Friday, August 19, 2011

New England Cocky


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'Twas a New England Cocky, as late I've been told,
Who died, so 'tis said, on account of the cold.
When dying he called to his children "Come here!
"As I'm dying, I want you my fortune to share.

"Dear children, you know I've toiled early and late,
"I've struggled with Nature, and wrestled with Fate.
"Then all do your best to my fortune repair;
"And to my son John I leave a dear native bear.

"To Mary I give my pet kangaroo,
"May it prove to turn out a great blessing, too;
"To Michael I leave the old cockatoo,
"And to Bridget I'll give her the piebald emu.

"To the others whatever is left I will leave —
"Don't quarrel, or else my poor spirit will grieve;
"There's the fish in the stream, and the fowl on the lake,
"Let each have as much as any may take

"And now, my dear children, no more can I do,
"My fortune I've fairly divided with you,"
And these were the last words his children did hear —
"Don't forget that I reared you on pumpkin and beer."

From Paterson's Old Bush Songs. Several versions can be found, including the Inglewood Cocky, collected by John Manifold.

The illustration to this post is a drawing entitled "The Dying Man" by John Guile Millais from The Life and Letters of John Everett Millais, President of the Royal Academy. 2 vols. New York: Frederick A. Stokes, 1899.

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