Preface

Born Andrew Barton Paterson near Orange, New South Wales, Australia in 1864, Paterson was a lawyer, journalist and poet, best known as the author of Waltzing Matilda, and a number of distinctively Australian pieces that would be at least familiar to most Australians. He died in 1941.

For more information on Banjo Paterson, please go to our 90 minute documentary of the History of Waltzing Matilda which is included in our Documentaries and Video Footage Topic area.

Listed below are the 17 different Banjo Paterson poems. Clicking on any link will take you directly to that poem.

BANJO PATERSON LIST OF POEMS

A Bush Christening

An Answer to Various Bards

Been There Before

Black Swans (Paterson Poem)

Clancy of the Overflow

Come-by-Chance

Hay and Hell and Booligal

In Defence of the Bush

It's Grand

Mulga Bill's Bicycle

Song of the Artesian Water

The City of Dreadful Thirst

The Geebung Polo Club

The Man from Ironbark

The Man from Snowy River

The Old Australian Ways

The Road to Hogan's Gap

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A Bush Christening

On the outer Barcoo where the churches are few,

And men of religion are scanty,

On a road never cross'd 'cept by folk that are lost,

One Michael Magee had a shanty.

Now this Mike was the dad of a ten year old lad,

Plump, healthy, and stoutly conditioned;

He was strong as the best, but poor Mike had no rest

For the youngster had never been christened.

And his wife used to cry, 'If the darlin' should die

Saint Peter would not recognise him.'

But by luck he survived till a preacher arrived,

Who agreed straightaway to baptise him.

Now the artful young rogue, while they held their collogue,

With his ear to the keyhole was listenin',

And he muttered in fright, while his features turned white,

'What the divil and all is this christenin'?'

He was none of your dolts, he had seen them brand colts,

And it seemed to his small understanding,

If the man in the frock made him one of the flock,

It must mean something very like branding.

So away with a rush he set off for the bush,

While the tears in his eyelids they glistened -

"'Tis outrageous,' says he, 'to brand youngsters like me,

I'll be dashed if I'll stop to be christened!'

Like a young native dog he ran into a log,

And his father with language uncivil,

Never heeding the 'praste' cried aloud in his haste,

'Come out and be christened, you divil!'

But he lay there as snug as a bug in a rug,

And his parents in vain might reprove him,

Till his reverence spoke (he was fond of a joke)

'I've a notion,' says he, 'that'll move him.'

'Poke a stick up the log, give the spalpeen a prog;

Poke him aisy - don't hurt him or maim him,

'Tis not long that he'll stand, I've the water at hand,

As he rushes out this end I'll name him.

'Here he comes, and for shame! ye've forgotten the name -

Is it Patsy or Michael or Dinnis?'

Here the youngster ran out, and the priest gave a shout -

'Take your chance, anyhow, wid 'Maginnis'!'

As the howling young cub ran away to the scrub

Where he knew that pursuit would be risky,

The priest, as he fled, flung a flask at his head

That was labelled 'MAGINNIS'S WHISKY'!

And Maginnis Magee has been made a J.P.,

And the one thing he hates more than sin is

To be asked by the folk, who have heard of the joke,

How he came to be christened 'Maginnis'!

Banjo Paterson

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An Answer to Various Bards

Well, I've waited mighty patient while they all came rolling in,

Mister Lawson, Mister Dyson, and the others of their kin,

With their dreadful, dismal stories of the Overlander's camp,

How his fire is always smoky, and his boots are always damp;

And they paint it so terrific it would fill one's soul with gloom-

But you know they're fond of writing about "corpses" and "the tomb".

So, before they curse the bushland, they should let their fancy range,

And take something for their livers, and be cheerful for a change.

Now, for instance, Mr Lawson-well of course, we almost cried

At the sorrowful description how his "little 'Arvie" died,

And we lachrymosed in silence when "His Father's Mate" was slain;

Then he went and killed the father, and we had to weep again.

Ben Duggan and Jack Denver, too, he caused them to expire,

After which he cooked the gander of Jack Dunn, of Nevertire;

And, no doubt, the bush is wretched if you judge it by the groan

Of the sad and soulful poet with a graveyard of his own.

And he spoke in terms prophetic of a revolution's heat,

When the world should hear the clamour of those people in the street;

But the shearer chaps who start it-why, he rounds on them the blame,

And he calls 'em "agitators who are living on the game".

But I "over-write" the bushmen! Well, I own without a doubt

That I always see a hero in the "man from furthest out".

I could never contemplate him through an atmosphere of gloom,

And a bushman never struck me as a subject for "the tomb".

If it ain't all "golden sunshine" where the "wattle branches wave",

Well, it ain't all damp and dismal, and it ain't all "lonely grave".

And, of course, there's no denying that the bushman's life is rough,

But a man can easy stand it if he's built of sterling stuff;

Though it's seldom that the drover gets a bed of eiderdown,

Yet the man who's born a bushman, he gets mighty sick of town,

For he's jotting down the figures, and he's adding up the bills

While his heart is simply aching for a sight of Southern hills.

Then he hears a wool-team passing with a rumble and a lurch,

And, although the work is pressing, yet it brings him off his perch,

For it stirs him like a message from his station friends afar

And he seems to sniff the ranges in the scent of wool and tar;

And it takes him back in fancy, half in laughter, half in tears,

To a sound of other voices and a thought of other years.

