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Cup Couplets by C.J. Dennis

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Here is a motto to hold and hug:
"There is but one Cup, but many a mug."

It was never a trait of the human race
To allow but horse to "go the pace."

It's many to thirst and few to sup,
And the rest to drain the dregs of the Cup.

This is a rule of a Cup day revel:
Dine with the gods and sup with the devil.

It's a Cup brimful of the red, red wine,
And a lucky one and a thirsty nine.

And this is the rule when a winner sups:
He is in on the Cup and on in his cups.

When the woman is slow and the horse is fast,
We may go a pace that is like to last.

When the woman is fast and the horse also,
It doesn't much matter what pace we go.

When the woman is fast and the horse is dead,
There's the devil to pay and an aching head.

But, fast or slow, if you play the game
To the end, the end it is just the same.

And these be the sayings of Smug the Saint;
You guess he has lost, but I wot he ain't.

First published in The Gadfly, 6 November 1907

A Racing Rubaiyat by C.J. Dennis

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Awake!  For now no longer does the Fear
Of Loss uphold Resolves of yester year:
   And, lo, the Layer of the Odds pours forth
His Spring Song to the Punter's eager Ear.

Come, book the Bet.  And on the clamorous Ring
The care-won caution of a Twelve-month fling.
   Who knows?  Tomorrow we may get the tip
That robs the Racing Game of all its sting.

Think; in the Paddock you may meet a Bloque
Who whispers secret Things abut a Moke;
   And, if you back It and, perchance, It win,
The World is yours, and Life becomes a Joke.

The Owner's lips are lockt; the Trainer sighs,
And then goes dumb; the Tipster deals in lies.
   But what of that?  Throw down the Gage to chance:
Grasp a pin bravely, lad, and shut your eyes.

And if the Tip you take, the Cash you bet
End in the Nothing all things end in, yet,
    As Lessons learned last Year were this Year scorned,
So this Year's lessons next year you'll forget.

And when Thyself with listless Foot shall pass
Amongst torn Tickets littering the Grass,
   Reflect, some tens of thousands share your shame;
You are but merely one more Silly Ass.

First published in The Herald, 5 November 1934

A Post-Cup Tale by C.J. Dennis

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I'ad the money in me 'and!
Fair dinkum!  Right there, by the stand.
    I tole me wife at breakfus' time,
    Straight out: "Trivalve," I sez "is prime.
Trivalve," I sez.  An', all the week,
I swear ther's no one 'eard me speak
    Another 'orse's name.  Why, look,
    I 'ad the oil straight from a Book
On Sund'y at me cousin's place
When we was torkin' of the race.
    "Trivalve," 'e sez.  "'Is chance is grand."
    I 'ad the money in me 'and!

Fair in me 'and I 'ad the dough!
An' then a man 'as got to go --
    Wot?  Tough?  Look, if I 'adn't met
    Jim Smith (I ain't forgave 'im yet)
'E takes an' grabs me be the coat.
"Trivalve?" 'e sez.  "Ar, turn it up!
'Ow could 'e win a flamin'Cup?"
    Of course, I thort 'e muster knoo.
    'Im livin' near a trainer, too.

Right 'ere, like that, fair in me fist
I 'ad the notes!  An' then I missed --
    Missed like a mug fair on the knock
Becos 'is maggin' done me block.
"That airy goat?" 'e sez.  "E's crook!"
Fair knocked me back, 'e did.  An' look,
    I 'ad the money in me 'and!
    Fair in me paw!  An', un'erstand,
Sixes at least I coulder got --
Thirty to five, an' made a pot.
Today I mighter been reel rich --
    Rollin' in dough!  Instid o' which,
'Ere's me - Aw!  Don't it beat the band?
    Put me clean off, that's wot 'e did ...
    Say, could yeh len' us 'arf a quid?

First published in The Herald, 2 November 1927;
and later in
More than a Sentimental Bloke, 1990.

The Oil from Old Bill Shane by C.J Dennis

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I got the oil: too right. A cove called Shane.
   Yes; ole Bill Shane. You've 'eard of 'im, of course.
Big racin' 'ead. There's no need to explain
   The things he don't know about a 'orse.
Good ole Bill Shane. They say he's made a pile
   At puntin'. Shrewd! I wis I 'ad 'is brain.
An' does 'e know the game? Well, I should smile.
   They can't put nothin' over ole Bill Shane.
Yes; Shane, Bill Shane ...  Aw, listen, lad.  Wake up!
   Why everybody's 'eard of ole Bill Shane.
They say he made ten thousan' on the Cup
   Last year, an' now he's got the oil again.
Wot? Owner? Trainer? Nah! Who 'eeds their guff?
   Bill's a big racin' man -- a punter.  See?
Top dog. I alwiz sez wot's good enough
   For ole Bill Shane is good enough for me.
Yes; he gave me the oil. I got it straight --
   Well, nearly straight. Of course, I've never spoke
To Bill 'imself direck. I got a mate
   Wot knows a bloke wot knows another bloke
Wot's frien's with Shane, an' so -- you un'erstand.
   Wot? me give you the tip? Aw, take a walk!
Yeh think I'd do a thing so under'and?
   Bill Shane would kill me if I was to talk.
Well, listen ... Now, for gosh sake, keep it dark.
   An' don't let no one know it came from Shane.
Keep it strick secret. I would be a nark
   To let you chuck yer money down the drain ...
Wazzat you said? He's scratched? 'Ere! Lemme look!
   Scratched! Ain't that noos to knock a man clean out?
I alwiz said this puntin' game was crook ...
   Who? Shane? Aw, I dunno.  Some racin' tout.

First published in The Herald, 31 October 1933

The Cup by C.J Dennis

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You are walking down the street,
Mildly cursing at the heat,
And a friend you chance to meet
      Walking up;
Unsuspiciously you pause,
And with not apparent cause,
He jaws an' jaws an' jaws
      About the Cup.

It's the Cup, the Cup, the Cup.
"Wot's yer fancy fer the Cup?"
"Got no chance, 'e ain't my fancy" --
"Ain't a decent rider up" --
"Straight, I got 'im in a double --
Ten to one?  'Tain't worth the trouble."
So they boast and blare and bubble
      Of the Cup.

In the eating-house at lunch
Ev'ry sporting group and bunch
Talk between each bit they munch,
      And each sup.
Hardly have the time to eat --
"Tell ye, he'll be hard to beat,"
So they babble and bleat
      Of the Cup.

It's the Cup, the Cup, the Cup.
"Wot yer backin' fer the Cup?
'Im!  Why, blime, ev'ry time 'e
Starts 'e has to chuck it up!"
Thus they chatter ev'ry minute,
And I don't care what will win it.
For I don't know one horse in it --
      In the Cup.

There's no safety in retreat.
In the office, in the street,
Every blessed man you meet
      Brings it up
On the train and on the ear,
On the corner, in the bar,
Here and there, and near and far,
      It's the Cup.
It's the Cup, the Cup, the Cup.
It's the ---
      Oh, d--n the Cup!

First published in The Gadfly, 23 October 1907

The High Priest by C.J. Dennis

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[When the sporting editor, whose task it is to "call" an important race, focusses his field glasses on the galloping horses and gets fairly "into his stride," the prattle of the politician talking "against the clock" pales into insignificance.  A clear and quick eye, a thorough familiarity with the different colours and horses and a large share of confidence are only three of the many essential factors to success in this branch of press work. . . From this call all the principal newspapers in Australia secured their particulars of the running, for the details had been telegraphed broadcast over the Commonwealth before the bell rang for the next event. - Daily Paper]
[The Minister of Home affairs is somewhat alarmed at the apathy of young Australians over the acquisition of their votes when they attain their majority - News Item]

Nay, why do foolish politicians strive
   To win a fleeting popularity?
In vain, in vain, they jealously contrive
   To turn the doting Public Eye from Me.
What was this land, this nation, destined for?
   For Art, Trade, Politics?  All out of place.
Behold, I am the Sporting Editor!
            I call the race!

Reviewers, leader writers -- what are they?
   Subs., poets, novelists?  Scribes of a sort --
Mere puny scribbling creatures of a day;
   While I, the people's idol, stand for Sport!
For mark, when inspiration falls on me,
   What recks the public of that nameless band?
I ope' my lips, and wisdom, gushing free,
            O'erflows the land.

