John Burroughs.

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THOMAS E. SPENCER.



FACES IN THE STREET.

HPHEY lie, the men who tell us in a loud decisive tone
A That want is here a stranger, and that misery's un-
known,

For where the nearest suburb and the city proper meet
My window-sill is level with the faces in the street
Drifting past, drifting past,
To the beat of weary feet
While I sorrow for the owners of those faces in the street.

And cause I have to sorrow, in a land so young and fair,
To see upon those faces stamped the marks of Want and
Care;



214 THE BULLETIN RECITER.

I look in vain for traces of the fresh and fair and sweet,
In sallow, sunken faces that are drifting through the
street

Drifting on, drifting on,
To the tread of listless feet;
I can sorrow for the owners of those faces in the street.

In hours before the dawning dims the starlight in the sky r
The wan and weary faces first begin to trickle by,
Increasing as the moments hurry on with morning feet,
Till like a pallid river flow the faces in the street-
Flowing in, flowing in,
To the beating of their feet
Ah ! I sorrow for the owners of those faces in the street.

The human river dwindles when 't is past the hour of

eight,

Its waves go flowing faster in the fear of being late;
But slowly drag the moments, whilst, beneath the dust

and heat,

The city grinds the owners of the faces in the street
Grinding flesh, grinding bone,
Yielding scarce enough to eat
Oh! I sorrow for the owners of the faces in the street.

And then the only faces till the sun is sinking down
Are those of outside toilers and the idlers of the town,
Save here and there a face, that seems a stranger in the
street,



FACES IN THE STREET. 21$

Tells of the city's unemployed upon his weary beat
Drifting round, drifting round,
To the scrape of restless feet

Ah! my heart aches for the owner of that sad face in the
street.



And when the hours on lagging feet have slowly dragged

away,
And sickly yellow gas-lights rise to mock the going

day,

Then, flowing past my window, like a tide in its retreat,
Again I see the pallid stream of faces in the street
Ebbing out, ebbing out,
To the drag of tired feet,
While my heart is aching dumbly for the faces in the

street.



And now all blurred and smirched with vice the day's sad

pages end,
For while the short "large hours" towards the longer

"small hours" trend,
With smiles that mock the wearer, and with words that

half entreat,

Delilah pleads for custom at the corner of the street
Sinking down, sinking down,
Battered wreck by tempests beat
A dreadful, thankless trade is hers, that Woman of the

Street.



216 THE BULLETIN RECITER.

But, ah! to dreader things than these our fair young

city comes,
For in its heart are growing thick the filthy dens and

slums,
Where human forms shall rot away in sties for swine

unmeet,

And ghostly faces shall be seen unfit for any street
Rotting out, rotting out,
For lack of air and meat
In dens of vice and horror that are hidden from the

street.



I wonder would the avarice of wealthy men endure
Were all the windows level with the faces of the Poor?
Ah! Mammon's slaves, your knees shall knock, your

hearts in terror beat,

When God demands a reason for the sorrows of the
street !

The wrong things and the bad things
And the sad things that we meet
In the filthy lane and alley, and the cruel, heartless street.



I left the dreadful corner where the steps are never

still,
And sought another window overlooking gorge and

hill;
But when the night came dreary with the driving rain and

sleet,



FACES IN THE STREET. 217

They haunted me the shadows of those faces in the
street,

Flitting by, flitting by,
Flitting by with noiseless feet,

And with cheeks but little paler than those real in the
street.



Once I cried: "Oh, God Almighty! if Thy might doth

still endure,
Now show me in a vision, for the wrongs of Earth, a

cure."

And lo ! with shops all shattered, I beheld a city's street,
And in the waning distance heard the tramp of many

feet,

Coming near, coming near,
To a drum's dull distant beat,
And soon I saw the army that was marching down the

street.

And, like a swollen river that has burst o'er bank and wall,
The human flood came pouring with the red flags over

all!
And kindled eyes all blazing bright with revolution's

heat!

And flashing swords reflecting rigid faces in the street
Pouring on, pouring on,
To a drum's loud threatening beat,
And the war-hymns and the cheering of the people in the

street.



