AUSSIE POETRY BY "JACK SAMMON" AND OTHERS, PAGE ON DOWN MATE!!!
I met Mr. Jack Sammon on the internet, and eventually in person, and we had the pleasure of entertaining the masses at the National Cowboy Symposium in Lubbock, Texas in 1999. Some of Jack's poetry, and some of his 'mates' are here as well. Please enjoy the poetry of the Australian Cowboy.
This is a part of the "Bardk Poetry * Working Cowboy Lifestyle" page maintained
and operated by David Kelley, Allen, Texas, Cowboy Poet. Read on, and
I do hope you enjoy the poetry from down under. The ringers(cowboys)
of Northern Australia, drove cattle to railheads, much like our cowboy
ancestors did in the twenty year period from 1867 to the the 1880's. The
only difference is the period of time when this activity occurred lasted
until the late 1970's. Thats's when the Australian government built the
"tar" roads, and more modern conveyances took over. The following poetry
is really great stuff, and was written by working drovers and/or one of
the most famous writers in Australian history, none other that the author
of "Waltzing Matilda", Mr. A.B. (Banjo) Paterson. This page is still
coming around, so check in from time to time, and don't forget to go back
to the home page, and sign in on my GUEST BOOK.
PAGE DOWN FOR SOME TERRIFIC AUSTRALIAN POETRY!!!!!!!!!
THOSE DROVING DAYS
© Jack Sammon 2000
Do your thoughts ever unfold to those days of old
when cattle strung out on the plain?
As they slowly pass by with the dust rising high
can you see those old drovers again?
Or the ringers we knew from times long ago who
sheared our campfires blaze?
Do you ever ponder or allow thoughts to wander
back to those droving days?
Have you awoke in fright, on a dark stormy night
when thoughts flash back through the years,
To the nights on the route, when the storms were about
as we rode round those Territory steers?
Did your heart miss a beat, when the steers hit their feet
and rushed off the camp with a roar?
With the sound of horns clashing, and dry timber crashing
we galloped around them once more.
Do you ever think back, to that trip on ‘The Track’
when we took those stores into Marree?
Across the dry desert land all covered with sand
as far as the eye could see.
When all was in drought and no grass on the route
we battled to bring that mob through,
But we got them in there with a few head to spare
by using the tricks that we knew.
Can you remember the days when we rode in the haze
of dust rising up from the plain,
Or of the nights in a camp with swages that were damp
when we shivered in cold winter rain?
Do you still miss the sound as you camped on the ground
of horse bells on the night air?
Or the sound of the breeze as it drifts through the trees
and at times do you wish you were there?
Do you imagine again you feel the tug of the rein
as you race to the steady the lead?
On a good horse beneath with the bit in his teeth
well-breed and built for speed.
Or do you recall the colt that would buck and bolt
when you tried to put up a ride?
The only thing hurt when you bounced off the dirt
was mostly only your pride.
Now the years have rolled on and the drover has gone
from stock routs out in the west,
And we’ve all settled down and got jobs in the town
with a mortgage and all of the rest.
Although it has often been said that the life that we led
was not what it’s cracked up to be,
And I know it was rough and at times things were tough
but the life that we led was free.
© 2000 * Jack Sammon
The river is flooding where the road should be
As it spreads out over the plain,
When the clouds roll in from the northern sea
It’s the time when we get our rain.
For days the clouds have covered the sun
In millions the sandflies swarm.
As we flounder in mud on the cattle run,
Each night there’s another storm.
‘Though the country’s boggy and grass is high
Old mate! Could you ever forget?
How we carted water when the tanks were dry
And how we prayed for an early wet
How we morgaged the place to buy more feed
We’d save the herd or bust.
For the hot winds blew with a miser’s greed
Till the run was a bowl of dust.
Many had said, “ Let the breeders die
They’re not worth a bail of hay”.
Now the sale yard prices have jumped sky high
And the station’s begun to pay.
All those staggering “hides” we fed on hay
Are now rolling fat and sleek.
