Henry Lawson ( )

Trooper Campbell

One day old Trooper Campbell 
Rode out to Blackmans Run, 
His cap-peak and his sabre 
Were glancing in the sun. 
Twas New Years Eve, and slowly 
Across the ridges low 
The sad Old Year was drifting 
To where the old years go. 

The troopers mind was reading 
The love-page of his life -- 
His love for Mary Wylie 
Ere she was Blackmans wife; 
He sorrowed for the sorrows 
Of the heart a rival won, 
For he knew that there was trouble 
Out there on Blackmans Run. 

The sapling shades had lengthened, 
The summer day was late, 
When Blackman met the trooper 
Beyond the homestead gate. 
And if the hand of trouble 
Can leave a lasting trace, 
The lines of care had come to stay 
On poor old Blackmans face. 

`Not good day, Trooper Campbell, 
Its a bad, bad day for me -- 
You are of all the men on earth 
The one I wished to see. 
The great black clouds of trouble 
Above our homestead hang; 
That wild and reckless boy of mine 
Has joined MDurmers gang. 

`Oh! save him, save him, Campbell! 
I beg in friendships name! 
For if they take and hang him, 
The wife would die of shame. 
Could Mary or her sisters 
Hold up their heads again, 
And face a womans malice 
Or claim the love of men? 

`And if he does a murder 
Twere better we were dead. 
Dont take him, Trooper Campbell, 
If a price be on his head; 
But shoot him! shoot him, Campbell, 
When you meet him face to face, 
And save him from the gallows, 
And us from that disgrace. 

`Now, Tom, cried Trooper Campbell, 
`You know your words are wild. 
Though he is wild and reckless, 
Yet still he is your child; 
So bear up in your trouble, 
And meet it like a man, 
And tell the wife and daughters 
Ill save him if I can. 

. . . . . 

The sad Australian sunset 
Had faded from the west; 
But night brings darker shadows 
To hearts that cannot rest; 
And Blackmans wife sat rocking 
And moaning in her chair. 
`I cannot bear disgrace, she moaned; 
`Disgrace I cannot bear. 

`In hardship and in trouble 
I struggled year by year 
To make my children better 
Than other children here. 
And if my sons a felon 
How can I show my face? 
I cannot bear disgrace; my God, 
I cannot bear disgrace! 

`Ah, God in Heaven pardon! 
Im selfish in my woe -- 
My boy is better-hearted 
Than many that I know. 
And I will face the worlds disgrace, 
And, till his mothers dead, 
My foolish child shall find a place 
To lay his outlawed head. 

. . . . . 

With a sad heart Trooper Campbell 
Rode back from Blackmans Run, 
Nor noticed aught about him 
Till thirteen miles were done; 
When, close beside a cutting, 
He heard the click of locks, 
And saw the rifle muzzles 
Were on him from the rocks. 

But suddenly a youth rode out, 
And, close by Campbells side: 
`Dont fire! dont fire, in heavens name! 
Its Campbell, boys! he cried. 
Then one by one in silence 
The levelled rifles fell, 
For whod shoot Trooper Campbell 
Of those who knew him well? 

Oh, bravely sat old Campbell, 
No sign of fear showed he. 
He slowly drew his carbine; 
It rested by his knee. 
The outlaws guns were lifted, 
But none the silence broke, 
Till steadfastly and firmly 
Old Trooper Campbell spoke. 

`That boy that you would ruin 
Goes home with me, my men; 
Or some of us shall never 
Ride through the Gap again. 
You know old Trooper Campbell, 
And have you ever heard 
That bluff or lead could turn him, 
That eer he broke his word? 

`That reckless lad is playing 
A heartless villains part; 
He knows that he is breaking 
His poor old mothers heart. 
Hell bring a curse upon himself; 
But tis not that alone, 
Hell bring dishonour to a name 
That ID be proud to own. 

`I speak to you, MDurmer, -- 
If your hearts not hardened quite, 
And if youd seen the trouble 
At Blackmans home this night, 
Youd help me now, MDurmer -- 
I speak as man to man -- 
I swore to save that foolish lad, 
And Ill save him if I can. 

`Oh, take him! said MDurmer, 
`Hes got a horse to ride. 
The youngster thought a moment, 
Then rode to Campbells side -- 
`Good-bye! the outlaws shouted, 
As up the range they sped. 
`A Merry New Year, Campbell, 
Was all MDurmer said. 

. . . . . 

Then fast along the ridges 
Two bushmen rode a race, 
And the moonlight lent a glory 
To Trooper Campbells face. 
And ere the new years dawning 
They reached the home at last; 
And this is but a story 
Of trouble that is past!

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

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