Vagabond [poem by Louis Esson]

[Editor: This poem by Louis Esson was published in Red Gums and Other Verses (1912).]


What is the life for a man
Since ever time began,
But to break away
Till breath be done
At the end o’ day;
To love the sun,
And to laugh at the fun,
The fun o’ the fair, I say.

The squatter’s wool, the farmer’s corn,
And the miner’s gold, I pass with scorn;
And all the end o’ my desire
A track that twists, and a pot on the fire.

Louis Esson, Red Gums and Other Verses, Melbourne: Fraser & Jenkinson, 1912, page 44

Editor’s notes:
squatter = in the context of Australian history, a squatter was originally someone who kept their livestock (mostly cattle and sheep) upon Crown land without permission to do so (thus illegally occupying land, or “squatting”); however, the practice became so widespread that eventually the authorities decided to formalise it by granting leases or licenses to occupy or use the land; and, with the growth of the Australian economy, many of the squatters became quite rich, and the term “squatter” came to refer to someone with a large amount of farm land (they were often regarded as rich and powerful)

Vernacular spelling in the original text:
o’ (of)

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