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Short poem

Henry Lawson (1867-1922)

The Shanty on the Rise

              1When the caravans of wool-teams climbed the ranges from the West,
              2On a spur among the mountains stood `The Bullock-drivers' Rest;'
              3It was built of bark and saplings, and was rather rough inside,
              4But 'twas good enough for bushmen in the careless days that died --
              5Just a quiet little shanty kept by `Something-in-Disguise,'
              6As the bushmen called the landlord of the Shanty on the Rise.

              7City swells who `do the Royal' would have called the Shanty low,
              8But 'twas better far and purer than some toney pubs I know;
              9For the patrons of the Shanty had the principles of men,
            10And the spieler, if he struck it, wasn't welcome there again.
            11You could smoke and drink in quiet, yarn, or else soliloquise,
            12With a decent lot of fellows in the Shanty on the Rise.

            13'Twas the bullock-driver's haven when his team was on the road,
            14And the waggon-wheels were groaning as they ploughed beneath the load;
            15And I mind how weary teamsters struggled on while it was light,
            16Just to camp within a cooey of the Shanty for the night;
            17And I think the very bullocks raised their heads and fixed their eyes
            18On the candle in the window of the Shanty on the Rise.

            19And the bullock-bells were clanking from the marshes on the flats
            20As we hurried to the Shanty, where we hung our dripping hats;
            21And we took a drop of something that was brought at our desire,
            22As we stood with steaming moleskins in the kitchen by the fire.
            23Oh! it roared upon a fireplace of the good, old-fashioned size,
            24When the rain came down the chimney of the Shanty on the Rise.

            25They got up a Christmas party in the Shanty long ago,
            26While I camped with Jimmy Nowlett on the riverbank below;
            27Poor old Jim was in his glory -- they'd elected him M.C.,
            28For there wasn't such another raving lunatic as he.
            29`Mr Nowlett, Mr Swaller!' shouted Something-in-Disguise,
            30As we walked into the parlour of the Shanty on the Rise.

            31There is little real pleasure in the city where I am --
            32There's a swarry round the corner with its mockery and sham;
            33But a fellow can be happy when around the room he whirls
            34In a party up the country with the jolly country girls.
            35Why, at times I almost fancied I was dancing on the skies,
            36When I danced with Mary Carey in the Shanty on the Rise.

            37Jimmy came to me and whispered, and I muttered, `Go along!'
            38But he shouted, `Mr. Swaller will oblige us with a song!'
            39And at first I said I wouldn't, and I shammed a little too,
            40Till the girls began to whisper, `Mr. Swallow, now, ah, do!'
            41So I sang a song of something 'bout the love that never dies,
            42And the chorus shook the rafters of the Shanty on the Rise.

            43Jimmy burst his concertina, and the bullock-drivers went
            44For the corpse of Joe the Fiddler, who was sleeping in his tent;
            45Joe was tired and had lumbago, and he wouldn't come, he said,
            46But the case was very urgent, so they pulled him out of bed;
            47And they fetched him, for the bushmen knew that Something-in-Disguise
            48Had a cure for Joe's lumbago in the Shanty on the Rise.

            49Jim and I were rather quiet while escorting Mary home,
            50'Neath the stars that hung in clusters, near and distant, from the dome;
            51And we walked so very silent -- being lost in reverie --
            52That we heard the settlers'-matches softly rustle on the tree;
            53And I wondered who would win her when she said her sweet good-byes --
            54But she died at one-and-twenty, and was buried on the Rise.

            55I suppose the Shanty vanished from the ranges long ago,
            56And the girls are mostly married to the chaps I used to know;
            57My old chums are in the distance -- some have crossed the border-line,
            58But in fancy still their glasses chink against the rim of mine.
            59And, upon the very centre of the greenest spot that lies
            60In my fondest recollection, stands the Shanty on the Rise.


1] The shanty is Robert Newton's inn, Mary Carey is Bertha Buchholtz's sister Mary, and Joe the fiddler is Johnny Mears, "a teamster and carrier who rented a little farm near Eurunderee Creek" (Collected Verse, ed. Colin Roderick [Sydney: Angus and Robertson, 1967]: I, 438).

4] bushman: man from the outback.

7] swells: well-dressed, respectable persons.

8] toney: with "tone," pretentious, that is, welcoming to only certain types of people.

10] spieler: a professional gambler or card-sharp.

16] cooey: the aboriginal's signal to others, a cry that says "I'm over here."

32] swarry: French "soirée": a fancy restaurant.

40] "Joe Swallow" was Lawson's pseudonym when writing for the Boomerang (Brisbane).

50] dome: the firmament (the sky's concave vault).

Online text copyright © 2003, Ian Lancashire for the Department of English, University of Toronto.
Published by the Web Development Group, Information Technology Services, University of Toronto Libraries.

Original text: Henry Lawson, In the Days when the World was Wide and Other Verses (Sydney: Angus and Robertson, 1912): 79-84. x.908/13059 British Library. shel 0660 Fisher Rare Book Library
First publication date: 19 December 1891
Publication date note: Bulletin; See Stone, 6
RPO poem editor: Ian Lancashire
RP edition: RPO 2001.
Recent editing: 4:2002/2/23

Rhyme: aabbcc

Other poems by Henry Lawson