Rio Grande's Last Race and Other Verses
by Andrew Barton 'Banjo' Paterson
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'We've chased him poor, we've chased him fat, We've run him till our horses dropped, But by such obstacles as that A man like you will not be stopped, You'll go and yard him any day, So here's your health! Hooray! Hooray!'

. . . . .

The day wound up with booze and blow And fights till all were well content, But of the new-chum, all I know Is shown by this advertisement — 'For Sale, the well-known racehorse Trap, He won Wargeilah Handicap!'

Any Other Time

All of us play our very best game — Any other time. Golf or billiards, it's all the same — Any other time. Lose a match and you always say, 'Just my luck! I was 'off' to-day! I could have beaten him quite half-way — Any other time!'

After a fiver you ought to go — Any other time. Every man that you ask says 'Oh, Any OTHER time. Lend you a fiver! I'd lend you two, But I'm overdrawn and my bills are due, Wish you'd ask me — now, mind you do — Any other time!'

Fellows will ask you out to dine — Any other time. 'Not to-night, for we're twenty-nine — Any other time. Not to-morrow, for cook's on strike, Not next day, I'll be out on the bike — Just drop in whenever you like — Any other time!'

Seasick passengers like the sea — Any other time. 'Something . . I ate . . disagreed . . with me! Any other time Ocean-trav'lling is . . simply bliss, Must be my . . liver . . has gone amiss . . Why, I would . . laugh . . at a sea . . like this — Any other time.'

. . . . .

Most of us mean to be better men — Any other time: Regular upright characters then — Any other time. Yet somehow as the years go by Still we gamble and drink and lie, When it comes to the last we'll want to die — Any other time!

The Last Trump

'You led the trump,' the old man said With fury in his eye, 'And yet you hope my girl to wed! Young man! your hopes of love are fled, 'Twere better she should die!

'My sweet young daughter sitting there, So innocent and plump! You don't suppose that she would care To wed an outlawed man who'd dare To lead the thirteenth trump!

'If you had drawn their leading spade It meant a certain win! But no! By Pembroke's mighty shade The thirteenth trump you went and played And let their diamonds in!

'My girl! Return at my command His presents in a lump! Return his ring! For understand No man is fit to hold your hand Who leads a thirteenth trump!

'But hold! Give every man his due And every dog his day. Speak up and say what made you do This dreadful thing — that is, if you Have anything to say!'

He spoke. 'I meant at first,' said he, 'To give their spades a bump: Or lead the hearts, but then you see I thought against us there might be, Perhaps, a fourteenth trump!'

. . . . .

They buried him at dawn of day Beside a ruined stump: And there he sleeps the hours away And waits for Gabriel to play The last — the fourteenth — trump.

Tar and Feathers

Oh! the circus swooped down On the Narrabri town, For the Narrabri populace moneyed are; And the showman he smiled At the folk he beguiled To come all the distance from Gunnedah.

But a juvenile smart, Who objected to 'part', Went in 'on the nod', and to do it he Crawled in through a crack In the tent at the back, For the boy had no slight ingenuity.

And says he with a grin, 'That's the way to get in; But I reckon I'd better be quiet or They'll spiflicate me,' And he chuckled, for he Had the loan of the circus proprietor.

But the showman astute On that wily galoot Soon dropped, and you'll say that he leathered him — Not he; with a grim Sort of humorous whim, He took him and tarred him and feathered him.

Says he, 'You can go Round the world with a show, And knock every Injun and Arab wry; With your name and your trade, On the posters displayed, The feathered what-is-it from Narrabri.'

Next day for his freak, By a Narrabri beak, He was jawed with a deal of verbosity; For his only appeal Was 'professional zeal' — He wanted another monstrosity.

Said his worship, 'Begob! You are fined forty bob, And six shillin's costs to the clurk!' he says. And the Narrabri joy, Half bird and half boy, Has a 'down' on himself and on circuses.

It's Grand

It's grand to be a squatter And sit upon a post, And watch your little ewes and lambs A-giving up the ghost.

It's grand to be a 'cockie' With wife and kids to keep, And find an all-wise Providence Has mustered all your sheep.

It's grand to be a Western man, With shovel in your hand, To dig your little homestead out From underneath the sand.

It's grand to be a shearer, Along the Darling side, And pluck the wool from stinking sheep That some days since have died.

It's grand to be a rabbit And breed till all is blue, And then to die in heaps because There's nothing left to chew.

It's grand to be a Minister And travel like a swell, And tell the Central District folk To go to — Inverell.

It's grand to be a Socialist And lead the bold array That marches to prosperity At seven bob a day.

It's grand to be an unemployed And lie in the Domain, And wake up every second day And go to sleep again.

It's grand to borrow English tin To pay for wharves and Rocks, And then to find it isn't in The little money-box.

It's grand to be a democrat And toady to the mob, For fear that if you told the truth They'd hunt you from your job.

