Sunset-Track [poem by Louis Esson]

[Editor: This poem by Louis Esson was published in Bells and Bees: Verses (1910).]


I hate cramped streets and factory smoke
In towns where man but buys and sells,
The piston’s thud, the engine’s croak,
And sweated labor’s heavy stroke
That beats to clang of clocks and bells.
We scorn to work by wage and shift,
Like thistledown we drift and drift.

Drought there is, and fever is there,
Parched throats, wild eyes, and scraggy hair;
But there’s liquor to drown the dust and care.
His aches and woes a man can forget,
His dreams look small in the big sunset;
And a man may rise, or a man may fall,
But these silent sands have room for us all.
The weird grey mulga calls me back
To leave my bones on Sunset-Track.

Louis Esson, Bells and Bees: Verses, Melbourne: Thomas C. Lothian, 1910, [page 15]

Editor’s notes:
mulga = a small Acacia (wattle) tree or shrub, especially Acacia aneura (known as “true mulga”), although also referring to similar Acacia species, such as Acacia brachystachya (umbrella mulga), Acacia citrinoviridis (black mulga), Acacia craspedocarpa (hop mulga), and Acacia cyperophylla (red mulga); can be prevelant in arid areas of Australia, such as the mulga shrublands of Western Australian (“mulga” may also refer to the wood from a mulga)

sweated = overworked, usually for little pay, by a unscrupulous employer

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