Shearer’s Song

The season is over;
The shearing is done;
The wages are paid; and
The ‘sprees’ have begun.
But never a shanty
Gets sight of my cheques;
For far down the Murray
My Annie expects
A heart that is faithful,
A head that is clear,
And sufficient provisions
To last for a year.

The Song And The Sigh

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

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

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

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

At The Beating Of A Drum

Fear ye not the stormy future, for the Battle Hymn is strong,
And the armies of Australia shall not march without a song;
The glorious words and music of Australia's song shall come
When her true hearts rush together at the beating of a drum.

We may not be there to hear it – 'twill be written in the night,
And Australia's foes shall fear it in the hour before the fight.
The glorious words and music from a lonely heart shall come
When our sons shall rush to danger at the beating of the drum.

He shall be unknown who writes it; he shall soon forgotten be,
But the song shall ring through ages as a song of liberty.
And I say the words and music of our battle hymn shall come,
When Australia wakes in anger at the beating of a drum.

The Route March

Did you hear the children singing, O my brothers?
Did you hear the children singing as our troops went marching past?
In the sunshine and the rain,
As they’ll never sing again—
Hear the little school-girls singing as our troops went swinging past?
Did you hear the children singing, O my brothers?
Did you hear the children singing for the first man and the last?
As they marched away and vanished,
To a tune we thought was banished—
Did you hear the children singing for the future and the past?

Shall you hear the children singing, O my brothers?
Shall you hear the children singing in the sunshine or the rain?
There’ll be sobs beneath the ringing
Of the cheers, and ’neath the singing
There’ll be tears of orphan children when
Our Boys come back again!

And his death came in December,
When our summer was aglow—
Like a song that we remember,
Like a child’s dream long ago,
And it brought Australia to him,
Her sweetest singer dead,
While in silence friends who knew him
Bowed their heads beside his bed.

Angel Death comes softly stealing
When the watchers’ eyes are dim,
And, when all has failed in healing
Wounded heart or helpless limb—
With a whisper we may hear not
’Till with “Adsum” we respond,
And a vision we shall fear not
Of the Peaceful Land beyond.

While Australians in their blindness
Fail to realize their loss,
Place the wreath of loving kindness
And raise the simple cross.
For he taught us to be brothers
And he taught us to be brave—
And we’ll banish pride and envy
With a hand-clasp by his grave.

The Good Old Concertina

’Twas merry when the hut was full
Of jolly girls and fellows.
We danced and sang until we burst
The concertina’s bellows.
From distant Darling to the sea,
From the Downs to Riverina,
Has e’er a gum in all the west
Not heard the concertina?

’Twas peaceful round the campfire blaze,
The long white branches o’er us;
We’d play the tunes of bygone days,
To some good old bush chorus.
Old Erin’s harp may sweeter be,
The Scottish pipes blow keener;
But sing an old bush song for me
To the good old concertina.

’Twas cosy by the hut-fire bright
When the pint pot passed between us;
We drowned the voice of the stormy night
With the good old concertina’s.
Though trouble drifts along the years,
And the pangs of care grow keener,
My heart is gladdened when it hears
That good old concertina.

A Song Of The Republic

Sons of the South, awake! arise!
Sons of the South, and do.
Banish from under your bonny skies
Those old-world errors and wrongs and lies.
Making a hell in a Paradise
That belongs to your sons and you.

Sons of the South, make choice between
(Sons of the South, choose true),
The Land of Morn and the Land of E'en,
The Old Dead Tree and the Young Tree Green,
The Land that belongs to the lord and the Queen,
And the Land that belongs to you.

Sons of the South, your time will come –
Sons of the South, 'tis near –
The "Signs of the Times", in their language dumb,
Fortell it, and ominous whispers hum
Like sullen sounds of a distant drum,
In the ominous atmosphere.

Sons of the South, aroused at last!
Sons of the South are few!
But your ranks grow longer and deeper fast,
And ye shall swell to an army vast,
And free from the wrongs of the North and Past
The land that belongs to you.

Will Yer Write It Down For Me?

In the parlour of the shanty where the lives have all gone wrong,
When a singer or reciter gives a story or a song,
Where the poet’s heart is speaking to their hearts in every line,
Till the hardest curse and blubber at the thoughts of Auld Lang Syne;
Then a boozer lurches forward with an oath for all disguise—
Prayers and curses in his soul, and tears and liquor in his eyes—
Grasps the singer or reciter with a death-grip by the hand:
‘That’s the truth, bloke! Sling it at ’em! Oh! Gorbli’me, that was grand!
‘Don’t mind me; I’ve got ’em. You know! What’s yer name, bloke! Don’t yer see?
‘Who’s the bloke what wrote the po’try? Will yer write it down fer me?’

And the backblocks’ bard goes through it, ever seeking as he goes
For the line of least resistance to the hearts of men he knows;
And he tracks their hearts in mateship, and he tracks them out alone—
Seeking for the power to sway them, till he finds it in his own,
Feels what they feel, loves what they love, learns to hate what they condemn,
Takes his pen in tears and triumph, and he writes it down for them.

For All The Land To See: A Song Of The Tools

THE CROSS-CUT and the crowbar cross, and hang them on the wall,
And make a greenhide rack to fit the wedges and the maul,
The “done” long-handled shovel and the thong-bound axe that fell,
The crowbar, pick-axe and the “throw”—the axe that morticed well.
The old patched tent and “fly”, bag bunk and pillow of sugee,
The frying-pan and billy-can, for all the land to see.

The cross-cut, after pounds of files, is narrowed down and thin,
With here and there a tooth cut out as th’ curve straightened in,
The axe close to the iron ground, the shovel to the shaft,
The handle from the first worn smooth with sweat and dust and graft.
The maul and wedges burred and split, spell bravest history—
These were the arms our fathers bore, for none but they to see.

Then look you round on all that is, on cities proud and fair,
And look you westward from the range—towns, farms and homesteads there.
Then hurry to a place you know lest you should be too late,
And clear the scrub some little space—small place, say—three-by eight.
A blackened post stump stands where four rough panels used to be
And there take off your panama where none but God might see.

The Song Of The Waste-Paper Basket

O BARD of fortune, you deem me nought
But a mark for your careless scorn.
For I am the echo-less grave of thought
That is strangled before it’s born.
You think perchance that I am a doom
Which only a dunce should dread—
Nor dream I’ve been the dishonoured tomb
Of the noblest and brightest dead.

The brightest fancies that e’er can fly
From the labouring minds of men
Are often written in lines awry,
And marred by a blundering pen;
And thus it comes that I gain a part
Of what to the world is loss—
Of genius lost for the want of art,
Of pearls that are set in dross.

And though I am of a lowly birth
My fame has been cheaply bought,
A power am I, for I rob the earth
Of the brightest gems of thought;
The Press gains much of my lawful share,
I am wronged without redress—
But I have revenge, for I think it fair
That I should plunder the Press.

You’d pause in wonder to read behind
The lines of some songs I see;
The soul of the singer I often find
In songs that are thrown to me.
But the song of the singer I bury deep
With the scrawl of the dunce and clown,
And both from the eyes of the world I keep,
And the hopes of both I drown.

The Pavement Stones :A Song Of The Unemployed

WHEN first I came to town, resolved
To fight my way alone,
No prouder foot than mine e’er trod
Upon the pavement stone;
But I am one in thousands,
And why should I repine?
The pavement stones have broken springs
In stronger feet than mine.

I brought to aid me all the hope
And energy of youth;
And in my heart I felt the strength
Of plain bucolic truth:
The independence nourished
Amid the hills and trees—
But, ah! the city hath a cure
For qualities like these.

I wonder oft how e’er I made
The efforts that I made,
For after three long weary years
I taught myself a trade.
And two more years and I was free
With strength and hope elate,
For “he that hath a trade,” they say,
“Hath also an estate.”

I tramped the streets and looked for work
And begged for work in vain,
Until I recked not, though I ne’er
Might touch my tools again.
I tramped the streets despairing;
My cheeks grew white and thin;
I felt the pavement wearing through
The leather, sock, and skin.

The bitter war goes on between
The idlers and the drones,
Until the hearts of men grow cold
And hard as pavement stones;
But I am one amid the crowd,
Then why should I repine?
The pavement stones have broken springs
In stronger feet than mine.

The Way I Treated Father [a Bush Song]

I WORKED with father in the bush
At splitting rails and palings.
He never was unkind to me,
Although he “had his failings:”
And now his grave is old and green,
And now at times I’m rather
Inclined to think ’twas very mean
The way I treated father.

The mother had for years been dead,
And Dad and I and Stumpy
Were living in a little shed—
What bushmen call a humpy;
And now I think when day began,
And it was cold and chilly,
’Twas mean to see a grey old man
Get up and boil the billy.

And though my lazy limbs were stiff;
And though ’twas winter weather.
And though my eyes were shut as if
The lids were glued together,
I think ’twas mean to lie in bed;
I think that I was silly,
Because I growled if father said,
“Git up and bile the billy!”

I didn’t help the cooking much
For I was always “tired”—
’Twas strange that I could eat with such
An appetite as I had;
But now I mind I never growled
When father shouted, “Willie!
It’s gittin’ on for dinnertime;
Go home and bile the hilly.”

His grave is growing old and green
And things have altered rather;
But still I think ’twas mighty mean
The way I treated father.
He left a tidy sum to me,
But I’d give all the money
To hear him say, “Will you get up
And bile the billy, Sonny?”

The Song Of Australia

The centuries found me to nations unknown –
My people have crowned me and made me a throne;
My royal regalia is love, truth, and light –
A girl called Australia – I've come to my right.

Though no fields of conquest grew red at my birth,
My dead were the noblest and bravest on earth;
Their strong sons are worthy to stand with the best –
My brave Overlanders ride west of the west.

My cities are seeking the clean and the right;
My Statesmen are speaking in London to-night;
The voice of my Bushmen is heard oversea;
My army and navy are coming to me.

By all my grim headlands my flag is unfurled,
My artists and singers are charming the world;
The White world shall know its young outpost with pride;
The fame of my poets goes ever more wide.

By old tow'r and steeple of nation grown grey
The name of my people is spreading to-day;
Through all the old nations my learners go forth;
My youthful inventors are startling the north.

In spite of all Asia, and safe from her yet,
Through wide Australasia my standards I'll set;
A grand world and bright world to rise in an hour –
The Wings of the White world, the Balance of Power.

Through storm, or serenely – whate'er I go through –
God grant I be queenly! God grant I be true!
To suffer in silence, and strike at a sign,
Till all the fair islands of these seas are mine.

