Henry Lawson

JACK DENVER died on Talbragar when Christmas Eve began,
And there was sorrow round the place, for Denver was a man;
Jack Denver’s wife bowed down her head—her daughter’s grief was wild,
And big Ben Duggan by the bed stood sobbing like a child.
But big Ben Duggan saddled up, and galloped fast and far,
To raise the biggest funeral ever seen on Talbragar.

                By station home
                And shearing shed
                Ben Duggan cried, “Jack Denver’s dead!
                Roll up at Talbragar!”

He borrowed horses here and there, and rode all Christmas Eve,
And scarcely paused a moment’s time the mournful news to leave;
He rode by lonely huts and farms, until the day was done
And then he turned his horse’s head and made for Ross’s Run.
No Bushman in a single day had ridden half so far
Since Johnson brought the doctor to his wife at Talbragar.

                By diggers’ camps
                Ben Duggan sped—
                At each he cried, “Jack Denver’s dead!
                Roll up at Talbragar!”

That night he passed the humpies of the splitters on the ridge,
And roused the bullock-drivers camped at Belinfante’s Bridge;
And as he climbed the ridge again the moon shone on the rise;
The soft white moonbeams glistened in the tears that filled his eyes;
He dashed the rebel drops away—for blinding things they are—
But ’twas his best and truest friend who died on Talbragar.

                At Blackman’s Run
                Before the dawn,
                Ben Duggan cried, “Jack Denver’s gone!
                Roll up at Talbragar!”

At all the shanties round the place they‘d beard his horse’s tramp,
He took the track to Wilson’s Luck, and told the diggers’ camp;
But in the gorge by Deadman’s Gap the mountain shades were black,
And there a newly-fallen tree was lying on the track—
He saw too late, and then he heard the swift hoof ’s sudden jar,
And big Ben Duggan ne’er again rode home to Talbragar.

                “The wretch is drunk,
                And Denver’s dead—
                A burning shame!” the people said
                Next day at Talbragar.

For thirty miles round Talbragar the boys rolled up in strength,
And Denver had a funeral a good long mile in length;
Round Denver’s grave that Christmas day rough Bushmen’s eyes were dim—
The Western Bushmen knew the way to bury dead like him;
But some returning homeward found, by light of moon and star,
Ben Duggan dying in the rocks, ten miles from Talbragar.

                They knelt around.
                He raised his head
                And faintly gasped, “Jack Denver’s dead,
                Roll up at Talbragar!”

But one short hour before he died he woke and understood;
They told him, when he asked them, that the funeral was good;
And then there came into his eyes a sad and softened light.
He said. “Poor Denver’s wife and kids—you’ll see that they’re all right?”
And still the careless Bushmen tell by tent and shanty bar
How Duggan raised a funeral years back on Talbragar.

                And far and wide
                When Duggan died.
                The bushmen of the western side
                Rode in to Talbragar.

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