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Tinker Time by Zora Cross

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Tinker Time is a merry old man, 
Winding by with his creaky van, 
         Shouting, "Ho," 
         As the people go, 
"Richman, poorman, beggarman, thief. 
Bring out your burdens and your world old Grief. 
Work is long and my hours are brief." 

Out they run with their plagues unpacked. 
Hope ahead with her kettle cracked. 
         Folly last 
         With his bells held fast, 
Tuneless twanging by his tattered cap. 
Young folk, old folk, hear the hammers tap! 
Heap your troubles in the Tinker's lap! 

Who's this running with a broken pot? 
Fortune beggared of her last, lean jot, 
         Jogging by 
         To a pauper's sigh; 
Luck beside with a cup to mend. 
Come, all my hearties. with a dream to spend! 
Cares aboard for the rainbow's end! 

Here is Love with a heart in twain. 
Youth repairing it with tears in vain. 
         Fiddling Song 
         In the jostling throng 
Waves the ribbon of a broken bow. 
Tailor, sailor. passing to and fro, 
Time is swift, bring your wares of Woe! 

Down the road to a rollicking cry. 
Off he goes with a winking eye. 
         Singing "Ho" 
         As the seasons go, 
Soldier, sailor, beggarman, thief, 
I've got a solder for your care and grief. 
Joy wears long and your tears are brief.

First published in The Bulletin, 15 August 1918

Spoil-Sport by C.J. Dennis

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Fix your mind on Tuesday, lad,
   There's a whole year's work to do.
Although today your mind's on play,
   'Twill soon be up to you.
For holidays must have an end,
So, fix your mind on Tuesday, friend.

I have to sit and think of work,
   Why should you have the fun?
So fix your mind on Tuesday's grind
   And jobs that must be done.
They're piling up while you're away,
Upon this foolish holiday.

Why should I have to sit and toil
   And know not sport nor ease,
And scribble rhymes to suit the times --
   Or not -- just as you please.
While you amid the wind-blown trees
Know all the joy of careless ease? 

Maybe you're in the far blue hills
   Or sporting by the sea;
But all your joy and gladness, boy,
   Mean not a thing to me.
For here with work I'm sorely vexed,
So fix your mind on Tuesday next.

The white gulls wheel above the sea;
   The wavelets lap the shore.
But I don't care, since I'm not there
   The whole thing is a bore.
While I, in pain, am scrawling this
Why should you know untarnished bliss?

So fix your mind on Tuesday, lad,
   It's not so far away.
The days are short when spent in sport,
   Then farewell holiday.
And, oh, what long days when it's done.
Tuesday is near. So cheer up, son!

First published in The Herald, 29 December 1927

"Bosses Don't Seem Right" by C.J. Dennis

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A Christmas Monologue

The thing's all wrong (I sez to 'im)
Now look, there's this 'ere Monday, Jim,
Comes before Christmas.  Be a toff
An' lest us 'ave the Monday off.
'E 'ums an' 'ars.  An' then he's got
To talk a lot of silly rot
About 'ow business binds a man;
An' 'e don't quite see 'ow 'e can
Afford to give me Monday in,
Seein' he'll lose a lot of tin
Under our capit'listic plan
Which sort of binds a business man
'Lest his competitors was bound
To give the Monday all around.

If but ('e sez) they would agree
To let the trade 'ave Monday free
Then 'e would do it.  There you are!
Shows 'ow Democracy's a bar.
It's competition, don't you see,
That robs a man of liberty.
But, under Socialism . . . Wot?
Now, listen, I ain't talkin' rot.
I know that 'e's me boss.  But look,
Our scheme of Gover'ment's all crook.

Now, under Socialism, see,
If I said, "I want Monday free!"
Why, under right conditions, then,
They'd treat their men like they was men;
An' seein' it was Christmas week,
We would n't 'ave to go an' seek
No favors.  We'd just tell 'em flat:
"We're takin' Monday; an' that's that!"
Wot?  Bosses?  . . .  Well, I s'pose there'd be
This, wot you call, Bureaucracy.

To rule us.  Yes; per'aps there might;
An' as you say, it don't seem right
That they should want to boss a man . . . .
But wot about his Fascist plan?

Now, under that, we'd say, "look 'ere
Us fellers wants this Monday clear."
An', bein' reasonable like,
Blokes would n't 'ave to call a strike
To get their way . . . . Well, I suppose
There's be Dictators -- coves like those
To fed a coot on castor oil
If they decided not to toil
On Monday.  That seems pretty tough,
All systems seems to treat men rough.

First published in The Herald, 27 December 1934

The Battler by C.J. Dennis

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The latest hold-up in "industry" concerns a strike of boxers. Pugilists at a suburban stadium have struck for higher pay. Loser in preliminary bouts demanded a more liberal reward than 12/6 for a four-round contest.

"'It 'im!" they yelled, as he mowed the air
   With a wild, wide, futile right.
"'It 'im!" they shrieked, as he floundered there,
   "Oh, fight, you blighter, fight!"
Then he grabbed for a clinch and he hung on grim,
   Earning his scant night's hire:
Then groped to his corner, brain a-swim,
   While the ringside rocked with ire.

