Or the Fourth Cook
Henry Lawson, 1901
He has notions of Australia from the tales that he's been told
Land of leggings and revolvers, land of savages and gold;
So he begs old shirts, and someone patches up his worn-out duds.
He is shipped as 'general servant,' scrubbing pots and peeling spuds
(In the steamer's grimy alley, hating man and peeling spuds).
There is little time to comfort, there is little time to cry
He will come back with a fortune 'We'll be happy by-and-by!'
Scarcely time to kiss his sweetheart, barely time to change his duds,
Ere they want him at the galley, and they set him peeling spuds
(With a butcher's knife, a bucket, and, say, half a ton of spuds).
And he peels 'em hard to Plymouth, peels 'em fast to drown his grief,
Peels 'em while his stomach sickens on the road to Teneriffe;
Peels 'em while the donkey rattles, peels 'em while the engine thuds,
By the time they touch at Cape Town he's a don at peeling spuds
(And he finds some time for dreaming as he gets on with the spuds).
In the steamer's slushy alley, where the souls of men are dead,
And the adjectives are crimson if the substances are red,
He's perhaps a college black-sheep, and, maybe, of ancient blood
Ah! his devil grips him sometimes as he reaches for a spud
(And he jerks his head and sadly gouges dry-rot from a spud).
And his brave heart hopes and sickens as the weary days go round;
There is lots o' time for blue-lights ere they reach King George's Sound.
But he gets his best suit ready two white shirts and three bone studs!
He will face the new world bravely when he's finished with the spuds
(And next week, perhaps, he'll gladly take a job at peeling spuds).
There were heroes in Australia went exploring long ago;
There are heroes in Australia that the world shall never know;
And the men we use for heroes in the land of droughts and floods
Often win their way to Sydney scrubbing pots and peeling spuds
(Plucky beggars! brave, poor devils! gouging dry-rot from their spuds).