful, then I might
Discuss a matter quietly,
But when I felt that I was right
No power on earth could alter me!

And now and then it was no sin
Nor folly to relax a bit—
I’d take my friends into an inn
And call for wine and pay for it.
And then of many things we’d clack
With loosened tongues and visions clear—
I often heard behind my back
The whispered ‘Peace, the king is here!’

The women harped about a queen,
I knew they longed to have a court
And flaunt their feathers on the scene,
But hitherto I’d held the fort.
My subjects wanted me, no doubt,
To give the throne a son and heir—
(There were some little kings about,
But that was neither here nor there).

I’d no occasion for a wife—
A queen as yet was not my plan;
I’d seen a lot of married life—
My sire had been a married man.
‘A son and heir be hanged!’ I said—
‘How dare you ask for such a thing,
‘You fight it out when I am dead
‘And let the best man be the king!’

‘Your Majesty, we love you well!’
A candid friend would say to me—
‘But there be tales that people tell
‘Unfitted to thy dignity’—
‘My dignity be damned!’ I’d say,
‘Bring me no women’s chattering!
‘I’ll be a man while yet I may—
‘When trouble comes I’ll be a king!

I’d kept my kingdom clean and strong
While other kingdoms were like ours—
I had no need to brook a wrong,
I feared not all the rotten Powers
I did not eat my heart out then,
Nor feebly fight in verse or prose
I’d take five hundred thousand men
To argue matters with my foes!

It thrilled me through, the mighty tramp
Of armëd men, the thundering cheer—
The pregnant whisper through the camp
At dead of night: ‘The King is here!’
And though we paid for victory
On some fields that were hard to hold,
The faith my soldiers had in me
Oft strengthened mine a hundredfold.

I’d chat with soldiers by the fires
On rocky heights and river banks,
I’d seek the brains that war requires,
And take my captains from the ranks.
And so, until the storm was by,
And came the peace just war can bring,
I bore me so that men might cry
With all their hearts, ‘God Save the King.’

When I was king the world was wide,
And I was strong and I was free.
I knew no hatred, knew no pride,
No envy and no treachery.
I feared no lies. I feared no truth,
Nor any storm that time might bring.
I had my love, I had my youth,
The world was mine when I was king.

Peace came at last—and strange is Fate—
The women begged just once alone
To see me robed in royal state
And seated on my father’s throne.
I thought, ‘Shall I this boon deny?’
And said—and ’twas a paltry thing:
‘I’ll show the fools just once that I
‘Can look, as well as be, a king.’

They dusted out the castle old,
And from the closet and the chest
They dug the jewels set in gold—
The crown and robes and all the rest.
They came with eyes like stars of night,
With diamonds set in raven hair,
They came with arms and bosoms white—
And, Oh my God! but one was fair!

They dressed me as the kings had been,
The ancient royal purple spread,
And one that was to be my queen,
She placed the circlet on my head.
They pressed their hearts and bowed to me,
They knelt with arms uplifted all.
I felt the rush of vanity—
The pride that goes before the fall.

And then the banquet and the wine
With Satan’s music and the glance
Of siren eyes. Those captains mine
Were reeling in the maddening dance:
A finger writing on the wall,
While girls sang as the angels sing—
A drunken boaster in the hall,
The fool that used to be a king.
I rose again—no matter how—
A woman, and a deeper fall—
I move amongst my people now
The most degraded of them all.
But, if in centuries to come,
I live once more and claim my own,
I’ll see my subjects blind and dumb
Before they set me on a throne

In Windsor Terrace, number four,
I’ve taken my abode—
A little crescent from the street,
A bight from City Road;
And, hard up and in exile, I
To many fancies yield;
For it was here Micawber lived
And David Copperfield.

A bed, a table, and a chair,
A bottle and a cup.
The landlord’s waiting even now
For something to turn up.
The landlady is spiritless—
They both seem tired of life;
They cannot fight the battle like
Micawber and his wife.

