The Man from Waterloo [poem by Henry Lawson]

[Editor: This poem by Henry Lawson was published in Verses Popular and Humorous, 1900.]

The Man from Waterloo

(With kind regards to “Banjo.”)

It was the Man from Waterloo,
When work in town was slack,
Who took the track as bushmen do,
And humped his swag out back.
He tramped for months without a bob,
For most the sheds were full,
Until at last he got a job
At picking up the wool.
He found the work was rather rough,
But swore to see it through,
For he was made of sterling stuff —
The Man from Waterloo.

The first remark was like a stab
That fell his ear upon,
’Twas — ‘There’s another something scab
‘The boss has taken on!’
They couldn’t let the towny be —
They sneered like anything;
They’d mock him when he’d sound the ‘g’
In words that end in ‘ing.’

There came a man from Ironbark,
And at the shed he shore;
He scoffed his victuals like a shark,
And like a fiend he swore.
He’d shorn his flowing beard that day —
He found it hard to reap —
Because ’twas hot and in the way
While he was shearing sheep.
His loaded fork in grimy holt
Was poised, his jaws moved fast,
Impatient till his throat could bolt
The mouthful taken last.
He couldn’t stand a something toff,
Much less a jackaroo;
And swore to take the trimmings off
The Man from Waterloo.

The towny saw he must be up
Or else be underneath,
And so one day, before them all,
He dared to clean his teeth.
The men came running from the shed,
And shouted, ‘Here’s a lark!’
‘It’s gone to clean its tooties!’ said
The man from Ironbark.
His feeble joke was much enjoyed;
He sneered as bullies do,
And with a scrubbing-brush he guyed
The Man from Waterloo.

The Jackaroo made no remark
But peeled and waded in,
And soon the Man from Ironbark
Had three teeth less to grin!
And when they knew that he could fight
They swore to see him through,
Because they saw that he was right —
The Man from Waterloo.

Now in a shop in Sydney, near
The Bottle on the Shelf,
The tale is told — with trimmings — by
The Jackaroo himself.
‘They made my life a hell,’ he said;
‘They wouldn’t let me be;
They set the bully of the shed
‘To take it out of me.

‘The dirt was on him like a sheath,
‘He seldom washed his phiz;
‘He sneered because I cleaned my teeth —
‘I guess I dusted his!
‘I treated them as they deserved —
‘I signed on one or two!
‘They won’t forget me soon,’ observed
The Man from Waterloo.



Source:
Henry Lawson. Verses Popular and Humorous, Angus and Robertson, Sydney, 1900, pages 151-154

Editor’s notes:
Banjo = “Banjo” Paterson

guyed = to good-humoredly annoy, or make fun of (possibly derived from the treatment dealt to the “Guy” in celebrations of the capture of Guy Fawkes, wherein an effigy of him would be abused and mistreated) [“guyed” can also mean to guide, secure, or steady something with a guy rope; yet another meaning is to run away]
See:
1) “American affairs”, The Chronicle (Adelaide, SA), 25 January 1902, page 37 (““guy” meaning in America to good-humoredly annoy”)
2) “The guide was guyed”, The Examiner (Launceston, Tas.), Tuesday 5 July 1910, page 5
3) “Chaplin’s out for revenge”, The Argus (Melbourne, Vic.), Tuesday 1 December 1953, page 7

phiz = face (derived from the word “physiognomy”, regarding one’s countenance or face)

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