But What’s the Use [poem by Henry Lawson]

[Editor: This poem by Henry Lawson was published in Verses Popular and Humorous, 1900.]

But What’s the Use

But what’s the use of writing ‘bush’ —
Though editors demand it —
For city folk, and farming folk,
Can never understand it.
They’re blind to what the bushman sees
The best with eyes shut tightest,
Out where the sun is hottest and
The stars are most and brightest.

The crows at sunrise flopping round
Where some poor life has run down;
The pair of emus trotting from
The lonely tank at sundown,
Their snaky heads well up, and eyes
Well out for man’s manoeuvres,
And feathers bobbing round behind
Like fringes round improvers.

The swagman tramping ’cross the plain;
Good Lord, there’s nothing sadder,
Except the dog that slopes behind
His master like a shadder;
The turkey-tail to scare the flies,
The water-bag and billy;
The nose-bag getting cruel light,
The traveller getting silly.

The plain that seems to Jackaroos
Like gently sloping rises,
The shrubs and tufts that’s miles away
But magnified in sizes;
The track that seems arisen up
Or else seems gently slopin’,
And just a hint of kangaroos
Way out across the open.

The joy and hope the swagman feels
Returning, after shearing,
Or after six months’ tramp Out Back,
He strikes the final clearing.
His weary spirit breathes again,
His aching legs seem limber
When to the East across the plain
He spots the Darling Timber!

But what’s the use of writing ‘bush’ —
Though editors demand it —
For city folk and cockatoos,
They do not understand it.
They’re blind to what the whaler sees
The best with eyes shut tightest,
Out where Australia’s widest, and
The stars are most and brightest.



Source:
Henry Lawson. Verses Popular and Humorous, Angus and Robertson, Sydney, 1900, pages 242-244

Editor’s notes:
cockatoo = (also known as a “cocky” or “cockie”) a farmer (used to refer to poor bush farmers, from having land so poor that they were jokingly said to only be able to farm cockies, i.e. cockatoos, a type of bird; however, it is was then later used to refer to farmers in general)

shadder = shadow

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