Old Town Types No.1 – The Old Town

Clarence Michael James Dennis

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Fierce on the wheat-sown Mallee plain
The ruthless summer suns burned down,
And dust-storms, heralding the rain,
Swept thro' the street and on again
While tradesfolk cursed in the old white town.
Of sand and line-stone stoutly built,
She'd lived to prosper and to wilt,
Because, as all wiseacres knew,
"They went and brought the railway thro'."

Deep-voiced, bewhiskered townsfolk these,
Remnant of pioneering days,
Full of high tales and memories
Of wild, rough work and wilder sprees,
When coach and teamster went their ways;
When men pushed out to newer land
And cash came easy to the hand -
And went: The golden days men knew
"Before that put that railway thro'."

Yet even in those days of stress -
Or seeming stress - the old town knew
Nothing of wnat or wretchedness;
For wealth was there and work to bless
All men who sought them work to do.
To me, a child in those far years,
Now as a time-dimmed dream appears
The olden life that once I knew
After the railway wandered thro'.

Like myths in some long-fabled tale -
Figures and scenes to conjure with
They seem. Yet 'spite the deepening veil,
Their memories grow never stales;
Big George, the lumper; Toll, the smith;
Long John, the snob - long have they slept
While suns burned down and dustorm swept
Across the Mallee plains they knew
Before men brought the railway thro'.

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