When the woolshed rang with a bustle from the dawning of the day,

And the shear-blades were a-clicking to the cry of "Wool away!"

Then his face was somewhat browner, and his frame was firmer set-

And he feels his flabby muscles with a feeling of regret.

But the wool-team slowly passes, and his eyes go sadly back

To the dusty little table and the papers in the rack,

And his thoughts go to the terrace where his sickly children squall,

And he thinks there's something healthy in the bush-life after all.

But we'll go no more a-droving in the wind or in the sun,

For our fathers' hearts have failed us, and the droving days are done.

There's a nasty dash of danger where the long-horned bullock wheels,

And we like to live in comfort and to get our reg'lar meals.

For to hang around the townships suits us better, you'll agree,

And a job at washing bottles is the job for such as we.

Let us herd into the cities, let us crush and crowd and push

Till we lose the love of roving, and we learn to hate the bush;

And we'll turn our aspirations to a city life and beer,

And we'll slip across to England-it's a nicer place than here;

For there's not much risk of hardship where all comforts are in store,

And the theatres are in plenty, and the pubs are more and more.

But that ends it, Mr Lawson, and it's time to say good-bye,

So we must agree to differ in all friendship, you and I.

Yes, we'll work our own salvation with the stoutest hearts we may,

And if fortune only favours we will take the road some day,

And go droving down the river 'neath the sunshine and the stars,

And then return to Sydney and vermilionize the bars.

Banjo Paterson

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Been There Before

There came a stranger to Walgett town,

To Walgett town when the sun was low,

And he carried a thirst that was worth a crown,

Yet how to quench it he did not know;

But he thought he might take those yokels down,

The guileless yokels of Walgett town.

They made him a bet in a private bar,

In a private bar when the talk was high,

And they bet him some pounds no matter how far

He could pelt a stone, yet he could not shy

A stone right over the river so brown,

The Darling River at Walgett town.

He knew that the river from bank to bank

Was fifty yards, and he smiled a smile

As he trundled down; but his hopes they sank,

For there wasn't a stone within fifty mile;

For the saltbush plain and the open down

Produce no quarries in Walgett town.

The yokels laughed at his hopes o'erthrown,

And he stood awhile like a man in a dream;

Then he out of his pocket he fetched a stone,

And pelted it over the silent stream-

He'd been there before; he had wandered down

On a previous visit to Walgett town.

Banjo Paterson

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Black Swans (Paterson Poem)

As I lie at rest on a patch of clover

In the Western Park when the day is done,

I watch as the wild black swans fly over

With their phalanx turned to the sinking sun;

And I hear the clang of their leader crying

To a lagging mate in the rearward flying,

And they fade away in the darkness dying,

Where the stars are mustering one by one.

Oh! ye wild black swans, 'twere a world of wonder

For a while to join in your westward flight,

With the stars above and the dim earth under,

Through the cooling air of the glorious night.

As we swept along on our pinions winging,

We should catch the chime of a church-bell ringing,

Or the distant note of a torrent singing,

Or the far-off flash of a station light.

From the northern lakes with the reeds and rushes,

Where the hills are clothed with a purple haze,

Where the bell-birds chime and the songs of thrushes

Make music sweet in the jungle maze,

They will hold their course to the westward ever,

Till they reach the banks of the old grey river,

Where the waters wash, and the reed-beds quiver

In the burning heat of the summer days.

Oh! ye strange wild birds, will ye bear a greeting

To the folk that live in that western land?

Then for every sweep of your pinions beating,

Ye shall bear a wish to the sunburnt band,

To the stalwart men who are stoutly fighting

With the heat and drought and the dust-storm smiting,

Yet whose life somehow has a strange inviting,

When once to the work they have put their hand.

Facing it yet! Oh, my friend stout-hearted,

What does it matter for rain or shine,

For the hopes deferred and the gain departed?

Nothing could conquer that heart of thine.

And thy health and strength are beyond confessing

As the only joys that are worth possessing.

May the days to come be as rich in blessing

As the days we spent in the auld lang syne.

I would fain go back to the old grey river,

To the old bush days when our hearts were light,

But, alas! those days they have fled for ever,

They are like the swans that have swept from sight.

And I know full well that the strangers' faces

Would meet us now in our dearest places;

For our day is dead and has left no traces

But the thoughts that live in my mind to-night.

There are folk long dead, and our hearts would sicken -

We would grieve for them with a bitter pain,

If the past could live and the dead could quicken,

We then might turn to that life again.

But on lonely nights we would hear them calling,

We should hear their steps on the pathways falling,

We should loathe the life with a hate appalling

In our lonely rides by the ridge and plain.

In the silent park is a scent of clover,

And the distant roar of the town is dead,

And I hear once more as the swans fly over

Their far-off clamour from overhead.

They are flying west, by their instinct guided,

And for man likewise is his fate decided,

And griefs apportioned and joys divided

By a mighty power with a purpose dread.

Banjo Paterson

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Clancy of the Overflow

I had written him a letter which I had, for want of better

Knowledge, sent to where I met him down the Lachlan years ago;

He was shearing when I knew him, so I sent the letter to him,

Just on spec, addressed as follows, "Clancy, of The Overflow".

