Words: Henry Lawson
Tune: Traditional (The Mudgee Waltz)
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On a lonely selection far out in the West
An old woman works all the day without rest,
And she croons, as she toils 'neath the sky's glassy dome,
`Sure I'll keep the ould place till the childer come home.'
She mends all the fences, she grubs, and she ploughs,
She drives the old horse and she milks all the cows,
And she sings to herself as she thatches the stack,
`Sure I'll keep the ould place till the childer come back.'
It is five weary years since her old husband died;
And oft as he lay on his deathbed he sighed
`Sure one man can bring up ten children, he can,
An' it's strange that ten sons cannot keep one old man.'
Whenever the scowling old sundowners come,
And cunningly ask if the master's at home,
`Be off,' she replies, `with your blarney and cant,
Or I'll call my son Andy; he's workin' beyant.'
`Git out,' she replies, though she trembles with fear,
For she lives all alone and no neighbours are near;
But she says to herself, when she's like to despond,
That the boys are at work in the paddock beyond.
Ah, none of her children need follow the plough,
And some have grown rich in the city ere now;
Yet she says: `They might come when the shearing is done,
And I'll keep the ould place if it's only for one.'
This poem was combined with this tune by Mike Jackson in 1980 with a slight re-arrangement of the words. I've reverted to the original arrangement of the words but I believe the combination worth well.
The illustration to this post is Russell Drysdale's 1945 painting, The Drover's Wife.