...it's not dark yet, but it's gettin' there...

September 05, 2006

Wednesday Is Poetry Day

You might have seen the new poll on my sidebar. If not, go look and vote. One of the names, Captain Thunderbolt, might be unfamiliar to you. He was an Australian outlaw of the Nineteenth Century and the following poem, by Graeme Philipson, tells his story.

The Last Bushranger

Just below Uralla stands New England's southern gate
A mighty granite boulder that tells of one man's fate.
Of the bushranger called Thunderbolt, the last of that rare breed
Of desperate men without the law joined in a common creed.

Thunderbolt was Frederick Ward. The story of his life
Begins they say in Windsor town, in eighteen thirty-five.
His early life was tough and cruel, the times back then were hard
His school was on the horse's back, and in the breaker's yard.

He didn't learn to read or write, but he sure knew how to ride
Jimmy Garbutt showed him how to steal, he took it in his stride.
They took sixty head from Tocal Run, but the Troopers caught them cold
Frederick Ward was twenty-one, with ten years to rot in gaol.

They put him on to Cockatoo, an island made in hell
He set to work to work to get away, he nearly did as well.
But they caught him and they put him in a hole without the sun
Alone he waited for the day when he could make his run.

He swam one night, he got away, he went back to the bush
Across the range, to back of Bourke, he joined the westward push.
He took to the road, he learned the life of a bushranger at large
He robbed the coaches, stole the mail, while riding at the charge.

But life was hard in the sunburnt scrub, he moved back to the range
To relieve the squatter of his horse, the traveller of his change.
Thunderbolt lived outside the law, but he was honest in his way
There's a famous tale of a famous deed at Tenterfield one day.

He went boldly to the races, and looked folk up and down
He saw who won and he saw who lost, and he waited out of town.
He robbed three German bandsmen, but to show his kind concern
He left them some to get to town, and he promised he'd return.

They’d get it back if he could find the man that won the most
And by his word the very next day he lived true to his boast.
Nick Hart was the man, he was travelling north, a hundred pounds he'd won
Ward bailed him up on the border line and relieved him of the sum.

The Germans got their money back, they'd not believed their ears
Ward’s word became a legend, passed down through the years.
When a hawker came by the Rock one day the outlaw bailed him up
But he got to Uralla and raised the alarm, the constables saddled up.

Trooper Walker caught him there that day, outside of Blanche's Inn
And shot at him in the valley where Kentucky Creek begins.
Our man was on a borrowed horse, he could not outrun the law
So he left the saddle and climbed the bank, with Walker firing more.

He was cornered fair and square, but he was brave until the last
Walker cried: “surrender, man!” The outlaw saw his chance
He charged the mounted trooper, he was firing as he came
But his pistol jammed, and the trooper's final bullet found its aim.

He fell into the creek but rose again to fight his foe
He died when Walker struck him with a god-almighty blow.
That afternoon outside of town, more died than just a man
He was the last to live that outlaw’s life upon this lonely land.

All had gone before him: Morgan, Gilbert and Ben Hall
Frederick Ward, called Thunderbolt, was the last one of them all.
When he died they all died with him, it was the ending of an age
A curtain dark was drawn across that now far distant stage.

When Thunderbolt still rode the range, from Mudgee to the Downs
When Thunderbolt his name still rang, in country and in town
When Thunderbolt outrode the law, from Bourke clear to the sea
This land was very different then, from what it came to be.

Now life, they say, is civilised, there's none can do again
What Thunderbolt did years ago, when he strode across the land.
They say that life is better now the bushrangers are dead
But they like to recollect the days the squatters lived in dread.

He's buried in Uralla, where his name is famous yet
The Rock still stands, the creek still runs, where he met his death
You can have a beer and toast him in the pub that bears his name
You can stop awhile and ponder on the reasons for his fame.

And though he’s dead these hundred years, his memory still remains
Of how he rode the mountains, and how he strode the plains.
His name will live for ever more beneath those cold dark skies
The last bushranger may have gone, but the legend never dies.

Posted by annika, Sep. 5, 2006 | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: Poetry


George Lazenby?

George Lazenby?


Really scraping the bottom of the barrel for this one, weren't you? And who won the last poll?

Posted by: Victor on Sep. 6, 2006

That was a toughie, Angus Young, or Nicole Kidman. Talent Vs Beauty... Nicole is pretty to look at—Nicole’s a loving lass,
But the prettiest cheeks must wrinkle, the truest of loves must pass.

Posted by: Casca on Sep. 6, 2006


Who is PeeWee Herman?

Posted by: will on Sep. 6, 2006

What, no Robin Leach?

Posted by: Tuning Spork on Sep. 6, 2006