I'Ll Tell You What You Wanderers

I'll tell you what you wanderers, who drift from town to town;
Don't look into a good girl's eyes, until you've settled down.
It's hard to go away alone and leave old chums behind-
It's hard to travel steerage when your tastes are more refined-
To reach a place when times are bad, and to be standing there,
No money in your pocket nor a decent rag to wear.
But be forced from that fond clasp, from that last clinging kiss-
By poverty! There is on earth no harder thing than this.

When friends are listening round me, Jack, to hear my dying breath,
And I am lying in a sleep they say will end in death,
Don’t notice what the doctor says—and let the nurse complain——
I’ll tell you how to rouse me if I’ll ever wake again.

Just you bring in your fiddle, Jack, and set your heart in tune,
And strike up “Annie Laurie”, or “The Rising of the Moon”;
And if you see no token of a rising in my throat,
You’ll need to brace your mouth, old man—I’m booked by Charon’s boat.

And if you are not satisfied that I am off the scene,
Strike up “The Marseillaise”, or else “The Wearing of the Green”;
And should my fingers tremble not, then I have crossed the line,
But keep your fingers steady, Jack, and strike up “Auld Lang Syne”.

On Looking Through An Old Punishment Book [at Eurunderee School]

I took the book of punishment,
And ran its columns down;
I started with an open brow
And ended with a frown;
I noted long-forgotten names –
They took me unaware;
I noted old familiar names.
But my names wasn’t there!

I thought of what I might have been,
And Oh! My heart was pained
To find, of all the scholars there,
That I was never caned!
I thought of wasted childhood hours,
And a tear rolled down my cheek –
I must have been a model boy,
Which means a little sneak!

“Oh, give me back my youth again!”
Doc Faustus used to say –
I only wish the Powers could give
My boyhood for a day,
A model boy! Beloved of girls!
Despised by boys and men!
But it comforts me to think that I’ve
Made up for it since then.

Rewi To Grey: The Old Maori Chief’s Last Message

We have lived till these times, brother,
We who lived in this;
We have not grown old together,
Soon our lives must close –
Rewi’s first! For I am dying
Ere I got where all is true
From my heart a wish is flying –
This is my great word to you:

Mine to you and those who love us –
Be they white or brown –
Let there be one stone above is
When they’ve laid us down;
Let us rest together, brother,
When our gods recall us two.
Grant my wish – I have no other:
This is my great word to you.

Let there be one stone above us,
Standing for a sign:
On one side your name be written
On the other mine.
In my heart your name is lying;
We shall meet where all is true –
From y heart this wish is flying
This is my great word to you.

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.

AMONG the sons of Englishmen
Full many feel like real tears,
For, though he reigned but scarcely ten,
He bore the burden many years.
He lived the dead past doubly down,
He shamed, by manliness and truth,
The lies that beat about a crown,
And round a known man in his youth.

For he had lived as men have done
Since Adam’s time, to prove them true.
He proved it in his manhood’s prime,
And to the end, as strong men do.
And so he died, and, ever since,
And on through years the words shall ring:
“He lived a man, he lived a prince,
And died a gentleman and King.”

Unto the friends of his hot youth,
In his wise age, he still was true.
He showed, by steadfastness and truth,
What kings as well as men can do;
Till all was manlike or forgot,
Long years ere he found his release;
He made them loyal who were not,
He won respect, and kept the peace.

It's only a sod, but ’twill break me ould heart
Nigh hardened wid toilin’ and carin’,
And make the ould wounds in it tingle and smart.
It’s only a sod, but it’s parcel and part
Of strugglin’, sufferin’ Erin.

It’s only a sod, but it rakes the ould pain —
The ould love in me heart that still lingers,
That Time has been soothing and docth’ring in vain;
And now he must soothe it and heal it again
Wid his kindly and gentle ould fingers.

It’s only a sod, but I see a big ship
Through the gallopin’ waters come tearin’,
And a lass that looks back on the horizon dip,
Wid eyes full of tears and a thrimblin’ lip,
On the last that she saw of ould Erin.

It’s only a sod, but wid care it will keep
Till me brooms and me brushes are silint
Put it into me arms ere they bury me deep,
And tell them old Biddy the “slavey” does sleep
’Neath a sod from the bogs of ould Irlint.

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

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

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

Bonnie New South Wales

It surely cannot be too soon, and never is too late,
It tones with all Australia’s tune to praise one’s native State,
And so I bring an old refrain from days of posts and rails,
And lift the good old words again, for Sunny New South Wales.
She bore me on her tented fields, and wore my youth away,
And little gold of all she yields repays my toil to-day;
By track and camp and bushman’s hut—by streets where courage fails—
I’ve sung for all Australia, but my heart’s in New South Wales.