"'It 'im!" they cried, as he came once more.
   "Why didn't you 'it 'im then?"
But he went to the mat for a count of four,
   Then he rose, and the clinched again.
"'It 'im!" they roared, athirst for blood;
   And their anger was loud and deep.
But he hit the floor with a sickening thud,
   And quietly went to sleep.

As he left the ring, a loser still,
   With many a bruise bedecked.
"If they want me to strike," said he, "I will,
   In a way that they least expect.
For I'm weary of bein' a choppin' block
   For a mad mob's holiday.
With twelve and a tanner for takin' the knock."
   So he struck -- for higher pay.

First published in The Herald, 21 October 1931

Brown's Tram by C.J Dennis

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A city clerk was Henry Brown,
Whose suburb knew nor tram nor train;
And ev'ry morn he walked to town.
From nine till five, with busy brain,
He labored in an office dim.
Each eve he walked out home again.
And all this tramping seemed to him
A waste of time, for, 'mid the strife,
He could not keep his lawn in trim.
It clouded his domestic life --
This going early, coming late --
And much distressed his little wife.
Then some wise man declared the State
Should put in trams, and for this scheme
Brown was a red-hot advocate.
At last he realised his dream;
And daily in and out of town
He trammed it with content supreme.
For, though it cost him half-a-crown
A week in fares, the time he saved
Meant much to him and Mrs. Brown.
And so they lived and pinched and slaved
And their suburban happiness
Seemed all that they had ever craved.
The little wife began to bless
The trams; nor grieved their meagre dole
Was weekly two and sixpence less.
Then Brown's employer, kindly soul,
Learned of this tram-car luxury,
And promptly rose to take his toll.
He sent for Brown and said that he
Should now contrive to come at eight
Since trams blessed his vicinity.
He also deemed it wise to state
That idleness begat much ill,
And it was wrong to sleep in late.
Yet Brown contrived to tram it still,
And trim his lawn with tender care,
And pay his rent and baker's bill.
His little wife vowed it unfair;
But bowed to stern, relentless fate,
And smiled and sewed and worked her share.
Just here, the landlord wrote to state,
Since trams improved his property,
He'd raise the rent as from that date.
"Three shillings weekly will not be
Too much - an equitable rise,
Considering the trams," wrote he.
What profit oaths or women's sighs?
His "sacred rights," of wealth the fount,
A landlord has to recognise.
To what do poor clerks' lives amount?
An extra hour of slavery
Swells an employer's bank account.
The wealthy boss thanks God that he
Has saved some money out of Brown.
The landlord smiles contentedly.
The trams run gaily up and down,
A sight Brown sadly notes as he
Plods daily in and out of town.

First published in The Bulletin, 30 September 1909;
and later in
Backblock Ballads and Other Verses by C.J. Dennis, 1913.

He Has Put His Hand to the Plough by C.J. Dennis

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What can we say of him better than this:
   He has walked in the clean, straight way;
He has played the game, he has won to fame
   Only as white men may.
We trusted him well in the days gone by;
   So shall we trust him now.
With the will to do, and a motive true,
   He has put his hand to the plough.

True to his mates of the long gone days,
   True to the same just Cause,
He has marched ahead with a strong firm tread,
   Scorning to halt or pause.
And this shall be said in the years to come,
   E'en as we say of him now:
'His fame was straight; he was true to a mate;
   And he kept him hand to the plough.'

First published in The Call: The Ha'penny Daily, 25 July 1914

The Clerk by C.J. Dennis

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For pure self-sacrificing philanthropy, commend me to the city clerk who votes the Labor ticket!  Being a clerk myself I speak feelingly, and when I hear of a fellow-clerk, voting that way I resent it as an act of treachery against his own class. - "City Clerk," Collins-street, in Melbourne AGE.

The unsoiled hand, the sleek, black coat,
   The senile, ledger-haunted hours,
The knowledge that my freeman's vote
   Is humbly cast to please "the powers,"
A futile spite against the mass,
   A small, weak hate of Labor's side,
These privileges of Our Class
    I cherish with a puny pride.

The sycophancy of the snob,
   The day-long cringe, the life-long fear
That I may lose a steady job -
   That "job genteel" I hold so dear -
These be the splendid attributes
   Of one who yearns to emulate
His master; and all work-soiled brutes
   Regards with mean, reflected hate.

Not mine the arrogance of wealth,
   No pride in honest labor mine;
But while I still hold life and health
   My pet ambition is to shine
A small, pale star that faintly glows
   In Fat's impressive firmament,
The while I earn mere food and clothes,
   And help the boss to cent. per cent.

Ambition?  E'en my timid soul
   Dreams of a day when I shall rule;
When I may heckle and control
   The trembling slaves of desk and stool;
When I shall be of Fat myself
   Who now but dangles at his skirt.
A magnate!  Armed with pow'r and pelf.
   Meet recompense for eating dirt.