It's grand to be a lot of things In this fair Southern land, But if the Lord would send us rain, That would, indeed, be grand!

Out of Sight

They held a polo meeting at a little country town, And all the local sportsmen came to win themselves renown. There came two strangers with a horse, and I am much afraid They both belonged to what is called 'the take-you-down brigade'.

They said their horse could jump like fun, and asked an amateur To ride him in the steeplechase, and told him they were sure, The last time round, he'd sail away with such a swallow's flight The rest would never see him go — he'd finish out of sight.

So out he went; and, when folk saw the amateur was up, Some local genius called the race 'the dude-in-danger cup'. The horse was known as 'Who's Afraid', by Panic from 'The Fright'. But still his owners told the jock he'd finish out of sight.

And so he did; for 'Who's Afraid', without the least pretence, Disposed of him by rushing through the very second fence; And when they ran the last time round the prophecy was right — For he was in the ambulance, and safely 'out of sight'.

The Road to Old Man's 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 that dropped behind.

But God forbid 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!

The Old Timer's Steeplechase

The sheep were shorn and the wool went down At the time of our local racing: And I'd earned a spell — I was burnt and brown — So I rolled my swag for a trip to town And a look at the steeplechasing.

'Twas rough and ready — an uncleared course As rough as the blacks had found it; With barbed-wire fences, topped with gorse, And a water-jump that would drown a horse, And the steeple three times round it.

There was never a fence the tracks to guard, — Some straggling posts defined 'em: And the day was hot, and the drinking hard, Till none of the stewards could see a yard Before nor yet behind 'em!

But the bell was rung and the nags were out, Excepting an old outsider Whose trainer started an awful rout, For his boy had gone on a drinking bout And left him without a rider.

'Is there not one man in the crowd,' he cried, 'In the whole of the crowd so clever, Is there not one man that will take a ride On the old white horse from the Northern side That was bred on the Mooki River?'

'Twas an old white horse that they called The Cow, And a cow would look well beside him; But I was pluckier then than now (And I wanted excitement anyhow), So at last I agreed to ride him.

And the trainer said, 'Well, he's dreadful slow, And he hasn't a chance whatever; But I'm stony broke, so it's time to show A trick or two that the trainers know Who train by the Mooki River.

'The first time round at the further side, With the trees and the scrub about you, Just pull behind them and run out wide And then dodge into the scrub and hide, And let them go round without you.

'At the third time round, for the final spin With the pace, and the dust to blind 'em, They'll never notice if you chip in For the last half-mile — you'll be sure to win, And they'll think you raced behind 'em.

'At the water-jump you may have to swim — He hasn't a hope to clear it — Unless he skims like the swallows skim At full speed over, but not for him! He'll never go next or near it.

'But don't you worry — just plunge across, For he swims like a well-trained setter. Then hide away in the scrub and gorse The rest will be far ahead of course — The further ahead the better.

'You must rush the jumps in the last half-round For fear that he might refuse 'em; He'll try to baulk with you, I'll be bound, Take whip and spurs on the mean old hound, And don't be afraid to use 'em.

'At the final round, when the field are slow And you are quite fresh to meet 'em, Sit down, and hustle him all you know With the whip and spurs, and he'll have to go — Remember, you've GOT to beat 'em!'

. . . . .

The flag went down and we seemed to fly, And we made the timbers shiver Of the first big fence, as the stand flashed by, And I caught the ring of the trainer's cry: 'Go on! For the Mooki River!'

I jammed him in with a well-packed crush, And recklessly — out for slaughter — Like a living wave over fence and brush We swept and swung with a flying rush, Till we came to the dreaded water.

Ha, ha! I laugh at it now to think Of the way I contrived to work it. Shut in amongst them, before you'd wink, He found himself on the water's brink, With never a chance to shirk it!

The thought of the horror he felt, beguiles The heart of this grizzled rover! He gave a snort you could hear for miles, And a spring would have cleared the Channel Isles And carried me safely over!

Then we neared the scrub, and I pulled him back In the shade where the gum-leaves quiver: And I waited there in the shadows black While the rest of the horses, round the track, Went on like a rushing river!

At the second round, as the field swept by, I saw that the pace was telling; But on they thundered, and by-and-bye As they passed the stand I could hear the cry Of the folk in the distance, yelling!

Then the last time round! And the hoofbeats rang! And I said, 'Well, it's now or never!' And out on the heels of the throng I sprang, And the spurs bit deep and the whipcord sang As I rode! For the Mooki River!

We raced for home in a cloud of dust And the curses rose in chorus. 'Twas flog, and hustle, and jump you must! And The Cow ran well — but to my disgust There was one got home before us.

'Twas a big black horse, that I had not seen In the part of the race I'd ridden; And his coat was cool and his rider clean, And I thought that perhaps I had not been The only one that had hidden.

. . . . .