The waratah and wattle there in all their glory grow—
And if they bloom on hills elsewhere, I’m not supposed to know,
The tales that other States may tell—I never hear the tales!
For I, her son, have sinned as well as Bonnie New South Wales.

I only know her heart is good to sweetheart and to mate,
And pregnant with our nationhood from Sunset to the Gate;
I only know her sons sail home on every ship that sails,
Though round the world ten times they roam from dear old New South Wales.

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.

Old North Sydney

They're shifting old North Sydney—
Perhaps ’tis just as well—
They’re carting off the houses
Where the old folks used to dwell.
Where only ghosts inhabit
They lay the old shops low;
But the Spirit of North Sydney,
It vanished long ago.

The Spirit of North Sydney,
The good old time and style,
It camped, maybe, at Crow’s Nest,
But only for a while.
It left about the season,
Or at the time, perhaps,
When old Inspector Cotter
Transferred his jokes and traps.

A brand new crowd is thronging
The brand new streets aglow
Where the Spirit of North Sydney
Would gossip long ago.
They will not know to-morrow—
Tho’ ’twere but yesterday—
Exactly how McMahon’s Point
And its ferry used to lay.

The good old friendly spirit
Its sorrows would unfold,
When householders were neighbours
And shop-keeping was old;
But now we’re busy strangers,
Our feelings we restrain—
The Spirit of North Sydney
Shall never come again!

The Black Tracker (Or: Why He Lost The Track)

There was a tracker in the force
Of wondrous sight (the story ran):—
He never failed to track a horse,
He never failed to find his man.

They brought him from a distant town
Once more to gain reward and praise,
Nor dreamed the man he hunted down
Had saved his life in bygone days.

Away across the farthest run,
And far across the stony plain,
The outlaw’s horse’s tracks, each one,
Unto the black man’s eyes were plain.

Those tracks across the ranges wide
Right well he knew that he could trace,
And oft he turned aside to hide
The tears upon his dusky face.

Now was his time, for he could claim
Reward and praise if he prevailed!
Now was the time to win him fame,
When all the other blacks had failed.

He struggled well to play his part,
For in the art he took a pride.
But, ah! there beat a white man’s heart
Beneath his old, black wrinkled hide.

Against that heart he struggled well,
But gratitude was in the black—
He failed—and only he could tell
The reason why he lost the track.

The Patriotic League

Behold! the biased foes of Right
Are conscious of their danger,
They’re startled by the dawning light,
So very long a stranger.
And fearing for their rotting laws—
Whose reign is nearly ended—
To study out the People’s cause
At last they’ve condescended.

“And this they call the ‘People’s Cause’,
Why this is insurrection!
They would revoke the very laws
We made for our protection!
An equal right with us they claim!
They’ll rob us by and by, sir!
We’ll form a league and steal a name
And tell another lie, sir.”

They took to gloss a base intrigue
A name that was demotic.
They stole a name and formed a league
And called it “Patriotic”.
They’ve resurrected ancient lies—
The world had most forgotten—
The liars think the world will rise
To back a Cause that’s rotten.

I know their creed, and know it well,
Too mean are its creators
To hope for heaven, or fear the hell
They’d make for agitators.
Old as the hills—and quite as dense
Though shaking like a jelly.
Time honoured to magnificence,
Religion of the Belly!

Wide Lies Australia

Wide lies Australia! The seas that surround her
Flow for her unity – all states in one.
Never has Custom nor Tyranny bound her –
Never was conquest so peacefully won.
Fair lies Australia! with all things within her
Meet for a Nation, the greatest to be:
Free to the White Man to woo and to win her:
Those who'd be happy and those who'd be free.

Free to live fully and free to live cleanly,
Free to give learning to daughter and son;
Free to act nobly but not to act meanly,
Free to forget what the old lands had done.
Free to be Brothers! Our hymn and our sermon
To keep for the White World the balance of Power,
Welcoming all, be they British or German,
All come to help us – we'll wait for the hour.

Out in the West where the flood-water gathers –
Out in the drought on the sand desert lone –
Went the brave English and brave foreign fathers
Fearlessly facing the fearful unknown.
Gemmed with their names lies the great past behind us.
Dark lie the storm clouds before us today,
Let us so live the future shall find us
Facing the danger as dauntless as they.

A lonely child with toil o’ertaxed,
Sits Cinderella by the fire;
Her limbs in weariness relaxed,
And in her eyes a sad desire.
But soon a wreath is on her brow;
A bonny prince has claimed her hand;
And she’s as proud and happy now
As any lady in the land.

