He longed to be a Back-Blocks Bard,
And fame he wished to win—
He wrote at night and studied hard
(He read The Bulletin);
He sent in “stuff” unceasingly,
But couldn’t get it through;
And so, at last, he came to me
To see what I could do.
The poet’s light was in his eye,
He aimed to be a man;
He bought a bluey and a fly,
A brand new billy-can.
I showed him how to roll his swag
And “sling it” with the best;
I gave him my old water-bag,
And pointed to the west.
“Now you can take the train as far
As Blazes if you like—
The wealthy go by motor-car
(Some travellers go by bike);
They race it through without a rest,
And find it very tame—
But if you tramp it to the west
You’ll get there just the same.
“(No matter if the hour is late,
The morning goes Out-Back),
You do not need a dog nor mate,
You’ll find them on the track.
You must avoid such deadly rhymes
As ‘self’ and ‘elf’ and ‘shelf’.
But were it as in other times,
I’d go with you myself.
“Those days are done for me, but ah!
On hills where you shall be,
The wattle and the waratah
Are good to smell and see.
But there’s a scent, my heart believes,
That ‘travellers’ set higher
Than wattle—’tis the dried gum leaves
That light the evening fire.
“The evening fire and morning fire
Are one fire in the Bush.
(You’ll find the points that you require
As towards the west you push.)
And as you pass by ancient ways,
Old camps, and mountain springs,
The spirits of the Roaring Days
Will whisper many things.
“The lonely ridge-and-gully belt—
The spirit of the whole
It must be seen; it must be felt—
Must sink into your soul!
The summer silence-creek-oaks’ sigh—
The windy, rainy “woosh”—
’Tis known to other men, and I—
The Spirit of the Bush!
“So on, and on, through dust and heat,
When past the spurs you be—
And you shall meet whom you shall meet,
And see what you shall see,
You need not claim the stranger’s due,
They yield it everywhere,
And mateship is a thing that you
Must take for granted there.
“And in the land of Lord-knows-where—
Right up and furthest out—
You find a new Australia there
That we know nought about.
Live as they live, fight as they fight,
Succeed as they succeed,
And then come back again and write
For all the world to read.”
I’ve got a note from Hungerford,
’Tis written frank and fair;
The bushman’s grim philosophy—
The bushman’s grin are there.
And tramping on through rain and drought—
Unlooked for and unmissed—
I may have sent to furthest out
The Great Bush Novelist.
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