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Once I Was a Bushman Bold (1899)

[For The Worker]

O ! once I was a bushman bold,
And lived a rough and roving life,
Bust now I dwell 'mid city joys,
Far, far from scenes of toil and strife.
No more; for the lonely rides
O'er weary hill or dreary plain ;
And nevermore in Summer's heat
Nor Winter cold I'll toil again.
'Mid busy streets and social scenes
Will the evening of my life be spent ;
And family ties and children's love
Will soothe my hours of discontent.

Yet though my life seems thus so fair
And free from poverty and care,
Within my bosom still I know
A bushman's loyal heart beats there ;
And oft when 'mongst the social throng
My wayward fancy wildly strays,
I live in memory o'er again
Those rough old roving, droving days ;
And sometimes in my dreams at night
Methinks I see the cattle break,
And reckless ride to bring them back
As through the mulga scrub they make.

No doubt false fancy gilds the view
And shows the rose without the thorn ;
Yet let it be so, false or true,
I love those days forever gone.
And when the sun shines brightly forth
In the golden prime of sunny, spring
I know the grass is green up North
And joyously the magpies sing.
'Tis then my heart seems sad and sore
With wayward longing and regret,
For well I know my old-time mates
In shearing sheds once more have met.

But farewell rough and roving day's,
So full of pleasure, toil, and pain,
For though the bush will claim my praise,
Methinks I'll ne'er go back again.
Yet till the grave entombs my bones
My thoughts will never cease to stray
With joy and pride to olden times
And backblock scenes so far away.



From the NSW Newspaper the Worker Saturday 7 January 1899 p. 2.


australian traditional songs . . . a selection by mark gregory