Ah, then to see a fairy bright,
And to have granted what you would,
You only needed to do right,
You only needed to be good.
But this was in the days of old,
When man to wiser folk would bow;
And though you were as good as gold
You’d never see a fairy now.

And yet they must have managed well
If only half the tales are true,
The wondrous tales the writers tell
Of what the fairies used to do.
But now the world has grown so wise
It does without the fairies’ aid;
And who can find a prince that tries
The shoe upon a beggar maid?

It must have been a better time
When virtue always met its due,
And “wicked men who dealt in crime”
Were punished by the fairies, too.
But never more they’ll come again
To give the good what they desire;
And Cinderellas wait in vain,
And weep beside the kitchen fire.

NOW, Yankee inventors can beat a retreat,
And German professors may take a back seat,
For their colours we’re going to lower:
They’ve invented a wonderful plough in the West,
The scientists call it “the latest and best”;
It ploughs, sows, and reaps without taking a rest,
And they drive it by kangaroo power.
Sing hey!
Sing ho!
Then it’s bully for kangaroo power!

O wondrous the changes our children shall meet,
For soon we may travel the principal street
In something far short of an hour.
The traffic shall flow without stoppage or jambs
And sharp little screeches and naughty big damns,
For soon all the hansoms and ’busses and trams
Shall travel by kangaroo power.
Sing hey!
Sing ho!
Then it’s bully for kangaroo power!

Advance, Young Australia, thy banner unfurled,
And jump through the years and astonish the world;
Thou art of all nations the flower.
And Bismarck with envy shall grind his old stumps,
And Yankee inventors shall sit in the dumps,
To see young Australia advancing by jumps,
When driven by kangaroo power.
Sing hey!
Sing ho!
Then it’s bully for kangaroo power!

Ben Boyd's Tower

Ben Boyd's Tower is watching—
Watching o’er the sea;
Ben Boyd’s Tower is waiting
For her and me.
We do not know the day,
We do not know the hour,
But we know that we shall meet
By Ben Boyd’s Tower.

Moonlight peoples Boyd Tower,
Mystic are its walls;
Lightly dance the lovers
In its haunted halls.

Ben Boyd’s Tower is watching—
Watching o’er the foam;
Ben Boyd’s Tower is waiting
Till the “Wanderer” comes home.

O! he lay above us—
High above the surf—
Finger-nails and toe-caps
Digging in the turf.

We do not know the day,
We do not know the hour,
But Two and Two shall meet again
By Ben Boyd’s Tower.

There’s an ancient dame in Eden—
Basket on her arm—
And she goes down the Main Street
From the old, old farm.

Hood drawn on her forehead—
Withered dame and grey—
She never looks on Boyd Tower
Out across the Bay.

Bright eyes in the ballroom,
Coquetting with two,
Just for love of mischief,
As a girl will do.
A quarrel in the bar-room—
All within the hour—
And four men rode from Boyd Town
To Ben Boyd’s Tower.

Andy's Gone With Cattle

Our Andy's gone to battle now
'Gainst Drought, the red marauder;
Our Andy's gone with cattle now
Across the Queensland border.

He's left us in dejection now;
Our hearts with him are roving.
It's dull on this selection now,
Since Andy went a-droving.

Who now shall wear the cheerful face
In times when things are slackest?
And who shall whistle round the place
When Fortune frowns her blackest?

Oh, who shall cheek the squatter now
When he comes round us snarling?
His tongue is growing hotter now
Since Andy cross'd the Darling.

The gates are out of order now,
In storms the `riders' rattle;
For far across the border now
Our Andy's gone with cattle.

Poor Aunty's looking thin and white;
And Uncle's cross with worry;
And poor old Blucher howls all night
Since Andy left Macquarie.

Oh, may the showers in torrents fall,
And all the tanks run over;
And may the grass grow green and tall
In pathways of the drover;

And may good angels send the rain
On desert stretches sandy;
And when the summer comes again
God grant 'twill bring us Andy.

Grace Jennings Carmicheal

I hate the pen, the foolscap fair,
The poet’s corner, and the page,
For Grief and Death are written there,
In every land and every age.
The poets sing and play their parts,
Their daring cheers, their humour shines,
But, ah! my friends! their broken hearts
Have writ in blood between the lines.
They fought to build a Commonwealth,
They write for women and for men,
They give their youth, we give their health
And never prostitute the pen.
Their work in other tongues is read,
And when sad years wear out the pen,
Then they may seek their happy dead
Or go and starve in exile then.

A grudging meed of praise you give,
Or, your excuse, the ready lie—
(O! God, you don’t know how they live!
O! God, you don’t know how they die!)
The poetess, whose gentle tone
Oft cheered your mothers’ hearts when down;
A lonely woman, fought alone
The bitter fight in London town.

