was pleasant up the country, City Bushman, where you went,
you sought the greener patches and you travelled like a gent;
you cursed the trams and buses and the turmoil and the push,
you know the squalid city needn’t keep you from the bush;
we lately heard you singing of the ‘plains where shade is not,’
you mentioned it was dusty – ‘All was dry and all was hot.’
the bush ‘hath moods and changes’ – and the bushman hath ‘em, too,
he’s not a poet’s dummy – he’s a man, same as you;
his back is growing rounder – slaving
for the absentee –
his toiling wife is thinner than a country wife should be.
we noticed that the faces of the folks we chanced to meet
have made a greater contrast to the faces in the street;
in short, we think the bushman’s being driven to the wall,
it’s doubtful if his spirit will be ‘loyal thro’ at all’.
the bush has been romantic and it’s nice to sing about,
a lot of patriotism that the land could do without –
of BRITISH WORKMAN
nonsense that shall perish I the scorn
the drover who is driven and the shearer who is shorn –
the struggling western farmers who have little time for rest,
are ruined on selections in the sheep-infested West;
songs are very pretty, but they merit little thanks
the people of the country in possession of the Banks.
the ‘rise and fall of seasons’ suits the rise and fall of rhyme,
we know that western seasons do not run on schedule time;
the drought will go on drying while there’s anything to dry,
it rains until you’d fancy it would bleach the sunny sky –
it pelters out of reason, for the downpour day and night
sweeps the population to the Great Australian Bite.
is up in Northern Queensland that the seasons do their best,
it’s doubtful if you ever saw a season in the west;
are years without an autumn or a winter or a spring,
are broiling Junes and summers when it rains like anything.
the bush my ears were opened to the singing of the bird,
the ‘carol of the magpie’ was a thing I never heard.
the beggar roused my slumbers in a shanty, it is true,
I only heard him asking, ‘ who the blanky blank are you?’
the bellbird In the ranges – but his ‘silver chime’ is harsh
its heard beside the solo of the curlew in the marsh.
I heard the shearers singing ‘William Riley’ out of tune,
‘em fighting round a shanty on a Sunday afternoon;
the bushman isn’t always ‘trapping brumbies in the night’,
is he ever riding when ‘the morn is fresh and bright’,
he isn’t always singing in the humpies on the run –
the camp-fire’s ‘cheery blazes’ are a trifle overdone ;
have grumbled with the bushmen round the fire on rainy days,
the smoke would blind a bullock and there wasn’t any blaze,
the blazes of our language, for we cursed the fire in turn
the atmosphere was heated and the wood began to burn.
we had to ring our blueys which were rotting In the swags,
we saw the sugar leaking through the bottoms of the bags,
we couldn’t raise a chorus, for the toothache and the cramp,
we spent the hours of darkness draining puddles round the camp.
you like to change with Clancy – go a-droving? tell us true,
we rather think that Clancy would be glad to change with you,
be something In the city; but ‘twould give your muse a shock
be losing time and money through the foot-rot In the flock,
you wouldn’t mind the beauties underneath the starry dome
you had a wife and children and a lot of bills at home.
you ever guard the cattle when the night was inky-black,
it rained, and icy water trickled gently down your back
your saddle-weary backbone fell a-aching to the roots
you almost felt the croaking of the bull-frog in your boots –
and shiver in the saddle, curse the restless stock and cough
a squatters nameless dummy cantered up to warn you off?
you fight the drought and pleuro when the ‘seasons’ were asleep,
sheoaks all the morning for a flock of starving sheep,
mud instead of water -
climbing trees and lopping boughs
the broken-hearted bullocks and the dry and dusty cows?
you think the bush was better in ‘the good old droving days’,
the squatter ruled supremely as the king of western ways,
you got a slip of paper for the little you could earn,
were forced to take provisions from the station in return –
you couldn’t keep a chicken at your humpy on the run,
the squatter wouldn’t let you – And your work was never done;
you had to leave the missus in a lonely hut forlorn
you ‘Rose up Willy Riley’ – in the days ere you were born?
We read about the drovers and the shearers and the like
we wonder why such happy and romantic fellows strike.
you fancy that the poets ought to give the bush a rest
they raise a just rebellion In the over-written West?
the simple-minded bushman gets a meal and bed and rum
by riding round reporting phantom flocks that never come;
the scalper – never troubled by the ‘war-whoop of the push’ –
a quiet little billet – breeding rabbits in the bush;
the idle shanty-keeper never fails to make a draw,
the dummy gets his ticker through provisions in the law;
the labour-agitator – when the shearers rise in might –
his money sacrificing all his substance for The Right;
the squatter makes his fortune, and ‘the seasons rise and fall’,
the poor and honest bushman has to suffer for it all;
the drovers and the shearers and the bushmen and the rest
reach the Eldorado of the poets of the West.
you think the bush is purer and that life is better there,
is doesn’t seem to pay you like the ‘squalid street and square’.
inform us, City Bushman, where you read, in prose or verse,
the awful ‘city urchin who would greet you with a curse’.
are golden hearts in gutters, though their owners lack the fat,
will back a teamster’s offspring to outswear a city brat.
you think we’re never jolly where the trams and busses rage?
you hear the gods chorus when ‘Ri-tooral’ held the stage?
you catch a ring of sorrow in the city urchin’s voice
he yelled for Billy Elton, when he thumped the floor for Royce?
the bushmen, down on pleasure, miss the everlasting stars
they drink and flirt and so on in the glow of private bars?
a down on ‘trams and buses’ or the ‘roar’ of ‘em, you said,
the ‘filthy, dirty attic’, where you never toiled for bread.
about that self-same attic – Lord! Where have you been?
the struggling needlewoman mostly keeps her attic clean.)
you’ll find it very jolly with the cuff-and-collar push,
the city seems to suit you, while you rave about the bush.
admit that Up-the-Country, more especially in drought,
quite the Eldorado that the poet’s rave about,
at times we long to gallop where the reckless bushman rides
the wake of startled brumbies that are flying for their hides;
to feel the saddle tremble once again between our knees
to hear the stockwhips rattle just like rifles in the trees!
to feel the bridle-leather tugging strongly in the hand,
to feel once more a little like a native of the land.
the ring of bitter feeling in the jingling of our rhymes
suited to the country nor the spirit of the times.
us go together droving, and returning, if we live,
Try to understand each other while we reckon up the div.
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