Freedom On The Wallaby

Australia's a big country
An' Freedom's humping bluey,
An' Freedom's on the wallaby
Oh! don't you hear 'er cooey?
She's just begun to boomerang,
She'll knock the tyrants silly,
She's goin' to light another fire
And boil another billy.

Our fathers toiled for bitter bread
While loafers thrived beside 'em,
But food to eat and clothes to wear,
Their native land denied 'em.
An' so they left their native land
In spite of their devotion,
An' so they came, or if they stole,
Were sent across the ocean.

Then Freedom couldn't stand the glare
O' Royalty's regalia,
She left the loafers where they were,
An' came out to Australia.
But now across the mighty main
The chains have come ter bind her –
She little thought to see again
The wrongs she left behind her.

Our parents toil'd to make a home –
Hard grubbin 'twas an' clearin' –
They wasn't crowded much with lords
When they was pioneering.
But now that we have made the land
A garden full of promise,
Old Greed must crook 'is dirty hand
And come ter take it from us.

So we must fly a rebel flag,
As others did before us,
And we must sing a rebel song
And join in rebel chorus.
We'll make the tyrants feel the sting
O' those that they would throttle;
They needn't say the fault is ours
If blood should stain the wattle!

The Song Of The Darling River

The skies are brass and the plains are bare,
Death and ruin are everywhere --
And all that is left of the last year's flood
Is a sickly stream on the grey-black mud;
The salt-springs bubble and the quagmires quiver,
And -- this is the dirge of the Darling River:

`I rise in the drought from the Queensland rain,
`I fill my branches again and again;
`I hold my billabongs back in vain,
`For my life and my peoples the South Seas drain;
`And the land grows old and the people never
`Will see the worth of the Darling River.

`I drown dry gullies and lave bare hills,
`I turn drought-ruts into rippling rills --
`I form fair island and glades all green
`Till every bend is a sylvan scene.
`I have watered the barren land ten leagues wide!
`But in vain I have tried, ah! in vain I have tried
`To show the sign of the Great All Giver,
`The Word to a people: O! lock your river.

`I want no blistering barge aground,
`But racing steamers the seasons round;
`I want fair homes on my lonely ways,
`A people's love and a people's praise --
`And rosy children to dive and swim --
`And fair girls' feet in my rippling brim;
`And cool, green forests and gardens ever' --
Oh, this is the hymn of the Darling River.

The sky is brass and the scrub-lands glare,
Death and ruin are everywhere;
Thrown high to bleach, or deep in the mud
The bones lie buried by last year's flood,
And the Demons dance from the Never Never
To laugh at the rise of the Darling River.

Where the needle-woman toils
Through the night with hand and brain,
Till the sickly daylight shudders like a spectre at the pain –
Till her eyes seem to crawl,
And her brain seems to creep –

And her limbs are all a-tremble for the want of rest and sleep!
It is there the fire-brand blazes in my blood; and it is there
That I see the crimson banner of the Children of Despair!
That I feel the soul and music in a rebel's battle song,
And the greatest love for justice and the hottest hate for wrong!

When the foremost in his greed
Presses heavy on the last –
In the brutal spirit rising from the grave-yard of the past –
Where the poor are trodden down
And the rich are deaf and blind!

It is there I feel the greatest love and pity for mankind:
There – where heart to heart is saying, though the tongue and lip be still:
We've been through it all and know it! brother, we've been through the mill!
There the spirits of my brothers rise the higher for defeat,
And the drums of revolution roll for ever in the street!

Christ is coming once again,
And his day is drawing near;
He is leading on the thousands of the army of the rear!
We shall know the second advent
By the lower skies aflame

With the signals of his coming, for he comes not as he came –
Not humble, meek, and lowly, as he came in days of old,
But with hatred, retribution for the worshippers of gold!
And the roll of battle music and the steady tramp of feet
Sound for ever in the thunder and the rattle of the street!

The schools marched in procession in happiness and pride,
The city bands before them, the soldiers marched beside;
Oh, starched white frocks and sashes and suits that high schools wear,
The boy scout and the boy lout and all the rest were there,
And all flags save Australia's flag waved high in sun and air!

The Girls' High School, and Grammar School and colleges of stone
Flew all flags from their walls and towers – all flags except our own!
And down here in the alleys where Premiers never come,
Nor candidate, nor delegate, nor sound of fife and drum,
They packed them on the lorries, seared children of the slum.

Each face seemed soiled and faded, though scrubbed with household soap,
And older than a mother-face, but with less sign of hope:
The knowledge of things evil, of drunken wreck and hag,
Of sordid sounds and voices, the everlasting "nag" –
Oh, men without a battle-song! Oh, men without a flag!

They breed a nation's strength behind each shabby little door,
Where rent-collectors knock for aye, and Christ shall knock no more;
The sounds that hurt the mother's heart affright the children there –
Alarm-clocks on an empty tin, the tin tray on a chair;
For weary folk are hard to wake in hot and heavy air.

They sang in Pride's Procession that Mammon might endure –
Oh, wistful singing faces, the children of the poor!
Oh, hideous fiends of commerce! Oh, ghouls of business strife!
I wait the coming of the things to wake the land to life;
The flag without a cross or bar, the drum without a fife!

The Mountain Splitter

He works in the glen where the waratah grows,
And the gums and the ashes are tall,
’Neath cliffs that re-echo the sound of his blows
When the wedges leap in from the mawl.

He comes of a hardy old immigrant race,
And he feels not the rain nor the drouth.
His sinews are tougher than wire; and his face
Has been tanned by the sun of the south.

Now doomed to be shorn of its glory at last
Is the stately old tree he attacks;
Its moments of life he is numbering fast
With the keen steady strokes of his axe.

Loud cracks at the butt; and the strong wood is burst;
And the splitter steps backward, and turns
His eyes to the boughs that move slowly at first
Ere they rush to their grave in the ferns.

He strips off the bark with slight effort of strength
And stretches it out on the weeds,
And marks off the trunk with a measure the length
Of the rails or the palings he needs.

The teeth of his crosscut so truly are set
That it swings from his elbow at ease;
And the song of the saw—I am hearing it yet—
Has the music of wind in the trees.

Strong blows on the wedge, and a rip and a tear,
And the log opens up to the butt;
And, spreading around through the pure mountain air,
Is the scent of the wood newly cut.

A lover of comfort and cronies is he;
And when the day’s work is behind,
A fire, and a yarn, and a billy of tea,
At the hut of the splitter you’ll find.

His custom is sought in the town by the range;
For well to the future he looks:
His cheques in an instant the storekeepers change;
And his name is the best on the books.

Of home, name and wealth and ambition bereft—
We are children of fortune and luck:
They deny there’s a shred of our characters left,
But they cannot deny us the pluck!
We are vagabond scamps, we are kings over all—
There is little on earth we desire—
We are devils who stand with our backs to the wall,
And who call on the cowards to fire!

There are some of us here who were noble and good,
And who learnt in ingratitude’s schools—
They were born of the selfish and misunderstood,
They were soft, they were ‘smoodgers’ or fools.
With their hands in their pockets to help every friend
In a fix—and they never asked how:
Beware of them you who have money to lend,
For it’s little you’d get from them now.

There are some of us here who were lovers of old—
In the days that were nearer to God;
The girl was more precious than honour or gold,
And they worshipped the ground where she trod;
But she trampled their hearts and they suffered and knew
How the soul of a woman to read—
They will never again to a woman be true;
Let the girls who may meet them take heed!

There are some of us here who were devils from birth,
Who would steal the eye out of a friend—
But we judge not or blame not the worst on the earth,
For it comes to the same in the end.
There are some of us here who were ruined by wrong—
To whom justice and love came too late—
And they threw them aside and go singing a song,
And they know that their mistress is fate.

We were some of us failures at suicide, too—
We are most of us back from the dead—
But we’ve all found the courage to battle it through,
Till the strength of our bodies is sped:
With a flag that is dyed with our hearts’-blood unfurled,
We are marching and marching afar—
We are comrades of all who are fighting the world,
For the world made us all what we are.

A Mixed Battle Song

Lo! the Boar’s tail is salted, and the Kangaroo’s exalted,
And his right eye is extinguished by a man-o’-warsman’s cap;
He is flying round the fences where the Southern Sea commences,
And he’s very much excited for a quiet sort of chap.
For his ships have had a scrap and they’ve marked it on the map
Where the H.M.A.S. Sydney dropped across a German trap.
So the Kangaroo’s a-chasing of his Blessed Self, and racing
From Cape York right round to Leeuwin, from the coast to Nevertire;
And of him need be no more said, save that to the tail aforesaid
Is the Blue Australian Ensign firmly fixed with copper wire.
(When he’s filled the map with white men there’ll be little to desire.)
I was sulky, I was moody (I’m inclined to being broody)
When the news appeared in Sydney, bringing joy and bringing tears,
(There’s an undertone of sorrow that you’ll understand to-morrow)
And I felt a something in me that had not been there for years.
Though I lean in the direction of most absolute Protection
(And of wheat on the selection)
And, considering Congestion and the hopeless unemployed,
I’d a notion (but I hid it) that, the way the Emden did it,
’Twould be better for Australia if her “commerce” was destroyed.

You may say that war’s a curse, but the peace curse may be worse,
When it’s lasted till it’s rotten—rotten from the inmost core,
To the mouldy skin which we are, in the land we call the freer—
And I almost feel inclined to call for “Three Cheers for the War!”
For I think, when all is over, from Magellan’s Straits to Dover,
Things will be a great deal better than they ever were before.
But, since “Peace” and “Right” are squalling, I’ll content myself with calling
For three rousers—like the ringing cheers we used to give of yore—
For the Emden!
For the Sydney!
And their gallant crews and captains—both of whom we’ve met before!
And, for Kaiser William’s nevvy, we shall venture three cheers more!
Cheers that go to end a war.

Song Of The Dardanelles

The Wireless tells and the cable tells
How our boys behaved by the Dardanelles.
Some thought in their hearts “Will our boys make good?”
We knew them of old and we knew they would!
Knew they would—
Knew they would;
We were mates of old and we knew they would.
They laughed and they larked and they loved likewise,
For blood is warm under Southern skies;
They knew not Pharoah (’tis understood),
And they got into scrapes, as we knew they would.
Knew they would—
Knew they would;
And they got into scrapes, as we knew they would.

They chafed in the dust of an old dead land
At the long months’ drill in the scorching sand;
But they knew in their hearts it was for their good,
And they saw it through as we knew they would.
Knew they would—
Knew they would;
And they saw it through as we knew they would.