But in the little open space
That lies back from the street,
The same old ancient, shabby clerk
Is sitting on a seat.
The same sad characters go by,
The ragged children play—
And things have very little changed
Since Dickens passed away.

Some seek religion in their grief,
And some for friendship yearn;
Some fly to liquor for relief,
But I to Dickens turn.
I find him ever fresh and new,
His lesson ever plain;
And every line that Dickens wrote
I’ve read and read again.

The tavern’s just across the ‘wye,’
And frowsy women there
Are gossiping and drinking gin,
And twisting up their hair.
And grubby girls go past at times,
And furtive gentry lurk—
I don’t think anyone has died
Since Dickens did his work.

There’s Jingle, Tigg, and Chevy Slyme,
And Weevle—whom you will;
And hard-up virtue proudly slinks
Into the pawnshop still.
Go east a bit from City Road,
And all the rest are there—
A friendly whistle might produce
A Chicken anywhere.

My favourite author’s heroes I
Should love, but somehow can’t.
I don’t like David Copperfield
As much as David’s Aunt,
And it may be because my mind
Has been in many fogs—
I don’t like Nicholas Nickleby
So well as Newman Noggs.

I don’t like Richard Carstone, Pip,
Or Martin Chuzzlewit,
And for the rich and fatherly
I scarcely care a bit.
The honest, sober clods are bores
Who cannot suffer much,
And with the Esther Summersons
I never was in touch.

The ‘Charleys’ and the haggard wives,
Kind hearts in poverty—
And yes! the Lizzie Hexams, too—
Are very near to me;
But men like Brothers Cheeryble,
And Madeline Bray divine,
And Nell, and Little Dorrit live
In a better world than mine.

The Nicklebys and Copperfields,
They do not stand the test;
And in my heart I don’t believe
That Dickens loved them best.
I can’t admire their ways and talk,
I do not like their looks—
Those selfish, injured sticks that stalk
Through all the Master’s books.

They’re mostly selfish in their love,
And selfish in their hate,
They marry Dora Spenlows, too,
While Agnes Wickfields wait;
And back they come to poor Tom Pinch
When hard-up for a friend;
They come to wrecks like Newman Nogga
To help them in the end.

And—well, maybe I am unjust,
And maybe I forget;
Some of us marry dolls and jilt
Our Agnes Wickfields yet.
We seek our friends when fortune frowns—
It has been ever thus—
And we neglect Joe Gargery
When fortune smiles on us.

They get some rich old grandfather
Or aunt to see them through,
And you can trace self-interest
In nearly all they do.
And scoundrels like Ralph Nickleby,
In spite of all their crimes,
And crawlers like Uriah Heep
Told bitter truths at times.

But—yes, I love the vagabonds
And failures from the ranks,
And hard old files with hidden hearts
Like Wemmick and like Pancks.
And Jaggers had his ‘poor dreams, too,’
And fond hopes like the rest—
But, somehow, somehow, all my life
I’ve loved Dick Swiveller best!

But, let us peep at Snagsby first
As softly he lays down
Beside the bed of dying Joe
Another half-a-crown.
And Nemo’s wretched pauper grave—
But we can let them be,
For Joe has said to Heaven: ‘They
Wos werry good to me.’

And Wemmick with his aged P——
No doubt has his reward;
And Jaggers, hardest nut of all,
Will be judged by the Lord.
And Pancks, the rent-collecting screw,
With laurels on his brow,
Is loved by all the bleeding hearts
In Bleeding Heart Yard now.

Tom Pinch is very happy now,
And Magwitch is at rest,
And Newman Noggs again might hold
His head up with the best;
Micawber, too, when all is said,
Drank bravely Sorrow’s cup—
Micawber worked to right them all,
And something did turn up.

How do ‘John Edward Nandy, Sir!’
And Plornish get along?
Why! if the old man is in voice
We’ll hear him pipe a song.
We’ll have a look at Baptiste, too,
While still the night is young—
With Mrs. Plornish to explain
In the Italian tongue.

Before we go we’ll ask about
Poor young John Chivery:
‘There never was a gentleman
In all his family.’
His hopeless love, his broken heart,
But to his rival true;
He came of Nature’s gentlemen,
But young John never knew.