I mark the lowly toiler rage.
   "Resist!" he cries.  "Resist! Unite!"
The while I sue for patronage -
   A deferential parasite.
Then to my aid comes Pride of Class,
   I take my stand beside the Boss.
I earn his praise! .... Although, alas,
   His gain, mayhap, will be my loss.

For who would risk a master's ire - 
   That deity who rules my life,
That god who may, in vengeance dire,
   Snatch happiness from 'child' and wife?
"Rights!" shout the horny-handed. "Rights!"
   The dolts defy the pow'rs that be.
While I watch through the restless nights
   And tremble for my salary.

Oh. what rash madness moves these clods?
   E'en my own fellow serfs, alas,
Speak treason 'gainst the money-gods
   And turn black traitors to Our Class.
Our Class!  That genteel, cultured band,
   Well-dressed, respectable, elite -- 
The servile mind, the soft white hand --
   Patrician class of Collins~street!

Cohorts of Collins-street, arise!
   O legions, wake in Finders-land!
Let each pale hero recognise
   His class, and fight with might and main.
Fight for the master sturdily!
   What though his profit be our loss?
And let our watchword ever be,
   Or Class! OUR BILLET, and OUR BOSS!

The sleek, black coat, the unsoiled hand,
   The proud assertion of the worm.
Behold the Class!  Oh, noble band!
   Mild, desk-worn yoemen of "The Firm."
With swagger of the over-dressed.
   With meekness of the underpaid,
They flout the plaint of the oppressed,
   And stare at Liberty, afraid.

First published in The Bulletin, 1 June 1911

The Vote of Censure by C.J. Dennis

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   Len's a pipe er baccer, Bill.
      Siddown over there.
Bloomin' contrac's been 'ung up again.
   Aw, there's no use worryin';
      Whips er time to spare;
Blokes will 'ave their quarrils now an' then.
   'Ere's them flamin' managers
      Scrappin' like the dooce,
Playin' at the same ole silly game.
   Chuck yer pick an' shovel down,
      Wot's the bloomin' use?
We kin dror our wages orl the same!

   Toil to do?  Er course ther' is -
      'Eaps er solid work;
'Nough to keep us goin' overtime.
   But when bosses chucks it in
      An' begins to strike,
Well, fer me an' you it ain't no crime.
   Ther's that darn ole Tariff Wall
      Ain't been mended yet,
Said they'd 'tend to that long years ago.
   Aw, don't bust yer boiler, Bill!
      You've no call to fret.

Pay-day's comin' all the same, yeh know.
   Yus, I'm pretty sick of it,
   'Anging 'round the job,
While they squabbles all the 'ole day long.
   'Ere, when one bloke does a bit,
      'Nother silly yob
Comes an' pulls it down, becos it's wrong.
   Then they starts to mix it up,
      'Ell fer leather.  Biff!
Yow!  An' goes an' wastes a month in talk.
   Only fer the pay I'd be
      Orf in 'alf a jiff.
Struth!  I'd pick me dunnage up an' walk!

   It's the flamin' system, Bill,
      Got us in its grip:
Me, an' you an' orl the blessed lot.
   If they don't soon alter it,
      Take my dead sure tip,
Things on this 'ere job 'ull go to pot.
  Orl lars' shift they torks a treat,
      Gittin' nithin' done;
'Ere, this shift they starts to tork some more.
   Jist sit back in comfort, Bill;
      Stay an' watch the fun.
Ther's a bit er wages still to dror.

   Dunno wot 'e's thinkin' of,
      Bloke 'oo owns these works.
If 'twas me I wouldn't wait fer munce.
   Orl this brawlin' crowd 'ud git
      Swift an' suddin jerks.
Out into the cold, 'ard world at once.
   I'd not stand this sorter thing,
      Not fer arf a day:
Runnin' contracks at a dead sure loss.
   If yeh carn't agree, git it out!
      That'd be my way.
But, er course, I ain't the bloomin' boss.

   Say, I've 'eard this boss uv ours
      'E's the simple kind;
Dunno where 'e are or wot 'e thinks;
   Dunno 'ow to manige things,
      Carn't make up 'is mind.
Shouldn't be su'prsed to 'ear 'e drinks.
   These 'ere toughs 'as got 'im fair
      On a bit er string;
Pulls 'is leg a treat when they wants cops.
   Then, when 'e ingages 'em 
      It's another thing;
An' orl thort er toil they gently drops.

   Listen to 'em howlin', Bill....
      Give it to 'em, Joe!
Sool 'em, Andy!  Keep it goin', boys!
   Buck in, Willie!  Use yer boot!
      Land 'im with yer toe!....
Strike me up a wattle: Wot a noise!
   Spare me!  Ain't it boshter, Bill?
      Better un a play.
Work, they calls it!  Wot a bit er kid!
   An' fer thise 'ere sorter thing
      Ev'ry bloomin' day
'Ere's the boss shells out five 'undred quid!