I lift my voice, and, lo! an army wakes -
   A mighty host, a hundred thousand strong -
To spread the message; while the nation quakes
   And thunders with the burden of my song:
"Ten lengths from home 'Gray Lad' outstripped 'The Witch,'
   And passed the post by just a short neck, first."
These are the words, the pregnant words, for which
            The land's athirst.

They are the children of my brain, mine own!
   These mighty words for which the people yearn;
The product of my genius alone!
   Would you begrudge the laurels that I earn?
Mark you, yon sturdy native, strong o' limb,
   That leans against the lamp-post o'er the way --
Approach, and learn of my great fame from him.
            Approach and say:-

"Awake!  Arise!  A curse on him who waits!
   Behold, young man, thy country needs thy like;
The yellow hordes are panting at our gates.
   Arouse, young patriot, go forth and strike!
Awake, and cast they reeking 'fag' away!
   Arise, and take the white man's burden up!"
"I'll lay you ten to one, in 'quids,'" he'll say:
            "Wot's won the Cup?"

Behold, the High Priest of the people's creed!
   Proclaim his genius!  The bays!  The bays!
Come, crown the Sporting Editor -- indeed,
   He is familiar with bays -- with grays.
"Ten lengths from home!" How exquisite!  How chaste!
   "'Gray Lad' outstripped 'The Witch'!" What style!  What grace!
Come, beauty, twine a laurel wreath.  Nay, haste!
            He calls the race!

First published in The Gadfly, 16 May 1906;
and later in
Backblock Ballads and Other Verses by C.J. Dennis, 1913.

How the Favourite Beat Us by A. B. "Banjo" Paterson

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"Aye," said the boozer, "I tell you it's true, sir,
   I once was a punter with plenty of pelf,
But gone is my glory, I'll tell you the story
   How I stiffened my horse and got stiffened myself.

"'Twas a mare called the Cracker, I came down to back her,
   But found she was favourite all of a rush,
The folk just did pour on to lay six to four on,
   And several bookies were killed in the crush.

"It seems old Tomato was stiff, though a starter;
   They reckoned him fit for the Caulfield to keep.
The Bloke and the Donah were scratched by their owner,
   He only was offered three-fourths of the sweep.

"We knew Salamander was slow as a gander,
   The mare could have beat him the length of the straight,
And old Manumission was out of condition,
   And most of the others were running off weight.

"No doubt someone 'blew it', for everyone knew it,
   The bets were all gone, and I muttered in spite
'If I can't get a copper, by Jingo, I'll stop her,
   Let the public fall in, it will serve the brutes right.'

"I said to the jockey, 'Now, listen, my cocky,
   You watch as you're cantering down by the stand,
I'll wait where that toff is and give you the office,
   You're only to win if I lift up my hand.'

"I then tried to back her -- 'What price is the Cracker?'
   'Our books are all full, sir,' each bookie did swear;
My mind, then, I made up, my fortune I played up
   I bet every shilling against my own mare.

"I strolled to the gateway, the mare in the straightway
   Was shifting and dancing, and pawing the ground,
The boy saw me enter and wheeled for his canter,
   When a darned great mosquito came buzzing around.

"They breed 'em at Hexham, it's risky to vex 'em,
   They suck a man dry at a sitting, no doubt,
But just as the mare passed, he fluttered my hair past,
   I lifted my hand, and I flattened him out.

"I was stunned when they started, the mare simply darted
   Away to the front when the flag was let fall,
For none there could match her, and none tried to catch her --
   She finished a furlong in front of them all.

"You bet that I went for the boy, whom I sent for
   The moment he weighed and came out of the stand --
'Who paid you to win it? Come, own up this minute.'
   'Lord love yer,' said he, 'why you lifted your hand.'

"'Twas true, by St. Peter, that cursed 'muskeeter'
   Had broke me so broke that I hadn't a brown,
And you'll find the best course is when dealing with horses
   To win when you're able, and KEEP YOUR HANDS DOWN.

First published in the Rosehill Race Book, 9 November 1894;
and later in
The Man From Snowy River and Other Verses by A.B. Paterson, 1895;
The Collected Verse of A.B. Paterson by A.B. Paterson, 1982;
Singer of the Bush, A.B. (Banjo) Paterson: Complete Works 1885-1900 compiled by Rosamund Campbell and Philippa Harvie, 1983; 
My Country: Australian Poetry and Short Stories, Two Hundred Years edited by Leonie Kramer, 1985;
A.B. Paterson's Off Down the Track: Racing and Other Yarns by A.B. Paterson, 1986;
Favorite Australian Poems, 1987;
A Vision Splendid: The Complete Poetry of A.B. 'Banjo' Paterson by A.B. Paterson, 1990;
Selected Poems: A. B. Paterson compiled by Les Murray, 1992; and
A. B. "Banjo" Paterson: Bush Ballads, Stories and Journalism edited by Clement Semmler, 1992.

The Cattle Hunters by Henry Kendall

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While the morning light beams on the fern-matted strams,
   And the waterpools flash in its glow,
Down the ridges we fly, with a loud-ringing cry --
   Down the ridges and gullies below;
And the cattle we hunt, they go racing in front,
   With a roar in the distance like waves;
As the beat, and the beat, of our swift horses' feet,
   Starts the echoes away from their caves!
      As the beat, and the beat,
      Of our swift horses' feet,
   Starts the echoes away from their caves!    

Like a thundering shore that the billows ride o'er,
   All the lowlands are filling with sound;  
For swiftly we gain, where the herds on the plain,  
   Like a tempest, are tearing the ground!  
And we'll follow them hard, to the rails of the yard,
   O'er the gulches and mountain tops gray,
Where the beat, and the beat, of our swift horses' feet,
   Will die with the echoes away!  
      Where the beat, and the beat,
      Of our swift horses' feet,
   Will die with the echoes away!    

First published in The Empire, 2 November 1861; 
and later in 
The Sydney Morning Herald, 5 November 1861, and 11 May 1866;
The Illawarra Mercury, 6 December 1861;
Poems and Songs by Henry Kendall, 1862;
The Athenaeum, 17 february 1866;
The Round Table, 17 March 1866;
The Poets and Prose Writers of New South Wales edited by G.B. Barton, 1866;
Leaves from Australian Forests by Henry Kendall, 1869;
The Children's Treasury of Australian Verse edited by Bertram Stevens, 1913;
Selections from Australian Poets edited by Bertram Stevens, 1925;
New Song in an Old Land, edited by Rex Ingamells, 1943;
Australian Bush Songs and Ballads edited by Will Lawson, 1944;
Selected Poems of Henry Kendall edited by T. Inglis Moore, 1957;
The Poetical Works of Henry Kendall edited by Thomas Thornton Reed, 1966;
A Treasury of Colonial Poetry, 1982;
Selected Poems of Henry Kendall edited by T. Inglis Moore, 1988;
A Treasury of Bush Verse edited by G.A. Wilkes, 1991; and
The Penguin Book of Australian Ballads edited by Elizabeth Webby and Philip Butterss, 1993.

Note: this poem is also known by the title The Song of the Cattle Hunters.

The Horses by L. H. Allen

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The hoar-frost smokes up from the plainland bare,
And, shot with veins of sunrise gold, it breaks
In shift and glitter of pure light that flakes
The icy breeze with fire of colours rare.

The furrowed plots, where drove the autumn share,
Lie still and white, like foamy-crested lakes
Caught at a frozen curve. The grey stream quakes,
With rippled glassing of the misty air.

A tree-clump, in a hollow, breathing still
Its last thin vapour, drips a soaking dew,
On steaming horses dulled in patient droop.
But when the shafts the leafy tops o'erspill,
Life trembles restless on each tightening thew,
And they are bronze, an ageless, fire-born group.

First published in The Sydney Morning Herald, 23 October 1926

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

A Racing Rubaiyat by Max A.

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Wake! for the Horse, which slumbered for an hour,
Resumes with blossomng Spring his ancient power:
   Come where the Ringman sings his Vesper Song,
And pour within his Bag your Golden Dower.

