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Best Famous Andrew Barton Paterson Poems

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by Andrew Barton Paterson | |

Not On It

 The new chum's polo pony was the smartest pony yet -- 
The owner backed it for the Cup for all that he could get.
The books were laying fives to one, in tenners; and you bet He was on it.
The bell was rung, the nags came out their quality to try, The band played, "What Ho! Robbo!" as our hero cantered by, The people in the Leger Stand cried out, "Hi, mister, hi! Are you on it?" They watched him as the flag went down; his fate is quickly told -- The pony gave a sudden spring, and off the rider rolled.
The pony finished first all right, but then our hero bold Was not on it.


by Andrew Barton Paterson | |

The Angels Kiss

 An angel stood beside the bed 
Where lay the living and the dead.
He gave the mother -- her who died -- A kiss that Christ the Crucified Had sent to greet the weary soul When, worn and faint, it reached its goal.
He gave the infant kisses twain, One on the breast, one on the brain.
"Go forth into the world," he said, "With blessings on your heart and head, "For God, who ruleth righteously, Hath ordered that to such as be "From birth deprived of mother's love, I bring His blessing from above; "But if the mother's life he spare Then she is made God's messenger "To kiss and pray that heart and brain May go through life without a stain.
" The infant moved towards the light, The angel spread his wings in flight.
But each man carries to his grave The kisses that in hopes to save The angel or his mother gave.


by Andrew Barton Paterson | |

A Bunch of Roses

 Roses ruddy and roses white, 
What are the joys that my heart discloses? 
Sitting alone in the fading light 
Memories come to me here tonight 
With the wonderful scent of the big red roses.
Memories come as the daylight fades Down on the hearth where the firelight dozes; Flicker and flutter the lights and shades, And I see the face of a queen of maids Whose memory comes with the scent of roses.
Visions arise of a scent of mirth, And a ball-room belle who superbly poses -- A queenly woman of queenly worth, And I am the happiest man on earth With a single flower from a bunch of roses.
Only her memory lives tonight -- God in his wisdom her young life closes; Over her grave may the turf be light, Cover her coffin with roses white She was always fond of the big white roses.
* Such are the visions that fade away -- Man proposes and God disposes; Look in the glass and I see today Only an old man, worn and grey, Bending his head to a bunch of roses.


More great poems below...

by Andrew Barton Paterson | |

The Ballad of M. T. Nutt and His Dog

 The Honourable M.
T.
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!"


by Andrew Barton Paterson | |

Any Other Time

 ALL of us play our very best game— 
Any other time.
Golf or billiards, it’s all the same— Any other time.
Lose a match and you always say, “Just my luck! I was ‘off’ to-day! I could have beaten him quite half-way— Any other time!” After a fiver you ought to go— Any other time.
Every man that you ask says “Oh, Any other time.
Lend you a fiver! I’d lend you two, But I’m overdrawn and my bills are due, Wish you’d ask me—now, mind you do— Any other time!” Fellows will ask you out to dine— Any other time.
“Not to-night, for we’re twenty-nine — Any other time.
Not to-morrow, for cook’s on strike, Not next day, I’ll be out on the bike — Just drop in whenever you like — Any other time!” Seasick passengers like the sea— Any other time.
“Something .
.
I ate .
.
disagreed .
.
with me! Any other time Ocean-trav’lling is .
.
simply bliss, Must be my .
.
liver .
.
has gone amiss .
.
Why, I would .
.
laugh .
.
at a sea .
.
like this— Any other time.
” Most of us mean to be better men— Any other time: Regular upright characters then— Any other time.
Yet somehow as the years go by Still we gamble and drink and lie, When it comes to the last we’ll want to die— Any other time!


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.


by Andrew Barton Paterson | |

The Flying Gang

 And I worked my way to the end, and I 
Was the head of the "Flying Gang".
'Twas a chosen band that was kept at hand In case of an urgent need; Was it south or north, we were started forth And away at our utmost speed.
If word reached town that a bridge was down, The imperious summons rang -- "Come out with the pilot engine sharp, And away with the flying gang.
" Then a piercing scream and a rush of steam As the engine moved ahead; With measured beat by the slum and street Of the busy town we fled, By the uplands bright and the homesteads white, With the rush of the western gale -- And the pilot swayed with the pace we made As she rocked on the ringing rail.
And the country children clapped their hands As the engine's echoes rang, But their elders said: "There is work ahead When they send for the flying gang.
" Then across the miles of the saltbush plain That gleamed with the morning dew, Where the grasses waved like the ripening grain The pilot engine flew -- A fiery rush in the open bush Where the grade marks seemed to fly, And the order sped on the wires ahead, The pilot must go by.
The Governor's special must stand aside, And the fast express go hang; Let your orders be that the line is free For the boys in the flying gang.


