The Grog-an'-Grumble Steeplechase

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The Grog-an'-Grumble Steeplechase  (1892) 
by Henry Lawson

This poem was originally published with the last verse, which was dropped on re-publication under Lawson's own name.

'Twixt the coastline and the border lay the town of Grog-an'-Grumble
   In the days before the bushman was a dull 'n' heartless drudge,
An' they say the local meeting was a drunken rough-and-tumble,
   Which was ended pretty often by an inquest on the judge.
An' 'tis said the city talent very often caught a tartar
   In the Grog-an'Grumble sportsman, 'n' retired with broken heads,
For the fortune, life, and safety of the Grog-an'-Grumble starter
   Mostly hung upon the finish of the local thorough-breds.

Pat M`Durmer was the owner of a horse they called the Screamer,
   Which he called the “quickest shtepper 'twixt the Darling and the sea”;
And I think it's very doubtful if the stomach-troubled dreamer
   Ever saw a more outrageous piece of equine scenery;
For his points were most decided, from his end to his beginning,
   He had eyes of difrerent colour, and his legs they wasn't mates.
Pat M`Durmer said he always came “widin a flip av winnin’,”
   An' his sire had come from England, 'n' his dam was from the States.

Friends would argue with M`Durmer, and they said he was in error
   To put up his horse the Screamer, for he'd lose in any case,
And they said a city racer by the name of Holy Terror
   Was regarded as the winner of the coming steeple-chase;
But he said he had the knowledge to come in when it was raining,
   And irrelevantly mentioned that he knew the time of day,
So he rose in their opinion. It was noticed that the training
   Of the Screamer was conducted in a dark, mysterious way.

Well, the day arrived in glory; 'twas a day of jubilation
   With careless-hearted bushmen for a hundred miles around,
An' the rum 'n' beer 'n' whisky came in waggons from the station,
   An' the Holy Terror talent were the first upon the ground.
Judge M'Ard — with whose opinion it was scarcely safe to wrestle —
   Took his dangerous position on the bark-and-sapling stand:
He was what the local Stiggins used to speak of as a “wessel
   Of wrath,” and he'd a bludgeon that he carried in his hand.

“Off ye go!” the starter shouted, as down fell a stupid jockey —
   Off they started in disorder — left the jockey where he lay
And they fell and rolled and galloped down the crooked course and rocky,
   Till the pumping of the Screamer could be heard a mile away.
But he kept his legs and galloped; he was used to rugged courses,
   And he lumbered down the gully till the ridge began to quake:
And he ploughed along the siding, raising earth till other horses
   An' their riders, too, were blinded by the dust-cloud in his wake.

From the ruck he'd struggled slowly — they were much surprised to find him
   Close abeam of Holy Terror as along the flat they tore —
Even higher still and denser rose the cloud of dust behind him,
   While in more divided splinters flew the shattered rails before.
“Terror!” “Dead heat!” they were shouting — “Terror!” but the Screamer hung out
   Nose to nose with Holy Terror as across the creek they swung,
An' M`Durmer shouted loudly, “Put yer tongue out! put yer tongue out!”
   An' the Screamer put his tongue out, and he won by half-a-tongue.

The decision was supported by the G. and G. committee.
   An' a bodyguard selected from the drovers round about.
There was one protest; 'twas entered by a sportsman from the city,
   But they dropped him in the river, and forgot to pull him out.
There was joy at Grog-an'Grumble — there was victory and glory.
   An' they drank, an' fo..rt, 'n' shouted till the town was whisky-blind
Even after many summers those who lived to tell the story
   Got excited when they told it, to the truthful undersigned

This work is in the public domain in Australia because it was created in Australia and the term of copyright has expired.

See Australian Copyright Council - Duration of Copyright (January 2019).

This work is also in the public domain in the United States because it was in the public domain in Australia in 1996, and no copyright was registered in the U.S. (This is the combined effect of Australia having joined the Berne Convention in 1928, and of 17 USC 104A with its critical date of January 1, 1996.)

This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1926.

The author died in 1922, so this work is also in the public domain in countries and areas where the copyright term is the author's life plus 95 years or less. This work may also be in the public domain in countries and areas with longer native copyright terms that apply the rule of the shorter term to foreign works.