218 THE BULLETIN RECITER.

And so 't will be while aye the world goes rolling round

its course,
The warning pen shall write in vain, the warning voice

grow hoarse,

But not until a city feels red revolution's feet
Shall its sad people miss awhile the terrors of the street
The dreadful everlasting strife
For scarcely clothes and meat
In that great mill for human bones the city's cruel street.

HENRY LAWSON.



THE BUSH MISSIONARY.

WAS on old M'Carson's station, near the finish of

the shearing,

We were seated round the table in the hut, playing loo ;
An unrighteous occupation, nor particularly cheering,
When your tally's only middling, and your luck is
looking blue ;

But there 's nothing else to do,
So it 's poker or it 's loo,
In the afternoon of Saturday on Coolabungaroo !

Jack the Rat, who did the pressing, sat outside the door

a-smoking,
And a-telling all the rouseabouts of horses he had

" broke,"



THE BUSH MISSIONARY. 219

And our sorrow grew distressing at the " borak " he was

poking,

When he put his head inside the hut and whispered,
" Holy smoke !

Here 's a sanguinary joke ! "
And he chuckled fit to choke ;
" Here 's the lanky Scotchbyterian, the missionary bloke !"

Well, he looked to see him coming, and he "took him out

o' winding,"
He was long, and he was lanky; he was frecklesome

and fair,
And a hymn he was a-humming, just as if he was n't

minding,

And he asked if any shearer had a mind to cut his hair !

We could only gape and stare,

'Cause we did n't like to swear !

But the ringer said he 'd do it, with a bucket for a chair !

So the ringer started quickly (with the shears he was a

dandy),
But he clipped a kind of pimple and the parson gave a

bound !
Then the ringer tarred it thickly and confessed he felt

" unhandy "

The position, for a shearer, "rather awkwardish" he found !
Then he downed him on the ground,
And he whipped his neck around,
And he " pinked " him like a leather-neck when squatters

paid a pound !



220 THE BULLETIN RECITER.

Now the ringer 'd just got through his unaccustomed

operation,
When M'Carson, who 'd been mustering, arrived upon

the scene,

And the shearers they were treated to a masterly oration
By the choleric M'Carson, whose vocabulary keen,
As was easy to be seen,
Was more forcible than clean
And remarkably distasteful to the Reverend M'Lean !

So the parson he suggested, as a means of reconciling
(Not indeed that he objected to the way they 'd cut

his hair ;)

That the parties interested should agree to his beguiling
All the station-hands and rouseabouts with services of

prayer ;

Which the squatter thought was fair,
He was fond of praise and prayer !
And, the station-hands consenting, service started then

and there !

Now, the preaching it was splendid, but the shearers

jibbed at singing,
Though the squatter joined the preacher, not another

soul would sing!
Then the service was up-ended, and M'Carson's arms went

swinging,
And he raved and stamped and cursed and swore and

called us everything!



THE BUSH MISSIONARY. 221

"Singi y er blanky beggars, sing !
Make the blanky welkin ring I

WON'T YOU BLANKY SONS OF BLANKERS HELP THE
BLANKY MAN TO SING ! "
******

We were sorry for the parson, though he was a bit erratic,
'Cause he was an all-right preacher and a decent fellow,

too;

But, you see, he found M'Carson so ferociously emphatic
He concluded that the services in future would n't do.

So the shearers play at loo,

And at whisky-poker, too,
And the parson is a scarcity at Coolabungaroo!

W. T. GOODGE.



THE LAST BULLET.

O INCE the first human eyes saw the first timid stars

^ break through heaven, and shine,

Surely never a man has bowed under the cross of a curse

such as mine ;
They of all the dead millions of millions whose dust

whirls and flees in the wind,
Who were born sorry heirs of the hate of a Fate that is

bitter and blind



222 THE BULLETIN RECITER.

All whose lives pain has smitten with fire since God first

set the sun to its course
What have they known of woe like to mine ? what of

grief? of despair? of remorse?
Oh, to cancel one hour of my past ! Oh, to shut out all

thought to forget !
Then go forth as a leper, to die in hot wastes ! Listen ! . . .

Over us yet,

Her and me, in the heart of the North, hung the glamour
of love at its height,

Joy of things unperceived by the others, holy hours of
unwaning delight

Joy of selfless devotion to each in each heart joy of
guiding the feet

Of our babe, our one daughter, our May, by three sum-
mers of childhood made sweet.