And an answer came directed in a writing unexpected

(And I think the same was written with a thumb-nail dipped in tar);

'Twas his shearing mate who wrote it, and verbatim I will quote it:

"Clancy's gone to Queensland droving, and we don't know where he are."

In my wild erratic fancy visions come to me of Clancy

Gone a-droving "down the Cooper" where the Western drovers go;

As the stock are slowly stringing, Clancy rides behind them singing,

For the drover's life has pleasures that the townsfolk never know.

And the bush has friends to meet him, and their kindly voices greet him

In the murmur of the breezes and the river on its bars,

And he sees the vision splendid of the sunlit plains extended,

And at night the wondrous glory of the everlasting stars.

I am sitting in my dingy little office, where a stingy

Ray of sunlight struggles feebly down between the houses tall,

And the foetid air and gritty of the dusty, dirty city,

Through the open window floating, spreads its foulness over all.

And in place of lowing cattle, I can hear the fiendish rattle

Of the tramways and the buses making hurry down the street;

And the language uninviting of the gutter children fighting

Comes fitfully and faintly through the ceaseless tramp of feet.

And the hurrying people daunt me, and their pallid faces haunt me

As they shoulder one another in their rush and nervous haste,

With their eager eyes and greedy, and their stunted forms and weedy,

For townsfolk have no time to grow, they have no time to waste.

And I somehow rather fancy that I'd like to change with Clancy,

Like to take a turn at droving where the seasons come and go,

While he faced the round eternal of the cash-book and the journal-

But I doubt he'd suit the office, Clancy, of The Overflow.

Banjo Paterson

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Come-by-Chance

As I pondered very weary o'er a volume long and dreary -

For the plot was void of interest - 'twas the Postal Guide, in fact,

There I learnt the true location, distance, size, and population

Of each township, town, and village in the radius of the Act.

And I learnt that Puckawidgee stands beside the Murrumbidgee,

And that Booleroi and Bumble get their letters twice a year,

Also that the post inspector, when he visited Collector,

Closed the office up instanter, and re-opened Dungalear.

But my languid mood forsook me, when I found a name that took me,

Quite by chance I came across it - 'Come-by-Chance' was what I read;

No location was assigned it, not a thing to help one find it,

Just an N which stood for northward, and the rest was all unsaid.

I shall leave my home, and forthward wander stoutly to the northward

Till I come by chance across it, and I'll straightway settle down,

For there can't be any hurry, nor the slightest cause for worry

Where the telegraph don't reach you nor the railways run to town.

And one's letters and exchanges come by chance across the ranges,

Where a wiry young Australian leads a pack-horse once a week,

And the good news grows by keeping, and you're spared the pain of weeping

Over bad news when the mailman drops the letters in the creek.

But I fear, and more's the pity, that there's really no such city,

For there's not a man can find it of the shrewdest folk I know,

'Come-by-chance', be sure it never means a land of fierce endeavour,

It is just the careless country where the dreamers only go.

. . . . .

Though we work and toil and hustle in our life of haste and bustle,

All that makes our life worth living comes unstriven for and free;

Man may weary and importune, but the fickle goddess Fortune

Deals him out his pain or pleasure, careless what his worth may be.

All the happy times entrancing, days of sport and nights of dancing,

Moonlit rides and stolen kisses, pouting lips and loving glance:

When you think of these be certain you have looked behind the curtain,

You have had the luck to linger just a while in 'Come-by-chance'.

Banjo Paterson

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Hay and Hell and Booligal

'You come and see me, boys,' he said;

'You'll find a welcome and a bed

And whisky any time you call;

Although our township hasn't got

The name of quite a lively spot -

You see, I live in Booligal.

'And people have an awful down

Upon the district and the town -

Which worse than hell itself they call;

In fact, the saying far and wide

Along the Riverina side

Is "Hay and Hell and Booligal".

'No doubt it suits 'em very well

To say it's worse than Hay or Hell,

But don't you heed their talk at all;

Of course, there's heat - no one denies -

And sand and dust and stacks of flies,

And rabbits, too, at Booligal.

'But such a pleasant, quiet place,

You never see a stranger's face -

They hardly ever care to call;

The drovers mostly pass it by;

They reckon that they'd rather die

Than spend a night in Booligal.

'The big mosquitoes frighten some -

You'll lie awake to hear 'em hum -

And snakes about the township crawl;

But shearers, when they get their cheque,

They never come along and wreck

The blessed town of Booligal.

'But down in Hay the shearers come

And fill themselves with fighting-rum,

And chase blue devils up the wall,

And fight the snaggers every day,

Until there is the deuce to pay -

There's none of that in Booligal.

'Of course, there isn't much to see -

The billiard-table used to be

The great attraction for us all,

Until some careless, drunken curs

Got sleeping on it in their spurs,

And ruined it, in Booligal.

'Just now there is a howling drought

That pretty near has starved us out -

It never seems to rain at all;

But, if there SHOULD come any rain,

You couldn't cross the black-soil plain -

You'd have to stop in Booligal.'

. . . . .

'WE'D HAVE TO STOP!' With bated breath

We prayed that both in life and death

Our fate in other lines might fall:

'Oh, send us to our just reward

In Hay or Hell, but, gracious Lord,

Deliver us from Booligal!'

