Poem – Macbreath

A Tragedy as Played at Ryde**
Macbreath Mr Henley
Macpuff Mr Terry
The Ghost


TIME: The day before the election
SCENE: A Drummoyne tram running past a lunatic asylum.
All present are Reform Leaguers and supporters of Macbreath.
They seat themselves in the compartment.

MACBREATH: Here, I’ll sit in the midst.
Be large in mirth. Anon we’ll all be fitted
With Parliamentary seats.
(Voter approaches the door.)
There’s blood upon thy face.

VOTER: ‘Tis Thompsons’s, then.

MACBREATH: Is he thrown out? How neatly we beguiled
The guileless Thompson. Did he sign a pledge agreeing to retire?

VOTER: Aye, that he did.

MACBREATH: Not so did I!
Not on the doubtful hazard of a vote
By Ryde electors, cherry-pickers, oafs,
That drive their market carts at dread of night
And sleep all day. Not on the jaundiced choice
Of folks who daily run their half a mile
Just after breakfast, when the steamer hoots
Her warning to the laggard, not on these
Relied Macbreath, for if these rustics’ choice
Had fall’n on Thompson, I should still have claimed
A conference. But hold! Is Thompson out?

VOTER: My lord, his name is mud. That I did for him
I paid my shilling and I cast my vote.

MACBREATH: Thou art the best of all the shilling voters.
Prithee, be near me on election day
To see me smite Macpuff, and now we shan’t
Be long,
(Ghost of Thompson appears.)
What’s this? A vision!
Thou canst not say I did it! Never shake
Thy gory locks at me. Run for some other seat,
Let the woods hide thee. Prithee, chase thyself!
(The ghost of Thompson disappears, and Macbreath revives himself
with a great effort.)
Leaguers all,
Mine own especial comrades of Reform,
All amateurs and no professionals,
So many worthy candidates I see,
Alas that there are only ninety seats.
Still, let us take them all, and Joe Carruthers,
Ashton, and Jimmy Hogue, and all the rest,
Will have to look for work! Oh, joyous day,
To-morrow’s poll will make me M.L.A.


TIME: Election day.
SCENE: Macbreath’s committee rooms.

MACBREATH: Bring me no more reports: let them all fly;
Till Labour’s platform to Kyabram come
I cannot taint with fear. How go the votes?

Enter first voter

FIRST VOTER: May it please my Lord,
The cherry-pickers’ vote is two to one
Towards Macpuff: and all our voters say
The ghost of Thompson sits in every booth,
And talks of pledges.

MACBREATH: What a polished liar!
And yet the dead can vote! (Strikes him.)
What if it should be!
(Ghost of Thompson appears to him suddenly.)

GHOST: The Pledge! The Pledge!

MACBREATH: I say I never signed the gory pledge.
(Ghost disappears. Enter a Messenger.)
Thou com’st to use thy tongue. Thy story quickly!

MESSENGER: Gracious, my Lord,
I should report that which I know I saw,
But know not how to do it.

MACBREATH: Well! say, on!

MESSENGER: As I did stand my watch in Parliament
I saw the Labour platform come across
And join Kyabram, Loans were overthrown,
The numbers were reduced, extravagance
Is put an end to by McGowan’s vote.

MACBREATH: The devil damn thee black, thou cream-faced loon!
Where got’st thou this fish yarn?

MESSENGER: There’s nearly forty,

MACBREATH: Thieves, fool?

MESSENGER: No, members, will be frozen out of work!

MACBREATH: Aye, runs the story so! Well, well, ’tis sudden!
These are the uses of the politician,
A few brief sittings and another contest;
He hardly gets to know th’ billiard tables
Before he’s out . . .

(Alarums and Harbour excursions; enter Macpuff
at the head of a Picnic Party.)

MACPUFF: Now, yield thee, tyrant!
By that fourth party which I once did form,
I’ll take thee to a picnic, there to live
On windfall oranges!

MACBREATH: . . . Nay, rather death!
Death before picnic! Lay on Macpuff,
And damned be he who first cries Hold, enough!
(They fight. Macbreath is struck on the back of the head
by some blue metal from Pennant Hills Quarry. He falls. The referee
counts, ‘One, two, three, eight, nine, ten, out!’)

MACPUFF: Kind voters all, and worthy gentlemen,
Who rallied to my flag today, and made me
Member for Thompson, from my soul I thank you.
There needs no trumpet blast, for I can blow
Like any trombone. Prithee, let us go!
Thanks to you all who shared this glorious day,
Whom I invite to dance at Chowder Bay!

