Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Broken-Down Squatter

Charles Augustus Flower

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Come, Stumpy old man, we must shift while we can
All your mates in the paddock are dead
Let us wave our farewells to Glen Eva's sweet dells
And the hills where your lordship was bred
Together to roam from our drought-stricken home
It's tough that such things have to be
And it's hard on a horse to have nought for a boss
But a broken-down squatter like me

For the banks are all broken they say
And the merchants are all up a tree
When the big-wigs are brought
To the Bankruptcy Court
What hope for a squatter like me

No more shall we muster the river for fats
Or spiel on the Fifteen Mile Plain
Or rip through the scrub by the light of the moon
Or see the old stockyard again
Leave the slip-panels down, it won't matter much now
There are none but the crows left to see
Perching gaunt on yon pine, as though longing to dine
On a broken-down squatter like me

When the country was cursed with the drought at its worst
And the cattle were dying in scores
Though down on my luck, I kept up my pluck
Thinking justice might temper the laws
But the farce has been played, and the Government aid
Ain't extended to squatters, old son
When my money was spent, they doubled the rent
And resumed the best half of the run

'Twas done without reason, for leaving the season
No squatter could stand such a rub
For it's useless to squat when the rents are so hot
That you can't save the price of your grub
And there's not much to choose 'twixt the banks and the screws
Once a fellow gets put up a tree
No odds what I feel, there's no Court of Appeal
For a broken-down squatter like me

The recording presented here is from the cloudstreet recording, The Circus of Desires and features Nicole Murray on harmony vocals and octave fiddle.

Charles Flower was a relatively-wealthy property owner on the Darling Downs in the late 19th century. While his own wealth survived, he was moved by the plight of farmers forced to leave their properties in the depression of 1890. This song was first published in 1894.

1 comment:

  1. Highly appropriate for the times, and a lovely tune- thanks!