Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, ON THE ARROW TRACK, by J. H. G.

Poetry Explorer

Classic and Contemporary Poetry

ON THE ARROW TRACK, by            
First Line: Coming from the arrow, I / with my empty dray
Last Line: "ta-ra-ra boom-dee-ay!"
Subject(s): Aborigines, Australian; Family Life; Language; Singing & Singers; Relatives; Words; Vocabulary; Songs

COMING from the Arrow, I
With my empty dray
Met a nigger family
Tramping on the way;
The meanest, poorest wretches
I had seen in W.A.

He led them from the Ninety-Mile,
That greasy, grey-haired black,
His wire-like legs kept well ahead
Along the ruddy track;
The mother had a strip of bark
Slung across her back.

A swaggie would have failed to keep
That skinny nigger's pace;
The gin beneath her burden's weight
Was limping in the race;
Within its littered filth I saw
A piccaninny's face.

Trotted beside, another child,
And mostly clothed in air,
Who pointed to my water-bag—
I gave what I could spare,
And to the tailboard lifted her
And bade her ride up there.

She yabbered—but the mother seemed
Half proud and half afraid,
And kept close in beside the wheels
And watched me and the maid;
Till I gave her half a damper
That a new-chum digger made.

I tried to add a little
To the little that I knew,
"Gooyah, gooyah," meant the flies
That round about her flew,
And "Yindi"—well—the finest teeth
That ever smiled on you!

And then she started singing—
But although attentively
I tried to pick up any air
Whatever air might be—
'Twas not what I had often heard
At the corroboree.

I nearly had it off by heart
And thought what I should say
When I should bring it back to Vic.,
This truly native lay—
But in a flash I recognized—
"Ta-ra-ra Boom-dee-ay!"

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