On The Wallaby

Poem By Henry Lawson

Now the tent poles are rotting, the camp fires are dead,
And the possums may gambol in trees overhead;
I am humping my bluey far out on the land,
And the prints of my bluchers sink deep in the sand:
I am out on the wallaby humping my drum,
And I came by the tracks where the sundowners come.

It is nor'-west and west o'er the ranges and far
To the plains where the cattle and sheep stations are,
With the sky for my roof and the grass for my bunk,
And a calico bag for my damper and junk;
And scarcely a comrade my memory reveals,
Save the spiritless dingo in tow of my heels.

But I think of the honest old light of my home
When the stars hang in clusters like lamps from the dome,
And I think of the hearth where the dark shadows fall,
When my camp fire is built on the widest of all;
But I'm following Fate, for I know she knows best,
I follow, she leads, and it's nor'-west by west.

When my tent is all torn and my blankets are damp,
And the rising flood waters flow fast by the camp,
When the cold water rises in jets from the floor,
I lie in my bunk and I list to the roar,
And I think how to-morrow my footsteps will lag
When I tramp 'neath the weight of a rain-sodden swag.

Though the way of the swagman is mostly up-hill,
There are joys to be found on the wallaby still.
When the day has gone by with its tramp or its toil,
And your camp-fire you light, and your billy you boil,
There is comfort and peace in the bowl of your clay
Or the yarn of a mate who is tramping that way.

But beware of the town -- there is poison for years
In the pleasure you find in the depths of long beers;
For the bushman gets bushed in the streets of a town,
Where he loses his friends when his cheque is knocked down;
He is right till his pockets are empty, and then --
He can hump his old bluey up country again.

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Other poems of LAWSON

After All


The brooding ghosts of Australian night have gone from the bush and town;
My spirit revives in the morning breeze,
though it died when the sun went down;

A Prouder Man Than You


If you fancy that your people came of better stock than mine,
If you hint of higher breeding by a word or by a sign,
If you're proud because of fortune or the clever things you do --

Faces In The Street


They lie, the men who tell us in a loud decisive tone
That want is here a stranger, and that misery's unknown;
For where the nearest suburb and the city proper meet

Andy's Gone With Cattle


Our Andy's gone to battle now
'Gainst Drought, the red marauder;
Our Andy's gone with cattle now

Out Back


The old year went, and the new returned, in the withering weeks of drought,
The cheque was spent that the shearer earned,
and the sheds were all cut out;

Knocked Up


I'm lyin' on the barren ground that's baked and cracked with drought,
And dunno if my legs or back or heart is most wore out;
I've got no spirits left to rise and smooth me achin' brow --