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Barcroft Henry Thomas Boake

An Allegory

The fight was over, and the battle won
A soldier, who beneath his chieftain’s eye
Had done a might deed and done it well,
And done it as the world will have it done—
A stab, a curse, some quick play of the butt,
Two skulls cracked crosswise, but the colours saved—
Proud of his wounds, proud of the promised cross,
Turned to his rear-rank man, who on his gun
Leant heavily apart. ‘Ho, friend!’ he called,
‘You did not fight then: were you left behind?
I saw you not.’ The other turned and showed
A gapping, red-lipped wound upon his breast.
‘Ah,’ said he sadly, ‘I was in the smoke!’
Threw up his arms, shivered, and fell and died.

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On the Boundary

I Love the ancient boundary-fence,
That mouldering chock-and-log.
When I go ride the boundary
I let the old horse jog
And take his pleasure in and out
Where the sandalwood grows dense,
And tender pines clasp hands across
The log that tops the fence.
’Tis pleasant on the boundary-fence,
These sultry summer days;
A mile away, outside the scrub,
The plain is all ablaze,
The sheep are panting on the camps,
The heat is so intense;
But here the shade is cool and sweet
Along the boundary-fence.

I love to loaf along the fence,
So does my collie dog,
He often finds a spotted cat

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At the "J. C."

None ever knew his name,
Honoured, or one of shame,
Highborn or lowly;
Only upon that tree
Two letters, J and C,
Carved by him, mark where he
Lay dying slowly.

Why came he to the West?
Had then the parent nest
Grown so distasteful?
What cause had he to shun
Life, ere ‘twas well begun?
Was he that youngest son,
Of substance wasteful?

Were Fate and he at War?
Was it a pennance, or
Renunciation?
Is it a glad release?

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The Digger's Song

Scrape the bottom of the hole: gather up the stuff,
Fossick in the crannies, lest you leave a grain
behind,
Just another shovelful and that'll be enough,-
Now we'll take it to the bank and see what we can
find,
Give the dish a twirl around,
Let the water swirl around,
Gently let it circulate, there's music in the swish,
And the tinkle of the gravel,
As the pebbles quickly travel
Around in merry circles on the bottom of the dish.

Ah, if man could only wash his life, if he only could,
Panning off the evil deeds, keeping but the
good,
What a mighty lot of digger's dishes would be sold,
Though I fear the heap of tailings would be greater

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A Bushman's Love

You say we bushmen cannot love—
Our lives are too prosaic: hence
We lose or lack that finer sense
That raises some few men above
Their fellows, setting them apart
As vessels of a finer make—
The acme of the potter’s art—
Are placed apart upon the shelf.
So he is more than common delf,
And, more than brute in human guise,
Who, seeking, finds his nobler self
Twin-mirrored in a woman’s eyes!
Yet these things bring their penalty:
For oft the merest touch will break
These vessels of a finer make;
And throats attuned to noblest key
A draught of air will set awry,
And stifle in an ulcerous sore
The voice that floated to the sky
And silence it for evermore . . .

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A Song

I've a kiss from a warmer lover
Than maiden earth can be:
She blew it up to the skies above her,
And now it has come to me;
From the far-away it has come today
With a breath of the old salt sea.

She lay and laughed on a lazy billow,
Far away on the deep,
Who had gathered the froth for my lady's pillow -
Gathered a sparkling heap;
And the ocean's cry was the lullaby
That cradled my love to sleep.

Far away on the blue Pacific
There doth my lady roam,

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From The Far West

'Tis a song of the Never Never land—
Set to the tune of a scorching gale
On the sandhills red,
When the grasses dead
Loudly rustle, and bow the head
To the breath of its dusty hail:

Where the cattle trample a dusty pad
Across the never-ending plain,
And come and go
With muttering low
In the time when the rivers cease to flow,
And the Drought King holds his reign;

When the fiercest piker who ever turned
With lowered head in defiance proud,
Grown gaunt and weak,
Release doth seek
In vain from the depths of the slimy creek—
His sepulchre and his shroud;

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At Devlin's Siding

What made the porter stare so hard? what made the porter stare
And eye the tall young woman and the bundle that she bare?

What made the tall young woman flush, and strive to hide her face,
As the train slid past the platform and the guard swung in his place?

What made her look so stealthily both up and down the line,
And quickly give the infant suck to still its puny whine?

Why was the sawmill not at work? why were the men away?
They might have turned a woman from a woeful deed that day.

Why did the pine-scrub stand so thick? why was the place so lone
That nothing but the soldier-birds might hear a baby moan?

Why doth the woman tear the child? why doth the mother take
The infant from her breast, and weep as if her heart would break?

Why doth she moan, and grind her teeth, and weave an awful curse
To fall on him who made of her a harlot-ay, and worse?

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A Memory

Adown the grass-grown paths we strayed,
The evening cowslips ope’d
Their yellow eyes to look at her,
The love-sick lilies moped
With envy that she rather chose
To take a creamy-petalled rose
And lean it 'gainst her ebon hair,
All in that garden fair.

A languid breeze, with stolen scent
Of box-bloom in his grasp,
Sighed out his longing in her ear,
And with his dying gasp
Scattered the perfume at her feet
To blend with others not less sweet;
He loved her, but she did not care,
All in that garden fair.

The rose she honoured nodded down,
His comrades burst with spite:

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Our visitor

There's a fellow on the station
(He dropped in on a call,
Just casual—to stay a pleasant week),
He’s a banker’s near relation,
Strongly built, and very tall,
Not altogether destitute of cheek;
He’s a descent judge of whisky,
And the hardest working youth
Who ever played a polo on a cob;
His anecdotes are risky,
And to tell the honest truth,
He’s waiting here until he gets a job.
He’s waiting, as I mention,
And whene’er he says his prayers,
Which he doesn’t do as frequently as some,
And I fear that his intention
Isn’t quite so good as theirs—
For he prays to God the work may never come.
He marches with the banner
Of the noble unemployed,

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