The Coo-ee called through the Mena Camp,
And an army roared like the Ocean’s tramp
On a gale-swept beach in her wildest mood,
Till the Pyramids shook as we knew they would.
Knew they would—
Knew they would.
(And the Sphinx woke up as we knew she would.)

They were shipped like sheep when the dawn was grey;
(But their officers knew that no lambs were they).
They squatted and perched where’er they could,
And they “blanky-ed” for joy as we knew they would.
Knew they would—
Knew they would;
They “blanky-ed” for joy as we knew they would.

The sea was hell and the shore was hell,
With mine, entanglement, shrapnel and shell,
But they stormed the heights as Australians should,
And they fought and they died as we knew they would.
Knew they would—
Knew they would;
They fought and they died as we knew they would.

From the southern hills and the city lanes,
From the sandwaste lone and the Blacksoil Plains;
The youngest and strongest of England’s brood!—
They’ll win for the South as we knew they would.
Knew they would—
Knew they would;
They’ll win for the South as we knew they would.

The Australian Marseillaise

Sing the strong, proud song of Labour,
Toss the ringing music high;
Liberty’s a nearer neighbour
Than she was in days gone by.
Workmen’s weary wives and daughters
Sing the songs of liberty;
Men hail men across the waters,
Men reply across the sea.

We are marching on and onward
To the silver-streak of dawn,
To the dynasty of mankind
We are marching on.

Long the rich have been protected
By the walls that can’t endure;
By the walls that they erected
To divide them from the poor.
Crumbling now, they should not trust them,
For their end is drawing near;
Walls of Cant and walls of Custom,
Walls of Ignorance and Fear.

Tyrants, grip your weapons firmer,
Grip them firmly by the helves;
For the poor begin to murmur
Loudly now among themselves.
Hear us dare to say that Heaven
Gave us equal rights with you,
Dare to say the world was given
Unto all and not the few.

Tell us that the law has risen,
Make us bend beneath its sway,
Throw our leaders into prison,
Wrong us in the light of day.
Drive us to our dens, forgetting
All our woe as greed forgets,
While our weapons we are whetting
On your levelled bayonets.

Treat us like the beasts you’d make us,
Pen us close in wretched sties.
’Til our patience shall forsake us,
And like wolves we will arise.
Louder still for this shall rattle
Rifle shots, and sword blades ring
On the blood-wet fields of battle
In the days of reckoning.

We shall rise to prove us human,
Worthy of a human life,
When our starved and maddened women
Lead our armies on to strife.
When our war hymns wake the valleys,
And the rushing missiles shriek
From your barricaded alleys,
’Til your cannon cease to speak.

Then when Mammon Castle crashes
To the earth and trampled lies,
Then from out the blood and ashes
True Republics shall arise.
Then the world shall rest a season
(First since first the world began)
In the reign of right and reason
And the dynasty of man.

The Cockney Soul

From Woolwich and Brentford and Stamford Hill, from Richmond into the Strand,
Oh, the Cockney soul is a silent soul – as it is in every land!
But out on the sand with a broken band it's sarcasm spurs them through;
And, with never a laugh, in a gale and a half, 'tis the Cockney cheers the crew.

Oh, send them a tune from the music-halls with a chorus to shake the sky!
Oh, give them a deep-sea chanty now – and a star to steer them by!

Now this is a song of the great untrained, a song of the Unprepared,
Who had never the brains to plead unfit, or think of the things they dared;
Of the grocer-souled and the draper-souled, and the clerks of the four o'clock,
Who stood for London and died for home in the nineteen-fourteen shock.

Oh, this is a pork-shop warrior's chant – come back from it, maimed and blind,
To a little old counter in Grey's Inn-road and a tiny parlour behind;
And the bedroom above, where the wife and he go silently mourning yet
For a son-in-law who shall never come back and a dead son's room "To Let".

(But they have a boy "in the fried-fish line" in a shop across the "wye",
Who will take them "aht" and "abaht" to-night and cheer their old eyes dry.)

And this is a song of the draper's clerk (what have you all to say?) –
He'd a tall top-hat and a walking-coat in the city every day –
He wears no flesh on his broken bones that lie in the shell-churned loam;
For he went over the top and struck with his cheating yard-wand – home.

(Oh, touch your hat to the tailor-made before you are aware,
And lilt us a lay of Bank-holiday and the lights of Leicester-square!)

Hats off to the dowager lady at home in her house in Russell-square!
Like the pork-shop back and the Brixton flat, they are silently mourning there;
For one lay out ahead of the rest in the slush 'neath a darkening sky,
With the blood of a hundred earls congealed and his eye-glass to his eye.

(He gave me a cheque in an envelope on a distant gloomy day;
He gave me his hand at the mansion door and he said: "Good-luck! Good-bai!")

The Horse And Cart Ferry

It was old Jerry Brown,
Who’d an office in town,
And he used to get jocular, very;
And he’d go to the Shore
When they’d serve him no more,
And, of course, by the passenger ferry,
A sight on the passenger ferry.
Now this is a song of the ferry,
And a lay of the juice of the berry;
’Tis the ballad of Brown,
Who’d a business in town,
And commenced to go down
Very slow,
Don’t you know?
By coming home just a bit merry.

By the Drunks’ Boat—that’s right—
On a Saturday night
He would often be past being merry;
With his back teeth afloat,
On the twelve o’clock boat,
And a spectacle there on the ferry
(A picture to all on the ferry).

In the mornings, ashamed—
’Twas the last drink he blamed,
Though the first was the matter with Jerry,
With his nerve out of joint,
He’d sneak down to Blue’s Point,
And he’d cross by the horse-and-cart ferry,
Like a thief—by the horse-and-cart ferry.

But long before night
He’d most likely be tight,
And a subject and theme for George Perry;
And he’d cross to the Shore,
Somewhat worse than before,
And a nuisance to all on the ferry;
Singing-drunk on the passenger ferry.

And so it went on
Till his reason seemed gone,
And the Law, so it seemed, got a derry
On Brown. He went down,
And they sent him to town
One day, by “the trap,” on the ferry—
The Government trap on the ferry.

He was sober and sane
When he came back again,
And the past he’d determined to bury—
Or, I mean, live it down—
And he crossed from the town
Like a man, on the passenger ferry.
(There were sceptical souls on that ferry.)

They say ’twas the jaw
Of his mother-in-law
Drove him back to the juice of the berry;
But he soon got afloat
On the passenger boat
Or adrift on the horse-and-cart ferry
(Wrongly called the ve-hic-ular ferry).

The drink had him fast,
And he drank till at last
He dried up—a withered old cherry;
And they thought him no loss
When they sent him across
In a box, on the cart-and-horse ferry—
In a low, covered trap on the ferry.

Which I rise to explain—
If the moral ain’t plain,
And if you’re a cove that gets merry—
Always stick, when “afloat,”
To the passenger boat;
Or else to the cart-and-horse ferry,
Or you’ll make matters worse, like old Jerry.

But this is the song of the ferry,
And the lay of the juice of the berry;
And you will not deny—
If you read by-and-bye—
That the casual eye
Of the Tight
At first sight
Misses much in the song of the ferry.

The Friends Of Fallen Fortunes

The battlefield behind us,
And night loomed on the track;
The Friends of Fallen Fortunes
Were riding at my back.
Save those who lay face upward
Upon the sodden plain,
Not one of all I’d trusted
Was missing from my train.

A draggled train and blood-stained,
With helmets dented in,
With battered, loosened armour,
But with a cheerful grin.
No dark look bent upon me;
I noted to my shame
That Friends of Fallen Fortunes
Are aye the last to blame.

Not one of all I’d trusted,
Who’d followed to their cost,
Save those who lay face upward
On that red field I’d lost;
And here and there a soldier
I’d trusted not at all,
Like an unexpected mourner
At a poor man’s funeral.

And as the horses stumbled,
And the footmen limped along,
They all joined in the chorus
Of a good old Next Time song.
Behind us in the distance,
By hill and lane and wood,
My ever-dwindling rear-guard
Fell back again and stood.

They recked not wounds nor losses,
They all seemed very kind,
From knight who rode beside me
To boor who limped behind;
And some borne in their litters
Through that long agony—
Their death-white, pain-drawn faces
Had no reproach for me.

And so from noon till darkness,
Till morning grim and grey,
The Earl’s son and the Peasant’s
Were brothers that dark day.
I straightened in my saddle,
And proudly glanced me round—
I still was King of Comrades,
Whoever might be crowned!

I straightened in my saddle,
And glanced round proudly then—
Whoe’er might reign a season,
I held the hearts of men!
No power of gold can buy them
While battles shall be fought—
The Friends of Fallen Fortunes
Are never to be bought.

Through rain and marsh and hunger,
To what their fate might bring,
The remnants of my legions
Toiled on to join their King.
From north and south the captains
Of scattered bands won through—
Beneath its beaten colours
My beaten army grew.

And in the West before us—
The West was ever thus—
More Friends of Fallen Fortunes
Were gathering food for us;
For refuge and for succour—
For safety, food and rest—
The best of beaten armies
For ever seek the West.

With these men for my captains,
When we marched east again,
Our enemies were scattered
Like dust across the plain.
Our city lay before us,
And as we marched along,
We joined the grand old chorus
Of the glorious Next Time song.
And though they wear no armour,
And bear no blade nor bill,
The Friends of Fallen Fortunes
Are riding with me still;
And, many times defeated
By city, field, and sea,
The Friends of Fallen Fortunes
March on to Victory.

The Army Of The Rear

I listened through the music and the sounds of revelry,
And all the hollow noises of that year of Jubilee;
I heard beyond the music and beyond the local cheer,
The steady tramp of thousands that were marching in the rear.
Tramp! tramp! tramp!
They seem to shake the air,
Those never-ceasing footsteps of the outcasts in the rear.
I heard defiance ringing from the men of rags and dirt,
I heard wan woman singing that sad “Song of the Shirt”,
And o’er the sounds of menace and moaning low and drear,
I heard the steady tramping of their feet along the rear.
Tramp! tramp! tramp!
Vibrating in the air —
They’re swelling fast, those footsteps of the Army of the Rear!

I hate the wrongs I read about, I hate the wrongs I see!
The tramping of that army sounds as music unto me!
A music that is terrible, that frights the anxious ear,
Is beaten from the weary feet that tramp along the rear.
Tramp! tramp! tramp!
In dogged, grim despair —
They have a goal, those footsteps of the Army of the Rear!

I looked upon the nobles, with their lineage so old;
I looked upon their mansions, on their acres and their gold,
I saw their women radiant in jewelled robes appear,
And then I joined the army of the outcasts in the rear.
Tramp! tramp! tramp!
We’ll show what Want can dare,
My brothers and my sisters of the Army of the Rear!

