Tom Collins – Banjo Paterson

Who never drinks and never bets, 

But loves his wife and pays his debts 

And feels content with what he gets? 

Tom Collins. 
Who has the utmost confidence 

That all the banks now in suspense 

Will meet their paper three years hence? 

Tom Collins. 
Who reads the Herald leaders through, 

And takes the Evening News for true, 

And thought the Echo’s jokes were new? 

Tom Collins. 
Who is the patriot renowned 

So very opportunely found 

To fork up Dibbs’s thousand pound? 

Tom Collins.

With The Cattle – Banjo Paterson

The drought is down on field and flock, 

The river-bed is dry; 

And we must shift the starving stock 

Before the cattle die. 

We muster up with weary hearts 

At breaking of the day, 

And turn our heads to foreign parts, 

To take the stock away. 

And it’s hunt ‘em up and dog ‘em, 

And it’s get the whip and flog ‘em, 

For it’s weary work, is droving, when they’re dying every day; 

By stock routes bare and eaten, 

On dusty roads and beaten, 

With half a chance to save their lives we take the stock away. 

We cannot use the whip for shame 

On beasts that crawl along; 

We have to drop the weak and lame, 

And try to save the strong; 

The wrath of God is on the track, 

The drought fiend holds his sway; 

With blows and cries the stockwhip crack 

We take the stock away. 

As they fall we leave them lying, 

With the crows to watch them dying, 

Grim sextons of the Overland that fasten on their prey; 

By the fiery dust-storm drifting, 

And the mocking mirage shifting, 

In heat and drought and hopeless pain we take the stock away. 

In dull despair the days go by 

With never hope of change, 

But every stage we feel more nigh 

The distant mountain range; 

And some may live to climb the pass, 

And reach the great plateau, 

And revel in the mountain grass 

By streamlets fed with snow. 

As the mountain wind is blowing 

It starts the cattle lowing 

And calling to each other down the dusty long array; 

And there speaks a grizzled drover: 

“Well, thank God, the worst is over, 

The creatures smell the mountain grass that’s twenty miles away.” 
They press towards the mountain grass, 

They look with eager eyes 

Along the rugged stony pass 

That slopes towards the skies; 

Their feet may bleed from rocks and stones, 

But, though the blood-drop starts, 

They struggle on with stifled groans, 

For hope is in their hearts. 

And the cattle that are leading, 

Though their feet are worn and bleeding, 

Are breaking to a kind of run – pull up, and let them go! 

For the mountain wind is blowing, 

And the mountain grass is growing, 

They’ll settle down by running streams ice-cold with melted snow. 
The days are gone of heat and drought 

Upon the stricken plain; 

The wind has shifted right about, 

And brought the welcome rain; 

The river runs with sullen roar, 

All flecked with yellow foam, 

And we must take the road once more 

To bring the cattle home. 

And it’s “Lads! We’ll raise a chorus, 

There’s a pleasant trip before us.” 

And the horses bound beneath us as we start them down the track; 

And the drovers canter, singing, 

Through the sweet green grasses springing 

Towards the far-off mountain-land, to bring the cattle back. 

Are these the beasts we brought away 

That move so lively now? 

They scatter off like flying spray 

Across the mountain’s brow; 

And dashing down the rugged range 

We hear the stockwhips crack – 

Good faith, it is a welcome change 

To bring such cattle back. 

And it’s “Steady down the lead there!” 

And it’s “Let ‘em stop and feed there!” 

For they’re wild as mountain eagles, and their sides are all afoam; 

But they’re settling down already, 

And they’ll travel nice and steady; 

With cheery call and jest and song we fetch the cattle home. 

We have to watch them close at night 

For fear they’ll make a rush, 

And break away in headlong flight 

Across the open bush; 

And by the camp-fire’s cheery blaze, 

With mellow voice and strong, 

We hear the lonely watchman raise the Overlander’s song: 

“Oh, it’s when we’re done with roving, 

With the camping and the droving, 

It’s homeward down the Bland we’ll go, and never more we’ll roam”; 

While the stars shine out above us, 

Like the eyes of those who love us – 

The eyes of those who watch and wait to greet the cattle home. 

The plains are all awave with grass, 

The skies are deepest blue; 

And leisurely the cattle pass 

And feed the long day through; 

But when we sight the station gate 

We make the stockwhips crack, 

A welcome sound to those who wait 

To greet the cattle back: 

And through the twilight falling 

We hear their voices calling, 

As the cattle splash across the ford and churn it into foam; 

And the children run to meet us, 

And our wives and sweethearts greet us, 

Their heroes from the Overland who brought the cattle home.

The Old Survey – Banjo Paterson

Our money’s all spent, to the deuce went it! 

