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Lola Ridge

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Driving the Cattle Home

Driving the cattle home!
     While the sun sits on the edge
Of the jagged hill, while the shadows fill
     The curve of the mountain ledge.

Wading the flooded creeks
     With their breasts against the tide,
As the water swells to their clanging bells,
     And washes each branded side!

On through the paddock gates,
     While the one-eyed collie, Scot,
Pants close in the rear of the year-old steer,
     Mustering up the lot.

Sliding the rails across,
     And on to the milking shed:
”Look out for the white – you can rope her tight;
     And tie up the poley’s head!”

Driving the cattle home;
     For the stars are near the sky.
With a ringing song as we move along,
     And the crawling mob goes by.

*        *        *        *        *        *        *        *        *

I think and sit and dream,
     Out here on the beach alone,
Till I hear the clang that the cowbells rang
     As we drove the cattle home.

I see the mob go by
     And the brown hides seamed and scarred
From the long lean strip of the green-hide whip
     Hung up in the in the branding yard.

I see the sun ride low
     Astride on the Camel Peak –
Oh! the tramp of hoofs and the station roofs,
     And the old wind on my cheek!

Oh, for my bay mare, Lass,
     And her long loose stride, again!
For a ”break away ” in the early day
     On the long grey rolling plain!

Driving the cattle home
     (For the light is fading fast),
As they halting go with their heads hung low
     Through the paddocks of the past.


‘Driving the Cattle Home,’ Otago Witness 12 Mar 1902: 59. Lola. Hokitika, February, 1902.
See also Verses 1905: 50-51; New Magazine Sep 1911.

Last updated 29 May, 2013