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Best Famous Andrew Barton Paterson Poems

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Written by Andrew Barton Paterson |

Song of the Wheat

 We have sung the song of the droving days, 
Of the march of the travelling sheep; 
By silent stages and lonely ways 
Thin, white battalions creep.
But the man who now by the land would thrive Must his spurs to a plough-share beat.
Is there ever a man in the world alive To sing the song of the Wheat! It's west by south of the Great Divide The grim grey plains run out, Where the old flock-masters lived and died In a ceaseless fight with drought.
Weary with waiting and hope deferred They were ready to own defeat, Till at last they heard the master-word— And the master-word was Wheat.
Yarran and Myall and Box and Pine— ’Twas axe and fire for all; They scarce could tarry to blaze the line Or wait for the trees to fall, Ere the team was yoked, and the gates flung wide, And the dust of the horses’ feet Rose up like a pillar of smoke to guide The wonderful march of Wheat.
Furrow by furrow, and fold by fold, The soil is turned on the plain; Better than silver and better than gold Is the surface-mine of the grain; Better than cattle and better than sheep In the fight with drought and heat; For a streak of stubbornness, wide and deep, Lies hid in a grain of Wheat.
When the stock is swept by the hand of fate, Deep down in his bed of clay The brave brown Wheat will lie and wait For the resurrection day: Lie hid while the whole world thinks him dead; But the Spring-rain, soft and sweet, Will over the steaming paddocks spread The first green flush of the Wheat.
Green and amber and gold it grows When the sun sinks late in the West; And the breeze sweeps over the rippling rows Where the quail and the skylark nest.
Mountain or river or shining star, There’s never a sight can beat— Away to the sky-line stretching far— A sea of the ripening Wheat.
When the burning harvest sun sinks low, And the shadows stretch on the plain, The roaring strippers come and go Like ships on a sea of grain; Till the lurching, groaning waggons bear Their tale of the load complete.
Of the world’s great work he has done his share Who has gathered a crop of wheat.
Princes and Potentates and Czars, They travel in regal state, But old King Wheat has a thousand cars For his trip to the water-gate; And his thousand steamships breast the tide And plough thro’ the wind and sleet To the lands where the teeming millions bide That say: “Thank God for Wheat!”

Written by Andrew Barton Paterson |

Old Schooldays

 Awake, of Muse, the echoes of a day 
Long past, the ghosts of mem'ries manifold -- 
Youth's memories that once were green and gold 
But now, alas, are grim and ashen grey.
The drowsy schoolboy wakened up from sleep, First stays his system with substantial food, Then off for school with tasks half understood, Alas, alas, that cribs should be so cheap! The journey down to town -- 'twere long to tell The storm and riot of the rabble rout; The wild Walpurgis revel in and out That made the ferry boat a floating hell.
What time the captive locusts fairly roared: And bulldog ants, made stingless with a knife, Climbed up the seats and scared the very life From timid folk, who near jumped overboard.
The hours of lessons -- hours with feet of clay Each hour a day, each day more like a week: While hapless urchins heard with blanched cheek The words of doom "Come in on Saturday".
The master gowned and spectacled, precise, Trying to rule by methods firm and kind But always just a little bit behind The latest villainy, the last device, Born of some smoothfaced urchin's fertile brain To irritate the hapless pedagogue, And first involve him in a mental fog Then "have" him with the same old tale again.
The "bogus" fight that brought the sergeant down To that dark corner by the old brick wall, Where mimic combat and theatric brawl Made noise enough to terrify the town.
But on wet days the fray was genuine, When small boys pushed each other in the mud And fought in silence till thin streams of blood Their dirty faces would incarnadine.
The football match or practice in the park With rampant hoodlums joining in the game Till on one famous holiday there came A gang that seized the football for a lark.
Then raged the combat without rest or pause, Till one, a hero, Hawkins unafraid Regained the ball, and later on displayed His nose knocked sideways in his country's cause.
Before the mind quaint visions rise and fall, Old jokes, old students dead and gone: And some that lead us still, while some toil on As rank and file, but "Grammar" children all.
And he, the pilot, who has laid the course For all to steer by, honest, unafraid -- Truth is his beacon light, so he has made The name of the old School a living force.

