Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Tent Poles Are Rotten

Words: Henry Lawson
Tune: Unknown (Dave de Hugard?)

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The tent poles are rotten and the campfire’s dead
And the possums may ramble in the trees overhead
I’m humping my bluey far out in the land
And the prints of my bluchers sink deep in the sand
I am out on the wallaby humping my drum
And I come down the road where the sundowners come

It is nor’west by west o’er ridges and far
To the plains where the cattle and sheep stations are
With the sky for my roof and the earth for my bunk
And a calico bag for my damper and my junk
And scarcely a comrade my memory reveals
The spirit still tingles in my toe and my heels

When my tent is all torn and my blankets are damp
And the fast rising waters flow down by the camp
And the cold water rises in jets from the floor
I lie in my bunk and listen to it roar
And I think of tomorrow how my footsteps will lag
As I tramp ‘neath the weight of a rain sodden swag

But I think of the honest old light in my home
When the stars hang in clusters like lamps in a dome
And I think of the hearth where the dark shadows fall
And the campfire I build in the wildest place of all
But I’m following my fate for I know she knows best
I follow she leads and it’s nor’west by west

Though the way of a swagman is mostly uphill
There are joys to be found on the wallaby still
When the day has gone by with its tramp and its toil
Your campfire you build and the billy you can boil
There’s comfort and peace in the bowl of you clay
Or the yarn of a mate who is tramping that way

But beware of the city where it’s poison for years
In the pleasure you find in drinking long beers
Where a bushman gets bushed in the streets of the town
Where he loses his friends when his cheques are knocked down
He’s right ‘til his pocket is empty and then
He must waltz his old bluey up the country again

From Dave De Hugard's 1970 album, Freedom on the Wallaby. The words are a slight variation on the original by Lawson (See the Mudcat discussion on this topic here).

1 comment:

  1. Have to say, these words are not a true (though fairly close) transcription of the words Dave de Hugard sings on the album. I pretty much know all the words to every track of Freedom on the Wallaby as it's my favorite Aussie folk album.