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The Drover

by Henry Robert Fowler

The pale rose pink of an infant morn,
The cattle start to rise.
The tufted grass, the long, long trail,
Out where the black crow flies.

The trail winds out across a plain
That never seems to end,
With never a sign of creek or tree,
And horse is man’s best friend.

Away ahead, a cloud of dust,
Where “Cookie” drives his team,
An old buckboard, and blanket rolls
On which tonight we’ll dream.

The cattle move across the plain,
The riders stockwhips crack,
The wingers there are on the watch,
To see that none turns back.

The sun beats down, a burning sphere,
Was ever trail so long?
Until at last we camp beside
A welcome billabong.

The night watch posted, in we turn,
To snatch a few hours sleep.
And then the dingoes start to howl,
A mournful sound so deep.

The night watch calls, and out we turn,
To stop a wild stampede,
We curse the dingoes, stone the crows,
And all that mangey breed.

We race along with many a curse.
“Get up, you flaming cow,”
At last we make the leaders turn,
And quiet them down, somehow.

When all are quietly settled down,
And wild steers cease to mill,
The tea that good old “Cookie’s”
The boys all loudly swill.

Then “Bluey” starts to tell the tale
Of droving other herds,
The rest all quickly shut him up
They do not choose their words.

“Shut up, you blanky red haired cow,
Start in a’counting sheep,
The rest of us are damned well tired,
And want to get some sleep.”

Soon all is still, and quietness reigns,
Except for Bluey’s snores
The Southern Cross shines up above,
We dream of flowing bores.

Day after day, the drive goes on
Through Mulga scrub or plain,
O’er basalt rock, and desert sand,
Till we strike the coast again.

At last to rest in paddocks green
Our wild mob is set free,
At last, long last, the drover’s plant
May go out on a spree.

 

Find more poems by Henry Robert Fowler here.

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