The Teams by Henry Lawson

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A cloud of dust on the long white road;
   And the teams go creeping on,
Inch by inch with the weary load;
And by the power of the green-hide goad
   The distant goal is won.

With eyes half-shut from the blinding dust,
   And necks to the yokes bent low,
The beasts are pulling as bullocks must,
Till the shining rims of the tire-rings rust; 
   While the spokes are turning slow.

With face half hid 'neath a wide brimm'd hat
   That shades from the heat's white waves,
And shoulder'd whip with its green-hide plat, 
The driver plods with a gait like that
   Of his weary, patient slaves.

He wipes his brow, for the day is hot,
   And spits to the left with spite ;
He shouts at "Balley," and flicks at "Scot,"   
And raises dust from the back of "Spot,"  
   And spits to the dusty right.

He'll sometimes pause as a thing of form
   In front of a lonely door,
And ask for a drink, and remark "'Tis warm," 
Or say "There's signs of a thunder-storm;"
   But he seldom utters more.

But, ah! there are other scenes than these;
   And, passing his lonely home,
For weeks together the bushman sees
The teams bogg'd down o'er the axletrees,
   Or ploughing the sodden loam.

And then when the roads are at their, worst,
   The bushman's children hear
The cruel blows of the whips revers'd
While bullocks pull as their hearts would burst,  
   And bellow with pain and fear.

And thus with little of joy or rest
   Are the long, long journeys done;
And thus -- 'tis a cruel war at the best 
Is distance fought in the lonely west,
   And the dusty battles won.

First published in The Australian Town and Country Journal, 21 December 1889;
and later in
In the Days When the World Was Wide and Other Verses by Henry Lawson, 1900;
The Children's Treasury of Australian Verse edited by Bertram Stevens, 1913;
The Oxford Book of Australasian Verse edited by Walter Murdoch, 1924;
New Song in an Old Land edited by Rex Ingamells, 1943;
The Boomerang Book of Australian Poetry edited by Enid Moodie Heddle, 1956;
Songs from Lawson by Henry Lawson, 1957;
Favourite Australian Poems edited by Ian Mudie, 1963;
From the Ballads to Brennan edited by T. Inglis Moore, 1964;
Bards in the Wilderness edited by Adrian Mitchell and Brian Elliott, 1970;
Poems of Henry Lawson edited by Walter Stone, 1973;
The World of Henry Lawson edited by Walter Stone, 1974;
The Collins Book of Australian Poetry compiled by Rodney Hall, 1981;
The Essential Henry Lawson edited by Brian Kiernan, 1982;
A Treasury of Colonial Poetry, 1982;
A Camp-Fire Yarn: Henry Lawson Complete Works 1885-1900 edited by Leonard Cronin, 1984;
Henry Lawson: An Illustrated Treasury compiled by Glenys Smith, 1985;
My Country: Australian Poetry and Short Stories, Two Hundred Years edited by Leonie Kramer, 1985;
The Book of Australian Ballads, 1989;
A Treasury of Bush Verse by G. A. Wilkes, 1991;
Australian Bush Poems, 1991;
Classic Australian Verse edited by Maggie Pinkney, 2001;
An Australian Treasury of Popular Verse edited by Jim Haynes, 2002; and
Anthology of Bullock Poetry compiled by Janice Downes, 2006.

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 December 21, 2012 9:15 AM.

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