Works in the Herald 1935
Fierce on the wheat-sown Mallee plain
   The ruthless summer suns burned down,
And dust-storms, heralding the rain,
Swept thro' the street and on again
   While tradesfolk cursed in the old white town.
Of sand and line-stone stoutly built,
She'd lived to prosper and to wilt,
   Because, as all wiseacres knew,
   "They went and brought the railway thro'."

Deep-voiced, bewhiskered townsfolk these,
   Remnant of pioneering days,
Full of high tales and memories
Of wild, rough work and wilder sprees,
   When coach and teamster went their ways;
When men pushed out to newer land
And cash came easy to the hand --
   And went: The golden days men knew
   "Before that put that railway thro'."

Yet even in those days of stress --
   Or seeming stress -- the old town knew
Nothing of wnat or wretchedness;
For wealth was there and work to bless
   All men who sought them work to do.
To me, a child in those far years,
Now as a time-dimmed dream appears
   The olden life that once I knew
   After the railway wandered thro'.

Like myths in some long-fabled tale --
   Figures and scenes to conjure with
They seem.  Yet 'spite the deepening veil,
Their memories grow never stales;
   Big George, the lumper; Toll, the smith;
Long John, the snob - long have they slept
While suns burned down and dustorm swept
   Across the Mallee plains they knew
   Before men brought the railway thro'.

Herald, 21 January 1935, p6

Copyright © Perry Middlemiss 2003