Henry Lawson ( )


Ben Duggan


Jack Denver died on Talbragar when Christmas Eve began, 
And there was sorrow round the place, for Denver was a man; 
Jack Denvers wife bowed down her head -- her daughters grief was wild, 
And big Ben Duggan by the bed stood sobbing like a child. 
But big Ben Duggan saddled up, and galloped fast and far, 
To raise the longest funeral ever seen on Talbragar. 

By station home 
And shearing shed 
Ben Duggan cried, `Jack Denvers dead! 
Roll up at Talbragar! 

He borrowed horses here and there, and rode all Christmas Eve, 
And scarcely paused a moments time the mournful news to leave; 
He rode by lonely huts and farms, and when the day was done 
He turned his panting horses head and rode to Rosss Run. 
No bushman in a single day had ridden half so far 
Since Johnson brought the doctor to his wife at Talbragar. 

By diggers camps 
Ben Duggan sped -- 
At each he cried, `Jack Denvers dead! 
Roll up at Talbragar! 

That night he passed the humpies of the splitters on the ridge, 
And roused the bullock-drivers camped at Belinfantes Bridge; 
And as he climbed the ridge again the moon shone on the rise; 
The soft white moonbeams glistened in the tears that filled his eyes; 
He dashed the rebel drops away -- for blinding things they are -- 
But twas his best and truest friend who died on Talbragar. 

At Blackmans Run 
Before the dawn, 
Ben Duggan cried, `Poor Denvers gone! 
Roll up at Talbragar! 

At all the shanties round the place theyd heard his horses tramp, 
He took the track to Wilsons Luck, and told the diggers camp; 
But in the gorge by Deadmans Gap the mountain shades were black, 
And there a newly-fallen tree was lying on the track -- 
He saw too late, and then he heard the swift hoofs sudden jar, 
And big Ben Duggan neer again rode home to Talbragar. 

`The wretch is drunk, 
And Denvers dead -- 
A burning shame! the people said 
Next day at Talbragar. 

For thirty miles round Talbragar the boys rolled up in strength, 
And Denver had a funeral a good long mile in length; 
Round Denvers grave that Christmas day rough bushmens eyes were dim -- 
The western bushmen knew the way to bury dead like him; 
But some returning homeward found, by light of moon and star, 
Ben Duggan dying in the rocks, five miles from Talbragar. 

They knelt around, 
He raised his head 
And faintly gasped, `Jack Denvers dead, 
Roll up at Talbragar! 

But one short hour before he died he woke to understand, 
They told him, when he asked them, that the funeral was `grand; 
And then there came into his eyes a strange victorious light, 
He smiled on them in triumph, and his great soul took its flight. 
And still the careless bushmen tell by tent and shanty bar 
How Duggan raised a funeral years back on Talbragar. 

And far and wide 
When Duggan died, 
The bushmen of the western side 
Rode in to Talbragar.



Henry Lawson's other poems:
  1. To an Old Mate
  2. Jack Dunn of Nevertire
  3. The Heart of Australia
  4. The Bush Girl
  5. Past Carin


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