Poem – A Bush Lawyer – Banjo Paterson

When Ironbark the turtle came to Anthony’s lagoon 

The hills were hid behind a mist of equinoctal rain, 

The ripple of the rivulets was like a cheerful tune 

And wild companions waltzed among the grass as tall as grain. 

But Ironbark the turtle cared no whit for all of these; 

The ripple of the rivulets, the rustle of the trees 

Were only apple sauce to him, or just a piece of cheese. 
Now, Dan-di-dan the water rat was exquisitely dressed,

For not a seal in Bass’s Straits had half as fine a coat, 

And every day he combed and brushed his golden-yellow vest, 

A contrast with the white cravat he wore beneath his throat. 
And Dan-di-dan the water rat could move with ease and grace, 

So Ironbark appeared to him a creature out of place, 

With iron-plated overcoat and dirty little face. 
A crawfish at the point of death came drifting down the drains. 

Said he, “I’m scalded to the heart with bathing near the bore.” 

The turtle and the water rat disputed his remains, 

For crawfish meat all day they’d eat, and then they’d ask for more. 
Said Dan-di-dan, “The prize is mine, for I was fishing here 

Before you tumbled down the bank and landed on your ear.” 

“I wouldn’t care,” the turtle said, “if you’d have fished a year.” 
So Baggy-beak the Pelican was asked to arbitrate; 

The scales of justice seemed to hang beneath his noble beak. 

He said, “I’ll take possession of the subject of debate”; 

He stowed the fish inside his pouch and then began to speak. 
“The case is far from clear,” he said, “and justices of note” — 

But here he snapped his beak and flapped his piebald overcoat — 

“Oh dear,” he said, “that wretched fish has slithered down my throat.” 
“But still,” he said, “the point involved requires a full debate. 

I’ll have to get the lawyer birds and fix a special day. 

Ad interim I rule that costs come out of the estate.” 

And Baggy-beak the Pelican got up and flew away. 
So both the pair who went to law were feeling very small. 

Said they, “We might have halved the fish and saved a nasty brawl; 

For half a crawfish isn’t much, but more than none at all.”

Poem – Buffalo Country – Banjo Paterson

Out where the grey streams glide, 

Sullen and deep and slow, 

And the alligators slide 

From the mud to the depths below 

Or drift on the stream like a floating death, 

Where the fever comes on the south wind’s breath, 

There is the buffalo. 

Out of the big lagoons, 

Where the Regia lilies float, 

And the Nankin heron croons 

With a deep ill-omened note, 

In the ooze and the mud of the swamps below 

Lazily wallows the buffalo, 

Buried to nose and throat. 
From the hunter’s gun he hides 

In the jungle’s dark and damp, 

Where the slinking dingo glides 

And the flying foxes camp; 

Hanging like myriad fiends in line 

Where the trailing creepers twist and twine 

And the sun is a sluggish lamp. 
On the edge of the rolling plains 

Where the coarse cane grasses swell, 

Lush with the tropic rains 

In the noontide’s drowsy spell, 

Slowly the buffalo grazes through 

Where the brolgas dance, and the jabiru 

Stands like a sentinel. 
All that the world can know 

Of the wild and the weird is here, 

Where the black men come and go 

With their boomerang and spear, 

And the wild duck darken the evening sky 

As they fly to their nests in the reed beds high 

When the tropic night is near.

Poem – A Change Of Menu – Banjo Paterson

Now the new chum loaded his three-nought-three, 

It’s a small-bore gun, but his hopes were big. 

“I am fed to the teeth with old ewe,” said he, 

“And I might be able to shoot a pig.” 

And he trusted more to his nose than ear 

To give him warning when pigs were near. 
Out of his lair in the lignum dark. 

Where the wild duck nests and the bilbie digs, 

With a whoof and a snort and a kind of bark 

There rose the father of all the pigs: 

And a tiger would have walked wide of him 

As he stropped his tusks on a leaning limb. 
Then the new chum’s three-nought-three gave tongue 

Like a popgun fired in an opera bouffe: 

But a pig that was old when the world was young 

Is near as possible bullet-proof. 

(The more you shoot him the less he dies, 

Unless you catch him between the eyes.) 
So the new chum saw it was up to him 

To become extinct if he stopped to shoot; 

So he made a leap for a gidgee limb 

While the tusker narrowly missed his boot. 

Then he found a fork, where he swayed in air 

As he gripped the boughs like a native bear. 
The pig sat silent and gaunt and grim 

To wait and wait till his foe should fall: 

For night and day were the same to him, 

And home was any old place at all. 

“I must wait,” said he, “till this sportsman drops; 

I could use his boots for a pair of strops.” 
The crows that watch from the distant blue 

Came down to see what it all might mean; 

An eaglehawk and a cockatoo 

Bestowed their patronage on the scene. 

Till a far-off boundary rider said 

“I must have a look — there is something dead.” 
Now the new chum sits at his Christmas fare 

Of a dried-up chop from a tough old ewe. 

Says he, “It’s better than native bear 

And nearly as tender as kangaroo. 

An emu’s egg I can masticate, 

But pork,” says he, “is the thing I hate.”

Poem – A Song Of The Pen – Banjo Paterson

Not for the love of women toil we, we of the craft, 

Not for the people’s praise; 

Only because our goddess made us her own and laughed, 

Claiming us all our days, 

Claiming our best endeavour — body and heart and brain 

Given with no reserve — 

Niggard is she towards us, granting us little gain: 

Still, we are proud to serve. 
Not unto us is given choice of the tasks we try, 

Gathering grain or chaff; 

One of her favoured servants toils at an epic high, 

One, that a child may laugh. 
Yet if we serve her truly in our appointed place, 

Freely she doth accord 

Unto her faithful servants always this saving grace, 

Work is its own reward!