The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #86350   Message #1609213
Posted By: Bob Bolton
19-Nov-05 - 08:32 PM
Thread Name: Lyr/Tune Req: Humping the Drum
Subject: Lyr Add: ON THE WALLABY (Henry Lawson)
G'day Barbara,

Here are the words, from: Henry Lawson, Collected Verse, Volume one: 1895 - 1900, (Ed.) Colin Roderick, Angus & Robertson (Australia, 1967).

On The Wallaby

Henry Lawson

Now the tent poles are rotting, the camp fires are dead,
And the possums may gambol in trees overhead;
I am humping my bluey far out on the land,
And the prints of my bluchers sink deep in the sand:
I am out on the wallaby humping my drum,
And I came by the tracks where the sundowners come.

It is nor'-west and west o'er the ranges and far
To the plains where the cattle and sheep stations are,
With the sky for my roof and the grass for my bunk,
And a calico bag for my damper and junk;
And scarcely a comrade my memory reveals,
Save the spiritless dingo in tow of my heels. *

But I think of the honest old light of my home
When the stars hang in clusters like lamps from the dome,
And I think of the hearth where the dark shadows fall,
When my camp fire is built on the widest of all;
But I'm following Fate, for I know she knows best,
I follow, she leads, and it's nor'-west by west.

When my tent is all torn and my blankets are damp,
And the rising flood waters flow fast by the camp,
When the cold water rises in jets from the floor,
I lie in my bunk and I list to the roar,
And I think how to-morrow my footsteps will lag
When I tramp 'neath the weight of a rain-sodden swag.

Though the way of the swagman is mostly up-hill,
There are joys to be found on the wallaby still.
When the day has gone by with its tramp or its toil,
And your camp fire you light, and your billy you boil,
There is comfort and peace in the bowl of your clay
Or the yarn of a mate who is tramping that way.

But beware of the town-there is poison for years
In the pleasure you find in the depths of long beers;
For the bushman gets bushed in the streets of a town,
Where he loses his friends when his cheque is knocked down;
He is right till his pockets are empty, and then -
He can hump his old bluey up country again.

[Brisbane, July 1891    (revised August 1891)l

Chris Kempster, in a footnote, in his The Songs of Henry Lawson, remarks::
* In the version collected by Arthur, Michell and McGoldrick, some changes in the poem have occurred. All however are minor except for this half line, which became 'And the spirit does tingle at my toe and my heel." I guess that's an interesting early "Mondegreen"!

It is interesting that this poem was written in the midst of the great strife of the Shearer's Strike ... a seminal event that drove Australia towards a democratic and egalitarian temper that is only now being ground under by our Federal Goverment and it US allies.