Wild Cattle [poem by E. J. Brady]

[Editor: This poem by E. J. Brady was published in Bells and Hobbles (1911).]

Wild Cattle.

Wild cattle from the Wingen,
Two hundred head of stores,
On hills and ranges mustered,
And by the lone, salt shores;

Through sunlit forests stringing,
Along a Gippsland trail,
The mob is slowly headed
Towards Bruthen, on to Sale.

On far and open pasture
They lifted startled eyes,
To see strange horsemen waking
The morn with whips and cries.

Some, Nemesis accepted,
But one, with spirit free,
Charged hillward through the timber
For life and liberty.

Then cracked the stockwhips louder;
Then yapped the sharp-tongued dogs;
The rotten bark in powder
Flew from the fallen logs.

Bruised ferns and sword-grass trampled,
Torn boughs and saplings bent,
Marked plain across the ridges
What way the wild chase went.

With muzzle dripping freely
The frantic, long-horned steer
Left horse and rider striving
Three times upon his rear.

To blue hills of the Wingen
’Twas hard to bid good-bye;
In some red shambles driven
Far from their peace to die.

* * * * * *

Now as the mob is nearing
The black lands of Orbost,
Perchance in bovine yearning
He pines for freedom lost.

He hears a night-tide pouring
Across the shallow bars,
When all the Bush is sleeping,
Dew-freshened, ’neath the stars.

He sees, in silver gleaming,
The lakes, lit by the moon,
Cape Everard, in shadow,
The marshes of Tamboon.

Long forelands, flower-emblazoned,
Deep gullies and dark streams
Through fern and dogwood gliding
Still linger in his dreams.

And all that coastland lonely
From Nadji to the Bemm,
Where grows a sweet bush herbage,
Calls softly unto him.

* * * * * *

To-night along the Wingen
A warrigal bewails
Calf quarry — in perspective —
Gone south’ard to the sales.

The loved hills of the Wingen,
A long-horned steer desires,
Who sees his human captors
Out-stretched before their fires.

But all his pride lies humbled,
And all his hope is gone.
With lowered head, dejected,
Lean-flanked, he stumbles on.

He knows the wild, free forelands,
And open miles are lost
To him whose Fate is waiting,
Red-handed, by Orbost.

E. J. Brady, Bells and Hobbles, Melbourne: George Robertson & Co., 1911, pp. 81-83

Editor’s notes:
bovine = cattle; of or pertaining to cattle; an animal belonging to the biological subfamily Bovinae (including bison, African buffalo, water buffalo, and domestic cattle)

Gippsland = a region of south-eastern Victoria, which encompasses Bairnsdale, Drouin, Lakes Entrance, Leongatha, Mallacoota, Moe, Morwell, Omeo, Sale, Seaspray, the Strzelecki Ranges, Traralgon, Walhalla, Warragul, Wilsons Promontory, Wonthaggi, and Yarram; the region was named after George Gipps (1790-1847), who was Governor of New South Wales (1838-1846)

mob = generally “mob” refers to a large group of animals, commonly used when referring to cattle, horses, kangaroos, or sheep; also used to refer to a group of people, sometimes – although definitely not always – used in a negative or derogatory sense (possibly as an allusion to a group of dumb or wild animals), but also used in a positive sense (e.g. “they’re my mob”), especially amongst Aborigines

morn = morning

’neath = (vernacular) beneath

Sale = a city in the Gippsland region of Victoria, located east of Rosedale and west of Lake Wellington

south’ard = (vernacular) southward

’twas = (archaic) a contraction of “it was”

warrigal = (Aboriginal) a dingo; a wild dog (also spelt: warragal, warragle, warragul)

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