I looked upon the mass of poor, in filthy alleys pent;
And on rich men’s Edens, that are built on grinding rent;
I looked o’er London’s miles of slums — I saw the horrors there,
And swore to die a soldier of the Army of the Rear.
Tramp! tramp! tramp!
I’ve sworn to do and dare,
I’ve sworn to die a soldier of the Army of the Rear!

“They’re brutes,” so say the wealthy, “and by steel must be dismayed” —
Be brutes among us, nobles, they are brutes that ye have made;
We want what God hath given us, we want our portion here,
And that is why we’re marching — and we’ll march beyond the rear!
Tramp! tramp! tramp!
Awake and have a care,
Ye proud and haughty spurners of the wretches in the rear.

We’ll nurse our wrongs to strengthen us, our hate that it may grow,
For, outcast from society, society’s our foe.
Beware! who grind out human flesh, for human life is dear!
There’s menace in the marching of the Army of the Rear.
Tramp! tramp! tramp!
There’s danger in despair,
There’s danger in the marching of the Army of the Rear!

The wealthy care not for our wants, nor for the pangs we feel;
Our hands have clutched in vain for bread, and now they clutch for steel!
Come, men of rags and hunger, come! There’s work for heroes here!
There’s room still in the vanguard of the Army of the Rear!
Tramp! tramp! tramp!
O men of want and care!
There’s glory in the vanguard of the Army of the Rear!

Song Of The Old Bullock-Driver

Far back in the days when the blacks used to ramble
In long single file ’neath the evergreen tree,
The wool-teams in season came down from Coonamble,
And journeyed for weeks on their way to the sea,
’Twas then that our hearts and our sinews were stronger,
For those were the days when the bushman was bred.
We journeyed on roads that were rougher and longer
Than roads where the feet of our grandchildren tread.
With mates who have gone to the great Never-Never,
And mates whom I’ve not seen for many a day,
I camped on the banks of the Cudgegong River
And yarned at the fire by the old bullock-dray.
I would summon them back from the far Riverina,
From days that shall be from all others distinct,
And sing to the sound of an old concertina
Their rugged old songs where strange fancies were linked.

We never were lonely, for, camping together,
We yarned and we smoked the long evenings away,
And little I cared for the signs of the weather
When snug in my hammock slung under the dray.
We rose with the dawn, were it ever so chilly,
When yokes and tarpaulins were covered with frost,
And toasted the bacon and boiled the black billy,
Where high on the camp-fire the branches were tossed.

On flats where the air was suggestive of ’possums,
And homesteads and fences were hinting of change,
We saw the faint glimmer of appletree blossoms
And far in the distance the blue of the range;
And here in the rain, there was small use in flogging
The poor, tortured bullocks that tugged at the load,
When down to the axles the waggons were bogging
And traffic was making a marsh of the road.

’Twas hard on the beasts on the terrible pinches,
Where two teams of bullocks were yoked to a load,
And tugging and slipping, and moving by inches,
Half-way to the summit they clung to the road.
And then, when the last of the pinches was bested,
(You’ll surely not say that a glass was a sin?)
The bullocks lay down ’neath the gum trees and rested —
The bullockies steered for the bar of the inn.

Then slowly we crawled by the trees that kept tally
Of miles that were passed on the long journey down.
We saw the wild beauty of Capertee Valley,
As slowly we rounded the base of the Crown.
But, ah! the poor bullocks were cruelly goaded
While climbing the hills from the flats and the vales;
’Twas here that the teams were so often unloaded
That all knew the meaning of ‘counting your bales.’

And, oh! but the best-paying load that I carried
Was one to the run where my sweetheart was nurse.
We courted awhile, and agreed to get married,
And couple our futures for better or worse.
And as my old feet grew too weary to drag on
The miles of rough metal they met by the way,
My eldest grew up and I gave him the waggon —
He’s plodding along by the bullocks to-day.

Ballad Of The Drover

Across the stony ridges,
Across the rolling plain,
Young Harry Dale, the drover,
Comes riding home again.
And well his stock-horse bears him,
And light of heart is he,
And stoutly his old pack-horse
Is trotting by his knee.

Up Queensland way with cattle
He travelled regions vast;
And many months have vanished
Since home-folk saw him last.
He hums a song of someone
He hopes to marry soon;
And hobble-chains and camp-ware
Keep jingling to the tune.

Beyond the hazy dado
Against the lower skies
And yon blue line of ranges
The homestead station lies.
And thitherward the drover
Jogs through the lazy noon,
While hobble-chains and camp-ware
Are jingling to a tune.

An hour has filled the heavens
With storm-clouds inky black;
At times the lightning trickles
Around the drover's track;
But Harry pushes onward,
His horses' strength he tries,
In hope to reach the river
Before the flood shall rise.

The thunder from above him
Goes rolling o'er the plain;
And down on thirsty pastures
In torrents falls the rain.
And every creek and gully
Sends forth its little flood,
Till the river runs a banker,
All stained with yellow mud.

Now Harry speaks to Rover,
The best dog on the plains,
And to his hardy horses,
And strokes their shaggy manes;
`We've breasted bigger rivers
When floods were at their height
Nor shall this gutter stop us
From getting home to-night!'

The thunder growls a warning,
The ghastly lightnings gleam,
As the drover turns his horses
To swim the fatal stream.
But, oh! the flood runs stronger
Than e'er it ran before;
The saddle-horse is failing,
And only half-way o'er!

When flashes next the lightning,
The flood's grey breast is blank,
And a cattle dog and pack-horse
Are struggling up the bank.
But in the lonely homestead
The girl will wait in vain -
He'll never pass the stations
In charge of stock again.

The faithful dog a moment
Sits panting on the bank,
And then swims through the current
To where his master sank.
And round and round in circles
He fights with failing strength,
Till, borne down by the waters,
The old dog sinks at length.

Across the flooded lowlands
And slopes of sodden loam
The pack-horse struggles onward,
To take dumb tidings home.
And mud-stained, wet, and weary,
Through ranges dark goes he;
While hobble-chains and tinware
Are sounding eerily.

The floods are in the ocean,
The stream is clear again,
And now a verdant carpet
Is stretched across the plain.
But someone's eyes are saddened,
And someone's heart still bleeds
In sorrow for the drover
Who sleeps among the reeds.

The Ballad Of The Drover

Across the stony ridges,
Across the rolling plain,
Young Harry Dale, the drover,
Comes riding home again.
And well his stock-horse bears him,
And light of heart is he,
And stoutly his old pack-horse
Is trotting by his knee.

Up Queensland way with cattle
He travelled regions vast;
And many months have vanished
Since home-folk saw him last.
He hums a song of someone
He hopes to marry soon;
And hobble-chains and camp-ware
Keep jingling to the tune.

Beyond the hazy dado
Against the lower skies
And yon blue line of ranges
The homestead station lies.
And thitherward the drover
Jogs through the lazy noon,
While hobble-chains and camp-ware
Are jingling to a tune.

An hour has filled the heavens
With storm-clouds inky black;
At times the lightning trickles
Around the drover's track;
But Harry pushes onward,
His horses' strength he tries,
In hope to reach the river
Before the flood shall rise.

The thunder from above him
Goes rolling o'er the plain;
And down on thirsty pastures
In torrents falls the rain.
And every creek and gully
Sends forth its little flood,
Till the river runs a banker,
All stained with yellow mud.

Now Harry speaks to Rover,
The best dog on the plains,
And to his hardy horses,
And strokes their shaggy manes;
`We've breasted bigger rivers
When floods were at their height
Nor shall this gutter stop us
From getting home to-night!'

The thunder growls a warning,
The ghastly lightnings gleam,
As the drover turns his horses
To swim the fatal stream.
But, oh! the flood runs stronger
Than e'er it ran before;
The saddle-horse is failing,
And only half-way o'er!

When flashes next the lightning,
The flood's grey breast is blank,
And a cattle dog and pack-horse
Are struggling up the bank.
But in the lonely homestead
The girl will wait in vain --
He'll never pass the stations
In charge of stock again.

The faithful dog a moment
Sits panting on the bank,
And then swims through the current
To where his master sank.
And round and round in circles
He fights with failing strength,
Till, borne down by the waters,
The old dog sinks at length.

Across the flooded lowlands
And slopes of sodden loam
The pack-horse struggles onward,
To take dumb tidings home.
And mud-stained, wet, and weary,
Through ranges dark goes he;
While hobble-chains and tinware
Are sounding eerily.

. . . . .

The floods are in the ocean,
The stream is clear again,
And now a verdant carpet
Is stretched across the plain.
But someone's eyes are saddened,
And someone's heart still bleeds
In sorrow for the drover
Who sleeps among the reeds.

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!

The Song Of Old Joe Swallow

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

The Shanty On The Rise

When the caravans of wool-teams climbed the ranges from the West,
On a spur among the mountains stood `The Bullock-drivers' Rest';
It was built of bark and saplings, and was rather rough inside,
But 'twas good enough for bushmen in the careless days that died --
Just a quiet little shanty kept by `Something-in-Disguise',
As the bushmen called the landlord of the Shanty on the Rise.

City swells who `do the Royal' would have called the Shanty low,
But 'twas better far and purer than some toney pubs I know;
For the patrons of the Shanty had the principles of men,
And the spieler, if he struck it, wasn't welcome there again.
You could smoke and drink in quiet, yarn, or else soliloquise,
With a decent lot of fellows in the Shanty on the Rise.

'Twas the bullock-driver's haven when his team was on the road,
And the waggon-wheels were groaning as they ploughed beneath the load;
And I mind how weary teamsters struggled on while it was light,
Just to camp within a cooey of the Shanty for the night;
And I think the very bullocks raised their heads and fixed their eyes
On the candle in the window of the Shanty on the Rise.

And the bullock-bells were clanking from the marshes on the flats
As we hurried to the Shanty, where we hung our dripping hats;
And we took a drop of something that was brought at our desire,
As we stood with steaming moleskins in the kitchen by the fire.
Oh! it roared upon a fireplace of the good, old-fashioned size,
When the rain came down the chimney of the Shanty on the Rise.

They got up a Christmas party in the Shanty long ago,
While I camped with Jimmy Nowlett on the riverbank below;
Poor old Jim was in his glory -- they'd elected him M.C.,
For there wasn't such another raving lunatic as he.
`Mr. Nowlett, Mr. Swaller!' shouted Something-in-Disguise,
As we walked into the parlour of the Shanty on the Rise.

