Farewell the Son

March 4, 2009 by  
Filed under Bush Poetry, Farewell The Son


All those well versed in Shakespeare, will probably be able to draw some comparisons between this poem and Hamlet, Act 1, Scene 3. There is a fairly well known soliloquy by a father (Polonius), offering some parting advice to his son (Laertes). It has given birth to several common sayings, “the apparel oft proclaims the man”, “neither a borrower nor a lender be”, etc. Hully thought it all seemed like pretty good bush logic.

Bush poetry by Andrew Hull

The razors edge horizon is cutting through the sun,
And the land is scarlet as it bleeds to death.
This sunset seems more beautiful than any other one,
Tomorrow, Dad is sending me on my first cattle run,
And tonight he says good-bye through rum soaked breath.

He doesn’t look me in the eye, he never has before,
His pupils glaze upon the amber glow.
He says, “Could be some time until you walk back through our door,
I reckon you’ll be right, but a man can’t be too sure,
So a quick word of advice before you go.

“There’s a lot of time for thinking when you’re out there on the trail,
But don’t be quick to speak your thoughts out loud.
And don’t rush into anything or you are bound to fail,
Make sure you work out in your mind every small detail,
Then every thing you do will make you proud.

“The blokes you meet will like you all the more if you are straight,
They’re hard men, but most of them are true.
Don’t waste your time with each new face until they prove their weight,
But when their worth is proven, don’t be scared to call them mate,
Sometimes mates are all you’ve got to get you through.

“Keep hold of your temper, don’t get pushed into a fight,
You don’t know what the other bloke can do.
It’s no good in a droving’ camp if you can’t sleep at night
When a bloke says that he’ll murder you, you best believe he might,
But remember, he might think the same of you.

“Now every bloke out there will have a word or two to tell,
And you best listen if you know what’s good.
There’s good advice and bad advice, and both will serve you well,
But don’t make every word you hear, the same as what you tell,
And only tell the few you think you should.

Make sure you keep your gear top nick before you blow your wage,
No drover ever had to look a dag.
But try not to follow fashion even though it’s all the rage,
That fancy gear gets out of date before it comes of age,
You can tell a lot about a bloke from his swag.

“No matter what you’re earning, be careful what you spend,
An open wallet is no way to boast.
But try hard not to get in debt, and don’t be quick to lend,
And remember this before you borrow money from a friend,
Think carefully which one you need the most.

“But do an honest hard days work is the best advice I’ve got,
And know that you did all that you could do.
‘Cause if you’re square with yourself it doesn’t matter what,
It follows that you must be square with all the other lot,
And it follows that they must be square with you.

“Then for a punctuation mark he had another drink,
Stood slowly up and looked me in the eye.
He held my hand a while and then gave a steady wink,
Then sat back down and settled in to watch the old sun sink.
And I knew that this was how he said good-bye.

Then staring west he spoke so soft, he scarcely made a sound,
“Keep your head up boy, no matter what you do,
You won’t learn nothing special by looking at the ground,
You might miss all the snakes and potholes scattered all around,
But sure as hell, you’ll miss the sunsets too.”