When Underneath the Brown Dead Grass [poem by Henry Kendall]

[Editor: This poem by Henry Kendall was published in Songs from the Mountains (1880).]

When Underneath the Brown Dead Grass.

When underneath the brown dead grass
My weary bones are laid,
I hope I shall not see the glass
At ninety in the shade.
I trust indeed that, when I lie
Beneath the churchyard pine,
I shall not hear that startling cry
“‘Thermom’ is ninety-nine!”

If one should whisper through my sleep
“Come up and be alive,”
I’d answer — No, unless you’ll keep
The glass at sixty-five
I might be willing if allowed
To wear old Adam’s rig,
And mix amongst the city crowd
Like Polynesian “nig.”

Far better in the sod to lie,
With pasturing pig above,
Than broil beneath a copper sky —
In sight of all I love!
Far better to be turned to grass
To feed the poley cow,
Than be the half boiled bream, alas,
That I am really now!

For cow and pig I would not hear,
And hoof I would not see;
But if these items did appear
They wouldn’t trouble me.
For ah! the pelt of mortal man
Weighs less than half a ton,
And any sight is better than
A sultry southern sun.

Henry Kendall, Songs from the Mountains, Sydney: William Maddock, 1880, pages 70-72

Editor’s notes:
glass = barometer (also referred to as “weather glass barometer”; or “barometer glass”, regarding the barometer unit, rather than just the glass of the barometer)

nig = an abbreviation of “nigger”

poley = hornless (especially used regarding cattle); from “polled”, meaning to cut off horns or cut off hair

rig = get-up, outfit, clothing (especially for a particular job, trade, or profession, e.g. “a fireman’s rig”, “a stockman’s get-up”)

thermom = an abbreviation of “thermometer”

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