Bricks of Beer.
You talk of your old “Golden Shanty”
Ted Dyson invented and built,
But you’ll warble a weakly andante
When I’ve lifted you my little lilt.
Gold in a brick-clay you may get,
It’s one of geology’s tricks;
But I’ll take you all where you’ll to-day get
Beer in a barrel in bricks!
Genuine beer, and no bunkum —
Hundreds and hundreds of quarts —
I, who so often have drunk ’em,
Know all their several sorts.
Know ’em and love and respect ’em,
Knew where they’d blossom and bloom,
Wherever we called to collect ’em,
Back in the days of the boom.
Hennessey hung out his shingle,
Over a pioneer pub;
Hennessey, Irish and single,
Pulled half his pub from the scrub —
Salmon-gum, gimlet and sacking,
Well-hammered dirt for a floor;
A chimney whose buttress and backing
Was buck, non-auriferous ore,
The chimney was built at a time then
When water was part of the creed;
When stealing a quart was a crime then,
And a gallon fetched more than a feed.
In his yard he’d some petered-out porter
No white man would swallow for nix;
And as he’d more porter than water,
He used it for making the bricks.
The porter dried up as he made them,
As all wet evaporates do;
And Hennessey laughed as he laid them
A pillar of solid shypoo.
The chimney stood safe for the summer,
A dozen good sprees in its stack;
Till one day a buccaneer bummer
Stole a beer-laden brick from the back.
With a prospecting hammer he struck it
Pounding the clay into dust,
Then, soaking the same in a bucket,
Proceeded to go on the bust.
Then another brick went, and a third one,
Till Hennessey jibbed at the joke;
And the very next time that he heard one
He passed him a bit of bull-oak!
Again they came round and they burgled
A brick from above and below;
Again from a bucket there gurgled,
The beer of the long, long ago.
The chimney they rifled and wroughted,
Till it stood like a sieve in the blast;
Then the mantelpiece fell unsupported,
And the hobs were a thing of the past.
The bummer, the sparrer, the drifter,
Who fell a bit blase and blue,
Called in when they felt like a snifter,
And away went a fragment of flue!
The boozer the bobby succeeded,
In lumb’ring along to the nick;
When asked by the beak how he pleaded,
Replied he’d been struck by a brick!
When Hennessey died there were ructions,
Everyone bolted for bricks;
But Hennessey’s dying instructions
Out-manoeuvred the pillagers’ tricks.
“It’s here,” said the clergyman, handing
A will that the mourners amazed.
“With the bricks of the chimney still standing
He’d like a small monument raised.”
And that’s why a grave in Coolgardie,
Unlettered, undated, unversed,
Is the subject of arguments hardy,
When reverence tussles with thirst.
Twenty-four gallons ungiving
The joy of a riotous shick;
While the tinder-dry tongues of the living
Cry out for a beer-sodden brick!
Edwin Greenslade Murphy, Dryblower’s Verses, Perth, W.A.: E. G. Murphy, 1926, pages 104-105
Previously published (with some differences) in:
The Sunday Times (Perth, WA), 26 March 1916, p. 6
[Editor: Corrected “feed,” to “feed.” and “back” to “back.” (added full stops, in line with the poem as published in The Sunday Times, 26 March 1916; and with regard to the style of punctuation used in the rest of the poem).]