Henry LawsonThe Old Bark School
It was built of bark and poles, and the roof was full of holes
And each leak in rainy weather made a pool;
And the walls were mostly cracks lined with calico and sacks--
There was little need for windows in the school.
Then we rode to school and back by the rugged gully track,
On the old grey horse that carried three or four;
And he looked so very wise that he lit the Masters eyes
Every time he put his head inside the door.
(He had run with Cobb and Co--'That grey leader, let him go!'
There were men 'as knowed the brand upon his hide',
Some 'as knowed him on the course--Funeral service: 'Good old horse!'
When we burnt him in the gully where he died.)
Kevin was the master's name, 'twas from Ireland that he came,
Where the tanks are always full, and feed is grand;
And the joker then in vogue said his lessons wid a brogue--
Twas unconscious immitation understand.
And we learnt the world in scraps from ancient dingy maps
Long discarded by the public schools in town;
And as nearly every book dated back to Captain Cook
Our geography was somewhat upside-down.
It was 'in the book' and so--well, at what we'd let it go,
For we never would believe that print could lie;
And we all learnt pretty soon that when the school came out at noon
'The sun is in the south part of the sky'.
And Ireland!-- that
was known from coast-line to Athlone,
But little of the land that gave us birth;
Save that Captain Cook was killed (as was very likely grilled)
And 'our blacks are just the lowest race on earth'.
And woodcut, in its place, of the same degraded race,
More like camels than the blackmen that we knew;
Jimmy Bullock with the rest, scratched his head and gave the best;
But he couldn't stick a bobtailed Kangaroo!
Now the old bark school is gone, and the spot it stood upon
Is a cattle-camp where curlews' cries are heard;
There's a brick school on the flat--an old mate teaches that--
It was built when Mr Kevin was 'transfered'.
But the old school comes again with the exchanges 'cross the plain--
With the Out-Back Press
my fancy roams at large
When I read of passing stock, of a western mob of flock,
With James Bullock, Grey, or Henry Dale in charge.
When I think how Jimmy went from the old bark school content,
'Eddicated', with his pack horse after him,
Well ... perhaps, if I were back, I would follow in his track,
And let Kevin 'finish' me as he did Jim.
Mate, If I could only write poetry like this.
I'm glad ya dropped by Ron.