I've read "The Banjo's" letter, and I'm glad he's found a better
Billet than he had upon the station where I met him years ago;
He was "slushy" then for Scotty, but the "bushland" sent him "dotty,"
So he "rose up, William Riley," and departed down below.
He "rolled up" very gladly, for he had bush-fever badly
When he left "the smoke" to wander "where the wattle-blossoms wave,"
But a course of "stag and brownie" seems to make the bush-struck towny
Kinder weaken on the wattle and the bushman's lonely grave.
Safe in town, he spins romances of the bush until one fancies
That it's all top-boots and chorus, kegs of rum and "whips" of grass,
And the sheep off camp go stringing when the "boss-in-charge" is singing,
Whilst we "blow the cool tobacco-smoke and watch the white wreaths pass."
Yet, I guess "The B." feels fitter in a b'iled shirt and "hard-hitter"
Than he would "way down the Cooper" in a flannel smock and "moles,"
For the city cove has leisure to indulge in stocks of pleasure,
But the drover's only pastime's cooking "What's this! on the coals."
And the pub. hath friends to meet him, and between the acts they treat him
While he's swapping "fairy twisters" with the "girls behind their bars,"
And he sees a vista splendid when the ballet is extended,
And at night he's in his glory with the comic-op'ra stars.
I am sitting, very weary, on a log before a dreary
Little fire that's feebly hissing 'neath a heavy fall of rain,
And the wind is cold and nipping, and I curse the ceaseless dripping
As I slosh around for wood to start the embers up again.
And, in place of beauty's greeting, I can hear the dismal bleating
Of a ewe that's sneaking out among the marshes for her lamb;
And for all the poet's skitin' that a new-chum takes delight in,
The drover's share of pleasure isn't worth a tinker's d--n.
Does he sneer at bricks and mortar when he's squatting in the water
After riding fourteen hours beneath a sullen, weeping sky?
Does he look aloft and thank it, as he spreads his sodden blanket?
For the drover has no time to spare, he has no time to dry.
If "The Banjo's" game to fill it, he is welcome to my billet;
He can "take a turn at droving" -- wages three-and-six a-day --
And his throat'll get more gritty than mine will in the city
Where with Mister Lawson's squashes I can wash the dust away.
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