And the trainer came with a visage blue With rage, when the race concluded: Said he, 'I thought you'd have pulled us through, But the man on the black horse planted too, AND NEARER TO HOME THAN YOU DID!'

Alas to think that those times so gay Have vanished and passed for ever! You don't believe in the yarn you say? Why, man! 'Twas a matter of every day When we raced on the Mooki River!

In the Stable

What! You don't like him; well, maybe — we all have our fancies, of course: Brumby to look at you reckon? Well, no: he's a thoroughbred horse; Sired by a son of old Panic — look at his ears and his head — Lop-eared and Roman-nosed, ain't he? — well, that's how the Panics are bred. Gluttonous, ugly and lazy, rough as a tip-cart to ride, Yet if you offered a sovereign apiece for the hairs on his hide That wouldn't buy him, nor twice that; while I've a pound to the good, This here old stager stays by me and lives like a thoroughbred should: Hunt him away from his bedding, and sit yourself down by the wall, Till you hear how the old fellow saved me from Gilbert, O'Maley and Hall.

. . . . .

Gilbert and Hall and O'Maley, back in the bushranging days, Made themselves kings of the district — ruled it in old-fashioned ways — Robbing the coach and the escort, stealing our horses at night, Calling sometimes at the homesteads and giving the women a fright: Came to the station one morning — and why they did this no one knows — Took a brood mare from the paddock — wanting some fun, I suppose — Fastened a bucket beneath her, hung by a strap round her flank, Then turned her loose in the timber back of the seven-mile tank.

Go! She went mad! She went tearing and screaming with fear through the trees, While the curst bucket beneath her was banging her flanks and her knees. Bucking and racing and screaming she ran to the back of the run, Killed herself there in a gully; by God, but they paid for their fun! Paid for it dear, for the black-boys found tracks, and the bucket, and all, And I swore that I'd live to get even with Gilbert, O'Maley and Hall.

Day after day then I chased them — 'course they had friends on the sly, Friends who were willing to sell them to those who were willing to buy. Early one morning we found them in camp at the Cockatoo Farm One of us shot at O'Maley and wounded him under the arm: Ran them for miles in the ranges, till Hall, with his horse fairly beat, Took to the rocks and we lost him — the others made good their retreat. It was war to the knife then, I tell you, and once, on the door of my shed, They nailed up a notice that offered a hundred reward for my head!

Then we heard they were gone from the district; they stuck up a coach in the West, And I rode by myself in the paddocks, taking a bit of a rest, Riding this colt as a youngster — awkward, half-broken and shy, He wheeled round one day on a sudden; I looked, but I couldn't see why, But I soon found out why, for before me, the hillside rose up like a wall, And there on the top with their rifles were Gilbert, O'Maley and Hall!

'Twas a good three-mile run to the homestead — bad going, with plenty of trees — So I gathered the youngster together, and gripped at his ribs with my knees. 'Twas a mighty poor chance to escape them! It puts a man's nerve to the test On a half-broken colt to be hunted by the best mounted men in the West. But the half-broken colt was a racehorse! He lay down to work with a will, Flashed through the scrub like a clean-skin — by Heavens we FLEW down the hill! Over a twenty-foot gully he swept with the spring of a deer And they fired as we jumped, but they missed me — a bullet sang close to my ear — And the jump gained us ground, for they shirked it: but I saw as we raced through the gap That the rails at the homestead were fastened — I was caught like a rat in a trap. Fenced with barbed wire was the paddock — barbed wire that would cut like a knife — How was a youngster to clear it that never had jumped in his life?

Bang went a rifle behind me — the colt gave a spring, he was hit; Straight at the sliprails I rode him — I felt him take hold of the bit; Never a foot to the right or the left did he swerve in his stride, Awkward and frightened, but honest, the sort it's a pleasure to ride! Straight at the rails, where they'd fastened barbed wire on the top of the post, Rose like a stag and went over, with hardly a scratch at the most; Into the homestead I darted, and snatched down my gun from the wall, And I tell you I made them step lively, Gilbert, O'Maley and Hall!

Yes! There's the mark of the bullet — he's got it inside of him yet Mixed up somehow with his victuals, but bless you he don't seem to fret! Gluttonous, ugly, and lazy — eats any thing he can bite; Now, let us shut up the stable, and bid the old fellow good-night: Ah! We can't breed 'em, the sort that were bred when we old 'uns were young. Yes, I was saying, these bushrangers, none of 'em lived to be hung, Gilbert was shot by the troopers, Hall was betrayed by his friend, Campbell disposed of O'Maley, bringing the lot to an end. But you can talk about riding — I've ridden a lot in the past — Wait till there's rifles behind you, you'll know what it means to go fast! I've steeplechased, raced, and 'run horses', but I think the most dashing of all Was the ride when the old fellow saved me from Gilbert, O'Maley and Hall!

"He Giveth His Beloved Sleep"

The long day passes with its load of sorrow: In slumber deep I lay me down to rest until to-morrow — 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 Heart-felt thanksgiving unto God, who gave us The Gift of Sleep.

