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Lawson, Henry


A Song Of The Republic

Sons of the south, awake! arise!
Sons of the south, and do.
Banish from under your bonny skies
Those old-world errors and wrongs and lies.
Making a hell in a Paradise
That belongs to your sons and you.
Sons of the South, make choice between
(Sons of the South, choose true),
The Land of Morn and the Land of E'en,
The Old Dead Tree and the Young Tree Green,
The Land that belongs to the Lord and the Queen,
And the Land that belongs to you.
Sons of the South, your time will come-
Sons of the South, 'tis near-
The" Signs of the Times", in their language dumb,
Fortell it, and ominous whispers hum
Like sullen sounds of a distant drum,
In the ominous atmosphere.
Sons of the South, aroused at last!
Sons of the South are few!
But your ranks grow longer and deep fast,
And ye shall swell to an army vast,
And free from the wrongs of the North and Past
The land that belongs to you.



THE FLOUR BIN

The flats are green as ever,
The creeks go rippling through;
The Mudgee hills are showing
Their deepest shade of blue.
Those mountains in the distance,
That ever held a charm,
Are fairer than a picture
As seen from Cox's farm.
On a German farm by Mudgee,
That took long years to win,
On the wide-bricked verandah
There stands a flour bin;
And the dear old German lady -
Though the bakers' carts run out -
Still keeps a fifty in it,
Against a time of drought.
It was my father made it,
It stands as good as new,
And of the others like it,
There still remain a few.
God grant when drought will strike us,
The young will take a pull,
And the old folk their strength anew
To keep those flour bins full.
By Lawson's Hill near Mudgee,
On old Eurunderee -
The place they call New Pipeclay,
Where the diggers used to be -
On a dreary old selection,
Where times were dry and thin,
In a slab and shingle kitchen
There stood a flour bin.
'Twas poorer with the cattle,
'Twas rust and smut in wheat,
'Twas blight in eyes and orchards,
And coarse salt beef to eat.
Oh, how our mothers struggled,
Till eyes and brain were dull,
Oh, how our fathers slaved and toiled
To keep those flour bins full.


ANDY'S GONE WITH CATTLE

Our Andy's gone to battle now
'Gainst Drought, the red marauder;
Our Andy's with cattle now
Across the Queensland border.
He's left us in dejection now;
Our hearts with him are roving.
It's dull on this selection now,
Since Andy went a-droving.
Who now shall wear the cheerful face
In times when things are slackest?
And who shall whistle round the place
When fortune frowns her blackest?
Oh, who shall cheek the squatter now
When he comes round us snarling?
His tongue is growing hotter now
Since Andy cross'd the Darling.
The gates are out of order now,
In storms the "riders" rattle;
For far across the border now
Our Andy's gone with cattle.
Poor Aunty's looking thin and white;
And Uncle's cross with worry;
And poor old Blucher howls all night
Since Andy left Macquarie.
Oh, may the showers in torrents fall,
And all the tanks run over;
And may the grass grow green and tall
In pathways of the drover;
And may good angels send the rain
On desert stretches sandy;
And when the summer comes again
God grant 'twill bring us Andy.


In The Storm That Is To Come
If the Bourke people, with a dyke or sandbags across the Darling River, could keep the steamers running above that town for months in the drought, what could not the Government do? The Darling rises mostly from the Queensland rains, and feeds her billabongs, and the floods waste into the sea.
By our place in the midst of the furthest seas we were fated to stand alone
When the nations fly at each other's throats Iet Australia look to her own;
Let her spend her gold on the barren west, let her keep her men at home;
For the the South must look to the South for strength in the storm that is to come.
Now who shall gallop from cape to cape, and who shall defend our shores
The crowd that stands on the kerb agape and glares at the cricket scores?
And who will hold the invader back when the shells tear up the ground
The weeds that yelp by the cycling track while a nigger scorches round?
There may be many to man the forts in the big towns by the sea
But the East will call to the West for scouts in the storm that is to be:
The West cries out to the East in drought, but the coastal towns are dumb;
And the East must look to the West for food in the war that is to come.
The rain comes down on the Western land and the rivers run to waste,
While the city folk rush for the special tram in their childless, senseless haste,
And never a pile of a lock we drive, but a few mean tanks we scratch
For the fate of a nation is nought compared with the turn of a cricket match!
There's a gutter of mud where there spread a flood from the land-long western creeks,
There is dust and drought on the plains far out where the water lay for weeks,
There's a pitiful dam where a dyke should stretch and a tank where a lake should be,
And the rain goes down through the silt and sand and the floods waste into the seas.
We'll fight for Britain or for Japan, we will fling the land's wealth out;
While every penny and every man should be used to fight the drought.
God helps the nation that helps itself, and the water brings the rain,
And a deadlier foe than the world could send is loose on the western plain.
I saw a vision in days gone by and would dream that dream again
Of the days when the Darling shall not back her billabongs up in vain.
There were reservoirs and grand canals where the Dry Country had been,
And a glorious network of aqueducts, and the fields were always green.
I have seen so long in the land I love what the land I love might be,
Where the Darling rises from Queensland rains and the floods run into the sea.
And is it our fate that we'll wake too late to the truth that we were blind,
With a foreign foe at our harbour gate and a blazing drought behind!