Poem – Any Other Time

ALL of us play our very best game—
Any other time.
Golf or billiards, it’s all the same—
Any other time.
Lose a match and you always say,
“Just my luck! I was ‘off’ to-day!
I could have beaten him quite half-way—
Any other time!”

After a fiver you ought to go—
Any other time.
Every man that you ask says “Oh,
Any other time.
Lend you a fiver! I’d lend you two,
But I’m overdrawn and my bills are due,
Wish you’d ask me—now, mind you do—
Any other time!”

Fellows will ask you out to dine—
Any other time.
“Not to-night, for we’re twenty-nine —
Any other time.
Not to-morrow, for cook’s on strike,
Not next day, I’ll be out on the bike —
Just drop in whenever you like —
Any other time!”

Seasick passengers like the sea—
Any other time.
“Something . . I ate . . disagreed . . with me!
Any other time
Ocean-trav’lling is . . simply bliss,
Must be my . . liver . . has gone amiss . .
Why, I would . . laugh . . at a sea . . like this—
Any other time.”

Most of us mean to be better men—
Any other time:
Regular upright characters then—
Any other time.
Yet somehow as the years go by
Still we gamble and drink and lie,
When it comes to the last we’ll want to die—
Any other time!

Poem – The Lost Drink

I had spent the night in the watch-house —
My head was the size of three —
So I went and asked the chemist
To fix up a drink for me;
And he brewed it from various bottles
With soda and plenty of ice,
With something that smelt like lemon,
And something that seemed like spice.
It fell on my parching palate
Like the dew on a sunbaked plain,
And my system began to flourish
Like the grass in the soft spring rain;
It wandered throughout my being,
Suffusing my soul with rest,
And I felt as I “scoffed” that liquid
That life had a new-found zest.

I have been on the razzle-dazzle
Full many a time since then
But I never could get the chemist
To brew me that drink again.
He says he’s forgotten the notion —
‘Twas only by chance it came —
He’s tried me with various liquids
But oh! they are not the same.

We have sought, but we sought it vainly,
That one lost drink divine;
We have sampled his various bottles,
But somehow they don’t combine:
Yet I know when I cross the River
And stand on the Golden Shore
I shall meet with an angel chemist
To brew me that drink once more.

Poem – Our Mat

It came from the prison this morning,
Close-twisted, neat-lettered, and flat;
It lies the hall doorway adorning,
A very good style of a mat.

Prison-made! how the spirit is moven
As we think of its story of dread —
What wiles of the wicked are woven
And spun in its intricate thread!

The letters are new, neat and nobby,
Suggesting a masterly hand —
Was it Sikes, who half-murdered the bobby,
That put the neat D on the “and”?

Some banker found guilty of laches —
It’s always called laches, you know —
Had Holt any hand in those Hs?
Did Bertrand illumine that O?

That T has a look of the gallows,
That A’s a triangle, I guess;
Was it one of the Mount Rennie fellows
Who twisted the strands of the S?

Was it made by some “highly connected”,
Who is doing his spell “on his head”,
Or some wretched woman detected
In stealing her children some bread?

Does it speak of a bitter repentance
For the crime that so easily came?
Of the wearisome length of the sentence,
Of the sin, and the sorrow, and shame?

A mat! I should call it a sermon
On sin, to all sinners addressed;
It would take a keen judge to determine
Whether writer or reader is best.

Though the doorway be hard as a pavestone,
I rather would use it than that —
I’d as soon wipe my boots on a gravestone,
As I would on that Darlinghurst mat!

Poem – Driver Smith

Twas Driver Smith of Battery A was anxious to see a fight;
He thought of the Transvaal all the day, he thought of it all the night —
“Well, if the battery’s left behind, I’ll go to the war,” says he,
“I’ll go a-driving and ambulance in the ranks of the A.M.C.
“I’m fairly sick of these here parades — it’s want of a change that kills —
A-charging the Randwick Rifle Range and aiming at Surry Hills.
And I think if I go with the ambulance I’m certain to find a show,
For they have to send the Medical men wherever the troops can go.

“Wherever the rifle bullets flash and the Maxims raise a din,
It’s here you’ll find the Medical men a-raking the wounded in —
A-raking ’em in like human flies — and a driver smart like me
Will find some scope for his extra skill in the ranks of the A.M.C.”