Driver Smith

'Twas Driver Smith of Battery A was anxious to see a fight; He thought of the Transvaal all the day, he thought of it all the night — 'Well, if the battery's left behind, I'll go to the war,' says he, 'I'll go a-driving an ambulance in the ranks of the A.M.C.

'I'm fairly sick of these here parades, it's want of a change that kills A-charging the Randwick Rifle Range and aiming at Surry Hills. And I think if I go with the ambulance I'm certain to find a show, For they have to send the Medical men wherever the troops can go.

'Wherever the rifle bullets flash and the Maxims raise a din, It's there you'll find the Medical men a-raking the wounded in — A-raking 'em in like human flies — and a driver smart like me Will find some scope for his extra skill in the ranks of the A.M.C.'

So Driver Smith he went to the war a-cracking his driver's whip, From ambulance to collecting base they showed him his regular trip. And he said to the boys that were marching past, as he gave his whip a crack, 'You'll walk yourselves to the fight,' says he — 'Lord spare me, I'll drive you back.'

Now, the fight went on in the Transvaal hills for the half of a day or more, And Driver Smith he worked his trip — all aboard for the seat of war! He took his load from the stretcher men and hurried 'em homeward fast Till he heard a sound that he knew full well — a battery rolling past.

He heard the clink of the leading chains and the roll of the guns behind — He heard the crack of the drivers' whips, and he says to 'em, 'Strike me blind, I'll miss me trip with this ambulance, although I don't care to shirk, But I'll take the car off the line to-day and follow the guns at work.'

Then up the Battery Colonel came a-cursing 'em black in the face. 'Sit down and shift 'em, you drivers there, and gallop 'em into place.' So off the Battery rolled and swung, a-going a merry dance, And holding his own with the leading gun goes Smith with his ambulance.

They opened fire on the mountain side, a-peppering by and large, When over the hill above their flank the Boers came down at the charge; They rushed the guns with a daring rush, a-volleying left and right, And Driver Smith with his ambulance moved up to the edge of the fight.

The gunners stuck to their guns like men, and fought like the wild cats fight, For a Battery man don't leave his gun with ever a hope in sight; But the bullets sang and the Mausers cracked and the Battery men gave way, Till Driver Smith with his ambulance drove into the thick of the fray.

He saw the head of the Transvaal troop a-thundering to and fro, A hard old face with a monkey beard — a face that he seemed to know; 'Now, who's that leader,' said Driver Smith, 'I've seen him before to-day. Why, bless my heart, but it's Kruger's self,' and he jumped for him straight away.

He collared old Kruger round the waist and hustled him into the van. It wasn't according to stretcher drill for raising a wounded man; But he forced him in and said, 'All aboard, we're off for a little ride, And you'll have the car to yourself,' says he, 'I reckon we're full inside.'

He wheeled his team on the mountain side and set 'em a merry pace, A-galloping over the rocks and stones, and a lot of the Boers gave chase; But Driver Smith had a fairish start, and he said to the Boers, 'Good-day, You have Buckley's chance for to catch a man that was trained in Battery A.'

He drove his team to the hospital and said to the P.M.O., 'Beg pardon, sir, but I missed a trip, mistaking the way to go; And Kruger came to the ambulance and asked could we spare a bed, So I fetched him here, and we'll take him home to show for a bob a head.'

So the word went round to the English troops to say they need fight no more, For Driver Smith with his ambulance had ended the blooming war: And in London now at the music halls he's starring it every night, And drawing a hundred pounds a week to tell how he won the fight.

There's Another Blessed Horse Fell Down

When you're lying in your hammock, sleeping soft and sleeping sound, Without a care or trouble on your mind, And there's nothing to disturb you but the engines going round, And you're dreaming of the girl you left behind; In the middle of your joys you'll be wakened by a noise, And a clatter on the deck above your crown, And you'll hear the corporal shout as he turns the picket out, 'There's another blessed horse fell down.'

You can see 'em in the morning, when you're cleaning out the stall, A-leaning on the railings nearly dead, And you reckon by the evening they'll be pretty sure to fall, And you curse them as you tumble into bed. Oh, you'll hear it pretty soon, 'Pass the word for Denny Moon, There's a horse here throwing handsprings like a clown; And it's 'Shove the others back or he'll cripple half the pack, There's another blessed horse fell down.'

And when the war is over and the fighting all is done, And you're all at home with medals on your chest, And you've learnt to sleep so soundly that the firing of a gun At your bedside wouldn't rob you of your rest; As you lie in slumber deep, if your wife walks in her sleep, And tumbles down the stairs and breaks her crown, Oh, it won't awaken you, for you'll say, 'It's nothing new, It's another blessed horse fell down.'