We’ll pass the little midshipman
With heart that swells and fills,
Where Captain Ed’ard Cuttle waits
For Wal’r and Sol Gills.
Jack Bunsby stands by what he says
(Which isn’t very clear),
And Toots with his own hopeless love—
As true as any here.

And who that read has never felt
The sorrow that it cost
When Captain Cuttle read the news
The ‘Son and Heir’ was lost?
And who that read has not rejoiced
With him and ‘Heart’s Delight,’
And felt as Captain Cuttle felt
When Wal’r came that night?

And yonder, with a broken heart,
That people thought was stone,
Deserted in his ruined home,
Poor Dombey sits alone.
Who has not gulped a something down,
Whose eye has not grown dim
While feeling glad for Dombey’s sake
When Florence came to him?

(A stately house in Lincolnshire—
The scene is bleak and cold—
The footsteps on the terrace sound
To-night at Chesney Wold.
One who loved honour, wife, and truth,
If nothing else besides,
Along the dreary Avenue
Sir Leicester Dedlock rides.)

We’ll go round by Poll Sweedlepipe’s,
The bird and barber shop;
If Sairey Gamp is so dispoged
We’ll send her up a drop.
We’ll cross High Holborn to the Bull,
And, if he cares to come,
By streets that are not closed to him
We’ll see Dick Swiveller home.
He’s looking rather glum to-night,
The why I will not ask—
No matter how we act the goat,
We mostly wear a mask.
Some wear a mask to hide the false
(And some the good and true)—
I wouldn’t be surprised to know
Mark Tapley wore one too.

We wear a mask called cheerfulness
While feeling sad inside;
And men like Dombey, who was shy,
Oft wear a mask called pride.
A front of pure benevolence
The grinding ‘Patriarch’ bore;
And kind men often wear a mask
Like that which Jaggers wore.

But, never mind, Dick Swiveller!
We’ll see it out together
Beneath the wing of friendship, Dick,
That never moults a feather.
We’ll look upon the rosy yet
Full many a night, old friend,
And tread the mazy ere we woo
The balmy in the end.
Our palace walls are rather bare,
The floor is somewhat damp,
But, while there’s liquor, anywhere
Is good enough to camp.
What ho! mine host! bring forth thine ale
And let the board be spread!—
It is the hour when churchyards yawn
And wine goes to the head.

’Twas you who saved poor Kit, old chap,
When he was in a mess—
But, what ho! Varlet! bring us wine!
Here’s to the Marchioness!
‘We’ll make a scholar of her yet,’
She’ll be a lady fair,
‘And she shall go in silk attire
And siller have to spare.’

From sport to sport they hurry her
To banish her regrets,
And when we win a smile from her
We cannot pay our debts!
Left orphans at a tender age,
We’re happiest in the land—
We’re Glorious Apollos, Dick,
And you’re Perpetual Grand!

You’re king of all philosophers,
And let the Godly rust;
Here’s to the obscure citizen
Who sent the beer on trust?
It sure would be a cheerful world
If never man got tight;
You spent your money on your friends,
Dick Swiveller! Good night!

‘A dissolute and careless man—
An idle, drunken path;’
But see where Sidney Carton spills
His last drink on the hearth!
A ruined life! He lived for drink
And but one thing beside—
And Oh! it was a glorious death
That Sidney Carton died.

And ‘Which I meantersay is Pip’—
The voices hurry past—
‘Not to deceive you, sir’—‘Stand by!’
‘Awast, my lass, awast!’
‘Beware of widders, Samivel,’
And shun strong drink, my friend;
And, ‘not to put too fine a point
Upon it,’ I must end.

One Hundred And Three

With the frame of a man, and the face of a boy, and a manner strangely wild,
And the great, wide, wondering, innocent eyes of a silent-suffering child;
With his hideous dress and his heavy boots, he drags to Eternity—
And the Warder says, in a softened tone: ‘Keep step, One Hundred and Three.’
’Tis a ghastly travesty of drill—or a ghastly farce of work—
But One Hundred and Three, he catches step with a start, a shuffle and jerk.
’Tis slow starvation in separate cells, and a widow’s son is he,
And the widow, she drank before he was born—(Keep step, One Hundred and Three!)

