The Drover's Sweetheart

Original Text: 
Henry Lawson, In the Days when the World was Wide and Other Verses (Sydney: Angus and Robertson, 1896): 44-46. x.908/13059 British Library. shel 0660 Fisher Rare Book Library
2    Behind the ragged boughs,
4    And bring the dusty cows;
5And once I used to sit and rest
7For there was one that I loved best
8    Who'd bring the cattle home.
10    Round one the grass is green,
11The bush is growing through the rails,
12    The spike is rusted in;
13And 'twas from there his freckled face
14    Would turn and smile at me --
15He'd milk a dozen in the race
16    While I was milking three.
17I milk eleven cows myself
18    Where once I milked but four;
19I set the dishes on the shelf
20    And close the dairy door;
21And when the glaring sunlight fails
22    And the fire shines through the cracks,
23I climb the broken stockyard rails
24    And watch the bridle-tracks.
25He kissed me twice and once again
26    And rode across the hill,
28    I hear them jingling still;
29He'll come at night or not at all,
30    He left in dust and heat,
31And when the soft, cool shadows fall
32    It would be nice to meet.
33And he is coming back again,
34    He wrote to let me know,
36    It seems so long ago;
37He'd come through miles of slush and mud,
38    And it was weary work,
41He said the floods had formed a block,
42    The plains could not be crossed,
43And there was foot-rot in the flock
44    And hundreds had been lost;
45The sheep were falling thick and fast,
46    A hundred miles from town,
47And when he reached the line at last
48    He trucked the remnant down.
49And so he'll have to stand the cost,
50    His luck was always bad,
51Instead of making more, he lost
52    The money that he had;
53And how he'll manage, heaven knows
54    (My eyes are getting dim)
55He says -- he says -- he don't -- suppose
56    I'll want -- to -- marry -- him.
57As if I wouldn't take his hand
58    Without a golden glove;
59Oh! Jack -- you men won't understand
60    How much a girl can love.
61I long to see his face once more --
62    Jack's dog! thank God, it's Jack! --
63(I never thought I'd faint before)
64    He's coming -- up -- the track.


1] drover: someone who herds droves of livestock. Back to Line
3] run: "range of pasture- or grazing-land; a sheep station", pastoral holding (OED "run" n1, 22; courtesy of Eric Sharpham). Back to Line
6] dome: the firmament (the sky's concave vault). Back to Line
9] bails: stakes, fence-posts. Back to Line
27] pint-pots: bells, shaped like small beer pots.
the hobble-chain: a small loose chain around the hind fetlocks, preventing cattle from running. Back to Line
35] Darling-River: the longest river in Australia, flowing from Queensland to join the Murray River at Wentworth in New South Wales and continuing on through South Australia to empty into the Great Australian Bight (courtesy of Eric Sharpham). Back to Line
39] bankers: full up to their banks. Back to Line
40] Bourke: in the centre of the Australian outback, once the largest inland port on the Darling River. Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: 
RPO 2001.