On the Trek

Oh, the weary, weary journey on the trek, day after day, With sun above and silent veldt below; And our hearts keep turning homeward to the youngsters far away, And the homestead where the climbing roses grow. Shall we see the flats grow golden with the ripening of the grain? Shall we hear the parrots calling on the bough? Ah! the weary months of marching ere we hear them call again, For we're going on a long job now.

In the drowsy days on escort, riding slowly half asleep, With the endless line of waggons stretching back, While the khaki soldiers travel like a mob of travelling sheep, Plodding silent on the never-ending track, While the constant snap and sniping of the foe you never see Makes you wonder will your turn come — when and how? As the Mauser ball hums past you like a vicious kind of bee — Oh! we're going on a long job now.

When the dash and the excitement and the novelty are dead, And you've seen a load of wounded once or twice, Or you've watched your old mate dying — with the vultures overhead, Well, you wonder if the war is worth the price. And down along Monaro now they're starting out to shear, I can picture the excitement and the row; But they'll miss me on the Lachlan when they call the roll this year, For we're going on a long job now.

The Last Parade

With never a sound of trumpet, With never a flag displayed, The last of the old campaigners Lined up for the last parade.

Weary they were and battered, Shoeless, and knocked about; From under their ragged forelocks Their hungry eyes looked out.

And they watched as the old commander Read out, to the cheering men, The Nation's thanks and the orders To carry them home again.

And the last of the old campaigners, Sinewy, lean, and spare — He spoke for his hungry comrades: 'Have we not done our share?

'Starving and tired and thirsty We limped on the blazing plain; And after a long night's picket You saddled us up again.

'We froze on the wind-swept kopjes When the frost lay snowy-white. Never a halt in the daytime, Never a rest at night!

'We knew when the rifles rattled From the hillside bare and brown, And over our weary shoulders We felt warm blood run down,

'As we turned for the stretching gallop, Crushed to the earth with weight; But we carried our riders through it — Carried them p'raps too late.

'Steel! We were steel to stand it — We that have lasted through, We that are old campaigners Pitiful, poor, and few.

'Over the sea you brought us, Over the leagues of foam: Now we have served you fairly Will you not take us home?

'Home to the Hunter River, To the flats where the lucerne grows; Home where the Murrumbidgee Runs white with the melted snows.

'This is a small thing surely! Will not you give command That the last of the old campaigners Go back to their native land?'

. . . . .

They looked at the grim commander, But never a sign he made. 'Dismiss!' and the old campaigners Moved off from their last parade.

With French to Kimberley

The Boers were down on Kimberley with siege and Maxim gun; The Boers were down on Kimberley, their numbers ten to one! Faint were the hopes the British had to make the struggle good, Defenceless in an open plain the Diamond City stood. They built them forts from bags of sand, they fought from roof and wall, They flashed a message to the south 'Help! or the town must fall!' And down our ranks the order ran to march at dawn of day, For French was off to Kimberley to drive the Boers away.

He made no march along the line; he made no front attack Upon those Magersfontein heights that drove the Scotchmen back; But eastward over pathless plains by open veldt and vley, Across the front of Cronje's force his troopers held their way. The springbuck, feeding on the flats where Modder River runs, Were startled by his horses' hoofs, the rumble of his guns. The Dutchman's spies that watched his march from every rocky wall Rode back in haste: 'He marches east! He threatens Jacobsdal!' Then north he wheeled as wheels the hawk and showed to their dismay, That French was off to Kimberley to drive the Boers away.

His column was five thousand strong — all mounted men — and guns: There met, beneath the world-wide flag, the world-wide Empire's sons; They came to prove to all the earth that kinship conquers space, And those who fight the British Isles must fight the British race! From far New Zealand's flax and fern, from cold Canadian snows, From Queensland plains, where hot as fire the summer sunshine glows; And in the front the Lancers rode that New South Wales had sent: With easy stride across the plain their long, lean Walers went. Unknown, untried, those squadrons were, but proudly out they drew Beside the English regiments that fought at Waterloo. From every coast, from every clime, they met in proud array, To go with French to Kimberley to drive the Boers away.

He crossed the Reit and fought his way towards the Modder bank. The foemen closed behind his march, and hung upon the flank. The long, dry grass was all ablaze, and fierce the veldt fire runs; He fought them through a wall of flame that blazed around the guns! Then limbered up and drove at speed, though horses fell and died; We might not halt for man nor beast on that wild, daring ride. Black with the smoke and parched with thirst, we pressed the livelong day Our headlong march to Kimberley to drive the Boers away.

We reached the drift at fall of night, and camped across the ford. Next day from all the hills around the Dutchman's cannons roared. A narrow pass between the hills, with guns on either side; The boldest man might well turn pale before that pass he tried, For if the first attack should fail then every hope was gone: But French looked once, and only once, and then he said, 'Push on!' The gunners plied their guns amain; the hail of shrapnel flew; With rifle fire and lancer charge their squadrons back we threw; And through the pass between the hills we swept in furious fray, And French was through to Kimberley to drive the Boers away.

