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Our Mine by C.J. Dennis

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There's a mine that can't be floated, up along at Anyplace,
Though ther's certin indications of its richness on the face.
She'd go three ounces sure at depth if she was opened out,
But it ain't a minin' distric', which inclines the folks to doubt.  

But we know it's worth a forchune, fer we've worked it nigh a year,
An' hardly took out tucker stuff - it hasn't run to beer,
But there ain't no valid reason fer to doubt the show is right,
For the leaders they are bonzers, an' ther's tons of ore in sight.

We've panned out fifteen 'weight from stuff a foot below the ground;
An' a mug could get a color fer a half a mile around.
Ther's kaolin an' mundie an' a sort o' chalky clay,
An' ev'ry indication that at depth she's bound to pay.

It was found by Billy Thompson (or, maybe, it was Jack Smith);
An', from the jump, the folks around they christened it "The Myth."
It's the joke about the distric', an' they jeer us in the town.
The advice we get is mainly - "Chuck it up; it got yer down."

But our faith is underminished, an' our hope's as good as new;
Fer the stuff is there - we know it - an' we've had it assayed too!
It ain't no poor man's diggin's; it's the capital we need.
But the ignorance of moneyed men 'ud cause yer heart to bleed.

Ther' was once we thought we had our lips right close to forchune's cup:
A syndikit in town they took an' sent a hexpert up -
A bloomin' bandbox hexpert, with a boxer on 'is head.
He took a look around the show an' "Huh!" was all he said.

He went back and reported to his syndikit below.
I dunno wot he said, but they declined to touch the show.
Them an' the'r precious hexpert, with his theories an' sich!
It don't take no book learnin' fer to see that she is rich.

Ther's the wife - she gets to frettin', an' she ses we're wastin' time;
She ses she's tired o' waitin'; an' Gawd knows, her life ain't prime.
But I'm toilin' fer her hard enough.  An' ain't we got the claim?
Wot do women know o' minin' an' the chances of the game?

I sits by her o' nights an' tries to picter wot'll be
When people comes to reckernise our splendid property.
With our carridges an' horses - an' the folks that sneer an' scoff
'Ull be proud enough to get a nod, when once we float 'er off.

We've drawed up plans an' figgers - calkerlated to a bob
The cost of machinery an' plant to do the job.
An', when you come to think on it, it's curious, somehow,
Ther' ain't no moneyed men around is game to risk a thou.

It seems like a conspiracy was formed to keep us down -
Amongst the minin' hexperts an' the capit'lists in town.
But we ain't took to despairin'.  Ther' will come a time some day,
When folks'll quit the'r chuckin' off, an' then, we'll have a say.

There's a mine that can't be floated, up along at Anywhere;
There are two old, worn prospectors fighting hard against despair -
Patient and pathetic figures, honest and sincere enough,
Toiling on a proven duffer, hardly earning tucker stuff.
And they know 'twould pay for working if someone would foot the bill,
But, somehow, it can't be floated, and it's odds it never will.

First published in The Bulletin, 3 December 1908

The Silver City: A Ballad of the Barrier by C.J. Dennis

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Come sing us a song of the city of sand,
   Silver, sin, and sixpenny ale;
Dumped in a desolate, drought-struck land,
   Where the dead-beat pitches his pitiful tale.

Oh, the miners work and the miners sweat;
And doubly earn the wage they get;
   On top and underground.
They toil and moil night shift and day;
And gaily they disburse their pay,
   As pay day comes around.
         Oh, pay day
         Is a gay day,
Tho' 'tis slow in comin' round.

And Bung, he smiles a well-fed smile;
And rakes the silver in the while;
   And waxes rich and stout.
The miner's stoutest friend is he,
So long's the miner's hand is free,
   And miner's cash holds out.
         He's a spender,
         On a bender,
While his hard-earned cash holds out.

The wily Book he hooks his bet,
He toils not, neither does he sweat,
   Upon the grinding mine;
But lives upon the working clods;
And lays the very shortest odds;
   And wears an air benign.
         To the miner,
         None benigner;
And it pays to look benign.

