Up North

Poem By David Campbell

Oh, Bill and Joe to the north have gone,
A green shirt on their back;
There are not many ewes and lambs
Along Kokoda track.

There are not many ewes and lambs,
But men in single file
Like sheep along a mountain pad
Walk mile on sweating mile;

And each half-hour they change the lead,
Though I have never read
Where any fat bell-whether was
Shot, in the mountains, dead.

The only sheep they muster there
Leap through the mind at night;
'Twould be as red as marking time
To change green shirt for white.

And though Bill dreams of droving now
On the drought-coloured plain,
There's little need to tap the glass
Or pray for it to rain.

They have no lack of water there
But there is a stinging tail,
For men lie dying in the grass
Along Kokoda trail.

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What ancestors unite
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Each with a tommy-gun,
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We rose to meet the sun.

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the Coolibahs* were twisted steel;
the stockman paused beneath their shade
and sat upon his heel,

Harry Pearce

I sat beside the red stock route
and chewed a blade of bitter grass
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To The Art Of Edgar Degas

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Limning the gestures of defeat
In dancers, whores, and opera-stars –
The lonely, lighted various street