Ay, French was through to Kimberley! And ere the day was done We saw the Diamond City stand, lit by the evening sun: Above the town the heliograph hung like an eye of flame: Around the town the foemen camped — they knew not that we came; But soon they saw us, rank on rank; they heard our squadrons' tread; In panic fear they left their tents, in hopeless rout they fled; And French rode into Kimberley; the people cheered amain, The women came with tear-stained eyes to touch his bridle rein, The starving children lined the streets to raise a feeble cheer, The bells rang out a joyous peal to say 'Relief is here!' Ay! we that saw that stirring march are proud that we can say We went with French to Kimberley to drive the Boers away.

Johnny Boer

Men fight all shapes and sizes as the racing horses run, And no man knows his courage till he stands before a gun. At mixed-up fighting, hand to hand, and clawing men about They reckon Fuzzy-wuzzy is the hottest fighter out. But Fuzzy gives himself away — his style is out of date, He charges like a driven grouse that rushes on its fate; You've nothing in the world to do but pump him full of lead: But when you're fighting Johnny Boer you have to use your head; He don't believe in front attacks or charging at the run, He fights you from a kopje with his little Maxim gun.

For when the Lord He made the earth, it seems uncommon clear, He gave the job of Africa to some good engineer, Who started building fortresses on fashions of his own — Lunettes, redoubts, and counterscarps all made of rock and stone. The Boer needs only bring a gun, for ready to his hand He finds these heaven-built fortresses all scattered through the land; And there he sits and winks his eye and wheels his gun about, And we must charge across the plain to hunt the beggar out. It ain't a game that grows on us, there's lots of better fun Than charging at old Johnny with his little Maxim gun.

On rocks a goat could scarcely climb, steep as the walls of Troy, He wheels a four-point-seven about as easy as a toy; With bullocks yoked and drag-ropes manned, he lifts her up the rocks And shifts her every now and then, as cunning as a fox. At night you mark her right ahead, you see her clean and clear, Next day at dawn — 'What, ho! she bumps' — from somewhere in the rear. Or else the keenest-eyed patrol will miss him with the glass — He's lying hidden in the rocks to let the leaders pass; But when the main guard comes along he opens up the fun, There's lots of ammunition for the little Maxim gun.

But after all the job is sure, although the job is slow, We have to see the business through, the Boer has got to go. With Nordenfeldt and lyddite shell it's certain, soon or late, We'll hunt him from his kopjes and across the Orange State; And then across those open flats you'll see the beggar run, And we'll be running after with OUR little Maxim gun.

What Have the Cavalry Done

What have the cavalry done? Cantered and trotted about, Routin' the enemy out, Causin' the beggars to run! And we tramped along in the blazin' heat, Over the veldt on our weary feet. Tramp, tramp, tramp Under the blazin' sun, With never the sight of a bloomin' Boer, 'Cause they'd hunted 'em long before — That's what the cavalry done!

What have the gunners done Battlin' every day, Battlin' any way. Boers outranged 'em, but what cared they? 'Shoot and be damned,' said the R.H.A.! See! when the fight grows hot, Under the rifles or not, Always the order runs, 'Fetch up the bloomin' guns!'

And you'd see them great gun-horses spring To the 'action front' — and around they'd swing. Find the range with some queer machine 'At four thousand with fuse fourteen. Ready! Fire number one!' Handled the battery neat and quick! Stick to it, too! How DID they stick! Never a gunner was seen to run! Never a gunner would leave his gun! Not though his mates dropped all around! Always a gunner would stand his ground. Take the army — the infantry, Mounted rifles, and cavalry, Twice the numbers I'd give away, And I'd fight the lot with the R.H.A., For they showed us how a corps SHOULD be run, That's what the gunners done!

Right in the Front of the Army

'Where 'ave you been this week or more, 'Aven't seen you about the war? Thought perhaps you was at the rear Guarding the waggons.' 'What, us? No fear! Where have we been? Why, bless my heart, Where have we been since the bloomin' start? Right in the front of the army, Battling day and night! Right in the front of the army, Teaching 'em how to fight!' Every separate man you see, Sapper, gunner, and C.I.V., Every one of 'em seems to be Right in the front of the army!

Most of the troops to the camp had gone, When we met with a cow-gun toiling on; And we said to the boys, as they walked her past, 'Well, thank goodness, you're here at last!' 'Here at last! Why, what d'yer mean? Ain't we just where we've always been? Right in the front of the army, Battling day and night! Right in the front of the army, Teaching 'em how to fight!' Correspondents and vets. in force, Mounted foot and dismounted horse, All of them were, as a matter of course, Right in the front of the army.

Old Lord Roberts will have to mind If ever the enemy get behind; For they'll smash him up with a rear attack, Because his army has got no back! Think of the horrors that might befall An army without any rear at all! Right in the front of the army, Battling day and night! Right in the front of the army, Teaching 'em how to fight! Swede attaches and German counts, Yeomen (known as De Wet's remounts), All of them were by their own accounts Right in the front of the army!