The careful Cop grabs miners tight
By scores, on ev'ry "big-pay night."
   A chance hell never lose.
The blessed Beak he fines a fine;
Then back the toilers go to mine;
   And earn another booze.
         Beak nor copper
         Put a stopper
On that yearning for a booze.

Morn, night, and noon the dust blows down
Thro' ev'ry quarter of the town --
   Round humpy, pub, and store.
It paints the face of all things brown;
And men drink pints to wash it down;
   To keep it there drink more.
         When it's dusty
         Men get thusty;
And can always do one more.

And Satan sits on a distant dump;
For in his line there's nary slump.
   He dreams sweet dreams of home;
As, watching with reflective eye;
He heaves a weary home-sick sigh;
   And vows no more to roam.
         To the heedless
         Temptin's needless;
And he might have waited home.

Then this is a lay of the land of lust,
   And the independent Ikey Mo.;
Of Greed, and Gamble, Drink, and Dust,
   And the man who slaves for Grab and Co.

First published in The Gadfly, 5 February 1908

The Tin-Pot Mill by Edward Dyson

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Quite a proud an' happy man is Finn the packer
   Since he built his crazy mill upon the rise,
An' he stands there in the gully, chewin' backer,
   With a sleepy sort of comfort in his eyes,
Gazin' up to where the antiquated jigger
   Is a-wheezin' an' a-hoppin' on the hill,
An' up here me lord the Guvner isn't bigger
   Than the owner of the Federation Mill.

      She goes biff, puff, bang, bump, clitter-clatter, smash,
      An' she rattles on fer half a shift, an' lets up with a crash,
      An' then silence reigns a little while, an' all the land is still
      While they're tinkerin' awkward patches on the tin-pot mill.

It's a five-head plant, an' mostly built of lumber;
   'Twas erected by a man who didn't know,
An' we've never had a decentt spell of slumber
   Since that battery of Finn's was got to go;
For she raises jest the most infernal clatter,
   An' we guessed the Day of Judgment had come down
When the tin-pot mill began to bang and batter
   Like a earthquake in a boiler-metal town.

All the heads are different sizes,'an' the horses
   Are so crazy that the whole caboodle rocks,
An' each time a stamper thunders down it forces
   Little spirtin's through the crannies in the box.
Then the feed-pipe's mostly plugged an' aggravatin',
   An' the pump it suffers badly from a cough;
Every hour or so they bust a bloomin' gratin',
   An' the shoes are nearly always comin' off.

Mickey drives her with a portable, a ruin
   That they used fer donkeyin' cargo in the Ark.
Thunder! when she's got some way on, an' is doin',
   You should hear that spavined coffee-grinder bark.
She is loose in all her jints, an', through corrosion,
   Half her plates 're not a sixteenth in the thick.
We're expectin' a sensational explosion,
   An' a subserquent excursion after Mick.

From the feed --- which chokes --- to quite the smallest ripple,
   From the bed-logs to the guides, she's mighty queer,
An' she joggles like an agitated cripple
   With St. Viter's darnce intensified by beer.
She stops short, an' starts with most unearthly rumbles,
   An', distracted by the silence an' the din,
Through the sleepless night the weary miner grumbles,
   An' eaps curses on the family of Finn.

But the owner's much too cute a man to wrangle.
   He is crushin' fer the public, understand,
An' each ton of stuff that's hammered through the mangle
   Adds its tribet to the value of his land.
For she leaks the raw amalgam, an' he's able
   To see daylight 'twixt the ripples an' the plates,
An' below the an' 'neath the shakin'-table
   There are nest-eggs 'cumulatin' while he waits.

      She goes biff, puff, bang, bump, clitter-clatter, smash,
      An' she rattles on fer half a shift, an' lets up with a crash,
      An' then silence reigns a little while, an' all the land is still
      While they're tinkerin' awkward patches on the tin-pot mill.

First published in The Bulletin, 16 May 1896, and again in the same magazine on 23-30 December 1980;
and later in
Rhymes from the Mines and Other Lines by Edward Dyson, 1896.

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

See also.

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