One gleaming sheet the town of tents
Across the gully spread.
With axe and pick the ranges rang,
Wild earth was torn and bled.
From far strange lands the diggers swarmed,
Chinese and Yanks and Poles, —
To seek their fortune, and all flags
Flew o’er the lucky holes.
We pegged in claims, and gold was crushed
As we heard the cradles sway;
We shook our dish till set o’ sun
We drank till break o’ day.
The Roaring Days are memories,
Good times will never last;
Green saplings thicken, and the grass
Trails o’er the golden past.
Holes lie agape; and far and wide
Old mates are blown like chaff;
While perched on rotting poppet-head
The kookaburras laugh.
Louis Esson, Bells and Bees: Verses, Melbourne: Thomas C. Lothian, 1910, [page 11]
o’er = over (pronounced the same as “oar”, “or”, and “ore”)
poppet-head = framework placed above a mining shaft to support a winding mechanism
Roaring Days = the period of the gold rushes in Australia in the 1850s
Vernacular spelling in the original text: