The Song of the Shingle-Splitters by Henry Kendall

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In dark, wild woods, where the lone owl broods,
   And the dingoes nightly yell--
Where the curlew's cry goes floating by--
   We Splitters of Shingles dwell.
And all day through, from the time of the dew,
   To the hour when the mopoke calls,
Our mallets ring where the woodbirds sing
   Sweet hymns by the waterfalls.
And all night long we are lulled by the song
   Of gales in the grand old trees;
And in the breaks we can hear the lakes,
   And the moan of distant seas.

         For afar from heat, and dust of street,
            And hall; and turret, and dome--
         In forests deep, where the torrents leap,
            Is the Shingle-splitters' Home.

The dweller in town may lie on down,
   And own his palace and park;
We envy him not his pleasant lot,
   Though we sleep on sheets of bark.
Our food is rough but we have enough--
   Our drink is litter than wine;
For cool creeks flow wherever we go,
   Shut in from the hot sunshine.
Though rude our roof, it is weather-proof;
   And, at the end of the days,
We sit and smoke over yarn and joke,
   By the bushfire`s sturdy blaze.

         For away from din, and sorrow, and sin,
            Where troubles but rarely come,
         We jog along, like a merry song,
            In the Shingle-splitters' Home.

What though our work be heavy, we shirk
   From nothing beneath the sun;
And toil is sweet to those who can eat,
   And rest when the day is done.
In the Sabbath-time we hear no chime--
   No sound of the Sunday-bells;
But Heaven smiles on the forest aisles,
   And God in the woodland dwells.
We listen to notes from the million throats
   Of chorister-birds on high;
Our psalm is the breeze in the lordly trees,
   And our dome--the broad blue sky.

         O, a brave, frank life, unsmitten by strife,
            We live wherever we roam;
         And hearts are free as the great strong sea
            In the Shingle-splitters' Home.

First published in Australian Town and Country Journal, 2 May 1874, again in the same newspaper on 7 April 1888;
and also in
The Eagle, 19 October 1895;
The Oxford Book of Australian Verse edited by Walter Murdoch, 1918;
Australian Bush Songs and Ballads edited by Will Lawson, 1944;
Selected Poems of Henry Kendall edited by T. Inglis Moore, 1957; and
Our Country: Classic Australian Poetry: From Colonial Ballads to Paterson & Lawson edited by Michael Cook, 2004.

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on May 2, 2011 8:08 AM.

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