The stock horses loaf in the shade all day
On the ridge by the homestead creek.
And a week ago when we went to town
(Through water and bog by the mile)
Instead of short words and a heavy frown,
I saw the bank manager raise a smile.
The following poem was sent to me by a new friend of mine, thanks to
the wonders of the internet. His name is Jack Sammon, and resides in
Australia, with the rest of of his ringer mates. Being a ringer(cowboy)himself, he was very complimentary of my poetry, and sent this poem compiled some years ago, by Will H. Ogilvie. Jack and his mates were working on a large cattle station in the Bush, at the time. I thought it was very good stuff, and I wanted you folks out there to enjoy some good ol’ bush poetry.
THE STOCK-YARD LIAR
Will H. Ogilvie
Submitted by Jack Sammon and his Ringer Mates
If you are ever handlin' a rough one,
there is bound to be perched on the rails
of the stock yard, a grizzled old tough one,
whose flow of advice never fails.
He will tell you a tale, and a rum one.
How he broke for old somebody someone,
in some unapproachable place.
How they bucked and snorted and squealed,
but HE galloped them round till they reeled.
He will say that you are standing to far from
the shoulder, or to jolly close to the same.
How HE would have taught you to hold her,
in the days when he followed the game.
But he is gettin' too old for it now.
He will bustle, annoy and unnerve us,
till even our confidence fails.
Let the shadow of Nimrod preserve us
from the beggar that sits on the rails,
Until in a fit of persuasion,
You ask him in 'choist barcoo',
to go and get hanged in a fashion
that turns the atmosphere blue.
note: barcoo is slang for cussin'
......Nimrod is reference to the devil
The following poem was written, as stated before, by the author of "Waltzing Matilda", and "The Man From Snowy River".
Clancy of the Overflow
© A.B. (Banjo) Paterson 1894
I had written him a letter which I had for want of better
Knowledge, sent to where I met him down the Lachlan, years ago.
He was shearing when I knew him, so I sent the letter to him,
Just on "spec", addressed as follows "Clancy, of the Overflow"
And an answer came directed in a writing unexpected,
(And I think the same was written with a thumbnail dipped in tar)
‘Twas his shearing mate who wrote it and verbatim I will quote it:
“Clancy’s gorn to Queensland droving and we don’t know where he are"
In my wild erratic fancy visions come to me of Clancy
Gorn a droving "down the Cooper" where the western drovers go;
As the stock are slowly stringing, Clancy rides behind them singing
For the drovers life has pleasures that the townfolk never know.
And the bush has friends to meet him, and there kindly voices greet him
In the murmur of the breezes and the river on its bars,
And he sees the vision splendid of the sunlit plains extended,
And at night the wondrous glory of the everlasting stars.
And I somehow rather fancy that I'd like to change with Clancy,
Like to take a turn at droving where the seasons come and go
While he faced the round eternal of the cashbook and the journal
But I doubt he’d suit the office, “Clancy, of The Overflow"
The following poem was, no doubt, in some ways inspired by the preceeding
poem. At any rate the poem is a marvelous piece, and I think you'll enjoy it.
THE DROVERS LIFE
By Bruce Simpson
As I write this little ditty perhaps I'm feeling blue,
For the swage' is wet and sodden, and the fly has blown in too.
The rain is pouring heavy, the wind is bloody chill,
And I rather feel like howling with the dingo on the hill.
No doubt this life is thrilling, beneath the sun and stars,
When your fitting sole companions are a mob of mad galahs.
Then the old joke comes to memory, it was written long ago,
That the drover's life has pleasures that the town folk never know.
When you're sitting on a rooter with a greenhide monkey-holt,
"A quite horse", they will tell you, but perhaps he will buck and bolt,
So you hit him down the shoulders with a pair of three inch spurs,
...Next thing you are sitting in a patch of bloody burrs.
And when you're riding round the cattle on a dark and stormy night,
You see the white horns glisten in the lightning's ghostly light,
And you shiver as you wonder...if they jump which way they'll go.
