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Edward George Dyson.

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THE LIBRARY

OF

THE UNIVERSITY

OF CALIFORNIA

LOS ANGELES



@



E H Y M E S

FROM THE MINES

AND

OTHER LINES



PUBLISHED BT

ANGUS AND ROBEiiTSON, SYDNEY.
^ookstllirs Id tbt Hiiibtrsitp.



Glasgow, Jaitws McLehose and Sons.
Calcutta, Thackci; Spitik and, Co.
Bombay, Thackcr * Co., Ltd. ,
Capetown, J. C. Juta and Co.
Toronto, I{aft and Riddell.



RHYMES FROM THE MINES
And Other Lines

By EDWARD DYSON
Author of "A Golden Shanty.'*




ANGUS AND ROBERTSON

89 Castlereagh Street.

1898

Second Thousand



Sydney: Geo. Mukiiat & Co., Ltd., Printers.






k



PEEFACE.

The greater part of the material contained in this
vokime has appeared in the pages of TJie Bulletin,
Sydney, from time to time during the last eight
years. [The Kescue ' and ' Peter Simson's Farm '
were published originally in the Melbourne Argus.
I have to thank the proprietors of both journals for
their courtesy in permitting me to reproduce the
verses. ^

Several pieces, including ' Waiting for Water,'
' The Prospectors,' ' The Tale of Steven,' and
* The Deserted Homestead,' are now printed for
the first time.

EDWAKD DYSON.



1363088



TO THE MEN OF THE MINES

We specked as hoys o'er icorked-out ground

By littered fiat and muddy stream,
We watched the u-him horse trudyiny round,

Atul rode upon the circling beam.
Within the old uproarious mill

Fed mad, insatiable stamps,
Mined peaceful gorge and gusty hill
With jmn, and pick, and gad, and dnll,

And knew the stir of sudden camps.

By yellow dams in summer days

We puddled at the tom ; for weeks
Went seeking up) the tortuous ways

Of gullies deep and hidden creeks.
We ivorked the shallow leads in style,

And hunted fortune down the drives,
And missed her, mostly by a mile —
Once by a yard or so. The while

We lived untrammelled, easy lives.

7



TO THE MEN OF THE MINES

Through blaziwj doi/s upon the brace

We laboured, and wlien nviht had passed
Beheld the glory and tlie grace

Of wondrous dawns in bushlands vast.
We heard the burdened timbers groan

In deep mines murmurous as the seas
On long, lone shores by drear winds blown.
We've seen heroic deeds, and known

The digger' s joys and tragedies.

I write in rhyme of all these things,

With little skill, perhaps, but you.
To whom each tale a memory brings

Of bygone days, icill know tJiem true.
Shoidd mates tvho've icorked in stope and face,

Who've trenched tlie hill and swirled the dish.
Or toiled upon the ]}lat and brace.
Find pleasure in the lines I trace.

No better tvelcome could I wish.



CONTENTS



CONTENTS

PAGE

TO THE MEN OF THE MINES

We specked as boys o'er worked-out

ground ...... 7

THE OLD WHIM HOESE

He's an old grey horse, with his head

bowed sadly, . . . . . 19

CLEANING UP

"When the horse has been unharnessed

and we've flushed the old machine, . 23

THE EESCUE

There's a sudden, fierce clang of the
knocker, then the sound of a voice in
the shaft, 26

BASHFUL GLEESON

From her home beyond the river in the

parting of the hills, . . . . 31

11



12 CONTENTS

PAGE

THE WOEKED-OUT MINE

On summer nights when moonbeams flow 86

GERIMAN JOE

Skirting the swamp and the tangled scrub, 39

WAITING FOR WATER

'Twas old Flynn, the identity, told us, . 42

WHEN BROTHER PEETREE PRAYED

'Twas a sleepy little chapel by a wattled

hill erected, ..... 47

THE OLD CAMP-OVEN

We don't keep a grand piano in our hut

beside the creek, . . . . 51

WHEN THE BELL BLEW UP

' That's the boiler at the Bell, mates !

Tumble out, Ned, neck and crop — . 55

THE TRUCKER

If you want a game to tame you and to

take your measure in, . . . 60

' STOP-AND-SEE '

I'm stewing in a brick-built town ; . 64



CONTENTS 13

FAOE

IN 'THE BENEVOLENT'

I'm off on the wallaby,' cries old Ben, . 68

JONAH'S LUCK

Out of luck, mate? Have a liquor.