   Aw!  Don't start to worry, Bill.
      Work?  We ain't allowed!
Put yet feet up 'ere an' 'ave a smoke.
   We jist gotter loaf eround
      Same as orl the crowd.
Work?  Well, you're a funny sorter bloke!
   Contrack's stopped!  I'm tellin' yeh -
      While they squabbles....Ho!
Look at Joseph gettin' shirty!  Yow!
   Ain't 'e workin' fer 'is money?
      Bash 'is 'ed in, Joe!....
Come on Bill, our cheques is ready now.

First published in The Bulletin, 7 May 1914

Monday Morning by C.J. Dennis

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I often pause to contemplate
The sadly barren mental state
Of persons whom it is my fate
   To meet on Monday morning.
They should be, after Sunday's rest,
Alert, clear-minded, full of zest;
But everywhere they are oppressed,
   Bad-tempered, dull and yawning.

But I? I'm always strangely bright,
Primed with ideas and full of fight,
With brain alert and eye alight
   With rare exhilaration:
All due, no doubt to my wise bent
To do no thing I should repent,
And to a Sunday wisely spent
   In pious contemplation.

I do not wish to set myself
Upon some loft moral shelf
And treat my brother man, poor elf,
   To haughty patronising.
And yet I feel I have to say
That I regard the laggard way
That men approach their work this day
   As utterly surprising.

Oh, I could write, this gladsome morn,
With vigor of a man new-born
Rare verses, full of lilting scorn
   About my fellow's failings;
Or I could write on politics
And heave a hundred verbal bricks,
Using the rhymster's thousand tricks
   In homilies and railings.

But I resist; for, being kind
I know that human nature's blind
And weak and frail; I have no mind
   To call down envious curses.
And, tho' I tremble on the verge,
I manfully resist the urge,
And sing, where I might shout and splurge,
   These rather halting verses.

First published in The Herald, 28 April 1930

The Cockie's Man by C.J. Dennis

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I'm but a simple cockie's man -- a common sort o' bloke;
But I'm 'uman an' 'ave feelin's, just the same as other folk.
I'm bloomin' well disgusted with the present state o' things;
The country's fairly busted, so this is wot I sings:-

         Gawd 'elp the cockie's man --
            Graftin' all the day;
         Send 'im better tucker an'
            Send 'im better pay.
         'Elp 'im on a little bit
            In 'is worldly fight,
         Then, if I should think of it,
            I'll say a prayer at night.

A bloke 'as got to keep 'imself on fifteen bob a week.
It don't cost much to feed 'im, cos e's 'umble an' e's meek.
'E wants a decent livin', an' that's wot 'e don't get --
The drought it stops the bloomin' crops an' leaves 'im in the wet.

A man can't 'ave a decent drunk, not three times in a year;
The money goes in tucker, an' there's nothin' lef' fur beer.
I ain't no guzzlin' glutton, but I like me glass of ale,
With me damper an' me mutton -- 'spech'ly when the latter's stale.
I'm sick o' drivin' 'arrers, an' I'm sick o' chuckin' 'ay;
I'm sick o' doin' anythink -- fur 'arf-a-crown a day.
I wisht I was an angel -- an' I 'ope I will be soon;
I'd play upon me golden 'arp, an' this'd be me toon --

         Gawd 'elp the cockie's man,
            Sweatin' in the sun.
         Wot's 'e gittin' punished for?
            Wot's 'e bin an' done?
         Make 'is life a little bright,
            'Elp 'im awn a bit,
         Then e'll say a prayer at night --
            If 'e don't forgit.

First published in The Critic, 19 February 1898

Highly Desirable by Edward Dyson

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The boarder in the bar-room rose,
   A pale gaunt man who lodged with Hann,
"I bear," he said, "the worst of woes,
And suffer torments no one knows,
   For do my best I never can
   Have sleep like any other man.

"I have insomnia," said he.
   "At times it drives me mad outright.
Whate'er I do, where'er I be,
Its just the same - so sleep for me.
   You won't believe for three years quite
   I haven't slept two hours a night."

Boss-cocky Billson softly swore,
   And turning from his chestnut cob.
"What's that?" he questioned from the door.
"You say that you don't sleep no more
   Than two hours?  I pay thirty bob.
   Now, mister, do you want a job?"

First published in The Bulletin, 6 September 1917

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

See also.

Jim the Splitter by Henry Kendall

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The bard who is singing of Wollombi Jim
Is hardly just now in the requisite trim
   To sit on his Pegasus fairly;
Besides, he is bluntly informed by the Muse
That Jim is a subject no singer should choose;
   For Jim is poetical rarely.

But being full up of the myths that are Greek --
Of the classic, and noble, and nude, and antique,
   Which means not a rag but the pelt on;
This poet intends to give Daphne the slip,
For the sake of a hero in moleskin and kip,
   With a jumper and snake-buckle belt on.

No party is Jim of the Pericles type:
He is modern right up from the toe to the pipe;
   And being no reader or roamer,
He hasn't Euripides much in the head;
And let it be carefully, tenderly said,
   He never has analysed Homer.

He can roar out a song of the twopenny kind;
But, knowing the beggar so well, I'm inclined
   To believe that a "par" about Kelly,
The rascal who skulked under shadow of curse,
Is more in his line than the happiest verse
   On the glittering pages of Shelley.

