Songs from the Mountains

Billy Vickers

Henry Kendall

NO SONG is this of leaf and bird,
    And gracious waters flowing;
I’m sick at heart, for I have heard
    Big Billy Vickers “blowing”.

He’d never take a leading place
    In chambers legislative:
This booby with the vacant face—
    This hoddy-doddy native!

Indeed, I’m forced to say aside,
    To you, O reader, solely,
He only wants the horns and hide
    To be a bullock wholly.

But, like all noodles, he is vain;
    And when his tongue is wagging,
I feel inclined to copy Cain,
    And “drop” him for his bragging.

He, being Bush-bred, stands, of course,
    Six feet his dirty socks in;
His lingo is confined to horse
    And plough, and pig and oxen.

Two years ago he’d less to say
    Within his little circuit;
But now he has, besides a dray,
    A team of twelve to work it.

No wonder is it that he feels
    Inclined to clack and rattle
About his bullocks and his wheels—
    He owns a dozen cattle.

In short, to be exact and blunt,
    In his own estimation
He’s “out and out” the head and front
    Top-sawyer of creation!

For, mark me, he can “sit a buck”
    For hours and hours together;
And never horse has had the luck
    To pitch him from the leather.

If ever he should have a “spill”
    Upon the grass or gravel,
Be sure of this, the saddle will
    With Billy Vickers travel.

At punching oxen you may guess
    There’s nothing out can “camp” him:
He has, in fact, the slouch and dress
    Which bullock-driver stamp him.

I do not mean to give offence,
    But I have vainly striven
To ferret out the difference
    ’Twixt driver and the driven.

Of course, the statements herein made
    In every other stanza
Are Billy’s own; and I’m afraid
    They’re stark extravaganza.

I feel constrained to treat as trash
    His noisy fiddle-faddle
About his doings with the lash,
    His feats upon the saddle.

But grant he “knows his way about”,
    Or grant that he is silly,
There cannot be the slightest doubt
    Of Billy’s faith in Billy.

Of all the doings of the day
    His ignorance is utter;
But he can quote the price of hay,
    The current rate of butter.

His notions of our leading men
    Are mixed and misty very:
He knows a cochin-china hen—
    He never speaks of Berry.

As you’ll assume, he hasn’t heard
    Of Madame Patti’s singing;
But I will stake my solemn word
    He knows what maize is bringing.

Surrounded by majestic peaks,
    By lordly mountain ranges,
Where highest voice of thunder speaks
    His aspect never changes.

The grand Pacific there beyond
    His dirty hut is glowing:
He only sees a big salt pond,
    O’er which his grain is going.

The sea that covers half the sphere,
    With all its stately speeches,
Is held by Bill to be a mere
    Broad highway for his peaches.

Through Nature’s splendid temples he
    Plods, under mountains hoary;
But he has not the eyes to see
    Their grandeur and their glory.

A bullock in a biped’s boot,
    I iterate, is Billy!
He crushes with a careless foot
    The touching water-lily.

I’ve said enough—I’ll let him go!
    If he could read these verses,
He’d pepper me for hours, I know,
    With his peculiar curses.

But this is sure, he’ll never change
    His manners loud and flashy,
Nor learn with neatness to arrange
    His clothing, cheap and trashy.

Like other louts, he’ll jog along,
    And swig at shanty liquors,
And chew and spit. Here ends the song
    Of Mr. Billy Vickers.

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