There is little real pleasure in the city where I am --
There's a swarry round the corner with its mockery and sham;
But a fellow can be happy when around the room he whirls
In a party up the country with the jolly country girls.
Why, at times I almost fancied I was dancing on the skies,
When I danced with Mary Carey in the Shanty on the Rise.

Jimmy came to me and whispered, and I muttered, `Go along!'
But he shouted, `Mr. Swaller will oblige us with a song!'
And at first I said I wouldn't, and I shammed a little too,
Till the girls began to whisper, `Mr. Swallow, now, ah, DO!'
So I sang a song of something 'bout the love that never dies,
And the chorus shook the rafters of the Shanty on the Rise.

Jimmy burst his concertina, and the bullock-drivers went
For the corpse of Joe the Fiddler, who was sleeping in his tent;
Joe was tired and had lumbago, and he wouldn't come, he said,
But the case was very urgent, so they pulled him out of bed;
And they fetched him, for the bushmen knew that Something-in-Disguise
Had a cure for Joe's lumbago in the Shanty on the Rise.

Jim and I were rather quiet while escorting Mary home,
'Neath the stars that hung in clusters, near and distant, from the dome;
And we walked so very silent -- being lost in reverie --
That we heard the settlers'-matches rustle softly on the tree;
And I wondered who would win her when she said her sweet good-byes --
But she died at one-and-twenty, and was buried on the Rise.

I suppose the Shanty vanished from the ranges long ago,
And the girls are mostly married to the chaps I used to know;
My old chums are in the distance -- some have crossed the border-line,
But in fancy still their glasses chink against the rim of mine.
And, upon the very centre of the greenest spot that lies
In my fondest recollection, stands the Shanty on the Rise.

A Song Of Brave Men

Man, is the Sea your master? Sea, and is man your slave? –
This is the song of brave men who never know they are brave:
Ceaselessly watching to save you, stranger from foreign lands,
Soundly asleep in your state room, full sail for the Goodwin Sands!
Life is a dream, they tell us, but life seems very real,
When the lifeboat puts out from Ramsgate, and the buggers put out from Deal!

A gun from the lightship! – a rocket! – a cry of, "Turn out, me lad!"
"Ship on the Sands!" they're shouting, and a rush of the oilskin-clad.
The lifeboat leaping and swooping, in the wake of the fighting tug,
And the luggers afloat in Hell's water – Oh, "tourist", with cushion and rug! –
Think of the freezing fury, without one minute's relief,
When they stood all night in the blackness by the wreck of the Indian Chief!

Lashed to their seats, and crouching, to the spray that froze as it flew,
Twenty-six hours in midwinter! That was the lifeboat's crew.
Twice she was swamped, and she righted, in the rush of the heavy seas,
And her tug was mostly buried; but these were common things, these.
And the luggers go out whenever there's a hope to get them afloat,
And these things they do for nothing, and those fishermen say, "Oh! it's nowt!"

(Enemy, Friend or Stranger! In every sea or land,
And across the lives of most men run stretches of Goodwin Sand;
And across the life of a nation, as across the track of a ship,
Lies the hidden rock, or the iceberg, within the horizon dip.
And wise men know them, and warn us, with lightship, or voice, or pen;
But we strike, and the fool survivors sail on to strike again.)

But this is a song of brave men, wherever is aught to save,
Christian or Jew or Wowser – and I knew one who was brave;
British or French or German, Dane or Latin or Dutch:
"Scandies" that ignorant British reckon with "Dagoes and such" –
(Where'er, on a wreck titanic, in a scene of wild despair,
The officers call for assistance, a Swede or a Norse is there.)

Tale of a wreck titanic, with the last boat over the side,
And a brave young husband fighting his clinging, hysterical bride;
He strikes her fair on the temple, while the decks are scarce afloat,
And he kisses her once on the forehead, and he drops her into the boat.
So he goes to his death to save her; and she lives to remember and lie –
Or be true to his love and courage. But that's how brave men die.

(I hate the slander: "Be British" – and I don't believe it, that's flat:
No British sailor and captain would stoop to such cant as that.
What – in the rush of cowards – of the help from before the mast –
Of the two big Swedes and the Norse, who stood by the mate to the last? –
In every mining disaster, in a New-World mining town,
In one of the rescue parties an Olsen or Hans goes down.)

Men who fought for their village, away on their country's edge:
The priest with his cross – and a musket, and the blacksmith with his sledge;
The butcher with cleaver and pistols, and the notary with his pike.
And the clerk with what he laid hands on; but all were ready to strike.
And – Tennyson notwithstanding – when the hour of danger was come,
The shopman has struck full often with his "cheating yard-wand" home!

This is a song of brave men, ever, the wide world o'er –
Starved and crippled and murdered by the land they are fighting for.
Left to freeze in the trenches, sent to drown by the Cape,
Throttled by army contractors, and strangled bv old red-tape.
Fighting for "Home" and "Country", or "Glory", or what you choose –
Sacrificed for the Syndicates, and a monarch "in" with the Jews.

Australia! your trial is coming! Down with the party strife:
Send Your cackling, lying women back to the old Home Life.
Brush trom your Parliament benches the legal chaff and dust:
Make Federation perfect, as sooner or later you must.
Scatter your crowded cities, cut up your States – and so
Give your brave sons of the future the ghost of a White Man's show.

The Ballad Of Mabel Clare

Ye children of the Land of Gold,
I sing a song to you,
And if the jokes are somewhat old,
The main idea is new.
So be it sung, by hut and tent,
Where tall the native grows;
And understand, the song is meant
For singing through the nose.
There dwelt a hard old cockatoo
On western hills far out,
Where everything is green and blue,
Except, of course, in drought;
A crimson Anarchist was he—
Held other men in scorn—
Yet preached that ev’ry man was free,
And also ‘ekal born.’

He lived in his ancestral hut—
His missus wasn’t there—
And there was no one with him but
His daughter, Mabel Clare.
Her eyes and hair were like the sun;
Her foot was like a mat;
Her cheeks a trifle overdone;
She was a democrat.

A manly independence, born
Among the trees, she had,
She treated womankind with scorn,
And often cursed her dad.
She hated swells and shining lights,
For she had seen a few,
And she believed in ‘women’s rights’
(She mostly got’em, too).

A stranger at the neighb’ring run
Sojourned, the squatter’s guest,
He was unknown to anyone,
But like a swell was dress’d;
He had an eyeglass to his eye,
A collar to his ears,
His feet were made to tread the sky,
His mouth was formed for sneers.

He wore the latest toggery,
The loudest thing in ties—
’Twas generally reckoned he
Was something in disguise.
But who he was, or whence he came,
Was long unknown, except
Unto the squatter, who the name
And noble secret kept.

And strolling in the noontide heat,
Beneath the blinding glare,
This noble stranger chanced to meet
The radiant Mabel Clare.
She saw at once he was a swell—
According to her lights—
But, ah! ’tis very sad to tell,
She met him oft of nights.

And, strolling through a moonlit gorge,
She chatted all the while
Of Ingersoll, and Henry George,
And Bradlaugh and Carlyle:
In short, he learned to love the girl,
And things went on like this,
Until he said he was an Earl,
And asked her to be his.

‘Oh, say no more, Lord Kawlinee,
‘Oh, say no more!’ she said;
‘Oh, say no more, Lord Kawlinee,
‘I wish that I was dead:
‘My head is in a hawful whirl,
‘The truth I dare not tell—
‘I am a democratic girl,
‘And cannot wed a swell!’

‘Oh love!’ he cried, ‘but you forget
‘That you are most unjust;
‘’Twas not my fault that I was set
‘Within the upper crust.
‘Heed not the yarns the poets tell—
‘Oh, darling, do not doubt
‘A simple lord can love as well
‘As any rouseabout!

‘For you I’ll give my fortune up—
‘I’d go to work for you!
‘I’ll put the money in the cup
‘And drop the title, too.
‘Oh, fly with me! Oh, fly with me
‘Across the mountains blue!
‘Hoh, fly with me! Hoh, fly with me!—’
That very night she flew.

They took the train and journeyed down—
Across the range they sped—
Until they came to Sydney town,
Where shortly they were wed.
And still upon the western wild
Admiring teamsters tell
How Mabel’s father cursed his child
For clearing with a swell.

‘What ails my bird this bridal night,’
Exclaimed Lord Kawlinee;
‘What ails my own this bridal night—
‘O love, confide in me!’
‘Oh now,’ she said, ‘that I am yaws
‘You’ll let me weep—I must—
‘I did desert the people’s cause
‘To join the upper crust.’

O proudly smiled his lordship then—
His chimney-pot he floor’d—
‘Look up, my love, and smile again,
‘For I am not a lord!’
His eye-glass from his eye he tore,
The dickey from his breast,
And turned and stood his bride before
A rouseabout—confess’d!

‘Unknown I’ve loved you long,’ he said,
‘And I have loved you true—
‘A-shearing in your guv’ner’s shed
‘I learned to worship you.
‘I do not care for place or pelf,
‘For now, my love, I’m sure
‘That you will love me for myself
‘And not because I’m poor.

‘To prove your love I spent my cheque
‘To buy this swell rig-out;
‘So fling your arms about my neck
‘For I’m a rouseabout!’
At first she gave a startled cry,
Then, safe from care’s alarms,
She sigh’d a soul-subduing sigh
And sank into his arms.

He pawned the togs, and home he took
His bride in all her charms;
The proud old cockatoo received
The pair with open arms.
And long they lived, the faithful bride,
The noble rouseabout—
And if she wasn’t satisfied
She never let it out.

Our Mistress And Our Queen

We set no right above hers,
No earthly light nor star,
She hath had many lovers,
But not as lovers are:
They all were gallant fellows
And died all deaths for her,
And never one was jealous
But comrades true they were.

Oh! each one is a brother,
Though all the lands they claim—
For her or for each other
They’ve died all deaths the same
Young, handsome, old and ugly,
Free, married or divorced,
Where springtime bard or Thug lie
Her lover’s feet have crossed.

’Mid buttercups and daisies
With fair girls by their side,
Young poets sang her praises
While day in starlight died.
In smoke and fire and dust, and
With red eyes maniac like,
Those same young poets thrust and—
Wrenched out the reeking pike!

She is as old as ages,
But she is ever young.
Upon her birthday pages
They’ve writ in every tongue;
Her charms have never vanished
Nor beauty been defiled,
Her lovers ne’er were banished—
Can never be exiled.

Ah! thousands died who kissed her,
But millions died who scorned
Our Sweetheart, Queen and Sister,
Whom slaves and Cæsars spurned!
And thousands lost her for her
Own sweet sake, and the world,
Her first most dread adorer,
From Heaven’s high state was hurled.

