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Louis Esson

The Old Black Billy an' Me

The sheep are yarded, an’ I sit
Beside the fire an’ poke at it.
Far from talk an’ booze o’ men
Glad, I’m glad I’m back agen
On the station, wi’ me traps

An’ fencin’ wire, an’ tanks an’ taps,
Back to salt-bush plains, an’ flocks,
An’ old bark hut be the apple-box.
I turn the slipjack, make the tea,
All’s as still as still can be -
An’ the old black billy winks at me.

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The Cradle Song

Baby, O baby, fain you are for bed,
Magpie to mopoke busy as the bee;
The little red calf’s in the snug cow-shed,
An’ the little brown bird’s in the tree.

Daddy’s gone a-shearin’, down the Castlereagh,
So we’re all alone now, only you an’ me.
All among the wool-O, keep your wide blades full-O!
Daddy thinks o’ baby, wherever he may be.

Baby, my baby, rest your drowsy head,
The one man that works here, tired you must be,
The little red calf ’s in the snug cow-shed,
An’ the little brown bird ’s in the tree.

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The Shearers Wife

Before the glare o’ dawn I rise
To milk the sleepy cows, an’ shake
The droving dust from tired eyes,
Look round the rabbit traps, then bake
The children’s bread.
There’s hay to stook, an’ beans to hoe,
An’ ferns to cut in the scrub below,
Women must work, when men must go
Shearing from shed to shed.

I patch an’ darn, now evening comes,
An’ tired I am with labour sore,
Tired o’ the bush, the cows, the gums,
Tired, but we must dree for long months more
What no tongue tells.
The moon is lonely in the sky,
Lonely the bush, an’ lonely I
Stare down the track no horse draws nigh,
An’ start . . . at the cattle bells.

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Brogan's Lane

There's a crack in the city—down that sharp street
In couples, and armed, tramp rozzers on beat.
Like a joss, silhouetted across the pane,
A Chinese face watches down Brogan’s Lane,
Brogan’s Lane, Brogan’s Lane,
A reeling moon blinks over Brogan’s Lane.

Flash Fred, when he dives on a red lot, sneaks thro’
To moscow the swag with a Polaky Jew.
Tho’ rooked by old Shylock, he needn’t complain,
The melting pot bubbles in Brogan’s Lane,
Brogan’s Lane, Brogan’s Lane,
Rats pinch from their cobbers down Brogan’s Lane.

And Jenny, fresh down from the country, goes gay
And drives to the races and laughs at the play;
Till one morn, lying out in the cold and the rain,
A body is perished in Brogan’s Lane,
Brogan’s Lane, Brogan’s Lane,
There’s only one turn to the long last lane.

[...] Read more

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Caprice

Blue and gold, and mist and sunlight,
Veils of colour blent and blown
In melodic monotone.
Dark and bright, and white and dun light
Clash and flash, as into one light
Trembling thro’ an opal stone,
Over green robes of the mountain
And the blue skirts of the sea,
Spreading from a sacred fountain
Hymeneal harmony.

Drums and trumpets of the ocean,
Oboe spirits of the wind,
Violins of forest kind,
Flutes that breathe the trees’ devotion,
Blending, hymn the joyous motion
Of the universal mind,
When, with chariot cavorting,
And a storm of symphonies,
Horses snorting, banners sporting,

[...] Read more

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