Dan Drew by C. J. Dennis

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I saw Dan Drew ride out last night;
And his steed in the moon was milky white.
   He rode like the wind on that Blackwood colt -
   A devil to shy and a brute to bolt.
A child like that!  Is the father mad
To risk the life of a tender lad?
   Has old John Drew gone raving wild
   To trust that colt with his only child?

"Dan Drew rode out at his father's call.
'Saddle the colt, and ride!'  'Twas all
   He said.  And Dan stayed not for breath;
   For a neighbor lay sick unto death;
And Dan Drew comes of the old Drew breed
That never has turned from a man in need,
   That never has shrunk from a risk - or a fight.
   That's why young Dan rode out last night."

"I saw Dan Drew ride out last night,
And his steed in the moon shone silver white.
   Galloping, galloping down the track;
   But his gait was a laggard's riding back.
Yet his eye was bright and his head was high:
'Twas a strange, soft light in that shining eye.
   Why does he ride, and where does he go,
   Out so eager and back so slow!"

"Dan Drew rides out at the call of love.
To the track below, to the stars above
   He gives small heed.  For, to greet her man,
   A girl by a slip-rail waits for Dan.
And they tell that her father says him nay.
Small odds, if a Drew should want his way.
   For a Drew can love as a Drew can fight.
   That's why Dan Drew rode out last night.

"I saw Dan Drew ride out last night,
And his steed in the moon was ghostly white.
   And ghostly white was the rider's face
   As he took the track at a frantic pace.
Aye, his face was drawn like a man's in pain,
For hill or river he drew not rein.
   Why did he ride like a man in fright,
   Galloping, galloping, into the night."

"Dan Drew rode out in hope and fear;
For Death and Joy were very near.
   Up in her chamber his young wife lay
   While he went galloping down the way ...
But Joy walks with him this smiling morn;
To another Drew is a man-child born
   To live, to ride, to love and to fight.
   That's why Dan Drew rode out last night."

"I saw Dan Drew ride out today,
His steed, in the morn's mist, old and grey;
   And grey Dan's hair, I marked as he went,
   And his head was bowed, and his back was bent.
But the light was there in his fine blue eye.
Lord!  Does the Drew breed never die?
   Yet why should he ride?  He is rich, they say.
   Why did old Dan ride out today?"

"Dan Drew rode out at the call of a friend,
Old and ailing, but staunch to the end.
   The Drews may age, but they never can change.
   A friend in trouble across the range -
Then quick to the saddle sprang old Dan Drew,
And the old grey horse, he surely knew
   As he bore him tenderly down the way.
   That's how old Dan rode out today."

"I saw Dan Drew go out today,
Slowly, solemnly down the way,
   Slowly, quietly down the track;
   And the steeds in his carriage were both coal black.
And black plumes tossed in the mountain breeze
That swept the forest; so that the trees
   Bowed at his passing.  'Twas rightly so,
   Yet why should Dan, of all men, go?

Dan Drew rode out, for his task was done,
Well was it ended, as well begun,
   Fine is the name that he leaves behind.
   And he leaves a son with the clean, straight mind
That has sweetened the forest since long years back
When the first Drew tackled the mountain track.
   Oh, men be many, but great hearts few;
   And the world's the better for good Dan Drew."

First published in The Weekly Times Annual, 6 October 1928;
and later in
The Bible of the Bush, 1869-1994: 125 Years of the Weekly Times edited by Hugh Jones, 1994.

Author reference sites: C.J. Dennis, Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Australian Poetry Library

See also.

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