No sign of power she beareth,
In silence doth she tread,
But evermore she weareth
A cap of red rose red.
Her hair is like the raven,
Her soul is like the sea,
Her blue eyes are a haven
That watch Eternity.

She claimed her right from Heaven,
She claims her right from earth,
She claimed it hell-ward driven,
Before her second birth.
No real man lives without her,
No real man-child thrives,
Sweet sin may cling about her,
But purity survives.

She claims the careless girl, and
She claims the master mind;
She whispers to the Earl, and
She whispers to the hind!
No ruler knoweth which man
His sword for her might draw;
Her whisper wakes the rich man—
The peasant on his straw.

She calls us from the prison,
She calls us from the plain,
To towns where men have risen
Again, again, again!
She calls us from our pleasures,
She calls us from our cares,
She calls us from our treasures,
She calls us from our prayers.

From seas and oceans over
Our long-lost sons she draws,
She calls the careless rover,
She calls us from our wars.
The hermit she discovers
To lead her bravest brave——
The spirit of dead lovers,
She calls them from the grave!

We leave the squalid alley,
Our women and our vice,
We leave the pleasant valley,
Life-lust or sacrifice.
The gold hunt in the mountains,
The power-lust on the sea,
The land-lust by earth’s fountains,
Defeat or victory.

No means of peace discover
Her strength on “Nights Before”,
She has her secret lover
That guards the Grand Duke’s door.
No power can resist hers,
No massacre deter—
Small brothers and wee sisters
Of lovers, watch for her!

Old dotards undetected,
School boys that never tire,
And lone hags unsuspected
That drone beside the fire.
The youth in love’s first passion,
The girl in day-dream mood,
And, in the height of fashion,
The “butterfly” and “dude”.

The millionaire heart-broken,
The beggar with his whine,
And each one hath a token,
And each one hath a sign.
And when the time is ripe and
The hells of earth in power,
The dotard drops his pipe, and—
The maiden drops a flower!

Oh, bloody our revivals!
And swift our vengeance hurled,
We’ve laid our dear-loved rivals
In trenches round the world!
We’ve flung off fair arms clinging,
Health, wealth, and life’s grand whole,
And marched out to her singing,
A passion of our soul.

Her lovers fought on ice fields
With stone clubs long ago,
Her lovers slave in rice fields
And in the “’lectric’s” glow.
Her lovers pine wherever
The lust for Nothing is,
They starve where light is never,
And starve in palaces.

They’ve gathered, crowded and scattered,
With heads and scythe-blades low,
Through fir and pine clump spattered,
Like ink blots on the snow.
With broken limbs and shattered
They’ve crushed like hunted brute,
And died in hellish torture
In holes beneath the roof.

They’ve coursed through streets of cities
The fleeing Parliaments,
And songs that were not ditties
They’ve sung by smouldering tents.
And trained in caps and sashes
They’ve heard the head drums roll,
They’ve danced on kings-blood splashes
The dreadful carmagnole.

By mountains, and by stations,
Out where wide levels are,
They’ve baulked the march of nations
And ridden lone and far.
The whip stroke of the bullet,
The short grunt of distress—
The saddled pony grazing
Alone and riderless.

The plain in sunlight blazing—
No signal of distress,
Unseen by far scouts gazing,
And still, with wide eyes glazing:
Dead lover of our mistress,
Dead comrade of his rivals,
Dead champion of his country,
Dead soldier of his widow
And of his fatherless.

She pauses by her writers,
And whispers, through the years,
The poems that delight us
And bring the glorious tears.
The song goes on unbroken
Through worlds of senseless drones,
Until the words are spoken
By Emperors on their thrones.

The Fight At Eureka Stockade

"Was I at Eureka?" His figure was drawn to a youthful height,
And a flood of proud recollections made the fire in his grey eyes bright;
With pleasure they lighted and glisten'd, tho' the digger was grizzled and old,
And we gathered about him and listen'd while the tale of Eureka he told.

"Ah, those were the days," said the digger, "twas a glorious life that we led,
When fortunes were dug up and lost in a day in the whirl of the years that are dead.
But there's many a veteran now in the land - old knights of the pick and the spade,
Who could tell you in language far stronger than mine 'bout the fight at Eureka Stockade.

"We were all of us young on the diggings in days when the nation had birth -
Light-hearted, and careless, and happy, and the flower of all nations on earth;
But we would have been peaceful an' quiet if the law had but let us alone;
And the fight - let them call it a riot - was due to no fault of our own.

"The creed of our rulers was narrow - they ruled with a merciless hand,
For the mark of the cursed broad arrow was deep in the heart of the land.
They treated us worse than the negroes were treated in slavery's day -
And justice was not for the diggers, as shown by the Bently affray.

"P'r'aps Bently was wrong. If he wasn't the bloodthirsty villain they said,
He was one of the jackals that gather where the carcass of labour is laid.
'Twas b'lieved that he murdered a digger, and they let him off scot-free as well,
And the beacon o' battle was lighted on the night that we burnt his hotel.

"You may talk as you like, but the facts are the same (as you've often been told),
And how could we pay when the license cost more than the worth of the gold?
We heard in the sunlight the clanking o' chains in the hillocks of clay,
And our mates, they were rounded like cattle an' handcuffed an' driven away.

"The troopers were most of them new-chums, with many a gentleman's son;
And ridin' on horseback was easy, and hunting the diggers was fun.
Why, many poor devils who came from the vessel in rags and down-heeled,
Were copped, if they hadn't their license, before they set foot on the field.

"But they roused the hot blood that was in us, and the cry came to roll up at last;
And I tell you that something had got to be done when the diggers rolled up in the past.
Yet they say that in spite o' the talkin' it all might have ended in smoke,
But just at the point o' the crisis, the voice of a quiet man spoke.

" `We have said all our say and it's useless, you must fight or be slaves!' said the voice;
" `If it's fight, and you're wanting a leader, I will lead to the end - take your choice!'
I looked, it was Pete! Peter Lalor! who stood with his face to the skies,
But his figure seemed nobler and taller, and brighter the light of his eyes.

"The blood to his forehead was rushin' as hot as the words from his mouth;
He had come from the wrongs of the old land to see those same wrongs in the South;
The wrongs that had followed our flight from the land where the life of the worker was spoiled.
Still tyranny followed! no wonder the blood of the Irishman boiled.

"And true to his promise, they found him - the mates who are vanished or dead,
Who gathered for justice around him with the flag of the diggers o'erhead.
When the people are cold and unb'lieving, when the hands of the tyrants are strong,
You must sacrifice life for the people before they'll come down on the wrong.

"I'd a mate on the diggings, a lad, curly-headed, an' blue-eyed, an' white,
And the diggers said I was his father, an', well, p'r'aps the diggers were right.
I forbade him to stir from the tent, made him swear on the book he'd obey,
But he followed me in, in the darkness, and - was - shot - on Eureka that day.

" `Down, down with the tyrant an' bully,' these were the last words from his mouth
As he caught up a broken pick-handle and struck for the Flag of the South
An' let it in sorrow be written - the worst of this terrible strife,
'Twas under the `Banner of Britain' came the bullet that ended his life.

"I struck then! I struck then for vengeance! When I saw him lie dead in the dirt,
And the blood that came oozing like water had darkened the red of his shirt,
I caught up the weapon he dropped an' I struck with the strength of my hate,
Until I fell wounded an' senseless, half-dead by the side of `my mate'.

"Surprised in the grey o' the morning half-armed, and the Barricade bad,
A battle o' twenty-five minutes was long 'gainst the odds that they had,
But the light o' the morning was deadened an' the smoke drifted far o'er the town
An' the clay o' Eureka was reddened ere the flag o' the diggers came down.

"But it rose in the hands of the people an' high in the breezes it tost,
And our mates only died for a cause that was won by the battle they lost.
When the people are selfish and narrow, when the hands of the tyrants are strong,
You must sacrifice life for the public before they come down on a wrong.

"It is thirty-six years this December - (December the first*) since we made
The first stand 'gainst the wrongs of old countries that day in Eureka Stockade,
But the lies and the follies and shams of the North have all landed since then
An' it's pretty near time that you lifted the flag of Eureka again.

"You boast of your progress an' thump empty thunder from out of your drums,
While two of your `marvellous cities' are reeking with alleys an' slums.
An' the landsharks, an' robbers, an' idlers an' -! Yes, I had best draw it mild
But whenever I think o' Eureka my talking is apt to run wild.

"Even now in my tent when I'm dreaming I'll spring from my bunk, strike a light,
And feel for my boots an' revolver, for the diggers' march past in the night.
An' the faces an' forms of old mates an' old comrades go driftin' along,
With a band in the front of 'em playing the tune of an old battle song."

The City Bushman

It was pleasant up the country, City Bushman, where you went,
For you sought the greener patches and you travelled like a gent;
And you curse the trams and buses and the turmoil and the push,
Though you know the squalid city needn't keep you from the bush;
But we lately heard you singing of the `plains where shade is not',
And you mentioned it was dusty -- `all was dry and all was hot'.

True, the bush `hath moods and changes' -- and the bushman hath 'em, too,
For he's not a poet's dummy -- he's a man, the same as you;
But his back is growing rounder -- slaving for the absentee --
And his toiling wife is thinner than a country wife should be.
For we noticed that the faces of the folks we chanced to meet
Should have made a greater contrast to the faces in the street;
And, in short, we think the bushman's being driven to the wall,
And it's doubtful if his spirit will be `loyal thro' it all'.

Though the bush has been romantic and it's nice to sing about,
There's a lot of patriotism that the land could do without --
Sort of BRITISH WORKMAN nonsense that shall perish in the scorn
Of the drover who is driven and the shearer who is shorn,
Of the struggling western farmers who have little time for rest,
And are ruined on selections in the sheep-infested West;
Droving songs are very pretty, but they merit little thanks
From the people of a country in possession of the Banks.

And the `rise and fall of seasons' suits the rise and fall of rhyme,
But we know that western seasons do not run on schedule time;
For the drought will go on drying while there's anything to dry,
Then it rains until you'd fancy it would bleach the sunny sky --
Then it pelters out of reason, for the downpour day and night
Nearly sweeps the population to the Great Australian Bight.
It is up in Northern Queensland that the seasons do their best,
But it's doubtful if you ever saw a season in the West;
There are years without an autumn or a winter or a spring,
There are broiling Junes, and summers when it rains like anything.

In the bush my ears were opened to the singing of the bird,
But the `carol of the magpie' was a thing I never heard.
Once the beggar roused my slumbers in a shanty, it is true,
But I only heard him asking, `Who the blanky blank are you?'
And the bell-bird in the ranges -- but his `silver chime' is harsh
When it's heard beside the solo of the curlew in the marsh.

