The Man From Snowy River and Other Verses

The Swagman’s Rest

Andrew Barton ‘Banjo’ Paterson

WE buried old Bob where the bloodwoods wave
    At the foot of the Eaglehawk;
We fashioned a cross on the old man’s grave,
    For fear that his ghost might walk;
We carved his name on a bloodwood tree,
    With the date of his sad decease,
And in place of “Died from effects of spree”,
    We wrote “May he rest in peace”.

For Bob was known on the Overland,
    A regular old bush wag,
Tramping along in the dust and sand,
    Humping his well-worn swag.
He would camp for days in the river-bed,
    And loiter and “fish for whales”.
“I’m into the swagman’s yard,” he said,
    “And I never shall find the rails.”

But he found the rails on that summer night
    For a better place—or worse,
As we watched by turns in the flickering light
    With an old black gin for nurse.
The breeze came in with the scent of pine,
    The river sounded clear,
When a change came on, and we saw the sign
    That told us the end was near.

But he spoke in a cultured voice and low—
    “I fancy they’ve ‘sent the route’;
I once was an army man, you know,
    Though now I’m a drunken brute;
But bury me out where the bloodwoods wave,
    And if ever you’re fairly stuck,
Just take and shovel me out of the grave
    And, maybe, I’ll bring you luck.

“For I’ve always heard—” here his voice fell weak,
    His strength was wellnigh sped,
He gasped and struggled and tried to speak,
    Then fell in a moment—dead.
Thus ended a wasted life and hard,
    Of energies misapplied—
Old Bob was out of the “swagman’s yard”
    And over the Great Divide.

.     .     .     .     .

The drought came down on the field and flock,
    And never a raindrop fell,
Though the tortured moans of the starving stock
    Might soften a fiend from hell.
And we thought of the hint that the swagman gave
    When he went to the Great Unseen—
We shovelled the skeleton out of the grave
    To see what his hint might mean.

We dug where the cross and the grave posts were,
    We shovelled away the mould,
When sudden a vein of quartz lay bare
    All gleaming with yellow gold.
’Twas a reef with never a fault nor baulk
    That ran from the range’s crest,
And the richest mine on the Eaglehawk
    Is known as “The Swagman’s Rest”.

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