Jim of the Hills

Swingin’ Douglas

(Douglas—The Bushman’s axe, so called after a famous maker.)

C.J. Dennis

THERE’S a breeze about the mountains, it is singin’ in the trees
A song to mock the little men who chose to live at ease,
Or play at toil or pleasure where their fellows crowd and push;
But put my good axe in my hand and leave me in the bush—
And it’s: Hey, boy!
                                    Hi, boy!
                                                      Heave it in the wood!
Oh, the green bush is around us, and the smell of it is good,
The great bush is before us, and a giant’s task to do,
And hearty men and hefty men alone may see it thro’.
So it’s: Ho, boys!
                                    Hey, boys!
                                                      Swing it with a will!
For the saws are howlin’ hungry for logs down at the mill.

The hope for man is honest work, an’ out-o’doors his place,
The good brown earth beneath him an’ the clean breeze in his face;
The work for man is with his hands, his muscles strong as steel,
When health an’ strength within him make him feel as he should feel.
Oh it’s: Hey, boys!
                                    Shake her up!
                                                               Twenty logs to get!
The tail-rope’s fouled a saplin’ an’ the boss is in a sweat.
He’s swearin’ like a trooper, for they’re falling grubby wood;
The boy has broke the whistle-string, which isn’t for his good.
But it’s: Hey, boys!
                                    Slog along!
                                                               Watch her when she goes!
An’ ringin’ down the gully runs the echo of the blows.

High above us, on the hill-top, where the tall trees rake the sky,
The cockatoos are craaking and the crimson parrots cry.
From below us, where the sawdust by the mill is gleamin’ brown,
Comes the dronin’ of the twin-saws while the boys are breakin’ down.
An’ it’s: Ho, boys!
                                    Let her go!
                                                      Watch her, how she sways!
An’ the loggin’ truck goes lurchin’ down the crazy wooden ways,
With the driver at the brake-rope—Oh, that truckie has a nerve!
An’ he howls a merry “Hoop-la!” as she swings around a curve.
Then it’s: Hey, boys!
                                    Plug ahead!
                                                      Feed the greedy mill!
We have fed her logs in dozens, but she’s shriekin’ for ’em still.

When you test the strength that’s in you, oh, it’s good to be alive
In the green bush, the clean bush, an’ with your fellows strive . . . 
There’s Simon, of the sniggin’ gang, in trouble with his log.
An’ he slews her with a cant-hook as she wallows in a bog.
But it’s: Hey, boys!
                                    Steady, boys!
                                                      Haul away the slack!
An’ the shackled giant’s snakin’ down the deeply-furrowed track.
Now the boss he swears to heaven that the timber’s all bewitched,
An’ Simon toils like seven men to get the tackle hitched.
An’ it’s: Ho, boys!
                                    Right away!
                                                      Slew her at the nose!
An’ the old winch coughs an’ clatters every time the whistle blows.

The crowded world may call at times, but here I’d rather be,
With the strong men, the brown men, who work along with me;
With the good tan on their faces an’ the clear look in their eyes
That come to men who ply their trade beneath the open skies:
The rough men,
                           The straight men,
                                                      With coarse words on the tongue.
An’ hearts that work can never break an’ minds that must keep young.
Oh, it’s swingin’, swingin’ Douglas with a strength you glory in,
Where willin’ hands are honoured hands, an shirkin’ is the sin—
An’ it’s: Hi, boys!
                                    Clear, boys!
                                                      More to feed the mill!
An’ the great tree whistles downward to a crash that shakes the hill.

Jim of the Hills - Contents    |     A Lonely Man

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