[Editor: This poem by Henry Lawson was published in In the Days When the World Was Wide and Other Verses, 1896.]
The Shanty on the Rise
When the caravans of wool-teams climbed the ranges from the West,
On a spur among the mountains stood ‘The Bullock-drivers’ Rest’;
It was built of bark and saplings, and was rather rough inside,
But ’twas good enough for bushmen in the careless days that died —
Just a quiet little shanty kept by ‘Something-in-Disguise’,
As the bushmen called the landlord of the Shanty on the Rise.
City swells who ‘do the Royal’ would have called the Shanty low,
But ’twas better far and purer than some toney pubs I know;
For the patrons of the Shanty had the principles of men,
And the spieler, if he struck it, wasn’t welcome there again.
You could smoke and drink in quiet, yarn, or else soliloquise,
With a decent lot of fellows in the Shanty on the Rise.
’Twas the bullock-driver’s haven when his team was on the road,
And the waggon-wheels were groaning as they ploughed beneath the load;
And I mind how weary teamsters struggled on while it was light,
Just to camp within a cooey of the Shanty for the night;
And I think the very bullocks raised their heads and fixed their eyes
On the candle in the window of the Shanty on the Rise.
And the bullock-bells were clanking from the marshes on the flats
As we hurried to the Shanty, where we hung our dripping hats;
And we took a drop of something that was brought at our desire,
As we stood with steaming moleskins in the kitchen by the fire.
Oh! it roared upon a fireplace of the good, old-fashioned size,
When the rain came down the chimney of the Shanty on the Rise.
They got up a Christmas party in the Shanty long ago,
While I camped with Jimmy Nowlett on the riverbank below;
Poor old Jim was in his glory — they’d elected him M.C.,
For there wasn’t such another raving lunatic as he.
‘Mr. Nowlett, Mr. Swaller!’ shouted Something-in-Disguise,
As we walked into the parlour of the Shanty on the Rise.
There is little real pleasure in the city where I am —
There’s a swarry round the corner with its mockery and sham;
But a fellow can be happy when around the room he whirls
In a party up the country with the jolly country girls.
Why, at times I almost fancied I was dancing on the skies,
When I danced with Mary Carey in the Shanty on the Rise.
Jimmy came to me and whispered, and I muttered, ‘Go along!’
But he shouted, ‘Mr. Swaller will oblige us with a song!’
And at first I said I wouldn’t, and I shammed a little too,
Till the girls began to whisper, ‘Mr. Swallow, now, ah, do!’
So I sang a song of something ’bout the love that never dies,
And the chorus shook the rafters of the Shanty on the Rise.
Jimmy burst his concertina, and the bullock-drivers went
For the corpse of Joe the Fiddler, who was sleeping in his tent;
Joe was tired and had lumbago, and he wouldn’t come, he said,
But the case was very urgent, so they pulled him out of bed;
And they fetched him, for the bushmen knew that Something-in-Disguise
Had a cure for Joe’s lumbago in the Shanty on the Rise.
Jim and I were rather quiet while escorting Mary home,
’Neath the stars that hung in clusters, near and distant, from the dome;
And we walked so very silent — being lost in reverie —
That we heard the settlers’-matches rustle softly on the tree;
And I wondered who would win her when she said her sweet good-byes —
But she died at one-and-twenty, and was buried on the Rise.
I suppose the Shanty vanished from the ranges long ago,
And the girls are mostly married to the chaps I used to know;
My old chums are in the distance — some have crossed the border-line,
But in fancy still their glasses chink against the rim of mine.
And, upon the very centre of the greenest spot that lies
In my fondest recollection, stands the Shanty on the Rise.
Henry Lawson. In the Days When the World Was Wide and Other Verses, Angus and Robertson, Sydney, 1903 [first published 1896], pages 79-84
Mr. Swallow = “Joe Swallow” was a pseudonym used by Henry Lawson
swarry = a soirée (French), or social evening (alternative spellings: swaree and swarrey) [see: Eric Partridge. The Routledge Dictionary of Historical Slang, Routledge & Kegan, London, 1973 (reprinted 2000), page 933]