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A Voice From the Bush

Poem incorrectly attributed to Gordon.

 

HIGH noon, and not a cloud in the sky

To break this blinding sun.

Well, I've half the day before me still,

And most of my journey done.

There's little enough of shade to be got,

But I'll take what I can get,

For I'm not so hearty as once I was,

Although I'm a young man yet.

 

Young !  Well, yes, I suppose,

As far as the seasons go,

Though there's many a man far older than I

Down there in the town below—

Older, but men to whom,

In the pride of their manhood strong,

The hardest work is never too hard,

Or the longest day too long.

 

But I've cut my cake, so I can't complain,

And I've only myself to blame;

Ah! that was always their tune at home,

And here it is just the same.

Of the seed I've sown in pleasure,

The harvest I'm reaping in pain ;

Could I put my life a few years back,

Would I live that life again ?

 

Would I ? Of course I would !

What glorious days they were !

It sometimes seems the dream of a dream,

That life could have been so fair,

A sweet but if a short time back,

While now, if one can call

This life, I almost doubt at times

If it's worth the living at all.

 

One of these poets, which is it ?

Somewhere or another sings,

That the crown of a sorrow's sorrow

Is remembering happier things.

What the crown of a sorrow's sorrow

May be, I know not; but this I know,

It lightens the years that are now

Sometimes to think of the years ago.

 

Where are they now, I wonder, with

Whom those years were pass'd ?

The pace was a little too good, I fear,

For many of them to last.

And there's plenty to take their place

When the leaders begin to decline;

Still I wish them well, where'er they are,

For the sake of 'Auld Lang Syne'.

 

Jack Villiers—Galloping Jack—

(What a beggar he was to ride!) --

Was shot in a gambling row last year,

On the Californian side.

And Byng, the best of the lot,

Who was broke in the Derby of '58,

Is keeping sheep with Harry Lepel,

Somewhere on the River Plate.

 

Do they ever think of me at all,

And the fun we used to share ?

It gives me a pleasant hour or two,

And I've none too many to spare.

This dull blood runs as it used to run,

And the spent flame flickers up,

As I think of the cheers that rang in my ears

When I won the Garrison Cup.

 

And how the regiment roared to a man,

While the voice of the fielders shook,

As I swang in my stride six lengths to the good,

Hard held, over Bosworth Brook.

Instead of the parrot's screech,

I seem to hear the twang of the horn,

As once again from Barkly Holt,

I set the pick of the Quorn.

 

Well, those were harmless pleasures enough,

For I hold him worse than an ass

Who shakes his head at a neck on the post,

Or a quick thing over the grass.

Go for yourself, and go to win,

And you can't very well go wrong.

Gad, if I'd only stuck to that,

I'd be singing a different song.

 

As to the one I'm singing,

It's pretty well known to all ;

We knew too much, but not quite enough,

And so we went to the wall ;

While those who cared not if the work was done

How dirty their hands might be,

Went up on our shoulders and kicked us down,

When they got to the top of the tree.

 

But out there on the station among the lads,

I get on pretty well ;

It's only when I get down into town

That I feel this life such a hell.

Booted and bearded and burn'd to a brick,

I loaf along the street ;

I watch the ladies tripping by,

And I bless their dainty feet.

 

I watch them here and there,

With a bitter feeling of pain ;

Ah! what wouldn't I give to feel

A lady's hand again !

They used to be glad to see me once,

They might have been to-day ;

But we never know the worth of a thing

Until we have thrown it away.

 

I watch them but from afar,

And I pull my old cap over my eyes—

Partly to hide the tears that, rude and

Rough as I am, will rise—

And partly because I cannot bear

That such as they should see

The man that I am, when I know—

Though they don't—the man that I ought to be.

 

Puff ! with the last whiff of my pipe,

I blow these fancies away,

For I must be jogging along if I want

To get down to town to-day.

As I know I shall reach my journey's end

Though I travel not over fast ;

So the end of my longer journey will come

In its own good time at last.