Bill Bludger — My Oath! [poem, 24 September 1899]

[Editor: A poem about the leader of a street gang. Published in The West Australian Sunday Times, 24 September 1899.]

Bill Bludger — My Oath!

Bill Bludger was the gamest bloke
That ever donned a mitten,
And though ’twas said in Waterloo
He’d flattened out a Chow or two,
He wouldn’t harm a kitten —
My oath!

Though harmless, he was full of fun,
And oft when he had leisure,
He’d wing his kliner with a sock,
The toe of which contained some rock,
He was so fond of pleasure —
My oath!

One day when out upon parade,
Providing Push employment,
Bill stretched a copper out for dead
By banging bottles on his head;
This gave them great enjoyment —
My oath!

Bill’s push dealt stoush out to a man
In Ultimo one Sunday;
A gang of crafty, clever traps
Went round and gathered up the scraps —
Sic transit gloria mundi!
My oath!

In Bathurst-street the other night,
This mob of mirthful creatures,
Because Bill said it would be best,
All jumped upon an old man’s chest,
And then they spoilt his features —
My oath!

Bill’s cobber then proposed a joke,
And none of them objecting,
They took an iron bar and cut
A big hole in his sinciput —
The tecs. are still detecting —
My oath!

And this is why I will maintain,
Nor care for those who differ,
There’s none could kick like Bludger Bill
Whene’er the push went out to kill,
He was a dead game biffer —
My oath!

— “The Warrigal,” in Sydney “Truth.”



Source:
The West Australian Sunday Times (Perth, WA), 24 September 1899, p. 7

Editor’s notes:
biffer = fighter (from “biff”, to hit or punch)

bludger = someone who avoids work; a scrounger; someone who is lazy; in modern times, the term is especially used in the phrase “dole bludger”, to refer to someone who receives unemployment benefits (“the dole”), but who has no intention of getting a job

Chow = a Chinese person (may also refer to something that is Chinese in origin or style, e.g. a “Chow restaurant”)

copper = (commonly abbreviated as “cop”) policeman

kliner = (also spelt “cliner” or “clyner”) a young woman

push = street gang

sic transit gloria mundi = (Latin) “thus passes the glory of the world” (sometimes rendered as “worldly things are fleeting”)

sinciput = the upper half of the skull, including the forehead and the crown; the forehead

stoush = fight, brawl (stoush may also mean to hit or punch)

tec = detective

trap = policeman

Ultimo = a suburb, located south of the Sydney central business district, New South Wales

Waterloo = a suburb, located south of the Sydney central business district, New South Wales

wing = to hit or wound someone, especially on the arm

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