Australian Folk Songs

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Song of the "Billy" (1895)

Over the fire, when days are dire,
The bushman's billy swings ;
It swings and boils 'mid flaming coils.
And cheer and solace brings ;
It yields a joy that doth not cloy
Like many earthly things.

On mountain snows the traveller knows
The soothing spell of tea ;
On distant plains the billy reigns
Chief of the company.
The woodman bold braves heat and cold
Enlightened by Bohea.

The toiler's camp, the lair of tramp,
Are brightened by the blaze
That leaps and licks 'mong crackling sticks
In strange fantastic ways,
While billy's bowl surmounts the whole,
Enwreathed in golden rays.

The miner's song sounds clear and long
Beside the lonely creek,
But sweeter still is billy's trill
In solitude so bleak,
As o'er the fire he steameth higher
Dark-stained with many a streak.

Under the free broad canopy
Of this our golden South,
Who is the friend that most doth lend
Relief to pain and drouth ?
In weariness doth billy bless--
His praise be in each mouth.

While kettles sob upon the hob,
Or whistle on the range,
While tall urns trim full teacups slim
In mansion or in grange.
Billy will wear in sun and air
His honours without change.


From the Queensland newspaper the Queenslander Saturday 16 March 1895 p. 494.


australian traditional songs . . . a selection by mark gregory