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.


by Andrew Barton Paterson | |

A Triolet

 Of all the sickly forms of verse, 
Commend me to the triolet.
It makes bad writers somewhat worse: Of all the sickly forms of verse, That fall beneath a reader's curse, It is the feeblest jingle yet.
Of all the sickly forms of verse, Commend me to the triolet.


by Andrew Barton Paterson | |

Camouflage

 Beside the bare and beaten track of travelling flocks and herds 
The woodpecker went tapping on, the postman of the birds, 
"I've got a letter here," he said, "that no one's understood, 
Addressed as follows: 'To the bird that's like a piece of wood.
' "The soldier bird got very cross -- it wasn't meant for her; The spurwing plover had a try to stab me with a spur: The jackass laughed, and said the thing was written for a lark.
I think I'll chuck this postman job and take to stripping bark.
" Then all the birds for miles around came in to lend a hand; They perched upon a broken limb as thick as they could stand, And just as old man eaglehawk prepared to have his say A portion of the broken limb got up and flew away.
Then, casting grammar to the winds, the postman said, "That's him! The boobook owl -- he squats himself along a broken limb, And pokes his beak up like a stick; there's not a bird, I vow, Can tell you which is boobook owl and which is broken bough.
"And that's the thing he calls his nest -- that jerry-built affair -- A bunch of sticks across a fork; I'll leave his letter there.
A cuckoo wouldn't use his nest, but what's the odds to him -- A bird that tries to imitate a piece of leaning limb!"


by Andrew Barton Paterson | |

Camouflage

 Beside the bare and beaten track of travelling flocks and herds 
The woodpecker went tapping on, the postman of the birds, 
"I've got a letter here," he said, "that no one's understood, 
Addressed as follows: 'To the bird that's like a piece of wood.
' "The soldier bird got very cross -- it wasn't meant for her; The spurwing plover had a try to stab me with a spur: The jackass laughed, and said the thing was written for a lark.
I think I'll chuck this postman job and take to stripping bark.
" Then all the birds for miles around came in to lend a hand; They perched upon a broken limb as thick as they could stand, And just as old man eaglehawk prepared to have his say A portion of the broken limb got up and flew away.
Then, casting grammar to the winds, the postman said, "That's him! The boobook owl -- he squats himself along a broken limb, And pokes his beak up like a stick; there's not a bird, I vow, Can tell you which is boobook owl and which is broken bough.
"And that's the thing he calls his nest -- that jerry-built affair -- A bunch of sticks across a fork; I'll leave his letter there.
A cuckoo wouldn't use his nest, but what's the odds to him -- A bird that tries to imitate a piece of leaning limb!"


by Andrew Barton Paterson | |

Waltzing Matilda

 Oh! there once was a swagman camped in the Billabong,
 Under the shade of a Coolabah tree;
And he sang as he looked at his old billy boiling,
 "Who'll come a-waltzing Matilda with me.
" Who'll come a-waltzing Matilda, my darling, Who'll come a-waltzing Matilda with me? Waltzing Matilda and leading a water-bag— Who'll come a-waltzing Matilda with me? Down came a jumbuck to drink at the water-hole, Up jumped the swagman and grabbed him in glee; And he sang as he put him away in his tucker-bag, "You'll come a-waltzing Matilda with me!" Down came the Squatter a-riding his thorough-bred; Down came Policemen—one, two, and three.
"Whose is the jumbuck you've got in the tucker-bag? You'll come a-waltzing Matilda with me.
" But the swagman, he up and he jumped in the water-hole, Drowning himself by the Coolabah tree; And his ghost may be heard as it sings in the Billabong, "Who'll come a-waltzing Matilda with me?"


by Andrew Barton Paterson | |

A Dogs Mistake

 He had drifted in among us as a straw drifts with the tide, 
He was just a wand'ring mongrel from the weary world outside; 
He was not aristocratic, being mostly ribs and hair, 
With a hint of spaniel parents and a touch of native bear.
He was very poor and humble and content with what he got, So we fed him bones and biscuits, till he heartened up a lot; Then he growled and grew aggressive, treating orders with disdain, Till at last he bit the butcher, which would argue want of brain.
Now the butcher, noble fellow, was a sport beyond belief, And instead of bringing actions he brought half a shin of beef, Which he handed on to Fido, who received it as a right And removed it to the garden, where he buried it at night.
'Twas the means of his undoing, for my wife, who'd stood his friend, To adopt a slang expression, "went in off the deepest end", For among the pinks and pansies, the gloxinias and the gorse He had made an excavation like a graveyard for a horse.
Then we held a consultation which decided on his fate: 'Twas in anger more than sorrow that we led him to the gate, And we handed him the beef-bone as provision for the day, Then we opened wide the portal and we told him, "On your way.
"