THE OLD BARK SCHOOL

It was built of bark and poles, and the roof was full of holes
Where each leak in rainy weather made a pool;
And the walls were mostly cracks lined with calico and sacks-
There was little need for windows in the school.
Then we rode to school and back by the rugged gully-track,
On the old grey horse that carried three or four;
And he looked so very wise that he lit the master's eyes
Every time he put his head in at the door.
He had run with Cobb and Co. "That grey leader, let him go!"
There were men "as knowed the brand upon his hide",
And "as knowed it on the course".
Funeral service: "Good old horse !"
When we burnt him in the gully where he died.
And the master thought the same. 'Twas from Ireland that he came,
Where the tanks are full all summer, and feed is simply grand;
And the joker then in vogue said his lessons wid a brogue-
'Twas unconscious imitation, let the reader understand.
And we learnt the world in scraps from some ancient dingy maps
Long discarded by the public-schools in town;
And as nearly every book dated back to Captain Cook
Our geography was somewhat upside-down.
It was "in the book" and so - well, at that we'd let it go,
For we never would believe that print could lie;
And we all learnt pretty soon that when school came out at noon
"The sun is in the south part of the sky."
And Ireland! that was known from the coast-line to Athlone,
We got little information re the land that gave us birth;
Save that Captain Cook was killed (and was very likely grilled)
And "the natives of New Holland are the lowest race on earth".
And a woodcut, in its place, of the same degraded race,
Seemed a lot more like camels than the blackfellows that we knew;
Jimmy Bullock, with the rest, scratched his head and gave it best;
But his faith was sadly shaken by a bobtailed kangaroo !
But the old bark school is gone, and the spot it stood upon
Is a cattle-camp in winter where the curlew's cry is heard;
There's a brick school on the flat, but a schoolmate teaches that,
For, about the time they built it, our old master was "transferred".
But the old school comes again with exchanges 'cross the plain-
With the Out-Back Advertiser ; and my fancy roams at large
When I read of passing stock, of a western mob or flock,
With "James Bullock", "Grey", or "Henry Dale" in charge.
And I think how Jimmy went from the old bark school content,
With his "eddication" finished, with his packhorse after him;
And perhaps if I were back I would take the self-same track,
For I wish my learning ended when the Master "finished" Jim.



THE SONG AND THE SIGH

The creek went down with a broken song,
'Neath the sheoaks high;
The waters carried the song along,
And the oaks a sigh.
The song and the sigh went winding by,
Went winding down ;
Circling the foot of the mountain high,
And the hillside brown.
They were hushed in the swamp of the Dead Man's Crime,
Where the curlews cried;
But they reached the river the self-same time,
And there they died.
And the creek of life goes winding on,
Wandering by;
And bears forever, its course upon
A song and a sigh.



THE TEAMS

A cloud of dust on the long, white road,
And teams go creeping on
Inch by inch with the weary load;
And by the power of the green-hide goad
The distance goal is won.
With eyes half-shut to the blinding dust,
And necks to the yokes bent low,
The beasts are pulling as bullocks must;
And the shining tires might almost rust
While spokes are turning slow.
With face half hid by a broad-brimmed hat,
That shades from the heat's white waves,
And shouldered whip, with it's green-hide plait,
The driver plods with a gait like that
Of his weary, patient slaves.
He wipes his brow, for the day is hot,
And spits to the left with spite;
His shouts at Bally, and flicks at Scot,
And raises dust from the back of Spot,
And spits to the dusty right.
He'll sometimes pause as a thing of form
In front of a settler's door,
And ask for a drink, and remark "It's warm",
Or say "There's signs of a thunderstorm";
But then seldom utters more.
The rains are heavy on roads like these
And, fronting his lonely home,
For days together the settler sees
The waggons bogged to the axletrees,
Or ploughing the sodden loam.
And then, when the roads are at their worst,
The bushman's children hear
The cruel blows of the whips reversed
While bullocks pull as their hearts would burst,
And bellow with pain and fear.
And thus - with glimpses of home and rest-
Are the long, long journeys done;
And thus-' tis a thankless life at the best!-
Is distance fought in the mighty west,
And the lonely battle won.



On the night train

Have you seen the bush by moonlight, from the train,
go running by,
Here a patch of glassy water,
there a glimpse of mistic sky?
Have you heard the still voice calling, yet so warm,
and yet so cold:
"I'm the Mother-bush that bore you!
Come to me when you are old?"
Did you see the Bush below you
sweeping darkly to the range
All unchanged and all unchanging,
yet so very old and strange!
Did you hear the Bush a-calling,
when your heart was young and bold:
"I'm the Mother-bush that nursed you!
Come to me when you are old?"
Through the long, vociferous cutting
as the night swiftly sped,
Did you hear the grey Bush calling
from the pine-ridge overhead:
"You have seen the seas and the cities;
all seems done, and all seems told;
I'm the Mother-Bush that loves you!
Come to me, now you are old?"