Results tagged “R.W.S.”

Thirst by R.W.S.

Dedicated to W., in remembrance of a dry time.

No water! none! Great God, can it be true?
Is this the waterhole he said he knew,
That never failed, no matter what the drought?
His certain knowledge left me with no doubt ---
Witnesses silent! In the clear moonlight
The plains ahead, and scrub upon the right!
By Heaven! but 'tis too true; the grateful drink,
Of which for weary miles 'twas sweet to think,
Is not! But lo! The something in its place
Is, that King Death and I meet face to face!
As stops the heart, and curdles in the veins
(At some dread scene) the blood, so those broad plains
Struck to my heart a cold and dark despair! A
h! well I knew Death would await me there.
Now! Shall I turn? Go back the way I came? ---
Full well I feel that none would deem it shame.
Rest us awhile, and make the best, old horse?   
And in an hour pursue a backward course?
We should get back for certain, and the worst
Some little suffering from toil and thirst --
Never! so help me now the God above!
Adieu, my little ones, and those I love.
So far my work is done; and none shall say
That Death himself hath power or fear to stay
That course I fixed so surely when I said,
"You'll find I'll do it, or --- you'll find me dead;"
No power exists to alter my resolve!
I care not what the future may involve!---
Then through the silent hours of the night
Together --- horse and man --- we fought that fight.
I thought about the battle on the heights
Of Alma, and of all the Russian fights;
I thought about the splendid Light Brigade,
And of the famous headlong charge they made;
I thought of battles both on land and sea;
Oh, God! I longed, as each occurred to me,
That I'd been there, and numbered with the slain,
Instead of dying on this weary plain
Alone, unheeded --- of all deaths the worst,
Dying a maddening death of raging thirst!
Poor horse! --- poor tottering limbs and staring eyes!
My God! it seems a cruel sacrifice.
Stop here! Enough. Something within me warns
The end is near! See where the morning dawns.
I laid my head against a leaning tree;
Slowly in sleep a dream came over me.
Magical change! What radiant lovely sight!
Is this an angel? Do I see aright?
What wondrous flowers! --- and fragrance all around!
And green as loveliest emeralds the ground!   
While through the peerless flowers I see the gleam,
And hear the ripple, of a sparkling stream.
Speak! Who art thou, of form so fair and bright?
Fair as the flowers, brighter than the light!
With heavenly smile the Angel-face looked down:
"Brother, behold--brother, accept -- thy crown!
Truly and well has thy hard task been done ---
Nobly the battle fought, and victory won;
Acceptable is thy self-sacriflce
To Duty's stern demand. Behold! arise!"
Slowly I wakened --- slow the Vision passed:
Water! By Heaven! --- there it is at last!

Though the life that was nearly gone is vouchsafed yet,
For better or worse, I feel I shall never forget
All that I suffered from thirst in a few short hours,
And the dream of the Angel Form, the stream, and the flowers.

First published in The Queenslander, 18 March 1882

Author reference site: Austlit

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Buck-Jumping! by R.W.S.

"Snake!" how the word ever serves to recall
   That pony, all sinew and muscle,
Who gave me one tremendous fall,
   And many a terrible tussle!

Strong limbs, and lupple, his head set on
   In a way that was just perfection,
With a curve in his neck (like the neck of a swan)
   In exactly the right direction.

Such a back and loins, and beautiful crest,
   And a barrel round as an apple;
And I know I can scarcely say, of the rest,
   With which it was hardest to grapple.

For I've sat on his neck, behind his ears,
   And I've sat behind my saddle,
And I found him, with kicks, and bucks, and rears,
   A most awkward canoe to paddle.

Dark lustrous eyes, with a menacing frown;
   No woman's were ever more splendid,
More bright, or more beautiful liquid brown,
   Or more with wickedness blended.

I used to think of the beggar by day,
   And I used to dream of him nightly,
And how I longed to be able to say,
   "At last I can ride you rightly."

And with every day I used to find
   The fascination grew stronger;
Till at last I finally made up my mind
   That I would delay no longer.

I remember the morning, cold and gray,
   And how I tried to dissemble
That the nasty cold raw feel of the day
   Was the reason that made me tremble.

"Charlie" and "Bungaree," darkies two,
   Sat up on the stockyard railing,
And said an occasional "Budgery you!"   
   To prevent my heart from failing.

(Poor fellows! Now to "kingdom come"
   I hear they have both departed;
One died of a cold, the other from ram;
   But the pair were really good-hearted.)

I remember well the whistling snort
   That shook my self-reliance,
As you boldly faced around, old sport,
   And bade me a cool defiance.

As I looked in your face I shall never forget
   The evil look that you gave me,
And the "strike" you struck at my head, and yet
   After all you did but shave me.

You stood like an image as I drew tight
   Much girth almost to the bursting;
You were thinking, no doubt, of the coming fight,
   For which I believe you were thirsting.

I carefully tightened the near side rein,   
   Till your nose was touching my shoulder;
And I thought, as I grasped a lock of your mane,
   That, you villain, you only looked bolder.

And as I got up with the utmost care,
   And you never attempted to "hook it,"
My goodness! how those darkies did stare
   To see how quiet you took it.

But I knew very well 'twas an ominous sign,
   And I felt my face grow whiter;
And I said to you, "Yes, this is all very fine,"
   As I set myself down a bit tighter.

Four miles we had gone; I was watching you;
   Could it be that your manners were mended?
The blackboys laughed, and I laughed too;
   But the laugh was mighty soon ended.

What happened exactly I never could say,
   But all that I'd seen before me
Had gone, in a most mysterious way
   As through the bushes you tore me!

A sudden stop, and a furious bound,
   Our course exactly reversing,
Brought me uncommonly close to the ground;
   I'm afraid that I started cursing.

Now, I felt on my face your waving mane,
   And then, such a shock behind me;
I can ride that ride here over again,
   Where changes of circumstance find me.

Backwards, forwards, dashing around,
   I shall never forget the feeling,
Nor the rattle of buckles and straps, and the sound
   Of the devil beneath me squealing.

By the mane, by the saddle, the bridle, all,
   I was clinging in desperation;   
I'd have collared the tail to have saved a fall,
   But for its wrong situation.

"Budgery ride, by Golly! hey!"   
   Together the darkies shouted;
I knew, in spite of all they might say,
   The end they never had doubted.

To be riding "all over," from head to tail,
   A horse that is perfectly frantic,
Is a game that I must say soon becomes stale,
   And it certainly isn't romantic.

But all things end --- the worst and the best.
   So far I'd stuck to the leather;
"Snake" very suddenly ended the rest,
   For we both came down together.

Side by side for a moment we lay,
   There wasn't much time for talking;
With a bound and a kick he darted away,
   And left me behind him --- walking.

Well! well! I look back and think of his hate --
   It's well to be honestly hated;
He was always to me a dangerous mate
   As ever the Lord created.

But I'll say of him, though he became my slave,
   And for years I used to ride him,
That at least, though wicked, he still was brave;
   So may no ill betide him.

And if of this life he's ended his lease,
   So that there the whole thing ceases,
I would possibly wish he might rest in peace ---
   Only probably now he's in pieces.

One thing in the lines that compose this lay,
   And perhaps their small merit enhances ---
Is, only, that I can truthfully say
   That they simply are facts, and not fancies.

First published in The Queenslander, 18 February 1882

Author: nothing is known about the author of this poem.

Author reference site: Austlit

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