Poem: Scribes of the Bush by Frank Henty

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From slippered chills of drowsy morn, clean through until the moon
Of midnight shows her lamp forlorn, to light the late buffoon
Slow homeward from his loyal lodge --- or from the A.N.A. --
To shine on them and help them dodge the trees upon their way,
The pencil-pushers hump it, day by day.

Before the dawn is in the sky, while yet black night is here,
And restless worlds go flashing by to mock the man in beer
Who has his own starred universe within his bleary eyes ---
With many a random, rousing curse as time a-gallop flies,
The pale scribes of the grey bush wake and rise.

Their slow steeds start along the track to meet the dawn, aflame
Far down the skyline, grim and black; some days these nags go lame;
Some days they reef or plunge or kneel ungainly in the mud,
While, slow, the scribe, with clinging heel, slips forward, with a flood
Of threatenings to spill the poor plug's blood.

so, travrelling far, the restless scribe picks shining pearls for print
From council-swine -- gross diatribes and words whose flaring tint
Of turquoise or of purple fills the client one with joy;
He gathers gems from some bucolic cove in corduroy.
(Such little things that cove seem to annoy.)

Weird nights of pothouse banqueting, to toast the cricket club,
Fill up his hours. He haunts alike the chapel and the pub;
The township butcher posts him in the price of beef and chops;
The farmer, with his goat-like chiv., lies to him re the crops --
And! while! he! toils! his! salary! never! stops!

He courts the rectory and the manse each with its little show,
Tea-fight and concert --- no, no dance! --- where all good pressmen go;
And, final straw, the late press-night when, with the blushing dawn,
The scribe goes home with pipe alight, and half his screw in pawn
For beer, his system simply one . . . vast . . . yawn!

First published in The Bulletin, 16 June 1910

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on October 1, 2011 8:43 AM.

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Australian Bookcovers #276 - Water Man by Roger McDonald is the next entry in this blog.

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