With eyes half-shut to the blinding dust,
And necks to the yokes bent low,
The beasts are pulling as bullocks must;
And the shining tires might also rust
While the spokes are turning slow.
With face half-hid by a broad brimmed hat,
That shades from the heat's white waves,
And shouldered whip, with it's green hide plait,
The driver plods with a gait like that
Of his weary, patient slaves
He wipes his brow, for the day in hot,
And spits to the left with spite;
He shouts at Bally, and flicks at Scot,
And raises dust from the back of Spot.
And spits to the dusty right.
He'll sometimes pause as a thing of form
In front of a settlers door,
And ask for a drink, and remark "It's warm",
Or say "There's signs of a thunderstorm";
But he seldom utters more
The rains are heavy on roads like these
And, fronting his lonely home,
For the days together the settler sees
The wagon bogged to the axeltrees,
Or ploughing the sodden loam.
And then, when the roads are at their worst,
The bushman's children hear
The cruel blows of the whips reversed
While bullocks pull as their hearts would burst,
And bellow with pain and fear.
And thus-with glimpses of home and rest-
Are the long, long journeys done;
And thus-'tis a thankless life at the best-
Is distance fought in the mighty West,
And the lonely battles won