Australian Folk Songs

songs | books | records | articles | glossary | links | search | responses | home

Old King Coal (1859)
By Charles Mackay.

Old King Coal was a merry old soul ;
"I'll move the world," quoth he ;
"My country's high, and rich, and great,
But greater she shall be ;"
And he called for the pick, and he called for the spade,
And he called for his miners bold ;
"And it's dig," he said, "in the deep deep earth,
You'll find my treasures better worth
Than mines of Indian gold !"

Old King Goal was a merry old soul,
Yet not content was he :
And he said, "I've found what I've desired,
Though 'tis but one of three."
"Come, build me engines great and strong ;
We'll have," quoth he, "a change ere long ;
We'll try what steam can do."

Old King Coal was a merry old, soul ;
"'Tis fairly done," quoth he,
When he saw the myriad wheels at work
O'er all the land and sea.
And be called for water and he called for fire,
For smiths and workmen true ;
They spared the bones and strength of men,
They hammered, wove, and spun ;
There was nought too great, too mean or small,
The giant steam had power for all ;
His task was never done.

Old King Coal was a merry old soul ;
Quoth he, "We travel slow ;
I should like to roam the wide world round.
As fast as the wild winds blow."
And he called for his skilful engineers ;
And soon through hills and vales,
O'er rivers wide, through tunnels vast,
The flying trains like lightning past,
On the ribs of the mighty rails.

Old King Coal was a merry old soul
A merry old soul was he ;
May he never fall in the land we love,
Who has made us great and free.
While his miners mine, and his engines work,
And our name and our fame,
and our might and our right,
In front of the world shall stand.


From the NSW newspaper Northern Times 24 Aug 1859 p. 4.


australian traditional songs . . . a selection by mark gregory