I had dared overmuch in the battle for wealth ; I had

ventured alone
Upon verdurous tracts that lay fronting the edge of a

desert unknown,
Fifty miles further out than the furthest I had chanced on

a green width of plain,
In a time when the earth was made glad with a grey

wealth of bountiful rain.

Fifty miles from Maconochie's Gap. They had warned

me. Some three years gone by,
In a night when the flames of his home reddened far up

the heights of the sky,



THE LAST BULLET. 223

With a hard, ragged spear through his heart, and a

tomahawk-blade in his head,
Lay the master, in death, and his wife ah, far better

had she, too, lain dead !

Dark the tale is to tell, yet it was but a cool resentment of

wrong,
A fierce impulse of those who were weak for revenge

upon those who were strong;
Cattle speared at the first blacks shot down, and the

blood of their babes, even, shed
Blood that stains the same hue as our own ! It is written

red blood will have red.

But an organised anger of whites swept the bush with a

fury unchained,
Till the feet of the trees had their dead, and the black,

murdered corpses remained
Till the black, glutted crows scarce could rise from the

feast at the sound of a foot,
And the far-away camps through the nights lay unlighted,

and ghastly, and mute.

And the terror ran out through the tribes, and since that

dismal crime had been done,
Not a dusk, stealthy savage had crossed the wide bounds

of Maconochie's run.
But the white skies, in set malediction, stared at palpitant

wastes that implored
For the wine of dry clouds that rose, mocking them.

-"Vengeance is Mine!" saith the Lord.



224 THE BULLETIN RECITER.

They had warned me. "Out yonder," they said, "there's

abundance of water and grass ;
You 've Brown's Ranges on one side, they draw down and

drain all the rain-clouds that pass;
(We are outside the rainy belt here) but remember the

words we have said
If you will go, take plenty of arms, and be sure to take

powder and lead!"

And I went, with my trustworthy helpers, and lived

through a desolate year
Of suspicions and vigils, and hunger for her of all dear

ones most dear;
But a year crowned with utmost successes, and crowned

above all things in this
That it brought her at last to my side, with the gift of a

new face to kiss.

And a blessedness came with her feet, and our life was an

infinite peace,
And the prospering years shed upon us a fair meed of

worldly increase;
But a thousand times better to me than large prospect of

silver and gold
Was the sumptuous love of a wife, mine for ever to have

and to hold.

O, the sting of remembering then! O, could madness
dishevel my mind

Till I babbled of wry, tangled things, looking neither be-
fore nor behind!



THE LAST BULLET. 225

But that memory never will sleep, and I crouch, as the

first of our race,
Not my peer in his guilt, crouched and hid from the

sight of God's terrible face !

We had hardly been vexed by the blacks in our work,

though, all through the first year
And the second, we stood upon guard with the disciplined

earnest of fear,
But the summers and winters went by, and the wild

hordes gave never a proof
Of their hate, and our vigilance slept and security came

to our roof.

So, unwarned, fell the night of my doom. There was

smoke in the West through the day,
And an hour after noontide the men had been mustered

and sent to waylay
In its course the quick wave that might ruin, for the high

grass was yellow and sere
With the withering breath of the dense, sullen heat of the

last of the year.

Some had rifles to shoot kangaroo; some had not; and

my darlings and I
Sat alone in the dusk near our door, with our eyes on a

fringe in the sky,
Where the light of the late-sunken sun was replaced by a

wide livid glow
Which pulsed high or grew pale as the fire underneath it

waxed fierce or waned low.
o



226 THE BULLETIN RECITER.

We had spoken together, glad-voiced, of the time when

our exile would be
At an end, and our feet once again in the quiet lands over

the sea,
Till the large lovely eyes of the child felt their lids grow

despotic. She drew
To her mother, and slept in her arms, and the new-risen

moon kissed the two !

