these old friends of ours! Sixty years back,
and booted, they followed the track,
like their Saxon forefathers of old,
a nation from waste and from wold,
of purpose and stalwart of limb,
they a path through the forest so dim,
adventuring, knowing no fears---
and praise to the old pioneers.
they are feeble and bowed are their backs,
laid aside are the stockwhip and axe;
though each sense is, the hearing is quick
to catch the faint ring of the pick,
too, are closed yet they see clear and plain
camp and the creek and the ranges again;
first story and the world never hears,
is locked in the hearts of the old pioneers.
to the workers of those distant days
poor players came bringing their plays,
grew toil for the songs that they trolled,
was life for the love-stories told,
now the music, the laughter is stilled,
and players together are chilled,
the flowers---the smiles and the tears
are fresh for the old pioneers.
they are old, nor of wealth have they hoard,
we the fire, then, and plenish the board;
steals upon them and chilly life grows,
and players have earned their repose.
on their names all in vain we shall call,
even the grandest old landmarks must fall.
a warm hand-clasp ere one disappears---
are the last of the old pioneers.
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