Ballad of Mabel Clare by Henry Lawson

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An Australian story to be read and sung hereafter.

Ye children of the Land of Gold
   I sing a song to you,
And if the jokes are somewhat old,
   The main idea is new.
So, be it sung, by hut and tent,
   Where tall the native grows;
And understand, the song is meant
   For singing through the nose.

There dwelt a hard old cockatoo
   On western hills far out --
Where ev'rything is green and blue,
   Except, of course, in drought --
A crimson Anarchist was he,
   Held other men in scorn,
Yet preach'd that ev'ry man was free,
   And also "ekal born."

He lived in his ancestral hut ---
   His missus wasn't there ---
And there was no one with him but
   His daughter, Mabel Clare.
Her eyes and hair were like the sun;
   Her foot was like a mat;
Her cheeks a trifle overdone;
   She was a democrat.

A manly independence, born
   Among the trees, she had,
She treated womankind with scorn,
   And often cursed her dad.
She hated swells and shining lights,
   For she had seen a few,
And she believed in "women's rights"
   (She mostly got'em, too).

A stranger at the neighb'ring run
   Sojourned, the squatter's guest,
He was unknown to anyone,
   But like a swell was dress'd;
He had an eyeglass to his eye,
   A collar to his ears,
His feet were made to tread the sky,
   His mouth was formed for sneers.

He wore the latest toggery,
   The loudest thing in ties ---
'Twas generally reckoned he
   Was something in disguise.
But who he was, or whence he came,
   Was long unknown, except,
Unto the squatter, who the name
   And noble secret kept.

And strolling in the noontide heat,
   Beneath the "blinding glare,"
This noble stranger chanced to meet
   The radiant Mabel Clare.
She saw at once he was a swell ---
   According to her lights ---
But, ah! 'tis very sad to tell,
   She met him oft of nights.

And, strolling through a moonlit gorge,
   She chatted all the while
Of Ingersoll, and Henry George,
   And Bradlaugh and Carlyle --
In short, he learned to love the girl,
   And things went on like this,
Until he said he was an Earl,
   And asked her to be his.

"Oh, say no more, Lord Kawlinee,
   Oh, say no more!" she said;
"Oh, say no more, Lord Kawlinee,
   I wish that I was dead:
My head is in a hawful whirl,
   The truth I dare not tell ---
I am a democratic girl,
   And cannot wed a swell!"

"Oh love!" he cried, "but you forget
   That you are most unjust;
'Twas not my fault that I was set
   Within the uppercrust.
Heed not the yarns the poets tell ---
   Oh, darling, do not doubt
A simple lord can love as well
   As any rouseabout!

"For you I'll give my fortune up ---
   I'd go to work for you!
I'll put the money in the cup
   And drop the title, too.
Oh, fly with me! Oh, fly with me
   Across the mountains blue!
Hoh, fly with me! Hoh, fly with me! ---"
    That very night she flew.

They took the train and journeyed down ---
   Across the range they sped ---
Until they came to Sydney town,
   Where shortly they were wed.
And still upon the western wild
   Admiring teamsters tell
How Mabel's father cursed his child
   For clearing with a swell.

"What ails my bird this bridal night,"
   Exclaimed Lord Kawlinee;
"What ails my own this bridal night ---
   Oh love, confide in me!"
"Oh now," she said, "that I am yaws
   You'll let me weep --- I must ---
I did desert the people's cause
   To join the upper crust."

O proudly smiled his lordship then ---
   His chimney-pot he floor'd ---
"Look up, my love, and smile again,
   For I am not a lord!"
His eye glass from his eye he tore,
   The dickey from his breast,
And turned and stood his bride before
   A rouseabout --- confess'd!

"Unknown I've loved you long," he said,
   "And I have loved you true ---
A-shearing in your guv'ner's shed
   I learned to worship you.
I do not care for place or pelf,
   For now, my love, I'm sure
That you will love me for myself
   And not because I'm poor.

"To prove your love I spent my cheque
   To buy this swell rig-out;
So fling your arms about my neck
   For I'm a rouseabout!"
At first she gave a startled cry,
   Then, safe from care's alarms,
She sigh'd a soul-subduing sigh
   And sank into his arms.

He pawned the togs, and home he took
   His bride in all her charms;
The proud old cockatoo received
   The pair with open arms.
And long they lived, the faithful bride,
   The noble rouseabout ---
And if she wasn't satisfied
   She never let it out.

First published in The Bulletin, 16 January 1892;
and later in
Humorous Verses by Henry Lawson, 1941;
Freedom on the Wallaby: Poems of the Australian People edited by Marjorie Pizer, 1953;
Along the Western Road: Bush Stories and Ballads, 1981;
The Essential Henry Lawson edited by Brian Kiernan, 1982;
A Camp-Fire Yarn: Henry Lawson Complete Works 1885-1900 edited by Leonard Cronin, 1984;
The Penguin Book of Australian Satirical Verse edited by Philip Neilsen, 1986;
The Sting in the Wattle: Australian Satirical Verse edited by Philip Neilsen, 1993; and
The Penguin Book of Australian Ballads edited by Elizabeth Webby and Philip Butterss, 1993.

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 January 16, 2012 7:13 AM.

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