Look Out Below by Charles R. Thatcher

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A young man left his native shores,
   For trade was bad at home;
And to seek his fortune in this land
   He crossed the briny foam.
And when he went to Ballarat
   His face was in a glow,
To hear the sound of the windlasses
   And the cry "Look out below!"

Where'er he turned his wandering eye
   Great wealth he did behold;
There were peace and plenty hand in hand
   By the magic power of gold.
Says he then, "I am young and strong,
   Gold digging I will go;
For I like the sound of the windlasses
   And the cry 'Look out below!'"

So amongst the rest he took his place,
   At first his luck was vile,
But by dint of perseverance
   At length he made his pile.
Says he, "I will a passage take,
   And back to England go,
And I'll bid adieu to the windlasses
   And the cry 'Look out below!'"

He arrived safe in England;
   His money he quickly spent,
And into every gaiety
   And dissipation went.
At length he reasoned with himself --
   "Oh! why did I return?
For the diggings and independent life
   I now commence to yearn;
For here the rich the poor oppress;
   Out there it is not so:
You can hear the sound of the windlasses
   And the cry "Look out below!"

Says he, "I will go back again,
   With a charming little wife,
For there's nothing that you can compare
   With a jolly digger's life."
Ask him if he'll return again,
   He'll quickly answer, "No;
For I'd miss the sound of the windlasses
   And the cry, "Look out below!"

First published in Australian Town and Country Journal, 22 May 1897;
and later in
Colonial Ballads edited by Hugh Anderson, 1962;
From the Ballads to Brennan edited by T. Inglis Moore, 1964;
The Penguin Australian Song Book edited by J. S. Manifold, 1964;
Old Australian Ballads: An Anthology edited by W. N. Walker, 1967;
Old Bush Songs and Rhymes of Colonial Times edited by Douglas Stewart, 1976;
Complete Book of Australian Folklore edited by Bill Scott;
A Collection of Australian Bush Verse, 1989; and
The Penguin Book of Australian Ballads edited by Elizabeth Webby and Philip Butterss, 1993.

Author: Charles Robert Thatcher (1831-78) was born in Bristol, England, and arrived in Australia in 1852 following the goldrush.  He soon joined the orchestra of the Royal Victoria Theatre in Bendigo and spent most of the rest of his stay in Australia traveling around the goldfields of Victoria and touring New Zealand. He left Australia in 1870 and returned to England with his family. He later died of cholera in Shanghai, China, while traveling in that country buying Asian curios for his business.

Author reference sites:
Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on May 22, 2011 8:23 AM.

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