They shut a man in the four-by-eight, with a six-inch slit for air,
Twenty-three hours of the twenty-four, to brood on his virtues there.
And the dead stone walls and the iron door close in as an iron band
On eyes that followed the distant haze far out on the level land.

Bread and water and hominy, and a scrag of meat and a spud,
A Bible and thin flat book of rules, to cool a strong man’s blood;
They take the spoon from the cell at night—and a stranger might think it odd;
But a man might sharpen it on the floor, and go to his own Great God.

One Hundred and Three, it is hard to believe that you saddled your horse at dawn;
There were girls that rode through the bush at eve, and girls who lolled on the lawn.
There were picnic parties in sunny bays, and ships on the shining sea;
There were foreign ports in the glorious days—(Hold up, One Hundred and Three!)

A man came out at exercise time from one of the cells to-day:
’Twas the ghastly spectre of one I knew, and I thought he was far away;
We dared not speak, but he signed ‘Farewell—fare—well,’ and I knew by this
And the number stamped on his clothes (not sewn) that a heavy sentence was his.

Where five men do the work of a boy, with warders not to see,
It is sad and bad and uselessly mad, it is ugly as it can be,
From the flower-beds laid to fit the gaol, in circle and line absurd,
To the gilded weathercock on the church, agape like a strangled bird.

Agape like a strangled bird in the sun, and I wonder what he could see?
The Fleet come in, and the Fleet go out? (Hold up, One Hundred and Three!)
The glorious sea, and the bays and Bush, and the distant mountains blue
(Keep step, keep step, One Hundred and Three, for my lines are halting too)

The great, round church with its volume of sound, where we dare not turn our eyes—
They take us there from our separate hells to sing of Paradise.
In all the creeds there is hope and doubt, but of this there is no doubt:
That starving prisoners faint in church, and the warders carry them out.

They double-lock at four o’clock and the warders leave their keys,
And the Governor strolls with a friend at eve through his stone conservatories;
Their window slits are like idiot mouths with square stone chins adrop,
And the weather-stains for the dribble, and the dead flat foreheads atop.

No light save the lights in the yard beneath the clustering lights of the Lord—
And the lights turned in to the window slits of the Observation Ward.
(They eat their meat with their fingers there in a madness starved and dull—
Oh! the padded cells and the “O—b—s” are nearly always full.)

Rules, regulations—red-tape and rules; all and alike they bind:
Under ‘separate treatment ’ place the deaf; in the dark cell shut the blind!
And somewhere down in his sandstone tomb, with never a word to save,
One Hundred and Three is keeping step, as he’ll keep it to his grave.

The press is printing its smug, smug lies, and paying its shameful debt—
It speaks of the comforts that prisoners have, and ‘holidays’ prisoners get.
The visitors come with their smug, smug smiles through the gaol on a working day,
And the public hears with its large, large ears what authorities have to say.

They lay their fingers on well-hosed walls, and they tread on the polished floor;
They peep in the generous shining cans with their ration Number Four.
And the visitors go with their smug, smug smiles; the reporters’ work is done;
Stand up! my men, who have done your time on ration Number One!

Speak up, my men! I was never the man to keep my own bed warm,
I have jogged with you round in the Fools’ Parade, and I’ve worn your uniform;
I’ve seen you live, and I’ve seen you die, and I’ve seen your reason fail—
I’ve smuggled tobacco and loosened my tongue—and I’ve been punished in gaol.

Ay! clang the spoon on the iron floor, and shove in the bread with your toe,
And shut with a bang the iron door, and clank the bolt—just so,
With an ignorant oath for a last good-night—or the voice of a filthy thought.
By the Gipsy Blood you have caught a man you’ll be sorry that ever you caught.