Before the moaning for the Guineas died,
I heard a Whisper on the Lawn, that cried,
   "What matter one Boil-over? Who can tell
What wondrous Winnings we may yet divide?"

Hoofs pound along the Strip of Herbage green:
Your Moke leads up the Straight, and all's serene;
   Then some Outsider Pips him on the Post,
And leaves you mourning for the Might-have-been.

Nothing is sadder when the Day is done,
No gloomier Phantom in the Springtime Sun,
   No Memory more haunting, no worse Blow
Than this -- the Tenner which you nearly won.

The Tip which you received with Winks and Nods,
Thinking yourself the Darling of the Gods,
   Fails dismally at Starting, and you weep,
"Oh, what a Fool was I to Lay the Odds!"

In truth, I think there never seemed so Dead
A Cert as Collarit when outward led;
   But vain is Punting when the Favourite tries
To run the race Tail first instead of Head.

Now, with no Good Gold Money left to spare,
In Garments of Repentance shall we fare
   To sit with Judkins in some holy Seat,
Where Bets are never made? Not yet, I Swear!

Though quickly from our grasp the Good Gilt flies,
Some day we know the Tipster will be wise;
   Caulfield is not yet over by a heap;
And Flemington will live when Caulfield dies.

A Booky's Ticket underneath the Bough,
A Race, a Roar, a Number Up, a Row
   Of Voices yelling -- "Pay the Winner" -- ah,
Then Flemington were Paradise enow!

So, though Torn Tickets to the Dust descend,
Mocking the Tip of some misguided Friend,
   The Punter's Problem still we face, and hope
To find some sweet Solution ere the end.

First published
in Melbourne Punch, 18 October 1906

Author reference site: Austlit

See also.

Darrell by Will H. Ogilvie

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So I've taken his hundred notes in the end,
   And now, as I turn them over,
I feel like a man who's been false to a friend,
   Or has broken his troth to a lover.
And what will they purchase, when all is said,
   For me with the world's wealth laden?
A barrel or two of Kaludah red,
   Or the favor of some light maiden!
Our wine turns gall at the gray day's birth
   When the lamp of the revel paleth;
We know what the kiss of a woman is worth --
   But a good horse never faileth.
Your white arms clinging, my ringless bride,
   Are bonds that the years will sever;
But the brave hoof-thunder of Darrell's stride
   Will beat in my heart for ever!
You know how little of truth there lies
   In the heart of your hot caresses,
There is danger hid in your dreamful eyes,
   There is death in your winding tresses;
And, since you would turn for a fairer face
   Or a stronger arm's enfolding,
You will never hold in my heart the place
   That one honest horse is holding.

The stars are fading by one and one
   And the fires of the dawn are lightening
The web that a pitiless fate has spun,
   And my own cursed hand is tightening;
Oh! better this arm had lost its force,
   This brain in the dust lain idle,
Before I bartered the grandest horse
   That ever carried a bridle!

First published in The Bulletin, 5 October 1895;
and later in
Fair Girls and Grey Horses: With Other Verses by Will H. Ogilvie, 1958.

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

The Riders in the Stand by A. B. "Banjo" Paterson

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There's some that ride the Robbo style, and bump at every stride;
While others sit a long way back, to get a longer ride.
There's some that ride as sailors do, with legs, and arms, and teeth;
And some that ride the horse's neck, and some ride underneath.

But all the finest horsemen out -- the men to Beat the Band --
You'll find amongst the crowd that ride their races in the Stand.
They'll say "He had the race in hand, and lost it in the straight."
They'll know how Godby came too soon, and Barden came too late

They'll say Chevalley lost his nerve, and Regan lost his head;
They'll tell how one was "livened up" and something else was "dead" --
In fact, the race was never run on sea, or sky, or land,
But what you'd get it better done by riders in the Stand.

The rule holds good in everything in life's uncertain fight;
You'll find the winner can't go wrong, the loser can't go right.
You ride a slashing race, and lose -- by one and all you're banned!
Ride like a bag of flour, and win -- they'll cheer you in the Stand.

First published in The Evening News, 12 August 1903;
and later in
Saltbush Bill, J.P., and Other Verses by A.B. Paterson, 1917;
The Collected Verse of A.B. Paterson by A.B. Paterson, 1982;
Song of the Pen, A.B. (Banjo) Paterson: Complete Works 1901-1941 edited by Rosamund Campbell and Philippa Harvie, 1983;
A.B. Paterson's Off Down the Track: Racing and Other Yarns by A.B. Paterson, 1986;
Favorite Australian Poems, 1987;
A Vision Splendid: The Complete Poetry of A.B. 'Banjo' Paterson by A.B. Paterson, 1990; and
The Collected Verse of Banjo Paterson edited by Clement Semmler, 1993.

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Australian Poetry Library

See also.

Galloping Horses by C. J. Dennis

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Oh, this is the week when no rhymster may rhyme
On the joy of the bush or the ills of the time,
   Nor pour out his soul in delectable rhythm
   Of women and wine and the lure they have with 'em,
Nor pen philosophic if foolish discourses,
Because of the fury of galloping horses.

Galloping, galloping thro' the refrain --
The lure and the lilt of it beat on the brain.
   Strive as you may for Arcadian Themes,
   The silks and the saddles will weave thro' your dreams.
Surging, and urging the visions aside
For a lyrical lay of equestrian pride,
   For the roar of the race and the call of the courses,
   And galloping, galloping, galloping horses.

This is the week for the apotheosis
Of Horse in his glory, from tail to proboscis.
   That curious quadrupled, proud and aloof,
   That holds all the land under thrall of his hoof.
All creeds and conditions, all factions and forces,
All, all must give way to the galloping horses.

Galloping, galloping -- sinner and saint
March to the metre, releasing restraint.
   If it isn't the Cup it's the Oaks or the Steeple
   That wraps in its magic the minds of the people.
Whether they seek it for profit or pleasure,
They all, willy-nilly, must dance to the measure.
   The mood of the moment in all men endorses
   The glamorous game and the galloping horses --
Galloping horses -- jockeys and courses --
They gallop, we gallop with galloping horses.

First published in The Herald, 5 November 1932;
and later in
Random Verse by C. J. Dennis, 1952.

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

See also.

Grog-An'-Grumble Steeplechase by Henry Lawson

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'Twixt the coastline and the border lay the town of Grog-an'-Grumble
   In the days before the bushman was a dull an' heartless drudge,
An' they say the local meeting was a drunken rough-and-tumble,
   Which was ended pretty often by an inquest on the judge.
An' tis said the city talent very often caught a tartar
   In the Grog-an'-Grumble sportsman, 'n' returned with broken heads,
For the fortune, life, and saftey of the Grog-an'-Grumble starter
   Mostly hung upon the finish of the local thoroughbreds.

Pat M'Durmer was the owner of a horse they called the Screamer,
   Which he called "the quickest shtepper 'twixt the Darling and the sea",
And I think it's very doubtful if the stomach-troubled dreamer
   Ever saw a more outrageous piece of equine scenery;
For his pionts were most decided, from his end to his beginning,
   He had eyes of different cololur, and his legs they wasn't mates.
Pat M'Durmer said he always came "widin a flip of winnin'",
   An' his sire had come from England, 'n' his dam was from the States.

Friends would argue with M'Durmer, and they said he was in error
   To put up his horse the Screamer, for he'd lose in any case,
And they said a city racer by the name of Holy Terror
   Was regarded as the winner of the coming steeplechase;
But he said he had the knowledge to come in when it was raining,
   And irrevelantly mentioned that he knew the time of day,
So he rose in their opinion.  It was noticed that the training
   Of the Screamer was conducted in a dark, mysterious way.

Well, the day arrived in glory; 'twas a day of jubilation
   With careless-hearted bushmen for a hundred miles around,
An' the rum 'n' beer 'n' whisky came in waggons from the station,
   An' the Holy Terror talent were the first upon the ground.
Judge M'Ard - with whose opinion it was scarecely safe to wrestle -
   Took his dangerous position on the bark-and-sapling stand:
He was what the local Stiggins used to speak of as a "wessel
   Of wrath", and he'd a bludgeon that he carried in his hand.