The landlord, he looks glum, 

On the tap-room wall, in a very bad scrawl, 

He has chalked to us a sum. 

But a glass we’ll take, ere the grey dawn break, 

And then saddle up and away 

Theodolite-tum, theodolite-ti, theodolite-too-ral-ay. 
With a measured beat fall our horses’ feet, 

Galloping side by side; 

When the money’s done, and we’ve had our fun, 

We all are bound to ride. 

O’er the far-off plain we’ll drag the chain, 

And mark the settler’s way 

Theodolite-tum, theodolite-ti, theodolite-too-ral-ay. 
We’ll range from the creeks to the mountain peaks, 

And traverse far below; 

Where foot never trod, we’ll mark with a rod 

The limits of endless snow; 
Each lofty crag we’ll plant with a flag, 

To flash in the sun’s bright ray 

Theodolite-tum, theodolite-ti, theodolite-too-ral-ay. 
Till with cash hard-earned once more returned, 

At “The Beaver” bars we’ll shout; 

And the very bad scrawl that’s against the wall 

Ourselves shall see wiped out. 

Such were the ways in the good old days! 

The days of the old survey! 

Theodolite-tum, theodolite-ti, theodolite-too-ral-ay.

A Lovers Tryst – HEG George

Don’t hold me to blame. 

The road was never straight 

nor the wind mild of frame 
Your bedside monitor screeches 

one incessant, contrary acoustic. 

Giving notice to all abroad that 

time has moved on elsewhere 
Let me raise you up and brush 

away the marks that play a 

cracked tune on your broken 

parts, like a drummer breaking sticks 
The glass of your eye 

holds the drink of my heart, 

where champagne bubbles try 

to revive an empty space no 

longer receiving its rhythmic pulse 
The mood of your limbs, 

restrained by dysfunctional form 

and snared by aseptic plastic, 

bring a darkness to this room. 
And, like an Indian encircled 

wagon train, Dante’s allegorical 

limbo encircles your bed, pining 

for your life renunciated husk

A Road To A Short War – HEG George

A white hot finger points your way, 

pushing air aside with each advancing message. 

The renting of air with thunder clap abroad 

makes too much noise, chattering like rattling lungs 
Whispers to an unacknowledged Lord 

bringing forward promised prayers. 

The elastic of fear bringing Him ever closer 
Listen, above the din, a whisper. 

Just a faint whisper in the grass. 

A tap on the shoulder, a poke in the chest 
Cold, so very cold, yet burning hot. 

With stench of faeces left too long, 

the shadow of death falls over this life. 

As yet unknown to its carrier 
This cold, sucking, life-withdrawing colourless odour. 

This all-pervading, all consuming watered soul, 

so thinly veiled with blood and flesh. 
This breathing vessel of emptied life. 

With ice rink stare upon which skaters cut 

figures to the reapers dance 
This day, this very focal point, 

where time no longer elapses, shall 

feel the clod but not the shovel. 

And keep a watch without relief

An Autumn Tableau – HEG George

When you come to stay, you’ll stay In a box, 

much like any other. With its own rich vein 

of concrete running between two green 

rivers of grass; supporting islands of tainted 
leaves too corrupt to remain at home for another 

season. A bird feeder stands lonely sentinel in a 

changing Eden, the only nod to nature’s needy. 

Where a magpie, whose beak shares the accuracy 
of the boxer punching a moving bag, eats the once 

yearly offering of seed from its moving target. 

And two black – ringed turtle doves, the epitome 

of Athrodite’s children, throw a lovers spat over 
the single bird feeder. Whilst mellow music 

drifts upon the same wavelengths as the 

shrilling calls of the birds. One, more 

harmonious than the other. 
A dog, lying in the heated comfort of the box, 

tries to urge a bark, but settles for a growl, at 

an autumn intruder. It’s head following the 

ostentatious jig of a robin, like a type writer 
Jarring between upper and lower case. This 

fleeting balsam that comes once every year, 

tasting of deep velvet shiraz, willingly shares 

its richness with those that bring a glass. 
No rights witheld. That’s what you’ll see 

when you come to stay. If you look.

Self-Reproach – HEG George

An offensive mirror 

produces my face, 

and ears listen to a 

hackneyed heart beat 
The stench of stagnant 

breath confirms my 

identity and smoker’s 

status. Sixty a day 
The cold floor held 

by blood drained feet, 

a razor held in hand 

at mannequin angle 
The bile in my throat and 

the fur on my tongue 

congealed with the sickly 

sweet syrup of life dripping out 
The door behind falls open on 

its own axis and the mirror 

reveals an empty room effused 

with a pall of used smoke, 
Like grey mists rising on a moor, 

seeking fresh lungs to enbalm. 

I think I see a shadow of someone waiting. 

And I think that someone is me