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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 | |

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 | |

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 | |

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 | |

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 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 | |

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 | |

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 | |

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 the 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 | |

Behind the Scenes

 The actor struts his little hour, 
Between the limelight and the band; 
The public feel the actor's power, 
Yet nothing do they understand 
Of all the touches here and there 
That make or mar the actor's part, 
They never see, beneath the glare, 
The artist striving after art.
To them it seems a labour slight Where nought of study intervenes; You see it in another light When once you've been behind the scenes.
For though the actor at his best Is, like a poet, born not made, He still must study with a zest And practise hard to learn his trade.
So, whether on the actor's form The stately robes of Hamlet sit, Or as Macbeth he rave and storm, Or plays burlesque to please the pit, 'Tis each and all a work of art, That constant care and practice means -- The actor who creates a part Has done his work behind the scenes.


by Andrew Barton Paterson | |

At the Melting of the Snow

 There's a sunny Southern land, 
And it's there that I would be 
Where the big hills stand, 
In the South Countrie! 
When the wattles bloom again, 
Then it's time for us to go 
To the old Monaro country 
At the melting of the snow.
To the East or to the West, Or wherever you may be, You will find no place Like the South Countrie.
For the skies are blue above, And the grass is green below, In the old Monaro country At the melting of the snow.
Now the team is in the plough, And the thrushes start to sing, And the pigeons on the bough Sit a-welcoming the Spring.
So come, my comrades all, Let us saddle up and go To the old Monaro country At the melting of the snow.


by Andrew Barton Paterson | |

Ave Ceasar

 Long ago the Gladiators, 
When the call to combat came, 
Marching past the massed spectators, 
Hailed the Emp'ror with acclaim! 
Voices ringing with the fury 
Of the strife so soon to be, 
Cried, "O Caesar, morituri 
salutamus te!" 

Nowadays the massed spectators 
See the unaccustomed sight -- 
Legislative gladiators 
Marching to their last great fight; 
Young and old, obscure and famous, 
Hand to hand and knee to knee -- 
Hear the war-cry, "Salutamus 
morituri te!" 

Fight! Nor be the fight suspended 
Till the corpses strew the plain.
Ere the grisly strife be ended Five and thirty must be slain.
Slay and spare not, lest another Haply may discomfit thee: Brother now must war with brother -- "Salutamus te!" War-torn vet'ran, skilled debater, Trickster famed of bridge and road, Now for each grim gladiator Gapes Oblivion's drear abode.
Should the last great final jury Turn their thumbs down -- it must be! "Ave, Caesar, morituri salutamus te!"


by Andrew Barton Paterson | |

Sunrise on the Coast

 Grey dawn on the sand-hills -- the night wind has drifted 
All night from the rollers a scent of the sea; 
With the dawn the grey fog his battalions has lifted, 
At the call of the morning they scatter and flee.
Like mariners calling the roll of their number The sea-fowl put out to the infinite deep.
And far overhead -- sinking softly to slumber -- Worn out by their watching the stars fall asleep.
To eastward, where rests the broad dome of the skies on The sea-line, stirs softly the curtain of night; And far from behind the enshrouded horizon Comes the voice of a God saying "Let there be light.
" And lo, there is light! Evanescent and tender, It glows ruby-red where 'twas now ashen-grey; And purple and scarlet and gold in its splendour -- Behold, 'tis that marvel, the birth of a day!


by Andrew Barton Paterson | |

Swinging the Lead

 Said the soldier to the Surgeon, "I've got noises in me head 
And a kind o' filled up feeling after every time I'm fed; 
I can sleep all night on picket, but I can't sleep in my bed".
And the Surgeon said, "That's Lead!" Said the soldier to the Surgeon, "Do you think they'll send me back? For I really ain't adapted to be carrying a pack Though I've humped a case of whisky half a mile upon my back".
And the Surgeon said, "That's Lead!" "And my legs have swelled up cruel, I can hardly walk at all, Bur when the Taubes come over you should see me start to crawl; When we're sprinting for the dugout, I can easy beat 'em all".
And the Surgeon said, "That's Lead!" So they sent him to the trenches where he landed safe and sound, And he drew his ammunition, just about two fifty round: "Oh Sergeant, what's this heavy stuff I've got to hump around?" And the Sergeant said, "That's Lead!"


by Andrew Barton Paterson | |

Do They Know?

 Do they know? At the turn to the straight 
Where the favourites fail, 
And every last atom of weight 
Is telling its tale; 
As some grim old stayer hard-pressed 
Runs true to his breed, 
And with head in front of the rest 
Fights on in the lead; 
When the jockeys are out with the whips, 
With a furlong to go, 
And the backers grow white in the lips -- 
Do you think they don't know? 
Do they know? As they come back to weigh 
In a whirlwind of cheers, 
Though the spurs have left marks of the fray, 
Though the sweat on the ears 
Gathers cold, and they sob with distress 
As they roll up the track, 
They know just as well their success 
As the man on their back.
As they walk through a dense human lane That sways to and fro, And cheers them again and again, Do you think they don't know?


by Andrew Barton Paterson | |

High Explosive

 'Twas the dingo pup to his dam that said, 
"It's time I worked for my daily bread.
Out in the world I intend to go, And you'd be surprised at the things I know.
"There's a wild duck's nest in a sheltered spot, And I'll go right down and I'll eat the lot.
" But when he got to his destined prey He found that the ducks had flown away.
But an egg was left that would quench his thirst, So he bit the egg and it straightway burst.
It burst with a bang, and he turned and fled, For he thought that the egg had shot him dead.
"Oh, mother," he said, "let us clear right out Or we'll lose our lives with the bombs about; And it's lucky I am that I'm not blown up - It's a very hard life," said the dingo pup.


by Andrew Barton Paterson | |

A Singer of the Bush

 There is waving of grass in the breeze
And a song in the air,
And a murmur of myriad bees
That toil everywhere.
There is scent in the blossom and bough, And the breath of the Spring Is as soft as a kiss on a brow -- And Spring-time I sing.
There is drought on the land, and the stock Tumble down in their tracks Or follow -- a tottering flock -- The scrub-cutter's axe.
While ever a creature survives The axes shall swing; We are fighting with fate for their lives -- And the combat I sing.


by Andrew Barton Paterson | |

He Giveth His Beloved Sleep

 The long day passes with its load of sorrow: 
In slumber deep 
I lay me down to rest until tomorrow -- 
Thank God for sleep.
Thank God for all respite from weary toiling, From cares that creep Across our lives like evil shadows, spoiling God's kindly sleep.
We plough and sow, and, as the hours grow later, We strive to reap, And build our barns, and hope to build them greater Before we sleep.
We toil and strain and strive with one another In hopes to heap Some greater share of profit than our brother Before we sleep.
What will it profit that with tears or laughter Our watch we keep? Beyond it all there lies the Great Hereafter! Thank God for sleep! For, at the last, beseeching Christ to save us We turn with deep Heartfelt thanksgiving unto God, who gave us The Gift of Sleep.