So Driver Smith he went to war a-cracking his driver’s whip,
From ambulance to collecting base they showed him his regular trip.
And he said to the boys that were marching past, as he gave his whip a crack,
“You’ll walk yourselves to the fight,” says he — “Lord spare me, I’ll drive you back.”

Now the fight went on in the Transvaal hills for the half of a day or more,
And Driver Smith he worked his trip — all aboard for the seat of war!
He took his load from the stretcher men and hurried ’em homeward fast
Till he heard a sound that he knew full well — a battery rolling past.

He heard the clink of the leading chains and the roll of the guns behind —
He heard the crack of the drivers’ whips, and he says to ’em, “Strike me blind,
I’ll miss me trip with this ambulance, although I don’t care to shirk,
But I’ll take the car off the line today and follow the guns at work.”

Then up the Battery Colonel came a-cursing ’em black in the face.
“Sit down and shift ‘e,, you drivers there, and gallop ’em into place.”
So off the Battery rolled and swung, a-going a merry dance,
And holding his own with the leading gun goes Smith with his ambulance.

They opened fire on the mountain side, a-peppering by and large,
When over the hill above their flank the Boers came down at the charge;
They rushed the guns with a daring rush, a-volleying left and right,
And Driver Smith and his ambulance moved up to the edge of the fight.

The gunners stuck to their guns like men, and fought as the wild cats fight,
For a Battery man don’t leave his gun with ever a hope in sight;
But the bullets sang and the Mausers cracked and the Battery men gave away,
Till Driver Smith with his ambulance drove into the thick of the fray.

He saw the head of the Transvaal troop a-thundering to and fro,
A hard old face with a monkey beard — a face that he seemed to know;
“Now who’s that leader?” said Driver Smith. “I’ve seen him before today.
Why, bless my heart, but it’s Kruger’s self,” and he jumped for him straight away.

He collared old Kruger round the waist and hustled him into the van.
It wasn’t according to stretcher drill for raising a wounded man;
But he forced him in and said, “All aboard, we’re off for a little ride,
And you’ll have the car to yourself,” says he, “I reckon we’re full inside.”

He wheeled his team on the mountain side and set ’em a merry pace,
A-galloping over the rocks and stones, and a lot of the Boers gave chase;
Bur Driver Smith had a fairish start, and he said to the Boers, “Good-day,
You have Buckley’s chance for to catch a man that was trained in Battery A.”

He drove his team to the hospital bed and said to the P.M.O.,
“Beg pardon, sir, but I missed the trip, mistaking the way to go;
And Kruger came to the ambulance and asked could we spare a bed,
So I fetched him here, and we’ll take him home to show for a bob a head.”

So the word went round to the English troops to say they need fight no more,
For Driver Smith with his ambulance had ended the blooming war.
And in London now at the music halls he’s starring it every night,
And drawing a hundred pounds a week to tell how he won the fight.

Poem – Hard Luck

I left the course, and by my side
There walked a ruined tout —
A hungry creature, evil-eyed,
Who poured this story out.
“You see,” he said, “there came a swell
To Kensington today,
And, if I picked the winners well,
A crown at least he’s pay.

“I picked three winners straight, I did;
I filled his purse with pelf,
And then he gave me half-a-quid
To back one for myself.

“A half-a-quid to me he cast —
I wanted it indeed;
So help me Bob, for two days past
I haven’t had a feed.

“But still I thought my luck was in,
I couldn’t go astray —
I put it all on Little Min,
And lost it straightaway.

“I haven’t got a bite or bed,
I’m absolutely stuck;
So keep this lesson in your head:
Don’t over-trust your luck!”

The folks went homeward, near and far,
The tout, oh! where is he?
Ask where the empty boilers are
Beside the Circular Quay.

Poem – The Flying Gang

I served my time, in the days gone by,
In the railway’s clash and clang,
And I worked my way to the end, and I
Was the head of the “Flying Gang”.
‘Twas a chosen band that was kept at hand
In case of an urgent need;
Was it south or north, we were started forth
And away at our utmost speed.
If word reached town that a bridge was down,
The imperious summons rang —
“Come out with the pilot engine sharp,
And away with the flying gang.”
Then a piercing scream and a rush of steam
As the engine moved ahead;
With measured beat by the slum and street
Of the busy town we fled,
By the uplands bright and the homesteads white,
With the rush of the western gale —
And the pilot swayed with the pace we made
As she rocked on the ringing rail.
And the country children clapped their hands
As the engine’s echoes rang,
But their elders said: “There is work ahead
When they send for the flying gang.”

