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The Old Ngahauranga Road by Will Lawson

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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."

Author reference sites: AustlitAustralian Dictionary of Biography 

See also.

The Home-Bound Ship by Henry Parkes

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Morn brightened into rich and cloudless day,
And beauty, resting full on earth and heaven,
Seemed as just breathed from the Creator's love.
The gallant vessel lay, with look of pride,
As conscious that the hour, at last, was come
For her glad journey back to England, bearing
The home sick homeward; that sad farewell looks,
From many a jut and point along the shore,
Would follow, seeking on her poop, for faces
To vanish soon for ever. Hark, eight bells!
And see her "meteor flag," for the last time,
Rise in the sunlight of this Southern Land
Which, too, bears England's union, floating o'er
The spot where landed first our countrymen.
Now, friends and kindred! take your last farewell,
Press close your beating hearts; nor let false shame
Lock up the tears that flow, to fertilise
The heart which has true love enough for tears.
Now the boat waits for them who go; and ye,
Dwellers in Sydney, who lose friends to-day,
May hold them by the hand no minute longer;
Now, come, and watch their bark go out to sea!
With loud and cheery song, the seamen lift
Her anchor, 'neath the pilot's watchful eye;
Already her loose sails, in white festoons,
Are stirred by the fresh, favorable breeze,
Which breaks in glittering fragments the small waves
Against her trimly-painted sides: and eyes
Are watching for her earliest gentle start
Upon her long, long journey. "Oft she goes"!
The iron keeper has forsook his hold,
And cometh home, with the crew's heightened song,
From his long post of safety in the sea.

Behold yon group upon the tide-left reef
Under the Fort which bears Macquarie's name,
And burlesques England's power, and shames her pride
Yon group, with farewell signals waving white
To passenger who answers, with the same
White symbol of quick, recognising love.
As down the harbour glides the noble ship,
With canvas set, and colours flying gaily,
Those snowy handkerchiefs are waving still,
And still are answered from her starboard quarter,
Till round dark Bradley's wooded head she's lost.
"A pleasant passage to her!" in the words
Of every sailor, bidding an old friend,
When outward bound, farewell- " A pleasant passage
To her;" and may she reach a happy land!

First published in The Weekly Register of Politics, Facts and General Literature, 6 September 1845;
and later in
Geelong Advertiser and Squatter's Advocate, 24 September 1845.

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

See also.

Lay of the Motor-Car by A.B. "Banjo" Paterson

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We're away! and the wind whistles shrewd
   In our whiskers and teeth;
And the granite-like grey of the road
   Seems to slide underneath.
As an eagle might sweep through the sky,
   So we sweep through the land;
And the pallid pedestrians fly
   When they hear us at hand.

We outpace, we outlast, we outstrip!
   Not the fast-fleeing hare,
Nor the racehorses under the whip,
   Nor the birds of the air
Can compete with our swiftness sublime,
   Our ease and our grace.
We annihilate chickens and time
   And policemen and space.

Do you mind that fat grocer who crossed?
   How he dropped down to pray
In the road when he saw he was lost;
   How he melted away
Underneath, and there rang through the fog
   His earsplitting squeal
As he went ----  Is that he or a dog,
   That stuff on the wheel?

First published in The Evening News, 24 February 1905;
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;
The Penguin Book of Australian Humorous Verse edited by Bill Scott, 1984;
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;
A.B. 'Banjo' Paterson: Bush Ballads, Poems, Stories and Journalism edited by Clement Semmler, 1992; 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.

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