Your rich to lilac lands resort,
And old-world luxuries they buy;
You pour out gold to Cant and Sport
And give a million to a lie.
You give to cheats who rant and rave
With eyes that glare and arms that whirl,
But not a penny that might save
The children of the Gippsland girl.

A May Night On The Mountains

’Tis a wonderful time when these hours begin,
These long ‘small hours’ of night,
When grass is crisp, and the air is thin,
And the stars come close and bright.
The moon hangs caught in a silvery veil,
From clouds of a steely grey,
And the hard, cold blue of the sky grows pale
In the wonderful Milky Way.
There is something wrong with this star of ours,
A mortal plank unsound,
That cannot be charged to the mighty powers
Who guide the stars around.
Though man is higher than bird or beast,
Though wisdom is still his boast,
He surely resembles Nature least,
And the things that vex her most.

Oh, say, some muse of a larger star,
Some muse of the Universe,
If they who people those planets far
Are better than we, or worse?
Are they exempted from deaths and births,
And have they greater powers,
And greater heavens, and greater earths,
And greater Gods than ours?

Are our lies theirs, and our truth their truth,
Are they cursed for pleasure’s sake,
Do they make their hells in their reckless youth
Ere they know what hells they make?
And do they toil through each weary hour
Till the tedious day is o’er,
For food that gives but the fleeting power
To toil and strive for more?

The Heart Of The Swag

Oh, the track through the scrub groweth ever more dreary,
And lower and lower his grey head doth bow;
For the swagman is old and the swagman is weary—
He’s been tramping for over a century now.
He tramps in a worn-out old “side spring” and “blucher,”
His hat is a ruin, his coat is a rag,
And he carries forever, far into the future,
The key of his life in the core of his swag.
There are old-fashioned portraits of girls who are grannies,
There are tresses of dark hair whose owner’s are grey;
There are faded old letters from Marys and Annies,
And Toms, Dicks, and Harrys, dead many a day.
There are broken-heart secrets and bitter-heart reasons—
They are sewn in a canvas or calico bag,
And wrapped up in oilskin through dark rainy seasons,
And he carries them safe in the core of his swag.

There are letters that should have been burnt in the past time,
For he reads them alone, and a devil it brings;
There were farewells that should have been said for the last time,
For, forever and ever the love for her springs.
But he keeps them all precious, and keeps them in order,
And no matter to man how his footsteps may drag,
There’s a friend who will find, when he crosses the Border,
That the Heart of the Man’s in the Heart of his swag.

Callaghan's Hotel

There's the same old coaching stable that was used by Cobb and Co.,
And the yard the coaches stood in more than sixty years ago;
And the public-private parlour, where they serve the passing swell,
Was the shoeing forge and smithy up at Callaghan’s Hotel.
There’s the same old walls and woodwork that our fathers built to last,
And the same old doors and wainscot and the windows of the past;
And the same old nooks and corners where the Jim-Jams used to dwell;
But the Fantods dance no longer up at Callaghan’s Hotel.

There are memories of old days that were red instead of blue;
In the time of “Dick the Devil” and of other devils too;
But perhaps they went to Heaven and are angels, doing well—
They were always open-hearted up at Callaghan’s Hotel.

Then the new chum, broken-hearted, and with boots all broken too,
Got another pair of bluchers, and a quid to see him through;
And the old chum got a bottle, who was down and suffering Hell;—
And no tucker-bag went empty out of Callaghan’s Hotel.

And I sit and think in sorrow of the nights that I have seen,
When we fought with chairs and bottles for the orange and the green;
For the peace of poor old Ireland, till they rang the breakfast bell—
And the honour of Old England, up at Callaghan’s Hotel.

The Old Mile-Tree

OLD coach-road West by Nor’-ward—
Old mile-tree by the track:
A dead branch pointing forward,
And a dead branch pointing back.
And still in clear-cut romans
On his hard heart he tells
The miles that were to fortune,
The miles from Bowenfels.
Old chief of Western timber!
A famous gum you’ve been.
Old mile-tree, I remember
When all your boughs were green.

There came three boyish lovers
When golden days begun;
There rode three boyish rovers
Towards the setting sun.
And Fortune smiled her fairest
And Fate to these was kind—
The truest, best and rarest,
The girls they’d left behind.
By the camp-fire’s dying ember
They dreamed of love and gold;
Old mile-tree, I remember
When all our hearts were bold.

