“Swinging Douglas” [song by Louis Esson]

[Editor: This song by Louis Esson was published in Red Gums and Other Verses (1912). This was one of two songs published in the book under the heading “Two Bush Songs”; the second was A Bullock-Driver’s Song.]

Two Bush Songs.

“Swinging Douglas.”

(A Splitter’s Song).

Morning air
Blows yer care
Cobwebs, down the sky.
Sunlight splashes
The mountain ashes
Round the “springboard” high.
“Cut the calf!”
Splitters laugh
At the reel and ruction,
Fellin’ these
Kind-lookin’ trees
And the world’s destruction.

Swinging Douglas,
Douglas!
In the bush away,
Bend yer backs,
Swing the axe,
At the break o’ day.

We must fill
The screaming mill
Forest timber wishing.
Can’t ye hear
The big saw clear
And cross-cut swish — swash — swishing!
Bullocks jog
Wi’ heavy log,
How the engines take it!
Rods an’ railin’s,
Posts an’ palin’s,
That is what they make it.

Swinging Douglas,
Douglas!
In the bush away,
Bend yer backs,
Swing the axe,
At the break o’ day.

Gum and ash,
Let ’em crash
Thro’ Toolanghi ranges!
Logs are scattered,
Forests shattered,
Who can help the changes?
Come erlong,
Lift yer song,
At the reel and ruction,
Fellin’ these
Kind-lookin’ trees
And the world’s destruction.

Swinging Douglas,
Douglas!
In the bush away,
Bend yer backs,
Swing the axe,
At the break o’ day.




Source:
Louis Esson, Red Gums and Other Verses, Melbourne: Fraser & Jenkinson, 1912, pages 39-41

Editor’s notes:
ash = ash tree (genus Fraxinus)

gum = gum tree (many, but not all, species of the genus Eucalyptus are known as gum trees)

reel = a fast-paced Irish or Scottish folk dance, or the music used for such dances

splitter = someone who earns a livelihood by splitting wood

Toolanghi = an alternative spelling of Toolangi, a town in country Victoria

Vernacular spelling in the original text:
’em (them)
erlong (along)
o’ (of)
wi’ (with)
yer (your)

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