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Henry Kendall (Генри Кендалл)


Songs from the Mountains (1880). Billy Vickers


No song is this of leaf and bird,
 And gracious waters flowing;
I'm sick at heart, for I have heard
 Big Billy Vickers "blowing".

He'd never take a leading place
 In chambers legislative:
This booby with the vacant face—
 This hoddy-doddy native!

Indeed, I'm forced to say aside,
 To you, O reader, solely,
He only wants the horns and hide
 To be a bullock wholly.

But, like all noodles, he is vain;
 And when his tongue is wagging,
I feel inclined to copy Cain,
 And "drop" him for his bragging.

He, being Bush-bred, stands, of course,
 Six feet his dirty socks in;
His lingo is confined to horse
 And plough, and pig and oxen.

Two years ago he'd less to say
 Within his little circuit;
But now he has, besides a dray,
 A team of twelve to work it.

No wonder is it that he feels
 Inclined to clack and rattle
About his bullocks and his wheels—
 He owns a dozen cattle.

In short, to be exact and blunt,
 In his own estimation
He's "out and out" the head and front
 Top-sawyer of creation!

For, mark me, he can "sit a buck"
 For hours and hours together;
And never horse has had the luck
 To pitch him from the leather.

If ever he should have a "spill"
 Upon the grass or gravel,
Be sure of this, the saddle will
 With Billy Vickers travel.

At punching oxen you may guess
 There's nothing out can "camp" him:
He has, in fact, the slouch and dress
 Which bullock-driver stamp him.

I do not mean to give offence,
 But I have vainly striven
To ferret out the difference
 'Twixt driver and the driven.

Of course, the statements herein made
 In every other stanza
Are Billy's own; and I'm afraid
 They're stark extravaganza.

I feel constrained to treat as trash
 His noisy fiddle-faddle
About his doings with the lash,
 His feats upon the saddle.

But grant he "knows his way about",
 Or grant that he is silly,
There cannot be the slightest doubt
 Of Billy's faith in Billy.

Of all the doings of the day
 His ignorance is utter;
But he can quote the price of hay,
 The current rate of butter.

His notions of our leading men
 Are mixed and misty very:
He knows a cochin-china hen—
 He never speaks of Berry.

As you'll assume, he hasn't heard
 Of Madame Patti's singing;
But I will stake my solemn word
 He knows what maize is bringing.

Surrounded by majestic peaks,
 By lordly mountain ranges,
Where highest voice of thunder speaks
 His aspect never changes.

The grand Pacific there beyond
 His dirty hut is glowing:
He only sees a big salt pond,
 O'er which his grain is going.

The sea that covers half the sphere,
 With all its stately speeches,
Is held by Bill to be a mere
 Broad highway for his peaches.

Through Nature's splendid temples he
 Plods, under mountains hoary;
But he has not the eyes to see
 Their grandeur and their glory.

A bullock in a biped's boot,
 I iterate, is Billy!
He crushes with a careless foot
 The touching water-lily.

I've said enough—I'll let him go!
 If he could read these verses,
He'd pepper me for hours, I know,
 With his peculiar curses.

But this is sure, he'll never change
 His manners loud and flashy,
Nor learn with neatness to arrange
 His clothing, cheap and trashy.

Like other louts, he'll jog along,
 And swig at shanty liquors,
And chew and spit.  Here ends the song
 Of Mr. Billy Vickers.



Henry Kendall's other poems:
  1. Other Poems (1871-82). How the Melbourne Cup was Won
  2. Other Poems (1871-82). Basil Moss
  3. Early Poems (1859-70). Sonnets
  4. Early Poems (1859-70). Ned the Larrikin
  5. Other Poems (1871-82). On a Street


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