And when the wrecks of those days
Were sadly drifting back,
There came a lonely swagman
Along the dusty track;
And save for limbs that trembled—
For weak and ill was he—
Old mile-tree, he resembled
The youngest of the three.
Beneath you, dark and lonely,
A wronged and broken man
He crouched, and sobbed as only
The strong heart broken can.
The darkness wrapped the timber,
The stars seemed dark o’erhead—
Old mile-tree, I remember
When all green leaves seemed dead.

Sacred To The Memory Of “unknown”

Oh, the wild black swans fly westward still,
While the sun goes down in glory—
And away o’er lonely plain and hill
Still runs the same old story:
The sheoaks sigh it all day long—
It is safe in the Big Scrub’s keeping—
’Tis the butcher-birds’ and the bell-birds’ song
In the gum where ‘Unknown’ lies sleeping—
(It is heard in the chat of the soldier-birds
O’er the grave where ‘Unknown’ lies sleeping).
Ah! the Bushmen knew not his name or land,
Or the shame that had sent him here—
But the Bushmen knew by the dead man’s hand
That his past life lay not near.
The law of the land might have watched for him,
Or a sweetheart, wife, or mother;
But they bared their heads, and their eyes were dim,
For he might have been a brother!
(Ah! the death he died brought him near to them,
For he might have been a brother.)

Oh, the wild black swans to the westward fade,
And the sunset burns to ashes,
And three times bright on an eastern range
The light of a big star flashes,
Like a signal sent to a distant strand
Where a dead man’s love sits weeping.
And the night comes grand to the Great Lone Land
O’er the grave where ‘Unknown’ lies sleeping,
And the big white stars in their clusters blaze
O’er the Bush where ‘Unknown’ lies sleeping.

The stamp of Scotland is on his face,
But he sailed to the South a lad,
And he does not think of the black bleak hills
And the bitter hard youth he had;
He thinks of a nearer and dearer past
In the bright land far away,
When the teams went up and the teams came down,
In the days when they made bush hay.

The fare was rough and the bush was grim
In the “years of his pilgrimage”,
But he gained the strength that is still with him
In his hale, late middle age.
He thinks of the girl at the halfway inn
They use as a barn to-day—
Oh, she was a dumpling and he was thin
In the days when they made bush hay.

The ration teams to the Bathurst Plains
Were often a fortnight full.
And they branched all ways in the early days
And back to the port with wool.
They watched for the lights of old Cobb & Co.
That flashed to the West away,
When drivers drove six on a twelve-mile stage
In the days when they made bush hay.

He has made enough, and he’s sold his claim,
And he goes by the morning train,
From the gold-field town in the sultry West
To his home by the sea again,
Where a bustling old body’s expecting him
Whose hair is scarcely grey,
And she was the girl of the halfway house
In the days when they made bush hay.

A long farewell to Genoa
That rises to the skies,
Where the barren coast of Italy
Like our own coastline lies.
A sad farewell to Genoa,
And long my heart shall grieve,
The only city in the world
That I was loath to leave.

No sign of rush or strife is there,
No war of greed they wage.
The deep cool streets of Genoa
Are rock-like in their age.
No garish signs of commerce there
Are flaunting in the sun.
A rag hung from a balcony
Is by an artist done.

And she was fair in Genoa,
And she was very kind,
Those pale blind-seeming eyes that seem
Most beautifully blind.
Oh they are sad in Genoa,
Those poor soiled singing birds.
I had but three Italian words
And she three English words.

But love is cheap in Genoa,
Aye, love and wine are cheap,
And neither leaves an aching head,
Nor cuts the heart too deep;
Save when the knife goes straight, and then
There’s little time to grieve—
The only city in the world
That I was loath to leave.

I’ve said farewell to tinted days
And glorious starry nights,
I’ve said farewell to Naples with
Her long straight lines of lights;
But it is not for Naples but
For Genoa that I grieve,
The only city in the world
That I was loath to leave.

Give Yourself A Show: New Year's Eve

TO my fellow sinners all, who, in hope and doubt,
Through the Commonwealth to-night watch the Old Year out,
New Year’s Resolutions are jerry-built I know,
But I want to say to you, “Give yourselves a show”.

You who drink for drinking’s sake, love for lust alone,
Thinking heaven is a myth and the world your own—
Dancing gaily down to hell in the devil’s dance—
This I have to say to you: “Give your souls a chance”.

You who drink because of shame that you think will last,
Or because of wrong done you—trouble in the past—
“Nothing left to live for now,” you will say, I know;
But you have your own self yet, give that self a show!

You who want all things on earth—money, love, and fame
Having the advantage of worldly place or name—
You who have more than you want, even than you know,
In the glorious New Year give someone else a show.

You, the mischief-makers all, who in secret glee
Love to tell the villainies of a scamp like me;
There are things he’ll never tell—things you’ll never know—
Look into your own lives first—give the man a show.

