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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 |

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.

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 |

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 |

A Voice from the Town

 I thought, in the days of the droving, 
Of steps I might hope to retrace, 
To be done with the bush and the roving 
And settle once more in my place.
With a heart that was well nigh to breaking, In the long, lonely rides on the plain, I thought of the pleasure of taking The hand of a lady again.
I am back into civilization, Once more in the stir and the strife, But the old joys have lost their sensation -- The light has gone out of my life; The men of my time they have married, Made fortunes or gone to the wall; Too long from the scene I have tarried, And somehow, I'm out of it all.
For I go to the balls and the races A lonely companionless elf, And the ladies bestow all their graces On others less grey than myself; While the talk goes around I'm a dumb one 'Midst youngsters that chatter and prate, And they call me "The Man who was Someone Way back in the year Sixty-eight.
" And I look, sour and old, at the dancers That swing to the strains of the band, And the ladies all give me the Lancers, No waltzes -- I quite understand.
For matrons intent upon matching Their daughters with infinite push, Would scarce think him worthy the catching, The broken-down man from the bush.
New partners have come and new faces, And I, of the bygone brigade, Sharply feel that oblivion my place is -- I must lie with the rest in the shade.
And the youngsters, fresh-featured and pleasant, They live as we lived -- fairly fast; But I doubt if the men of the present Are as good as the men of the past.
Of excitement and praise they are chary, There is nothing much good upon earth; Their watchword is nil admirari, They are bored from the days of their birth.
Where the life that we led was a revel They "wince and relent and refrain" -- I could show them the road -- to the devil, Were I only a youngster again.
I could show them the road where the stumps are, The pleasures that end in remorse, And the game where the Devil's three trumps are The woman, the card, and the horse.
Shall the blind lead the blind -- shall the sower Of wind read the storm as of yore? Though they get to their goal somewhat slower, They march where we hurried before.
For the world never learns -- just as we did They gallantly go to their fate, Unheeded all warnings, unheeded The maxims of elders sedate.
As the husbandman, patiently toiling, Draws a harvest each year from the soil, So the fools grow afresh for the spoiling, And a new crop of thieves for the spoil.
But a truce to this dull moralizing, Let them drink while the drops are of gold.
I have tasted the dregs -- 'twere surprising Were the new wine to me like the old; And I weary for lack of employment In idleness day after day, For the key to the door of enjoyment Is Youth -- and I've thrown it away.

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 |

Shearing at Castlereagh

 The bell is set a-ringing, and the engine gives a toot, 
There's five-and-thirty shearers here a-shearing for the loot, 
So stir yourselves, you penners-up, and shove the sheep along -- 
The musterers are fetching them a hundred thousand strong -- 
And make your collie dogs speak up; what would the buyers say 
In London if the wool was late this year from Castlereagh? 
The man that "rung" the Tubbo shed is not the ringer here, 
That stripling from the Cooma-side can teach him how to shear.
They trim away the ragged locks, and rip the cutter goes, And leaves a track of snowy fleece from brisket to the nose; It's lovely how they peel it off with never stop nor stay, They're racing for the ringer's place this year at Castlereagh.
The man that keeps the cutters sharp is growling in his cage, He's always in a hurry; and he's always in a rage -- "You clumsy-fisted mutton-heads, you'd turn a fellow sick, You pass yourselves as shearers, you were born to swing a pick.
Another broken cutter here, that's two you've broke today, It's awful how such crawlers come to shear at Castlereagh.
" The youngsters picking up the fleece enjoy the merry din, They throw the classer up the fleece, he throws it to the bin; The pressers standing by the rack are watching for the wool, There's room for just a couple more, the press is nearly full; Now jump upon the lever, lads, and heave and heave away, Another bale of golden fleece is branded "Castlereagh".

Written by Andrew Barton Paterson |

The First Surveyor

 'The man who brought the railway through -- our friend the engineer.
' They cheer his pluck and enterprise and engineering skill! 'Twas my old husband found the pass behind that big red hill.
Before the engineer was born we'd settled with our stock Behind that great big mountain chain, a line of range and rock -- A line that kept us starving there in weary weeks of drought, With ne'er a track across the range to let the cattle out.
"'Twas then, with horses starved and weak and scarcely fit to crawl, My husband went to find a way across the rocky wall.
He vanished in the wilderness -- God knows where he was gone -- He hunted till his food gave out, but still he battled on.
His horses strayed ('twas well they did), they made towards the grass, And down behind that big red hill they found an easy pass.
"He followed up and blazed the trees, to show the safest track, Then drew his belt another hole and turned and started back.
His horses died -- just one pulled through with nothing much to spare; God bless the beast that brought him home, the old white Arab mare! We drove the cattle through the hills, along the new-found way, And this was our first camping-ground -- just where I live today.
"Then others came across the range and built the township here, And then there came the railway line and this young engineer; He drove about with tents and traps, a cook to cook his meals, A bath to wash himself at night, a chain-man at his heels.
And that was all the pluck and skill for which he's cheered and praised, For after all he took the track, the same my husband blazed! "My poor old husband, dead and gone with never a feast nor cheer; He's buried by the railway line! -- I wonder can he hear When by the very track he marked, and close to where he's laid, The cattle trains go roaring down the one-in-thirty grade.
I wonder does he hear them pass, and can he see the sight When, whistling shrill, the fast express goes flaming by at night.
"I think 'twould comfort him to know there's someone left to care; I'll take some things this very night and hold a banquet there -- The hard old fare we've often shared together, him and me, Some damper and a bite of beef, a pannikin of tea: We'll do without the bands and flags, the speeches and the fuss, We know who ought to get the cheers -- and that's enough for us.
"What's that? They wish that I'd come down -- the oldest settler here! Present me to the Governor and that young engineer! Well, just you tell his Excellence, and put the thing polite, I'm sorry, but I can't come down -- I'm dining out tonight!"

