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.

Chorus

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.

Poem – Love Sonnet LX

My mind and heart both love you utterly.
And so each thought of mine is doubly yours,
And all my will about your body pours
Scents of my blood and fires that flow from me.
Who has created me, so young, so free,
Eager to-day to close convention’s doors,
To-morrow to return and sweep the floors
With my loose hair in blinding memory?

Dearest, you have, who gave my heart such love,
It sang the marriage of our mingling blood;
Sweeping us on in a supreme control,
To those vast stillnesses that move above;
And in the wonder of its mighty flood
My mind drew God from your eternal soul.

Poem – Elegy on an Australian Schoolboy

I would not curse your England, wise as slow,
Just as unjust in deed.
I can believe that from her heart may flow
The truest human creed.
She sounded one high call of Liberty
That despots heard with dread;
I know not what high purpose to be free
Crowns yet her starry head.

Do I but raise a ghost? Is England dead?
Lies she in lands forlorn?
Shall Kentish orchards never hear the tread
Of eager life at morn?
Is she but memories of old men and sad
Since youth has left her side?
Has that vast glory that you dreamed she had
But perished crucified?

England! Though all her vaunted heroes rise
From Nile to Flanders red
Calling you from the long, red sunset skies
You shall remain still dead.
You shall not touch her woods and flowers again,
You shall not sail her Thames,
You shall not see in her soft April rain
The fairy diadems.

She cannot honour you. You do not feel
Her tears and pity deep.
Though all her multitudes in homage kneel,
That cannot break your sleep,
That cannot give you back the dew of earth
The light upon the sea,
The soft, sweet ripple of your child’s first mirth—
Your immortality.

In every man there is a great, new world—
Perhaps a glorious race.
How can we tell the hero that war hurled
To death bore not Christ’s face?
How can we tell what nobler nations lie
Now on the fields of France,
What unborn masters of creation cry
Through murdered, white romance?

I only know you, brother of my blood,
Have gone; and many a friend,
Trampled and broken in the Flanders mud,
Found Youth’s most bitter end.
God! You are not yet one with the kind dust
Before new war-horns blow
And sleek-limbed statesmen in their halls break trust
To tell of other woe.

I speak as if you heard me, O my dear,
From England’s far-off shore,
As if that land fills me with such fear
Held you not evermore.
I live too much to feel that death must be,
Though men make death to-day;
I will not set the blame on Deity
Of murder tunes they play.

And yet you have not uttered one poor word
While these harsh thoughts I weave.
Silent as God! No murmur have I heard;
’Tis I, not you, who grieve.
How should I move that vast eternity,
Enough loud my cries and wild?
No more am I regarded than the sea
Regards a brawling child.

Poem – Love Sonnet XIII

My true mind makes as many loves of you
As my full heart contentedly can hold.
And when the one grows dull, the other cold,
Yet comes another swifter in to woo.
I could not rue such changing retinue
Nor chastise circumstance that keeps me bold.
I make you young or middle-aged or old
Just as it pleases my own whim to do.

And then to counterbalance what you give
Thus all unwittingly, I smile or frown,
Am thoughtful, mirthful, grave or sunny-eyed
To meet your mood and help you best to live.
In me, all women to your wish bow down.
In you, all men at my desire abide.