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A Stockman's Lament (1884)
Lines to Ladybird
Ah ! well do I remember the drought of 84 !
It killed nearly all our horses, and sheep, too, by the score ;
Every day then seemed alike with the doleful cry for rain,
To be be as surely disappointed, for it never, never came.
The grass long gone, the paddocks scorched and bare,
What torment to the mind, and what a load of care !
The horses were all drafted and sent to Gundemame,
The balance being left to perish, in the lane.
A little feed was bought to save a few poor hacks,
Served out sparingly even to the beet of the "cracks ;"
Oh, it was meanly stinted--what could be more absurd ?
And for that very reason I now mourn the fate of Ladybird.
Many a long mile she carried me o'er
In the heat of the sun or while the rain did poor ;
She never was tired, she never gave in ;
A pleasure to ride, and true to the skin.
Her colour was chestnut, her legs they were fine, ?
Her breeding descended from a very good line ;
Woolloomooloo was her sire, well known in the land ;
Her mother was famous, of the LL brand.
She is gone; alas ! I regret her fate.
The day is to come ere I get her mate
To pace like her, or to jump so high,
Or to take me so swiftly to Boggabri.
And in after years, whilst exploits are told
Of horses young and horses old,
Her name will live in my memory yet ;
O, Ladybird, you I shall never forget.
Your bones will lie bleached by the Namoi sun,
Your deeds are reckoned, your race is run ;
But the rain will come, and the grass will grow
On the silent spot where you lie so low.
You may deem these lines are quite absurd
To write on be half of poor Ladybird ;
But droughts will come in their usual course ;
Still a stockman regrets a favourite horse.
Farewell to you, my bonny steed !
You were always forward in case of need ;
Your duties are ended, you did them well,
And now, good Ladybird, farewell.
From the Sydney Newspaper the Evening News Mon 26 May 1884 p. 3.
australian traditional songs . . . a selection by mark gregory