I was looking beyond them to where the broad columns

of tree-shadows slept,
Stretching west twice the length of the trees, when a

horror of something that crept,
Something blacker than shade through the shade, smote

my heart with a hammer of ice ;
And with eyeballs dilated and strained, and hands

clenched with the clench of a vice,

I leaped up. But a clear, sudden whirr cleaved the night,

and with scarcely a moan
From her lips, the white soul of our child went among

the white souls at the Throne!
"To the house!" With the dead and the living, half

dead, clasped before me, I sprang
Through the strong door, and bolted and barred it, before

on the stillness out rang

One wild, volumed malignance of yells ! To have light

might be death. In the dark
On the floor the poor mother groped madly about the

dead child for a spark



THE LAST BULLET. 227



Of the hope of pulsation of life, till the blood that

mine and her own,
From the boomerang-gash warmed her hands, and she

knew that we two were alone !

Yell on yell of the monsters without! crash of shutters

behind! but I knew
How the wall that divided was built; that^ at least, they

could never get through
Crash of manifold blows on the door; but I knew, too,

how that had been made,
And I crawled to the corner and found my revolvers, and

hoarsely I said:

"Kiss me now, ere the worst, O Bereft! O most stricken

and dearest of wives
They will find out this window! I hold in my hands but

a dozen of lives ;
In the storehouse the arms are God help us! Fold your

hands in the dark, dear, and pray!"
But she sobbed from the floor, "God forgets us, and I

have forgotten the way!"

Crash of spear through the window ! and answering flash,

with the message of lead
From my hand ! and dull answer to that of a lean demon

form falling dead !
Crash on crash of a dozen of spears ! till they lay in a

sheaf on the floor
Red rejoinder of fire as the moonlight revealed them

"But one bullet more!"



228 THE BULLETIN RECITER.

I had hissed to myself. But she heard me, and seizing

my arm, held it fast,
And a hard, altered voice that I knew not at once, cried,

"Hold! 7 claim the last,
Dearest love, by your hand the divorce ! One last kiss,

till the Infinite Life
Once again, on my lips! Hold it close, and ....

remember MaconochiJs wife!"

By the white sickly gleam of the match she had bared

that true bosom, all red
With the blood of her slain one. I looked in her eyes.

"God forgive me!" I said . . .
And the sound of a crime unexampled

was echoed outside by a sound
Not as awful to me that dread Trump, when the time of

my sentence comes round

Rifle-shots close at hand! devil-cries; counter cheers of

the voices I knew !
They were back ! I was saved ! . . . Lost ! lost ! lost !

Can the blood of the Saviour they slew
Upon Calvary's hill wash off hers from my hands! For

I trusted not God
To the full in the hour of my need, and my lips will not

cleave to the rod

Of His wrath, and I fall in the sand, with the weight of the

cross that I bear . . .
Who has ever gone out with a burden of crime, of

remorse, of despair



THE LAST BULLET. 229

Like to this? Let me stumble to death, or through life

it is equally well,
Doubly-damned, what can death be to me but translation

from Hell unto Hell?

JOHN FARRELL.



THE HONEYMOON TRAIN.

HARK how the chill westerly rattles the windows !
I '11 draw up my chair to the side of the fire :
That new book, I fancy, must wait till to-morrow
I 'm lazy, and old eyes so easily tire.

By George ! good cigar, this ! Nell chose it, and lit it,
And thrust me in here till she clears things away:

A nice little dinner she gave me this evening
Soup, fish, pate*, salad and cheese all O.K.

Dear Nellie ! Heigho, as I stare at the embers,
The years roll away down their dusty old track:

I mind well the first time I saw her at Harry's
Her father was dead : she was still wearing black,

All black, with an old-fashioned brooch made of silver,
And chatelaine of silver, and quaint silver belt,

She looked how she looked! . . there, that coal in the

centre !
That's she! . . ah, the picture's beginning to melt.



230 THE BULLETIN RECITER.

In three months we married let's see eighteen-ninety :
Just forty years gone how the time slips away!

The thirteenth no, was it? the fifteenth yes, fifteenth:
Why, hang it ! we 're forty years married to-day !

Whew ! now je comprends all those little side glances !

Her colour, her chatter, the dress that she wore !
The wine, this cigar ! why, I smelt something extra

Old duffer I was not to see it before!

I

All years ago? Nonsense! it happened this morning
The wedding, the breakfast, the table all set

And people all glaring O Lord ! they encored me !
A dream ! no, I feel the rice down my back yet.

