Poems

West By North Again

We've drunk our wine, we've kissed our girls, and funds are sinking low,
The horses must be thinking it's a fair thing now to go;
Sling the swags on Condamine and strap the billies fast,
And stuff a bottle in the bags and let's be off at last.
What matter if the creeks are up - the cash, alas, runs down!
A very sure and certain sign we're long enough in town.
The black fella rides the boko, and you'd better take the bay,
Quart Pot will do to carry me the stage we go today.

No grass this side the Border fence! and all the mulga's dead!
The horses for a day or two will have to spiel ahead;
Man never yet from Queensland brought a bullock or a back
But lost condition on that God-abandoned Border track.

When once we're through the rabbit-proof - it's certain since the rain -
There's whips o' grass and water, so, it's West by North again!
There's feed on Tyson's country - we can "spell" the mokes a week
Where Billy Stevens last year trapped his brumbies on Bough Creek.

The Paroo may be quickly crossed - the Eulo Common's bare;
And, anyhow, it isn't wise, old man! to dally there.
Alack-a-day! far wiser men than you and I succumb
To woman's wiles, and potency of Queensland wayside rum.

Then over sand and spinifex and on, o'er ridge and plain!
The nags are fresh - besides, they know they're westward-bound again.
The brand upon old Darkie's thigh is that upon the hide
Of bullocks we must muster on the Diamantina side.

We'll light our camp-fires where we may, and yarn beside their blaze;
The jingling hobble-chains shall make a music through the days.
And while the tucker-bags are right, and we've a stick of weed,
A swagman shall be welcome to a pipe-full and a feed.

So, fill your pipe! and, ere we mount, we'll drink another nip -
Here's how that West by North again may prove a lucky trip;
Then back again - I trust you'll find your best girl's merry face,
Or, if she jilts you, may you get a better in her place.



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