General Editor

Representative Poetry Online, edition 6.0, is a web anthology of 4,800 poems in English and French by over 700 poets spanning 1400 years.  more about RPO

 

 

 

 

The Teams

1A cloud of dust on the long white road,
2    And the teams go creeping on
3Inch by inch with the weary load;
5    The distant goal is won.
6With eyes half-shut to the blinding dust,
7    And necks to the yokes bent low,
8The beasts are pulling as bullocks must;
9And the shining tires might almost rust
10    While the spokes are turning slow.
11With face half-hid 'neath a broad-brimmed hat
12    That shades from the heat's white waves,
13And shouldered whip with its green-hide plait,
14The driver plods with a gait like that
15    Of his weary, patient slaves.
16He wipes his brow, for the day is hot,
17    And spits to the left with spite;
18He shouts at `Bally,' and flicks at `Scot,'
19And raises dust from the back of `Spot,'
20    And spits to the dusty right.
21He'll sometimes pause as a thing of form
22    In front of a settler's door,
23And ask for a drink, and remark `It's warm,'
24Or say `There's signs of a thunder-storm;'
25    But he seldom utters more.
26But the rains are heavy on roads like these;
27    And, fronting his lonely home,
28For weeks together the settler sees
29The teams bogged down to the axletrees,
30    Or ploughing the sodden loam.
31And then when the roads are at their worst,
32    The bushman's children hear
33The cruel blows of the whips reversed
34While bullocks pull as their hearts would burst,
35    And bellow with pain and fear.
36And thus with little of joy or rest
37    Are the long, long journeys done;
38And thus -- 'tis a cruel war at the best --
39Is distance fought in the mighty West,
40    And the lonely battles won.

Notes

4] green-hide goad: a goad or cattle-prod with a thong of salted but untanned hide. Back to Line
 What thou lovest well remains,
                  the rest is dross
What thou lov'st well shall not be reft from thee
What thou lov'st well is thy true heritage
Whose world, or mine or theirs
                or is it of none?
First came the seen, then thus the palpable
    Elysium, though it were in the halls of hell,
What thou lovest well is thy true heritage
What thou lov'st well shall not be reft from thee
Ezra Pound Pisan Cantos, LXXXI
Maps