(Henry Lawson)

The Roaring Days

The night too quickly passes 
And we are growing old, 
So let us fill our glasses 
And toast the Days of Gold; 
When finds of wondrous treasure 
Set all the South ablaze, 
And you and I were faithful mates 
All through the roaring days! 

Then stately ships came sailing 
From every harbours mouth, 
And sought the land of promise 
That beaconed in the South; 
Then southward streamed their streamers 
And swelled their canvas full 
To speed the wildest dreamers 
Eer borne in vessels hull. 

Their shining Eldorado, 
Beneath the southern skies, 
Was day and night for ever 
Before their eager eyes. 
The brooding bush, awakened, 
Was stirred in wild unrest, 
And all the year a human stream 
Went pouring to the West. 

The rough bush roads re-echoed 
The bar-rooms noisy din, 
When troops of stalwart horsemen 
Dismounted at the inn. 
And oft the hearty greetings 
And hearty clasp of hands 
Would tell of sudden meetings 
Of friends from other lands; 
When, puzzled long, the new-chum 
Would recognise at last, 
Behind a bronzed and bearded skin, 
A comrade of the past. 

And when the cheery camp-fire 
Explored the bush with gleams, 
The camping-grounds were crowded 
With caravans of teams; 
Then home the jests were driven, 
And good old songs were sung, 
And choruses were given 
The strength of heart and lung. 
Oh, they were lion-hearted 
Who gave our country birth! 
Oh, they were of the stoutest sons 
From all the lands on earth! 

Oft when the camps were dreaming, 
And fires began to pale, 
Through rugged ranges gleaming 
Would come the Royal Mail. 
Behind six foaming horses, 
And lit by flashing lamps, 
Old `Cobb and Co.s, in royal state, 
Went dashing past the camps. 

Oh, who would paint a goldfield, 
And limn the picture right, 
As we have often seen it 
In early mornings light; 
The yellow mounds of mullock 
With spots of red and white, 
The scattered quartz that glistened 
Like diamonds in light; 
The azure line of ridges, 
The bush of darkest green, 
The little homes of calico 
That dotted all the scene. 

I hear the fall of timber 
From distant flats and fells, 
The pealing of the anvils 
As clear as little bells, 
The rattle of the cradle, 
The clack of windlass-boles, 
The flutter of the crimson flags 
Above the golden holes. 

. . . . . 

Ah, then our hearts were bolder, 
And if Dame Fortune frowned 
Our swags wed lightly shoulder 
And tramp to other ground. 
But golden days are vanished, 
And altered is the scene; 
The diggings are deserted, 
The camping-grounds are green; 
The flaunting flag of progress 
Is in the West unfurled, 
The mighty bush with iron rails 
Is tethered to the world.

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