Poem: A Brown Ballad by F. S. Ferguson

Brown was a city clerk whose pay,
   More modest than his aspirations,
Would scarcely keep him in the clay;
   He therefore lived with his relations.

But he had aims above his screw;
   Its smallness caused him deep contrition;   
To poetry his soul-thoughts flew,   
   To be a bard was his ambition.

Yet midst the bottle of the town
   He suffered dearth of inspiration,
So with his holidays young Brown
   Set off for Tamberooner station.

He got a job as station hand,
   A job of just one month's duration;
Brown meant to write some poems grand
   While up on what be called vacation.     

What feared he for the work! Not he;   
   He'd willingly endure privation;
He said he'd give his head to see   
   Bush life upon an outback station.

By train and coach he travelled out,
   Around no sign of cattle grazing;
'Twas in the middle of a drought,
   The sun above was fairly blazing.   

But Brown saw nought but beauty there,
   'Twixt deepest thought his brain immersing,
And, building castles in the air,
   He failed to hear the others cursing.

The coach track ended at a town   
   Some ten miles from his destination;
Brown tramped it as the sun-sank down,
   And got there bathed in perspiration.     

Now Tamberooner held in pride   
   A somewhat shady reputation --
The roughest on the Queensland side,   
   The hands on Tamberoonor station.   

They made things hot for Poet Brown,
   The station work not understanding;
They made his life not worth a crown;
   They always made him do the branding!   

They made him swing the axe all day,
   Till poor Brown's arms were dully aching,
From morn until the sun's last ray,
   The while he felt his back was breaking.

They led the man a fearful time,
   Those demons up at Tamberooner;
But Brown stuck to his task as slime
   Adheres to any anchored schooner.

And when of nights he wrote his verse
   He lacked no fund of inspiration;
He dealt those devils curse on curse,
   Condemned them to incineration.

The station men those verses found,
   Their contents fairly made them shiver;
They swore they'd have the author drowned,
   They'd throw him in the nearest river.

But Brown was toiling down the track,   
   His swag hung heavy on his shoulder,
His face was worn and bent his back,
   He looked at least some ten years older.

By coach and train he travelled down,   
   The bush around still dry and glaring;
Brown longed once more to be in town,
   And sat there silent, idly staring.

And though while there in town the work
   May dim his bright imagination,
He somehow does the duty shirk
   Of seeking after inspiration.

First published in The Queenslander, 6 February 1897

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on June 26, 2010 8:41 AM.

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