You mustn't, however, adjudge him in haste,
Because a red robber is more to his taste
   Than Ruskin, Rossetti, or Dante!
You see, he was bred in a bangalow wood,
And bangalow pith was the principal food
   His mother served out in her shanty.

His knowledge is this -- he can tell in the dark
What timber will split by the feel of the bark;
   And rough as his manner of speech is,
His wits to the fore he can readily bring
In passing off ash as the genuine thing
   When scarce in the forest the beech is.

In "girthing" a tree that he sells "in the round",
He assumes, as a rule, that the body is sound,
   And measures, forgetting to bark it!
He may be a ninny, but still the old dog
Can plug to perfection the pipe of a log
   And "palm it" away on the market.

He splits a fair shingle, but holds to the rule
Of his father's, and, haply, his grandfather's school;
   Which means that he never has blundered,
When tying his shingles, by slinging in more
Than the recognized number of ninety and four
   To the bundle he sells for a hundred!

When asked by the market for ironbark red,
It always occurs to the Wollombi head
   To do a "mahogany" swindle.
In forests where never the ironbark grew,
When Jim is at work, it would flabbergast you
   To see how the "ironbarks" dwindle.

He can stick to the saddle, can Wollombi Jim,
And when a buckjumper dispenses with him,
   The leather goes off with the rider.
And, as to a team, over gully and hill
He can travel with twelve on the breadth of a quill
   And boss the unlucky "offsider".

He shines at his best at the tiller of saw,
On the top of the pit, where his whisper is law
   To the gentleman working below him.
When the pair of them pause in a circle of dust,
Like a monarch he poses exalted, august --
   There's nothing this planet can show him!

For a man is a man who can "sharpen" and "set",
And he is the only thing masculine yet
   According to sawyer and splitter --
Or rather according to Wollombi Jim;
And nothing will tempt me to differ from him,
   For Jim is a bit of a hitter.

But, being full up, we'll allow him to rip,
Along with his lingo, his saw, and his whip --
   He isn't the classical "notion".
And, after a night in his "humpy", you see,
A person of orthodox habits would be
   Refreshed by a dip in the ocean.

First published in The Freeman's Journal, 21 February 1880;
and later in
Songs from the Mountains by Henry Kendall, 1880;
The Sydney Mail, 12 August 1882;
Selected Poems of Henry Kendall edited by T. Inglis Moore, 1957;
From the Ballads to Brennan edited by T. Inglis Moore, 1964;
The Poetical Works of Henry Kendall edited by Thomas Thornton Reed, 1966;
My Country: Australian Poetry and Short Stories, Two Hundred Years edited by Leonie Kramer, 1985;
Selected Poems of Henry Kendall edited by T. Inglis Moore, 1988; and
Henry Kendall: Poetry, Prose and Selected Correspondence edited by Michael Ackland, 1993.

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

See also.

A Drug in the Market by Garnet Walch

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I stood in the street in the noontide, precisely at midday time,
For the loud-mouthed bells of the G.P.O. had that moment ceased to chime
(I trust to the public dial, since the lever I used to wear,
The one cousin Amy gave me, my uncle has --- to repair).

Well, I stood in the street in the noontide, a breakfastless, lunchless wight,
No prospect of dinner before me, no hope of a bed for the night;
And I railed in good Anglo-Saxon at the luck which had brought me out
To seek that Australian fortune I'd dreamed so often about.

Thus I stood in the street in the noontide, heart, stomach,and pocket void,
A seedy but well-dressed loafer, respectably unemployed;
And I heard what was meant for music, and the rhythmical tramp of feet,
And many a blazoned banner I saw far down the street.

And up the street in the noontide, with the painfully solemn air
Which your Briton in full enjoyment is proverbially known to wear,
There trooped in the glory of broadcloth some hundreds of well-fed men,
With a score of aforesaid banners, and bands --- well, I counted ten.

Up, up that street in the noontide, like ants on their native hill,
These sorrowful revellers swarmed along at a pace that could hardly kill;
And the banners swayed in the sunshine as their bearers staggered beneath,
And the whole ten bands played different tunes, till I thought I should shed, my teeth.

Then I said to my next-hand neighbour, a citizen hale and stout,
"Pray pardon a new chum's wonder, but what is this all about?
Whose obsequies do we assist at; whom, whom do we follow round,
And oh? why are these mixed harmonics, these Gordian knots of sound?"

Unto which I received as answer, "A funeral! that be -- well?
It's the Height-Hour Demonstration, as any but Fools could tell,
It's the workmen of Melbourne city, they're a marching 'and in 'and,
All joining for self-protection, in one united band--."

Then the band that is so united, though severed by ten bands more,
Passes out of my sight and hearing as it turns by the White Hart door;
And my scornful neighbour in going, of his own free will, exclaims,
"They're off to the S'cieties' Gardens, t' enjoy their sports and games."

But I stand at the corner-kerbing, as loafers are wont to do,
And chew the cud of reflection, which is all I have to chew;
And I use some more Anglo-Saxon, of the strongest kind that's made,
The burden being translated, "Why wasn't I taught a trade?"

