The Navvies

A poem by Ralph Rogan


Recited by Denis Kevans

Memories that haunt me come creeping to-night,
Of the years that have drifted away;
Of old mates who have passed and gone over the range
With the days of the horses and drays.
The tent poles have rotted, the camp fires are cold,
Their ashes have blown to the winds;
And my memory takes wings back over the years
To the long years that I've left behind.
We laid the steel ribbons from the jungle-clad north
To the snow-covered mountains down south;
We pitched our rough homes near the rock cuttings side
And we camped by the tunnels dark mouth.
We blasted our way through the frowning dark range
And oft-times we choked for our breath;
In the dark underground we breathed the foul air
Where life was a gamble with death.
We are the navvies, unhonoured, unsung,
Men from all the far ends of the earth.
We spanned the wide rivers with girders of steel
But small in reward was our worth.
We blazed the long trail over mountains and plains,
We bridged the wild torrent in flood;
We of the shovel, the pick and the steel,
The horse power, the sweat and the mud.


This poem by Ralph Rogan, Yeppoon, Qld. was collected by historian, Dennis Rowe, University of Newcastle.

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