’93 and ’99 [poem by “Dryblower” Murphy, 31 December 1899]

[Editor: A poem by “Dryblower” Murphy, published in the “Acta Diurna” column of The West Australian Sunday Times, 31 December 1899.]

[’93 and ’99]

Mr. “Dryblower” Murphy, the poet laureate of the goldfields, who recently returned from a protracted visit to England, and joined the staff of the Kalgoorlie “Sun,” had the following clever lines in a recent issue, which may be appropriately reprinted in the closing days of ’99:—

’93 and ’99.

We have reached the Golden City, limb and luggage safe and sound;
Munched a sandwich as, a stop-gap till we’ve had a look around,
Cleansed our cuticle and garments from disintegrated rock,
And the waiter has informed us table d’hote at 8 o’clock
Down the street of hard macadam, through the busy crowd we walk —
Too full of thought for eulogy, too wonderstruck to talk.
How this marvellous transition? whose the wond’rous work we see
Since we left the dusty diggings at the end of 93?
There’s a world of swirl and fretting, there’s a pulsing, clam’rous town;
There’s an army, hot and sweating, delving downwards, ever down;
There’s the stamps’ erratic thunder, and the locomotive’s scream,
And we gaze again and wonder — is it all a golden dream?
And yet no black magician’s art this transformation wrought;
With pluck, their asset, hope, their stay, its founders bravely fought
With Fortune, like a flying sprite within a vexing maze;
Undaunted still, they labored on throughout the weary days —
The days we left the dusty hole we knew as Hannan’s Find
And rushed to far Siberia and left the gold behind —
The days we scoured the country for another Bayley’s reef,
And finished, after scouring, mostly blasphemy and grief —
When nothing under 20 ounce was any sort of news,
When we laughed at wild-cat Boulders and exploded over Views.
Those were days when sudden “punches” meant the quenching of a thirst,
When the “snakes” appeared in bunches in proportion to the “burst,”
But the up-to-date Bacchante and the swell exclusive club
Have swept the shypoo shanty from its lair amid the scrub.
Hushed is now the lusty chorus in the bush-surrounded camp,
Gone, the “pay-or-warble” sing-song with its concertina vamp.
In its place a Liedertafel with a repertoire unique,
A highly-paid conductor and an opposition clique
There are cooling punkahs swinging, slowly swinging to and fro,
Where once our dishes rattled in the thirst-provoking glow,
When Hannan’s Hill stood island-like upon a silent sea,
And baths were rather outre in the days of ’93.
When the fluid came from Raeside’s Soak — a hundred there and back,
When stores were priced according to the ruts along the track.
No library we boasted — mental pabulum we found,
On the labels of the meat tins lying derelict around.
To-day a garcon hurries to the tinkle of the bell,
Where once we gasped and sweltered in an undiluted hell.
To-day a city rises where a score of shanties stood,
To-day its name is fragrant and its credit sound and good.
It justly earns the guerdon of its patience, pluck, and skill,
Growing greater, growing richer to the music of the mill.
There’s a world of swirl and fretting, there’s a pulsing clam’rous town,
There’s an army hot and sweating, delving downwards, ever down.
There’s the stamps’ erratic thunder, and the locomotive’s scream,
And we gaze again and wonder — is it all a golden dream?

The West Australian Sunday Times (Perth, WA), 31 December 1899, p. 1

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