Billy of Queensland
Henry Lawson, 1909
"Queensland," he heads his letters that's all:
The date, and the month, and the year in brief;
He often sends me a cheerful scrawl,
With an undertone of ancient grief.
The first seems familiar, but might have changed,
As often the writing of wanderers will;
He seems all over the world to have ranged,
And he signs himself William, or Billy, or Bill.
He might have been an old mate of mine
A shearer, or one of the station hands.
(There were some of 'em died, who drop me a line,
Signing other names, and in other hands.
There was one who carried his swag with me
On the western tracks, when the world was young,
And now he is spouting democracy
In another land with another tongue.)
He cheers me up like an old mate, quite,
And swears at times like an old mate, too;
(Perhaps he knows that I never write
Except to say that I'm going to).
He says he is tired of telling lies
For a Blank he knows for a Gory Scamp
But I note the tone where the sunset dies
On the Outside Track or the cattle camp.
Who are you, Billy? But never mind
Come to think of it, I forgot
There were so many in days behind,
And all so true that it matters not.
It may be out in the Mulga scrub,
In the southern seas, or a London street
(I hope it's close to a bar or pub)
But I have a feeling that we shall meet.