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Edward Harrington

The Dead Come Home: Excerpt

'We answered to the call to arms, unquestioning and blind,
We trusted to the promises of those we left behind.
We gave our lives ungrudgingly. we did not flinch nor quail,
Strong in the splendid faith we held that justice must prevail,
And as we drew our latest breath in sorrow and in pain,
This faith upheld us to the last: 'We did not die in vain.'

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Hills of Whroo

'Far below us in a hollow
Slumber'ing in the morning haze,
Lay the quaint, old mining township,
Relic of the Roaring Days.
Through its empty streets we cantered
And our reins we never drew,
For our thoughts were in the future,
Riding o'er the hills of Whroo.'
'Aye; 'tis verdant green, old comrade,
But - your grave is verdant, too!
And we'll go no more together,
Riding o'er the hills of Whroo.'

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Lone Pine

Lone Pine! Lone Pine! Our hearts are numbly aching
For those who come no more,
Our boys who sleep the sleep that knows no waking,
Besides the Dardan’s shore.
Through all the years, with glory sad and sombre,
Their names will deathless shine;
No bugle call can wake them from their slumber:
Lone Pine! Lone Pine!
They did not quail, they did not pause or ponder,
They counted not the odds;
The order came, the foe were waiting yonder,
The rest was with the gods.
Forth from their trenches at the signal leaping,
They charged the Turkish line,
And death charged too, a royal harvest reaping,
Lone Pine! Lone Pine!
Nought could withstand that onrush, backward
driven,
The foemen broke and fled.

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There’s Only The Two Of Us Here

I camped one night in an empty hut on the side of a lonely hill.
I didn’t go much on empty huts, but the night was awful chill.
So I boiled me billy and had me tea and seen that the door was shut.
Then I went to bed in am empty bunk by the side of the old slab shed.

It must have been about twelve o’clock – I was feeling cosy and warm –
When at the foot of me bunk I sees a horrible ghostly form
It seemed in shape to be half an ape with a head like a chimpanzee
But wot the hell was it doin there, and wot did it want with me?

You may say if you please that I had DTs or call me a crimson liar,
But I wish you had seen it as plain as me, with it’s eyes like coals of fire.
Then it gave a moan and a horrible groan that curdled me blood with fear,
And ‘There’s only the two of us here,’ it ses. ‘There’s only the two of us here!’

I kept one eye on the old hut door and one on the awful brute;
I only wanted to dress meself and get to the door and scoot.
But I couldn’t find where I’d left me boots so I hadn’t a chance to clear
And, ‘There’s only the two of us here,’ it moans. ‘There’s only the two of us here!’

[...] Read more

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The Bush Rangers

Four horseman rode out from the heart of the range,
Four horseman with aspects forbidding and strange.
They were booted and spurred, they were armed to the teeth,
And they frowned as they looked at the valley beneath,
As forward they rode through the rocks and the fern -
Ned Kelly, Dan Kelly, Steve Hart and Joe Byrne.

Ned Kelly drew rein and he shaded his eyes -
'The town's at our mercy! See yonder it lies!
To hell with the troopers!' - he shook his clenched fist -
'We will shoot them like dogs if they dare to resist!'
And all of them nodded, grim-visaged and stern -
Ned Kelly, Dan Kelly, Steve Hart and Joe Byrne.

Through the gullies and creeks they rode silently down;
They stuck-up the station and raided the town;
They opened the safe and they looted the bank;
They laughed and were merry, they ate and they drank.
Then off to the ranges they went with their gold -
Oh! never were bandits more reckless and bold.

[...] Read more

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The Gentle Hint

The old man sat upon his swag his eyes were red and bleared.
I doubt he’d had a wash for days or even combed his beard.
He cadged my pouch and filled his pipe and calmly blew a cloud
‘Some blokes ain’t got no pride’ he said, ‘but I was always proud.

Some time ago I humped me swag along the Lachlan side
A blazing drought had hit the land and all the stock had died.
One night a good bit after dark I reached a country town;
Pulls up outside the local hall and flings me bluey down.

A dance was going on inside, a crowd was on the floor,
So I ’itches up me pants a bit and mooches in the door.
Some tarts was taken round the grub; I thinks I’m just in time;
A cup of tea will do me good; them sandwiches look prime.

But all at once the head serang, a great big hulking brute,
Strides across the floor at me and landed me a beaut.
He never said what made him narked or what he’d done it for
Just simply hits me good and hard, and knocks me out the door.

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Morgan

When Morgan crossed the Murray to Peechelba and doom
A sombre silent shadow rode with him through the gloom.
The wild things of the forest slunk from the outlaw's track,
The boobook croaked a warning, "Go back, go back, go back!"
It woke no answering echo in Morgan's blackened soul,
As onward through the darkness he rode towards his goal.

An evil man was Morgan, a price was on his head;
The simple bush-folk whispered his very name with dread;
Before the fierce Dan Morgan the bravest man might quake-
A cold and callous killer, he killed for killing's sake. .
Past swamp and creek and gully, and settler's lone abode,
Towards the station homestead the grim Dan Morgan rode.

And still that hooded horseman that Morgan could not see,
Watched by the wild bush-creatures, rode close beside his knee.
Before them in a clearing a drover's campfire burned:
The phantom rode with Morgan, and turned when Morgan turned.
And loud the boobook's warning came on the cold night air,
"Go back, go back, Dan Morgan. Beware, beware, beware!"

[...] Read more

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The Swagless Swaggie

This happened many years ago
Before the bush was cleared,
When every man was six foot high
And wore a flowing beard.

One very hot and windy day,
Along the old coach road,
Towards Joe Murphy’s halfway house
A bearded bushman strode.

He was a huge and heavy man,
Well over six foot high,
An old slouch hat was on his head,
And murder in his eye.

No billy can was in his hand,
No heavy swag he bore,
But deep and awful were the oaths
That swagless swaggie swore.

[...] Read more

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The Kerrigan Boys

By jove it’s hot on the track today, my flannel is soaked with sweat.
I think I’ll sit in the shade a bit and wait for the sun to set.
I know of a decent camping place by the river beyond the town,
And I’d rather carry my swag through there after the sun goes down.

A touch of pride, well perhaps it is, though I haven’t much cause for pride.
It’s sixteen years to a day almost, since old man Kerrigan died.
Sixteen years and his place is sold and the fortune he left us spent,
For the road down hill is an easy road and that was the way we went.

Kerrigan, that was our father’s name, was one of the tough old sort.
And he held by graft as he held by God, and he hated drink and sport.
We lads were fond of a bit of fun though he kept us under the rein,
And we had to bow to the old man’s will, though it went against our grain.

He was kind enough in his hard old way, but we had to earn our keep,
Driving horses and milking cows, branding and shearing sheep.
No wonder we bucked a bit at times, for you know what youngsters are,
We mustn’t dance at the local hall or drink in Mulligan’s bar.

[...] Read more

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