That V.C.

'Twas in the days of front attack, This glorious truth we'd yet to learn it — That every 'front' had got a back, And French was just the man to turn it.

A wounded soldier on the ground Was lying hid behind a hummock; He proved the good old proverb sound — An army travels on its stomach.

He lay as flat as any fish, His nose had worn a little furrow; He only had one frantic wish, That like an antbear he could burrow.

The bullets whistled into space, The pom-pom gun kept up its braying, The four-point-seven supplied the bass — You'd think the devil's band was playing.

A valiant comrade crawling near Observed his most supine behaviour, And crept towards him, 'Hey! what cheer? Buck up,' said he, 'I've come to save yer.

'You get up on my shoulders, mate, And if we live beyond the firing, I'll get the V.C. sure as fate, Because our blokes is all retiring.

'It's fifty pounds a year,' says he, 'I'll stand you lots of beer and whisky.' 'No,' says the wounded man, 'not me, I'll not be saved, it's far too risky.

'I'm fairly safe behind this mound, I've worn a hole that seems to fit me; But if you lift me off the ground, It's fifty pounds to one they'll hit me.'

So back towards the firing line Our friend crept slowly to the rear oh! Remarking 'What a selfish swine! He might have let me be a hero.'

Fed Up

I ain't a timid man at all, I'm just as brave as most, I'll take my chance in open fight and die beside my post; But riding round the 'ole day long as target for a Krupp, A-drawing fire from Koppies — well, I'm fair fed up.

It's wonderful how few get hit, it's luck that pulls us through; Their rifle fire's no class at all, it misses me and you; But when they sprinkle shells around like water from a cup From that there blooming pom-pom gun — well, I'm fed up.

We never get a chance to charge, to do a thrust and cut, I'll have to chuck the Cavalry and join the Mounted Fut. But after all — What's Mounted Fut? I saw them t'other day, They occupied a Koppie when the Boers had run away. The Cavalry went riding on and seen a score of fights, But there they kept them Mounted Fut three solid days and nights — Three solid starving days and nights with scarce a bite or sup, Well! after that on Mounted Fut I'm fair fed up.

And tramping with the Footies ain't as easy as it looks, They scarcely ever see a Boer except in picture books. They do a march of twenty mile that leaves 'em nearly dead, And then they find the bloomin' Boers is twenty miles ahead. Each Footy is as full of fight as any bulldog pup, But walking forty miles to fight — well, I'm fed up!

So after all I think that when I leave the Cavalry I'll either join the ambulance or else the A.S.C.; They've always tucker in the plate and coffee in the cup, But Bully Beef and Biscuits — well! I'm fair fed up!


There's a soldier that's been doing of his share In the fighting up and down and round about. He's continually marching here and there And he's fighting, morning in and morning out.

The Boer, you see, he generally runs; But sometimes when he hides behind a rock, And we can't make no impression with the guns, Oh, then you'll hear the order, 'Send for Jock!'

Yes, it's Jock — Scotch Jock. He's the fellow that can give or take a knock. For he's hairy and he's hard, And his feet are by the yard, And his face is like the face what's on a clock. But when the bullets fly you will mostly hear the cry — 'Send for Jock!'

The Cavalry have gun and sword and lance, Before they choose their weapon, why, they're dead. The Mounted Fut are hampered in advance By holding of their helmets on their head.

And when the Boer has dug himself a trench And placed his Maxim gun behind a rock, These mounted heroes — pets of Johnny French — They have to sit and wait and send for Jock!

Yes, the Jocks — Scotch Jocks, With their music that'd terrify an ox! When the bullets kick the sand You can hear the sharp command — 'Forty-Second! At the double! Charge the rocks!' And the charge is like a flood When they've warmed the Highland blood Of the Jocks!

Santa Claus

Halt! Who goes there? The sentry's call Rose on the midnight air Above the noises of the camp, The roll of wheels, the horses' tramp. The challenge echoed over all — Halt! Who goes there?

A quaint old figure clothed in white, He bore a staff of pine, An ivy-wreath was on his head. 'Advance, oh friend,' the sentry said, Advance, for this is Christmas night, And give the countersign.'

'No sign nor countersign have I, Through many lands I roam The whole world over far and wide, To exiles all at Christmastide, From those who love them tenderly I bring a thought of home.

'From English brook and Scottish burn, From cold Canadian snows, From those far lands ye hold most dear I bring you all a greeting here, A frond of a New Zealand fern, A bloom of English rose.

'From faithful wife and loving lass I bring a wish divine, For Christmas blessings on your head.' 'I wish you well,' the sentry said, But here, alas! you may not pass Without the countersign.'

He vanished — and the sentry's tramp Re-echoed down the line. It was not till the morning light The soldiers knew that in the night Old Santa Claus had come to camp Without the countersign.

