In the Days When the World was Wide and Other Verses

The Roaring Days

Dec. — 1889

Henry Lawson

THE NIGHT too quickly passes
    And we are growing old,
So let us fill our glasses
    And toast the Days of Gold;
When finds of wondrous treasure
    Set all the South ablaze,
And you and I were faithful mates
    All through the roaring days!

Then stately ships came sailing
    From every harbour’s mouth,
And sought the land of promise
    That beaconed in the South;
Then southward streamed their streamers
    And swelled their canvas full
To speed the wildest dreamers
    E’er borne in vessel’s hull.

Their shining Eldorado,
    Beneath the southern skies,
Was day and night for ever
    Before their eager eyes.
The brooding bush, awakened,
    Was stirred in wild unrest,
And all the year a human stream
    Went pouring to the West.

The rough bush roads re-echoed
    The bar-room’s noisy din,
When troops of stalwart horsemen
    Dismounted at the inn.
And oft the hearty greetings
    And hearty clasp of hands
Would tell of sudden meetings
    Of friends from other lands;
When, puzzled long, the new-chum
    Would recognise at last,
Behind a bronzed and bearded skin,
    A comrade of the past.

And when the cheery camp-fire
    Explored the bush with gleams,
The camping-grounds were crowded
    With caravans of teams;
Then home the jests were driven,
    And good old songs were sung,
And choruses were given
    The strength of heart and lung.
Oh, they were lion-hearted
    Who gave our country birth!
Oh, they were of the stoutest sons
    From all the lands on earth!

Oft when the camps were dreaming,
    And fires began to pale,
Through rugged ranges gleaming
    Would come the Royal Mail.
Behind six foaming horses,
    And lit by flashing lamps,
Old ‘Cobb and Co.’s’, in royal state,
    Went dashing past the camps.

Oh, who would paint a goldfield,
    And limn the picture right,
As we have often seen it
    In early morning’s light;
The yellow mounds of mullock
    With spots of red and white,
The scattered quartz that glistened
    Like diamonds in light;
The azure line of ridges,
    The bush of darkest green,
The little homes of calico
    That dotted all the scene.

I hear the fall of timber
    From distant flats and fells,
The pealing of the anvils
   As clear as little bells,
The rattle of the cradle,
    The clack of windlass-boles,
The flutter of the crimson flags
    Above the golden holes.

.     .     .     .     .

Ah, then our hearts were bolder,
    And if Dame Fortune frowned
Our swags we’d lightly shoulder
    And tramp to other ground.
But golden days are vanished,
    And altered is the scene;
The diggings are deserted,
    The camping-grounds are green;
The flaunting flag of progress
    Is in the West unfurled,
The mighty bush with iron rails
    Is tethered to the world.

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