The Nights at Rocky Bar

Harry 'Breaker' Harbord Morant 1864 (Bridgwater, Somerset) – 1902 (Pretoria)

Trapping brumbies in the moonlight! those were nights of reckless fun,
'Way back on Campbell's country - on the Goory-bibil run,
When saddled up and ready qur impatient nags would stand
While we squatted in the gunyah with their bridle-reins in hand.

And presently the hoof-beats of the brumbies' trot would sound
As they rattled o'er the ridges of the mulga-timbered ground;
They'd be thirsty, for that stretching trot had brought them from afar,
And the only water for them was the hole at Rocky Bar.

We would hear the stallions whinny, and then the water splash -
That latter was our signal-through the deadwood with a crash
We were at them-you on joker, I on Harlequin, and Mick
Would be with us, just as eager as his jumper, Elsternwick.

Our stockwhips in the stilly night like rifle-shots would ring
When we beat them on the Bilbee Flat and slewed 'em to the wing;
And when we had 'em yarded, oh, the clatter and the din!
How they kicked and squealed and snorted when they found themselves barr'd in!

The nights the brumbies tried to break straight back the way they came
Proved Harlequin as nimble as we knew him to he game;
In those rushing, frantic scrambles 'twas his cleverness I thank
That I didn't get a smasher down that rotten basalt bank.

One old 'Merino' came out, and some boundary rider's moke
He was riding - it was his fault that the chestnut stallion broke -
He sung out: 'Never mind him; let the beggar go away!'
But you didn't stop to listen, jack, to what he had to say.

And ere you brought the big horse back you had a roughish ride,
The Lord knows how you,rnanaged, mate, that night to save your hide!
Though bar a stake of sandalwood you weren't a great deal hurt,
Though the gidya ripped your moleskins, and the mulga rent your shirt.

That big timber took some dodging, but our hacks were tried and true,
And while their heads were left alone would mostly get us through;
But never a horse, save Harlequin', at night, 'twas my belief
Could race among those Bilbee holes and yet not come to grief.

And then we'd jog away to camp two miles below the Bar,
Where we'd find a pipe of Nailrod and a nobbler in the jar.
Ah! though our lines of life since then have lain in diverse ways,
We don't forget those gallops of the brumby-running days.

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

Modified on April 27, 2023

2:09 min read

Quick analysis:

Closest metre Iambic octameter
Characters 2,239
Words 420
Stanzas 9
Stanza Lengths 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4

Harry 'Breaker' Harbord Morant

Harry "Breaker" Harbord Morant (born Edwin Henry Murrant, 9 December 1864 – 27 February 1902) was an Anglo-Australian drover, horseman, bush poet and military officer, who was convicted and executed for murder during the Second Anglo-Boer War. While serving with the Bushveldt Carbineers during the Second Anglo-Boer War, Lieutenant Morant was arrested and court-martialed for war crimes—one of the first such prosecutions in British military history. According to military prosecutors, Morant retaliated for the death in combat of his commanding officer with a series of revenge killings against both Boer POWs and many civilian residents of the Northern Transvaal. more…

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