Down The River

A poem by Barcroft Henry Boake

Hark, the sound of it drawing nearer,
Clink of hobble and brazen bell;
Mark the passage of stalwart shearer,
Bidding Monaro soil farewell.

Where is he making for? Down the river,
Down the river with eager tread;
Where is he making for? Down the river,
Down the river to seek a ‘shed’.

Where is his dwelling on old Monaro?
Buckley’s Crossing, or Jindaboine?
Dry Plain is it, or sweet Bolaira?
P’raps ’tis near where the rivers join
Where is he making for? Down the river.
When, oh when, will he turn him back?
Soft sighs follow him down the river,
Moist eyes gaze at his fading track.

See, behind him his pack-horse, ambling,
Bears the weight of his master’s kit,
Oft and oft from the pathway rambling,
Crops unhampered by cruel bit.
Where is he making for? Equine rover,
Sturdy nag from the Eucumbene,
Tempted down by the thought of clover,
Springing luscious in Riverine.

Dreams of life and its future chances,
Snatch of song to beguile the way;
Through green crannies the sunlight glances,
Silver-gilding the bright ‘Jack Shay’.
“So long, mate, I can stay no longer,
So long, mate, I’ve no time to stop,
Pens are waiting me at Mahonga,
Bluegong, Grubben and Pullitop.

“What! you say that the river’s risen?
What! that the melted snow has come?
What! that it locks and bars our prison?
Many’s the mountain stream I’ve swum.
I must onward and cross the river,
So long, mate, for I cannot stay;
I must onward and cross the river,
Over the river there lies my way.”

One man short when the roll they’re calling;
One man short at old Bobby Rand’s;
Heads are drooping and tears are falling
Up on Monaro’s mountain lands.

Where is he making for? Down the river,
Down the river of slimy bed;
Where is he making for? Down the river,
Down the river that bears him, dead

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