When the Sun’s Behind the Hill [poem by C. J. Dennis]

[Editor: This poem by C. J. Dennis was published in Backblock Ballads and Other Verses (1913) and Backblock Ballads and Later Verses (1918).]

When the Sun’s Behind the Hill

There’s a soft and peaceful feeling
Comes across the farming hand
As the shadows go a-stealing
Slow along the new-turned land.
The lazy curling smoke above the thatch is showing blue,
And the weary old plough horses wander home’ard two ’n’ two,
With their chains a-clinkin’, clankin’, when their daily toil is through,
And the sun’s behind the hill.

Then it’s slowly homeward plodding
As the night begins to creep,
And the barley grass is nodding
To the daisies, all asleep,
The crows are flying heavily, and cawing overhead;
The sleepy milking cows are lowing sof’ly in the shed,
And above them, in the rafters, all the fowls have gone to bed,
When the sun’s behind the hill.

Then it’s “Harry, feed old Roaney!”
And it’s “Bill, put up the rail!”
And it’s “Tom, turn out the pony!”
“Mary, hurry with that pail!”
And the kiddies run to meet us, and are begging for a ride
On the broad old “Prince” and “Darky” they can hardly sit astride;
And mother, she is bustling with the supper things inside,
When the sun’s behind the hill.

Then it’s sitting down and yarning
When we’ve had our bite and sup,
And the mother takes her darning,
While our Mary tidies up.
And Bess tells how the baldy cow got tangled in the wire;
And Katie keeps the baby-boy from tumbling in the fire;
And the baccy smoke goes curling as I suck my soothing briar,
When the sun’s behind the hill.

Then we talk about the season,
And of how it’s turning out,
And we try to guess the reason
For the long-continued drought.
Oh, a farmer’s life ain’t roses and his work is never done:
And a job’s no sooner over than another is begun.
For he’s toiling late and early from the rising of the sun
Till he sinks behind the hill.

But it grows, that peaceful feeling
While I’m sitting smoking there,
And the kiddies all are kneeling
To repeat their ev’ning prayer;
For it seems, somehow, to lighten all the care that must be bore
When the things of life are worrying, and times are troubling sore;
And I pray that God will keep them when my own long-day is o’er,
And the sun’s behind the hill.



Source:
C. J. Dennis, Backblock Ballads and Later Verses, Sydney: Angus & Robertson, 1918, pages 63-65

Previously published in:
C. J. Dennis, Backblock Ballads and Other Verses, Melbourne: E. W. Cole, [1913], pages 49-51

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