From the Gulf by Will H. Ogilvie

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Store cattle from Nelanjie! The mob, goes feeding past,
With half-a-mile of sandhill 'twixt the leaders and the last;
The nags that move behind them are the good old Queensland stamp ---
Short backs and perfect shoulders that are price-less on a camp;
And these are men that ride them, broad-chested, tanned and tall,
The bravest hearts amongst us and the lightest hands of all.
Oh! let them wade in Wonga grass and taste the Wonga dew,
And let them spread, those thousand head --- for we've been droving too!

Store cattle from Nelanjie! By half-a-hundred towns,
By Northern ranges rough and red, by rolling open downs,
By stock-routes brown and burnt and bare, by flood-wrapped river-bends,
They've bunted them from gate to gate --- the drover has no friends;
But idly they may ride to-day beneath the scorching sun
And let the hungry bullocks try the grass on Wonga run;
No overseer dogs them here to "see the cattle through,"
But they may spread their thousand head --- for we've been droving too!

Store cattle from Nelanjie! They've a naked track to steer,
The stockyards at Wodonga are a long way down from here;
The creeks won't run till God knows when, and half the holes are dry,
The tanks are few and far between and water's dear to buy:
There's plenty at the Brolga Bore for all his stock and mine ---
We'll pass him with a brave God-speed across the Border Line,
And if he goes a five-mile stage and loiters slowly through,
We'll only think the more of him --- for we've been droving too!
Store cattle from Nelanjie! They're mute as milkers now,
But yonder grizzled drover, with the care-lines on his brow,
Could tell of merry musters on the big Nelanjie plains,
With blood upon the chestnut's flanks and foam upon the reins;
Could tell of nights upon the road when those same mild-eyed steers
Went ringing round the river bend and through the scrub like spears
And if his words are rude and rough, we know his words are true,
We know what wild Nelanjies are --- and we've been droving too!
Store cattle from Nelanjie! Around the fire at night
They've watched the pine-tree shadows lift before the dancing light;
They've lain awake to listen when the weird bush-voices speak,
And heard the lilting bells go by along the empty creek;
They've spun the yarns of hut and camp, the tales of play and work,
The wond'rous tales that gild the road from Normanton to Bourke;
They've told of fortune foul and fair, of women false and true,
And well we know the songs they've sung --- for we've been droving too!

Store cattle from Nelanjie! Their breath is on the breeze;
You hear them tread, a thousand head, in blue-grass to the knees;
The lead is on the netting-fence, the wigps are spreading wide,
The lame end laggard scarcely move- so slow the drovers ride.
But let them stay and feed to-day for sake of Auld Lang Syne;
They'll never get a chance like this below the Border Line;
And if they tread our frontage down, What's that to me or you
What's ours to fare, by God they'll share! for we've been droving too!

First published in The Bulletin, 14 December 1895;
and later in
The Oxford Book of Australasian Verse edited by Walter Murdoch, 1924;
Selections from Australian Poets edited by Bertram Stevens, 1925;
New Song in an Old Land edited by Rex Ingamells, 1943;
Spoils of Time: Some Poems of the English Speaking Peoples edited by Rex Ingamells, 1948;
Fair Girls and Grey Horses: With Other Verses by Will H. Ogilvie, 1958;
Favourite Australian Poems edited by Ian Mudie, 1963;
From the Ballads to Brennan edited by T. Inglis Moore, 1964;
This Land: An Anthology of Australian Poetry for Young People edited by M. M. Flynn and J. Groom, 1968;
The Drovers edited by Keith Wiley, 1982;
My Country: Australian Poetry and Short Stories, Two Hundred Years edited by Leonie Kramer, 1985;
Old Ballads from the Bush edited by Bill Scott, 1987;
Will Ogilvie: Balladist of Border and Bush by George T. Ogilvie, 1994;
Breaker's Mate: Will Ogilvie in Australia edited by John Meredith, 1996;
ReCollecting Albury Writing: Poetry and Prose from Albury and District 1859 to 2000 edited by Jane Downing and Dirk H.R. Spennemann, 2000; and
Two Centuries of Australian Poetry edited by Kathrine Bell, 2007.

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 December 14, 2011 7:14 AM.

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