Being Australian 24: Henry Lawson vs the bogans of the 19th century

A recycled post

Here is a poem my father and mother both delighted in quoting on occasions. It is very much part of its time, isn’t it? You could say it rather contradicts the idea of the “clever country” we are wedded to these days. On the other hand, it does say something about an (alleged?) Australian preference for the pragmatic over the dogmatic. But this heritage can also be ambiguous, don’t you think? Does Lawson endorse this character, or despair of him? Both, perhaps?



by Henry Lawson (1867 – 1922)


Tall and freckled and sandy,
  Face of a country lout;
This was the picture of Andy,
  Middleton's Rouseabout.

Type of a coming nation, In the land of cattle and sheep, Worked on Middleton's station, "Pound a week and his keep".
On Middleton's wide dominions Plied the stockwhip an' shears; Hadn't any opinions, Hadn't any "idears".
Swiftly the years went over, Liquor and drought prevailed; Middleton went as a drover, After his station had failed.
Type of a careless nation, Men who are soon played out, Middleton was - and his station Was bought by the Rouseabout.
Flourishing beard and sandy, Tall and robust and stout; This is the picture of Andy, Middleton's Rouseabout.
Now on his own dominions Works with his overseers; Hasn't any opinions, Hasn't any "idears".