Banjo Paterson

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In Defence of the Bush

So you're back from up the country, Mister Lawson, where you went,

And you're cursing all the business in a bitter discontent;

Well, we grieve to disappoint you, and it makes us sad to hear

That it wasn't cool and shady-and there wasn't whips of beer,

And the looney bullock snorted when you first came into view-

Well, you know it's not so often that he sees a swell like you;

And the roads were hot and dusty, and the plains were burnt and brown,

And no doubt you're better suited drinking lemon-squash in town.

Yet, perchance, if you should journey down the very track you went

In a month or two at furthest, you would wonder what it meant;

Where the sunbaked earth was gasping like a creature in its pain

You would find the grasses waving like a field of summer grain,

And the miles of thirsty gutters, blocked with sand and choked with mud,

You would find them mighty rivers with a turbid, sweeping flood.

For the rain and drought and sunshine make no changes in the street,

In the sullen line of buildings and the ceaseless tramp of feet;

But the bush has moods and changes, as the seasons rise and fall,

And the men who know the bush-land-they are loyal through it all.

But you found the bush was dismal and a land of no delight-

Did you chance to hear a chorus in the shearers' huts at night?

Did they "rise up William Riley" by the camp-fire's cheery blaze?

Did they rise him as we rose him in the good old droving days?

And the women of the homesteads and the men you chanced to meet-

Were their faces sour and saddened like the "faces in the street"?

And the "shy selector children"-were they better now or worse

Than the little city urchins who would greet you with a curse?

Is not such a life much better than the squalid street and square

Where the fallen women flaunt it in the fierce electric glare,

Where the sempstress plies her needle till her eyes are sore and red

In a filthy, dirty attic toiling on for daily bread?

Did you hear no sweeter voices in the music of the bush

Than the roar of trams and buses, and the war-whoop of "the push"?

Did the magpies rouse your slumbers with their carol sweet and strange?

Did you hear the silver chiming of the bell-birds on the range?

But, perchance, the wild birds' music by your senses was despised,

For you say you'll stay in townships till the bush is civilized.

Would you make it a tea-garden, and on Sundays have a band

Where the "blokes" might take their "donahs", with a "public" close at hand?

You had better stick to Sydney and make merry with the "push",

For the bush will never suit you, and you'll never suit the bush.

Banjo Paterson

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It's Grand

It's grand to be a squatter

And sit upon a post,

And watch your little ewes and lambs

A-giving up the ghost.

It's grand to be a 'cockie'

With wife and kids to keep,

And find an all-wise Providence

Has mustered all your sheep.

It's grand to be a Western man,

With shovel in your hand,

To dig your little homestead out

From underneath the sand.

It's grand to be a shearer,

Along the Darling side,

And pluck the wool from stinking sheep

That some days since have died.

It's grand to be a rabbit

And breed till all is blue,

And then to die in heaps because

There's nothing left to chew.

It's grand to be a Minister

And travel like a swell,

And tell the Central District folk

To go to - Inverell.

It's grand to be a Socialist

And lead the bold array

That marches to prosperity

At seven bob a day.

It's grand to be an unemployed

And lie in the Domain,

And wake up every second day

And go to sleep again.

It's grand to borrow English tin

To pay for wharves and Rocks,

And then to find it isn't in

The little money-box.

It's grand to be a democrat

And toady to the mob,

For fear that if you told the truth

They'd hunt you from your job.

It's grand to be a lot of things

In this fair Southern land,

But if the Lord would send us rain,

That would, indeed, be grand!

Banjo Paterson

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Mulga Bill's Bicycle

'Twas Mulga Bill, from Eaglehawk, that caught the cycling craze;

He turned away the good old horse that served him many days;

He dressed himself in cycling clothes, resplendent to be seen;

He hurried off to town and bought a shining new machine;

And as he wheeled it through the door, with air of lordly pride,

The grinning shop assistant said, 'Excuse me, can you ride?'

'See, here, young man,' said Mulga Bill, 'from Walgett to the sea,

From Conroy's Gap to Castlereagh, there's none can ride like me.

I'm good all round at everything, as everybody knows,

Although I'm not the one to talk - I HATE a man that blows.

But riding is my special gift, my chiefest, sole delight;

Just ask a wild duck can it swim, a wild cat can it fight.

There's nothing clothed in hair or hide, or built of flesh or steel,

There's nothing walks or jumps, or runs, on axle, hoof, or wheel,

But what I'll sit, while hide will hold and girths and straps are tight:

I'll ride this here two-wheeled concern right straight away at sight.'

'Twas Mulga Bill, from Eaglehawk, that sought his own abode,

That perched above the Dead Man's Creek, beside the mountain road.

He turned the cycle down the hill and mounted for the fray,

But ere he'd gone a dozen yards it bolted clean away.

It left the track, and through the trees, just like a silver streak,

It whistled down the awful slope, towards the Dead Man's Creek.

It shaved a stump by half an inch, it dodged a big white-box:

The very wallaroos in fright went scrambling up the rocks,

The wombats hiding in their caves dug deeper underground,

As Mulga Bill, as white as chalk, sat tight to every bound.

It struck a stone and gave a spring that cleared a fallen tree,

It raced beside a precipice as close as close could be;

And then as Mulga Bill let out one last despairing shriek

It made a leap of twenty feet into the Dead Man's Creek.

