What Of The Pioneers?
E G Murphy

(Written in February 1902 on the occasion of the arrival of the first supply of water to  
Coolgardie from the goldfields pipeline)

They have started the pumps and turned the taps
And flooded the yawning tank
A cheer like a thousand thunder claps
Roars up from the crowded bank
They have toasted the man who thought it out
With millions to help him think
They have greeted his name with a lusty shout
And an equally lusty drink
But amid the pop of the champagne cork
The smoodgeful speech and cheers
What of the men who battle outback
What of the men who blazed the track
What of the Pioneers?

 What of the men who faced the scrub
And trekked to a ghostly goal
While you clung to the joys of a cozy club
And the peace of a saintly soul
Have they no place in the function grand
No word in the banquet toast
Have they not the right to be and stand
Where the loafers lounge and boast
Yea, what of the lads whose lot today
Is covert gibes and sneers
What of the men who legions led
What of the men who went ahead
What of the Pioneers?

 Out in the scrub where the mulga greys
His heart and soul and brain
Poor Hannan is seeking in some hard way
For the end of a long, long lane
While Shea who first upraised the earth
That opened these miles of gold
Tramps the streets of a heartless Perth
,
Sick, decrepit and old
And yet would I ask on this festive day
This time of boasts and beers
What of the men whose pluck and skill
The coffers of bull with ingots fill
What of the Pioneers?

 Oh mates o' mine of the early days
Oh lads that I loved and knew
Ye have wandered far on worldwide ways
And your faces around are few
But as long as my heart the words dictate
And my fingers can hold the pen
I will hold you high in life's estate
And above these belly-god men
And when I have blown my last, last dish
And flown to supernal spheres
God's answer will surely a kind one be
When Peter shall ask as he swings his key
What of the Pioneers?

 

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