Hang it, where's the use complaining ? 71

NIGHT SHIFT

' Hello ! that's the whistle, be moving . 80

A FEIENDLY GAME OF FOOTBALL

We were challenged by the Dingoes —

they're the pride of Squatter's Gap — . 83

THE TALE OF STEVEN

'Tis the tale of Simon Steven, braceman

at the Odd-and-Even, ... 88

THE FOSSICKER

A straight old f ossicker was Lanky Mann, 92

THE TIN-POT MILL

Quite a proud and happy man is Finn

the packer ..... 94



14 CONTENTS

FAQE

A POOE JOKE

* No, you can't count me in, boys ; I'm off

it— 98

'BEEAKING IT GENTLY'

All was up with Richard Tanner — . 104

STEUCK IT AT LAST

He was almost blind, and wasted . . 106

THE PEOSPECTOES

When the white sun scorches the fair,
green land in the rage of his fierce
desires, ...... 109

PETEE SIMSON'S FARM

Simson settled in the timber when his

arm was strong and true . . . 117

SINCE NELLIE CAME TO LIVE ALONG THE
CEEEK
My hut is built of stringy-bark, the

window's calico, .... 123

THE FEEAK

Just beyond All Alone, going back . 128



CONTENTS 15

PAGE

IN TOWN

Out of work and out of money — out of

friends that means, you bet . . 133



THE DESERTED HOMESTEAD

Past a dull, grey plain where a world-
old grief seems to brood o'er the silent
land, 137



A NEW GIEL UP AT WHITE'S

There's a fresh track down the paddock . 143



WHOSE WIFE

' Harry ! what, that yourself, back to old

Vic, man, ..... 146



BATTEEED BOB

He was working on a station in the

Western when I knew him, . . 148



THE SPLITTER

In the morn when the keen blade bites

the tree, ...... 155



16 CONTENTS

PAGE

TO THE THEOEETICAL SELECTOR

Would you be the King, the strong man,

first m council and in toil, . . 157

BULLOCKY BILL

From a river siding, the railway town, . 161

THE DROVERS IN REPLY

We are wondering why those fellows

who are writing cheerful ditties . 163

THE SHANTY

There are tracks through the scrub, there's

a track down the hill, . . . 167

AH LING, THE LEPER

Up a dark and fetid alley, where the offal

and the slime . . . . .170

THE EMU OF WHROO

We've a tale to tell you of a spavined
emu, ...... 173



R H Y ]\I E S
FROM THE INIINES



THE OLD WHIM HORSE

He's an old grey horse, with his head bowed sadly,

And with dim old eyes and a queer roll aft,
With the off- fore sprung and the hind screwed badly

And he bears all over the brands of graft ;
And he lifts his head from the grass to Avonder

Why by night and day now the whim is still,
Why the silence is, and the stampers' thunder

Sounds forth no more from the shattered mill.



In that whim he Avorked when the night winds
bellowed

On the riven summit of Giant's Hand,
And by day when prodigal Spring had yellowed

All the Avide, long sweep of enchanted land ;
And he knew his shift, and the whistle's warning,

And he knew the calls of the boys below ;
Through the years, unbidden, at night or morning,

He had taken his stand by the old whim bow.



20 THE OLD WHIM HOUSE

But the whiiu stands still, ami the wheeling swallow

In the silent shaft hangs her home of clay,
And the lizards flirt and the swift snakes follow

O'er the grass-grown brace in the summer day ;
And the corn springs high in the cracks and corners

Of the forge, and down where the timber lies ;
And the croAvs are perched like a band of mourners

On the broken hut on the Hermit's Else.

All the hands have gone, for the rich reef paid out,

And the company waits till the calls come in ;
But the old grey horse, like the claim, is played out,

And no market's near for his bones and skin.
80 they let him live, and they left him grazing

By the creek, and oft in the evening dim
I have seen him stand on the rises, gazing

At the ruined brace and the rotting whim.

The floods rush high in the gully under.

And the lightnings lash at the shrinking trees.
Or the cattle down from the ranges blunder

As the fires drive by on the summer breeze.
Still the feeble horse at the viglit liour wanders

To the lonely ring, though the whistle's dumb,
And with hanging head by the boAV he ponders

Where the whim boy's gone — why the shifts don't
come.



