Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Black Sheep

Words: Will H Ogilvie
Tune: The Overlanders (?)

They shepherd their Black Sheep down to the ships,
Society's banned and cursed ;
And the boys look back as the old land dips —
Some with a reckless laugh on their lips,
And some with a prayer reversed.

And it's Goodbye, England! and farewell, Love
And maybe it's just as well
When a man falls short of his Heaven above
That he drops to the uttermost Hell.

And the anchor lifts and the sails are set :
Now God to your help. Black Sheep !
For the gay world laughs " They will soon forget !"
But fired in the embers of old regret
The brand of the world bites deep.

They turn their Black Sheep over the side
To land on a stranger's shores ;
To drift with the cities' human tide,
Or wander away where the rovers ride
And the flagless legion wars.

And Hope for some is a broken staff
And for others a golden stair,
Who live for the echo of Love's low laugh
Or Somebody's face in a photograph.
Or a coil of Somebody's hair.

And some that have carried a parting gift
May kiss it and fling it away
Far over the clouds that no winds lift
To follow where our dead hopes drift
And rest where dead hopes may.

They bury the Black Sheep out in the Bush,
And buiy them none too deep
On the cattle camps and the last gold rush,
And the grasses grow over them green and lush
And the bush- winds sing them to sleep.

Aiid it's goodbye struggle and farewell strife
And maybe it's just as well
When a man goes down in the Battle of Life
That he shorten his road to Hell

From the Overlanders 1978 double album, Songs of the Great Australian Balladists.

Words from Will H. Ogilvie's Fair Girls and Gray Horses With Other Verses (1907). (Full text linked here).

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