From a section of Advertisements, 1909.


By A. B. Paterson.

* "The immediate success of this book of bush ballads is without parallel in Colonial literary annals, nor can any living English or American poet boast so wide a public, always excepting Mr. Rudyard Kipling."

* "These lines have the true lyrical cry in them. Eloquent and ardent verses."

* "Swinging, rattling ballads of ready humour, ready pathos, and crowding adventure. . . . Stirring and entertaining ballads about great rides, in which the lines gallop like the very hoofs of the horses."

* "At his best he compares not unfavourably with the author of 'Barrack-Room Ballads'."

* Mr. A. Patchett Martin (London): "In my opinion, it is the absolutely un-English, thoroughly Australian style and character of these new bush bards which has given them such immediate popularity, such wide vogue, among all classes of the rising native generation."

* "Australia has produced in Mr. A. B. Paterson a national poet whose bush ballads are as distinctively characteristic of the country as Burns's poetry is characteristic of Scotland."

* "A book like this . . . is worth a dozen of the aspiring, idealistic sort, since it has a deal of rough laughter and a dash of real tears in its composition."

* "These ballads . . . are full of such go that the mere reading of them make the blood tingle. . . . But there are other things in Mr. Paterson's book besides mere racing and chasing, and each piece bears the mark of special local knowledge, feeling, and colour. The poet has also a note of pathos, which is always wholesome."

* "He gallops along with a by no means doubtful music, shouting his vigorous songs as he rides in pursuit of wild bush horses, constraining us to listen and applaud by dint of his manly tones and capital subjects . . . We turn to Mr. Paterson's roaring muse with instantaneous gratitude."


By A. B. Paterson.

* "There is no mistaking the vigour of Mr. Paterson's verse; there is no difficulty in feeling the strong human interest which moves in it."

* "Every way worthy of the man who ranks with the first of Australian poets."

* "At once naturalistic and imaginative, and racy without being slangy, the poems have always a strong human interest of every-day life to keep them going. They make a book which should give an equal pleasure to simple and to fastidious readers."

* "Now and again a deeper theme, like an echo from the older, more experienced land, leads him to more serious singing, and proves that real poetry is, after all, universal. It is a hearty book."

* "Mr. Paterson has powerful and varied sympathies, coupled with a genuine lyrical impulse, and some skill, which makes his attempts always attractive and usually successful."

* "These are all entertaining, their rough and ready wit and virility of expression making them highly acceptable, while the dash of satire gives point to the humour."

* "He catches the bush in its most joyous moments, and writes of it with the simple charm of an unaffected lover."

* "Will be welcome to that too select class at home who follow the Australian endeavour to utter a fresh and genuine poetic voice."

* "Mr. Paterson now proves beyond question that Australia has produced at least one singer who can voice in truest poetry the aspirations and experiences peculiar to the Commonwealth, and who is to be ranked with the foremost living poets of the motherland."

* "Fine, swinging, stirring stuff, that sings as it goes along. The subjects are capital, and some of the refrains haunt one. There is always room for a book of unpretentious, vigorous verse of this sort."

* "These ballads make bright and easy reading; one takes up the book, and, delighted at the rhythm, turns page after page, finding entertainment upon each."

Biographical Note:

Andrew Barton Paterson was born at Narambla, in New South Wales, on 17 February 1864, but grew up at Buckenbah and Illalong. He became a lawyer but devoted much of his time to writing, and gained popularity especially for his poetry and ballads. His best known poems are The Man from Snowy River (1892) on which a motion picture was loosely based, and Waltzing Matilda (1895) which slowly became an Australian symbol and national song. The poems he wrote for a Sydney newspaper led him into reporting, and he went to South Africa to cover the Boer War. Always a fair man, he had his doubts about the war and was a little too vocal about it for the tastes of some of his readers. During the First World War he served in Egypt as a Major in a Remount Unit, training horses for the war. This fit one of his main interests in life — horses —a preoccupation which is very evident in his poems, and even in his choice of pseudonym —"The Banjo" was a race-horse.

The works for which Paterson is famous were mostly written before the First World War, and are collected in three books of poems, The Man from Snowy River and Other Verses (1895), Rio Grande's Last Race and Other Verses (1902), and Saltbush Bill, J.P. and Other Verses (1917). His prose works include An Outback Marriage (1906), and Three Elephant Power and Other Stories (1917), the latter of which is a collection of tall tales and serious (but often humourous) reporting. In fact, above all else it is perhaps Paterson's sense of humour that sets him apart from such balladists as Rudyard Kipling and Robert Service. It should also be noted that Paterson was writing his ballads before either of these became well-known, and there was little, if any, influence from either side. More likely, Paterson was influenced by the Scottish tradition of poetry (Paterson was of Scottish descent) which had been popularized in Australia by Adam Lindsay Gordon and others. Banjo Paterson died of a heart attack on 5 February, 1941.

A. Light, 1995.


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