A Navvy's Swan-Song

Daily Standard (Brisbane) Saturday 13 November 1915 p. 11.

My strength is spent, and my back is bent.      
With the. years' increasing load,
And grim as fate, stands the work-house gate
Marking the end of my road.  
I'll slake my thirst at the waters clear
Of a wayside stream, and then
Creep slowly, through those portals drear    
And drop from the ranks of men.

In cutting, and trench, an' coffer dam
These forty years that's sped,    
In rain an' shine, without a whine
I've earned my bite of bread.
And now I'm scrapped. The ganger said
That ago was bound to toll;
And when I asked for just one chance
He told me to clear to hell.

So now I'm on my last long tramp
And supped my final drink.
But though I am too old to work
I'm not too old to think.  
I'm wondering what's the use of it all,
To toil like a blarstsd slave—
With shovel and pick—it makes one sick;    
Just digging a pauper grave.

But I must not wait; with weary gait.
My last lone trail I'll tread,
And never an eye is cast my way  
Save where high overhead,
A carrion crow sails slowly by
And notes my anguished sweat.
He covets the little the world has left—
Not yet!—by Gawd!—-not yet!

But I'll not.trouble the Spike to-night,
I'll just-crawl under the hedge,
An' dream of days of Auld Lang Syne
Of shovel, an' pick, an' sledge.
Under the hedge, like a fallen log,
Just cover my eyes with my hand,  
Better to die the death of a dog
Than be stamped with the pauper brand.

                               —D. Garth.

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