THE OLD WHIM HOESE 21

But there comes a night when he sees hghts glowing

In the roofless huts and the ravaged mill,
When he hears again all the stampers going —

Though the huts are dark and the stampers still :
When he sees the steam to the black roof clinging

As its shadows roll on the silver sands,
And he knows the voice of his driver singing,

And the knocker's clang where the hraceman
stands.

See the old horse take, like a creature dreaming.

On the ring once more his accustomed place ;
But the moonbeams full on the ruins streaming

Show the scattered timbers and grass-grown brace.
Yet //(' hears the sled in the smithy faUing,

And the empty truck as it rattles back,
And the boy who stands by the an\il, calling ;

And he turns and backs, and he ' takes up slack.'

While the old drum creaks, and the shadows shiver

As the wind sweeps by, and the hut doors close,
And the bats dip down in the shaft or quiver

In the ghostly hght, round the grey horse goes ;
And he feels the strain on his untouched shoulder,

Hears again the voice that was dear to him.
Sees the form he knew — and his heart groAvs bolder

As he works his shift by the broken whim.



22 THE OLD WHIM HORSE

He hears in the sluices the water rushing

As the buckets drain and the doors fall back :
"When the early dawn in the east is blushing,

He is limping still round the old, old track.
Now he pricks his ears, with a neigh replying

To a call unspoken, with eyes aglow.
And he sways and sinks in the circle, dying ;

From the ring no more will the grey horse go.

In a gully green, where a dam lies gleaming,

And the bush creeps back on a worked-out claim,
And the sleepy crows in the sun sit dreaming

On the timbers grey and a charred hut frame,
"Where the legs slant down, and the hare is squatting

In the high rank grass by the dried-up course,
Nigh a shattered drum and a king-post rotting

Are the bleaching bones of the old grey horse.



CLEANING UP

When the horse has been unharnessed and we've

flushed the old machine,
And the water o'er the shiice is running evenly and

clean ;
When there's thirty load before us, and the sun is

high and bright,
And we've worked from early morning and shall have

to work till night,
Not a man of us is weary, though the graft is pretty

rough.
If we see the proper colour showing freely through

the stuff.

With a dandy head of water and a youngster at the

rear »

To hand along the billy, boys, and keep the tail race

clear.
We lift the wash and flash the fork and make the

gravel fly.



24 CLEANING UP

The shovelling is heavy and we're soaked from heel

to thigh ;
But it makes a fellow tireless and his thews and

sinews tough
If the colour's showing freely as he gaily shifts the

stuff.

When Geordie Best is pumping to a rollicking

refrain,
And Sandy -ttdpes his streaming brow and shakes the

fork again,
The pebbles dance and rattle and the water seems

to laugh —
Good luck is half the battle and good will's the

other half ;
And no day's too long and trying and no toil is hard

enough,
When we see the colour showing in each shovelful

of stuff.

Can the mining speculator with a pile of golden

scrip.
Or the plunger who has laid his all upon a winning

tip.
Or the city man who's hit upon a profitable deal.
Know the wonderful elation that the lucky diggers

feel



CLEANING UP 25

"When Fortune's smiled but grimly and the store-
man's looking grufl",

And at last they see the colour showing freely in the
stuff?

Never, mates ! It is a feeling that no other winner
knows —

Not the soldier marching homeAvard from the con-
quest of his foes,

Nor the scholar who's successful in his searching of
the skies.

Nor the squalid miser grovelling where his secret
treasure lies.

'Tis a keener, wilder rapture in the digger bold and
bluff.

Who feeds the sluice and sees the colour shining in
the stuff'.

Then lift the wash, and flash the fork, and make the'

gravel fly !
^Ye can laugh at all the pleasures on which other

men rely.
When the Avater o'er the sluice is running evenly

and clean.
And the loaded ripples glitter with a lively golden

sheen.
No day's too long and trying, and no toil is hard

enough.
When we wash her down and see the colour freely

through the stuff'.



THE RESCUE

There's a sudden, fierce clang of the knocker, then

the sound of a voice in the shaft,
Shrieking words that drum hard on the centres, and

the braceman goes suddenly daft :
' Set the whistle a-blowing like blazes ! Billy, run.

give old ]\Iackie a call —
Run, you fool ! Number Two's gone to pieces, and

Fred Baker is caught in the fall !

