JIM THE SPLITTER by Henry Kendall
The bard who is singing of Wollombi Jim
Is hardly just now in the requisite trim
To sit on his Pegasus fairly;
Besides, he is bluntly informed by the Muse
That Jim is a subject no singer should choose;
For Jim is poetical rarely.
But being full up of the myths that are Greek --
Of the classic, and noble, and nude, and antique,
Which means not a rag but the pelt on;
This poet intends to give Daphne the slip,
For the sake of a hero in moleskin and kip,
With a jumper and snake-buckle belt on.
No party is Jim of the Pericles type:
He is modern right up from the toe to the pipe;
And being no reader or roamer,
He hasn't Euripides much in the head;
And let it be carefully, tenderly said,
He never has analysed Homer.
He can roar out a song of the twopenny kind;
But, knowing the beggar so well, I'm inclined
To believe that a "par" about Kelly,
The rascal who skulked under shadow of curse,
Is more in his line than the happiest verse
On the glittering pages of Shelley.
You mustn't, however, adjudge him in haste,
Because a red robber is more to his taste
Than Ruskin, Rossetti, or Dante!
You see, he was bred in a bangalow wood,
And bangalow pith was the principal food
His mother served out in her shanty.
His knowledge is this -- he can tell in the dark
What timber will split by the feel of the bark;
And rough as his manner of speech is,
His wits to the fore he can readily bring
In passing off ash as the genuine thing
When scarce in the forest the beech is.
In "girthing" a tree that he sells "in the round",
He assumes, as a rule, that the body is sound,
And measures, forgetting to bark it!
He may be a ninny, but still the old dog
Can plug to perfection the pipe of a log
And "palm it" away on the market.
He splits a fair shingle, but holds to the rule
Of his father's, and, haply, his grandfather's school;
Which means that he never has blundered,
When tying his shingles, by slinging in more
Than the recognized number of ninety and four
To the bundle he sells for a hundred!
When asked by the market for ironbark red,
It always occurs to the Wollombi head
To do a "mahogany" swindle.
In forests where never the ironbark grew,
When Jim is at work, it would flabbergast you
To see how the "ironbarks" dwindle.
He can stick to the saddle, can Wollombi Jim,
And when a buckjumper dispenses with him,
The leather goes off with the rider.
And, as to a team, over gully and hill
He can travel with twelve on the breadth of a quill
And boss the unlucky "offsider".
He shines at his best at the tiller of saw,
On the top of the pit, where his whisper is law
To the gentleman working below him.
When the pair of them pause in a circle of dust,
Like a monarch he poses exalted, august --
There's nothing this planet can show him!
For a man is a man who can "sharpen" and "set",
And he is the only thing masculine yet
According to sawyer and splitter --
Or rather according to Wollombi Jim;
And nothing will tempt me to differ from him,
For Jim is a bit of a hitter.
But, being full up, we'll allow him to rip,
Along with his lingo, his saw, and his whip --
He isn't the classical "notion".
And, after a night in his "humpy", you see,
A person of orthodox habits would be
Refreshed by a dip in the ocean.
To tot him right up from the heel to the head,
He isn't the Grecian of whom we have read --
His face is a trifle too shady.
The nymph in green valleys of Thessaly dim
Would never "jack up" her old lover for him,
For she has the tastes of a lady.
So much for our hero! A statuesque foot
Would suffer by wearing that heavy-nailed boot:
Its owner is hardly Achilles.
However, he's happy! He cuts a great "fig" --
In the land where a coat is no part of the "rig" --
In the country of damper and "billies".
Return to the Poetical Works of Henry Kendall page.