Australian Folk Songs
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C. J. O. S., of N.S.W., sends the following
clever conception, which he calls a Vision of
a Nightwatch, to the contributor of "Echoes
and Re-echoes" in the Observer:
The Visions of a Night Watch
On watch, with travelling sheep, my comrades all asleep,
Neither moon nor star illumed the summer sky:
My eyes I scarce had closed, tho' I know I must
have dozed When a very strange procession passed me by.
First came a kangaroo, with a "swag" of blanket blue,
With a dingo, likewise loaded, for his mate ;
They saluted me and passed, saying they'd travelled rather fast.
And could not stay, as it was growing late.
An opossum and a crow sung a song,"The long ago,"
A frilled Jew lizard listened with a smile;
An emu, straying near, held his claw up to his ear.
Saying,"The prettiest song I've heard for quite a while"
An iguano and a snake (the latter wide awake)
Struck up "The little cabin in the dell;"
A parrot green and blue, gave " Hoop-de dooden-do,"
While a near-side poler chanted "Ring the bell."
Three bullfrogs from the swamp, where the atmosphere is damp,
Came jumping up, and mounting on some stones,
While they sang "Unfurl the flag," took each one from out his bag
A violin, a banjo, and the bones.
And from a near sheoak the laughing jackass broke
The silence into little, little bits ;
And an owl essayed a joke at a corpulent mopoke,
Who sang "Good by" with many local hits.
A pretty bandicoot played a strathspey on the flute,
Some native bears came up and formed a ring.
A pelican and crane came in from off the piain
And amused the audience with a Highland fling.
Here the even zephyr sighed, rose and fell and sighed,
An affective thing, that zephyrs mostly do,
But departed for the west, I suppose because it's rest
Was broken by the wail of the curlew.
The "damper" we had had - tho' at tea 'twas very bad,
How or whence it came I don't know - re-appeared,
And with tortoise shapen feet on a pannican it beat
Such time, the audience all rose up and cheered.
And a swagman, such a "bag," all hat and beard and swag.
On a log sat, with a billy by his side.
Swayed his hoary head about, and his purple face spread out,
And laughed, and choked, and shook until he cried.
Just here there came a crash, as if creation had gone smash,
And leaping up I found I'd been asleep.
Twas the boss from 'nearth the cart, who woke me with a start,
Crying -"Charlie! where the blazes are the sheep ?"
This is the original published version of the Drovers Dream also in this collection. It was published the regional South Australian newpspaper, the Kadina and Wallaroo Times (SA) Wednesday 25 December 1889 p. 4.
Discovered (and text corrected) by Mark Gregory on 27 August 2013.
Discoveries like this simply were most unlikely before the advent of digitised newspapers through the National Library of Australia pioneering TROVE Project.
australian traditional songs . . . a selection by mark gregory