Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE DAYS OF '84, by RANDOLPH BEDFORD

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THE DAYS OF '84, by            
First Line: Let's go back on to the roper, where they say they've struck the stuff
Last Line: We were men, and we dealt straight with all in the days of '84.
Subject(s): Gold Mines & Miners; Nostalgia

LET'S go back on to the Roper, where they say they've struck the stuff,
For this Broken Hill is vanished—of its corI e we've had enough.
And the Hill is "hill" no longer—just a wide and deep costeen,
And the sun in Silver City earlier by an hour is seen.
Blast their starving contract system, blast their new electric light,
Blast their hard, church-fearin' living, what won't let 'em go get tight
But allows 'em all to swindle, and allows 'em all to screw
The poor devils which is married and can't bunk like me an' you.
For this isn't Broken Hill
Where we used to drink our fill
When sweat was gold and gold was dirt, we seen none such before.
In the days of '84
They were grit right to the core—
They were men we had to deal with in the days of '84.

An' though we'd no policemen there was very little crime—
Not quarter that you've got there now in this boiled-shirted time.
The days are altered for the worse, and the very same intent
That 'ud make us shoot thieves then would send 'em now to Parliament.
D'ye remember Dan O'Connell goin' to Wilcannia jail,
Because he bust a meetin' of the Army with a pail?
D'ye call to mind the way the War Dance holding got its name,
When that crowd of boozy brokers danced stark-naked round the claim?
In the old days of the Hill,
When we couldn't drink our fill,
And Walter Sully gave us tick for grub to tide us o'er,
In the days of '84—
Ere the time of sulphide ore—
They were men we had to deal with in the days of '84.

Do you mind the first young woman who to Silverton was sent?
How she married Sims one morning, and at night hung in her tent?
D'ye remember Bob the Finisher? Durant's Dinny? Jersey Clarke?
And the chap that fell into our shaft, meanderin' in the dark?
And Sugar, Roberts' barmaid? and that little Doctor Winn,
Who ordered rum for typhoid, an' prescribed, for toothache, gin?
And Jim Swan at Purnamoota, and the Siam Ruby find—
Which the same was merely garnets and the rubies was a blind.
Ere they put the pavements down and flagged this dear old Argent Street,
Where the whirlwinds one time used to come and lift you off your feet.
In the old days of the Hill
When we'd do just what we'd will,
When we'd only got to truck with men who grit were to the core;
In the days of '84
Days we'll see again no more—
They were men we had to deal with in the days of '84.

So, good-bye unto the city that's respectable and bad;
The men that's lying in the dust's the best it ever had;
And nearly all the honesty is lyin' underground,
And it's mostly awful swindlin' that's in this place to be found.
They've finished Bob the Finisher, and ditto Apple Jack,
An' Tom Long has joined the good'uns on the new prospectin' track,
An' the only men of '84 you'll find in Silver Town
'S German Harry and Dutch Ikey an' the coves who ought to drown.
So, let's go on to the Roper, where they say they've struck the stuff,
An' p'rhaps we'll get the chlorides and meet a crowd that's rough,
An' find a new Old Broken Hill, and find the boys again
Who are gone, or dead an' buried in a Barrier hill or plain.
An' we'll strike a thousand-ouncer, an' we'll keep it good an' straight
Till along comes Mr "Rigger" and his lyin' "expert" mate.
An' we'll find a Broken Hill
Where we'll do just as we will;
Where these thief directors never will get us down on the floor,
For in golden '84
We had them down, and more!
We were men, and we dealt straight with all in the days of '84.

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