The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #168402   Message #4077369
Posted By: rich-joy
29-Oct-20 - 09:16 PM
Thread Name: Rise Up Mudcat Songbook - Australia
Subject: RE: Rise Up Mudcat Songbook - Australia
This poem was a huge favourite in class of my Grade 6 – 7 in the early 60s. We wept buckets internally, whilst a few tears were allowed escape to run down sweaty cheeks (well, dry summer temps of 100* were not unusual in Perth in those days).

A setting by renowned folkie, Martyn Wyndham-Read :

A setting by country legend, Slim Dusty :

But, I’m afraid I find neither of those chunes very satisfying!! Does anyone know of alternatives??

The Ballad of the Drover

Across the stoney ridges,
Across the lonely plain,
Young Harry Dale, the drover,
Comes riding home again.
And well his stock horse bears him;
And light of heart is he ;
And stoutly his old pack horse
Is trotting by his knee.

Up Queensland way with cattle
He travell'd regions vast ;
And many months have vanish'd
Since home has known him. last.
He hums of some one
He hopes to marry soon ;
And hobble-chains and campware
Keep jingling to the tune.

Beyond the sunny dado
Against the lower skies,
And yon blue line of ranges
The distant station lies.
And thitherward the drover
Jogs through the hazy noon,
With hobble-chains and campware
All jingling to a tune.

An hour has fill'd the heavens
With clouds all inky black ;
At times the lightning trickles
Around the drover's track ;
But Harry pushes onward ;
His horses' strength he tries,
In hopes to reach the river
Before the flood shall rise.

The thunder from the heavens
Goes rolling o'er the plains ;
And down on thirsty pastures
In torrents dash the rains.
And ev'ry gorge and gully
Sends forth its little flood;
Till the river runs a "banker,"
All stain'd with yellow mud.

Now Harry.speaks to "Rover,"
Who hardship little recks,
And to his sturdy horses,
And strokes their shaggy necks;
"We've conquer'd greater rivers
When floods were at their height ;
Nor will this gutter stop us
From reaching home to-night !"

The thunder growls a warning ;
The ghastly lightnings gleam;
As the drover turns his horses,
To swim the fatal stream.
But, oh! the flood runs stronger
Than e'er it ran before ;
The saddle horse is failing,
And only half-way o'er !

When flashes next the lightning,
The flood's gray breast is blank ;
And a cattle dog and pack horse
Are struggling up the bank.
But on the bank to northward,
Or on the southern shore,
The stock horse with his rider
Will struggle out no more.

The faithful dog a moment
Sits panting on the bank,
And then swims through the current
To where his master sank.
And round and round in circle,
He fights with failing strength,
Till borne down by the waters,
The old dog sinks at length.

Across the flooded lowlands
And slopes of sodden loam
The pack horse struggles onward,
To take dumb tidings home.
And mudstain'd, wet, and weary,
Thro' ranges dark goes he,
With hobble-chains and tinware,
All sounding eerily.
* * * * * *
The floods are in the ocean ;
The stream is clear again ;
And now a verdant carpet
Is etretch'd across the plain.
But some one's eyes are sadden' d ;
And some one's heart still bleeds
In sorrow for the drover
Who sleeps among the reeds.

Henry Lawson.
Sydney; 1889.

Published Mon 7th Oct, 1889 in Sydney’s “The Evening News”:
a narration (by person unknown), of Lawson’s “The Union Buries Its Dead” of the burial of an unknown drover who was drowned, but described elsewhere as evidence of Lawson’s Nihlism. Whatever. Just hope that the memory of young ‘Harry Dale, the Drover’ (and his faithful dog, Rover), received better treatment in his home district!! (that last verse rarely gets recited/sung).

Another slight thread post creep, but Paul Hemphill’s “The Drover’s Dog and other stories” can be found here :

ENJOY (but shed a tear or two!)