Yes, the drover's life has pleasures that the town folk never know.
Where the feed is mostly scanty and the waterholes are dry,
The squatter's sitting on your back, it's enough to make you cry.
You battle a dusty stage, to a well that's broken down,
Or a tank shot full of bullets by yokels from the town.
So you reckon that you'll chuck it in, give something else a go.
Yes the droving life has pleasures that the town folk never know.
Now the tucker's pretty tasty and in my camp extra so,
For the blow-flies have a gut-full and the beef ants have a go,
And when you cut the babblers brownie, it's best to shut your eyes,
For it 's hard to tell the difference between the currants and the flies.
To you fellows from the town, who want to go a droving
Where the bullocks all come down you very soon will know,
That the drovers life has pleasures that you wouldn't want to know.
This next poem was written several years ago, by a ringer(cowboy), in the
North of Australia. It was forwarded to me by one of the authors'
mates, Jack Sammon, who was a "Boss Drover" on cattle drives as late as
1978. They drove "mobs" of cattle, numbering up to 1600 head as far as
1000 miles to the nearest rail-head. To do this, Jack would employ 4
men, three with the cattle and a horse trailer and a cook. The "Boss"
would supply horses, men, packs, and food except for the beef. The
money was always short and the "weekly" beef is mostly all that was
eaten. The "route" would last up to 6 months. In the late '70's the
government built the "tar" roads and trucks took over, virtually ending
the days of the drover. A lot of good poetry came out of this life and
this is a good example of it.
"Goodbye old Chap"
© Bruce Simpson * Australia
You may rub your head on my coat old chap,
As you stand by the gate in pain
While I loose the knot in the greenhide strap
That you never will wear again.
You may nudge my hand as you've done so oft,
In the days that have gone for aye,
For you'll carry me never again on watch,
Round the mob at the break of day.
You will draft no more as the gray dust swings,
From the camp on the black soil plains;
You will prop no more by the stockyard wings,
When we yard for the cattle trains.
No more you'll wait for the mob to splash,
By the light of a storm lit sky,
Mid the thunder's roar and the timber's crash,
Round the camp in the Murranji.
Ne'er again by the nighthorse break you'll doze
In the chill of a winter night
When the south wind moans and the back log glows
And the stars wink cold and white.
We may find another with swinging gait.
To hack through the trucking town,
And there'll be others to quietly wait
By the break as the sun goes down.
We may find another to match your pace,
Through the srub when the fireworks start,
But never another to take the place
That you hold in a horsemans’ heart.
Your mates have stood on the camp since dawn,
You watching alert and keen;
The packs are on and the girths are drawn.
But the fence stands there between.
The plant is off on the road again,
And here by the paddock gate,
In the days to follow, and all in vain,
You'll whinny and watch and wait.
And often out on the Wave Hill track,
When the evening shadows fall,
Our thoughts will turn to the gamest hack,
And the best nighthorse of all.
Actor, farewell! Till your last long sleep,
May never a creek run dry,
May the grass be whispering fetlock deep,
Forever, Old Chap, Goodbye.
(Murranji=name of a place on the stock rout)
(nighthorse break=shelter for horse)
(Plant=Remuda or trail horses)
(Actor=Name of the horse)
I love to lie and listen to the horse-bells' merry sound,
When the cattle are on camp, and we are stretched out on the ground;
There's music in the horse-bells, and I love to hear their song
As they join in happy chorus-
Tinkle! Tonkle! Tankle! Tong!
They tonkle through the gidge; they tankle near the swamp;
They tinkle on the ridges, and they ring around the camp,
There's little Fairy's thimble-bell, and Billy's bull-frog strong;
And big and little blend in
Tinkle! Tonkle! Tankle! Tong!
The great moon glares above; in camp the cattle rest content;
It's a pleasure just to live, as with the wattle scent.
The soft breeze brings the music of the horse-bells' merry song
Soothing ever and repeating
Tinkle! Tonkle! Tankle! Tong!
G'day mates, and come back again!