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.


by Andrew Barton Paterson | |

An Emu Hunt

 West of Dubbo the west begins 
The land of leisure and hope and trust, 
Where the black man stalks with his dogs and gins 
And Nature visits the settlers' sins 
With the Bogan shower, that is mostly dust.
When the roley-poley's roots dry out With the fierce hot winds and the want of rain, They come uprooted and bound about And dance in a wild fantastic rout Like flying haystacks across the plain.
And the horses shudder and snort and shift As the bounding mass of weeds goes past, But the emus never their heads uplift As they look for roots in the sandy drift, For the emus know it from first to last.
Now, the boss's dog that had come from town Was strange to the wild and woolly west, And he thought he would earn him some great renown When he saw, on the wastes of the open down, An emu standing beside her nest.
And he said to himself as he stalked his prey To start on his first great emu hunt, "I must show some speed when she runs away, For emus kick very hard, they say; But I can't be kicked if I keep in front.
" The emu chickens made haste to flee As he barked and he snarled and he darted around, But the emu looked at him scornfully And put an end to his warlike glee With a kick that lifted him off the ground.
And when, with an injured rib or two, He made for home with a chastened mind, An old dog told him, "I thought you knew An emu kicks like a kangaroo, And you can't get hurt -- if you keep behind.
"


by Andrew Barton Paterson | |

A Change of Menu

 Now the new chum loaded his three-nought-three, 
It's a small-bore gun, but his hopes were big.
"I am fed to the teeth with old ewe," said he, "And I might be able to shoot a pig.
" And he trusted more to his nose than ear To give him warning when pigs were near.
Out of his lair in the lignum dark.
Where the wild duck nests and the bilbie digs, With a whoof and a snort and a kind of bark There rose the father of all the pigs: And a tiger would have walked wide of him As he stropped his tusks on a leaning limb.
Then the new chum's three-nought-three gave tongue Like a popgun fired in an opera bouffe: But a pig that was old when the world was young Is near as possible bullet-proof.
(The more you shoot him the less he dies, Unless you catch him between the eyes.
) So the new chum saw it was up to him To become extinct if he stopped to shoot; So he made a leap for a gidgee limb While the tusker narrowly missed his boot.
Then he found a fork, where he swayed in air As he gripped the boughs like a native bear.
The pig sat silent and gaunt and grim To wait and wait till his foe should fall: For night and day were the same to him, And home was any old place at all.
"I must wait," said he, "till this sportsman drops; I could use his boots for a pair of strops.
" The crows that watch from the distant blue Came down to see what it all might mean; An eaglehawk and a cockatoo Bestowed their patronage on the scene.
Till a far-off boundary rider said "I must have a look -- there is something dead.
" Now the new chum sits at his Christmas fare Of a dried-up chop from a tough old ewe.
Says he, "It's better than native bear And nearly as tender as kangaroo.
An emu's egg I can masticate, But pork," says he, "is the thing I hate.
"


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!


by Andrew Barton Paterson | |

The Road to Old Mans Town

 The fields of youth are filled with flowers, 
The wine of youth is strong: 
What need have we to count the hours? 
The summer days are long.
But soon we find to our dismay That we are drifting down The barren slopes that fall away Towards the foothills grim and grey That lead to Old Man's Town.
And marching with us on the track Full many friends we find: We see them looking sadly back For those who've dropped behind But God forfend a fate so dread -- Alone to travel down The dreary road we all must tread, With faltering steps and whitening head, The road to Old Man's Town!


by Andrew Barton Paterson | |

Frogs in chorus

 The chorus frogs in the big lagoon 
Would sing their songs to the silvery moon.
Tenor singers were out of place, For every frog was a double bass.
But never a human chorus yet Could beat the accurate time they set.
The solo singer began the joke; He sang, "As long as I live I'll croak, Croak, I'll croak," And the chorus followed him: "Croak, croak, croak!" The poet frog, in his plaintive tone, Sang of a sorrow was all his own; "How shall I win to my heart's desire? How shall I feel my spirit's fire?" And the solo frog in his deepest croak, "To fire your spirit," he sang, "eat coke, Coke, eat coke," And the chorus followed him: "Coke, coke, coke!" The green frog sat in a swampy spot And he sang the song of he knew not what.
"The world is rotten, oh cursed plight, That I am the frog that must set it right.
How shall I scatter the shades that lurk?" And the old man bullfrog sang, "Get work, Work, get work," And the chorus followed him: "Work, work, work!" The soaring spirits that fain would fly On wings of hope to the starry sky Must face the snarls of the jealous dogs, For the world is ruled by its chorus frogs.


