(21 August 1869 – 30 January 1963 / Kelso, Scotland)

His Gippsland Girl

Now, money was scarce and work was slack
And love to his heart Crept in,
And he rode away on the Northern track
To war with the world and win;
And he vowed by the locket upon his breast
And its treasure, one red gold curl,
To work with with a will in the fartherest West
For the sake of his Gippsland girl.

The hot wind blows on the dusty plain
And the red sun burns above,
But he sees her face at his side again,
And he strikes each blow for love.
He toils by the light of one far-off star
For the winning of one white pearl,
And the swinging pick and the driving bar
Strike home for the Gippsland girl.

With an aching wrist and a back that's bent,
With salt sweat blinding eyes,
'Tis little he'd reek if his life were spent
In the winning so grand a prize.
His shear blades flash and over his hand
The folds of the white fleece curl,
And all day long he sticks to his stand
For the love of his Gippsland girl.

When the shearing's done and the shed's cut out
On Barwon and Narran and Bree;
When the shearer mates with the rouseabout
And the Union man with the free;
When the doors of the shanty, open wide,
An uproarious welcome hurl,
He passes by on the other side
For the sake of his gippsland girl.

When summer lay brown on the Western Land
He rode once more to the South,
Athirst for the touch of a lily hand
And the kiss of a rosebud mouth;
And he sang the songs that shorten the way,
And he envied not king or earl,
And he spared not the spur in his dappled grey
For the sake of his Gippsland girl.

At the garden gate when the shadows fell
His hopes in the dusk lay dead;
'Nelli? Oh! Surely you heard that Nell
Is married a month' they said.
He spoke no word; with a dull, dumb pain
At his heart, and his brain awhirl
He turned his grey to the North again
For the sake of his Gippsland girl.

And he rung the board in a Paroo shed
By the sweat of his aching brow,
But he blued his cheque, for he grimly said,
'There is nothing to live for now.'
And out and away where the big floods start
And the Darling dust-showers swirl,
There's a drunken shearer who broke his heart
Over a Gippsland girl!

William H Ogilvie

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