Devil-May-Care! by Will H. Ogilvie

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Well-known on the border, strong, handsome and straight,
A reckless, wild liver, but true-hearted mate --
What his name was I'm not in position to swear,
But we called him --- it suited him--- Devil-may-care!

Drink! He drank Bullocky Jim out of breath!
Dance! He could dance the red stars to their death!
Ride! There was nothing in hide or in hair
Too rough to be ridden by Devil-may-care!

Where did he come from? Well! where are they bred
With those laughing blue eyes, that proud lift of the head?
Oh! it's England, and England, and only up there
Where they breed 'em light-hearted, like Devil-may-care!

He was fond of the women! Ay, that you might think;
Love 'o women goes mostly with dancing and drink;
He had eyes for the dark ones and lips for the fair,
And a careless, gay gallant was Devil-may-care!

But there came to our hero, as mostly to those
Who expect to go scatheless, a wound of love's woes,
And an armful of roses and ruddy-gold hair
Set the love-stars a-reeling for Devil-may-care!

It was merely in touch with the fitness of things
And the maxim of "true love" --- which somebody sings
That the gallant went droving all day in the sun,
And the maid was the heiress of Merrida run.

But love laughs at locksmiths, so, somewhere, they say,
And true love tastes sweeter for bars in the way;
And bars must be big ones to part a fond pair
When the one is a rebel like Devil-may-care!

So it chanced that on camp where the tired cattle lay
And the drovers kept double night-watch till the day,
The boss took the road on his ambling bay mare
And a girl in the dim light met Devil-may-care.

When he reined the bay mare at the love-chosen place
It was pure love that shone on his wild, haggard face,
And the men that had drunk with this reckless Lothair
Would hardly have known him as Devil-may-care!

So they met -- so they parted --- a kiss for a troth!
And the earth seemed a fairy land built for them both;
But some late laggard passing caught sight of the mare,
And --- True Heart no longer met Devil-may-care!

And they took her away --- for her good --- to the South
With a rebel's wild kiss on her rosy child-mouth;
And ah! for her good were they right to beware
That she sent no word Northward to Devil-may-care!

And he curses her mem'ry on Merrida Run
Since she cared to make light of the love that she won --
Yet he broods all alone o'er one lock of her hair
Who had wakened a pure love in Devil-may-care!

When the long trip is done, and the cattle safe down,
Then he drinks --- how he drinks! down in Albury Town;
And "Why should I sorrow, it's only my share
Who believed in a woman!" says Devil-may-care!

First published in The Bulletin, 30 August 1902;
and later in
The Overlander Songbook edited by Ronald George Edwards, 1971;
Old Ballads from the Bush edited by Bill Scott, 1987; and
ReCollecting Albury Writing: Poetry and Prose from Albury and District 1859 to 2000 edited by Jane Downing and Dirk H. R. Spenneman, 2000.

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 August 30, 2011 7:15 AM.

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