You, the politician, who, for jealousy or gold,
Or for mean ambition, sell, or see your country sold,
Pandering to the hollow crowd, toadying to the low,
For shame’s sake banish selfishness—give your land a show.

When The Irish Flag Went By

’Twas Eight-Hour Day, and proudly
Old Labour led the way;
The drums were bearing loudly,
The crowded streets were gay;
But something touched my heart like pain,
I could not check the sigh
That rose within my bosom when
The Irish Flag went by.

Bright flags were raised about it
And one of them my own:
And patriots trod beneath it—
But it seemed all alone.
I thought of ruined Ireland
While crystals from the sky
Fell soft like tears by angels shed,
As the Irish Flag went by.

I love the dark green standard
As Irish patriots do;
It waves above the rebels,
And I’m a rebel too,
I thought of Ireland’s darkest years,
Her griefs that follow fast;
For drooping as ’twere drenched with tears
The Irish Flag went past.

And though ’twas not in Erin
That my forefathers trod;
And though my wandering footsteps
Ne’er pressed the “dear old sod”,
I felt the wrongs the Irish feel
Beneath the northern sky.
And felt the rebel in my heart
When the Irish Flag went by.

I tell you, men of England,
Who rule the land by might;
I tell you, Irish traitors
Who sell the sons of light,
The tyranny shall fail at last,
That changeful days are nigh;
And you shall dip your red flag yet,
When the Irish Flag goes by.

They sing of the grandeur of cliffs inland,
But the cliffs of the ocean are truly grand;
And I long to wander and dream and doubt
Where the cliffs by the ocean run out and out.

To the northward far as the eye can reach
Are sandhill, boulder, and sandy beach;
But southward rises the track for me,
Where the cliffs by the ocean run out to sea.

Friends may be gone in the morning fair,
But the cliffs by the ocean are always there;
Lovers may leave when the wind is chill,
But the cliffs by the ocean are steadfast still.

They watch the sea and they ward the land,
And they warn the ships from the treacherous sand;
And I sadly think in the twilight hour
What I might have been had I known my power.

Where the smoke-cloud blurs and the white sails fill,
They point the ships to keep seaward still;
And I think—Ah, me!—and I think—Ah, me!
Of the wreck I’d saved had I kept to sea.

Oh! the cliffs are old and the cliffs are sad,
And they know me sane, while men deem me mad.
Oh! the cliffs are firm and the cliffs are strong,
And they know me right, while men deem me wrong.

And I sometimes think in the dawning gray,
I am old as they, I am old as they;
And I think, I think that in field and town
My spirit shall live till the cliffs come down.

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?”

Billy Of Queensland

“Queensland,” he heads his letters—that’s all:
The date, and the month, and the year in brief;
He often sends me a cheerful scrawl,
With an undertone of ancient grief.
The first seems familiar, but might have changed,
As often the writing of wanderers will;
He seems all over the world to have ranged,
And he signs himself William, or Billy, or Bill.

He might have been an old mate of mine—
A shearer, or one of the station hands.
(There were some of ’em died, who drop me a line,
Signing other names, and in other hands.
There was one who carried his swag with me
On the western tracks, when the world was young,
And now he is spouting democracy
In another land with another tongue.)

He cheers me up like an old mate, quite,
And swears at times like an old mate, too;
(Perhaps he knows that I never write
Except to say that I’m going to).
He says he is tired of telling lies
For a Blank he knows for a Gory Scamp—
But—I note the tone where the sunset dies
On the Outside Track or the cattle camp.

Who are you, Billy? But never mind—
Come to think of it, I forgot—
There were so many in days behind,
And all so true that it matters not.
It may be out in the Mulga scrub,
In the southern seas, or a London street—
(I hope it’s close to a bar or pub )
But I have a feeling that we shall meet.

Scots Of The Riverina

The boy cleared out to the city from his home at harvest time --
They were Scots of the Riverina, and to run from home was a crime.
The old man burned his letters, the first and last he burned,
And he scratched his name from the Bible when the old wife's back was turned.

A year went past and another. There were calls from the firing-line;
They heard the boy had enlisted, but the old man made no sign.
His name must never be mentioned on the farm by Gundagai --
They were Scots of the Riverina with ever the kirk hard by.

The boy came home on his "final", and the township's bonfire burned.
His mother's arms were about him; but the old man's back was turned.
The daughters begged for pardon till the old man raised his hand --
A Scot of the Riverina who was hard to understand.

The boy was killed in Flanders, where the best and bravest die.
There were tears at the Grahame homestead and grief in Gundagai;
But the old man ploughed at daybreak and the old man ploughed till the mirk --
There were furrows of pain in the orchard while his housefolk went to the kirk.