"Off ye go!" the starter shouted, as down fell a stupid jockey -
   Off they started in disorder - left the jockey where he lay -
And they fell and rolled and galloped down the crooked course and rocky,
   Till the pumping of the Screamer could be heard a mile away.
But he kept his legs and galloped; he was used to rugged courses,
   And he lumbered down the gully till the ridge began to quake:
And he ploughed along the siding, raising earth till other horses
   An' their riders, too, were blinded by the dust-cloud in his wake.

From the ruck he'd slowly struggled - they were much surprised to find him
   Close abeam of the Holy Terror as along the flat they tore -
Even higher still and denser rose the cloud of dust behind him,
   While in more divided splinters flew the shattered rails before.
"Terror!"  "Dead heat!" they were shouting - "Terror!" but the Screamer hung out
   Nose to nose with Holy Terror as across the creek they swung,
An' M'Durmer shouted loudly, "Put yer toungue out! put yer tongue out!"
   An ' the Screamer put his tongue out, and he won by half-a-tongue.

First published in The Bulletin, 10 September 1892;
and later in
Humorous Verses by Henry Lawson, 1941;
A Camp-Fire Yarn: Henry Lawson Complete Works 1885-1900 edited by Leonard Cronin, 1984; and
Henry Lawson: An Illustrated Treasury compiled by Glenys Smith, 1985.

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Australian Poetry Library, The Poetry of Henry Lawson website

See also.

His Epitaph by Will H. Ogilvie

| No TrackBacks
On a little old bush racecourse at the back of No Man's Land,
Where the mulgas mark the furlong, and a dead log marks the stand,
There's a square of painted railing showing white against the loam
Where they fight for inside running as they round the bend for home;
Just a lonely grave and graveyard that are left to Nature's care,
For the wild bush-flowers that brighten it were never planted there;
No monument or marble that will speak his praise or blame,
No verse to tell his story and no mark to prove his name,
But carved upon the white rail that is weather-worn and thin
Is the simple, rough-hewn legend: HE ALWAS ROD TO WIN!

Some poor, uncared-for jockey-boy, who never earned a name ---
It's the boys who "ride to orders" who can find the road to Fame;
And the flowers and marble head-stones and the wealth of gear and gold
Are the prizes of the riders who will "stop them" when they're told!
Just a whisper at the saddling: "He's the only danger, Dan,
That's the boy will try to beat you --- stop him, any way you can!"
Just a crowding at the corner and a crossing in the straight
And a plucky little horseman who is "pulling out" too late;
A heavy fall, a loose horse --- and a lightweight carried in ---
A shallow grave, a railing, and: HE ALWAS ROD TO WIN!

Some brave, brown-handed comrade who has learned the rider's worth
Has carved those rough words o'er him for the eyes of all the earth;
And though few may chance to pass him as he lies in simple state
Those few will hold him honoured by the friendship of his mate.
And when, in Life's keen struggle, we shall fight for inside place,
When they crowd us at the corner and we drop from out the race,
When the ringing hoofs go forward and the cheering greets the best,
And the prize is for the winner and the red spurs for the rest,
May we find some true-heart comrade, when they've filled the last clods in,
Who will carve these words above us: HE ALWAS ROD TO WIN!

First published in The Bulletin, 4 September 1897;
and later in
The North Queensland Register, 25 January 1926; and
Fair Girls and Gray Horses: With Other Verses by Will H. Ogilvie, 1958.

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

Tommy Corrigan: Died 13 August 1894 by A.B. "Banjo" Paterson

| No TrackBacks
(Killed, Steeplechasing at Flemington.)

You talk of riders on the flat, of nerve and pluck and pace,
Not one in fifty has the nerve to ride a steeplechase.
It's right enough while horses pull and take their fences strong,
To rush a flier to the front and bring the field along;
But what about the last half-mile, with horses blown and beat --
When every jump means all you know to keep him on his feet?

When any slip means sudden death -- with wife and child to keep --
It needs some nerve to draw the whip and flog him at the leap --
But Corrigan would ride them out, by danger undismayed,
He never flinched at fence or wall, he never was afraid;
With easy seat and nerve of steel, light hand and smiling face,
He held the rushing horses back, and made the sluggards race.

He gave the shirkers extra heart, he steadied down the rash,
He rode great clumsy boring brutes, and chanced a fatal smash;
He got the rushing Wymlet home that never jumped at all --
But clambered over every fence and clouted every wall.
But ah, you should have heard the cheers that shook the members' stand
Whenever Tommy Corrigan weighed out to ride Lone Hand.

They were, indeed, a glorious pair -- the great upstanding horse,
The gamest jockey on his back that ever faced a course.
Though weight was big and pace was hot and fences stiff and tall,
"You follow Tommy Corrigan" was passed to one and all.
And every man on Ballarat raised all he could command
To put on Tommy Corrigan when riding old Lone Hand.

But now we'll keep his memory green while horsemen come and go,
We may not see his like again where silks and satins glow.
We'll drink to him in silence, boys -- he's followed down the track
Where many a good man went before, but never one came back.
And let us hope in that far land where shades of brave men reign,
That gallant Tommy Corrigan will ride Lone Hand again.

First published in The Bulletin, 18 August 1894;
and later in
Saltbush Bill, J.P., and Other Verses by A.B. Paterson, 1917;
The Collected Verse of A.B. Paterson by A.B. Paterson, 1982;
Singer of the Bush, A.B. (Banjo) Paterson: Complete Works 1885-1900 compiled by Rosamund Campbell and Philippa Harvie, 1983;
A.B. Paterson's Off Down the Track: Racing and Other Yarns by A.B. Paterson, 1986;
A Vision Splendid: The Complete Poetry of A.B. 'Banjo' Paterson by A.B. Paterson, 1990;
A.B. 'Banjo' Paterson: Bush Ballads, Poems, Stories and Journalism edited by Clement Semmler, 1992;
The Collected Verse of Banjo Paterson edited by Clement Semmler, 1993; and
Banjo Paterson: His Poetry and Prose compiled by Richard Hall, 1993.

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Australian Poetry Library

See also.

"The Perfect Grace of a Day that is Dead" by Will M. Fleming

| No TrackBacks
A saddle well set down on his back,
   A bridle strong yet light,
With head held high and an eager eye
   Which showed him fit and right.

They asked us could we win that day;
   We said we meant to try;
For the girl above looked down her love
   As we went cantering by.   

We struggled slowly to the post,
   And eager was each nag;
No sooner there and drawn up square
   Than down went the starter's flag.

They settled down to make the pace,
   The bay horse took the lead,
And his baldy nose made some suppose
   That he would do the deed.   

But, holding-hard, the brown horse came
   With a strong and easy stride,
And with glistening eye went sweeping by,
   And shook his head in his pride.

We took the lead, and held it too,
   We swept into the straight;
Full in command and well in hand,     
   He recked not of the weight.     

We sailed along and past the post,
   Won hard held all the way;
And many a mile I'd run that style
   For the glance we got that day.

But we'll never race again, Old Man,
   As we raced that day we led;
We may love the run and a race well won,
   But the light of life is dead.

First published in The Queenslander, 8 August 1896

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

The Old Whim Horse by Edward Dyson

| No TrackBacks
He's an old grey horse, with his head bowed sadly,
And with dim old eyes and a queer roll aft,
With the off-fore sprung and the hind screwed badly,
And he bears all over the brands of graft;
And he lifts his head from the grass to wonder
Why by night and day the whim is still,
Why the silence is, and the stampers' thunder
Sounds forth no more from the shattered mill.

In that whim he worked when the night winds bellowed
On the riven summit of Giant's Hand,
And by day when prodigal Spring had yellowed
All the wide, long sweep of enchanted land;
And he knew his shift, and the whistle's warning,
And he knew the calls of the boys below;
Through the years, unbidden, at night or morning,
He had taken his stand by the old whim bow.

But the whim stands still, and the wheeling swallow
In the silent shaft hangs her home of clay,
And the lizards flirt and the swift snakes follow
O'er the grass-grown brace in the summer day;
And the corn springs high in the cracks and corners
Of the forge, and down where the timber lies;
And the crows are perched like a band of mourners
On the broken hut on the Hermit's Rise.

