James Lister Cuthbertson

(8 May 1851 – 18 January 1910 / Glasgow, Scotland)

To a Billy Poem by James Lister Cuthbertson


OLD BILLY—battered, brown and black
With many days of camping,
Companion of the bulging sack,
And friend in all our tramping:
How often on the Friday night—
Your cubic measure testing—
With jam and tea we stuffed you tight
Before we started nesting!
How often, in the moonlight pale,
Through gums and gullies toiling,
We’ve been the first the hill to scale,
The first to watch you boiling;
When at the lane the tent was spread
The silver wattle under,
And early shafts of rosy red
Cleft sea-born mists asunder!

And so, old Billy, you recall
A host of sun-burnt faces,
And bring us back again to all
The best of camping places.
True flavour of the bush you bear,
Of camp and its surrounding,
Of freedom and of open air,
Of healthy life abounding.

You bring us more—with those we love
We watched you boil and bubble,
And in the sunny skies above
Forgot each schoolboy trouble
So not without a kindly glance
We eye you in the study,
Although you’ve met with some mischance,
Although you’re black and muddy!

Submitted: Thursday, January 01, 2004

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