[Editor: This poem by E. J. Brady was published in Bells and Hobbles (1911).]
The Day the Mailman Comes.
When Mabel puts her hair in trim,
And Sis her brooches wears;
When Emma, in the firelight dim,
The floury scone prepares;
And at the sliprails brother Jim
Across the gloaming stares—
These signs and portents knowledge bring
To all the Bush — and you,
That Expectation, bright of wing,
The farmhouse flutters through —
For — as the kettle seems to sing —
“To-night the mailman’s due.”
In slop-made suit of dusty brown,
And greasy, wide-brimmed hat,
He comes, a welcome guest from town,
Each week to Reedy Flat,
And brings the latest cables down —
A fortnight old at that.
A cheerful, slow, bucolic wight,
Bowlegged and saddle-bred,
With lank, oiled hair an auburn bright,
And nose a blistered red,
He smokes and gossips thro’ the night
Till long past “time for bed.”
The cables and the market news
The Old Man in his chair
Absorbs, and ventilates his views
On irresponsive air —
They have no precious time to lose
On Balkan troubles there;
When Sandy Scott, his local store
Of current scandal, chat,
In-gathered eighty bush miles o’er,
Unloads to glad the Flat,
And fills his briar pipe once more,
And spits across the cat.
His tale of marriage, death and birth,
The district happ’nings small;
Those things of tragedy or mirth
That tears or laughter call,
The human things from o’er the Earth,
Long Sandy stocks them all.
The pen-scrawled words of love and trade;
The missives honey-sweet,
In seal across his saddle laid,
He bears with air discreet;
Why should the pathway not be made
More pleasant to his feet?
Why should he not the best beds get;
His plate the tit-bits hold?
And by his knife a serviette
Be placed in careful fold,
With something special “for the wet,”
Or else to “cure his cold”?
A golden link he makes between
The world and Reedy Flat.
In dusty suit, and necktie green,
And greasy, soft, felt hat —
But Emma, turning seventeen,
Could tell you more of that.
No wonder Mabel curls her hair,
And Sis a ditty hums,
And Bill, with neither ear nor air,
The old piano strums —
Romance is in the clear bush air
The day the mailman comes.
E. J. Brady, Bells and Hobbles, Melbourne: George Robertson & Co., 1911, pp. 89-91
The sentence “With something special “for the wet,” or else to “cure his cold”?” is a reference to having an alcoholic drink.
gloaming = dusk, twilight
happ’ning = (vernacular) happening
missive = a letter, memorandum, note, or written message
o’er = (archaic) over (pronounced the same as “oar”, “or”, and “ore”)
Old Man = father, head of the household; husband, male boss, employer, governor; an elderly man
Sis = an abbreviation of “sister”
sliprail = one of a set of several horizontal fence rails that can be moved (slipped in or out of place) so as to easily create an opening in a fence, and then close it up again (sliprails are distinct from the common sets of fence rails, which are nailed or bolted to keep them in place) (spelt as “slip-rail” or “sliprail”)
slop-made suit = a slop-suit: a ready-made suit, a store-bought suit, an “off the rack” suit (“slop” was a slang term for the ready-made clothing, wearing apparel, and bedding of sailors)
thro’ = (vernacular) through
wight = a creature, a living sentient being, especially a human being; in German, it can refer to a small person or dwarf; in fantasy literature, it can refer to undead or wraith-like creatures
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