All the hands have gone, for the rich reef paid out,
And the company waits till the calls come in;
But the old grey horse, like the claim, is played out,
And no market's near for his bones and skin.
So they let him live, and they left him grazing
By the creek, and oft in the evening dim
I have seen him stand on the rises, gazing
At the ruined brace and the rotting whim.

The floods rush high in the gully under,
And the lightnings lash at the shrinking trees,
Or the cattle down from the ranges blunder
As the fires drive by on the summer breeze.
Still the feeble horse at the right hour wanders
To the lonely ring, though the whistle's dumb,
And with hanging head by the bow he ponders
Where the whim boy's gone - why the shifts don't come.

But there comes a night when he sees lights glowing
In the roofless huts and the ravaged mill,
When he hears again all the stampers going -  
Though the huts are dark and the stampers still:
When he sees the steam to the black roof clinging
As its shadows roll on the silver sands,
And he knows the voice of his driver singing,
And the knocker's clang where the braceman stands.

See the old horse take, like a creature dreaming,
On the ring once more his accustomed place;
But the moonbeams full on the ruins streaming
Show the scattered timbers and grass-grown brace.
Yet he hears the sled in the smithy falling,
And the empty truck as it rattles back,
And the boy who stands by the anvil, calling;
And he turns and backs, and he "takes up slack".

While the old drum creaks, and the shadows shiver
As the wind sweeps by, and the hut doors close,
And the bats dip down in the shaft or quiver
In the ghostly light, round the grey horse goes;
And he feels the strain on his untouched shoulder,
Hears again the voice that was dear to him,
Sees the form he knew - and his heart grows bolder
As he works his shift by the broken whim.

He hears in the sluices the water rushing
As the buckets drain and the doors fall back;
When the early dawn in the east is blushing,
He is limping still round the old, old track.
Now he pricks his ears, with a neigh replying
To a call unspoken, with eyes aglow,
And he sways and sinks in the circle, dying;
From the ring no more will the grey horse go.

In a gully green, where a dam lies gleaming,
And the bush creeps back on a worked-out claim,
And the sleepy crows in the sun sit dreaming
On the timbers grey and a charred hut frame,
Where the legs slant down, and the hare is squatting
In the high rank grass by the dried-up course,
Nigh a shattered drum and a king-post rotting
Are the bleaching bones of the old grey horse.

First published in The Bulletin, 30 July 1892;
and later in
Rhymes From the Mines and Other Lines by Edward Dyson, 1896;
An Anthology of Australian Verse edited by Bertram Stevens, 1907;
The Golden Treasury of Australian Verse edited by Bertram Stevens, 1909;
Favourite Australian Poems edited by Ian Mudie, 1963;
This Land: An Anthology of Australian Poetry for Young People edited by M. M. Flynn and J. Groom, 1968;
The Collins Book of Australian Poetry compiled by Rodney Hall, 1981;
The Illustrated Treasury of Australian Verse edited by Beatrice Davis, 1984;
New Dimension, June 1987;
A Collection of Australian Bush Verse, 1989;
Classic Australian Verse edited by Maggie Pinkney, 2001;
Two Centuries of Australian Verse edited by Kathrine Bell, 2007; and
100 Australian Poems You Need to Know edited by Jamie Grant, 2008.

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Australian Poetry Library

See also.

Mulga Bill's Bicycle by A. B. "Banjo" Paterson

| No TrackBacks
'Twas Mulga Bill, from Eaglehawk, that caught the cycling craze;
He turned away the good old horse that served him many days;
He dressed himself in cycling clothes, resplendent to be seen;
He hurried off to town and bought a shining new machine;
And as he wheeled it through the door, with air of lordly pride,
The grinning shop assistant said, "Excuse me, can you ride?"

"See here, young man," said Mulga Bill, "from Walgett to the sea,
From Conroy's Gap to Castlereagh, there's none can ride like me.
I'm good all round at everything as everybody knows,
Although I'm not the one to talk - I hate a man that blows.
But riding is my special gift, my chiefest, sole delight;
Just ask a wild duck can it swim, a wildcat can it fight.
There's nothing clothed in hair or hide, or built of flesh or steel,
There's nothing walks or jumps, or runs, on axle, hoof, or wheel,
But what I'll sit, while hide will hold and girths and straps are tight:
I'll ride this here two-wheeled concern right straight away at sight."

'Twas Mulga Bill, from Eaglehawk, that sought his own abode,
That perched above Dead Man's Creek, beside the mountain road.
He turned the cycle down the hill and mounted for the fray,
But 'ere he'd gone a dozen yards it bolted clean away.
It left the track, and through the trees, just like a silver steak,
It whistled down the awful slope towards the Dead Man's Creek.

It shaved a stump by half an inch, it dodged a big white-box:
The very wallaroos in fright went scrambling up the rocks,
The wombats hiding in their caves dug deeper underground,
As Mulga Bill, as white as chalk, sat tight to every bound.
It struck a stone and gave a spring that cleared a fallen tree,
It raced beside a precipice as close as close could be;
And then as Mulga Bill let out one last despairing shriek
It made a leap of twenty feet into the Dean Man's Creek.

'Twas Mulga Bill, from Eaglehawk, that slowly swam ashore:
He said, "I've had some narrer shaves and lively rides before;
I've rode a wild bull round a yard to win a five-pound bet,
But this was the most awful ride that I've encountered yet.
I'll give that two-wheeled outlaw best; it's shaken all my nerve
To feel it whistle through the air and plunge and buck and swerve.
It's safe at rest in Dead Man's Creek, we'll leave it lying still;
A horse's back is good enough henceforth for Mulga Bill."

First published in The Sydney Mail, 25 July 1896;
and later in
Rio Grande's Last Race and Other Verses by A.B. Paterson, 1902;
New Song in an Old Land edited by Rex Ingamells, 1943;
Favourite Australian Poems edited by Ian Mudie, 1963;
The Collected Verse of A.B. Paterson by A.B. Paterson, 1982;
Singer of the Bush, A.B. (Banjo) Paterson: Complete Works 1885-1900 compiled by Rosamund Campbell and Philippa Harvie, 1983;
The Illustrated Treasury of Australian Humour edited by Michael Sharkey, 1988;
The Book of Australian Ballads, 1989;
A Collection of Australian Bush Verse, 1989;
The Banjo's Best-Loved Poems edited by Rosamund Campbell and Philippa Harvie, 1989;
A Vision Splendid: The Complete Poetry of A.B. 'Banjo' Paterson by A.B. Paterson, 1990;
The Macquarie Bedtime Story Book edited by Rosalind Price and Walter McVitty, 1990;
The Advertiser, 27 January 1992;
A.B. 'Banjo' Paterson: Bush Ballads, Poems, Stories and Journalism edited by Clement Semmler, 1992;
Selected Poems: A. B. Paterson compiled by Les Murray, 1992;
The Collected Verse of Banjo Paterson edited by Clement Semmler, 1993;
Banjo Paterson: His Poetry and Prose compiled by Richard Hall, 1993;
Big Rig and Other Poems, 1995;
Classic Australian Verse edited by Maggie Pinkney, 2001;
An Australian Treasury of Popular Verse edited by Jim Haynes, 2002;
Our Country: Classic Australian Poetry: From the Colonial Ballads to Paterson & Lawson edited by Michael Cook, 2004;
Mulga Bill's Bicycle and Other Classics by A.B. Paterson, 2005;
The Bush Poems of A.B. (Banjo) Paterson by A.B. Paterson, 2008; and
Macquarie PEN Anthology of Australian Literature edited by Nicholas Jose, Kerryn Goldsworthy, Anita Heiss, David McCooey, Peter Minter, Nicole Moore and Elizabeth Webby, 2009.

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Australian Poetry Library

See also.

Steeds of the Mist by Will H. Ogilvie

| No TrackBacks
Steeds, O steeds of the morning mist,
Whose halters none but the wind may twist,
Whose soft white flanks may feel no spur
But the breeze that is setting the woods a-stir;
O beautiful, silent, steeds of grey,
I will give you my heart to carry away!

As I stoop in the curve of your arching manes
I shall feel the tug of your silver reins;
I shall see the foam on your rosy breasts
As the dawn dips under your splendid crests;
Though I know that your step is firm and fleet
I shall hear no sound of your gliding feet!