For these cornumanous parties, these eight-hour working bees,
Make honey (for "h" read "m" there), and sip its sweets at ease;
And with them the ancient adage acquires this reading new,
That "Jack's as good as his master, and a great deal better too!"

Ah yes! they are truly blessed, these octohoral gents,
Though their tipple in hardly Moet, and their ballrooms are but tents;
They can pay their way if they're careful, and, free from trouble and debt,
Can pity worse-off betters, fast trammelled by clique and set.

'Tis sweeter to spend a shilling that can purchase one homely smile
Than to buy up the sneers of the many by paying for spurious style,
As is done by those tinselled tilters who so often salute the ground
From astride of their counterfeit chargers in society's merry-go-round.

Pour moi --- self-imported, unordered, my chances must needs be small ---
I'm too heavily advaloremed to find a market at all.
Education and English polish are very unsaleable stuff --
The men that are wanted in Melbourne must be sent out here in the rough.

Perhaps if I gained experience of the sort that's colonial-made.
I might worship the charms of Protection, and learn to abhor Free Trade;
But, ad interim, comes starvation, and I feel I am hardly fit
To study political problems, while in want of a threepenny bit---.

As thus I was standing a-musing, on aught but amusing themes,
The chimes called the faithful to luncheon, and rudely dispelled my dreams;
And my irrepressible stomach reasserted its right to yearn,
So I started off at a tangent, for my thoughts took a practical turn.

I followed the Austral workman through the "golden afternoon,"
To the scene of his innocent revels, where his bands played out of tune;
And I promised a Celtic contractor to curry him bricks in a hod,
For a note a week and my tracker, and a half-a-crown down --- thank God!

First published in Australian Town and Country Journal, 14 October 1882;
and later in
A Little Tin Plate by Garnet Walch, 1881;
A Century of Australian Song edited by Douglas W. Sladen, 1888;
The Poet's Discovery: Nineteenth Century Australia in Verse edited by Richard Douglas Jordon and Peter Pierce.

Author: Garnet Walch (1843-1913) was born in Broadmarsh, Tasmania, in 1843.  After the death of his father in 1852, Walch travelled to England to complete his education there, and in Germany.  He returned to Australia in his late teens and finally settled in Sydney.  He wrote for a number of newspapers and was appointed editor of the Cumberland Mercury in 1867. In the early 1870s he began writing drama scripts for the stage and eventually moved to Melbourne in 1872.  Until his retirement in 1897 Walch was mainly known for his theatrical work, either writing original works or adaptations of novels by other writers.  He died in Surrey Hills in Melbourne in 1913.

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

On the Range by Barcroft Boake

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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.

The Song of the Shingle-Splitters by Henry Kendall

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In dark, wild woods, where the lone owl broods,
   And the dingoes nightly yell--
Where the curlew's cry goes floating by--
   We Splitters of Shingles dwell.
And all day through, from the time of the dew,
   To the hour when the mopoke calls,
Our mallets ring where the woodbirds sing
   Sweet hymns by the waterfalls.
And all night long we are lulled by the song
   Of gales in the grand old trees;
And in the breaks we can hear the lakes,
   And the moan of distant seas.

         For afar from heat, and dust of street,
            And hall; and turret, and dome--
         In forests deep, where the torrents leap,
            Is the Shingle-splitters' Home.

The dweller in town may lie on down,
   And own his palace and park;
We envy him not his pleasant lot,
   Though we sleep on sheets of bark.
Our food is rough but we have enough--
   Our drink is litter than wine;
For cool creeks flow wherever we go,
   Shut in from the hot sunshine.
Though rude our roof, it is weather-proof;
   And, at the end of the days,
We sit and smoke over yarn and joke,
   By the bushfire`s sturdy blaze.

         For away from din, and sorrow, and sin,
            Where troubles but rarely come,
         We jog along, like a merry song,
            In the Shingle-splitters' Home.

What though our work be heavy, we shirk
   From nothing beneath the sun;
And toil is sweet to those who can eat,
   And rest when the day is done.
In the Sabbath-time we hear no chime--
   No sound of the Sunday-bells;
But Heaven smiles on the forest aisles,
   And God in the woodland dwells.
We listen to notes from the million throats
   Of chorister-birds on high;
Our psalm is the breeze in the lordly trees,
   And our dome--the broad blue sky.

         O, a brave, frank life, unsmitten by strife,
            We live wherever we roam;
         And hearts are free as the great strong sea
            In the Shingle-splitters' Home.

First published in Australian Town and Country Journal, 2 May 1874, again in the same newspaper on 7 April 1888;
and also in
The Eagle, 19 October 1895;
The Oxford Book of Australian Verse edited by Walter Murdoch, 1918;
Australian Bush Songs and Ballads edited by Will Lawson, 1944;
Selected Poems of Henry Kendall edited by T. Inglis Moore, 1957; and
Our Country: Classic Australian Poetry: From Colonial Ballads to Paterson & Lawson edited by Michael Cook, 2004.

