The Bush Missionary [poem by W.T. Goodge]

[Editor: This poem by W.T. Goodge was published in The Bulletin Reciter, 1901.]

The Bush Missionary.

’T was on old M’Carson’s station, near the finish of the shearing,
We were seated round the table in the hut, playing loo;
An unrighteous occupation, nor particularly cheering,
When your tally’s only middling, and your luck is looking blue;
But there ’s nothing else to do,
So it ’s poker or it ’s loo,
In the afternoon of Saturday on Coolabungaroo !

Jack the Rat, who did the pressing, sat outside the door a-smoking,
And a-telling all the rouseabouts of horses he had “broke,”
And our sorrow grew distressing at the “borak” he was poking,
When he put his head inside the hut and whispered, “Holy smoke !
Here ’s a sanguinary joke!”
And he chuckled fit to choke;
“Here ’s the lanky Scotchbyterian, the missionary bloke!”

Well, he looked to see him coming, and he “took him out o’ winding,” —
He was long, and he was lanky; he was frecklesome and fair.
And a hymn he was a-humming, just as if he was n’t minding.
And he asked if any shearer had a mind to cut his hair!
We could only gape and stare,
‘Cause we did n’t like to swear!
But the ringer said he ’d do it, with a bucket for a chair!

So the ringer started quickly (with the shears he was a dandy),
But he clipped a kind of pimple and the parson gave a bound!
Then the ringer tarred it thickly and confessed he felt “unhandy” —
The position, for a shearer, “rather awkwardish” he found!
Then he downed him on the ground,
And he whipped his neck around,
And he “pinked” him like a leather-neck when squatters paid a pound!

Now the ringer ’d just got through his unaccustomed operation,
When M’Carson, who ’d been mustering, arrived upon the scene,
And the shearers they were treated to a masterly oration
By the choleric M’Carson, whose vocabulary keen,
As was easy to be seen.
Was more forcible than clean —
And remarkably distasteful to the Reverend M’Lean!

So the parson he suggested, as a means of reconciling
(Not indeed that he objected to the way they ’d cut his hair;)
That the parties interested should agree to his beguiling
All the station-hands and rouseabouts with services of prayer;
Which the squatter thought was fair,
He was fond of praise and prayer!
And, the station-hands consenting, service started then and there!

Now, the preaching it was splendid, but the shearers jibbed at singing,
Though the squatter joined the preacher, not another soul would sing!
Then the service was up-ended, and M’Carson’s arms went swinging,
And he raved and stamped and cursed and swore and called us everything!
“Sing, yer blanky beggars, sing!
Make the blanky welkin ring!
Won’t you blanky sons of blankers help the blanky man to sing!”

* * * * * *

We were sorry for the parson, though he was a bit erratic,
’Cause he was an all-right preacher and a decent fellow, too;
But, you see, he found M’Carson so ferociously emphatic
He concluded that the services in future would n’t do.
So the shearers play at loo,
And at whisky-poker, too.
And the parson is a scarcity at Coolabungaroo!

W. T. Goodge.

A.G. Stephens (editor). The Bulletin Reciter: A Collection of Verses for Recitation from “The Bulletin” [1880-1901], The Bulletin Newspaper Company, Sydney, 1902 [first published 1901], pages 218-221

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