You shall carry me over the mountain bar
To the land where your breeding pastures are,
Beyond where your squadrons blind the sun,
To the fields where the glitterng moon-mists run,
To the forge where your hoofs are silver-shod
'Neath the anvil sparks of the stars of God!

O beautiful silent steeds of grey,
You shall carry my wistful heart away;
As your shadows are lost on the mountain wall
So the shadow of grief from my heart shall fall,
And the peace of the skies shall be mine to share
When you cover my heart from its world of Care!

First published in The Bulletin, 20 July 1911

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

On the Range by Barcroft Boake

| No TrackBacks
On Nungar the mists of the morning hung low,
The beetle-browed hills brooded silent and black,
Not yet warmed to life by the sun's loving glow,
As through the tall tussocks rode young Charlie Mac.
What cared he for mists at the dawning of day,
What cared he that over the valley stern 'Jack',
The monarch of frost, held his pitiless sway? -
A bold mountaineer, born and bred, was young Mac.

A galloping son of a galloping sire -
Stiffest fence, roughest ground, never took him aback;
With his father's cool judgement, his dash and his fire,
The pick of Monaro, rode young Charlie Mac.
And the pick of the stable the mare he bestrode -
Arab-grey, built to stay, lithe of limb, deep of chest,
She seemed to be happy to bear such a load
As she tossed the soft forelock that curled on her crest.

They crossed Nungar Creek, where its span is but short
At its head, where together spring two mountain rills,
When a mob of wild horses sprang up with a snort -
'By thunder!' quoth Mac, 'there's the Lord of the Hills.'

Decoyed from her paddock, a Murray-bred mare
Had fled to the hills with a warrigal band.
A pretty bay foal had been born to her there,
Whose veins held the very best blood in the land -
'The Lord of the Hills', as the bold mountain men,
Whose courage and skill he was wont to defy,
Had named him; they yarded him once, but since then
He'd held to the saying 'Once bitten twice shy.'

The scrubber, thus suddenly roused from his lair,
Struck straight for the timber with fear in his heart;
As Charlie rose up in his stirrups, the mare
Sprang forward, no need to tell Empress to start.
She laid to the chase just as soon as she felt
Her rider's skilled touch, light, yet firm, on the rein.
Stride for stride, lengthened wide, for the green timber belt,
The fastest half-mile ever done on the plain.

They reached the low sallee before he could wheel
The warrigal mob; up they dashed with a stir
Of low branches and undergrowth - Charlie could feel
His mare catch her breath on the side of the spur
That steeply slopes up till it meets the bald cone.
'Twas here on the range that the trouble began,
For a slip on the sidling, a loose rolling stone,
And the chase would be done; but the bay in the van
And the little grey mare were a surefooted pair.
He looked once around as she crept to his heel
And the swish that he gave his long tail in the air
Seemed to say, 'Here's a foeman well worthy my steel.'

They raced to within half a mile of the bluff
That drops to the river, the squadron strung out.
"I wonder," quoth Mac, "has the bay had enough?"
But he was not left very much longer in doubt,
For the Lord of the Hills struck a spur for the flat
And followed it, leaving his mob, mares and all,
While Empress (brave heart, she could climb like a cat)
Down the stony descent raced with never a fall.

Once down on the level 'twas galloping-ground,
For a while Charlie thought he might yard the big bay
At his uncle's out-station, but no! He wheeled round
And down the sharp dip to the Gulf made his way.

Betwixt those twin portals, that, towering high
And backwardly sloping in watchfulness, lift
Their smooth grassy summits towards the far sky,
The course of the clear Murrumbidgee runs swift;
No time then to seek where the crossing might be,
It was in at one side and out where you could,
But fear never dwelt in the hearts of those three
Who emerged from the shade of the low muzzle-wood.

Once more did the Lord of the Hills strike a line
Up the side of the range, and once more he looked back,
So close were they now he could see the sun shine
In the bold grey eyes flashing of young Charlie Mac.

He saw little Empress, stretched out like a hound
On the trail of its quarry, the pick of the pack,
With ne'er-tiring stride, and his heart gave a bound
As he saw the lithe stockwhip of young Charlie Mac
Showing snaky and black on the neck of the mare
In three hanging coils with a turn round the wrist.
And he heartily wished himself back in his lair
'Mid the tall tussocks beaded with chill morning mist.

Then he fancied the straight mountain-ashes, the gums
And the wattles all mocked him and whispered, "You lack
The speed to avert cruel capture, that comes
To the warrigal fancied by young Charlie Mac,
For he'll yard you, and rope you, and then you'll be stuck
In the crush, while his saddle is girthed to your back.
Then out in the open, and there you may buck
Till you break your bold heart, but you'll never throw Mac!"

The Lord of the Hills at the thought felt the sweat
Break over the smooth summer gloss of his hide.
He spurted his utmost to leave her, but yet
The Empress crept up to him, stride upon stride.
No need to say Charlie was riding her now,
Yet still for all that he had something in hand,
With here a sharp stoop to avoid a low bough,
Or a quick rise and fall as a tree-trunk they spanned.

In his terror the brumby struck down the rough falls
T'wards Yiack, with fierce disregard for his neck -
'Tis useless, he finds, for the mare overhauls
Hi slowly, no timber could keep her in check.

There's a narrow-beat pathway that winds to and fro
Down the deeps of the gully, half hid from the day,
There's a turn in the track, where the hop-bushes grow
And hide the grey granite that crosses the way
While sharp swerves the path round the boulder's broad base -
And now the last scene in the drama is played:
As the Lord of the Hills, with the mare in full chase,
Swept towards it, but, ere his long stride could be stayed,
With a gathered momentum that gave not a chance
Of escape, and a shuddering, sickening shock,
He struck on the granite that barred his advance
And sobbed out his life at the foot of the rock.

Then Charlie pulled off with a twitch on the rein,
And an answering spring from his surefooted mount,
One might say, unscathed, though a crimsoning stain
Marked the graze of the granite, but that would ne'er count
With Charlie, who speedily sprang to the earth
To ease the mare's burden, his deft-fingered hand
Unslackened her surcingle, loosened tight girth,
And cleansed with a tussock the spur's ruddy brand.

There he lay by the rock - drooping head, glazing eye,
Strong limbs stilled for ever; no more would he fear
The tread of a horseman, no more would he fly
Through the hills with his harem in rapid career,
The pick of the Mountain Mob, bays, greys, or roans.
He proved by his death that the place 'tis that kills,
And a sun-shrunken hide o'er a few whitened bones
Marks the last resting-place of the Lord of the Hills.

First published in The Bulletin, 30 May 1891
and later in
Where the Dead Men Lie and Other Poems by Barcroft Boake, 1897;
Old Ballads from the Bush edited by Bill Scott, 1987;
A Collection of Australian Bush Verse, 1989;
Barcroft Henry Boake edited by Hugh Capel, 2002;
Where the Dead Men Lie: The Story of Barcroft Boake, Bush Poet of the Monaro: 1866-1892  by Hugh Capel, 2002;
Barcroft Boake: Collected Works, Edited, with a Life edited by W. F. Refshauge, 2007; and
Two Centuries of Australian Poetry edited by Kathrine Bell, 2007.

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Australian Poetry Library

See also.

Witchery by Will H. Ogilvie

| No TrackBacks

Rich bay with a star on the face
   And white on the off hind-foot,
With a beautiful temper and plenty of pace,
   And keen as a hawk to boot,
With a shoulder as clean as a stag's,
   And loins that would carry a ton,
There's nothing so kindly goes down to the flags
   As Witchery -- fourteen-one !

She's a wonder at getting away,
   And, give her a length on the grass,
They can bid a good-day to the swift little bay,
   For there's nothing can catch her or pass;
She fights for her head to the ball,
   For the ponies are fond of the fun,
And, oh! but she loves to be leading them all,
   Does Witchery --- fourteen-one!

Do I touch her at times with the spur?
   It is little my beauty will care,
And the blood on her mouth does not matter to her
   She has plenty of "blood" and to spare!
And the ladies will pet her and praise
   When the last merry quarter is done,
And she likes it -- I don't care what anyone says  --
   Does Witchery --- fourteen-one!

