Thursday, January 1, 2004
The Old Place
SO the last day’s come at last, the close of my fifteen year—
The end of the hope, an’ the struggles, an’ messes I’ve put in here.
All of the shearings over, the final mustering done,—
Eleven hundred an’ fifty for the incoming man, near on.
Over five thousand I drove ’em, mob by mob, down the coast;
Eleven-fifty in fifteen year…it isn’t much of a boast.
Oh, it’s a bad old place! Blown out o’ your bed half the nights,
And in the summer the grass burnt shiny an’ bare as your hand, on the heights:
The creek dried up by November, and in May a thundering roar
That carries down toll o’ your stock to salt ’em whole on the shore.
Clear’d I have, and I’ve clear’d an’ clear’d, yet everywhere, slap in your face,
Briar, tauhinu, 1 an’ ruin! God! it’s a brute of a place.
…An’ the house got burnt which I built, myself, with all that worry and pride;
Where the Missus was always homesick, and where she took fever, and died.
Yes, well! I’m leaving the place. Apples look red on that bough.
I set the slips with my own hand. Well—they’re the other man’s now.
The breezy bluff: an’ the clover that smells so over the land,
Drowning the reek o’ the rubbish, that plucks the profit out o’ your hand:
That bit o’ Bush paddock I fall’d myself, an’ watch’d, each year, come clean
(Don’t it look fresh in the tawny? A scrap of Old-Country green):
This air, all healthy with sun an’ salt, an’ bright with purity:
An’ the glossy karakas 2 there, twinkling to the big blue twinkling sea:
Aye, the broad blue sea beyond, an’ the gem-clear cove below,
Where the boat I’ll never handle again; sits rocking to and fro:
There’s the last look to it all! an’ now for the last upon
This room, where Hetty was born, an’ my Mary died, an’ John…
Well! I’m leaving the poor old place, and it cuts as keen as a knife;
The place that’s broken my heart—the place where I’ve lived my life.