"The Mallee Fire" by Charles Henry Souter

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I suppose it just depends on where you're raised.
Once I met a cove as swore by green belar!
Couldn't sight the good old mallee-stump I praised:
Well -- I couldn't sight belar, and there you are!
But the faces in the fire where the mallee-stump's a-blinking
Are the friendliest I ever seen, to my way o' thinking!

In the city where the fires is mostly coal --
There! I can't abear to go and warm my feet!
Spitting, fizzing things as hasn't got no soul!
Things as puffs out yaller smoke instead of heat!
But at home -- well, it is home when the mallee-stump's a-burning
And the evening's drawing chilly and the season is a-turning!

And there's some as runs them down because they're tough.
Well? And what's the good of anythink as ain't?
No. It's nary use to serve 'em any bluff,
For they'd use up all the patience of a saint.
But they'll split as sweet as sugar if you know the way to take 'em.
If you don't, there isn't nothink in the world as'll make 'em!

They're tremenjus hard to kindle, tho', at first:
Like a friendship of the kind as comes to stay.
You can blow and blow and blow until you burst,
And when they won't, they won't burn, anyway!
But once they gets a start, tho' they make no showy flashes,
Well, they'll serve you true and honest to the last pinch of ashes!

First published in The Bulletin, 6 May 1899;
and later in
The Oxford Book of Australasian Verse edited by Walter Murdoch, 1918;
Favourite Australian Poems edited by Ian Mudie, 1963; 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 May 6, 2012 9:49 AM.

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