'Twas Mulga Bill, from Eaglehawk, that slowly swam ashore:

He said, 'I've had some narrer shaves and lively rides before;

I've rode a wild bull round a yard to win a five pound bet,

But this was the most awful ride that I've encountered yet.

I'll give that two-wheeled outlaw best; it's shaken all my nerve

To feel it whistle through the air and plunge and buck and swerve.

It's safe at rest in Dead Man's Creek, we'll leave it lying still;

A horse's back is good enough henceforth for Mulga Bill.'

Banjo Paterson

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Song of the Artesian Water

Now the stock have started dying, for the Lord has sent a drought;

But we're sick of prayers and Providence - we're going to do without;

With the derricks up above us and the solid earth below,

We are waiting at the lever for the word to let her go.

Sinking down, deeper down,

Oh, we'll sink it deeper down:

As the drill is plugging downward at a thousand feet of level,

If the Lord won't send us water, oh, we'll get it from the devil;

Yes, we'll get it from the devil deeper down.

Now, our engine's built in Glasgow by a very canny Scot,

And he marked it twenty horse-power, but he don't know what is what:

When Canadian Bill is firing with the sun-dried gidgee logs,

She can equal thirty horses and a score or so of dogs.

Sinking down, deeper down,

Oh, we're going deeper down:

If we fail to get the water then it's ruin to the squatter,

For the drought is on the station and the weather's growing hotter,

But we're bound to get the water deeper down.

But the shaft has started caving and the sinking's very slow,

And the yellow rods are bending in the water down below,

And the tubes are always jamming and they can't be made to shift

Till we nearly burst the engine with a forty horse-power lift.

Sinking down, deeper down,

Oh, we're going deeper down

Though the shaft is always caving, and the tubes are always jamming,

Yet we'll fight our way to water while the stubborn drill is ramming -

While the stubborn drill is ramming deeper down.

But there's no artesian water, though we've passed three thousand feet,

And the contract price is growing and the boss is nearly beat.

But it must be down beneath us, and it's down we've got to go,

Though she's bumping on the solid rock four thousand feet below.

Sinking down, deeper down,

Oh, we're going deeper down:

And it's time they heard us knocking on the roof of Satan's dwellin';

But we'll get artesian water if we cave the roof of hell in -

Oh! we'll get artesian water deeper down.

But it's hark! the whistle's blowing with a wild, exultant blast,

And the boys are madly cheering, for they've struck the flow at last,

And it's rushing up the tubing from four thousand feet below

Till it spouts above the casing in a million-gallon flow.

And it's down, deeper down -

Oh, it comes from deeper down;

It is flowing, ever flowing, in a free, unstinted measure

From the silent hidden places where the old earth hides her treasure -

Where the old earth hides her treasure deeper down.

And it's clear away the timber, and it's let the water run:

How it glimmers in the shadow, how it flashes in the sun!

By the silent belts of timber, by the miles of blazing plain

It is bringing hope and comfort to the thirsty land again.

Flowing down, further down;

It is flowing further down

To the tortured thirsty cattle, bringing gladness in its going;

Through the droughty days of summer it is flowing, ever flowing -

It is flowing, ever flowing, further down.

Banjo Paterson

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The City of Dreadful Thirst

The stranger came from Narromine and made his little joke -

'They say we folks in Narromine are narrow-minded folk.

But all the smartest men down here are puzzled to define

A kind of new phenomenon that came to Narromine.

'Last summer up in Narromine 'twas gettin' rather warm -

Two hundred in the water-bag, and lookin' like a storm -

We all were in the private bar, the coolest place in town,

When out across the stretch of plain a cloud came rollin' down,

'We don't respect the clouds up there, they fill us with disgust,

They mostly bring a Bogan shower - three rain-drops and some dust;

But each man, simultaneous-like, to each man said, "I think

That cloud suggests it's up to us to have another drink!"

'There's clouds of rain and clouds of dust - we'd heard of them before,

And sometimes in the daily press we read of "clouds of war":

But - if this ain't the Gospel truth I hope that I may burst -

That cloud that came to Narromine was just a cloud of thirst.

'It wasn't like a common cloud, 'twas more a sort of haze;

It settled down about the streets, and stopped for days and days,

And not a drop of dew could fall and not a sunbeam shine

To pierce that dismal sort of mist that hung on Narromine.

'Oh, Lord! we had a dreadful time beneath that cloud of thirst!

We all chucked-up our daily work and went upon the burst.

The very blacks about the town that used to cadge for grub,

They made an organised attack and tried to loot the pub.

'We couldn't leave the private bar no matter how we tried;

Shearers and squatters, union-men and blacklegs side by side

Were drinkin' there and dursn't move, for each was sure, he said,

Before he'd get a half-a-mile the thirst would strike him dead!

'We drank until the drink gave out, we searched from room to room,

And round the pub, like drunken ghosts, went howling through the gloom.

The shearers found some kerosene and settled down again,

But all the squatter chaps and I, we staggered to the train.

'And, once outside the cloud of thirst, we felt as right as pie,

But while we stopped about the town we had to drink or die.

But now I hear it's safe enough, I'm going back to work

Because they say the cloud of thirst has shifted on to Bourke.

'But when you see those clouds about - like this one over here -

All white and frothy at the top, just like a pint of beer,

It's time to go and have a drink, for if that cloud should burst

You'd find the drink would all be gone, for that's a cloud of thirst!'