Written by Andrew Barton Paterson |

A Song of the Pen

 Not for the love of women toil we, we of the craft, 
Not for the people's praise; 
Only because our goddess made us her own and laughed, 
Claiming us all our days, 
Claiming our best endeavour -- body and heart and brain 
Given with no reserve -- 
Niggard is she towards us, granting us little gain: 
Still, we are proud to serve.
Not unto us is given choice of the tasks we try, Gathering grain or chaff; One of her favoured servants toils at an epic high, One, that a child may laugh.
Yet if we serve her truly in our appointed place, Freely she doth accord Unto her faithful servants always this saving grace, Work is its own reward!

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Written by Andrew Barton Paterson |

Santa Claus

 "HALT! Who goes there?” The sentry’s call 
Rose on the midnight air 
Above the noises of the camp, 
The roll of wheels, the horses’ tramp.
The challenge echoed over all— “Halt! Who goes there?” A quaint old figure clothed in white, He bore a staff of pine, An ivy-wreath was on his head.
“Advance, oh friend,” the sentry said, “Advance, for this is Christmas night, And give the countersign.
” “No sign nor countersign have I, Through many lands I roam The whole world over far and wide, To exiles all at Christmastide, From those who love them tenderly I bring a thought of home.
“From English brook and Scottish burn, From cold Canadian snows, From those far lands ye hold most dear I bring you all a greeting here, A frond of a New Zealand fern, A bloom of English rose.
“From faithful wife and loving lass I bring a wish divine, For Christmas blessings on your head.
” “I wish you well,” the sentry said, “But here, alas! you may not pass Without the countersign.
” He vanished—and the sentry’s tramp Re-echoed down the line.
It was not till the morning light The soldiers knew that in the night Old Santa Claus had come to camp Without the countersign.

Written by Andrew Barton Paterson |

The Incantation

 Scene: Federal Political Arena 
A darkened cave.
In the middle, a cauldron, boiling.
Enter the three witches.
1ST WITCH: Thrice hath the Federal Jackass brayed.
2ND WITCH: Once the Bruce-Smith War-horse neighed.
3RD WITCH: So Georgie comes, 'tis time, 'tis time, Around the cauldron to chant our rhyme.
1ST WITCH: In the cauldron boil and bake Fillet of a tariff snake, Home-made flannels -- mostly cotton, Apples full of moths, and rotten, Lamb that perished in the drought, Starving stock from "furthest out", Drops of sweat from cultivators, Sweating to feed legislators.
Grime from a white stoker's nob, Toiling at a nigger's job.
Thus the great Australian Nation, Seeks political salvation.
ALL: Double, double, toil and trouble, Fire burn, and cauldron bubble.
2ND WITCH: Heel-taps from the threepenny bars, Ash from Socialist cigars.
Leathern tongue of boozer curst With the great Australian thirst, Two-up gambler keeping dark, Loafer sleeping in the park -- Drop them in to prove the sequel, All men are born free and equal.
ALL: Double, double, toil and trouble, Fire burn, and cauldron bubble.
3RD WITCH:Lung of Labour agitator, Gall of Isaacs turning traitor; Spleen that Kingston has revealed, Sawdust stuffing out of Neild; Mix them up, and then combine With duplicity of Lyne, Alfred Deakin's gift of gab, Mix the gruel thick and slab.
ALL: Double, double, toil and trouble, Heav'n help Australia in her trouble.
HECATE: Oh, well done, I commend your pains, And everyone shall share i' the gains, And now about the cauldron sing, Enchanting all that you put in.
Round about the cauldron go, In the People's rights we'll throw, Cool it with an Employer's blood, Then the charm stands firm and good, And thus with chaos in possession, Ring in the coming Fed'ral Session.

Written by Andrew Barton Paterson |

The Ballad of M. T. Nutt and His Dog

 The Honourable M.
Nutt About the bush did jog.
Till, passing by a settler's hut, He stopped and bought a dog.
Then started homewards full of hope, Alas, that hopes should fail! The dog pulled back and took the rope Beneath the horse's tail.
The Horse remarked, "I would be soft Such liberties to stand!" "Oh dog," he said, "Go up aloft, Young man, go on the land!"

