The Bushman’s Lullaby
Lift me down to the creek bank, Jack,
It must be fresher outside;
The long hot day is well nigh done;
It’s a chance if I see another one;
I should like to look on the setting sun,
And the water, cool and wide.
We didn’t think it would be like this
Last week, as we rode together;
True mates we’ve been in this far land
For many a year, since Devon’s strand
We left for these wastes of sun-scorched sand
In the blessed English weather.
We left, when the leafy lanes were green
And the trees met overhead,
The rippling brooks ran clear and gay,
The air was sweet with the scent of hay,
How well I remember the very day
And the words my mother said!
We have toiled and striven, and fought it out
Under the hard blue sky,
Where the plains glowed red in tremulous light,
Where the haunting mirage mocked the sight
Of desperate men from morn till night,
And the streams had long been dry.
Where we dug for gold on the mountain side,
Where the ice-fed river ran;
In frost and blast, through fire and snow,
Where an Englishman could live and go,
We’ve followed our luck for weal or woe,
And never asked help from man.
And now it’s over, it’s hard to die
Ere the summer of life is o’er,
When the pulse is high and the limbs are stark,
Ere time has printed one warning mark,
To quit the light for the unknown dark,
And, home! to see home no more.
No more! no more! I that always vowed
That, whether or rich or poor,
Whatever the years might bring or change,
I would one day stand by the grey old grange,
And the children would gather, all shy and strange,
As I entered the well-known door.
You will go home to the old place, Jack;
Then tell my mother, for me,
That I thought of the words she used to say,
Her looks, her tones, as I dying lay,
That I prayed to God, as I used to pray
When I knelt beside her knee.
* * * * * *
By the lonely water they made their couch
And the southern night fast fled,
They heard the wildfowl splash and cry,
They heard the mourning reeds’ low sigh.
Such was the Bushman’s lullaby,—
With the dawn his soul was sped.
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