Say, hello ! there below — any hope, boys, any chances

of saving his life ?
' Heave away ! ' says the knocker. They've started.

God be praised, he's no youngsters or wife ! '

Screams the whistle in fearful entreaty, and the Avild

echo raves on the spur.
And the night, that was still as a sleeper in soft,

charmed sleep, is astir
With the fluttering of wings in the wattles, and the

vague frightened niurnmr of birds,

26



THE EESCUE 27

^Yith far cooeys that carry the warning, runnmg

feet, inarticulate words.
From the black belt of bush come the miners, and

they gather by INIack on the brace.
Out of breath, barely clad, and half-wakened, Anth a

question in every face.

'Who's below?' 'Where's the fall'?' Didn't I

tell you ? — Didn't I say that them sets wasn't

sound ? '
' Is it Fred ? He was reckless was Baker ; now

he's seen his last shift underground.'
' And his mate ? Where is Sandy M'Fadyn ? '

' Sandy's snoring at home on his bunk.'
' Not at work ! Name o' God ! a foreboding ? ' ' A

foreboding be hanged ! He is drunk ! '
' Take it steady there, lads ! ' the boss orders. He

is white to the roots of his hair.
' We may get him alive before daybreak if he's close

to the face and has air.'

In the dim drive with ardour heroic two facemen

are pegging away.
Long and Coots in the rise heard her thunder, and

they fled without word or delay
Down the drive, and they rushed for the ladders, and

they went up the shaft with a run.



28 THE RESCUE

For they knew the weak spot in the workings, and
they guessed there was graft to he done.

Nuniher Two was pitch dark, and they scrambled to
the plat and they made for the face.

But the roof had come down fifty yards in, and the
reef was all over the place.

Fresher men from the surface replace them, and

they're hauled up on top for a blow ;
When a life and death job is in doing there's room

only for workers below.
Bare-armed, and bare-chested, and brawny, with a

grim, meaning set of the jaw.
The relay hurries in to the rescue, caring not for

the danger a straw ;
' Tis not toil, but a battle, they're called to, and like

Trojans the miners respond,
For a dead man lies crushed 'neath the timbers, or a

live man is choking beyond.

By the faint, yellow glow of the candles, where the
dank drive is hot with their breath.

On the verge of the Land of the Shadow, waging
war breast to bosom with Death,

How they struggle, these giants ! and slowly, as the
trucks rattle into the gloom,



THE RESCUE 29

Inch by inch they advance to the conquest of a

prison — or is it a tomb ?
And the working's re-eclio a volley as the timbers

are driven in place ;
Then> whisper is borne to the toilers : ' Boys, his

mother is there on the brace ! '

Like veterans late into action, fierce with longing

to hew and to hack,
Riordan's shift rushes in to relieve them, and the

toil- stricken men stagger back.
' Stow the stuff, mates, wherever there's stowage !

Run the man on the brace till he drops !
There's no time to think on this billet ! Bark the

heels of the trucker who stops !
Keep the props well in front, and be careful. He's

in there, and alive, never fret.'
But the grey dawn is softening the ridges, and the

word has not come to us yet.

Still the knocker rings out, and the engine shrieks

and strains like a creature in pain
As the cage rushes up to the surface and drops back

into darkness again.
By the capstan a woman is crouching. In her eyes

neither hope nor despair ;



30 THE RESCUE

But a yearning that glowers like frenzy bids those

Avho'd speak pity forbear.
Like a figure in stone she is seated till the labour of

rescue be done.
For the father was killed in the Phoenix, and the son

— Lord of pity ! the son ?

' Hello ! there on top ! ' they are calling. ' They are

through ! He is seen in the drive ! '
' They have got him — thank Heaven ! they've got

him, and oh, blessed be God, he's alive ! '
' Man on ! heave away ! ' Step aside, lads ; let his

mother be first when he lands.'
She was silent and strong in her anguish ; now she

babbles and weeps where she stands.
And the stern men, grown gentle, support her at the

mouth of the shaft, till at last
With a rush the cage springs to the landing, and her

son's arms encircle her fast.

She lias ciirs('


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Online LibraryEdward George DysonRhymes from the mines, and other lines → online text (page 1 of 6)