Yes, I heard the shearers singing `William Riley', out of tune,
Saw 'em fighting round a shanty on a Sunday afternoon,
But the bushman isn't always `trapping brumbies in the night',
Nor is he for ever riding when `the morn is fresh and bright',
And he isn't always singing in the humpies on the run --
And the camp-fire's `cheery blazes' are a trifle overdone;
We have grumbled with the bushmen round the fire on rainy days,
When the smoke would blind a bullock and there wasn't any blaze,
Save the blazes of our language, for we cursed the fire in turn
Till the atmosphere was heated and the wood began to burn.
Then we had to wring our blueys which were rotting in the swags,
And we saw the sugar leaking through the bottoms of the bags,
And we couldn't raise a chorus, for the toothache and the cramp,
While we spent the hours of darkness draining puddles round the camp.

Would you like to change with Clancy -- go a-droving? tell us true,
For we rather think that Clancy would be glad to change with you,
And be something in the city; but 'twould give your muse a shock
To be losing time and money through the foot-rot in the flock,
And you wouldn't mind the beauties underneath the starry dome
If you had a wife and children and a lot of bills at home.

Did you ever guard the cattle when the night was inky-black,
And it rained, and icy water trickled gently down your back
Till your saddle-weary backbone fell a-aching to the roots
And you almost felt the croaking of the bull-frog in your boots --
Sit and shiver in the saddle, curse the restless stock and cough
Till a squatter's irate dummy cantered up to warn you off?
Did you fight the drought and pleuro when the `seasons' were asleep,
Felling sheoaks all the morning for a flock of starving sheep,
Drinking mud instead of water -- climbing trees and lopping boughs
For the broken-hearted bullocks and the dry and dusty cows?

Do you think the bush was better in the `good old droving days',
When the squatter ruled supremely as the king of western ways,
When you got a slip of paper for the little you could earn,
But were forced to take provisions from the station in return --
When you couldn't keep a chicken at your humpy on the run,
For the squatter wouldn't let you -- and your work was never done;
When you had to leave the missus in a lonely hut forlorn
While you `rose up Willy Riley' -- in the days ere you were born?

Ah! we read about the drovers and the shearers and the like
Till we wonder why such happy and romantic fellows strike.
Don't you fancy that the poets ought to give the bush a rest
Ere they raise a just rebellion in the over-written West?
Where the simple-minded bushman gets a meal and bed and rum
Just by riding round reporting phantom flocks that never come;
Where the scalper -- never troubled by the `war-whoop of the push' --
Has a quiet little billet -- breeding rabbits in the bush;
Where the idle shanty-keeper never fails to make a draw,
And the dummy gets his tucker through provisions in the law;
Where the labour-agitator -- when the shearers rise in might --
Makes his money sacrificing all his substance for The Right;
Where the squatter makes his fortune, and `the seasons rise and fall',
And the poor and honest bushman has to suffer for it all;
Where the drovers and the shearers and the bushmen and the rest
Never reach the Eldorado of the poets of the West.

And you think the bush is purer and that life is better there,
But it doesn't seem to pay you like the `squalid street and square'.
Pray inform us, City Bushman, where you read, in prose or verse,
Of the awful `city urchin who would greet you with a curse'.
There are golden hearts in gutters, though their owners lack the fat,
And we'll back a teamster's offspring to outswear a city brat.
Do you think we're never jolly where the trams and buses rage?
Did you hear the gods in chorus when `Ri-tooral' held the stage?
Did you catch a ring of sorrow in the city urchin's voice
When he yelled for Billy Elton, when he thumped the floor for Royce?
Do the bushmen, down on pleasure, miss the everlasting stars
When they drink and flirt and so on in the glow of private bars?

You've a down on `trams and buses', or the `roar' of 'em, you said,
And the `filthy, dirty attic', where you never toiled for bread.
(And about that self-same attic -- Lord! wherever have you been?
For the struggling needlewoman mostly keeps her attic clean.)
But you'll find it very jolly with the cuff-and-collar push,
And the city seems to suit you, while you rave about the bush.

. . . . .

You'll admit that Up-the Country, more especially in drought,
Isn't quite the Eldorado that the poets rave about,
Yet at times we long to gallop where the reckless bushman rides
In the wake of startled brumbies that are flying for their hides;
Long to feel the saddle tremble once again between our knees
And to hear the stockwhips rattle just like rifles in the trees!
Long to feel the bridle-leather tugging strongly in the hand
And to feel once more a little like a native of the land.
And the ring of bitter feeling in the jingling of our rhymes
Isn't suited to the country nor the spirit of the times.
Let us go together droving, and returning, if we live,
Try to understand each other while we reckon up the div.

All is well—in a prison—to-night, and the warders are crying ‘All’s Well!’
I must speak, for the sake of my heart—if it’s but to the walls of my cell.
For what does it matter to me if to-morrow I go where I will?
I’m as free as I ever shall be—there is naught in my life to fulfil.
I am free! I am haunted no more by the question that tortured my brain:
‘Are you sane of a people gone mad? or mad in a world that is sane?’
I have had time to rest—and to pray—and my reason no longer is vext
By the spirit that hangs you one day, and would hail you as martyr the next.

Are the fields of my fancy less fair through a window that’s narrowed and barred?
Are the morning stars dimmed by the glare of the gas-light that flares in the yard?
No! And what does it matter to me if to-morrow I sail from the land?
I am free, as I never was free! I exult in my loneliness grand!

Be a saint and a saviour of men—be a Christ, and they’ll slander and rail!
Only Crime’s understood in the world, and a man is respected—in gaol.
But I find in my raving a balm—in the worst that has come to the worst—
Let me think of it all—I grow calm—let me think it all out from the first.

Beyond the horizon of Self do the walls of my prison retreat,
And I stand in a gap of the hills with the scene of my life at my feet;
The range to the west, and the Peak, and the marsh where the dark ridges end,
And the spurs running down to the Creek, and the she-oaks that sigh in the bend.
The hints of the river below; and, away on the azure and green,
The old goldfield of Specimen Flat, and the township—a blotch on the scene;
The store, the hotels, and the bank—and the gaol and the people who come
With the weatherboard box and the tank—the Australian idea of home:

The scribe—spirit-broken; the ‘wreck,’ in his might-have-been or shame;
The townsman ‘respected’ or worthy; the workman respectful and tame;
The boss of the pub with his fine sense of honour, grown moral and stout,
Like the spielers who came with the ‘line,’ on the cheques that were made farther out.

The clever young churchman, despised by the swaggering, popular man;
The doctor with hands clasped behind, and bowed head, as if under a ban;
The one man with the brains—with the power to lead, unsuspected and dumb,
Whom Fate sets apart for the Hour—the man for the hour that might come.

The old local liar whose story was ancient when Egypt was young,
And the gossip who hangs on the fence and poisons God’s world with her tongue;
The haggard bush mother who’d nag, though a husband or child be divine,
And who takes a fierce joy in a rag of the clothes on the newcomer’s line.

And a lad with a cloud on his heart who was lost in a world vague and dim—
No one dreamed as he drifted apart that ’twas genius the matter with him;
Who was doomed, in that ignorant hole, to its spiritless level to sink,
Till the iron had entered his soul, and his brain found a refuge in drink.

Perhaps I was bitter because of the tongues of disgrace in the town—
Of a boy-nature misunderstood and its nobler ambitions sneered
Of the sense of injustice that stings till it ends in the creed of the push—
I was born in that shadow that clings to the old gully homes in the bush.
And I was ambitious. Perhaps as a boy I could see things too plain—
How I wished I could write of the truths—of the visions—that haunted my brain!
Of the bush-buried toiler denied e’en the last loving comforts of all—
Of my father who slaved till he died in the scrub by his wedges and maul.

Twenty years, and from daylight till dark—twenty years it was split, fence, and grub,
And the end was a tumble-down hut and a bare, dusty patch in the scrub.
’Twas the first time he’d rested, they said, but the knit in his forehead was deep,
And to me the scarred hands of the dead seemed to work as I’d seen them in sleep.

And the mother who toiled by his side, through hardship and trouble and drought,
And who fought for the home when he died till her heart—not her spirit—wore out:
I am shamed for Australia and haunted by the face of the haggard bush wife—
She who fights her grim battle undaunted because she knows nothing of life.

By the barren track travelled by few men—poor victims of commerce, unknown—
E’en the troubles that woman tells woman she suffers, unpitied, alone;
Heart-dumbed and mind-dulled and benighted, Eve’s beauty in girlhood destroyed!
Till the wrongs never felt shall be righted—and the peace never missed be enjoyed.

There was no one to understand me. I was lonely and shy as a lad,
Or I lived in a world that was wider than ours; so of course I was ‘mad.’
Who is not understood is a ‘crank’—so I suffered the tortures of men
Doomed to think in the bush, till I drank and went wrong—I grew popular then.

There was Doctor Lebenski, my friend—and the friend, too, of all who were down—
Clever, gloomy, and generous drunkard—the pride and disgrace of the town.
He had been through the glory and shame of a wild life by city and sea,
And the tales of the land whence he came had a strong fascination for me.

And often in yarning or fancy, when she-oaks grew misty and dim,
From the forest and straight for the camp of the Cossack I’ve ridden with him:
Ridden out in the dusk with a score, ridden back ere the dawning with ten—
Have struck at three kingdoms and Fate for the fair land of Poland again!

He’d a sorrow that drink couldn’t drown—that his great heart was powerless to fight—
And I gathered the threads ’twixt the long, pregnant puffs of his last pipe at night;
For he’d say to me, sadly: ‘Jack Drew’—then he’d pause, as to watch the smoke curl—
‘If a good girl should love you, be true—though you die for it—true to the girl!

‘A man may be false to his country—a man may be false to his friend:
‘Be a vagabond, drunkard, a spieler—yet his soul may come right in the end;
‘But there is no prayer, no atonement, no drink that can banish the shade
‘From your side, if you’ve one spark of manhood, of a dead girl that you have betrayed.’

‘One chance for a fortune,’ we’re told, in the lives of the poorest of men—
There’s a chance for a heaven on earth that comes over and over again!
’Twas for Ruth, the bank manager’s niece, that the wretched old goldfield grew fair,
And she came like an angel of peace in an hour of revengeful despair.
A girl as God made her, and wise in a faith that was never estranged—
From childhood neglected and wronged, she had grown with her nature unchanged;
And she came as an angel of Hope as I crouched on Eternity’s brink,
And the loaded revolver and rope were parts of the horrors of drink.

