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Ben Duggan

Henry Lawson 1867 (Grenfell) – 1922 (Sydney)


Jack Denver died on Talbragar when Christmas Eve began,
And there was sorrow round the place, for Denver was a man;
Jack Denver's wife bowed down her head -- her daughter's grief was wild,
And big Ben Duggan by the bed stood sobbing like a child.
But big Ben Duggan saddled up, and galloped fast and far,
To raise the longest funeral ever seen on Talbragar.
 
  By station home
  And shearing shed
  Ben Duggan cried, `Jack Denver's dead!
  Roll up at Talbragar!'
 
He borrowed horses here and there, and rode all Christmas Eve,
And scarcely paused a moment's time the mournful news to leave;
He rode by lonely huts and farms, and when the day was done
He turned his panting horse's head and rode to Ross's Run.
No bushman in a single day had ridden half so far
Since Johnson brought the doctor to his wife at Talbragar.
 
  By diggers' camps
  Ben Duggan sped --
  At each he cried, `Jack Denver's dead!
  Roll up at Talbragar!'
 
That night he passed the humpies of the splitters on the ridge,
And roused the bullock-drivers camped at Belinfante's Bridge;
And as he climbed the ridge again the moon shone on the rise;
The soft white moonbeams glistened in the tears that filled his eyes;
He dashed the rebel drops away -- for blinding things they are --
But 'twas his best and truest friend who died on Talbragar.
 
  At Blackman's Run
  Before the dawn,
  Ben Duggan cried, `Poor Denver's gone!
  Roll up at Talbragar!'
 
At all the shanties round the place they'd heard his horse's tramp,
He took the track to Wilson's Luck, and told the diggers' camp;
But in the gorge by Deadman's Gap the mountain shades were black,
And there a newly-fallen tree was lying on the track --
He saw too late, and then he heard the swift hoof's sudden jar,
And big Ben Duggan ne'er again rode home to Talbragar.
 
  `The wretch is drunk,
  And Denver's dead --
  A burning shame!' the people said
  Next day at Talbragar.
 
For thirty miles round Talbragar the boys rolled up in strength,
And Denver had a funeral a good long mile in length;
Round Denver's grave that Christmas day rough bushmen's eyes were dim --
The western bushmen knew the way to bury dead like him;
But some returning homeward found, by light of moon and star,
Ben Duggan dying in the rocks, five miles from Talbragar.
 
  They knelt around,
  He raised his head
  And faintly gasped, `Jack Denver's dead,
  Roll up at Talbragar!'
 
But one short hour before he died he woke to understand,
They told him, when he asked them, that the funeral was `grand';
And then there came into his eyes a strange victorious light,
He smiled on them in triumph, and his great soul took its flight.
And still the careless bushmen tell by tent and shanty bar
How Duggan raised a funeral years back on Talbragar.
 
  And far and wide
  When Duggan died,
  The bushmen of the western side
  Rode in to Talbragar.

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

2:38 min read
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Henry Lawson

Henry Lawson 17 June 1867 - 2 September 1922 was an Australian writer and poet Along with his contemporary Banjo Paterson Lawson is among the best-known Australian poets and fiction writers of the colonial period more…

All Henry Lawson poems | Henry Lawson Books

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