. . . . .

We stood the man from Narromine a pint of half-and-half;

He drank it off without a gasp in one tremendous quaff;

'I joined some friends last night,' he said, 'in what THEY called a spree;

But after Narromine 'twas just a holiday to me.'

And now beyond the Western Range, where sunset skies are red,

And clouds of dust, and clouds of thirst, go drifting overhead,

The railway-train is taking back, along the Western Line,

That narrow-minded person on his road to Narromine.

Banjo Paterson

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The Geebung Polo Club

It was somewhere up the country in a land of rock and scrub,

That they formed an institution called the Geebung Polo Club.

They were long and wiry natives of the rugged mountainside,

And the horse was never saddled that the Geebungs couldn't ride;

But their style of playing polo was irregular and rash -

They had mighty little science, but a mighty lot of dash:

And they played on mountain ponies that were muscular and strong,

Though their coats were quite unpolished, and their manes and tails were long.

And they used to train those ponies wheeling cattle in the scrub:

They were demons, were the members of the Geebung Polo Club.

It was somewhere down the country, in a city's smoke and steam,

That a polo club existed, called the Cuff and Collar Team.

As a social institution 'twas a marvellous success,

For the members were distinguished by exclusiveness and dress.

They had natty little ponies that were nice, and smooth, and sleek,

For their cultivated owners only rode 'em once a week.

So they started up the country in pursuit of sport and fame,

For they meant to show the Geebungs how they ought to play the game;

And they took their valets with them - just to give their boots a rub

Ere they started operations on the Geebung Polo Club.

Now my readers can imagine how the contest ebbed and flowed,

When the Geebung boys got going it was time to clear the road;

And the game was so terrific that ere half the time was gone

A spectator's leg was broken - just from merely looking on.

For they waddied one another till the plain was strewn with dead,

While the score was kept so even that they neither got ahead.

And the Cuff and Collar captain, when he tumbled off to die,

Was the last surviving player - so the game was called a tie.

Then the captain of the Geebungs raised him slowly from the ground,

Though his wounds were mostly mortal, yet he fiercely gazed around;

There was no one to oppose him - all the rest were in a trance,

So he scrambled on his pony for his last expiring chance,

For he meant to make an effort to get victory to his side;

So he struck at goal - and missed it - then he tumbled off and died.

By the old Campaspe River, where the breezes shake the grass,

There's a row of little gravestones that the stockmen never pass,

For they bear a crude inscription saying, "Stranger, drop a tear,

For the Cuff and Collar players and the Geebung boys lie here."

And on misty moonlit evenings, while the dingoes howl around,

You can see their shadows flitting down that phantom polo ground;

You can hear the loud collisions as the flying players meet,

And the rattle of the mallets, and the rush of ponies' feet,

Till the terrified spectator rides like blazes to the pub -

He's been haunted by the spectres of the Geebung Polo Club.

Banjo Paterson

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The Man from Ironbark

It was the man from Ironbark who struck the Sydney town,

He wandered over street and park, he wandered up and down.

He loitered here, he loitered there, till he was like to drop,

Until at last in sheer despair he sought a barber's shop.

"'Ere! shave my beard and whiskers off, I'll be a man of mark,

I'll go and do the Sydney toff up home in Ironbark."

The barber man was small and flash, as barbers mostly are,

He wore a strike-your-fancy sash, he smoked a huge cigar:

He was a humorist of note and keen at repartee,

He laid the odds and kept a 'tote', whatever that may be,

And when he saw our friend arrive, he whispered "Here's a lark!

Just watch me catch him all alive, this man from Ironbark."

There were some gilded youths that sat along the barber's wall,

Their eyes were dull, their heads were flat, they had no brains at all;

To them the barber passed the wink, his dexter eyelid shut,

"I'll make this bloomin' yokel think his bloomin' throat is cut."

And as he soaped and rubbed it in he made a rude remark:

"I s'pose the flats is pretty green up there in Ironbark."

A grunt was all reply he got; he shaved the bushman's chin,

Then made the water boiling hot and dipped the razor in.

He raised his hand, his brow grew black, he paused awhile to gloat,

Then slashed the red-hot razor-back across his victim's throat;

Upon the newly shaven skin it made a livid mark -

No doubt it fairly took him in - the man from Ironbark.

He fetched a wild up-country yell might wake the dead to hear,

And though his throat, he knew full well, was cut from ear to ear,

He struggled gamely to his feet, and faced the murd'rous foe:

"You've done for me! you dog, I'm beat! one hit before I go!

I only wish I had a knife, you blessed murdering shark!

But you'll remember all your life, the man from Ironbark."

He lifted up his hairy paw, with one tremendous clout

He landed on the barber's jaw, and knocked the barber out.

He set to work with tooth and nail, he made the place a wreck;

He grabbed the nearest gilded youth, and tried to break his neck.

And all the while his throat he held to save his vital spark,

And "Murder! Bloody Murder!" yelled the man from Ironbark.

A peeler man who heard the din came in to see the show;

He tried to run the bushman in, but he refused to go.

And when at last the barber spoke, and said, "'Twas all in fun -

'Twas just a little harmless joke, a trifle overdone."