by Andrew Barton Paterson | |

Hard Luck

 I left the course, and by my side 
There walked a ruined tout -- 
A hungry creature, evil-eyed, 
Who poured this story out.
"You see," he said, "there came a swell To Kensington today, And, if I picked the winners well, A crown at least he's pay.
"I picked three winners straight, I did; I filled his purse with pelf, And then he gave me half-a-quid To back one for myself.
"A half-a-quid to me he cast -- I wanted it indeed; So help me Bob, for two days past I haven't had a feed.
"But still I thought my luck was in, I couldn't go astray -- I put it all on Little Min, And lost it straightaway.
"I haven't got a bite or bed, I'm absolutely stuck; So keep this lesson in your head: Don't over-trust your luck!" The folks went homeward, near and far, The tout, oh! where is he? Ask where the empty boilers are Beside the Circular Quay.


by Andrew Barton Paterson | |

Out of Sight

 They held a polo meeting at a little country town, 
And all the local sportsmen came to win themselves renown.
There came two strangers with a horse, and I am much afraid They both belonged to what is called "the take-you-down brigade".
They said their horse could jump like fun, and asked an amateur To ride him in the steeplechase, and told him they were sure The last time round he'd sail away with such a swallow's flight The rest would never see him go -- he's finish out of sight.
So out he went; and, when folk saw the amateur was up, Some local genius called the race "the Dude-in-Danger Cup".
The horse was known as "Who's Afraid", by "Panic" from "The Fright" -- But still his owners told the jock he's finish out of sight.
And so he did; for Who's Afraid, without the least pretence, Disposed of him by rushing through the very second fence; And when they ran the last time round the prophecy was right -- For he was in the ambulance, and safely "out of sight".


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.
"


by Andrew Barton Paterson | |

Opening of the Railway Line

 The opening of the railway line.
.
.
The Governor and all, With flags and banners down the street, A banquet and a ball, Hark to them at the station now ! They're raising cheer on cheer, The man who brought the railway through, Our friend the engineer.


by Andrew Barton Paterson | |

Australian Scenery

 The Mountains 
A land of sombre, silent hills, where mountain cattle go 
By twisted tracks, on sidelings deep, where giant gum trees grow 
And the wind replies, in the river oaks, to the song of the stream below.
A land where the hills keep watch and ward, silent and wide awake As those who sit by a dead campfire, and wait for the dawn to break, Or those who watched by the Holy Cross for the dead Redeemer's sake.
A land where silence lies so deep that sound itself is dead And a gaunt grey bird, like a homeless soul, drifts, noiseless, overhead And the world's great story is left untold, and the message is left unsaid.
The Plains A land as far as the eye can see, where the waving grasses grow Or the plains are blackened and burnt and bare, where the false mirages go Like shifting symbols of hope deferred -- land where you never know.
Land of plenty or land of want, where the grey Companions dance, Feast or famine, or hope or fear, and in all things land of chance, Where Nature pampers or Nature slays, in her ruthless, red, romance.
And we catch a sound of a fairy's song, as the wind goes whipping by, Or a scent like incense drifts along from the herbage ripe and dry -- Or the dust storms dance on their ballroom floor, where the bones of the cattle lie.


by Andrew Barton Paterson | |

Riders in the Stand

 There's some that ride the Robbo style, and bump at every stride; 
While others sit a long way back, to get a longer ride.
There's some that ride as sailors do, with legs, and arms, and teeth; And some that ride the horse's neck, and some ride underneath.
But all the finest horsemen out -- the men to Beat the Band -- You'll find amongst the crowd that ride their races in the Stand.
They'll say "He had the race in hand, and lost it in the straight.
" They'll know how Godby came too soon, and Barden came too late They'll say Chevalley lost his nerve, and Regan lost his head; They'll tell how one was "livened up" and something else was "dead" -- In fact, the race was never run on sea, or sky, or land, But what you'd get it better done by riders in the Stand.
The rule holds good in everything in life's uncertain fight; You'll find the winner can't go wrong, the loser can't go right.
You ride a slashing race, and lose -- by one and all you're banned! Ride like a bag of flour, and win -- they'll cheer you in the Stand