The Diggers

A poem by Andrew Barton Paterson

Bristling Billy the porcupine,
A person that nobody liked,
Sinking a shaft on an ant-bed mine,
Came on a burrowing lizard's line,
And the lizard was badly spiked.
"You're a blundering fool," said the snake's half-brother,
And that was how one thing led to another.

Weary Willie the wombat king
Said he was champion excavator;
But the Bristler said, "You ain't no such thing;
You couldn't dig up a new pertater!"
So a match was made on their mining skill,
Bristling Billy and Weary Will.

Both of the creatures were stout as steel,
With knife-like claws that could dig for ever.
The wombat dug with the greater zeal,
But he hadn't the style or the action clever
Of Bristling Billy, who looked a winner
Till he struck some ants, and he stopped for dinner.

Down where the ants had hid their young
Underground in a secret tunnel,
Scooping them up with his sticky tongue
Into his mouth that was like a funnel:
"Why should I dig for your wagers scanty,"
Said he, "when I'm feeling so full and ant-y?"

A kangaroo who has lost his cash
Was wild at this most absurd come-uppance.
"Now listen, you poor ant-eating trash,
I'd give you a kick in the ribs for twopence!"
"Well, when I've finished with this here diet,"
Said Bristling Billy, "you come and try it."

Bristling Billy the porcupine,
A person that nobody likes,
Wanders away on his lonely line,
Rattles his fearful spikes.
Says he, "There's none of you long-haired squibs
Is game to give me a kick in the ribs."

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