"A joke!" he cried, "By George, that's fine; a lively sort of lark;

I'd like to catch that murdering swine some night in Ironbark."

And now while round the shearing floor the list'ning shearers gape,

He tells the story o'er and o'er, and brags of his escape.

"Them barber chaps what keeps a tote, By George, I've had enough,

One tried to cut my bloomin' throat, but thank the Lord it's tough."

And whether he's believed or no, there's one thing to remark,

That flowing beards are all the go way up in Ironbark.

Banjo Paterson

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The Man from Snowy River

There was movement at the station, for the word had passed around

That the colt from old Regret had got away,

And had joined the wild bush horses-he was worth a thousand pound,

So all the cracks had gathered to the fray.

All the tried and noted riders from the stations near and far

Had mustered at the homestead overnight,

For the bushmen love hard riding where the wild bush horses are,

And the stock-horse snuffs the battle with delight.

There was Harrison, who made his pile when Pardon won the cup,

The old man with his hair as white as snow;

But few could ride beside him when his blood was fairly up-

He would go wherever horse and man could go.

No better horseman ever held the reins;

For never horse could throw him while the saddle-girths would stand-

He learnt to ride while droving on the plains.

And one was there, a stripling on a small and weedy beast;

He was something like a racehorse undersized,

With a touch of Timor pony-three parts thoroughbred at least-

And such as are by mountain horsemen prized.

He was hard and tough and wiry-just the sort that won't say die-

There was courage in his quick impatient tread;

And he bore the badge of gameness in his bright and fiery eye,

And the proud and lofty carriage of his head.

But still so slight and weedy, one would doubt his power to stay,

And the old man said, "That horse will never do

For a long and tiring gallop-lad, you'd better stop away,

Those hills are far too rough for such as you."

So he waited, sad and wistful-only Clancy stood his friend-

"I think we ought to let him come," he said;

"I warrant he'll be with us when he's wanted at the end,

For both his horse and he are mountain bred.

"He hails from Snowy River, up by Kosciusko's side,

Where the hills are twice as steep and twice as rough;

Where a horse's hoofs strike firelight from the flint stones every stride,

The man that holds his own is good enough.

And the Snowy River riders on the mountains make their home,

Where the river runs those giant hills between;

I have seen full many horsemen since I first commenced to roam,

But nowhere yet such horsemen have I seen."

So he went; they found the horses by the big mimosa clump,

They raced away towards the mountain's brow,

And the old man gave his orders, "Boys, go at them from the jump,

No use to try for fancy riding now.

And, Clancy, you must wheel them, try and wheel them to the right.

Ride boldly, lad, and never fear the spills,

For never yet was rider that could keep the mob in sight,

If once they gain the shelter of those hills."

So Clancy rode to wheel them-he was racing on the wing

Where the best and boldest riders take their place,

And he raced his stock-horse past them, and he made the ranges ring

With the stockwhip, as he met them face to face.

Then they halted for a moment, while he swung the dreaded lash,

But they saw their well-loved mountain full in view,

And they charged beneath the stockwhip with a sharp and sudden dash,

And off into the mountain scrub they flew.

Then fast the horsemen followed, where the gorges deep and black

Resounded to the thunder of their tread,

And the stockwhips woke the echoes, and they fiercely answered back

From cliffs and crags that beetled overhead.

And upward, ever upward, the wild horses held their way,

Where mountain ash and kurrajong grew wide;

And the old man muttered fiercely, "We may bid the mob good day,

No man can hold them down the other side."

When they reached the mountain's summit, even Clancy took a pull-

It well might make the boldest hold their breath;

The wild hop scrub grew thickly, and the hidden ground was full

Of wombat holes, and any slip was death.

But the man from Snowy River let the pony have his head,

And he swung his stockwhip round and gave a cheer,

And he raced him down the mountain like a torrent down its bed,

While the others stood and watched in very fear.

He sent the flint-stones flying, but the pony kept his feet,

He cleared the fallen timber in his stride,

And the man from Snowy River never shifted in his seat-

It was grand to see that mountain horseman ride.

Through the stringy barks and saplings, on the rough and broken ground,

Down the hillside at a racing pace he went;

And he never drew the bridle till he landed safe and sound,

At the bottom of that terrible descent.

He was right among the horses as they climbed the farther hill,

And the watchers on the mountain, standing mute,

Saw him ply the stockwhip fiercely; he was right among them still,

As he raced across the clearing in pursuit.

They lost him for a moment, where two mountain gullies met

In the ranges-but a final glimpse reveals

On a dim and distant hillside the wild horses racing yet,

With the man from Snowy River at their heels.

And he ran them single-handed till their sides were white with foam;

He followed like a bloodhound on their track,

Till they halted cowed and beaten; then he turned their heads for home,

And alone and unassisted brought them back.

But his hardy mountain pony he could scarcely raise a trot,

He was blood from hip to shoulder from the spur;

But his pluck was still undaunted, and his courage fiery hot,

For never yet was mountain horse a cur.

And down by Kosciusko, where the pine-clad ridges raise

Their torn and rugged battlements on high,

Where the air is clear as crystal, and the white stars fairly blaze

At midnight in the cold and frosty sky,

And where around the Overflow the reed-beds sweep and sway

To the breezes, and the rolling plains are wide,

The Man from Snowy River is a household word today,

And the stockmen tell the story of his ride.