Then across the miles of the saltbush plain
That gleamed with the morning dew,
Where the grasses waved like the ripening grain
The pilot engine flew —
A fiery rush in the open bush
Where the grade marks seemed to fly,
And the order sped on the wires ahead,
The pilot must go by.
The Governor’s special must stand aside,
And the fast express go hang;
Let your orders be that the line is free
For the boys in the flying gang.

Poem – The Rum Parade

Now ye gallant Sydney boys, who have left your household joys
To march across the sea in search of glory,
I am very much afraid that you do not love parade,
But the rum parade is quite another story.
For the influenza came and to spoil its little game,
They ordered us to drink a curious mixture;
Though at first it frightened some, when we found it mostly rum,
Parade became a very pleasant fixture.


So it’s forward the Brigade, if they’ll hold a rum parade
At Pretoria there’s nothing to alarm ye;
And it’s easy to be seen if they leave the quinine,
Ye’ll be there before the blessed British Army.
Then a corporal he come and he said I drank the rum,
But the quinine never reached its destination;
For begob he up and swored that I threw it overboard,
Sure my heart was filled with grief and indignation.
For I’m different to some, I prefer quinine to rum,
And I only take the rum just as a favour,
And it’s easy to be seen I’m so fond of the quinine,
That I keep it lest the rum should spoil its flavour.

When we get to Africay we’ll be landed straight away,
And quartered with the troops of Queen Victoria;
And we hope they’ll understand that the moment that we land
We are ready for a march upon Pretoria.
And we’ll pay off all the scores on old Kruger and his Boers,
And just to prove our manners aren’t a failure,
And to show we are not mean, shure we’ll give them the quinine,
And drink the rum in honour of Australia.

The Old Keg Of Rum – Banjo Paterson

My name is old Jack Palmer, 

I’m a man of olden days, 

And so I wish to sing a song 

To you of olden praise. 

To tell of merry friends of old 

When we were gay and young; 

How we sat and sang together 

Round the Old Keg of Rum. 
Oh! the Old Keg of Rum! the Old Keg of Rum! 

How we sat and sang together 

Round the Old Keg of Rum. 
There was I and Jack the plough-boy, 

Jem Moore and old Tom Hines, 

And poor old Tom the fiddler, 

Who now in glory shines; 
And several more of our old chums, 

Who shine in Kingdom Come, 

We all associated round the 

Old Keg of Rum. 
Oh! the Old Keg of Rum! the Old Keg of Rum! 

We all associated round the 

Old Keg of Rum. 
And when harvest time was over, 

And we’d get our harvest fee, 

We’d meet, and quickly rise the keg, 

And then we’d have a spree. 

We’d sit and sing together 

Till we got that blind and dumb 

That we couldn’t find the bunghole 

Of the Old Keg of Rum. 
Oh! the Old Keg of Rum! the Old Keg of Rum! 

That we couldn’t find the bunghole 

Of the Old Keg of Rum. 
Its jovially together, boys 

We’d laugh, we’d chat, we’d sing; 

Sometimes we’d have a little row 

Some argument would bring. 
And oftimes in a scrimmage, boys, 

I’ve corked it with my thumb, 

To keep the life from leaking 

From the Old Keg of Rum. 
Oh! the Old Keg of Rum! the Old Keg of Rum! 

To keep the life from leaking 

From the Old Keg of Rum. 
But when our spree was ended, boys, 

And waking from a snooze, 

For to give another drain 

The old keg would refuse. 

We’d rap it with our knuck 

If it sounded like a drum, 

We’d know the life and spirit 

Had left the Old Keg of Rum. 
Oh! the Old Keg of Rum! the Old Keg of Rum! 

We’d know the life and spirit 

Had left the Old Keg of Rum. 
Those happy days have passed away, 

I’ve seen their pleasures fade; 

And many of our good old friends 

Have with old times decayed. 
But still, when on my travels, boys, 

If I meet with an old chum, 

We will sigh, in conversation, 

Of the Grand Old Keg of Rum. 
Oh! the Old Keg of Rum! the Old Keg of Rum! 

We will sigh, in conversation, 

Of the Grand Old Keg of Rum. 
So now, kind friends, I end my song, 

I hope we’ll meet again, 

And, as I’ve tried to please you all, 

I hope you won’t complain. 

You younger folks who learn my song, 

Will, perhaps, in years to come, 

Remember old Jack Palmer 

And the Old Rum Of Rum. 
Oh! the Old Keg of Rum! the Old Keg of Rum! 