A barbarous sport? Well, I yield!
   But if this be a crime, let us sin;
For the goal flags are flying, the crowd's on the field,
   And the ponies are mad to begin.
Savages? Yes, if you like!
   But the musical mallet's begun
And she's biting the bit to get down for a strike
   Is Witchery -- fourteen-one!

Girth up, and ride out to the fray!
   For our foemen in crimson and white,
They are demons to play and they mean it to-day;
   We shall have to hit hard and sit tight.
And we've got to take risks of our own
  When the coin has been spoken and spun,
And the hard knocks, remember, are not all alone
   For Witchery --- fourteen-one!

First published
in The Bulletin, 13 May 1899

Note: the poem was originally published with the illustration shown here.

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

The Man from Snowy River by A. B. "Banjo" Paterson

| No TrackBacks
There was movement at the station, for the word had passed around
That the colt from old Regret had got away,
And had joined the wild bush horses - he was worth a thousand pound,
So all the cracks had gathered to the fray.
All the tried and noted riders from the stations near and far
Had mustered at the homestead overnight,
For the bushmen love hard riding where the wild bush horses are,
And the stockhorse snuffs the battle with delight.

There was Harrison, who made his pile when Pardon won the cup,
The old man with his hair as white as snow;
But few could ride beside him when his blood was fairly up -
He would go wherever horse and man could go.
And Clancy of the Overflow came down to lend a hand,
No better horseman ever held the reins;
For never horse could throw him while the saddle girths would stand,
He learnt to ride while droving on the plains.

And one was there, a stripling on a small and weedy beast,
He was something like a racehorse undersized,
With a touch of Timor pony - three parts thoroughbred at least -
And such as are by mountain horsemen prized.
He was hard and tough and wiry - just the sort that won't say die -
There was courage in his quick impatient tread;
And he bore the badge of gameness in his bright and fiery eye,
And the proud and lofty carriage of his head.

But still so slight and weedy, one would doubt his power to stay,
And the old man said, "That horse will never do
For a long a tiring gallop - lad, you'd better stop away,
Those hills are far too rough for such as you."
So he waited sad and wistful - only Clancy stood his friend -
"I think we ought to let him come," he said;
"I warrant he'll be with us when he's wanted at the end,
For both his horse and he are mountain bred.

"He hails from Snowy River, up by Kosciusko's side,
Where the hills are twice as steep and twice as rough,
Where a horse's hoofs strike firelight from the flint stones every stride,
The man that holds his own is good enough.
And the Snowy River riders on the mountains make their home,
Where the river runs those giant hills between;
I have seen full many horsemen since I first commenced to roam,
But nowhere yet such horsemen have I seen."

So he went - they found the horses by the big mimosa clump -
They raced away towards the mountain's brow,
And the old man gave his orders, "Boys, go at them from the jump,
No use to try for fancy riding now.
And, Clancy, you must wheel them, try and wheel them to the right.
Ride boldly, lad, and never fear the spills,
For never yet was rider that could keep the mob in sight,
If once they gain the shelter of those hills."

So Clancy rode to wheel them - he was racing on the wing
Where the best and boldest riders take their place,
And he raced his stockhorse past them, and he made the ranges ring
With the stockwhip, as he met them face to face.
Then they halted for a moment, while he swung the dreaded lash,
But they saw their well-loved mountain full in view,
And they charged beneath the stockwhip with a sharp and sudden dash,
And off into the mountain scrub they flew.

Then fast the horsemen followed, where the gorges deep and black
Resounded to the thunder of their tread,
And the stockwhips woke the echoes, and they fiercely answered back
From cliffs and crags that beetled overhead.
And upward, ever upward, the wild horses held their way,
Where mountain ash and kurrajong grew wide;
And the old man muttered fiercely, "We may bid the mob good day,
No man can hold them down the other side."

When they reached the mountain's summit, even Clancy took a pull,
It well might make the boldest hold their breath,
The wild hop scrub grew thickly, and the hidden ground was full
Of wombat holes, and any slip was death.
But the man from Snowy River let the pony have his head,
And he swung his stockwhip round and gave a cheer,
And he raced him down the mountain like a torrent down its bed,
While the others stood and watched in very fear.

He sent the flint stones flying, but the pony kept his feet,
He cleared the fallen timber in his stride,
And the man from Snowy River never shifted in his seat -
It was grand to see that mountain horseman ride.
Through the stringybarks and saplings, on the rough and broken ground,
Down the hillside at a racing pace he went;
And he never drew the bridle till he landed safe and sound,
At the bottom of that terrible descent.

He was right among the horses as they climbed the further hill,
And the watchers on the mountain standing mute,
Saw him ply the stockwhip fiercely, he was right among them still,
As he raced across the clearing in pursuit.
Then they lost him for a moment, where two mountain gullies met
In the ranges, but a final glimpse reveals
On a dim and distant hillside the wild horses racing yet,
With the man from Snowy River at their heels.

And he ran them single-handed till their sides were white with foam.
He followed like a bloodhound on their track,
Till they halted cowed and beaten, then he turned their heads for home,
And alone and unassisted brought them back.
But his hardy mountain pony he could scarcely raise a trot,
He was blood from hip to shoulder from the spur;
But his pluck was still undaunted, and his courage fiery hot,
For never yet was mountain horse a cur.

And down by Kosciusko, where the pine-clad ridges raise
Their torn and rugged battlements on high,
Where the air is clear as crystal, and the white stars fairly blaze
At midnight in the cold and frosty sky,
And where around The Overflow the reed beds sweep and sway
To the breezes, and the rolling plains are wide,
The man from Snowy River is a household word today,
And the stockmen tell the story of his ride.

First published in The Bulletin, 26 April 1890, and in the same magazine on 1 February 1950 an 29 January 1980;
and later in
The Man From Snowy River and Other Verses by A.B. Paterson, 1895;
Selections from the Australian Poets edited by Bertram Stevens, 1925;
Favourite Australian Poems edited by Ian Mudie, 1963;
From the Ballads to Brennan edited by T. Inglis Moore, 1964;
Banjo Paterson's Horses: The Man from Snowy Rover, Father Riley's Horse, Story of Mongrel Grey by A.B. Paterson, 1970;
The Penguin Book of Australian Poetry edited by Harry Heseltine, 1972;
Australia Poems in Perspective: A Collection of Poems and Critical Commentaries edited by P.K. Elkin, 1978;
The Collins Book of Australian Poetry compiled by Rodney Hall, 1981;
The Collected Verse of A.B. Paterson by A.B. Paterson, 1982;
A Treasury of Colonial Poetry, 1982;
Singer of the Bush, A.B. (Banjo) Paterson: Complete Works 1885-1900 compiled by Rosamund Campbell and Philippa Harvie, 1983;
Cross-Country: A Book of Australian Verse edited by John Barnes and Brian McFarlane, 1984;
The Illustrated Treasury of Australian Verse compiled by Beatrice Davis, 1984;
My Country: Australian Poetry and Short Stories, Two Hundred Years edited by Leonie Kramer, 1985;
The Banjo's Best-Loved Poems edited by Rosamund Campbell and Philippa Harvie, 1989;
A Collection of Australian Bush Verse, 1989;
A Vision Splendid: The Complete Poetry of A.B. 'Banjo' Paterson by A.B. Paterson, 1990;
A Treasury of Bush Verse edited by G. A. Wilkes, 1991;
A.B. 'Banjo' Paterson: Bush Ballads, Poems, Stories and Journalism edited by Clement Semmler, 1992;
Selected Poems: A. B. Paterson compiled by Les Murray, 1992;
The Advertiser, 27 January 1992;
The Collected Verse of Banjo Paterson edited by Clement Semmler, 1993;
Banjo Paterson: His Poetry and Prose compiled by Richard Hall, 1993;
The Penguin Book of Australian Ballads edited by Elizabeth Webby and Philip Butterss, 1993;
The Age, 16 October 1995;
The Australian, 17 October 1995;
An Anthology of Australian Literature edited by Ch'oe Chin-yong and Cynthia Van Den Driessen, 1995;
The Illustrated Treasury of Australian Verse compiled by Beatrice Davis, 1996;
The Arnold Anthology of Post-Colonial Literatures in English edited by John Thieme, 1996;
Australian Verse: An Oxford Anthology edited by John Leonard, 1998;
Our Country: Classic Australian Poetry: From the Colonial Ballads to Paterson & Lawson  edited by Michael Cook, 2004;
Two Centuries of Australian Poetry edited by Kathrine Bell, 2007;
The Bush Poems of A. B.(Banjo) Paterson by A.B.Paterson, 2008;
The Book of Australian Popular Rhymed Verse: A Classic Collection of Entertaining and Recitable Poems and Verse: From Henry Lawson to Barry Humphries edited by Jim Haynes, 2008;
Macquarie PEN Anthology of Australian Literature edited by Nicholas Jose, Kerryn Goldsworthy, Anita Heiss, David McCooey, Peter Minter, Nicole Moore and Elizabeth Webby, 2009; and
The Puncher & Wattmann Anthology of Australian Poetry edited by John Leonard, 2009.