Written by Andrew Barton Paterson |

Moving On

 In this war we're always moving, 
Moving on; 
When we make a friend another friend has gone; 
Should a woman's kindly face 
Make us welcome for a space, 
Then it's boot and saddle, boys, we're 
Moving on.
In the hospitals they're moving, Moving on; They're here today, tomorrow they are gone; When the bravest and the best Of the boys you know "go west", Then you're choking down your tears and Moving on.

Written by Andrew Barton Paterson |

Now Listen to Me and Ill Tell You My Views

 Now listen to me and I'll tell you my views concerning the African war, 
And the man who upholds any different views, the same is a ritten Pro-Boer! 
(Though I'm getting a little bit doubtful myself, as it drags on week after week: 
But it's better not ask any questions at all -- let us silence all doubts with a shriek!) 
And first let us shriek the unstinted abuse that the Tory Press prefer -- 
De Wet is a madman, and Steyn is a liar, and Kruger a pitiful cur! 
(Though I think if Oom Paul -- as old as he is -- were to walk down the Strand with his gun, 
A lot of these heroes would hide in the sewers or take to their heels and run! 
For Paul he has fought like a man in his day, but now that he's feeble and weak 
And tired, and lonely, and old and grey, of course it's quite safe to shriek!) 

And next let us join in the bloodthirsty shriek, Hooray for Lord Kitchener's "bag"! 
For the fireman's torch and the hangman's cord -- they are hung on the English Flag! 
In the front of our brave old army! Whoop! the farmhouse blazes bright.
And the women weep and their children die -- how dare they presume to fight! For none of them dress in a uniform, the same as by rights they ought.
They're fighting in rags and in naked feet, like Wallace's Scotchmen fought! (And they clothe themselves from our captured troops -- and they're catching them every week; And they don't hand them -- and the shame is ours, but we cover the shame with a shriek!) And, lastly, we'll shriek the political shriek as we sit in the dark and doubt; Where the Birmingham Judas led us in, and there's no one to lead us out.
And Rosebery -- whom we depended upon! Would only the Oracle speak! "You go to the Grocers," says he, "for your laws!" By Heavens! it's time to shriek!

Written by Andrew Barton Paterson |

The Wreck of the Golfer

 It was the Bondi golfing man 
Drove off from the golf house tee, 
And he had taken his little daughter 
To bear him company.
"Oh, Father, why do you swing the club And flourish it such a lot?" "You watch it fly o'er the fences high!" And he tried with a brassey shot.
"Oh, Father, why did you hit the fence Just there where the brambles twine?" And the father he answered never a word, But he got on the green in nine.
"Oh, Father, hark from behind those trees, What dismal yells arrive!" "'Tis a man I ween on the second green, And I've landed him with my drive.
" "Oh, Father, why does the poor Chinee Fall down on his knees and cry?" "He taketh me for his Excellency, And he thinks once hit twice shy.
" So on they fared to the waterhole, And he drove with a lot of dash, But his balls full soon in the dread lagoon Fell down with a woeful splash.
"Oh, Father, why do you beat the sand Till it flies like the carded wool?" And the father he answered never a word, For his heart was much too full.
"Oh, Father, why are they shouting 'fore' And screaming so lustily?" But the father he answered never a word, A pallid corpse was he.
For a well-swung drive on the back of his head Had landed and laid him low.
Lord save us all from a fate like this When next to the links we go.

Written by Andrew Barton Paterson |

The Ballad of G. R. Dibbs

 This is the story of G.
, Who went on a mission across the sea To borrow some money for you and me.
This G.
Dibbs was a stalwart man Who was built on a most extensive plan, And a regular staunch Republican.
But he fell in the hands of the Tory crew Who said, "It's a shame that a man like you Should teach Australia this nasty view.
"From her mother's side she should ne'er be gone, And she ought to be glad to be smiled upon, And proud to be known as our hanger-on.
" And G.
Dibbs, he went off his peg At the swells who came for his smiles to beg And the Prince of Wales -- who was pulling his leg And he told them all when the wine had flown, "The Australian has got no land of his own, His home is England, and there alone.
" So he strutted along with the titled band And he sold the pride of his native land For a bow and a smile and a shake of the hand.
And the Tory drummers they sit and call: "Send over your leaders great and small; For the price is low, and we'll buy them all "With a tinsel title, a tawdry star Of a lower grade than our titles are, And a puff at a prince's big cigar.
" And the Tories laugh till they crack their ribs When they think how they purchased G.

