The Mecca of Bohemian men
Was Archibald's untidy den.
Firm-footed near the portals there
Uprose, as now, a spacious stair
That carried nearer to the sky
Their inky hopes in days forebye.
This ladder to Parnassus, they
Expectant climbed - as still one may.
Oft-times upon its steps appeared
The wiry brush of Daley's beard,
Of Henry Lawson's drooped moustache
Would upward glide and downward dash.
Betimes - a gem his pocket in -
Meandered upward Ronald Quinn,
Or Bayldon bore a sonnet new,
Or Broomfield occupied the view
Insistent, in a manner vain,
On making passes with his cane.
These might encounter on the way
The 'Banjo' glum, or Hugh McCrae
Or Souter with a leering cat
Or Bedford in a Queensland hat;
And other penmen debonair
Familiar with that famous stair.
The Red Tressed Maiden, all aglow,
And Clancy of the Overflow
And Dad and Dave, in company
With Ginger Mick and Jock MacFee,
From time to time, in singles, pairs,
By hand or post went up those stairs!
Awaiting by McMahon's door
For silver, little, less, or more,
Met jesting genius to abuse
The landlords and the lending Jews.
Anon with cash in hand such drear
Considerations - drowned in beer -
Would pass as pass the clouds of morn;
And from their ready wits, reborn
As from a fount in Arcady,
Would flow fair dreams of Days-to-Be,
When, in this Southland, shore to shore,
Art was enthroned for evermore.
That noble vision yet I hold
More precious is than all the gold
That men have dug from southern earth.
In loyal hearts it had its birth;
In loyal minds it will become
A trumpet-note, a calling drum
To lead this nation onward, and
To glorify and grace the land.
And through that fellowship may ne'er,
As then it was, re-climb the Stair
Its voices echo down the years -
The voices of the pioneers!