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Australian Poetry Library

See also.

Off to Town by Will H. Ogilvie

| No TrackBacks
Come on, boys, get your bridles; there's the big mob in the yard!
Who's copped my fancy saddle-cloth? No colts! l'll ride the mare;
It's no use fighting down the road on something buckling hard,
And when I'm bound for town I like to know that I'll get there.

Put up that rail behind you; wait a bit till I catch mine.
Woh! Back! you rushing devils! Now, then, block her on the fence.
Woh, there! my snorting favorite; look out for Number Nine.
By ghost! he nearly had you; and his kicking's no pretence.

Now, Jack, I'll block the chestnut chap; and ain't he rolling fat!
I don't mind betting you a quid he gives a prop or two.
Now, then, you dancing brumby's foal, what game is this you're at?
Look out for Teddy's pony there! Woh! beauties; let me through.

Stick up those rails behind you, Joe; the cook will want his horse;
I'd take the buckjump saddle, Jack, unless you want a fall.
You`ll ride him in the hunter? Oh, well! have your way, of course;
But don't forget a gravel-rash looks foolish at a ball.

You should have put the saddle on the bounder in the crush;
A snorting, wheeling brute like that is bound to break away.
Come on, young Teddy, look alive, and sling me up that brush,
We want to get to Wilga Town and not stop here all day.

That's mine -- that cloth -- excuse me! No, I haven't got a strap! --
I haven't time to comb your tail, old girl, that mud must stay! --
Heigh! look at Johnny's chestnut! Stick to him, Jack, old chap!
Good riding without kneepads! But, come on, let's get away !

Cut down, Joe, swing that gate for him! Have you got matches, Ted?
All right, I'm ready! Let 'em rip! Now, Bess, don't play the clown!
A start at last, and goodness knows what time we'll get to bed!
What price the whisky and the girls! All clear for Wilga Town!

Don't fret that blushing chestnut, Joe; come round and ride this side;
And, Jack, by Jove, you watch him, or he'll catch you napping yet! --
Oh, here's that flaming slut of mine -- I thought I left her tied!
Go home, you silly beggar! Go home, you rubbish, Jet!

Now, Jack, game for a canter! Sit hack, and ram the spurs:
I think the buck's all out of him; the colt's as right as rain!
I wish this jolly mare of mine would drop that prance of hers;
l'll race the next best cuddy to that liguum on the plain!

Well, just half a length you did me, but you sneaked a bit of start,
And if the little mare was fit she'd lose your long-legged brown!
Look at that clumsy chestnut; Jack will land home in a cart!
Ho! lights among the timber! Let 'em rip for Wilga Town !

First published in The Bulletin, 30 March 1905

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

Buck-Jumping! by R.W.S.

| No TrackBacks
"Snake!" how the word ever serves to recall
   That pony, all sinew and muscle,
Who gave me one tremendous fall,
   And many a terrible tussle!

Strong limbs, and lupple, his head set on
   In a way that was just perfection,
With a curve in his neck (like the neck of a swan)
   In exactly the right direction.

Such a back and loins, and beautiful crest,
   And a barrel round as an apple;
And I know I can scarcely say, of the rest,
   With which it was hardest to grapple.

For I've sat on his neck, behind his ears,
   And I've sat behind my saddle,
And I found him, with kicks, and bucks, and rears,
   A most awkward canoe to paddle.

Dark lustrous eyes, with a menacing frown;
   No woman's were ever more splendid,
More bright, or more beautiful liquid brown,
   Or more with wickedness blended.

I used to think of the beggar by day,
   And I used to dream of him nightly,
And how I longed to be able to say,
   "At last I can ride you rightly."

And with every day I used to find
   The fascination grew stronger;
Till at last I finally made up my mind
   That I would delay no longer.

I remember the morning, cold and gray,
   And how I tried to dissemble
That the nasty cold raw feel of the day
   Was the reason that made me tremble.

"Charlie" and "Bungaree," darkies two,
   Sat up on the stockyard railing,
And said an occasional "Budgery you!"   
   To prevent my heart from failing.

(Poor fellows! Now to "kingdom come"
   I hear they have both departed;
One died of a cold, the other from ram;
   But the pair were really good-hearted.)

I remember well the whistling snort
   That shook my self-reliance,
As you boldly faced around, old sport,
   And bade me a cool defiance.

As I looked in your face I shall never forget
   The evil look that you gave me,
And the "strike" you struck at my head, and yet
   After all you did but shave me.

You stood like an image as I drew tight
   Much girth almost to the bursting;
You were thinking, no doubt, of the coming fight,
   For which I believe you were thirsting.

I carefully tightened the near side rein,   
   Till your nose was touching my shoulder;
And I thought, as I grasped a lock of your mane,
   That, you villain, you only looked bolder.

And as I got up with the utmost care,
   And you never attempted to "hook it,"
My goodness! how those darkies did stare
   To see how quiet you took it.

But I knew very well 'twas an ominous sign,
   And I felt my face grow whiter;
And I said to you, "Yes, this is all very fine,"
   As I set myself down a bit tighter.

Four miles we had gone; I was watching you;
   Could it be that your manners were mended?
The blackboys laughed, and I laughed too;
   But the laugh was mighty soon ended.

What happened exactly I never could say,
   But all that I'd seen before me
Had gone, in a most mysterious way
   As through the bushes you tore me!

A sudden stop, and a furious bound,
   Our course exactly reversing,
Brought me uncommonly close to the ground;
   I'm afraid that I started cursing.

Now, I felt on my face your waving mane,
   And then, such a shock behind me;
I can ride that ride here over again,
   Where changes of circumstance find me.

Backwards, forwards, dashing around,
   I shall never forget the feeling,
Nor the rattle of buckles and straps, and the sound
   Of the devil beneath me squealing.

By the mane, by the saddle, the bridle, all,
   I was clinging in desperation;   
I'd have collared the tail to have saved a fall,
   But for its wrong situation.

"Budgery ride, by Golly! hey!"   
   Together the darkies shouted;
I knew, in spite of all they might say,
   The end they never had doubted.

To be riding "all over," from head to tail,
   A horse that is perfectly frantic,
Is a game that I must say soon becomes stale,
   And it certainly isn't romantic.

But all things end --- the worst and the best.
   So far I'd stuck to the leather;
"Snake" very suddenly ended the rest,
   For we both came down together.

Side by side for a moment we lay,
   There wasn't much time for talking;
With a bound and a kick he darted away,
   And left me behind him --- walking.

Well! well! I look back and think of his hate --
   It's well to be honestly hated;
He was always to me a dangerous mate
   As ever the Lord created.

But I'll say of him, though he became my slave,
   And for years I used to ride him,
That at least, though wicked, he still was brave;
   So may no ill betide him.

And if of this life he's ended his lease,
   So that there the whole thing ceases,
I would possibly wish he might rest in peace ---
   Only probably now he's in pieces.

One thing in the lines that compose this lay,
   And perhaps their small merit enhances ---
Is, only, that I can truthfully say
   That they simply are facts, and not fancies.

First published in The Queenslander, 18 February 1882

Author: nothing is known about the author of this poem.

Author reference site: Austlit

See also.

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