The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #168402   Message #4068901
Posted By: Sandra in Sydney
19-Aug-20 - 10:11 PM
Thread Name: Rise Up Mudcat Songbook - Australia
Subject: RE: Rise Up Mudcat Songbook - Australia
Dorothy Hewett's Weevils in the flour

http://unionsong.com/u140.html - lyrics "Weevils in the flour" + original poem "Where I grew to be a man"

    On an island in a river
    How that bitter river ran
    I grew on scraps of charity
    In the best way that you can
    On an island in a river
    Where I grew to be a man.

    Chorus
    For dole bread is bitter bread
    Bitter bread and sour
    There's grief in the taste of it
    There's weevils in the flour
    There's weevils in the flour

    And just across the river
    Stood the mighty B.H.P.,
    Poured pollution on the waters,
    Poured the lead of misery
    And its smoke was black as Hades
    Rolling hungry to the sea.

    In those humpies by the river
    Where we lived on dole and stew,
    While just across the river
    Those greedy smokestacks grew,
    And the hunger of the many
    Filled the bellies of the few.

    On an island in a river
    How that bitter river ran
    It broke the banks of charity
    And it baked the bread of man
    On an island in a river
    Where I grew to be a man.

    Last chorus:
    For dole bread is bitter bread
    There's a weevils in the flour
    But men grow strong as iron upon
    Black bread and sour,
    Black bread and sour.

    Notes

    Many thanks to Dorothy Hewett and Mike Leyden for permission to include this song in the Union Songs collection

    Weevils in the Flour was published in Australian Tradition, November 1965 and is sung here by Declan Affley, from the 1987 memorial LP 'Declan Affley'

    here is the original poem:

    Where I Grew To Be a Man

    On an island in a river,
    How that bitter river ran!
    I grew on scraps of charity
    In the best way that you can,
    On that island in the river
    Where I grew to be a man.

          For dole bread is bitter bread,
                  Black bread and sour,
          There's grief in the taste of it,
          There's weevils in the flour.

    And just across the river
    Stood the mighty B.H.P.,
    Poured pollution on the waters,
    Poured the lead of misery,
    And its smoke was black as Hades
    Rolling hungry to the sea.

    In those humpies by the river,
    We lived on dole and stew,
    And just across the river
    Those greedy smokestacks grew,
    And the hunger of the many
    Filled the bellies of the few.

    Oh! Winter on the river
    Was a time of bitter cold,
    A time of hungry bellies
    And children growing old,
    And men with nothing else to do
    But watch the river roll.

          For dole bread is bitter bread,
                  Black bread and sour,
          There's grief in the taste of it,
          There's weevils in the flour.

    Oh! cats on the river,
    And men on the tide,
    They all became a commonplace
    On our river side,
    And even mothers couldn't weep
    When new-born babies died.

    Oh! black was the steel town,
    And black was the smoke,
    Cold-black the river water
    That can gag a man and choke,
    Till he dreams up a furnace fire
    Of his own to stoke.

    We met beside the river
    With the ghosts of good men drowned,
    We picketed the steel mill
    And we banked our hunger down
    With words that stung and deeds that hung
    Like live things on the town.

          For dole bread is bitter bread,
          There's weevils in the flour,
          There's rage in the taste of it.
                  Black bread and sour!

    On an island in a river,
    How that bitter river ran!
    It broke the banks of charity,
    It baked the bread of man,
    On that island in the river
    Where I grew to be a man.

          For dole bread is bitter bread,
          There's weevils in the flour,
          But men grow strong as iron upon
                  Black bread and sour!