Corny Bill

Henry Lawson, 1891

      His old clay pipe stuck in his mouth,
             His hat pushed from his brow,
      His dress best fitted for the South —
             I think I see him now;
      And when the city streets are still,
             And sleep upon me comes,
      I often dream that me an' Bill
             Are humpin' of our drums.

      I mind the time when first I came
             A stranger to the land;
      And I was stumped, an' sick, an' lame
             When Bill took me in hand.
      Old Bill was what a chap would call
             A friend in poverty,
      And he was very kind to all,
             And very good to me.

      We'd camp beneath the lonely trees
             And sit beside the blaze,
      A-nursin' of our wearied knees,
             A-smokin' of our clays.
      Or when we'd journeyed damp an' far,
             An' clouds were in the skies,
      We'd camp in some old shanty bar,
             And sit a-tellin' lies.

      Though time had writ upon his brow
             And rubbed away his curls,
      He always was — an' may be now —
             A favourite with the girls;
      I've heard bush-wimmin scream an' squall —
             I've see'd 'em laugh until
      They could not do their work at all,
             Because of Corny Bill.

      He was the jolliest old pup
             As ever you did see,
      And often at some bush kick-up
             They'd make old Bill M.C.
      He'd make them dance and sing all night,
             He'd make the music hum,
      But he'd be gone at mornin' light
             A-humpin' of his drum.

      Though joys of which the poet rhymes
             Was not for Bill an' me,
      I think we had some good old times
             Out on the wallaby.
      I took a wife and left off rum,
             An' camped beneath a roof;
      But Bill preferred to hump his drum
             A-paddin' of the hoof.

      The lazy, idle loafers what
             In toney houses camp
      Would call old Bill a drunken sot,
             A loafer, or a tramp;
      But if the dead should ever dance —
             As poets say they will —
      I think I'd rather take my chance
             Along of Corny Bill.

      His long life's-day is nearly o'er,
             Its shades begin to fall;
      He soon must mount his bluey for
             The last long tramp of all;
      I trust that when, in bush an' town,
             He's lived and learnt his fill,
      They'll let the golden slip-rails down
             For poor old Corny Bill.