The Bursting Of The Boom

A poem by Henry Lawson

The shipping-office clerks are ‘short,’ the manager is gruff,
‘They cannot make reductions,’ and ‘the fares are low enough.’
They ship us West with cattle, and we go like cattle too;
And fight like dogs three times a day for what we get to chew....

We’ll have the pick of empty bunks and lots of stretching room,
And go for next to nothing at the Bursting of the Boom.
So wait till the Boom bursts!, we’ll all get a show:
Then when the Boom bursts is our time to go.
We’ll meet ’em coming back in shoals, with looks of deepest gloom,
But we’re the sort that battle through at the Bursting of the Boom.

The captain’s easy-going when Fremantle comes in sight;
He can’t say when you’ll get ashore, perhaps tomorrow night;
Your coins are few, the charges high; you must not linger here,
You’ll get your boxes from the hold when she’s ‘longside the pier.’
The launch will foul the gangway, and the trembling bulwarks loom
Above a fleet of harbour craft, at the Bursting of the Boom.

So wait till the Boom bursts!, we’ll all get a show;
He’ll ‘take you for a bob, sir,’ and where you want to go.
He’ll ‘take the big portmanteau, sir, if he might so presume’,
You needn’t hump your luggage at the Bursting of the Boom.

It’s loafers, Customs-loafers, and you pay and pay again;
They hinder you and cheat you from the gangway to the train;
The pubs and restaurants are full, they haven’t room for more;
They charge us each three shillings for a shakedown on the floor;
But, ‘Show this gentleman upstairs, the first front parlour room.
‘We’ll see about your luggage, sir’, at the Bursting of the Boom.

So wait till the Boom bursts!, we’ll all get a show;
And wait till the Boom bursts, and swear mighty low.
‘We mostly charge a pound a week. How do you like the room?’
And ‘Show this gentleman the bath’, at the Bursting of the Boom.

I go down to the timber-yard (I cannot face the rent)
To get some strips of oregon to frame my hessian tent;
To buy some scraps of lumber for a table or a shelf:
The boss comes up and says I might just look round for myself ;
The foreman grunts and turns away as silent as the tomb,
The boss himself will wait on me at the Bursting of the Boom.

So wait till the Boom bursts!, we’ll all get a load.
‘You had better take those scraps, sir, they’re only in the road.’
‘Now, where the hell’s the carter?’ you’ll hear the foreman fume;
And, ‘Take that timber round at once!’ at the Bursting of the Boom.

Each one-a-penny grocer, in his box of board and tin,
Will think it condescending to consent to take you in;
And not content with twice as much as what is just and right,
They charge and cheat you doubly, for the Boom is at its height.
It’s‘Take it now or leave it now;’ ‘your money or your room;’
But ‘Who’s attending Mr. Brown?’ at the Bursting of the Boom.

So wait till the Boom bursts!, and take what you can get,
‘There’s not the slightest hurry, and your bill ain’t ready yet.’
They’ll call and get your orders until the crack o’ doom,
And send them round directly, at the Bursting of the Boom.


No Country and no Brotherhood, such things are dead and cold;
A camp from all the lands or none, all mad for love of gold ;
Where T’othersider number one makes slave of number two,
And the vilest women of the world the vilest ways pursue;
And men go out and slave and bake and die in agony
In western hells that God forgot, where never man should be.
I feel a prophet in my heart that speaks the one word ‘Doom!’
And aye you’ll hear the Devil laugh at the Bursting of the Boom.

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