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A Miner's Lament (1910)

Morning has dawned and the sunlight is streaming
Into my chamber persistenly, spitefully.
Only two minutes ago I was dreaming :
Lying quite cosily, sleeping delightfully.
Why am I roused from my slumbers thus early ?
Ah! if I could sleep on for an hour or two,
Then I could rise, neither stupid nor surly,
Fresh as a garden refreshed with a shower or two.

'Tis my own Mary, the wife of my bosom,
Who has awakened me, how very dutiful !
Wives are quite kind when you do not oppose 'em;
Cherish the sex, then, so good and so beautiful !
Leaving get up, for my eyelids are closing--
Oh ! my poor limbs, they are aching quite fearfully--
Leaving the home where my Mary lies dozing,
Go I to labor, but not at all cheerfully.

What are to me the delights of the morning
What if the feathered song all join in song to me ?
I must not stay to view Nature's adorning,
And the gay warblers will not warble long to me.
I must jog on and forsake every beauty ;
Labor awaits me ah ! "woe to me, woe to me !"
If I was destined for such a stern duty,
Why was I ever a lover' of poesy ?

Now I must leave all the glories that charm me ;
Beautiful Day, let me bid an adieu to thee:
Down to the horrors that well may alarm me ;
Go I with dread, though the thing is not new to me,
Down to the gloom and the darkness descending,
Toiling despondingly silently, drearily
Hour after hour, till the day has an ending ;
Then back home again, eagerly, wearily.

Thus every day in those dens of disaster,
Down in those regions so dark and so shadowy,
Toil I for wealth--for the wealth of my master--
(If I refused he would say it was bad o' me).
Digging and delving, and bleeding and groaning,
Praying the Fates , to be kind and deliver me ;
Toiling and sweating, and sighing and moaning ;
This, is my lot, and I fear it will ever be.


From the Bathurst NSW Newspaper the National Advocate Saturday 23 April 1910 p. 2.


australian traditional songs . . . a selection by mark gregory