The hurricane lamp in the rafters dimly and dimly burned;
And the old man died at the table when the old wife's back was turned.
Face down on his bare arms folded he sank with his wild grey hair
Outspread o'er the open Bible and a name re-written there.

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.

And What Have You To Say?

I MIND the days when ladies fair
Helped on my overcoat,
And tucked the silken handkerchief
About my precious throat;
They used to see the poet’s soul
In every song I wrote.

They pleaded hard, but I had work
To do, and could not stay
I used to work the whole night through,
And what have you to say?

’Twas clever, handsome woman then,
And I their rising star;
I could not see they worshipped me,
Because I saw too far.
(’Tis well for one or two, I think,
That things are as they are.)

(I used to write for writing’s sake,
I used to write till day,
I loved my prose and poetry,
And what have you to say?)

I guess if one should meet me now
That she would gasp to think,
She ever knew a thing like me,
As down the street I slink,
And trembling cadge from some old pal
The tray-bit for a drink.

I used to drink with gentlemen
To pass an hour away:
I drink long beers in common bars,
And what have you to say?

But often, in the darkest night
(And ’tis a wondrous thing)—
When others see the devils dance,
I hear the angels sing,
And round the drunkard’s lonely bed
Heaven’s nurses whispering.

I wrote for Truth and Right alone,
I wrote from night till day;
I’ll find a drunken pauper grave,
And what have you to say?
Good night!
Good day!
My noble friends,
And what have you to say?

The Days When We Went Swimming

The breezes waved the silver grass,
Waist-high along the siding,
And to the creek we ne'er could pass
Three boys on bare-back riding;
Beneath the sheoaks in the bend
The waterhole was brimming -
Do you remember yet, old friend,
The times we 'went in swimming'?

The days we 'played the wag' from school -
Joys shared - and paid for singly -
The air was hot, the water cool -
And naked boys are kingly!
With mud for soap the sun to dry -
A well planned lie to stay us,
And dust well rubbed on neck and face
Lest cleanliness betray us.

And you'll remember farmer Kutz -
Though scarcely for his bounty -
He leased a forty-acre block,
And thought he owned the county;
A farmer of the old world school,
That grew men hard and grim in,
He drew his water from the pool
That we preferred to swim in.

And do you mind when down the creek
His angry way he wended,
A green-hide cartwhip in his hand
For our young backs intended?
Three naked boys upon the sand -
Half buried and half sunning -
Three startled boys without their clothes
Across the paddocks running.

We've had some scares, but we looked blank
When, resting there and chumming,
One glanced by chance upon the bank
And saw the farmer coming!
And home inmpressions linger yet
Of cups of sorrow brimming;
I hardly think that we'll forget
The last day we went swimming.

OH, this is a song of the old lights, that came to my heart like a hymn;
And this is a song for the old lights—the lights that we thought grew dim,
That came to my heart to comfort me, and I pass it along to you;
And here is a hand to the good old friend who turns up as good as new.
And this is a song for the camp-fire out west where the stars shine bright—
Oh, this is a song for the camp-fire where the old mates yarn to-night;
Where the old mates yarn of the old days, and their numbers are all too few,
And this is a song for the good old times that will turn up as good as new.

Oh, this is a song for the old foe—we have both grown wiser now,
And this is a song for the old foe, and we’re sorry we had that row;
And this is a song for the old love—the love that we thought untrue—
Oh, this is a song of the dear old love that comes back as good as new.

Oh, this is a song for the black sheep, for the black sheep that fled from town,
And this is a song for the brave heart, for the brave heart that lived it down;
And this is a song for the battler, for the battler who sees it through—
And this is a song for the broken heart that turns up as good as new.

Ah, this is a song for the brave mate, be he Bushman, Scot, or Russ,
A song for the mates we will stick to—for the mates who have stuck to us;
And this is a song for the old creed, to do as a man should do,
Till the Lord takes us all to a wider world—where we’ll turn up as good as new.

The Old Jimmy Woodser

The old Jimmy Woodser comes into the bar
Unwelcomed, unnoticed, unknown,
Too old and too odd to be drunk with, by far;
So he glides to the end where the lunch baskets are
And they say that he tipples alone.

His frockcoat is green and the nap is no more,
And his hat is not quite at its best;
He wears the peaked collar our grandfathers wore,
The black-ribbon tie that was legal of yore,
And the coat buttoned over his breast.

When first he came in, for a moment I thought
That my vision or wits were astray;
For a picture and page out of Dickens he brought---
‘Twas an old file dropped in from the Chancery Court
To the wine-vault just over the way.

