POEMS

Some excerpts to get you started . . .

Bell-birds by Henry Kendall (1869)

By channels of coolness the echoes are calling,
And down the dim gorges I hear the creek falling:
It lives in the mountain where moss and the sedges
Touch with their beauty the banks and the ledges.
Through breaks of the cedar and sycamore bowers
Struggles the light that is love to the flowers;
And, softer than slumber, and sweeter than singing,
The notes of the bell-birds are running and ringing.

The Sentimental Bloke by C.J. Dennis (1915)

’Twas on a Saturdee, in Colluns Street,
An’: quite by accident, o’course: we meet.
Me pal ’e trots ’er up an’ does the toff:
’E allus wus a bloke fer showin’ off.
‘This ere’s Doreen,’ ’e sez. ‘This ’ere’s the Kid.’
I dips me lid.
‘This ’ere’s Doreen,’ ’e sez. I sez ‘Good day.’
An’ bli’me, I ’ad nothin’ more ter say!
I couldn’t speak a word, or meet ’er eye.
Clean done me block! I never been so shy,
Not since I was a tiny little cub,
An’ run the rabbit to the corner pub:
Wot time the Summer days wus dry and ’ot:
Fer me ole pot.
Gorstrooth! I seemed to lose me pow’r o’ speech.
But ’er! Oh, strike me pink! She is a peach!
The sweetest in the barrer! Spare me days,
I carn’t describe that cliner’s winnin’ ways.
The way she torks! ’Er lips! ’Er eyes! ’Er hair! . . .
Oh, gimme air!

Freedom on the Wallaby by Henry Lawson (1891)

Australia’s a big country
An’ Freedom’s humping bluey,
An’ Freedom’s on the wallaby
Oh! Don’t you hear ’er cooey?
She’s just begun to boomerang,
She’ll knock the tyrants silly,
She’s goin’ to light another fi re
And boil another billy.
So we must fl y a rebel flag,
As others did before us,
And we must sing a rebel song
And join in rebel chorus.
We’ll make the tyrants feel the sting
O’ those that they would throttle;
They needn’t say the fault is ours
If blood should stain the wattle!

The Magic Pudding by Norman Lindsay (1918)

Politeness be sugared, politeness be hanged,
Politeness be jumbled and tumbled and banged
It’s simply a matter of putting on pace,
Politeness has nothing to do with the case.
Eat away, chew away, munch and bolt and guzzle,
Never leave the table till you’re full up to the muzzle.

My Country by Dorothea MacKellar (1911)

I love a sunburnt country,
A land of sweeping plains,
Of ragged mountain ranges,
Of droughts and fl ooding rains.
I love her far horizons,
I love her jewel-sea,
Her beauty and her terror,
This wide brown land for me.

The Man from Snowy River by Banjo Paterson (1890)

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.
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.
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.

The Overlander by unknown author (1880s)

There’s a trade you all know well
And it’s bringing cattle over,
On every track to the gulf and back
Men know the Queensland drover
So pass the billy round boys,
Don’t let the pint pot stand there
For tonight we’ll drink the health
Of every Overlander.

Nine Miles from Gundagai by unknown author (1880s)

Some blokes I know has all the luck
No matter how they fall
But there was I, Lord love a duck,
No flamin’ luck at all.
I couldn’t make a pot of tea
Nor keep me trousers dry
And the dog shat in the tucker-box,
Nine miles from Gundagai.
I could forgive the blinkin’ tea,
I could forgive the rain;
I could forgive the dark and cold,
And go through it again.
I could forgive me rotten luck,
But hang me till I die,
I won’t forgive that bloody dog,
Nine miles from Gundagai.

Clancy of the Overfl ow by Banjo Paterson (1889)

(The narrator, working as a clerk in the city, remembers an
old friend who has gone droving in Queensland.)
And the bush hath 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 wond’rous glory of the everlasting stars.
I am sitting in my dingy little offi ce, 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 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.

Said Hanrahan by John O’Brien (1921)

‘We’ll all be rooned,’ said Hanrahan,
In accents most forlorn,
Outside the church, ere Mass began,
One frosty Sunday morn.
The crops are done; ye’ll have your work
To save one bag of grain;
From here way out to Back-o’-Bourke
They’re singin’ out for rain.
In God’s good time down came the rain;
And all the afternoon
On iron roof and window-pane
It drummed a homely tune.
And every creek a banker ran,
And dams filled overtop;
‘We’ll all be rooned,’ said Hanrahan,
‘If this rain doesn’t stop.’
And stop it did, in God’s good time;
And spring came in to fold
A mantle o’er the hills sublime
Of green and pink and gold.
There’ll be bush-fires for sure, me man,
There will, without a doubt;
‘We’ll all be rooned,’ said Hanrahan,
‘Before the year is out.’

West by North Again by Harry ‘Breaker’ Morant (1895)

We’ll light our camp-fires where we may, and yarn beside their blaze;
The jingling hobble-chains shall make a music through the days.
And while the tucker-bags are right, and we’ve a stick of weed,
A swagman shall be welcome to a pipe-full and a feed.
So, fill your pipe! and, ere we mount, we’ll drink another nip:
Here’s how that West by North again may prove a lucky trip;
Then back again: I trust you’ll find your best girl’s merry face,
Or, if she jilts you, may you get a better in her place.