We specked as boys o'er worked-out ground
By littered flat and muddy stream,
We watched the whim horse trudging round,
And rode upon the circling beam,
Within the old uproarious mill
Fed mad, insatiable stamps,
Mined peaceful gorge and gusty hill
With pan, and pick, and gad, and drill,
And knew the stir of sudden camps.
By yellow dams in summer days
We puddled at the tom; for weeks
Went seeking up the tortuous ways
Of gullies deep and hidden creeks.
We worked the shallow leads in style,
And hunted fortune down the drives,
And missed her, mostly by a mile—
Once by a yard or so. The while
We lived untrammelled, easy lives.
Through blazing days upon the brace
We laboured, and when night had passed
Beheld the glory and the grace
Of wondrous dawns in bushlands vast.
We heard the burdened timbers groan
In deep mines murmurous as the seas
On long, lone shores by drear winds blown.
We've seen heroic deeds, and known
The digger's joys and tragedies.
I write in rhyme of all these things,
With little skill, perhaps, but you,
To whom each tale a memory brings
Of bygone days, will know them true.
Should mates who've worked in stope and face,
Who've trenched the hill and swirled the dish,
Or toiled upon the plat and brace,
Find pleasure in the lines I trace,
No better welcome could I wish.