But I dreamed, as he tasted his “bitter” to-night
And the lights in the bar-room grew dim,
That the shades of the friends of that other day’s light,
And of girls that were bright in our grandfathers” sight,
Lifted shadowy glasses to him.

Then I opened the door, and the old man passed out,
With his short, shuffling step and bowed head;
And I sighed; for I felt, as I turned me about,
An odd sense of respect---born of whisky no doubt---
For the life that was fifty years dead.

And I thought---there are times when our memory trends
Through the future, as ‘twere on its own---
That I, out-of-date ere my pilgrimage ends,
In a new-fashioned bar to dead loves and dead friends
Might drink, like the old man, alone.

The Legend Of Mammon Castle

IN THE days that will be olden after many years are gone,
Ere the world emerged from darkness floating out into the dawn,
On a mountain rising steeply from the depth of marsh and wood
Raised in scorn above the lowlands Mammon Castle proudly stood—

Mammon Castle, built of marble that was cut and reared with pain
By the poor and starving wretches who were serfs on that domain—
All the jewel-studded windows shone at sunset like a fire,
And a diamond was flashing from the needle of the spire.

Now the nobles held the castle by a title that was old,
And they drank from crystal goblets and they ate from plates of gold;
The coffers of the castle they were plenished by the thralls,
And many were the revels that were held in Mammon’s halls.

And the plunder from the toilers more than paid for silks and wine,
So the flower-beds were bordered with the jewels of the mine,
All the serfs were taught to worship both the lady and the lord,
And the nobles taught their children to be wiser far than God.

But a vassal preached sedition and in a gloomy hour
Came the wild and haggard vassals to the gate of Mammon Tower;
They asked for food and shelter and were answered by a blow,
And, rising in their anger, soon they laid the castle low.

The jewels of the castle went to buy the people bread,
And according to his labour was the toiler clothed and fed.
And with the wood and marble—my dreaming tells me so—
Many little homes were builded in the valleys down below.

The Professional Wanderer

When you’ve knocked about the country—been away from home for years;
When the past, by distance softened, nearly fills your eyes with tears—
You are haunted oft, wherever or however you may roam,
By a fancy that you ought to go and see the folks at home.
You forget the family quarrels—little things that used to jar—
And you think of how they’ll worry—how they wonder where you are;
You will think you served them badly, and your own part you’ll condemn,
And it strikes you that you’ll surely be a novelty to them,
For your voice has somewhat altered, and your face has somewhat changed—
And your views of men and matters over wider fields have ranged.
Then it’s time to save your money, or to watch it (how it goes!);
Then it’s time to get a ‘Gladstone’ and a decent suit of clothes;
Then it’s time to practise daily with a hair-brush and a comb,
Till you drop in unexpected on the folks and friends at home.
When you’ve been at home for some time, and the novelty’s worn off,
And old chums no longer court you, and your friends begin to scoff;
When ‘the girls’ no longer kiss you, crying ‘Jack! how you have changed!’
When you’re stale to your relations, and their manner seems estranged ;
When the old domestic quarrels, round the table thrice a day,
Make it too much like the old times—make you wish you’d stayed away,
When, in short, you’ve spent your money in the fulness of your heart,
And your clothes are getting shabby . . . Then it’s high time to depart.

What Have We All Forgotten?

WHAT have we all forgotten, at the break of the seventh year?
With a nation born to the ages and a Bad Time borne on its bier!
Public robbing, and lying that death cannot erase—
“Private” strife and deception—Cover the bad dead face!
Drinking, gambling and madness—Cover and bear it away—
But what have we all forgotten at the dawn of the seventh day?

These are the years of plenty—years when the “tanks” are full—
Stacked by the lonely sidings mountains of wheat and wool.
Country crowds to the city, healthy, shaven and dressed,
Clothes to wear with the gayest, money to spend with the best.
Grand are the lights of the cities, carnival kings in power—
But what have we all forgotten, in this, the eleventh hour?

“We” have brought the states together, a land to the lands new born.
We have worked in the glorious weather, we have garnered and reaped and shorn.
We have come from the grass-waves flowing under Heaven’s electric lamps
(Making of sordid cities, boyish and jovial camps).
“We” have cleansed the cities and townships: we rest and frolic and gain,
But what have we all forgotten? Did we send the peace and the rain?

What have we all forgotten, here in our glorious home?
(I the greater the sinner because I was greater than some.)
What have we all forgotten so widely from east to west?
(I—and the most ungrateful because I was doubly blessed.)
Sinners to self and to country! and saviours though misunderstood!
Let us all kneel for one moment and thank the Great Spirits for Good.