Banjo Paterson

(17 February 1864 – 5 February 1941 / New South Wales)

The Quest Eternal - Poem by Banjo Paterson

O west of all that a man holds dear, on the edge of the Kingdom Come,
Where carriage is far too high for beer, and the pubs keep only rum,
On the sunburnt ways of the Outer Back, on the plains of the darkening scrub,
I have followed the wandering teamster's track, and it always led to a pub.
There's always in man some gift to show, some power he can command,
And mine is the Gift that I always know when a pub is close at hand;
I can pick them out on the London streets, though most of their pubs are queer,
Such solid-looking and swell retreats, with never a sign of beer.

In the march of the boys through Palestine when the noontide fervour glowed,
Over the desert in thirsty line our sunburnt squadrons rode.
They looked at the desert lone and drear, stone ridges and stunted scrub,
And said, "We should have had Ginger here, I bet he'd have found a pub!"

We started out in the noonday heat on a trip that was fast and far,
We took in one each side of the street to balance the blooming car,
But then we started a long dry run on a road we did not know,
In the blinding gleam of the noonday sun, with the dust as white as snow.

For twenty minutes without a drink we strove with our dreadful thirst,
But the chauffeur pointed and said, "I think ----," I answered, "I saw it first!"
A pub with a good old-fashioned air, with bottles behind the blind,
And a golden tint in the barmaid's hair -- I could see it all -- in my mind --

Ere ever the motor ceased its roar, ere ever the chauffeur knew,
I made a dash for the open door, and madly darted through.
I looked for the barmaid, golden-crowned as they were in the good old time,
And -- shades of Hennessy! -- what I found was a wowser selling "lime!"
And the scoundrel said as he stopped to put on his lime-washed boots a rub,
"The Local Option voted it shut, it ain't no longer a pub!"

'Twas then I rose to my greatest heights in dignified retreat
(The greatest men in the world's great fights are those who are great in defeat).
I shall think with pride till the day I die of my confidence sublime,
For I looked the wowser straight in the eye, and asked for a pint of lime.


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Read poems about / on: london, car, pride, snow, power, rose, hair, sun, world, running



Poem Submitted: Thursday, January 1, 2004



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