Remember old Jack Palmer 

And the Old Keg of Rum.

The Lost Drink – Banjo Paterson

I had spent the night in the watch-house — 

My head was the size of three — 

So I went and asked the chemist 

To fix up a drink for me; 

And he brewed it from various bottles 

With soda and plenty of ice, 

With something that smelt like lemon, 

And something that seemed like spice. 

It fell on my parching palate 

Like the dew on a sunbaked plain, 

And my system began to flourish 

Like the grass in the soft spring rain; 

It wandered throughout my being, 

Suffusing my soul with rest, 

And I felt as I “scoffed” that liquid 

That life had a new-found zest. 
I have been on the razzle-dazzle 

Full many a time since then 

But I never could get the chemist 

To brew me that drink again. 

He says he’s forgotten the notion — 

‘Twas only by chance it came — 

He’s tried me with various liquids 

But oh! they are not the same. 
We have sought, but we sought it vainly, 

That one lost drink divine; 

We have sampled his various bottles, 

But somehow they don’t combine: 

Yet I know when I cross the River 

And stand on the Golden Shore 

I shall meet with an angel chemist 

To brew me that drink once more.

The Plains – Banjo Paterson

A land, as far as the eye can see, where the waving grasses grow 

Or the plains are blackened and burnt and bare, where the false mirages go 

Like shifting symbols of hope deferred – land where you never know. 
Land of the plenty or land of want, where the grey Companions dance, 

Feast or famine, or hope or fear, and in all things land of chance, 

Where Nature pampers or Nature slays, in her ruthless, red, romance. 
And we catch a sound of a fairy’s song, as the wind goes whipping by, 

Or a scent like incense drifts along from the herbage ripe and dry 

  • Or the dust storms dance on their ballroom floor, where the bones of the cattle lie.

The Shepherd – Banjo Paterson 

He wore an old blue shirt the night that first we met, 

An old and tattered cabbage-tree concealed his locks of jet; 

His footsteps had a languor, his voice a husky tone; 

Both man and dog were spent with toil as they slowly wandered home. 
I saw him but a moment—yet methinks I see him now 

While his sheep were gently feeding ‘neath the rugged mountain brow. 

When next we met, the old blue shirt and cabbage-tree were gone; 

A brand new suit of tweed and “Doctor Dod” he had put on; 

Arm in arm with him was one who strove, and not in vain, 

To ease his pockets of their load by drinking real champagne. 
I saw him but a moment, and he was going a pace, 

Shouting nobbler after nobbler, with a smile upon his face. 

When next again I saw that man his suit of tweed was gone, 

The old blue shirt and cabbage-tree once more he had put on; 

Slowly he trudged along the road and took the well-known track 

From the station he so lately left with a swag upon his back. 
I saw him but a moment as he was walking by 

With two black eyes and broken nose and a tear-dropp in his eye.

The Swagman – Banjo Paterson

Kind friends, pray give attention 

To this, my little song. 

Some rum things I will mention, 

And I’ll not detain you long. 

Up and down this country 

I travel, don’t you see, 

I’m a swagman on the wallaby, 

Oh! don’t you pity me. 

I’m a swagman on the wallaby, 

Oh! don’t you pity me. 
At first I started shearing, 

And I bought a pair of shears. 

On my first sheep appearing, 

Why, I cut off both its ears. 

Then I nearly skinned the brute, 

As clean as clean could he. 

So I was kicked out of the shed, 

Oh! don’t you pity me, &c. 
I started station loafing, 

Short stages and took my ease; 

So all day long till sundown 

I’d camp beneath the trees. 

Then I’d walk up to the station, 

The manager to see. 

“Boss, I’m hard up and I want a job, 

Oh! don’t you pity me,” &c. 
Says the overseer: “Go to the hut. 

Says the overseer: “Go to the hut. 

In the morning I’ll tell you 

If I’ve any work about 

I can find for you to do.” 

But at breakfast I cuts off enough 

For dinner, don’t you see. 

And then my name is Walker. 

Oh! don’t you pity me. 

I’m a swagman, &c. 

And now, my friends, I’ll say good-bye, 

For I must go and camp. 

For if the Sergeant sees me 

He may take me for a tramp; 

But if there’s any covey here 

What’s got a cheque, d’ye see, 

I’ll stop and help him smash it. 

Oh! don’t you pity me. 

I’m a swagman on the wallaby, 

Oh! don’t you pity me.

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.

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!