Saltbush Bill and other Verses

The Corner-Man

Andrew Barton ‘Banjo’ Paterson

I DREAMT a dream at the midnight deep,
    When fancies come and go
To vex a man in his soothing sleep
    With thoughts of awful woe—
I dreamt that I was a corner-man
    Of a nigger minstrel show.

I cracked my jokes, and the building rang
    With laughter loud and long;
I hushed the house as I softly sang
    An old plantation song—
A tale of the wicked slavery days
    Of cruelty and wrong.

A small boy sat on the foremost seat—
    A mirthful youngster he;
He beat the time with his restless feet
    To each new melody,
And he picked me out as the brightest star
    Of the black fraternity.

“Oh father,” he said, “what would we do
    If the corner-man should die?
I never saw such a man—did you?
    He makes the people cry,
And then, when he likes, he makes them laugh.”
    The old man made reply—

“We each of us fill a very small space
    In the great creation’s plan,
If a man don’t keep his lead in the race
    There’s plenty more that can;
The world can very soon fill the place
    Of even a corner-man.”

.     .     .     .     .

I woke with a jump, rejoiced to find
    Myself at home in bed,
And I framed a moral in my mind
    From the words the old man said.
The world will jog along just the same
    When its corner-men are dead.

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