Written by Andrew Barton Paterson |

The Old Australian Ways

 The London lights are far abeam 
Behind a bank of cloud, 
Along the shore the gaslights gleam, 
The gale is piping loud; 
And down the Channel, groping blind, 
We drive her through the haze 
Towards the land we left behind -- 
The good old land of `never mind', 
And old Australian ways.
The narrow ways of English folk Are not for such as we; They bear the long-accustomed yoke Of staid conservancy: But all our roads are new and strange, And through our blood there runs The vagabonding love of change That drove us westward of the range And westward of the suns.
The city folk go to and fro Behind a prison's bars, They never feel the breezes blow And never see the stars; They never hear in blossomed trees The music low and sweet Of wild birds making melodies, Nor catch the little laughing breeze That whispers in the wheat.
Our fathers came of roving stock That could not fixed abide: And we have followed field and flock Since e'er we learnt to ride; By miner's camp and shearing shed, In land of heat and drought, We followed where our fortunes led, With fortune always on ahead And always further out.
The wind is in the barley-grass, The wattles are in bloom; The breezes greet us as they pass With honey-sweet perfume; The parakeets go screaming by With flash of golden wing, And from the swamp the wild-ducks cry Their long-drawn note of revelry, Rejoicing at the Spring.
So throw the weary pen aside And let the papers rest, For we must saddle up and ride Towards the blue hill's breast; And we must travel far and fast Across their rugged maze, To find the Spring of Youth at last, And call back from the buried past The old Australian ways.
When Clancy took the drover's track In years of long ago, He drifted to the outer back Beyond the Overflow; By rolling plain and rocky shelf, With stockwhip in his hand, He reached at last, oh lucky elf, The Town of Come-and-help-yourself In Rough-and-ready Land.
And if it be that you would know The tracks he used to ride, Then you must saddle up and go Beyond the Queensland side -- Beyond the reach of rule or law, To ride the long day through, In Nature's homestead -- filled with awe You then might see what Clancy saw And know what Clancy knew.

Written by Andrew Barton Paterson |

The Protest

 I say 'e isn't Remorse! 
'Ow do I know? 
Saw 'im on Riccarton course 
Two year ago! 
Think I'd forget any 'orse? 
Course 'e's The Crow! 
Bumper Maginnis and I 
After a "go", 
Walkin' our 'orses to dry, 
I says "Hello! 
What's that old black goin' by?" 
Bumper says "Oh! 
That's an old cuddy of Flanagan's -- 
Runs as The Crow!" 

Now they make out 'e's Remorse.
Well, but I know.
Soon as I came on the course I says "'Ello! 'Ere's the old Crow.
" Once a man's seen any 'orse, Course 'e must know.
Sure as there's wood in this table, I say 'e's The Crow.
(Cross-examied by the Committee.
) 'Ow do I know the moke After one sight? S'posin' you meet a bloke Down town at night, Wouldn't you know 'im again when you meet 'im? That's 'im all right! What was the brand on 'is 'ide? I couldn't say, Brands can be transmogrified.
That ain't the way -- It's the look of a 'orse and the way that 'e moves That I'd know any day.
What was the boy on 'is back? Why, 'e went past All of a minute, and off down the track.
-- "The 'orse went as fast?" True, so 'e did! But my eyes, what a treat! 'Ow can I notice the 'ands and the seat Of each bumble-faced kid of a boy that I meet? Lor'! What a question to ast! (Protest Dismissed)

Written by Andrew Barton Paterson |


 Our hero was a Tommy with a conscience free from care, 
And such an open countenance that when he breathed the air 
He mopped up all the atmosphere -- so little went to spare 
You could hardly say he breathed, he "commandeered" it.
For nowadays you'll notice when a man is "on the make", And other people's property is anxious for to take, We never use such words as "steal", or "collar", "pinch", or "shake".
No, the fashion is to say we "commandeered" it.
And our simple-minded hero used to grumble at his lot, Said he, "This commandeerin's just a little bit too hot, A fellow has to carry every blooming thing he's got; Whatever he puts down they'll commandeer it.
" So after much anxiety our simple-minded elf He thought he'd do a little commandeering for himself, And the first thing that he'd noticed was a bottle on a shelf In a cottage, so he thought he'd commandeer it.
"What ho!" says he, "a bottle, and, by George, it's full of beer, And no commanding officer to come and interfere.
Here's my own blooming health," says he, "I'm on the commandeer.
" And without another word he commandeered it.
On his subsequent proceedings we must draw a little veil, For the Boers had left some sheep dip in that bottle labelled "Ale"; But the doctor said he's shift it -- if all other methods fail, We must use the stomach pump and commandeer it.