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

The Forest Fighter by Henry O'Donnell

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The clear, crisp air of morning like a silver tocsin rang
   A note that told of fierce but bloodless fight,
And stirred me to a melody that laggard never sang
   When a stripling slew a giant in his might.

Crash! came the monster, but his fall woke no applauding cheers,
   For, silently, the mighty deed was done,
But "Laborare est orare" echoed down the years,
   And spurred the stripling to the task begun.

For, fronting him, an army of a thousand giants stood,
   And tossed their thousand plumes against the sky,
But he swore a vow to wife and child that, all alone he would
   Lay low that horde of forest kings or die.

And morn by morn, with whetted axe, he faced the shrinking foe
   With steady eye, and fearless, measured tread,
And day by day the battle raged, but crushing was his blow,
   For every night a forest king lay dead.

The clear, crisp air of morning like a silver tocsin rang,
   When all the shattered giants lay up-piled,
But, louder than a tocsin, all the rescued meadows sang
   The vict'ry won for home and wife and child.

The God that lent to honest toil its ever peerless charm,
   Who loves the dauntless heart and reeking brow,
Saw a heap of forest giants vanquished by a stripling's arm,
   And marked as "done" a Heav'n-recorded vow.

Thrice noble is a noble deed when done in solitude,
   And Fame the secret never need reveal,
When Heaven sits in judgment on our actions in the nude,
   And stamps them with her everlasting seal.

Pale! gleaming star of Austerlitz; fade! guerdon of the Nile,
   And all the toys that gilded warfare brings.
Beside that crown of victory, wreathed of a wifely smile,
   That decked the man who slew a race of kings.

I'm weary of the paeans, to the glory of the sword,
   That round the woe-struck universe now ring,
But as long as Muse or manhood shall arouse a slumb'ring chord,
   The triumphs of the axe I'll ever sing.

First published in Melbourne Punch, 13 April 1905

Author: nothing is known about the author of this poem

Author reference site: Austlit.

See also.

When the Postman Brings the Cheques by Edward Dyson

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Lovers thrill with rapture fine
   When the lady fair to see
Drops the customary line
   Swearing life-long constancy,
But romantic ravings tend
   Worldly commonsense to vex,
Since delights that far transcend
Cooling foolishness attend
   When the postman brings the cheques.

Base I'm held, and sordid too,
   Worthy of the lofty scorn
Of the sentimental crew
   Watching out at eve and morn,
But I snigger at the flock,
   Knowing well that either sex
Still enjoys a keener shock
Summoned by his double knock
   When the postman brings the cheques.
Missives that a friend indites
   Oft invite a little loan,
Dainty screeds that Sophie writes
   When she says she's all our own
Copies are, perchance, no more;
   Other fellows may annex
All their treasures o'er and o'er;
No such apprehensions bore
   When the postman brings the cheques.

So the lank, lean bards may reel
   Tiresome rhymes about the post,
Singing of his "winged heel"
   Dragging in a classic host.
Hermes' staff nor Cupid's toy
   My prosaic poem decks,
But I know the little boy
Born of Venus shrieks with joy
   When the postman brings the cheques.

First published in Melbourne Punch, 11 April 1907

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

See also.

The Station Bell by Ethel Mills

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Clang, clang, goes the station bell;
   Six o'clock, and the work is done.
Lily buds in the bathing pool
   All aglow from the setting sun,
Slanting rays thro' the willow boughs,
   Woolshed windows a blaze of gold,
While afar in the myall scrub
   Sweet night flowers to the dark unfold.

"Home! home!" says the station bell,     
   Silhouetted against the sky;
Tired horses and weary men
   Pass the gate of the stockyard by.
Thro' the trees by the winding creek   
   Cottage windows are all aglow;
Across the door of one firelit room
   A woman's figure flits to and fro.

"Night comes," says the station bell,
   Ringing out on the scented air;
Far away in the forest's heart
   A dingo howls in his secret lair;
Over the trees and the clustered roofs
   A white bird flies with a mournful cry,   
That mingies sweet with the crooning song
   A mother sings as a lullaby.

"Rest, rest," says the station bell;   
   It echoes even across the hill,
Where the graves of the station dead
   Are green with grass --- Is their sleep so still
That they are not stirred by the music sweet
   Of children's voices in mirthful play,     
Or the well-known clang as the station bell
   Rings "Angelus" for the workers' day?  

First published in The Queenslander, 8 April 1899

Author: Ethel Mills (1878? - ??) was the sister of Mabel Forrest.  Other than that little is known about the author of this poem.

Author reference sites: Austlit

Buck-Jumping! by R.W.S.

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"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.

Bullock-Drivin' by Edward S. Sorenson

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Whey, come here Rattler! Gee back, Brown!
I've half a mind to knock you down,
   You skulkin', half-bred cow!
Why can't you keep the bloomin' road,
'S a bullock ought, without a goad?
You've only got a half a load
   For some old Darling scow.

Heave, bend and bust her! Stand up, Roan!
You crawlin' swine, I'll make you groan!
   Get to it, damn yer eyes!
Until the camp's in easy hail,
The most y' do is switch yer tail;
Unless I'm near you with the flail,
   You're only killin' flies.