I was not to be trusted, they said, within sight of a cheque or a horse,
And the worst that was said of my name all the gossips were glad to endorse.
But she loved me—she loved me! And why? Ask the she-oaks that sighed in the bends—
We had suffered alike, she and I, from the blindness of kinsfolk and friends.

A girlhood of hardship and care, for she gave the great heart of a child
To a brother whose idol was Self, and a brother good-natured but ‘wild;’—
And a father who left her behind when he’d suffered too much from the moan
Of a mother grown selfish and blind in her trouble—’twas always her own.

She was brave, and she never complained, for the hardships of youth that had driven
My soul to the brink of perdition, but strengthened the girl’s faith in Heaven.
In the home that her relatives gave she was tortured each hour of her life.
By her cruel dependence—the slave of her aunt, the bank-manager’s wife.

Does the world know how easy to lead and how hard to be driven are men?
She was leading me back with her love, to the faith of my childhood again!
To my boyhood’s neglected ideal—to the hopes that were strangled at birth,
To the good and the truth of the real—to the good that was left on the earth.

And the sigh of the oaks seemed a hymn, and the waters had music for me
As I sat on the grass at her feet, and rested my head on her knee;
And we seemed in a dreamland apart from the world’s discontent and despair,
For the cynic went out of my heart at the touch of her hand on my hair.

She would talk like a matron at times, and she prattled at times like a child:
‘I will trust you—I know you are good—you have only been careless and wild—
‘You are clever—you’ll rise in the world—you must think of your future and me—
‘You will give up the drink for my sake, and you don’t know how happy we’ll be!’
‘I can work, I will help you,’ she said, and she’d plan out our future and home,
But I found no response in my heart save the hungry old craving to roam.
Would I follow the paths of the dead? I was young yet. Would I settle down
To the life that our parents had led by the dull, paltry-spirited town?

For the ghost of the cynic was there, and he waited and triumphed at last—
One night—I’d been drinking, because of a spectre that rose from the past—
My trust had so oft been betrayed: that at last I had turned to distrust—
My sense of injustice so keen that my anger was always unjust.

Would I sacrifice all for a wife, who was free now to put on my hat
And to go far away from the life—from the home life of Specimen Flat?
Would I live as our fathers had lived to the finish? And what was it worth?
A woman’s reproach in the end—of all things most unjust on the earth.

The old rebel stirred in my blood, and he whispered, ‘What matter?’ ‘Why not?’
And she trembled and paled, for the kiss that I gave her was reckless and hot.
And the angel that watched o’er her slept, and the oaks sighed aloud in the creek
As we sat in a shadow that crept from a storm-cloud that rose on the Peak.

There’s a voice warns the purest and best of their danger in love or in strife,
But that voice is a knell to her honour who loves with the love of her life!
And ‘Ruth—Ruth!’ I whispered at last in a voice that was not like my own—
She trembled and clung to me fast with a sigh that was almost a moan.

While you listen and doubt, and incline to the devil that plucks at your sleeve—
When the whispers of angels have failed—then Heaven speaks once I believe.
The lightning leapt out—in a flash only seen by those ridges and creeks,
And the darkness shut down with a crash that I thought would have riven the peaks.

By the path through the saplings we ran, as the great drops came pattering down,
To the first of the low-lying ridges that lay between us and the town;
Where she suddenly drew me aside with that beautiful instinct of love
As the clatter of hoofs reached our ears—and a horseman loomed darkly above.

’Twas the Doctor: he reined up and sat for the first moment pallid and mute,
Then he lifted his hand to his hat with his old-fashioned martial salute,
And he said with a glance at the ridge, looming black with its pine-tops awhirl,
‘Take my coat, you are caught in the storm!’ and he whispered, ‘Be true to the girl!’

He rode on—to a sick bed, maybe some twenty miles back in the bush,
And we hurried on through the gloom, and I still seemed to hear in the ‘woosh’
Of the wind in the saplings and oaks, in the gums with their top boughs awhirl—
In the voice of the gathering tempest—the warning, ‘Be true to the girl!’
And I wrapped the coat round her, and held her so close that I felt her heart thump
When the lightning leapt out, as we crouched in the lee of the shell of a stump—
And there seemed a strange fear in her eyes and the colour had gone from her cheek—
And she scarcely had uttered a word since the hot brutal kiss by the creek.

The storm rushed away to the west—to the ridges drought-stricken and dry—
To the eastward loomed far-away peaks ’neath the still starry arch of the sky;
By the light of the full moon that swung from a curtain of cloud like a lamp,
I saw that my tent had gone down in the storm, as we passed by the camp.

’Tis a small thing, or chance, such as this, that decides between hero and cur
In one’s heart. I was wet to the skin, and my comfort was precious to her.
And her aunt was away in the city—the dining-room fire was alight,
And the uncle was absent—he drank with some friends at the Royal that night.

He came late, and passed to his room without glancing at her or at me—
Too straight and precise, be it said, for a man who was sober to be.
Then the drop of one boot on the floor (there was no wife to witness his guilt),
And a moment thereafter a snore that proclaimed that he slept on the quilt.

Was it vanity, love, or revolt? Was it joy that came into my life?
As I sat there with her in my arms, and caressed her and called her ‘My wife!’
Ah, the coward! But my heart shall bleed, though I live on for fifty long years,
For she could not cry out, only plead with eyes that were brimming with tears.

Not the passion so much brings remorse, but the thought of the treacherous part
I’d have played in a future already planned out—ay! endorsed in my heart!
When a good woman falls for the sake of a love that has blinded her eyes,
There is pardon, perhaps, for his lust; but what heaven could pardon the lies?

And ‘What does it matter?’ I said. ‘You are mine, I am yours—and for life.
‘He is drunk and asleep—he won’t hear, and to morrow you shall be my wife!’
There’s an hour in the memory of most that we hate ever after and loathe—
’Twas the daylight that came like a ghost to her window that startled us both.

Twixt the door of her room and the door of the office I stood for a space,
When a treacherous board in the floor sent a crack like a shot through the place!—
Then the creak of a step and the click of a lock in the manager’s room—
I grew cold to the stomach and sick, as I trembled and shrank in the gloom.
He faced me, revolver in hand—‘Now I know you, you treacherous whelp!
‘Stand still, where you are, or I’ll fire!’ and he suddenly shouted for help.
‘Help! Burglary!’ Yell after yell—such a voice would have wakened the tomb;
And I heard her scream once, and she fell like a log on the floor of her room!

And I thought of her then like a flash—of the foul fiend of gossip that drags
A soul to perdition—I thought of the treacherous tongues of the hags;
She would sacrifice all for my sake—she would tell the whole township the truth.
I’d escape, send the Doctor a message and die—ere they took me—for Ruth!

Then I rushed him—a struggle—a flash—I was down with a shot in my arm—
Up again, and a desperate fight—hurried footsteps and cries of alarm!
A mad struggle, a blow on the head—and the gossips will fill in the blank
With the tale of the capture of Drew on the night he broke into the bank.

In the cell at the lock-up all day and all night, without pause through my brain
Whirled the scenes of my life to the last one—and over and over again
I paced the small cell, till exhaustion brought sleep—and I woke to the past
Like a man metamorphosed—clear-headed, and strong in a purpose at last.

She would sacrifice all for my sake—she would tell the whole township the truth—
In the mood I was in I’d have given my life for a moment with Ruth;
But still, as I thought, from without came the voice of the constable’s wife;
‘They say it’s brain fever, poor girl, and the doctor despairs of her life.’

‘He has frightened the poor girl to death—such a pity—so pretty and young,’
So the voice of a gossip chimed in: ‘And the wretch! he deserves to be hung.
‘They were always a bad lot, the Drews, and I knowed he was more rogue than crank,
‘And he only pretended to court her so’s to know his way into the bank!’

Came the doctor at last with his voice hard and cold and a face like a stone—
Hands behind, but it mattered not then—’twas a fight I must fight out alone:
‘You have cause to be thankful,’ he said, as though speaking a line from the past—
‘She was conscious an hour; she is dead, and she called for you, Drew, till the last!

‘Ay! And I knew the truth, but I lied. She fought for the truth, but I lied;
‘And I said you were well and were coming, and, listening and waiting, she died.
‘God forgive you! I warned you in time. You will suffer while reason endures:
‘For the rest, you will know only I have the key of her story—and yours.’

The curious crowd in the court seemed to me but as ghosts from the past,
As the words of the charge were read out, like a hymn from the first to the last;
I repeated the words I’d rehearsed—in a voice that seemed strangely away—
In their place, ‘I am guilty,’ I said; and again, ‘I have nothing to say.’
I realised then, and stood straight—would I shrink from the eyes of the clown—
From the eyes of the sawney who’d boast of success with a girl of the town?
But there is human feeling in men which is easy, or hard, to define:
Every eye, as I glanced round the court, was cast down, or averted from mine.

Save the doctor’s—it seemed to me then as if he and I stood there alone—
For a moment he looked in my eyes with a wonderful smile in his own,
Slowly lifted his hand in salute, turned and walked from the court-room, and then
From the rear of the crowd came the whisper: ‘The Doctor’s been boozing again!’

I could laugh at it then from the depth of the bitterness still in my heart,
At the ignorant stare of surprise, at the constables’ ‘Arder in Car-rt!’
But I know. Oh, I understand now how the poor tortured heart cries aloud
For a flame from High Heaven to wither the grin on the face of a crowd.

Then the Judge spoke harshly; I stood with my fluttering senses awhirl:
My crime, he said sternly, had cost the young life of an innocent girl;
I’d brought sorrow and death to a home, I was worse than a murderer now;
And the sentence he passed on me there was the worst that the law would allow.

Let me rest—I grow weary and faint. Let me breathe—but what value is breath?
Ah! the pain in my heart—as of old; and I know what it is—it is death.
It is death—it is rest—it is sleep. ’Tis the world and I drifting apart.
I have been through a sorrow too deep to have passed without breaking my heart.
There’s a breeze! And a light without bars! Let me drink the free air till I drown.
’Tis the she-oaks—the Peak—and the stars. Lo, a dead angel’s spirit floats down!
This will pass—aye, and all things will pass. Oh, my love, have you come back to me?
I am tired—let me lie on the grass at your feet, with my head on your knee.

‘I was wrong’—the words lull me to sleep, like the words of a lullaby song—
I was wrong—but the iron went deep in my heart ere I knew I was wrong.
I rebelled, but I suffered in youth, and I suffer too deeply to live:
You’ll forgive me, and pray for me, Ruth—for you loved me—and God will forgive.