And then comes a mist, but I know at the station
I wrung the guard's hand : did he think me insane?

Then handkerchiefs waving "Good-bye and God bless

you!"
A whistle ! we 're off by the honeymoon train !

That journey! O, Paradise holds nothing sweeter!

(What bliss can be bought for a twelve shilling fare !)
With Nell on my knee (she got off at the stations)

Pretending to scold when I let down her hair.

And now we Ve arrived, and had welcome and dinner,
And Nell for a moment has gone to our room

Our room! O delicious! I think that's her footstep:
We '11 sit not too long and spend love in the gloom.



THE HONEYMOON TRAIN. 231

"Cigar out! No gas lit!" My dear, I've been dozing! . .

How well you look, Nellie ! your eyes shine again.
What, kisses ! Hang grey hairs ! I 'm gay three-and-
twenty

God bless us! we're off by the honeymoon train.

A. G. STEPHENS.



THE MURDER-NIGHT.

THE tree-frogs sing in the rain,
The stars are caught in the pines,
The wind has fled up the lane,
And a sick man's window shines.

A loose horse neighs at the night,
A housed horse stamps in his stall ;

A swallow flutters with fright,
And dies at the top of the wall.

The paddocks are striped with flood,
And under the barn-door creeps

A silent gutter of blood

In queer little jerks and leaps.



232 THE BULLETIN RECITER.

And the nested rain-drops plash
And mix with the sinful stream

That writhes in the lightning flash,
Like a snake in a fearsome dream.

And up on the bald wet hill

A gibbering madman stands,
And sniffs his horrible fill

Of the rose in his shaking hands.

HUGH M'CRAE.



A SCOTCH NIGHT.

IF you chance to strike a gathering of half-a-dozen friends
When the drink is Highland whusky or some chosen

Border blends,
And the room is full of speirin' and the gruppin' of brown

ban's,
And the talk is all of tartans and of plaidies and of

clans,
You can take things douce and easy, you can judge

you 're going right,
For you Ve had the luck to stumble on a wee Scotch night !

When you 're pitchforked in among them in a sweeping

sort of way
As "anither mon an' brither" from the Tweed or from

the Tay ;



cnlheychanMhe stirring war-songs



woukjTpaHe a coward ^i




A SCOTCH NIGHT.



[ To face Page 233.



A SCOTCH NIGHT. 233

When you 're taken by the oxter and you 're couped into

a chair

While someone slips a whusky in your tumbler unaware,
Then the present seems less dismal and the future fair

and bricht,
For you've struck Earth's grandest treasure in a guid

Scotch nicht !

When you hear a short name shouted and the same name

shouted back
Till you think in the confusion that they've all been

christened Mac ;

When you see a red beard flashing in the corner by the fire,
And a giant on the sofa who is six-foot three or higher,
Before you've guessed the colour and before you've

gauged the height
You '11 have jumped at the conclusion it 's a braw Scotch

night !

When the red man in the corner puts his strong voice to

the proof
As he gives "The Hundred Pipers," and the chorus lifts

the roof;
When a chiel sings "Annie Laurie" with its tender, sweet

refrain
Till the tears are on their eyelids and the drinks come

round again !
When they chant the stirring war-songs that would make

the coward fight,
Then you 're fairly in the middle of a wee Scotch night !



234 THE BULLETIN RECITER.

When the plot begins to thicken and the band begins to

play;

When every tin-pot chieftain has a word or two to say ;
When they'd sell a Queensland station for a sprig of

native heath ;
When there's one Mac on the table and a couple

underneath ;
When half of them are sleeping and the whole of them

are tight,
You will know that you're assisting at a (hid) Scotch

night !

When the last big bottle 's empty and the dawn creeps

grey and cold,
And the last clan-tartan 's folded and the last d d lie

is told ;
When they totter down the footpath in a brave, unbroken

line,
To the peril of the passers and the tune of "Auld Lang

Syne " ;
You can tell the folk at breakfast as they watch the

fearsome sicht,
"They have only been assisting at a braw Scots nicht!"

WILL OGILVIE.



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Online LibraryJohn BurroughsThe Bulletin reciter, a collection of verses for recitation from The Bulletin, 1880-1901 → online text (page 10 of 11)