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Henry's poem, Ian's parody, Downshifting

Henry Lawson (1861-1922), Australia's favourite bush poet and writer, spent his early years on his father's "poor selection in the Mudgee district" of New South Wales, before moving to Sydney, where he was acclaimed as "the poet of the people." In 1891 he wrote this poem about Eurunderee (yu-RUN-duh-ree), a tiny village near Mudgee.

Eurunderee
by Henry Lawson
 

 
  There are scenes in the distance where beauty is not,
On the desolate flats where gaunt apple trees rot.
Where the brooding old ridge rises up to the breeze
From his dark lonely gullies of stringy-bark trees,
There are voice-haunted gaps, ever sullen and strange,
But Eurunderee lies like a gem in the range.
Still I see in my fancy the dark-green and blue
Of the box-covered hills where the five-corners grew;
And the rugged old sheoaks that sighed in the bend
O’er the lily-decked pools where the dark ridges end,
And the scrub-covered spurs running down from the Peak
To the deep grassy banks of Eurunderee Creek.

On the knolls where the vineyards and fruit-gardens are
There’s a beauty that even the drought cannot mar;
For I noticed it oft, in the days that are lost,
As I trod on the siding where lingered the frost,
When the shadows of night from the gullies were gone
And the hills in the background were flushed by the dawn.

I was there in late years, but there’s many a change
Where the Cudgegong River flows down through the range,
For the curse of the town with the railroad had come,
And the goldfields were dead. And the girl and the chum
And the old home were gone, yet the oaks seemed to speak
Of the hazy old days on Eurunderee Creek.

And I stood by that creek, ere the sunset grew cold,
When the leaves of the sheoaks are traced on the gold,
And I thought of old things, and I thought of old folks,
Till I sighed in my heart to the sigh of the oaks;
For the years waste away like the waters that leak
Through the pebbles and sand of Eurunderee Creek.

Henry Lawson sketch

My son Ian, who has downshifted from the city advertising rat-race, happily grows organic vegetables on his small farm at Frog Rock, an equally obscure village which, like Eurunderee, is near Mudgee.

When I discovered Lawson's poem on the internet the other day, I emailed a copy to Ian. Within a few minutes he composed this parody and emailed it back to me. He isn't proud of it, and says he wrote it in a hurry, but I like it so much that I've attached a copy by magnets to the fridge:

Frog Rock
by Ian Shackle
 

  There's a place close to Mudgee whose name people mock,
'Cause it's called very quaintly yet justly Frog Rock.
The tall wattles grow by the sides of the road
And the white box and blue gums add to the load
Of the beauty and peace that the locals all love
And we all call it home, when push comes to shove.

The wallabies bound through the pastures burnt brown,
Escaping, like us, the tortures of town.
The ancient tall mountains of granite and thistles
Surround us on all sides like rosellas' whistles.
But like ships coming back through the fog to their dock,
We locals are happy to live in Frog Rock.

 

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Story first posted June 2006

Copyright © 2006

Eric Shackle

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