[Editor: This poem by Tom Freeman was published in The Bulletin Reciter, 1901.]
The Hairy Man of Koorawatha.
There ’s a range beneath whose savage scowl the low land cowers in craven dread, —
A fierce black ridge that Nature seems to have formed in a furious whim ;
Where gibbers grey through the scrub show bare, like warts and wens on a woolly head,
And shunned by shepherds in bygone days as the haunt of a Monster grim.
And all whom evil chance allowed that Being’s shape to scan,
With white and shuddering lips avowed ’t was — ugh ! — just like a man !
“If Oi must choose betwane yahoos an’ settlers’ sheep,’ said he,
“Oi’ll take my chance wid the hairy min,” — and he chuckled with churlish glee.
Well, years had passed in a hum-drum way since the Creature had last been seen of men,
When Mick Mulleary came along in search of a vacant block,
And coolly put in his corner peg within a mile of the Monster’s den, —
Quite chirpy indeed to have dropped upon such a splendid run for stock.
So he settled down like a pioneer and was well content as a bear might be,
Till he took a fit in the field one day at the sound of a splitter’s axe ;
And he growled to his wife as he rallied to, “Is there no law for the loikes of me ?
Be the powers of war Oi ’ll make him shift in less than a brace o’ cracks.
There ’s the rabbit-pest an’ all the rest of the plagues we ’ve got to face,
But there ’s divil a nuisance among thim ahl to aiqual the human race.”
Then he rigged himself from scalp to toe in a glove-tight suit of dingo-skins,
And stole away to the mountain side while muttering in undertone :
“Consarnin’ that shplitter beyant,” said he, “if he’s annyways frisky about his pins
Oi ’ll make him clare out of camp as fast as the devil wint out of Athlone.
And thin, maybe, they ’ll lave me free whin they find, as sure as they will,
There are rale yahoos an’ bunyips an’ things round Koorawatha still.
“But hould on now! is it mad ye are that ye’ve no regard for a loaded gun ?
Fwhat a splindid mark for a sportsman ! . . . Och ! the saints be kind this day !” . . .
He stood aghast, for fair in front was the thing itself — the Hairy One ! —
There, peering over a clump of rock not twenty yards away,
In nasty truth a face uncouth — all nose and mouth and ears,
And a straggling beard like stringy-bark, and hair all spikes and spears.
Limp as a rag with awful fright, Mick felt just then he ’d lost his legs,
But soon re-action braced him tight and gave him wings instead ;
And nearing home he came upon his wife on the hunt for turkey-eggs,
Who, unaware of his wild disguise, let out a screech and fled.
He chased her straight through the cow-yard gate ’mid a racket of terrified howls
From freckled young savages, mixed with the yelps of curs and the cackle of fowls.
* * * * * *
Time kills romance. A candidate drove up one day to Mulleary’s gate,
And sought with greasy smile and speech a solid vote to score ;
But Mick could only gape and stare, for in the trap before him there
Was the very face he ’d seen amongst the rocks three years before.
At length, in pique at non-success, the face began to sneer ;
“No doubt,” said he, “you hit it well among your neighbours here,
Although a passing glimpse of one was quite enough for me ;
But p’rhaps he was a friend of yours — a relative, maybe?”
“It ’s not the Hairy Man,” said Mick, “ye need be afther fearin’ ;
As I belave he ’s had a shave — and gone electioneering !”
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 140-143
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