Get over, Brindle! Strike me pink!
You 'fraid ye'll strain a blanky link
   By tuggin' at the chain?
Come, bend yer necks an' dip yer toes,
An' up she rises -- screamin' woes!
A turn or two an' down she goes
   Right to her naves again!

Now, then, you beauties, shoulders up;
Hang to her like a scrappin' pup--
   Pull till yer muscles crack!
Whoa, Blucher! Blast you, help yer mate,
Or square yer yoke, at any rate;
There ain't no time to meditate
   On this bog-blinded track.

Gee up there, Ginger! Whoa-back, Spot!
You wobblin' cow, I'll make it hot
   For you. Now, step it out,
'An' never mind the shady tree,
Or lookin' at the scenery.
It's in the cask you ought to be,
   There's not the slightest doubt.

Up, Billy! Gee, you scabby hound!
You sneakin' rat, come, scratch some ground,
   An' win the blanky war!
Another hill of sand an' sod --
Heave ho, my loves! Another rod,
An' here's the camp at last (thank God!)
   Where all the good things are.

First published in The Bulletin, 14 February 1918

Author: Edward Sylvester Sorenson (1869-1939) was born near Casino in New South Wales and spent the bulk of his life on the land as either a farm worker, stock-rider, rouseabout or general handyman. As well known for his short stories as his poetry, Sorenson contributed to a number of magazines and journals.  He was a member of the Fellowship of Australian Writers, as well as the Royal Zoological Society of New South Wales and the Royal Ornithologists' Union.  He died in Sydney in 1939.

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

See also.

Shearing at Castlereagh by A.B. "Banjo" Paterson

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The bell is set a-ringing, and the engine gives a toot,
There's five and thirty shearers here are shearing for the loot,
So stir yourselves, you penners-up, and shove the sheep along,
The musterers are fetching them a hundred thousand strong,
And make your collie dogs speak up -- what would the buyers say
In London if the wool was late this year from Castlereagh?

The man that 'rung' the Tubbo shed is not the ringer here,
That stripling from the Cooma side can teach him how to shear.
They trim away the ragged locks, and rip the cutter goes,
And leaves a track of snowy fleece from brisket to the nose;
It's lovely how they peel it off with never stop nor stay,
They're racing for the ringer's place this year at Castlereagh.

The man that keeps the cutters sharp is growling in his cage,
He's always in a hurry and he's always in a rage --
"You clumsy-fisted mutton-heads, you'd turn a fellow sick,
You pass yourselves as shearers, you were born to swing a pick.
Another broken cutter here, that's two you've broke to-day,
It's awful how such crawlers come to shear at Castlereagh."

The youngsters picking up the fleece enjoy the merry din,
They throw the classer up the fleece, he throws it to the bin;
The pressers standing by the rack are waiting for the wool,
There's room for just a couple more, the press is nearly full;
Now jump upon the lever, lads, and heave and heave away,
Another bale of golden fleece is branded "Castlereagh".

First published in The Bulletin, 10 February 1894;
and later in
The Man From Snowy River and Other Verses by A.B. Paterson, 1895;
Salt Vol 3 No 2 April 1942;
The Boomerang Book of Australian Poetry edited by Enid Moodie Heddle, 1956;
The Collected Verse of A.B. Paterson by A.B. Paterson, 1982;
Singer of the Bush, A.B. (Banjo) Paterson: Complete Works 1885-1900 edited by Rosamund Campbell and Philippa Harvie, 1983;
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;
A.B. 'Banjo' Paterson: Bush Ballads, Poems, Stories and Journalism edited by Clement Semmler, 1992; and
Selected Poems: A. B. Paterson compiled by Les Murray, 1992.

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

See also.

At Wiseman's Ferry by Ella McFadyen

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The old road north of Wiseman's
   Climbs up by cliff and ledge,   
On great, grey, lichened buttresses,
   Above the river's edge;
For faithfully they packed the stone,
   In Solomon his day,   
And wearily the builders wrought,   
   Who never drew their pay.  

To right the roofs of Windsor
   Are glinting in the sun,   
The mist is on the crossing place,
   The day is now begun --   
A long, long day of liberty,   
   With sun and road and sky --
Ah, pity their captivity,
   Who toiled in days gone by!  

The yellow of the cornland,
   The cliff's enpurpled state,   
The old stone house, where Wiseman dwelt,   
   With gryphon-guarded gate --   
I wonder here what viewless ghosts
   Tramp through the heat of noon,   
If down the road the clank of chains
   Is heard beneath the moon?  

Or if the ferry cable
   Creaks ghostly in the night,   
To bear across the phantom gang  
   That may not bide the light?   
Light hearts to whom this happy land
   Is free and blessed abode,   
Pass on your way, but, passing, bless
   The makers of the road!
First published in The Sydney Morning Herald, 17 January 1925

Author: Ella McFadyen (1887-1976) was a poet, journalist and children's author.  She worked for the Sydney Mail newspaper from 1918-1938.

Author reference sites: Austlit

See also.

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