Around the Boree Log [poem by John O’Brien]

[Editor: This poem by John O’Brien was published in Around the Boree Log and Other Verses, 1921.]

Around the Boree Log

Oh, stick me in the old caboose this night of wind and rain,
And let the doves of fancy loose to bill and coo again.
I want to feel the pulse of love that warmed the blood like wine;
I want to see the smile above this kind old land of mine.

So come you by your parted ways that wind the wide world through,
And make a ring around the blaze the way we used to do;
The “fountain” on the sooted crane will sing the old, old song
Of common joys in homely vein forgotten, ah, too long.

The years have turned the rusted key, and time is on the jog,
Yet spend another night with me around the boree log.
*

Now someone driving through the rain will happen in, I bet;
So fill the fountain up again, and leave the table set.
For this was ours with pride to say — and all the world defy —
No stranger ever turned away, no neighbour passed us by.

Bedad, he’ll have to stay the night; the rain is going to pour —
So make the rattling windows tight, and close the kitchen door,
And bring the old lopsided chair, the tattered cushion, too —
We’ll make the stranger happy there, the, way we used to do.

The years have turned the rusted key, and time is on the jog,
Yet spend another night with me around the boree log.

He’ll fill his pipe, and good and well, and all aglow within
We’ll hear the news he has to tell, the yarns he has to spin;
Yarns — yes, and super-yarns, forsooth, to set the eyes agog,
And freeze the blood of trusting youth around the boree log.

Then stir it up and make it burn; the poker’s next to you;
Come, let us poke it all in turn, the way we used to do.
There’s many a memory bright and fair will tingle at a name —
But leave unstirred the embers there we cannot fan to flame.

For years have turned the rusted key, and time is on the jog;
Still, spend this fleeting night with me around the boree log.


* Boree (sometimes accented on the last syllable) is the aboriginal name for the Weeping Myall — the best firewood in Australia except Gidgee.



Published in:
John O’Brien. Around the Boree Log and Other Verses, Angus & Robertson, Sydney, 1921

Editor’s notes:
bedad = an Irish exclamation, a euphemism for “By God”
It was reported that “Father Hartigan got the theme for his famous poem while sitting before a log fire in the home of Mrs McKeown, near Narrandera.” [see: ““Boree Log” author dies”, The Sunday Herald (Sydney, NSW), Sunday 28 December 1952, page 3]

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