Roamin’ Free [poem by C.J. Dennis]

[Editor: This poem by C.J. Dennis was published in Backblock Ballads and Other Verses (1913). Most of the poetry of C.J. Dennis is written in the style of the Australian vernacular. See the Glossary for explanations of words and phrases.]

Roamin’ Free.

The miser sits beside his hoard,
The lover tarries by his bride,
And he who neither may afford
Is free to roam the whole world wide.
Ye prate of cares, of plans amiss,
With voices grave and faces long;
While I — I ask of life but this:
To drink, to kiss, to troll a song —

And rove a-roamin’, roamin’ free —
A-ringin’ in the changes.
Why linger here to waste a tear
When joy awaits o’er the ranges?
Why tarry there to nurse a care
When golden days are over?
For far and wide, where e’er men abide,
There’s welcome for the rover.

Who seeks to earn a life of ease:
For honor, wealth, and fame exist;
Then, growing old, and having these,
To sit and think of what he’s missed?
I live for love of life alone;
You live in wait for fortune’s smile —
Quote proverbs at a rolling stone,
And gather moss and trouble while —

I rove a-roamin’, roamin’free —
A-ringin’ in the changes.
If there’s no moss this side for me
There’s heaps across the ranges.
So have your say and slave away,
And set a store by small things;
Ye may be lords of hard-earned hoards,
But I’m the lord of all things.

Am I a constant lover? Nay:
Love, bounded, cloys, and bright eyes fade;
And he who loves and rides away
Rides on to meet a fairer maid.
’Tis sure, I’d find, if wed to Nell,
’Twas Jess or Lil I loved the best.
My faith! I love them all too well
To choose the one and lose the rest.

And I live a-lovin’, lovin’ free —
A-ringin’ in the changes.
’Tis: “Kiss me Nell, and now farewell.”
(Jess waits across the ranges).
And this, I boast, the rover’s toast
You’ll find the wide world over:
“From names refrain, and tankards drain
To the lass that loves a rover.”

C.J. Dennis. Backblock Ballads and Other Verses, E. W. Cole, Melbourne, [1913], pages 13-14

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