Works in the Critic 1902
Yoke 'em up an' get a move on!  Gayest times must have an end,
There's a weary track to travel when we've nothin' left to spend,
Woman's fair, an' drink's enticin'.  What's a tenner more or less?
Toil's ahead.  So all aboard there for the bullocky express!
Clips are light an' clips are heavy; money's but a shiftin' load:
Twenty pounds or twenty shillin'; sure to go the same old road:
Wine an' Women.  What's it matter?  Wishin' never got it back.
Time enough for vain regrettin', when we're on the Homeward Track.

Once a year we lumber southward with the clip from Yarradee;
Spell the bullocks in the township while we run our yearly spree.
What's a bullocky to live for?  Days of toil are hard an' long;
An' you'd not begrudge him yearly one short week of wine an' song.
While it lasts he asks no better.  When it's over "Yoke 'em up,"
An' we'll make another promise for to shun the brimmin' cup.
When we've done our little cheque in, an' the township's at our back;
Then we start to think of mendin' -- out along the Homeward Track.

For there comes a time of reck'nin' when we're trudgin' by the team;
Back again to work an' worry; kind of wakin' from a dream;
We begin to see the folly of a week of wicked fun,
Bought with months of weary slavin', punchin' bullocks on the run.
But our views are sort o' tempered when we've done a twelve months' drouth;
An' our thoughts ain't so religious when the team is headin' south.
When the pleasure is before us, work an' worry at our back,
We forget the grim reformers out along the Homeward Track.

What's the odds?  It's got to happen.  What we've done we'll do again;
An' we know it while we make 'em, resolutions are in vain.
Life's a weary track to travel, mostly full o' ruts an' stumps:
Them that spends their days in drudgin' have to take their joy with lumps.
Just as well to make it easy, if we're on the road to hell,
Trav'lin' it by jerky stages, with a year of sober spell.
An' we're makin' it the smoother when we think of turnin' back;
For we're helpin' with the pavement out along the Homeward Track.

The Critic, 13 December 1902, p52

This poem was also published in BackBlock Ballads and Other Verses under the title "The Homeward Track", without the first verse as shown here, a changed final four lines and with a few other minor amendments.

Copyright © Perry Middlemiss 2003-04