Written by Andrew Barton Paterson |

The Maoris Wool

 The Maoris are a mighty race -- the finest ever known; 
Before the missionaries came they worshipped wood and stone; 
They went to war and fought like fiends, and when the war was done 
They pacified their conquered foes by eating every one.
But now-a-days about the pahs in idleness they lurk, Prepared to smoke or drink or talk -- or anything but work.
The richest tribe in all the North in sheep and horse and cow, Were those who led their simple lives at Rooti-iti-au.
'Twas down to town at Wellington a noble Maori came, A Rangatira of the best, Rerenga was his name -- (The word Rerenga means a "snag" -- but until he was gone This didn't strike the folk he met -- it struck them later on).
He stalked into the Bank they call the "Great Financial Hell", And told the Chief Financial Fiend the tribe had wool to sell.
The Bold Bank Manager looked grave -- the price of wool was high.
He said, "We'll lend you what you need -- we're not disposed to buy.
"You ship the wool to England, Chief! -- You'll find it's good advice, And meanwhile you can draw from us the local market price.
" The Chief he thanked them courteously and said he wished to state In all the Rooti-iti tribe his mana would be freat, But still the tribe were simple folk, and did not understand This strange finance that gave them cash without the wool in hand.
So off he started home again, with trouble on his brow, To lay the case before the tribe at Rooti-iti-au.
They held a great korero in the Rooti-iti clan, With speeches lasting half a day from every leading man.
They called themselves poetic names -- "lost children in a wood"; They said the Great Bank Manager was Kapai -- extra good! And so they sent Rerenga down, full-powered and well-equipped, To draw as much as he could get, and let the wool be shipped; And wedged into a "Cargo Tank", full up from stern to bow, A mighty clip of wool went Home from Rooti-iti-au.
It was the Bold Bank Manager who drew a heavy cheque; Rerenga cashed it thoughtfully, then clasped him round the neck; A hug from him was not at all a thing you'd call a lark -- You see he lived on mutton-birds and dried remains of shark -- But still it showed his gratitude; and, as he pouched the pelf, "I'll haka for you, sir," he said, "in honour of yourself!" The haka is a striking dance -- the sort they don't allow In any place more civilized than Rooti-iti-au.
He "haka'd" most effectively -- then, with an airy grace, Rubbed noses with the Manager, and vanished into space.
But when the wool return came back, ah me, what sighs and groans! For every bale of Maori wool was loaded up with stones! Yes -- thumping great New Zealand rocks among the wool they found; On every rock the bank had lent just eighteen-pence a pound.
And now the Bold Bank Manager, with trouble on his brow, Is searching vainly for the chief from Rooti-iti-au.

Written by Andrew Barton Paterson |

The Lung Fish

 The Honorable Ardleigh Wyse 
Was every fisherman's despair; 
He caught his fish on floating flies, 
In fact he caught them in the air, 
And wet-fly men -- good sports, perhaps -- 
He called "those chuck-and-chance-it chaps".
And then the Fates that sometimes play A joke on such as me and you Deported him up Queensland way To act as a station jackaroo.
The boundary rider said, said he, "You fish dry fly? Well, so do we.
"These barramundi are the blokes To give you all the sport you need: For when the big lagoons and soaks Are dried right down to mud and weed They don't sit there and raise a roar, They pack their traps and come ashore.
"And all these rods and reels you lump Along the creek from day to day Would only give a man the hump Who does his fishing Queensland way.
For when the barramundi's thick We knock 'em over with a stick.
"The black boys on the Darwin side Will fill a creek with bitter leaves And when the fish are stupefied The gins will gather 'em in sheaves.
Now tell me, could a feller wish A finer way of catchin' fish?" The stokehold of the steamship Foam Contains our hero, very sick, A-working of his passage home And brandishing a blue gum stick.
"Behold," says he, "the latest fly; It's called the Great Australian Dry.