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Stewie Mudcat Australia/NZ Songbook (993* d) RE: Rise Up Mudcat Songbook - Australia 28 Oct 20


OUT BACK
(H.Lawson/P.Roeterdink)

The old year went, and the new returned, in the withering weeks of drought
The cheque was spent that the shearer earned, and the sheds were all cut out
The publican's words were short and few, and the publican's looks were black
And the time had come, as the shearer knew, to carry his swag out back.

For time means tucker, and tramp you must where the scrubs and plains are wide
With seldom a track that a man can trust, or a mountain peak to guide
All day long in the dust and heat when summer is on the track
With stinted stomachs and blistered feet, they carry their swags out back

He tramped away from the shanty there when the days were long and hot
With never a soul to know or care if he died on the track or not
The poor of the city have friends in woe, no matter how much they lack
But only God and the swagmen know how a poor man fares out back

He begged his way on the parched Paroo and the Warrego tracks once more
And lived like a dog, as the swagmen do, till the western stations shore
But men were many, and sheds were full, for work in the town was slack
The traveller never got hands in wool, though he tramped for a year out back.

In stifling noons when his back was wrung by its load, and the air seemed dead
And the water warmed in the bag that hung to his aching arm like lead
Or in times of flood, when plains were seas, and the scrubs were cold and black
He ploughed in mud to his trembling knees, and paid for his sins out back

He blamed himself in the year ‘Too Late' -- in the heaviest hours of life --
'Twas little he dreamed that a shearing mate had care of his home and wife
There are times when wrongs from your kindred come and treacherous tongues attack
When a man is better away from home, and dead to the world out back

And dirty and careless and old he wore, as his lamp of hope grew dim
He tramped for years till the swag he bore seemed part of himself to him
As a bullock drags in the sandy ruts, he followed the dreary track
With never a thought but to reach the huts when the sun went down out back

It chanced one day, when the north wind blew in his face like a furnace breath
He left the track for a tank he knew -- 'twas a shortcut to his death
For the bed of the tank was hard and dry, and crossed with many a crack
And, oh, it's a terrible thing to die of thirst in the scrub out back

A drover came, but the fringe of law was eastward many a mile
He never reported the thing he saw, for it was not worth his while
The tanks are full and the grass is high in the mulga off the track
Where the bleaching bones of a white man lie by his mouldering swag out back

For time means tucker, and tramp they must where the plains and scrubs are wide
With seldom a track that a man can trust, or a mountain peak to guide
All day long in the flies and heat the men of the outside track
With stinted stomachs and blistered feet must carry their swags out back

Phil Roeterdink of Loaded Dog put a tune to this Lawson poem. Above is the complete poem. The Dog used the second stanza as a chorus and omitted several stanzas.

Listen on this page:

Click

--Stewie.


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