Backblock Ballads and Other Verses
Oh, the pleasures of the city were beguilin' me;
The pleasant ways of spendin' got a-spilin' me;
The rugged road of earnin' it was rilin' me;
   Fer farmin' in the wayback isn't play.
But now the 'orny 'and of care is maulin' me;
I 'ear the voice of 'omeland sof'ly callin' me,
An' feel the strings of memory a-haulin' me
   Back 'long the billabong, afar away.

Born I was afar away frum 'ere,
   Out way back frum any noisy town.
I've knocked around the city fer a year,
   An' cursed meself each day fer comin' down.
Keepin' sheep 'n' things up there I was,
   Sold me 'appy 'ome fer most a song;
Left, an' travelled citywards becos
   Times was slow along the billabong.

An' I've knocked around the city fer a year 'r so,
An' 'ardly made me tucker an' a beer 'r so;
Until I'm startin' now to 'ave a fear 'r so
   I'll never know the dawnin' of the day
When I see again the shepherds slowly follerin'
Their dusty flocks, an' to their dogs a-hollerin';
Or watch the lazy workin' bullocks wanderin',
   Up 'long the billabong afar away.

I wasn't nohow used to city ways,
   An' started on a roarin' jamboree,
An' spent a week of wild an' wicked days,
   An' likewise, 'alf me savin's in a spree.
Since then I've drifted down frum bad to worse,
   An' ev'ry game I tackled turned out wrong,
Till now ther's nothin' left me but to curse
   The fool thet left up 'long the billabong.

I on'y need a good square feed inside o' me,
An' decent togs to hide the blessed hide o' me,
Jes' so as not to 'urt the bloomin' pride o' me
   Are the folks, an' fear o' wot they'd say;
I'll buckle to, an' roll me blessed drum, I will;
An' leave me noisy shanty in the slum, I will;
An' either land, dead beat, in Kingdom Come, I will,
   Or 'long the billabong afar away.

"C. J. D."
The Critic, 7 September 1901, p10
Originally published with the title "Up 'Long the Bilabong".

Copyright © Perry Middlemiss 2002-06