Written by Andrew Barton Paterson |


 We've travelled per Joe Gardiner, a humping of our swag 
In the country of the Gidgee and Belar.
We've swum the Di'mantina with our raiment in a bag, And we've travelled per superior motor car, But when we went to Germany we hadn't any choice, No matter what our training or pursuits, For they gave us no selection 'twixt a Ford or Rolls de Royce So we did it in our good Australian boots.
They called us "mad Australians"; they couldn't understand How officers and men could fraternise, Thay said that we were "reckless", we were "wild, and out of hand", With nothing great or sacred to our eyes.
But on one thing you could gamble, in the thickest of the fray, Though they called us volunteers and raw recruits, You could track us past the shell holes, and the tracks were all one way Of the good Australian ammunition boots.
The Highlanders were next of kin, the Irish were a treat, The Yankees knew it all and had to learn, The Frenchmen kept it going, both in vict'ry and defeat, Fighting grimly till the tide was on the turn.
And our army kept beside 'em, did its bit and took its chance, And I hailed our newborn nation and its fruits, As I listened to the clatter on the cobblestones of France Of the good Australian military boots.

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 |

A Bush Lawyer

 When Ironbark the turtle came to Anthony's lagoon 
The hills were hid behind a mist of equinoctal rain, 
The ripple of the rivulets was like a cheerful tune 
And wild companions waltzed among the grass as tall as grain.
But Ironbark the turtle cared no whit for all of these; The ripple of the rivulets, the rustle of the trees Were only apple sauce to him, or just a piece of cheese.
Now, Dan-di-dan the water rat was exquisitely dressed, For not a seal in Bass's Straits had half as fine a coat, And every day he combed and brushed his golden-yellow vest, A contrast with the white cravat he wore beneath his throat.
And Dan-di-dan the water rat could move with ease and grace, So Ironbark appeared to him a creature out of place, With iron-plated overcoat and dirty little face.
A crawfish at the point of death came drifting down the drains.
Said he, "I'm scalded to the heart with bathing near the bore.
" The turtle and the water rat disputed his remains, For crawfish meat all day they'd eat, and then they'd ask for more.
Said Dan-di-dan, "The prize is mine, for I was fishing here Before you tumbled down the bank and landed on your ear.
" "I wouldn't care," the turtle said, "if you'd have fished a year.
" So Baggy-beak the Pelican was asked to arbitrate; The scales of justice seemed to hang beneath his noble beak.
He said, "I'll take possession of the subject of debate"; He stowed the fish inside his pouch and then began to speak.
"The case is far from clear," he said, "and justices of note" -- But here he snapped his beak and flapped his piebald overcoat -- "Oh dear," he said, "that wretched fish has slithered down my throat.
" "But still," he said, "the point involved requires a full debate.
I'll have to get the lawyer birds and fix a special day.
Ad interim I rule that costs come out of the estate.
" And Baggy-beak the Pelican got up and flew away.
So both the pair who went to law were feeling very small.
Said they, "We might have halved the fish and saved a nasty brawl; For half a crawfish isn't much, but more than none at all.

Written by Andrew Barton Paterson |

The Two Devines

 It was shearing time at the Myall Lake, 
And then rose the sound through the livelong day 
Of the constant clash that the shear-blades make 
When the fastest shearers are making play; 
But there wasn't a man in the shearers' lines 
That could shear a sheep with the two Devines.
They had rung the sheds of the east and west, Had beaten the cracks of the Walgett side, And the Cooma shearers had given them best -- When they saw them shear, they were satisfied.
From the southern slopes to the western pines They were noted men, were the two Devines.
'Twas a wether flock that had come to hand, Great struggling brutes, that shearers shirk, For the fleece was filled with the grass and sand, And seventy sheep was a big day's work.
"At a pound a hundred it's dashed hard lines To shear such sheep," said the two Devines.
But the shearers knew that they's make a cheque When they came to deal with the station ewes; They were bare of belly and bare of neck With a fleece as light as a kangaroo's.
"We will show the boss how a shear-blade shines When we reach those ewes," said the two Devines.
But it chanced next day, when the stunted pines Were swayed and stirred by the dawn-wind's breath, That a message came for the two Devines That their father lay at the point of death.
So away at speed through the whispering pines Down the bridle-track rode the two Devines.
It was fifty miles to their father's hut, And the dawn was bright when they rode away; At the fall of night, when the shed was shut And the men had rest from the toilsome day, To the shed once more through the darkening pines On their weary steeds came the two Devines.
"Well, you're back right sudden,"the super said; "Is the old man dead and the funeral done?" "Well, no sir, he ain't not exactly dead, But as good as dead," said the eldest son -- "And we couldn't bear such a chance to lose, So we came straight back to tackle the ewes.
" * They are shearing ewes at the Myall Lake, And the shed is merry the livelong day With the clashing sound that the shear-blades make When the fastest shearers are making play; And a couple of "hundred and ninety-nines" Are the tallies made by the two Devines.