[Editor: This poem by “Dryblower” Murphy was published in Dryblower’s Verses (1926).]
Cooking and Patching Their Dungaree Pants.
(The woman said she was sick of cooking and patching his dungaree pants at the mulga mine.)
Think of it, dwell on it, mining camp man;
Picture the woman’s monotonous lot!
Dusting the dug-out and cooking the scran
Out is some weary unwomanly spot.
Not that we want to create discontent,
Not that we want rebellion to brew,
But picture yourself in a tattered old tent,
Baking the brownie and stirring the stew,
Hefting around like the hard-working ants,
Cooking, and patching their dungaree pants!
Monday to Saturday, always the same;
Breakfast and lunch, and tea about six;
And all you’re expected to get for the game
Summed in the negative syllable — Nix!
Porridge and sausages, bacon and eggs,
Corned beef and cabbages, mutton and mince;
Eyes full of soapsuds and mouth full of pegs
Trying a spirit of hope to envince.
No prospect that pleases, no scene that enchants —
Cooking and patching their dungaree pants!
Men of the mulga and men of the mine,
Men where the rock-drills are throbbingly thrust;
Men of the camps at the head of the line,
You’re wearing your womenfolk down to the dust.
Christmas to you means a call to the coast;
There is always a friend who will work it for you;
Christmas to her means a boil and a roast
As a change from the wearisome curry and stew;
While he on the sweets of the seaside descants,
She’s cooking, and patching the dungaree pants!
Can you wonder that Mulgaland slaves often sigh
To walk near the waves, to saunter the sand,
Can you wonder their fancies impel them to fly
With any old thing with the cash at command?
That bloke in the buggy who stops for a chat,
That cove on the coach with his tales of the town;
Will find Welcome stencilled on most every mat
Where they don’t think a woman is worth a new gown.
The best temper slips and the best temper slants
Through cooking and patching your dungaree pants!
Edwin Greenslade Murphy, Dryblower’s Verses, Perth, W.A.: E. G. Murphy, 1926, page 88
Previously published (with some differences) in:
The Sunday Times (Perth, WA), 28 November 1920, p. 4
descant = a melody or song; a melody or counterpoint played above a simple musical theme
mulga = in a geographic context “mulga” refers to an area where mulga trees grow in large numbers, i.e. a largely unsettled area
Mulgaland = refers to areas in Australia of semi-arid scrub land, commonly populated with mulga trees; an area where mulga trees grow in large numbers, i.e. a largely unsettled area (also spelt as “Mulga-Land”)
nix = nothing, zero (from the German “nichts”, meaning nothing); no; a rejection; to disagree, prohibit, or reject (also, in German mythology, a water being, sometimes described as a demon or monster, which is half-human and half-fish)
scran = food; provisions
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