The Tent Poles are Rotten
Yet another of the great Australian poet Henry Lawson’s poems set to music. For me it is a mystery as to where the tune came from and it seems to have been imbedded in Australian Folk Song for many a year. As with all Lawson’s poem / songs the images always take me back to the Great Outback in Australia. Martyn
We do present a production called Down The Lawson Track which uses stories and poem / songs of Henry Lawson with Shirley Collins and Pip Barnes doing the narration while Iris Bishop, Jon Wigg and myself do the songs.
The Tent Poles Are Rotten Words by Henry Lawson
The tent poles are rotten the camp fire’s dead
The possums may ramble the trees overhead
I’m humping me bluey all over the land
And the prints of me Bluchers sink deep in the sand
I’m out on the Wallaby humping me drum
And I camp by the road where the Sundowners come.
It’s North West by West over ranges so far
To the plains where the sheep and the cattle stations are
With the sky for me roof and the grass for me bunk
A calico bag for me damper and junk
And scarcely a comrade me memory reveals
And the spirit still tingles in me souls and me heels.
Now me tent is all torn the blankets are damp
The fast flowing waters run by the camp
The cold water rises in jets round the floor
As I lay on me bunk and I listen to it roar
And think how tomorrow me footsteps will lag
As I tramp ‘neath the weight of a rain sodden swag.
‘Though the way of a swagman is mostly uphill
But there’s joy to be found on the Wallaby still
When the day has gone by with it’s tramp and it’s toil
The campfire you build and the billy you can boil
And there’s comfort and peace in the bowl of your clay
And the yarn with a mate who is passing that way.
But beware of the city where it’s poison for years
And the joy to be found in drinking strong beers
Where a Bushman gets bushed in the streets of the town
Where he looses his mates when his cheques are knocked down
He’ll be right ‘till his pockets are empty and then
He can waltz his old bluey round the country again.