My Mate Bill [song, 1905]

[Editor: This was published in The Old Bush Songs, edited by Banjo Paterson (1905); previously published (with minor variations) in The Independent (28 October 1893), which cites The Bulletin as its source. It was also published (with minor variations) in The Bulletin Reciter (1901).]

My Mate Bill

That’s his saddle on the tie-beam,
And them’s his spurs up there
On the wall-plate over yonder —
You ken see they ain’t a pair.

For the daddy of all the stockmen
As ever come mustering here
Was killed in the flaming mulga
A-yarding a bald-faced steer.

They say as he’s gone to heaven,
And shook off all worldly cares;
But I can’t sight Bill in a halo
Set up on three blinded hairs.

In heaven! what next, I wonder,
For strike me pink and blue,
If I see whatever in thunder
They’ll find for Bill to do.

He’d never make one of them angels,
With faces as white as chalk,
All wool to the toes like hoggets,
And wings like an eagle-hawk.

He couldn’t ’arp for apples;
His voice had tones as jarred;
And he’d no more ear than a bald-faced steer,
Or calves in a branding yard.

He could sit on a bucking brumbie
Like a nob in an easy chair,
And chop his name with a greenhide fall
On the flank of a flying steer.

He could show them saints in glory
The way that a fall should drop,
But sit on a throne — not William,
Unless they could make it prop.

He mightn’t freeze to the seraphs,
Or chum with the cherubim,
But if ever them seraph johnnies
Get a-poking it like at him –

Well! if there’s hide in heaven,
And silk for to make a lash,
He’ll yard ’em all in the Jasper Lake
In a blinded lightning flash.

If the heavenly hosts get boxed now,
As mobs most always will,
Who’ll cut ’em out like William,
Or draft on a camp like Bill?

An ’orseman would find it awkward
At first with a push that flew,
But blame my cats if I know what else
They’ll find for Bill to do.

It’s hard if there ain’t no cattle;
And perhaps they’ll let him sleep,
And wake him up at the judgment
To draft those goats and sheep.

It’s playing it low on William,
But perhaps he’ll buckle to,
To show them high-toned seraphs
What a mulga man can do.

If they saddles a big-boned angel,
With a turn of speed, of course,
As can spiel like a four-year brumbie,
And prop like an old camp horse,

And puts Bill up with a snaffle,
A four or five inch spur,
And eighteen foot of greenhide
To chop the blinded fur –

He’ll yard them blamed Angoras
In a way that it’s safe to swear
Will make them tony seraphs,
Sit back on their thrones and stare.

A. B. Paterson (editor). The Old Bush Songs, Angus and Robertson, Sydney, 1905, pages 68-70

Previously published (with minor variations) in:
The Independent (Footscray, Vic.), Saturday 28 October 1893, page 2 [which cites The Bulletin as its source, prefaces the song with the sentence “Jimmy the Hut-keeper (loq.)”, gives the author as “Ironbark” (who was later shown to be G. Herbert Gibson), and has the 9th and 10th stanzas placed lower in the poem]

Also published in:
A.G. Stephens (editor). The Bulletin Reciter: A Collection of Verses for Recitation from “The Bulletin” [1880-1901], The Bulletin Newspaper Company, Sydney, 1902 [first published 1901], pages 120-123

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