The Drover's Sweetheart by Henry Lawson

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An hour before the sun goes down
   Behind the ragged boughs,
I go across the little run
   And bring the dusty cows;
And once I used to sit and rest
   Beneath the fading dome,
For there was one that I loved best
   Who'd bring the cattle home.

Our yard is fixed with double bails,
   Round one the grass is green,
The bush is growing through the rails,
   The spike is rusted in;
And 'twas from there his freckled face
   Would turn and smile at me --
He'd milk a dozen in the race
   While I was milking three.

I milk eleven cows myself
   Where once I milked but four;
I set the dishes on the shelf
   And close the dairy door;
And when the glaring sunlight fails
   And the fire shines through the cracks,
I climb the broken stockyard rails
   And watch the bridle-tracks.

He kissed me twice and once again
   And rode across the hill,
The pint-pots and the hobble-chain
   I hear them jingling still;
He'll come at night or not at all --
   He left in dust and heat,
And when the soft, cool shadows fall
   Is the best time to meet.

And he is coming back again,
   He wrote to let me know,
The floods were in the Darling then --
   It seems so long ago;
He'd come through miles of slush and mud,
   And it was weary work,
The creeks were bankers, and the flood
   Was forty miles round Bourke.

He said the floods had formed a block,
   The plains could not be crossed,
And there was foot-rot in the flock
   And hundreds had been lost;
The sheep were falling thick and fast
   A hundred miles from town,
And when he reached the line at last
   He trucked the remnant down.

And so he'll have to stand the cost;
   His luck was always bad,
Instead of making more, he lost
   The money that he had;
And how he'll manage, heaven knows
   (My eyes are getting dim),
He says -- he says -- he don't -- suppose
   I'll want -- to -- marry -- him.

As if I wouldn't take his hand
   Without a golden glove --
Oh! Jack, you men won't understand
   How much a girl can love.
I long to see his face once more --
   Jack's dog! thank God, it's Jack! --
(I never thought I'd faint before)
   He's coming -- up -- the track.

First published in The Boomerang, 20 June 1891;
and later in
The Bulletin, 22 February 1896;
In the Days When the World Was Wide and Other Verses by Henry Lawson, 1900;
The Water Lily by Henry Lawson, 1977;
A Camp-Fire Yarn: Henry Lawson Complete Works 1885-1900 edited by Leonard Cronin, 1984;
A Collection of Australian Bush Verse, 1989;
The Language of Love: An Anthology of Australian Love Letters, Poetry and Prose edited by Pamela Allardice, 1991; and
Classic Australian Verse edited by Maggie Pinkney, 2001.

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Australian Poetry Library, The Poetry of Henry Lawson website

See also.

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on June 20, 2011 8:19 AM.

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