Banjo Paterson

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The Old Australian Ways

The London lights are far abeam

Behind a bank of cloud,

Along the shore the gaslights gleam,

The gale is piping loud;

And down the Channel, groping blind,

We drive her through the haze

Towards the land we left behind -

The good old land of 'never mind',

And old Australian ways.

The narrow ways of English folk

Are not for such as we;

They bear the long-accustomed yoke

Of staid conservancy:

But all our roads are new and strange,

And through our blood there runs

The vagabonding love of change

That drove us westward of the range

And westward of the suns.

The city folk go to and fro

Behind a prison's bars,

They never feel the breezes blow

And never see the stars;

They never hear in blossomed trees

The music low and sweet

Of wild birds making melodies,

Nor catch the little laughing breeze

That whispers in the wheat.

Our fathers came of roving stock

That could not fixed abide:

And we have followed field and flock

Since e'er we learnt to ride;

By miner's camp and shearing shed,

In land of heat and drought,

We followed where our fortunes led,

With fortune always on ahead

And always further out.

The wind is in the barley-grass,

The wattles are in bloom;

The breezes greet us as they pass

With honey-sweet perfume;

The parakeets go screaming by

With flash of golden wing,

And from the swamp the wild-ducks cry

Their long-drawn note of revelry,

Rejoicing at the Spring.

So throw the weary pen aside

And let the papers rest,

For we must saddle up and ride

Towards the blue hill's breast;

And we must travel far and fast

Across their rugged maze,

To find the Spring of Youth at last,

And call back from the buried past

The old Australian ways.

When Clancy took the drover's track

In years of long ago,

He drifted to the outer back

Beyond the Overflow;

By rolling plain and rocky shelf,

With stockwhip in his hand,

He reached at last, oh lucky elf,

The Town of Come-and-help-yourself

In Rough-and-ready Land.

And if it be that you would know

The tracks he used to ride,

Then you must saddle up and go

Beyond the Queensland side -

Beyond the reach of rule or law,

To ride the long day through,

In Nature's homestead - filled with awe

You then might see what Clancy saw

And know what Clancy knew.

Banjo Paterson

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The Road to Hogan's Gap

Now look, you see, it's this way like,

You cross the broken bridge

And run the crick down till you strike

The second right-hand ridge.

The track is hard to see in parts,

But still it's pretty clear;

There's been two Injin hawkers' carts

Along that road this year.

Well, run that right-hand ridge along -

It ain't, to say, too steep -

There's two fresh tracks might put you wrong

Where blokes went out with sheep.

But keep the crick upon your right,

And follow pretty straight

Along the spur, until you sight

A wire and sapling gate.

Well, that's where Hogan's old grey mare

Fell off and broke her back;

You'll see her carcase layin' there,

Jist down below the track.

And then you drop two mile, or three,

It's pretty steep and blind;

You want to go and fall a tree

And tie it on behind.

And then you pass a broken cart

Below a granite bluff;

And that is where you strike the part

They reckon pretty rough.

But by the time you've got that far

It's either cure or kill,

So turn your horses round the spur

And face 'em up the hill.

For look, if you should miss the slope

And get below the track,

You haven't got the whitest hope

Of ever gettin' back.

An' half way up you'll see the hide

Of Hogan's brindled bull;

Well, mind and keep the right-hand side,

The left's too steep a pull.

And both the banks is full of cracks;

An' just about at dark

You'll see the last year's bullock tracks

Where Hogan drew the bark.

The marks is old and pretty faint

And grown with scrub and such;

Of course the track to Hogan's ain't

A road that's travelled much.

But turn and run the tracks along

For half a mile or more,

And then, of course, you can't go wrong -

You're right at Hogan's door.

When first you come to Hogan's gate

He mightn't show, perhaps;

He's pretty sure to plant and wait

To see it ain't the traps.

I wouldn't call it good enough

To let your horses out;

There's some that's pretty extra rough

Is livin' round about.

It's likely if your horses did

Get feedin' near the track,

It's goin' to cost at least a quid

Or more to get them back.

So, if you find they're off the place,

It's up to you to go

And flash a quid in Hogan's face -

He'll know the blokes that know.

But listen, if you're feelin' dry,

Just see there's no one near,

And go and wink the other eye

And ask for ginger beer.

The blokes come in from near and far

To sample Hogan's pop;

They reckon once they breast the bar

They stay there till they drop.

On Sundays you can see them spread

Like flies around the tap.

It's like that song "The Livin' Dead"

Up there at Hogan's Gap.

They like to make it pretty strong

Whenever there's a charnce;

So when a stranger comes along

They always holds a darnce.

There's recitations, songs, and fights -

A willin' lot you'll meet.

There's one long bloke up there recites,

I tell you - he's a treat.

They're lively blokes all right up there,

It's never dull a day.

I'd go meself if I could spare

The time to get away.

. . . . .

The stranger turned his horses quick.

He didn't cross the bridge;

He didn't go along the crick

To strike the second ridge;

He didn't make the trip, because

He wasn't feeling fit.

His business up at Hogan's was

To serve him with a writ.

He reckoned if he faced the pull

And climbed the rocky stair,

The next to come might find his hide

A land-mark on the mountain side,

Along with Hogan's brindled bull

And Hogan's old grey mare!

Banjo Paterson

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