He shall be buried alive without meat, for a day and a night unheard
If he speak to a fellow prisoner, though he die for want of a word.
He shall be punished, and he shall be starved, and he shall in darkness rot,
He shall be murdered body and soul—and God said, ‘Thou shalt not!’

I’ve seen the remand-yard men go out, by the subway out of the yard—
And I’ve seen them come in with a foolish grin and a sentence of Three Years Hard.
They send a half-starved man to the court, where the hearts of men they carve—
Then feed him up in the hospital to give him the strength to starve.

You get the gaol-dust in your throat, in your skin the dead gaol-white;
You get the gaol-whine in your voice and in every letter you write.
And in your eyes comes the bright gaol-light—not the glare of the world’s distraught,
Not the hunted look, nor the guilty look, but the awful look of the Caught.

There was one I met—’twas a mate of mine—in a gaol that is known to us;
He died—and they said it was ‘heart disease’; but he died for want of a truss.
I’ve knelt at the head of the pallid dead, where the living dead were we,
And I’ve closed the yielding lids with my thumbs—(Keep step, One Hundred and Three!)

A criminal face is rare in gaol, where all things else are ripe—
It is higher up in the social scale that you’ll find the criminal type.
But the kindness of man to man is great when penned in a sandstone pen—
The public call us the ‘criminal class,’ but the warders call us ‘the men.’

The brute is a brute, and a kind man kind, and the strong heart does not fail—
A crawler’s a crawler everywhere, but a man is a man in gaol!
For forced ‘desertion’ or drunkenness, or a law’s illegal debt,
While never a man who was a man was ‘reformed’ by punishment yet.

The champagne lady comes home from the course in charge of the criminal swell—
They carry her in from the motor car to the lift in the Grand Hotel.
But armed with the savage Habituals Act they are waiting for you and me,
And the drums, they are beating loud and near. (Keep step, One Hundred and Three!)

The clever scoundrels are all outside, and the moneyless mugs in gaol—
Men do twelve months for a mad wife’s lies or Life for a strumpet’s tale.
If the people knew what the warders know, and felt as the prisoners feel—
If the people knew, they would storm their gaols as they stormed the old Bastile.

And the cackling, screaming half-human hens who were never mothers nor wives
Would send their sisters to such a hell for the term of their natural lives,
Where laws are made in a Female Fit in the Land of the Crazy Fad,
And drunkards in judgment on drunkards sit and the mad condemn the mad.

The High Church service swells and swells where the tinted Christs look down—
It is easy to see who is weary and faint and weareth the thorny crown.
There are swift-made signs that are not to God, and they march us Hellward then.
It is hard to believe that we knelt as boys to ‘for ever and ever, Amen. ’

Warders and prisoners all alike in a dead rot dry and slow—
The author must not write for his own, and the tailor must not sew.
The billet-bound officers dare not speak and discharged men dare not tell
Though many and many an innocent man must brood in this barren hell.

We are most of us criminal, most of us mad, and we do what we can do.
(Remember the Observation Ward and Number Forty-Two.)
There are eyes that see through stone and iron, though the rest of the world be blind—
We are prisoners all in God’s Great Gaol, but the Governor, He is kind.

They crave for sunlight, they crave for meat, they crave for the might-have-been,
But the cruellest thing in the walls of a gaol is the craving for nicotine.
Yet the spirit of Christ is everywhere where the heart of a man can dwell,
It comes like tobacco in prison—or like news to the separate cell.

They have smuggled him out to the Hospital with no one to tell the tale,
But it’s little the doctors and nurses can do for the patient from Starvinghurst Gaol.
He cannot swallow the food they bring, for a gaol-starved man is he,
And the blanket and screen are ready to draw—(Keep step, One Hundred and Three!)
‘What were you doing, One Hundred and Three?’ and the answer is ‘Three years hard,
And a month to go’—and the whisper is low: ‘There’s the moonlight—out in the yard.’
The drums, they are beating far and low, and the footstep’s light and free,
And the angels are whispering over his bed: ‘Keep step, One Hundred and Three!’