Now, let the leaders ease their load --
Their foaming flanks are white --
For on the old Ngahauranga Road
The brakes will hiss and bite,
As down the easy grade a-swlng,
The big coach hums along.
Come, throw aside all care, and sing
A rousing coaching song.
The slackened trace-chains jangle clear,
The swingle-bars join in,
And from each piece of honest gear
There rings a merry din.
The heavy brakes have gripped the road,
The tyres are gleaming bright,
And down the old Ngahauranga Road
The world goes well to-night.
Above the Gorge's rugged walls
Shine star and star and star,
And, rich and pure, sweet music falls --
"Under the Deodar.*'
It mingles with the whirr of wheels,
Is lost and found again,
And every man among us feels
It's good to be just men --
To feel the leaping pulses beat
A-swaying round a curve,
While eyes glow soft and lips are sweet,
And nerves are solid "nerve."
Who cares if his small row is hoed?
Who cares if cake be dough?
When down the old Ngahauranga Road
We let the big bays go.
Their eager hoofs ring hard and clear --
They're pulling all they can.
A man to hold the brake and steer,
Must be -- well, just a man.
And on these high-box seats, I trow,
Are girls whose hearts beat strong,
As, lurching o'er a gulf below,
We sing our careless song.
The moon peeps shyly round a peak
That points against the sky,
Warning the night wind not to speak
Till our white lamps rush by.
With tossing heads, in scorn of goad,
In all their strength and grace,
Adown the old Ngahauranga Road
Our four great coachers race.
Now double-bank the heavy brakes,
To slow her round this bluff;
A bridges planking throbs and shakes,
The driver's voice sounds gruff,
As steadily, his leaders' chests
Skirting the outer rail,
He swings them -- so! -- with reefing crests,
And gives them rein to sail,
With every strong hoof beating hard,
Along a level "straight,"
Where every yard is just a yard,
And no horse feels the weight.
Brave eyes flash bright in Love's own code,
That only lovers know,
When down the old Ngahauranga Road,
He lets his big bays go.
The leaders' stride is lengthening,
The wheelers follow suit;
The driver sways inboard to swing
The brake-bar from his boot,
Ahead of us there gleams the sea --
The grades are easy now,
The wheels cry out in ecstasy.
And spin, and race, and plough;
The tall trees tell us, whispering low,
How, with hot brakes a-scream,
Cobb's coaches raced here long ago,
Before the days of steam --
Five Yankee lamps like jewels glowed,
And five staunch horses tore
Along the old Ngahauranga Road,
In those brave days of yore.
The big bays' hoofs are ringing clear --
They're pulling all they know,
A man can just hang on and steer,
And let the beggars go,
No fretting thong is on their hides,
No rough hand on the rein;
They'll pull and pull, with foaming sides,
And pull and pull again.
Song mingles with the roll of wheels,
Ascending to the stars,
The high coach pitches, sways, and reels,
With clashing swingle-bars.
Who cares for debts unpaid, and owed --
If wool be high or low?
We're on the old Ngahauranga Road.
Ho! Let the beauties go!
First published in The Australian Town and Country Journal, 14 December 1904;
and later in
The Bulletin, 26 April 1906.
Author's Note: Pronounced "Now-rang-ah."